Wednesday, 30 December 2009

New Year's celebrations around the world by webcam

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Christchurch, New Zealand (GMT +12hrs)

http://yobbo.co.nz/cams/cathedral.htm

Sydney, Australia (GMT +10hrs)


http://www.sydney-webcam.com/index.php?nav=cam5

Tokyo, Japan (GMT +9hrs)

http://www.nttls.co.jp/webcam/english/live_etc.html/

Manila, Philippines (GMT +8hrs)

http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1237892067-Weather-Manila-Downtown-Malate


Hong Kong, China (GMT +8hrs)

http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1166267733-Weather-Hong-Kong-Victoria-Harbour-So-Kon-Po#webcam_info

Phuket, Thailand (GMT +7hrs)

http://www.weatherbonk.com/weather/camDetail.jsp?id=_wc_1131390951828

Crap - haven't got time to put the iframes in! You get the idea, anyway!

Udaipur Lake Pichola, India (GMT +5.5hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1237892349-Weather-Udaipur-Lake-Pichola-Udaipur

Dubai Jumeirah Beach, UAE (GMT +4hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1237890323-Weather-Dubai-Jumeirah-Beach-Um-Suqaim-Second

Peponi Hotel, Lamu, Kenya (GMT +3hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1250779577-Weather-Peponi-Hotel%2C-Lamu-Shela

Cape Town, South Africa (GMT +2hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1170887551-Weather-Cape-Town-Sanddrift

Paris, France (GMT +1hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1170680540-Weather-Paris-la-Tour-Eiffel-Grenelle

London, UK (GMT)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1222340244-Weather-London-Skyline-from-the-Sheraton-Park-Tower-Knightsbridge

Praia de Santos, Brazil (GMT -3hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1180872260-Weather-Praia-de-Santos-Santos

Caracas, Venezuela (GMT -4.5hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1243507629-Weather-Caracas-SW-San-Bernardino

New York, USA (GMT -5hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1203448423-Weather-New-York-City-Manhattan-Brooklyn-Heights

Mexico City, Mexico (GMT -6hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1227920331-Weather-Mexico-City%2C-Marina-Nacional-San-%C3%81lvaro

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, USA (GMT -8hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1237885478-Weather-Los-Angeles-Venice-Beach-Little-Tokyo

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii (GMT -10hrs)
http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1237885198-Weather-Hawaii-Waikiki-Beach-%E2%80%98%C4%80lewa-Heights

Time zone reference:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Timezones2008.png

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Power Source for Fossil Fuel-Free Vehicles

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An Australian bus powered by Compressed Natural Gas

by L. Berney

Thinking about the world's future energy requirements and how that energy could be supplied without the use of fossil fuels, it has always seemed to me that the first choice is Geothermal Energy to generate main-line electricity. (The second choice would ne Nuclear. Other 'renewables', solar, wind, wave, tidal flow, hydro-electric (dams), could never produce more than a fraction of the energy the world needs.)

One major problem I foresaw was how to power road vehicles. If petrol and diesel are to be replaced, vehicles will have to be powered by batteries or by hydrogen. Hydrogen could be used to replace petrol/diesel either in a normal internal combustion engine, or in a hydrogen cell to produce 'on-board' electricity. I always thought that, for vehicles, the on-board storage and roadside refueling incurred in the hydrogen option would present serious difficulties. What I have seen here in Australia shows that, in fact, there would be no problem.

Australia has plenty of 'natural gas' but little or no oil. Virtually all the buses and taxis, and many private vehicles in Australia are powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Petrol/diesel tanks have been replaced by gas cylinders. Many filling stations supply CNG. The NG 'pump' has a hose (like a petrol pump) with a lock-on connector which fits the vehicle's filler pipe. Natural gas is 'pumped' into the vehicle's container cylinders -- just like filling up with petrol/diesel, and just as fast.

The engine of the bus or car running on natural gas works just as it would on petrol or diesel; only the carburetor has to be adapted. The power output and acceleration are the same. The gas cylinders hold enough gas for 200-plus miles. The cost per mile is considerably LESS than petrol/diesel!

The widespread use of CNG to power vehicles goes on in countries other than Australia; notably Argentina, Brazil and India. At the end of 2008 there were said to be world-wide over 8 million CNG vehicles on the road.

Natural gas is, of course, a fossil fuel. In a fossil fuel-free world, compressed hydrogen could easily replace compressed natural gas, so the problems I envisaged are in fact already solved!
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Friday, 18 December 2009

George Tilley is the winner on Slips - Viva UK, MTV Networks (Show 108)

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Click the image above to watch the show in full

Fergus vs. George

George's friends and family watch the first broadcast of the show on the big screen at the Broadway pub in East Grinstead

Step son George was the winner in the TV show "Slips" on Viva UK (channel 358 on Sky and Freeview 21), broadcast last night for the first time at 10pm (but will be repeated ad infinitum).

George's racing skills won him his car back plus his competitor's car, both of which were souped up by the TV show (similar to the way "Pimp My Ride" does it)!

Here we all are at the Broadway pub watching the show

George (right) cringing while watching himself on the big screen

George cringing even more!

All of us having a laugh

Two articles in the local media about the show:



Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Further to "Climate Change - The Skeptics " of 7th December.

As I see it....... by L Berney

As detailed in "Climate Change - The Skeptics " of 7th December, climate change skeptics are convinced that the "Global Warming is Man-Made" proponents are wrong -- indeed they claim the whole concept is a gigantic scam. They say,"Planet Earth has always had warmer periods followed by cooler periods. The reason for periodic 'Global Warming' and 'Global Cooling' and the resulting effect on climate has nothing to do with man-made CO2 -- it has to do ONLY with the varying output of the Sun."

For those who are interested in the debate and want to know more, here is Part 1 of a series of videos explaining the skeptics' convictions clearly and in detail.

The logic, it has to be said, is convincing.

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Monday, 7 December 2009

Climate Change - The Skeptics


As I See It....... by L. Berney

The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 takes place in Copenhagen from 7th to 18th December. It will be attended by 192 nations; many heads of governments will be present. The objective is to agree a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012.

The majority of scientists say they believe that the planet is getting warmer and this ‘global warming’ is due in the main to human activity, namely the release into the atmosphere of the greenhouse gas, CO2 resulting from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas (the fossil fuels).

These scientists say that, unless robust and immediate mitigating action is taken, the temperature of the planet will rise over the coming decades by 3ºC to 6ºC and that the effects on humanity will be catastrophic.

However, there are a large number of other scientists (the skeptics) who did not, and still do not, agree with that scenario. They challenge the accuracy of the records that purport to show that the planet is getting warmer. They assert that:
  • the man-made CO2 that has been added to the atmosphere over the last two centuries has made no significant change in the temperature or the climate.
  • the Earth’s temperature rise in the 20th Century was only 0.5ºC and that was due to the Earth’s gradual recovery from the ‘mini ice age' of 500 years ago, not to man-made CO2.
  • there is no hard evidence to expect , even less to predict with certitude, that the rise in temperature in this 21st Century – if indeed there is a rise at all -- will be substantially greater.
They claim that the projections of temperatures and climate changes being used to support the ‘disaster’ scenario are based on faulty and unproven assumptions. They believe that whatever global warming is taking place is the result of natural cyclical causes, not man-made causes. They fear that the actions being implemented by World Leaders to drastically reduce the volume of man-made CO2 will cause great harm to the World’s economy – needlessly.

Some quotes, typical of many others, from papers issued by leading scientist skeptics:

"...The environmentalists consider their ideas and arguments to be an undisputable truth and use sophisticated methods of media manipulation and PR campaigns to exert pressure on policymakers to achieve their goals. Their argumentation is based on the spreading of fear and panic by declaring the future of the world to be under serious threat. In such an atmosphere they continue pushing policymakers to adopt illiberal measures, impose arbitrary limits, regulations, prohibitions, and restrictions on everyday human activities and make people subject to omnipotent bureaucratic decision-making. Man-made climate change has become one of the most dangerous arguments aimed at distorting human efforts and public policies in the whole world..."

"...Some scientists perpetuate the 'global disaster' myth to encourage governments to fund more research into global warming for their own financial benefit. In the papers they publish, data which contradicts their hypotheses is omitted. If it was realized that there was no such danger, that funding would stop..."

"...For those of you old enough to read in the 1970s, there was a lot of hysteria back then about the global temperature dropping and that the planet was entering another ice age. The same ‘if we don't act promptly, in 10 years it will be too late' statements were published, on the covers of reputable papers and magazines by many of the same ‘scientists,' and for many of the same base motives. The only difference between the 1970s and now was that the disaster that was just around the corner was global cooling! How times change, while people don't,.."

This site sets out the skeptic’s position:

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/745.html

This is the link to a US Senate report of 11 Dec 2008 (231 pages) headed “More than 650 International Scientists dissent over Man-Made Global Warming”:

http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=37283205-c4eb-4523-b1d3-c6e8faf14e84

This site summarizes a large number of articles opposed to the current policies:

www.climatechangeskeptic.blogspot.com/

A Petition signed by 31,000 skeptical scientists. These scientists are "...convinced that the human-caused global warming hypothesis is without scientific validity and that government action on the basis of this hypothesis would unnecessarily and counterproductively damage both human prosperity and the natural environment of the Earth."

www.petitionproject.org/


L.Berney
December 2009

Addendum

To illustrate how the Earth's temperature swings higher and lower naturally, long before man-made CO2 was a factor:

“The Romans wrote about growing wine grapes in Britain in the first century, 2,000 years ago. There were about 40 vineyards,” says Avery, “and then it got too cold during the Dark Ages, 500/600 years ago.

"Ancient tax records show the Britons grew their own wine grapes in the 11th century, 1,000 years ago during the Medieval Warming, and then it got too cold during the Little Ice Age of 600 years ago. Wine grapes are among the most accurate and sensitive indicators of temperature and they are telling us about a cycle. They also indicate that today’s warming is not unprecedented.”
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Monday, 26 October 2009

Not the Messiah: Monty Python's 40th Anniversary

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Royal Albert Hall, London, Fri 23 Oct 09 - An extremely special occasion where, at last, I get to meet Eric Idle!

Eric idle and me! Eric is holding a copy of the new book Monty Python Live!

I arrived at the stage door mid afternoon to learn that Eric had recently popped out. This was good news, because it meant he had to come back in at some point, which he duly did, so I finally got to say hello and get a photo!

When you meet someone you've admired all your life, it's difficult to know what to say in the several milliseconds you have to share with them. I could have said thank you for the years of fun he had given me since I got into Python at the age of 13, but there wasn't time and I figured he'd heard that one many times before anyway; I could have told him that I adore 'Nuns on the Run', or how much I love this or that sketch (but which one - there are so many!); I could have asked him to say a few words from a sketch like "Burley Ivan Crab" or "As long as it's warm and wet" or "You've got the wrong map there - that's Stalingrad. You wouldn't have had much fun in Stalingrad" but that's a bit naff really; I could have told him that I had seen Spamalot 6 times, been backstage, blogged about it, knew Nina Söderquist was going to get the part of Lady of the Lake, saw her first ever performance, went to Spamalot London's last ever performance - but he would have probably thought I was bonkers; I could have told him how I have a credit on Monty Python - Almost The Truth - The Lawyer's Cut for the research I did to help the production team, but it never occurred to me in all the excitement - (maybe it would have scored me an Eric Idle Brownie point!).

I realise now that what I should have said was to ask him a question rather than whitter on about my thoughts or feelings. I would love to know what the proudest moment of his career is. He must have several high points in mind, but I imagine one of them must be Friday's show - with an entire orchestra and full choir behind him and a full house of five-and-a-half thousand very happy people in front of him all waving candles and singing along to his music!

What I did say was to tell him it was me who asked the question about why he was still singing his corrected lyrics of the Galaxy Song when an astrophysicist had found that the original lyrics were correct after all (to which he'd replied, on Pythonline, "I wish they'd make up their fucking minds!"). I think he was suitably unimpressed actually, but it was on his way in to do the performance and that's always the worse time to talk to a performer about anything. I knew that, but I didn't know, then, that I was going to get a chance to see him on his way out as well.

I have now met all the surviving members of Monty Python. Regretfully, I never met Graham Chapman.

While waiting for the show to start, I met a Japanese Python fan, Shuji Tohyama, who told me that he was SO into Monty Python, he decided, several years ago, to move over here and live in the UK!

Shuji Tohyama - probably the most dedicated Japanese Monty Python fan ever

The display of merchandise that Shuji is standing in front of included a pair of boxer shorts with "Biggus Dickus" printed on the front and "Incontinentia Buttocks" printed on the back!; and a poster that read, "400th Anniversary of Monty Python - At last a legitimate reason to repackage all those old movies". That's one of the things I love about Python - their honesty!

What was so lovely was that everybody looking at that display was smiling. I think all the Pythons really wanted to do, actually, (other than unashamedly make oodles of money) was to tell us not to take life too seriously, to lighten up and to have fun.

The Python merchandise display window

The show then started with a glorious full-blast version of Sousa's "Liberty Bell". I had a standing ticket in the top gallery (only opened for sell-out concerts) and I put myself dead centre where the view of the auditorium was all encompassing but it was too far away to see faces on the stage properly. The sound was pretty awful too but it didn't matter because it was being filmed (by 12 cameras no less! ) so I'll just get the DVD when it's out.


My ticket
What a show it was too! So original: the story of The Life of Brian, told in operatic style. It is, in fact, an oratorio. The highlights for me were: You're the One;


The BBC Symphy Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Chorus and the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards conducted by John Du Prez (who also wrote 'Not the Messiah' together with Eric)

the re-enactment of the "Crucifiction scene"; the moment where Terry Gilliam molests Carol Cleveland during "Find Your Dream"; Terry Gilliam's (We're all individuals) "I'm not"; and, of course, the surprise rendition of the Lumberjack Song as the encore. What a treat for us that was!



In case you were wondering who the Mounties were: left to right, back row: André Jacquemin, John Altman, Neil Innes - front row: Terry Gilliam, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Terry Jones.

Here's the 'candle' we were all issued with. I didn't want to open mine.

The huge crowd waiting at the stage door after the show

Eric Idle emerges at the RAH stage door, sometime after 1am


I also had the pleasure of meeting Dan McGachey, an online writer for Beano who knew much more about Python than I did (a rare occurance!), André Jacquemin (who told me that the rolling noise in "Charles - I've got something to show you" was made by rolling a cabbage over a board!), Carol Cleveland (so lovely and friendly), John Goldstone (who was charming - he recognised me!) and a Russian fan called Kate (bottom photo, left) who is a lumberjack in real life and who had traveled all the way from St Petersburg just to see the show! In fact, I just realised that Eric is talking to Kate in the above video clip about his 96 year old Russian father in law!

Me with Carol Cleveland
photo by Daniel McGachey

When I got home at 4.30am, I realised I had been standing, continuously, for almost 12 hours! The whole thing was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience and I had such a good time! Along with the times I met the other Pythons, this will remain one of the most memorable days of my life.

Related links:
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Kenwood: My visit to the Secret Life of the Home Exhibition, Science Museum

The Science Museum


The Food Preparation display cabinet


The Kenwood section, showing a photo of Ken

At last, 12 years after it opened (that's disgraceful!), I finally make it to the Kenwood display in the Secret Life of the Home Exhibition at the Science Museum which was wonderful!

I consider this Ken's 'spiritual' home, because he officially opened it in 1997 (the same year he passed away) and the display shows his photo, so he's pretty much preserved for posterity now! Because of this, I decided to lodge some of his business archives at The Science Museum such as some of Kenwood's financial documents (typed spreadsheets - glorious!) and photos of the company's 21st celebrations in 1968.
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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Brownbook - the local search business directory that has everything


With the recent addition of a ShareThis button and 12 prepared widgets, in addition to all the other cutting edge features it offers that I wrote about in my previous blog post, Brownbook.net really is the online local search business directory that has everything

The new 12 just-add-username widgets (almost)

Brownbook.net now surely deserves an award for being the world's coolest business directory. With its latest enhancements, it's packed with so many online marketing gadgets, it wouldn't be out of place in a James Bond movie!

It addition to the fact that Brownbook already:
  • is truly global, allowing listings in 240 countries
  • is completely free
  • can be edited by anyone
  • allows full customization
  • provides a QR Code for every business listing as standard
  • provides page views and clickthrough stats
  • includes IM, VoIP, Twitter and Blog fields
  • allows B2B endorsements, and
  • allows sections of business listings to be used as widgets on other sites (bidgets)
it now ALSO has replaced its "Twitter This" button with a ShareThis button on every page:


Brownbook.net's new ShareThis button

and it has made available 12 widgets for easy addition to business listing pages; pretty much all you have to do now is give your username! The 12 widgets are:
There's no doubt about it - Brownbook.net is very cool!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Why Brownbook.net is the most remarkable local search business directory on the net

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In addition to offering many cool features that really help increase the online visibility of small to medium-sized businesses - all for free - Brownbook.net also has a lot of internet "firsts" to its name
  • Brownbook is actually a global business directory because it allows businesses in 240 countries to be added – but it is also a local directory at the same time. I don’t know of any other ‘local’ directory that is also fully global (other than Google’s).
  • It offers a great deal all for free – in fact, it offers much more than some other directories that charge a fee for extra functionality.
  • Brownbook is the first business directory to allow widgets in listings (e.g. Google Street View or Twitter feed).
  • It was the first to allow you to use any unit within your listing as a widget in itself for use on other sites such as your blog (called Bidgets in Brownbook-speak).
  • It was the first to enable the addition of Google Street View in a business listing.
  • It's the first to provide QR codes as standard within each business listing.
  • It's the first to provide page view stats for every listing.
  • It was the first to provide these all these additional contact fields: IM, Twitter, VoIP and Blog.
  • and it was the first to include a new B2B endorsement feature where companies within the directory can endorse others and so generate more links to their listing. Here's an example of a business listing in Brownbook with 100+ endorsements: http://www.brownbook.net/business/31008591/worldwideprnet
Further reading:

The Guardian: Brownbook finds success with 'freemium' model
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/aug/20/startups-advertising

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Toxin-free products I like and recommend

I thought I'd share the toxin-free products I've found. I tried out several brands but, for the moment at least, have settled on these

I use Faith in Nature hand soap:



Pitrok deodorant:




Daniel Galvin Junior shampoo and conditioner:




Aloe Dent toothpaste (they make mouthwash as well):




Ecover washing machine laundry liquid, fabric softener, stain remover, washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets:




You like these products too? Found better products? Recommend other brands? Let me know!
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Friday, 14 August 2009

But my listing is out of date...

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The traditional business directory industry's 'little secret' is that even in the biggest directories, up to 15% of records are out of date, incorrect or wrongly classified. The main aim of the founders of Brownbook was to make it dead simple for people to correct things when they spot problems (something very hard to do in most traditional directories) - hence the introduction of wiki-like principles in Brownbook.

The beauty of it is that, if you find that your own business (or anyone else's) is inaccurate in any way, you can simply correct it yourself - or report it for deletion if it's, say, a duplicate or if the business no longer exists. This is a fine example of crowdsourcing in action!

In this way, Brownbook- the free global business directory anyone can edit - is made more accurate every day.
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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Awesome sites digest

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Using Twitter as I do, and just generally being exposed to all sorts of sites in all sorts of places, I come across some really good ones from time to time, so here are a few I that come to mind:

This site allows you to quickly share a file with others by simply uploading it to the 2shared site. The browse box is right on their home page. Once the upload is complete, it returns a live link which you can send to others so they can download the file. Not sure how this compares to usendit, but best of all - 2shared requires no login!
This twitter service is ideal for those with multiple Twitter accounts. The latest v2.0 which was released just the other day is superb. It gives the advanced Twitter user exactly what they want, all in the right places. I wish the "Show more" link showed more than it did (past tweets) and Hootsuite don't seem to be too hot in the support department. Ostensibly, they provide support via getsatisfaction.com but I have 3 outstanding queries - the first being 3 days old - and am still awaiting a response.
So much has been said about these already - suffice it to say, they are both brilliant. I found the wedding video quite moving because of the vast amounts of happiness that excuded from my screen when I watched it, and the divorce version was very cleverly done and very funny. Here's a recreated added bonus.
This one I find difficult to grasp! A still 360 degree photo I can just about understand, but how do you take a 360 degree video and then allow the viewer to wander around anywhere (up, down, left, right) while the video is playing? Knot together several videos all taken simultaneously whilst pointing in different directions? Well I couldn't see the join, could you?
For small to medium sized companies, serious about getting more online exposure, adding themselves to Brownbook.net, the free global business directory anyone can edit, is a must. Fields supplied include: web, blog, Twitter, VoIP and IM. It's also possible to add your QR code as well as your Google Street View link plus widgets and it includes bidgets (for export to other sites). Brownbook.net has to be the coolest business directory ever!
Do you know your rights? This beautiful site is packed with data - pretty much everything there is to know about your rights, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and it includes a PSA for each right given in the UDHR, plus a documentary on the history of the subject. Join the campaign to prevent human rights violations in those countries where the UDHR is not being adhered to.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Brownbook.net on the front cover of Home Business Magazine

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Home Business Magazine

Unless you are Jordan or Cheryl Cole, it’s not every day you find yourself on the news stands of America… on the front cover!!! Here are the co-founders of Brownbook.net, (the free global online directory anyone can edit) - Dave Ingram and Marc Lyne - on the front cover of the July/August issue of Home Business Magazine.

Home Business Magazine has a readership of 210,000 home-based entrepreneurs and business owners; people who work from home; and telecommuters. HBM Online is loaded with content to help home-based business start-ups succeed.
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Monday, 22 June 2009

Celeb spotting in Puerto Banus

Harry with Ricardo Quaresma in Puerto Banus last night on Twitpic
Harry with Ricardo Quaresma
We've just come back from a weekend in the well-known celeb haunt, Puerto Banus.

Harry and I tend to find ourselves celeb-spotting there whenever we get a chance. In previous years, we've bumped in to quite a few. This year, considering we were only there for the weekend, was certainly no exception.

Harry (who attends Greenfields School) met the ultra cool Ricardo Quaresma (above) and, being a Chelsea FC supporter, it made his day!

We also saw the publicist, Max Clifford (see below), and Harry shook hands with Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jermaine Jenas.

Max Clifford in Puerto Banus last night on Twitpic
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Friday, 22 May 2009

Stuntman dives off viaduct in East Grinstead for Foyle's War

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Andy Wareham, stuntman for Foyle's War, amazed residents of Garden Wood Road, East Grinstead today

Garden Wood Road was closed all day today for the filming of a scene for Foyle's War, a detective-drama series set in war-time Britain, starring Michael Kitchen (who was filming elsewhere unfortunately).

The crew spent the morning filming on top of the viaduct, then down below for the scene where Andy jumps off, and finally another scene in a field nearby.

The highlight was obviously Andy's jump scene, landing on a huge 'bouncy castle'. The set up took hours - all for a two-second shot! All went well; Andy lives to tell the tale and has proved himself to be very brave!

Andy Wareham who I notice from IMDB, is also in Terry Gilliam's movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Damn, I wish I'd spoken to him about that, being, as I am, Terry Gilliam's #1 fan!



Andy, about to jump

Rob Heanley and Sam Marks (whom Andy stunt-doubled for)

To see more pictures, click here:
http://it.thislife.com/KZtfko

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Members of Parliament - Claims for Expenses and Allowances

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Members of the British Parliament, when asked to explain the amounts they have claimed, invariably say: “All my claims comply with the rules – I have done nothing wrong”.


As I See It....... by L Berney

I was interested to know what, exactly, are the rules about expenses and allowances behind which these MPs shelter.

The rules and the amounts claimable are set out in a "Green Book" and in the "Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament".

The rules are crystal clear -- they include the following passages:
  • You shall at all times ensure that your use of expenses, allowances, facilities and services provided from the public purse is strictly in accordance with the rules laid down on these matters, and that you observe any limits placed by the House on the use of such expenses, allowances, facilities and services.
  • Your claims for expenses and allowances must be “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred in the execution of your duties as an MP.
  • You must ensure that arrangements for your claims are above reproach and that there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money.
  • You should bear in mind the need to obtain value for money from accommodation, goods or services funded from the allowances.
  • You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is, obtaining an immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds or that public money is being diverted for the benefit of a political organisation.
  • The costs of leasing accommodation from yourself is not allowable.
  • The requirement of ensuring value for money is central in claiming for accommodation, goods or services. You should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious.
  • Funds must not be used to meet the costs of a mortgage or for leasing
  • The following questions are designed to assist Members in coming to a decision about whether or not costs incurred are appropriate to be met from the allowances:
  1. Is this expense genuinely incurred by me in my role as a Member of Parliament as opposed to my personal capacity?
  2. Is this purchase supporting me in carrying out my parliamentary duties? Note -- Anything which is done for personal benefit or for electioneering or for the direct support of a political party will not be part of a Member’s parliamentary duties.
  3. Does the claim match the purpose of the allowance in question?
  4. Could the claim in any way damage the reputation of Parliament or its Members?
  5. How comfortable do I feel with the knowledge that my claim will be available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act?
In my opinion, nothing could be clearer than that!

According to the allegations published by the Daily Telegraph, many MPs claimed and spent or pocketed Expenses and Allowances which were not “wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the execution of his/her duties as an MP”, that were not “above reproach”, did “misuse public money”, were not “value for money”, which were “extravagant or luxurious”, were not “in support of parliamentary duties”, were “for personal benefit”. And that, as such claims were knowingly in breach of the rules, the MP concerned could “damage the reputation of Parliament or its Members”.

See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/

Therefore, where the allegations are true, clearly the MPs concerned have NOT “claimed within the rules, done nothing wrong” as they all say – clearly they HAVE breached the rules.

In a commercial company, if an employee had been found to have personally benefited from or pocketed any of the firm’s money, that employee would certainly be expected to return the money he had “stolen” and would probably be dismissed, if not charged with criminal theft.

As I see it, that is exactly how MPs who have fraudulently spent or pocketed tax-payers’ money should be treated.
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