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Archive for November, 2009

I was due to have an author on my show this last week whose co-written a book about partying, drinking games, and hangover cures after attending 15 Colleges in the US and not getting one academic success, except for being known for running some of the best ever college parties. Unfortunately the author was a “no show” for the radio program, so I never got a chance to exchange UK rugby drinking games with US college games.

One item I did find out though was that my guests favorite tipple was Bud Light.

How can a person who has classed themselves as a series beer drinker, have Bud Light as a favorite beer. I have known rugby clubs in England, when being asked for a Bud or Miller Light point the patron in the direction of the bathroom saying “the water tap is in there”. It is THAT WEAK.

This started me thinking about beers and the strength of beers in the US compared to England. A thought process that was enhanced when an article this week that BrewDog of Fraserburgh, a Scottish brewery, launched “Tactical Nuclear Penguin” what it described as the world’s strongest beer – with a 32% alcohol content.

A warning on the label states: “This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whiskey, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.”

Before you start working out the strength of the beer, one has to remember the way alcohol “percentage proof” measurements in the US differ to the UK.

In the US the percentage shown is basically half the strength, so something that reads 70% proof in the USA is 35% alcohol. In the UK 70% proof is basically (and these are not exact figures) double that. This being the case a 32% beer in England would almost equal a shot of Jack Daniels in the USA.

One of the items Americans always bring up when discussing beer, is that England has “warm beer”, this is really not the case. Any “good” pub that sells beer out the barrel which is hand pumped, rather and gassy carbon dioxide forced bubble baths, will keep there beer in a “cellar”, thus it is at “cellar temperature”.

After all the “almost frozen” beers that Americans seem to like, are so cold, one can never taste the true flavor, as at the first sip, your taste buds are frozen. Of course this loving of very cold drinks can be seen when Americans serve you a spirit or “shot”, as there is normally as much ice in the glass as caused the Titanic to sink.

This is not to say that there are not such beers in England, these cold fizzy drafts are normally termed under the term “Lagar”, with the likes of Bud, Fosters, Carling Black Label and Stella being available in most pubs in England.

While doing a little research into beers and the strengths I cam across a wonderful site called
Drunktionary, a wonderful place to find out all sorts of terms to do with drinking.

So while I go looking for a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin, it just leaves me to say one thing.

“CHEERS”

Barry Eva (Storyheart)

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D for daring, E for enchanting,L for loving, I for inspiring, C for captivating, I for intriguing, O for outgoing,U for unique, S for sophisticated: DELICIOUS.
So begins my special guest in tonight’s “A Book and a Chat” when she talks about her new book “Tales for Delicious Girls”.

Check out tonight’s Book and a Chat at
http://ping.fm/8H4BO

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At this time of year when people will be eating way more than is good for them, and those surviving Turkeys give a sigh of relief that they might have survived another year.

In England except for those Americans living in the UK, we do not celebrate Thanks Giving, Turkey tends to be the main food eaten at Christmas.

When you remeber that in just over three weeks time it will be Christmas, perhaps my statement about the relief of Turkeys is not quite so true. The English Christmas dinner of perhaps Prawn Cocktail or melon to start, followed by roast Turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, stuffing and maybe a piece of Yorkshire pudding. And of course Christmas pudding as a desert, along of course with the must have Christmas crackers (you pull them and the go bang) complete with silly jokes and the “must ware” paper hats.

So on this day I thought I’d share with you something less savory and perhaps a warning to those who are flying somewhere this holiday.

Toilet mystery on Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific says its fleet of Airbus planes has been hit by a spate of mysterious toilet blockages.

The problem has been so serious that one flight from Riyadh had to land in Mumbai when the crew discovered none of the plane’s 10 toilets were working.

In other cases, the number of passengers boarding flights had to be restricted because of toilet problems. Any blockage usually affects all the toilets on one side of an aircraft.

Airbus engineers are now fitting new toilet pipes to the airline’s fleet and carrying out deep cleaning.

Cathay spokeswoman said “Although the exact cause of the blockages was unclear, passengers themselves may be partly to blame.”

“You would be amazed what we find in the pipes when we clean the system – not just face towels but medicine bottles, socks, items of clothing and even children’s stuffed toys,” she said.

The toilets use high-speed vacuum pipes to take waste at up to 68mph into a holding tank, which is then emptied between flights.

Barry

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For those of you who have not been reading my Thursday Story’s up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share one each Thursday until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today’s is from 2002, you might have heard me narrating it on a resent “”Book and a Chat” radio show, when a guest did not turn up.

THE DOLL (2002)

She stood in the street, soft snowflakes falling round her, as she gazed at the doll in the shop window. The bright lights of Christmas filled the night, casting shadows of all shapes and sizes across the white winter blanket that covered the streets. Sounds of music and laughter came from behind curtains, and the spirit of the Yuletide seemed to fill the air.

Children their faces lit with the joy of the season rushed through the streets, their garb of many colors making her drab dress look even duller.

She looked once more at the doll in the window a look of longing covering her face, as she wiped away a small teardrop that escaped the corner of one eye.

The shop door opened as a family, arms filled with gifts came laughing into the street, and without thinking she slipped past them into the shop. Her eyes opened wide as she gazed on the beauties in this Aladdin’s cave of a toyshop. Not knowing where to look first she slowly wondered through the store, each step revealing something even more fantastic, even more wonderful. Her eyes grew as big as saucers, and sparkled like the lights that lit the Christmas bedecked store.

At last she came to the dolls, and she knew at once the one she wanted, the one she had craved so very long. She was their her dark hair curled round her face, blue eyes, smiled at the girl, and hands were outstretched as if asking to be taken and held by the girl.

Tears sprang to the young girl’s eyes, slowly trickling down her cheek, as she knew she would never have the doll, never know the feel of her cuddled up in her arms.

Slowly she turned and walked back through the store. Nobody seemed to notice the girl, in her dull dress, tear smeared features and a heart so heavy one could almost feel the pain.

She reached the door as another family came rushing into the store, and for a moment the girl wanted to stay and join them, then as before she quietly moved through the door, until she stood once more on the street gazing at the doll in the shop window.

It was the same place she had been standing all those years ago, when the runaway coach and horses had plowed into her, sending her to the world where she now roamed.

With a sigh that if heard would have broken your heart, she reached towards the doll, her ghostly hands passing through the window, and also through the doll. With tears still falling from her deep rimmed eyes she turned and walked away disappearing into the growing darkness. She would be back next year, once more to see the doll and each year after that until she would finally rest in peace.

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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As football players chase a pigskin down the field in Miami or Detroit, we settle into our living rooms, loosen our belts, wave off a second helping of pie, and remind the little ones this is the day we echo the thanks of the Pilgrims, who gathered in the autumn of 1621 to celebrate the first bountiful harvest in a land of plenty.

So what is the truth about Thanks Giving?

That first winter in the New World had been a harsh one, of course. Half the colonists had died. But the survivors were hard-working and tenacious, and – with the aid of a little agricultural expertise graciously on loan from the Wampanoag, the Narragansett, and the Mohegan – were able to thank the Creator for an abundant harvest, that second autumn in a new land.

The only problem with the tale, unfortunately, is that it’s not true.

Oh, the part about the Indians graciously showing the new settlers how to raise beans and corn is right enough. But in a November, 1985 article in “The Free Market,” monthly publication of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, author and historian Richard J. Marbury pointed out: “This official story is … a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving’s real meaning.”

The problem with the official story, Mr. Marbury points out, is that “The harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.”

In his “History of Plymouth Plantation,” the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years because they refused to work in the fields, preferring instead to steal. Bradford recalled for posterity that the colony was riddled with “corruption and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.”

Although in the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622 “all had their hungry bellies filled,” that relief was short-lived, and deaths from illness due to malnutrition continued.

Then, Mr. Marbury points out, “something changed.” By harvest time, 1623, Gov. Bradford was reporting that “Instead of famine now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, the first governor wrote, “Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” Why, by 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists actually began (start ital)exporting(end ital) corn.

What on earth had happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” And what solution was decided upon? It turned out to be simple enough. In 1623 Gov. Bradford simply “gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit.”

What? Wasn’t that the American way from the start?

Not at all. The Mayflower Compact had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.”

A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed – a concept so attractive on its surface that it would be adopted as the equally disastrous ruling philosophy for all of Eastern Europe, some 300 years later.

“This ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving,” Marbury explains.

Gov. Bradford writes that during those terrible first three years “Young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Since “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak,” the strong men simply refused to work, and the amount of food produced was never adequate.

In historian Marbury’s words, Gov. Bradford “abolished socialism” in the colony, “replacing it with a free market, and that was the end of famines.”

In fact, this lesson had to be learned over and over again in early America. “Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results,” Marbury notes. “At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first 12 months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called ‘The Starving Time,’ the population fell from 500 to 60.

“Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was ‘plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.’ He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, ‘we reaped not so much corn from the labors of 30 men as three men have done for themselves now.’ ”

They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Sadly this was a lesson the people of Russia had to learn all over again – at the pain of equally devastating starvation and penury – in our own century. By the 1980s, when the discredited and bloodstained rulers of Russia finally threw up their hands and allowed farmers to raise private crops and sell them for profit on a mere 10 percent of their lands, once again more crops were produced on that 10 percent of the land than on the 90 percent devoted to “collective agriculture,” the system under which – as the bitter Russian joke would have it – “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.”

Yes, America is a bounteous land. But the source of that bounty – and the good fortune for which we annually gather to give thanks – lies not merely in the fertility of the soil or the frequency of the rains – for there is hardly a more fertile breadbasket on the face of the earth than the Soviet Ukraine.

No, the source of our bounty was the discovery made by the Pilgrims in 1623, that when men are allowed to hold their own land as private property, to eat what they raise and keep the profits from any surplus they sell, the entire community becomes one of prosperity and plenty.

Whereas, an economic system which grants the lazy and the shiftless some “right” to prosper off the looted fruits of another man’s labor, under the guise of enforced “compassion,” will inevitably descend into envy, theft, squalor, and starvation.

Though many would still incrementally impose on us some new variant of the “noble socialist experiment,” this is still at heart a free country with a bedrock respect for the sanctity of private property – and a land bounteous precisely because it’s free. It’s for that we give thanks – the corn and beans and turkey serving as mere symbols of that true and underlying blessing – on the fourth Thursday of each November.

Barry

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Every so often some group or other reports that certain things are good for you, then a few days later another group replies that the same item is bad for you.

While it’s been noted for some time that a pint or two of beer per day is medically good for you, last week it was reported…

Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests.

The Spanish research involving more than 15,500 men and 26,000 women found large quantities of alcohol could be even more beneficial for men.

Female drinkers did not benefit to the same extent, the study in Heart found.

Experts are critical, warning heavy drinking can increase the risk of other diseases, with alcohol responsible for 1.8 million deaths globally per year.

The study was conducted in Spain, a country with relatively high rates of alcohol consumption and low rates of coronary heart disease.

The research involved men and women aged between 29 and 69, who were asked to document their lifetime drinking habits and followed for 10 years.

Crucially the research team claim to have eliminated the “sick abstainers” risk by differentiating between those who had never drunk and those whom ill-health had forced to quit. This has been used in the past to explain fewer heart-related deaths among drinkers on the basis that those who are unhealthy to start with are less likely to drink.

If that comment upset you, or has left you in a bad mood. Don’t worry because according to an Australian psychology expert, being in a bad mood could also be good for you.

In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.

While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine.

‘Eeyore days’

The University of New South Wales researcher says a grumpy person can cope with more demanding situations than a happy one because of the way the brain “promotes information processing strategies”.

He asked volunteers to watch different films and dwell on positive or negative events in their life, designed to put them in either a good or bad mood.

Next he asked them to take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly – they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators.

Professor Forgas said: “Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world.”

The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a “mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style”.

His earlier work shows the weather has a similar impact on us – wet, dreary days sharpened memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.

Finally something I’ve been saying for some time…

Dirt can be good for children, say scientists.Messy play should be encouraged, according to the hygiene hypothesis. Children should be allowed to get dirty, according to scientists who have found being too clean can impair the skin’s ability to heal.

Normal bacteria living on the skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when we get hurt, the US team discovered. The bugs dampen down overactive immune responses that can cause cuts and grazes to swell, they say.

Their work is published in the online edition of Nature Medicine Experts said the findings provided an explanation for the “hygiene hypothesis”, which holds that exposure to germs during early childhood primes the body against allergies.

Many like myself believe our obsession with cleanliness is to blame for the recent boom in allergies in developed countries.

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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Around the world Football or Soccer as it’s called in America, (don’t get me on about how grid iron can be called football when the foot is hardly used) is the most popular team sport. The let’s call is Soccer so American’s don’t get confused, the “Soccer World Cup” is the second most watched sporting event after the “Olympics“, with I might add the “Rugby World Cup” third in the list.

The qualifying rounds for the world cup finals which will take place next year in South Africa have been completed, and yes USA qualified, if your interested, managing to beat Honduras on the road, cruising through by virtue of an impressive home record.

However “The Beautiful Game” as it is sometimes called has it’s own problems right now.

While I was over in England, Liverpool lost against Sunderland in the Premier League because of a beach ball that had been thrown onto the pitch by a Liverpool fan. The winning goal came when Sunderland striker Darren Bent’s shot bounced off the inflatable ball and went in. The Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina was totally confused and tried to catch the beach ball instead of the real ball.

In Africa police quelled a riot in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, where thousands of angry Egyptian fans burned Algerian flags and set cars on fire near the Algerian embassy after Egypt’s defeat by Algeria in a World Cup qualifying match which secured Algeria the last African place for next year’s finals.

In the week in an the whole of Ireland were up in arms after a deliberate “hand ball” was missed by the officials allowing a goal to be scored by France which knocked Ireland out the the qualify stages. Even though the “culprit” French striker Thierry Henry admitted afterwords what he had done, which was plain for everybody except the referee and linesman to see. The football association refused to replay the game, leaving France to go through and Ireland to wait another four years.

This however was nothing compared to a disclosure this week that about 200 European football games are under investigation in a match-fixing inquiry, or so a German prosecutor reported. At least three of the games were in the Champions League and another 12 were in the Uefa Europa League. It has been called the biggest match-fixing scandal ever to hit Europe.

On Thursday police carried out about 50 raids in Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Austria, making 17 arrests and seizing cash and property. Fifteen of those arrested were in Germany and the other two in Switzerland.

Matches under investigation were played in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Austria.

However all this is put in place with one non “soccer related” item that I read about this week.

‘Fat for cosmetics’ murder suspects arrested in Peru

Four people have been arrested in Peru on suspicion of killing dozens of people in order to sell their fat and tissue for cosmetic uses in Europe.

The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat. The liquidized product fetched $15,000 a liter and police suspect it was sold on to companies in Europe.

At least five other suspects, including two Italian nationals, remain at large. Police said the gang could be behind the disappearances of up to 60 people in Peru’s Huanuco and Pasco regions. One of those arrested told police the ringleader had been killing people for their fat for more than three decades.

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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