Sunday 30 September 2012

Car Boot Pickings!!

Renoir masterpiece discovered in £5 box of trinkets

A painting discovered two years ago in a £5 box of trinkets at a West Virginia flea market has been confirmed as an original by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The woman considered discarding the painting to salvage its frame, but instead made an appointment to have it evaluated in July by the Potomack Co auction house in Alexandria, Va, said its fine arts director Anne Norton Craner.
When the woman pulled the painting out of a garbage bag she carried it in, Ms Craner was nearly certain the painting was a Renoir with its distinct colours, light and brushwork. A plaque on the front labelled it "Renoir."
"My gut said that it was right, but you have to then check," Ms Craner said.
French handwriting on the back of the canvass included a label and number. Craner turned to the catalogue by French gallery Bernheim-Jeune that's published all of Renoir's work.
"Low and behold, it was in volume one," she said.
An image of the painting was published in black and white, and the gallery's stock number matched the flea market find. So Craner made a digital image of the flea market painting, converted it to black and white for a closer look, and the brush strokes also matched, she said.
"It's not a painting you would fake," Ms Craner said. "If you're going to fake something, you'd fake something easier."
Painting No 24349 turns out to be Renoir's painting "Paysage Bords de Seine," which translates to Banks of the River Seine, Ms Craner determined. It dates to about 1879 and measures 6 inches by 10 inches.
The painting is set for auction Sept 29. It could fetch $75,000 or more, Ms Craner added.
Elizabeth Wainstein, owner of the Potomack Co. said there's no doubt about the painting's authenticity.
The Shenandoah Valley woman found the painting and kept it in storage for nearly two years has declined to publicly disclose her name.
After weeks of research, Ms Craner believes Renoir gave the painting to a woman who modelled for him. The painting was then sold to the Bernheim-Jeune art gallery for 5,000 francs in 1925, according to gallery records. The following year, the gallery sold the painting to American lawyer Herbert L. May who kept homes in New York and Geneva and also worked for the government in Washington.
As far as Ms Craner can tell, May kept the painting in his personal collection until his death in 1966. It's a mystery, though, as to how the painting ended up in West Virginia. Still, its provenance is fairly short as the painting has not traded hands many times.
"It just did what paintings do sometimes – they kind of disappear out of circulation," Ms Craner said. "That's what is so fantastic. This painting's been unseen since 1926."

Saturday 29 September 2012

Dr Who Award Censured!

Censorship Bot Made Mistakes

The entertainment industry has been using malware to seek out the copyrighted material and delete it. This fact became known after one of the bots accidentally closed down a legal live broadcast of one of science fiction’ most famous award ceremonies.
During the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which several thousands of people were watching through video streaming service called Ustream, the audience found the stream switched off when Neil Gaiman was delivering an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, "The Doctor's Wife". Instead of the speech, thousands of people saw the words “Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement”.

Honestly, you could hardly find worse place for the use of copyright bots to come out of shadow. Ironically enough, the entertainment industry’s use of anti-piracy malware bots was made public in the middle of a bunch of writers who earn money writing tales of heroes fighting against high tech corporates who barely acknowledge the law. As you can understand, such a crowd will hardly let something like this lie.

Tobias Buckell, the bestselling science fiction author, was first to break the news on his twitter feed, saying that the censorship bot of the studios appeared to get in a tizzy over the fact that the award ceremony demonstrated clips from the BBC show. So, it is now clear that whatever the entertainment industry is using, it isn’t able to recognize fair use.

By the way, the videos were provided by the studios themselves, and the Hugo Awards had explicit permission to broadcast them. However, the digital restriction management robot on Ustream wasn’t programmed to recognize such basic contours of copyright legislation. To make things worse, the robots completely closed down the live broadcast of the Hugo Awards.

In response, Ustream’s CEO has made a public apology and promised that the company would never use Vobile robot again until they make sure it could tame its bots. He admitted that the broadcaster was using the bots in order to support a large volume of broadcasters using the free platform. However, he didn’t say why they had given so much power to the robot in the first place. The fact that Ustream couldn’t restore the feed quickly indicates that the bots had much power.

Friday 28 September 2012

Fell Off The Perch!!

Tarbu, the 55-year-old parrot, dies after signing off with a 'cheerio'

A 55-year-old domestic parrot has died - after squawking his last word: "Cheerio."

The African Grey parrot Tarbu, believed to be one of the world's oldest domestic parrots, uttered his final farewell to Nina Morgan, 89, as she made her way to bed.
He was so weak the next morning that he couldn't manage his usual greeting of "Hello, my darling" and dropped dead from his perch.
Mrs Morgan believes his longevity was down to a life of "being spoilt" - from munching his favourite Kit Kats to watching Emmerdale and Coronation Street every night.
He lived an eventful life having been rescued from an animal trader in Tanzania in 1957 and was once taken into police custody after going missing.
The parrot was known for being vocal and would shout "Cheerio, bye, see you soon" to Mrs Morgan every time she left the house.
He squawked "woof, woof" at dogs, as well as calling "miaow, miaow" at cats that passed his window.
Tarbu even alerted partially-deaf Mrs Morgan to the doorbell by shouting "cooeee" and her name "Nina", as she could not hear it ring.
Widow Mrs Morgan, who lives alone, said she was very upset by the death of her pet, who had been her companion for 55 years.
She said: "He was a very intelligent bird and very clever. We never taught him to talk, he picked everything up.
"The night before he died I went up to bed and he said 'cheerio' to me from his cage. It was the last thing that he said.
"He sounded very weak and I did think 'oh dear, he is not well' and had this feeling about it.
"The next morning he was on the top perch of his cage with both of his wings hanging down. I talked to him as usual and he gave me one or two little squeaks.
"I went to make a cup of tea and when I came back he was dead at the bottom of the cage. I cried for two days and I just miss him so much."
Tarbu was taken from his nest as a chick by an African trader in Da es Salam in Tanganyika, now Tanzania.
Mrs Morgan, a former flight engineer, was living in the country with her husband Peter, who was a pilot for the country's president Julius Nyerere.
The couple bought Tarbu for their son Christopher, then aged eight, in 1955.
Mrs Morgan added: "He was a very young chick, he had not yet fully feathered. He adored my son and would shout 'Christopher' at him."
Christopher died in a car crash in the 1970s and Mr and Mrs Morgan returned to England with Tarbu in 1985.
Tarbu became Mrs Morgan's sole companion when her husband, a former RAF pilot, died of emphysema.
She said: "We did so much together. He would say 'Hello, my darling' to me every morning when I gave him a digestive biscuit for breakfast.
"I would let him out every afternoon for what I called his 'fly past' and he'd fly around the living room and come and sit by me on the sofa.
"We used to watch the news, Emmerdale and Coronation Street together. If an animal programme came on he used to squawk at the other creatures.
"Every night before I went to bed I used to say 'cheerio Tarbu' and he would reply 'cheerio'.
"Everyone who met him thought he was the most wonderful bird. He was so intelligent and always doing something.
"If he saw a dog in the house he would dive bomb on it and should "woof, woof" because he was guarding our home. I used to stroke him like he was a dog.
"He also used to shout "miaow, miaow" and "puss, puss" at cats when they went past the window. He has given me and my friends years of laughter."
Mrs Morgan buried Tarbu in her garden, underneath an RAF flag, after his death three weeks ago.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Paying For It….Mel??

Mel Gibson's wife 'entitled to pension share'

Mel Gibson may be paying for his divorce well after his retirement, according to reports in the US.

TMZ website said that the actor-director’s ex-wife, Robyn Moore, will receive a large portion of his retirement benefits from the Screen Actors’ Guild, the Directors’ Guild and private pension benefits accumulated through a production company they ran.
The couple, who had seven children together, separated in 2006 after 26 years of marriage. They finally divorced in December 2011. It was earlier reported
The news comes after reports that Moore will walk away with half of Gibson's estimated $800 million fortune because the pair had no prenuptial agreement.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Affordable Housing??

UFO house ridiculed after six years of building... and counting

A futuristic house which won the Royal Academy of Arts' prestigious architecture prize has been ridiculed by neighbours who claim it looks like a UFO and is still not finished after six years.

Residents living in Wood Lane in Highgate, north London, say work on the house has been going on since 2006 and that it still looks like a 'scrapyard'.
They are fed up that the house - which they say looks like a 'giant spaceship.....complete with UFO-style elevated gangway' - is making the street 'a mess' and forcing property prices down.
The house, which is in a conservation area surrounded by homes built in the late 18th century, was designed by architects Birds Portchmouth Russum (BPR) and is owned by partner in the firm Mike Russum.
Last year the design won the Architecture Prize at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition, which described the posh pad as a 'four-storey house (which) maximises the potential of a narrow infill site'.
It adds: "The traditional relationship of living and sleeping accommodation is inverted with the bedroom and bathrooms at garden level and the living area above to enjoy the south aspect and views over London.
"The high-level living element (is) prefabricated and craned into position."
But neighbours have this week slammed the house - saying it makes the prestigious road look a 'total and utter mess' with its fenced off entrance, scattered traffic cones and blue tarpaulin.
They are now demanding to know when the house - which is wedged between two existing homes - will be finished, six years since construction work began.
Neighbour Judith Steiner, who has lived on Wood Lane since 1970, said this week: "I originally supported the idea of having a home for the 21st century on the street.
"But work has been going on for years and now it just looks like a scrapyard surrounded by a chain link fence - it looks like something from War of the Worlds."
Another neighbour, who has lived in the street for the past 10 years but who did not want to be named, said: "It looks like a giant UFO just about to land.
"The gangway makes it look even more alien and you half expect martians to waddle down it at any second.
"To be honest though, everyone would just like it if the place was finished - it's been a bombsite for six years now and it's about time it was completed."
Owner Mike Russum blamed planning laws, which he says delayed the completion of the house.
"Certainly there has been fierce opposition by a few neighbours," he said.
"We understand the concerns about the delay to its completion, which has been painfully experienced by us.
"The house is not conventional and explores various architectural ideas about creating a joyful home appropriate to this age.
"It is unashamedly modern and we accept that it will not be everybody's cup of tea.
"However, the design won the Architecture Prize at the Royal Academy Exhibition last year and we consider that to be a cultured endorsement." ……BRAINDEAD?

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Spuds You Pinch!

Potato pilferers perturb B.C. farmer
A posse of bootleggers or fast-food fanatics could be behind the theft of a football field’s worth of potatoes from a Richmond, B.C., farm, according to RCMP.
Richmond Sgt. Cam Kowalski speculated a group of people targeted a Steveston-area farm sometime between Aug. 17-22 to “plant their own field, or for making vodka or french fries.”
He said fellow Richmond officers are baffled by the theft of about 2,300 kilograms worth of tubers, adding he’s never seen a crop caper of this scale in his entire career.
“Is there a commercial underground potato network that we’re not aware of? I don’t know.”
Richmond Mounties boosted patrols in the city’s agricultural areas following the theft and even deployed ATVs to guard fields.
Kowalski said most likely a group of at least three people carried out the heist, noting only an individual “with a lot of time on their hands” would have been able to pull it off solo.

Farmer Bill Zylmans, who has worked the recently robbed field since he was a child, said the theft will have a long-term impact on his business.
Although of $2,000 to $3,000 in spuds were stolen, the 55-year-old pointed out the potatoes had not grown to their full size when they were plucked and would have been worth much more in the coming weeks.
He’s also experienced thefts at his other fields, where people have snatched blueberries or poached pumpkins. The farmer, however, is at a loss to explain why people would devote so much energy to swiping these vegetables.
“Potato is actually a very cheap commodity,” Zylmans said, adding whoever stole the crop must have little respect for agriculture.
“This is my livelihood. You’re not just helping yourself — farming is a hard business today.”

Monday 24 September 2012

Just A Bit Late!

Skipper finds bottle with message nearly a century old

A Scottish skipper has hauled in what could be his most unusual catch - a bottle containing a message written 98 years ago.
Andrew Leaper was pulling in his nets when the bottle appeared.
To his amazement, he discovered on opening it that it contained a message asking the finder to record the date and location of where it was found and return it to director of the Scotland Fishery Board to collect a sixpence reward, Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported.
Further investigation revealed that the bottle - 646B - had been set adrift as part of 1,890 by Captain CH Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation.
It was designed to sink and float close to the seabed to monitor currents.
Only 315 of the bottles have ever been found.
Mr Leaper said: "As we hauled in the nets I spotted the bottle neck sticking out and I quickly grabbed it before it fell back in the sea. I couldn't wait to open it.
"It was an amazing coincidence that the same Shetland fishing boat that found the previous record-breaking bottle six years ago also found this one.
Dr Bill Turrell, Head of Marine Ecosystems with Marine Scotland Science told the Daily Mail: "Drift bottles gave oceanographers at the start of the last century important information that allowed them to create pictures of the patterns of water circulation in the seas around Scotland."
Mr Leaper now qualifies for a finder's fee after plucking the bottle from the ocean - one sixpence.

Sunday 23 September 2012

More Money Then Sense?

223-year-old cognac bought for £19,000

A 223-year-old bottle of cognac has been bought for £19,000.

An anonymous collector purchased the bottle today from The Old Liquors Collection owned by Bay van der Bunt.

It was an extremely rare half-bottle of 1789 A.C Meukow & Co. cognac.

Bay revealed: "In the same shopping spree a 182-year-old Remy Martin from 1830 was traded for £12.900."

Bay owns the world's largest collection of vintage cognacs and rare liquors and is based in Breda, Netherlands. His collection is estimated to be worth £6 million.

The 64-year-old has spent the last 40 years collecting the liquors and admitted that not everyone understands his passion.

"My father said, 'You are out of your mind to collect liquor. Why don't you invest in something worthwhile?' Well, I didn't listen."

Bay did want to sell the collection in its entirety but said that the offer he received for the cognac was simply too good to turn down.

Although many do not understand his hobbie, he is now pleased to prove that it wasn't such a waste of time after all.

"Collecting cognacs and old liquors was very time-consuming and cost a fortune, but it proves to be the best financial investment I have ever made," added Bay.

Saturday 22 September 2012

People Should Get Out More??

Anger over pink pens designed for women

Stationery company BIC has been mocked for its new range of pens for women.

The successful company has stated that the new implements are "designed to fit comfortably in a woman's hand".

The pens are on sale in an "attractive barrel design available in pink and purple".
Amazon has been saturated with hundreds of sarcastic posts from women.

One customer, Mrs S Rose, said: "Oh at last, I feel all woman. I have used other pens in the past but have always been left feeling lost, alone and on the edge of accepted society."

Bookfiend added: "Before these pens, I was nothing. I was a mere inconsequential woman, stumbling around writing nonsense with big pens that made me look ridiculous.

"But now... the whole world looks different. I cannot recommend this pen enough. It won't just change your handwriting. It will change your life."

A spokesperson for BIC issued this statement: "It is great to see people having fun with the product and we're delighted to have brought a bit of much-needed glamour to stationery cupboards everywhere."

Friday 21 September 2012

He’s Lucky??

Man 'marries' two women in one ceremony

A registrar has allowed a man to 'marry' two women in a civil ceremony.

The nuptials took place around three months ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the BBC reports.

The trio have lived together for around three years before the ceremony and share bills and expenses as well as a joint bank account. They decided to 'marry' as a precaution in case of separation or a death of one or more of them.

The move has angered many, including religious groups. One lawyer described the union as "absurd and totally illegal".

However, the registrar who conducted the ceremony for the anonymous trio has defended her actions. Claudia do Nascimento Domingues claims the man and his "wives" should be entitled to the rights of a normal family, adding that no laws are in place to prevent such a union.

"For better or worse, it doesn't matter, but what we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today," she added.

But lawyer Regina Beatriz Tavares da Silva has described the move as "something completely unacceptable which goes against Brazilian values and morals".

Although Domingues allowed the union, it is so far unclear whether the courts will accept the arrangement.

Thursday 20 September 2012

Bit Of A Mistake??

Men's store Hitler causes furor
The name of a new men's clothing store in India has caused a furor.
Rajesh Shah, the owner of the shop called Hitler, with a swastika dotting the I, claims he didn't know about the famous fascist leader until recently.
"I didn't know how much the name would disturb people," he told AFP. "It was only when the store opened I learnt Hitler had killed six million people."
Shah said Hitler is the nickname of a co-owner's grandfather, according to the Times of India. It was given to him because he was a strict man.
The tiny Jewish community in Ahmedabad is not convinced.
"He feigned ignorance about Hitler ... But after we left, we began to believe that he may have been aware about all this and was just pretending to be ignorant," Menasseh Solomon, secretary of the local synagogue, told the Indian Express.

Solomon was part of a small group that visited the shop on Sunday and asked Shah to change the name, "but he refused."
Shah said he was caught off-guard by the reaction because no one complained about the "Hitler opening shortly" banner he'd had up for over a month, TOI reports.
He now says he is willing to change the name but only if he's compensated for his costs: about 40,000 rupees (approximately $710 CAD) on licencing, signage and marketing.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Not All Bad??

Robbers steal man's money and phone, but give him bus fare

A man in America has revealed that robbers who took his money left him enough for a bus fare.

The victim explained that he was robbed at gunpoint by two men after they approached him while waiting for a bus in Dayton, Ohio at around 5am local time.

The Dayton Police incident report stated that one of the robbers pointed a .22-caliber automatic handgun at the man's head and said: "Give me everything out your pocket."

The victim proceeded to hand over his phone and $40 (£25), reports the
Dayton Daily News.

However, before they ran away with their stolen items, one of the men asked him if he had enough cash for the bus.

When he replied that he didn't, the robber gave him $2 back.

The report did not give any descriptions of the suspects, and they presumably remain at large.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

It’s A Fair Cop Gov!!

'Crime reducing' cardboard policeman is stolen

A cardboard policeman used as a crime prevention aid has been stolen from a supermarket.

The six-foot tall life-size figure, named PC Bobb, was placed in a Sainsbury's Local store to deter shoplifters.
The model was stolen last Saturday evening and photos of it have appeared on social networking sites, including appearing at several house parties since being stolen from the shop in Shafton, Barnsley.
A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "It is bizarre that someone would want to steal our cardboard copper PC Bobb. We'd got used to having him being around and hope he is returned in one piece."
The props have been placed in the windows of stores around Barnsley as a crime prevention measure.
Forces had argued the cut-outs would boost public confidence, deter criminals and make the police more 'approachable'.
Greater Manchester Police claimed the presence of a cardboard policeman at an Asda story in Leigh had cut shoplifting by 75 per cent.
However in 2010 Essex Police abandoned a £2000 scheme of 20 cardboard police officers dotted around after they were stolen.
Members of the public claimed they were a waste of funds and placed the public at risk of ridicule.
An Essex Police spokesman said: "The trial of the cardboard police officers shows they had very little effect on crime or antisocial behaviour and we will not be continuing with their use."

Bite The hand??

RapidShare Calls to Kill Linking Websites

RapidShare believes that instead of creating new laws which may come into conflict with innovation, the American government should better focus on killing websites offering links towards pirated material. At least, that’s what the cyberlocker offers.
In order to ensure that the US authorities take this recommendation seriously, the RapidShare’s Chief Legal Officer Daniel Raimer arranged a meeting with technology leaders and law enforcement at the Technology Policy Institute.

RapidShare is known worldwide as an already established file-hosting service, but there’s one problem. The company believes that a lot of sites are using links directing users towards this type of illegal services. Regarding this as a serious problem, Daniel Raimer appeared at the Technology Policy Institute forum in Aspen and also made a decision to join a panel on Copyright and Piracy in order to inform that file-hosting services couldn’t be blamed for today’s issues with copyright infringement, but only the means through which users host their content.

According to RapidShare, instead of developing legislation which could stifle innovation in the cloud, the American government should concentrate on this critical part of the Internet piracy network. The cyberlocker points out that these very sophisticated services, usually featuring advertising, do facilitate the mass indiscriminate distribution of copyrighted material online and should be the focus of American IP enforcement efforts.

In addition, RapidShare believes that the US authorities should encourage voluntary industry agreements to address piracy in a manner which is beneficial for everybody. Agreements of this type already exist in the advertising business, so neither payment providers nor file-hosting services should be disregarded.

RapidShare claims that the United States should continue its work to secure voluntary industry agreements in order to address repeated Internet piracy and counterfeiting, as well as include cloud storage and file-hosting businesses in these efforts. In 2012, the company published a “responsible practices” document for file-hosting businesses – RapidShare believes that this should be the starting point for an industry agreement.

Finally, Daniel Raimer thinks that when cyberlockers take responsibility and linking sites are killed, copyright owners could have much less to worry about.

Monday 17 September 2012

Penis Envy??

British men more well-endowed than French...but smaller than Germans

British men have bigger penises than those in France - but are less well endowed than Germans, research suggests.

British men typically have bigger penises than the French - but are less well endowed than German guys, new research claims.
The average British man's penis is apparently 5.5in when erect - coming ahead of the French at 5.3in, Australians (5.2in), Americans (5.1in) and Irish (5in).
And it towers over the average manhood in North and South Korea - the smallest in the study at a mere 3.8 in.
But British men do not have a great deal to shout about in the trouser stakes - coming only 78th out of 113 nationalities covered in the study.
The men of Africa's Republic of Congo are best equipped of all at 7.1 in.
They are closely followed by Ecuadoreans at 7in, Ghanaians at 6.8in and Colombians at 6.7in.
In Europe, Icelanders are the best endowed at 6.5in and the Irish are the second smallest at 5.03in - behind only Romanians at 5.01in.
Africans have the biggest penises at an average of 6.3in and north-east Asians the smallest at 4.2in.
Brits come in just under the Germans, who are bang on the European average of 5.7in.
The sensitive subject has been tackled by Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University.
He is known for voicing the controversial view that evolutionary pressures have led to racial and national differences in intelligence.
Mr Lynn says that the findings confirm previous theories of "race differences in penis length."
He concludes: "For most populations penis length are predictable and confirmed."
But critics have claimed that Mr Lynn's research is flawed because he has admitted gathering his data on penis length from websites.
Jelte Wicherts, professor of methodology at Tilburg University, Holland, said: "This is a brave paper in a controversial area but the data has no methodology."
The research is published in scientific journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Average penis size by country:
Republic of Congo, 7.1
Ecuador, 7
Ghana, 6.8
Colombia 6.7
Iceland 6.5
Italy 6.2
South Africa 6
Sweden 5.9
Greece 5.8
Germany 5.7
New Zealand 5.5
UK 5.5
Canada 5.5
Spain 5.5
France 5.3
Australia 5.2
Russia 5.2
USA 5.1
Ireland 5
Romania 5
China 4.3
India 4
Thailand 4
South Korea 3.8
North Korea 3.8


Cow 'stuck in a tree' in dramatic rescue by Cumbria firemen

A cow was dramatically rescued by firemen after it plunged more than 100 feet down an embankment and became stuck in a tree.

The 660-pound calf, called Sparkle, was discovered in a state of distress after falling down the ravine on a farm Sheriff Park, near Penrith, Cumbria.
Fire-fighters were surprised to receive the call to rescue the 11-month-old bovine after its owner, Philip Armstrong, had noticed it missing from his farm.
The bruised animal had plunged more than 100 feet down a "rather steep" embankment of the river Leith before a tree broke its fall on Tuesday afternoon. It was only stopped from falling further by the sapling.
During the delicate four-hour rescue operation, the Pedigree dairy shorthorn heifer was sedated by vets before being winched to safety by fire crews who used specialist equipment and slings.
Mr Armstrong said that the animal had been left "sore and bruised" by the ordeal, but was otherwise unharmed.
"It was a happy ending to a very stressful afternoon," said his mother, Sandra.
It was unharmed after the ordeal and is now recovering at the farm. Three fire crews attended the incident.
"They had to wear body armour in case a stray hoof lashed out at them," said a spokesman for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.
"It was extremely tired and exhausted. It was very, very still and in quite a deep state of shock.
"The vet checked the cow over and it seemed reasonably happy and relatively unscathed."

Sunday 16 September 2012

Well….What A Hole!!

Well well well: couple find medieval shaft beneath sofa

For almost three decades, Colin Steer had wondered what had caused the living room floor beneath his sofa to dip but it was only after he retired that he discovered his family had been sitting on a piece of history.

ntrigued by the sunken floor, the retired civil servant has uncovered a 33ft medieval well in the house where he and wife Vanessa have lived for almost 25 years.
After three days of work Mr Steer, from Plymouth, Devon, stopped digging at 17ft and is now trying to date the unexpected find. Plans show the well dates back to the 16th century.
"I was replacing the joists in the floor when I noticed a slight depression – it appeared to be filled in with the foundations of the house,” he said.
"I dug down about one foot but my wife just wanted to me to cover it back up because we had three children running around at the time.
"I always wanted to dig it out to see if I could find a pot of gold at the bottom, so when I retired at the end of last year that's what I started to do."

Mr Steer managed to excavate it using a rope to carry out the debris with the help of a friend before discovering an old sword.
"It was hidden at a 45 degree angle and sort of just fell out. It looks like an old peasant's fighting weapon because it appears to be made up of bits of metal all knocked together," he added.
According to Mr Steer’s research, the land on which his house in Mannamead Road now stands was woodland until 1895, with Drake’s leat running through it.
The watercourse was built in the 16th century by Sir Francis Drake to carry water from Dartmoor to Plymouth.
He said: "I've been doing lots of research into its history but I'd like to try and find someone to date it.
"I love the well and think it's fascinating. I'd love to find out who was here before us. I've got a piece of Plymouth's history in my front room."
Mr Steer has installed lights in the structure and the well has been covered up by a trapdoor beside his sofa.
But the shaft has left his wife less than impressed.
"I hate the well,” Mrs Steer said. “But I suppose it is quite a feature. When we come to sell the house I just hope it's not a white elephant in the room."

Saturday 15 September 2012

Bring On The Cadbury’s

'Chocolate may help reduce stroke risk in men'

Regularly indulging in chocolate may actually help men decrease their risk of having a stroke, according to a Swedish study.

Researchers writing in the journal Neurology found that of more than 37,000 men followed for a decade, those who ate the most chocolate – typically the equivalent of one-third of a cup of chocolate chips – had a 17 per cent lower risk of stroke than men who avoided chocolate.
The study is hardly the first to link chocolate to cardiovascular benefits, with several previous ones suggesting that chocolate fans have lower rates of certain risks for heart disease and stroke, like high blood pressure.
"The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate," wrote Susanna Larsson, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who led the study.
Another study she conducted last year found similar results for women.
Flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and may have positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and blood vessel function, according to studies.
For the study, 37,000 Swedish men aged 49 to 75 reported on their usual intake of chocolate and other foods. Over the next 10 years, 1,995 men suffered a first-time stroke.
Among men in the top 25 per cent for chocolate intake, the stroke rate was 73 per 100,000 men per year. That compared with a rate of 85 per 100,000 among men who ate the least chocolate, report the researchers.
Larsson's team had information on other factors, such as the men's weight and other diet habits, whether they smoked and whether they had high blood pressure. Even with those factors considered, men who ate the most chocolate had a 17 per cent lower stroke risk.
Other researchers, though, noted that none of the studies to date have proved that chocolate is the reason for the lower stroke risk.
"It's very important for people to take the news on chocolate with a grain of salt," said Richard Libman, vice chair of neurology at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, New York.
Libman said the theory that flavonoids may have a positive impact remains just a theory and that a wide range of much healthier foods also contain flavonoids – such as apples, kale, broccoli, soy, tea and nuts.
"You can't start advising people to eat chocolate based on this. Think of the negative effects that could result, like obesity and type 2 diabetes."

Friday 14 September 2012

We’re Watching You!!

Microsoft Will Set up City-Wide Surveillance Network

Microsoft has cooperated with the New York Police Department in a bid to create a city-wide surveillance network that will then be offered to the cops further afield.

Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor, announced the introduction of a cutting-edge surveillance system that would be able to analyze a range of data input including smart cameras, license plate readers and radiation detectors to deliver a real-time security overview.

Microsoft and the New York Police Department believe that the Domain Awareness System (DAS) will really help to fight crime on the city streets. Their network, combining a variety of advanced surveillance methods, will be able to alert investigators in cases when, for instance, suspect packages or vehicles might present a security threat. Michael Bloomberg claimed that the network would utilize existing surveillance technologies and unify them through the new system.

The project will capitalize on new powerful policing software allowing the authorities to quickly access relevant material gathered from existing technology and help them respond more efficiently. While claiming that the new system would be developed for preventing terrorism, the Mayor elaborated that it could be used for other purposes, like fighting everyday crime.

Although the City has largely resolved its troubles with street crime when its former mayor Rudy Giuliani started his time in office, recently the New York City Police has been reacting to enormous social protests from the Occupy movement, which included mass arrests.

Both Republicans and Democrats responded in a rare show of agreement and passed through the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, dubbed an “anti-Occupy” law that would end America’s right to protest. Although New York is regarded as a prime terrorist target, such real-time security system might also be seen as a response to the US largest social movement in decades.

Microsoft announced that the joint development would be sold to other police departments, with New York being just an experiment for the system. In case Redmond and the NYPD generate any further sales, New York receives a 30% cut of the profit. As for the New York Mayor, he also confirmed that the NYPD and Microsoft will now be trying to expand the system across world.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Throttle It??

Broadband Providers Continue Choking BitTorrent Traffic

The latest report from the Measurement Lab shows how Internet service providers across the world throttle BitTorrent traffic. Due to the efforts of entertainment industry and other entities benefiting from this, hundreds of ISPs worldwide are trying to curb piracy by chocking their subscribers’ Internet pipe when they see BitTorrent transfers of data, paying no attention to its legitimacy.
The data collected by the Google-sponsored Measurement Lab indicates how often ISPs temper with the connection speeds. The research covers the first quarter of 2012. When compared to 2010, throttling BitTorrent traffic in the US dropped from 50% to 3%, thanks to Comcast’s struggle to protect its subscribers’ rights. Another factor was the FCC ruling stating that Comcast mustn’t interfere with BitTorrent traffic. Charter’s throttling was reduced from 11% to 4%, while Cox is still regarded as the #1 throttler in the country with 6%. This makes Comcast, Verizon and AT&T the best major ISP to have in the US.

But if you live in the United Kingdom, the picture is different. The worst Internet service provider in this regard is BT, which limits BitTorrent traffic by up to 65%, which exceeds 57% it showed back in 2010. In the meantime, other major UK ISPs – O2 and BskyB – keep tempering with BitTorrent transfers, showing 2% and 4% throttling. As for Virgin Media, it dropped from 33% in 2010 to 22%.

Canada can also be regarded as one of the worst countries to access BitTorrent networks in. For example, Rogers, one of the country’s largest broadband providers, is liable for throttling over 3/4 of all BitTorrent transfers. The first quarter of the current year makes them the worst ISP to have, with over 80%. Then comes Bell with its hefty 77%, showing an increase of 19% since 2010.

Let’s look at Australia now. This country appears far more understanding than the rest of the world: here iiNet accounts for 11% of BitTorrent throttling, but it’s good news when compared to 2010, when it had 3 times more. Aussie’s Dodo also improved its relationship with the subscribers, dropping throttling from 14% in 2010 to nothing this year.

The rest of the world, including such countries as Sweden, Italy, France, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands, is heavily tempering with BitTorrent transfers as well.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Brotherly Love?

He is heavy. He's my brother. Silverback gorilla greets long lost sibling with a hug

He may have felt some trepidation at meeting his 35 stone big brother after three years apart.

He may have felt some trepidation at meeting his 35 stone big brother after three years apart.
But any fears for Alf the gorilla were dispelled when the much larger Kesho met him with an even larger hug.
In remarkable scenes at Longleat Safari park in Wiltshire, the pair who were brought up together but then sent to separate zoos welcomed each other with outstretched arms.
The siblings hugged, slapped each others backs and even shook hands as they were reunited in a new £3 million enclosure.
In the three years the siblings have been apart, Kesho, 13, has grown almost beyond recognition becoming a silverback and leader of the pack
Meanwhile Alf, four years his junior, has yet to mature and remains about a third of his weight.
Born at Dublin Zoo, they were separated when Kesho was sent to London Zoo to take part in a breeding programme.
He proved to be infertile, but while living with three females as the dominant male he became the leader of the pack – and transformed from a small blackback gorilla to a silverback who towers over his little brother.
Mark Tye, head gorilla keeper at Longleat, told the Daily Mail: "We weren't entirely sure that the brothers would even know each other, but the moment they met you could just see the recognition in their eyes.
"They were very animated and there was a lot of rough and tumble, but not in an aggressive way. It is quite unusual to see that sort of childlike behaviour in a silverback."

Tuesday 11 September 2012

I Agree Jeremy!!

Jeremy Clarkson: Britain is a nation of 62 million complete and utter bastards

Jeremy Clarkson branded Britain a nation of 'utter bastards' after Twitter trolls mocked him over the death of his dog.

Jeremy Clarkson has never been known to hold his tongue, but now he has insulted everyone in Britain branding the whole country 'complete and utter bastards.'
Clarkson went on to say that Brtis invented torture and slavery and sent the White Russians to be slaughtered by Stalin.
"Outwardly, we hated communist Russia; inwardly, it's what 95 per cent of the country wants," he said.
Writing in Top Gear magazine, Clarkson made the comments after claiming he was he was inundated with abuse and jokes when he Tweeted about the death of his black Labrador Whoopi.
Clarkson, wrote: "A few moments ago , my dog died, and, as an experiment, I announced the fact on Twitter.
"Now, everyone must have known that when a family pet is put down, the family in question is bound to be upset.
"So you'd expect a bit of sympathy. And, in America, that's what you'd get.
"Not in Britain, though. Moments after I posted my Tweet, a man called Ryan Paisey asked: "How does she smell?"
Clarkson said another man had said the news was 'kinda funny.'
Another Twitter user Phil May wanted to know if it was James May's fault, and Tom Green said simply: "Good".
Clarkson said within five minutes he had suffered a 'tirade of abuse.'
He added: "Britain is a nation of 62 million complete and utter bastards. We are the country that invented the concentration camp, and international slavery.
"Hanging, drawing, quartering: that was us too. And who was it that sent the White Russians home to be slaughtered by Stalin? Yup. Us.
"Outwardly, we hated communist Russia; inwardly, it's what 95 per cent of the country wants .
"Bankers, Estate Agents, Politicians, Journalists. Anyone in a suit is basically evil and must, after they've been sacked, go to prison.
"Anyone in a donkey jacket? They're basically good and must have a plasma television immediately."

Monday 10 September 2012

Where’s The Money?

Why Is RIAA Losing Revenues?

According to the RIAA’s tax report, the music trade group’s revenues dramatically dropped in the past couple years. Now the experts can disclose the reason for this downfall. The Recording Industry Association of America, the outfit that represents the US recording industry, has recently presented the tax filing to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The report covered the fiscal year ending with March 2011.
The massive downfall was noticed within the past 2 years with RIAA’s revenues being cut almost in half. The report revealed that the total revenue of the group was of $29 million, while two years ago it was $51 million. The huge drop was caused by the ever-diminishing membership dues paid by music recording companies – from $50 million to $28 million in the same period. The experts point out that the effects were also highlighted by the outfit’s cuts in personnel. At the moment, the RIAA is having 72 people on their payroll (compared with 117 two years ago), which totals in $13 million in pay checks, ¼ of which goes to executives’ pockets.

So, where does this money go? The tax filing revealed that Mitch Bainwol (Chief Executive Officer) gets $1.75 million annually, while Cary Sherman (the current CEO and former president of the outfit) earn only $1.37 million. Now you can understand why these guys are always crying about piracy. Aside from these two, Neil Turkewitz (EVP International), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Mitch Glazier (Public Policy & Industry Relations) got $0.7 million, $0.67 million and $0.6 million respectively.

In the meantime, the tax filing indicated that the anti-piracy outfit spent $2.3 million on lobbying – this figure looks like the one that remains balanced over the years, while the group’s legal fees have dropped from $16.5 million to $2.34 million.

Sunday 9 September 2012

What A Let Down!!

100-year-old Norwegian mystery is unravelled

When the mayor of a Norwegian town wrapped up a brown paper package in 1912, he began a 100-year mystery.

Johann Nygaard handed over the parcel to the local authorities in Sel in the 1920s with no word of explanation. It bore the message: “Can be opened in 2012.”
Yesterday, the guessing game finally ended. After fevered speculation that the package contained bombshell documents, a sheaf of oil shares to make the townsfolk rich or even the “Blue Star” diamond rumoured to have gone down with the Titanic, the truth was revealed.
And it could have been more exciting.
In a ceremony attended by Princess Astrid of Norway and streamed live to the world, the parcel was opened by a white-gloved museum curator. It was found to contain some notebooks, yellowing newspapers, community council documents and swatches of fabric in the colour of Norway’s flag.
As The Local, Norway’s English-language newspaper, put it: “If you were expecting an anti-climax, you may well be on the mark. Suggestions that some onlookers have fallen asleep are greatly exaggerated.”
The current mayor of Sel, Dag Erik Prhyn, attempted to hide his disappointment. “Well, the package didn’t solve our financial problems,” he said, “but our history got richer.”
The package, measuring 40cm x 28cm and weighing 7lbs, had been housed in the Gudbrandsdal Museum. It survived two world wars and twice narrowly avoided being thrown away during clear-out operations, once in the 1950s and again in the 1980s.
Before it was opened, museum curator Kjell Voldheim said: “We haven’t the faintest idea what’s inside. It’s going to be incredibly exciting. We have fantasised a lot about what it might contain.”
Authorities said the notebooks and documents would be examined in detail over the coming days.

Thursday 6 September 2012

It’s Ours….Go Away!!

United States Refused to Give Internet Away

The United States of America, which famously doesn’t even know that it was Tim Berners-Lee who invented the world wide web, has refused to hand over control of the Internet to the United Nations. The latter wants to bring in a global treaty and bring the worldwide web under its control. There were suggestions that the UN would tax large international telecommunication companies to ensure that the world is better connected.

Nevertheless, the news is that the United States will submit its own formal proposal for the December conference held by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union). Terry Kramer, the special envoy for the talks, has opposed the suggestions by Russia, China and other countries to expand the authority of the outfit to cover the web.

Kramer announced that it will introduce regulation, adding that the web has grown because it hasn’t been micro-managed or owned by any government or multinational group. In the meantime, the United States is worried that the December conference, scheduled to be held in Dubai, could seek changes that would threaten the openness of the web and its multi-stakeholder model. The US is afraid that it would grant the governments greater authority to filter or censor data, which is exactly what the Russian Federation and China want, and is also becoming part of policy of such Western countries as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The most worrying part for the big American technology companies is suggestion to the committee to call for taxes on web traffic to pay for a worldwide improvement in infrastructure. Of course, this would hit American businesses which are doing their best to avoid paying tax.

The December conference is aimed at updating a 1998 global telecom treaty, with ITU secretary general highlighting that he would be seeking a “consensus” approach instead of bringing each suggestion up for a vote.

Terry Kramer is hoping that he may lean on the EU to back the plan of the United States to keep control of the worldwide web. Apparently, the rest of the world also accepts the fact that the United States controls the web and has no interest in improving the Internet by taxing rich American companies either.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

That Was Close?

US Senate Killed Cybersecurity Act

A few days ago the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 reached the US Senate. Apparently, the bill didn’t pass, making activists and privacy rights supporters happy.
The supporters of the bill were urging the Senate to pass the law as national security, but their wish didn’t come true. Before this failure, the media reports said that the risks to the US were real and immediate, adding that the White House didn’t see the bill as a partisan issue, but more as a matter of national security.

If passed, the act would give the authorities the legislative elements it needed to tackle hacker attacks: data sharing between the government and the industry, better protection of critical infrastructure, and the right to unite federal resources to lead the cybersecurity team. The proposed legislation was supposed to enable the authorities to prevent the attacks, not only respond to them. But the American Senate dismissed the bill from the very beginning.

Republicans who opposed to the law claimed that the proposed cybersecurity standards would have allowed for too much government regulation. When the legislation was passing through the Senate, one of its articles cause the panic, because Internet service providers could have been able to block such tunneling services as TOR and VPNs.

In the meantime, the bill’s opponents asked citizens to contact their representatives and talk about their civil rights and how the legislation may affect them. After getting about 500,000 responses, the senators decided to prioritize the privacy rights of the users.

So, the bill failed to achieve cloture, which means it won’t proceed to a final vote. In the past months, members of the civil liberties and online freedom outfits had sent over half a million emails to the Senate urging the legislators to stand up for online freedom and privacy when discussing cyber-security bills. The matter is that the privacy activists were concerned about potential for the bill to allow ISPs to monitor their subscribers’ data. They pointed out that there was a newly empowered base of online activists across the country, and alongside them stood a newly-strengthened corps of pro-privacy senators whom they looked forward to working with to fight any future online attacks.

Monday 3 September 2012

On The Beach?

For Italy mafia fugitive, trip to the beach proves costly

Alleged mafia boss Roberto Matalone evaded the police for two years, but a trip to the beach in southern Italy on Thursday proved to be his undoing.
Accused of being part of the inner circle of the Pesce clan, one of the most powerful branches of the Calabria mob, he is married to the sister of boss Francesco Pesce, who was arrested last year hiding in an underground bunker.
But Matalone, 35, turned out to be less shy than his brother-in-law. Surveillance footage released to the media on Friday showed him heading to the beach in shorts and a baseball cap, with a towel over his shoulder.
Police arrested him as he raised his umbrella soon after arriving at the beach in Joppolo, in the toe of Italy, with his family.
The arrest is the latest in a crackdown by Italian police on the 'Ndrangheta mafia, which according to Italian authorities controls 80 percent of drug trafficking into Europe in a business worth 27 billion euros a year.
According to the website of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, his beach reading material was prophetic - a book called "Mafia Hunters" about how Italian police track mafiosi.

Sunday 2 September 2012

Lost Baggage?

Drunk tourist who fell asleep on airport baggage belt is X-rayed

Airport security guards checking for suspicious packages had a shock when a human body showed up on their X-ray machine.

They went to the baggage conveyor belt – and found a tourist curled up in a drunken sleep.
The 36-year-old man had travelled for 15 minutes after getting on the belt next to an unmanned check-in desk.
Police are said to have had difficulty waking the unnamed Norwegian, who was still sleeping in the foetal position,  when they responded to the security breach at Fiumicino airport in Rome.
He was taken to hospital to be checked over because of concerns he may have been injured by exposure to the powerful X-rays. He is now being investigated for causing alarm.
An airport official said: ‘It’s impossible to avoid a situation like this if there’s no employee at the check-in desk.’ The man reportedly arrived at Terminal 3 with a rucksack and a can of beer in his hand to check in for a flight to Oslo.
He appeared to have been drinking heavily.
Denying the unscheduled trip had exposed lax security, another official said: ‘The Norwegian could have carried on going round the main belt, but he could never have ended up in sensitive areas of the airport.’

Saturday 1 September 2012

Don’t Disturb!

Sleeping Swimmer Mistaken for Drowning Man

Onlookers reported seeing the man floating face-up in a lifejacket

A man floating on a central Pennsylvania river was mistaken for a drowning victim — until he sat up.
WNEP-TV reports police and a coroner arrived at the scene Thursday along the Susquehanna River near Williamsport.
Onlookers reported seeing the man floating face-up in a lifejacket just below a dam. The area has seen drownings before.
Turns out the man had fallen asleep while cooling off on a hot summer day.
Swimmer Joseph DeAngelo says he had no idea what was going around him until a dragonfly landed on his nose. Then he sat up.
DeAngelo apologized for the confusion, but says he was living life the best way he knows how.