31 December 2006
There has been a lot of hand-wringing by the Bush and Blair about how he should not be executed. It's kind of ironic that Bush is adverse to this, given his track record. That being said, one thing that is bugging me is the constant need by Western countries to impose their morals and values on to another country, which has opposing views.
Taking the example of China, they are a totalitariean state that supresses individual human rights. However, they are also in a position where their economy is one of the fastest growing and they are slowly giving more rights to the individual. Contrast this with the changes that took place with the fall of the Communism, which resulted in bloody conflicts and massive corruption at the same time that Western values and a Capitalist economy was adopted. I really believe that it is better to allow countries to progress at their own speed, rather than to force upon them foreign values.
Anyway, time for me to go party :)
24 December 2006
Hope you all have a merry Christmas out there. I am not going to apologise for using the C-word. It appears the only people that have a problem with it are the anorak wearing drips whose spine is gelatinous. Heck, even most Muslims don't mind it being celebrated because if I recall correctly, Islam acknowledges both Jesus and Mohammed as a prophet. (Apologies for any incorrect information or spellings).
21 November 2006
The BBC commentator raised the point that these were likely to be the most expensive games in the tournaments history, and will top over £8bn. What's the word I am looking for here? Oh, that's right: d'uh! Now, basic maths and economics may be beyond some reporters but costs will always rise as inflation is a fact of life.
The Sydney Olympics cost £2bn to stage, Athens cost over £4bn and Beijing is expected to cost over £6bn. Spotting a trend here? If London manages to keep costs below £9bn, I personally believe they will be doing well.
I have more concerns regarding the completion of the Olympic village, as the last major sporting venue redevelopment that involved the Government was Wembley Stadium. I really don't think the IOC would be willing to relocate to the Millenium Stadium quite so easily.
20 November 2006
Having lived in a country where all media outlets are locked up by two companies (and seen the damage that does to viewer choice), I believe BSkyB's behaviour needs to be assessed. Also keep in mind that BSkyB is owned by News International who in turn own Fox, the fine purveyor of junk TV.
There is far too much junk on tv at the moment: "reality" tv programmes, ADD-inducing sketch shows and lack-of-talent programmes. Putting more control into the News International group, I am sure will do nothing but increase this nonsense. Plus as a major shareholder, I am sure BSkyB will be happy to derail future bids by ITV for sporting events such as the F1, European Champions league, etc. This may sound far-fetched, but football in Australia is in a still-born state partially due to live games solely being available on Foxtel, the BSkyB equivalent down-under and 50% owned by News International.
I wonder who Johnathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies was meant to be?
19 November 2006
After a bit of a hunt with Google, I found this interesting website. The great thing about it is that you download an application and design your photobook, before uploading (or sending it via CD) and they print it for you. The prices although they sound steep, seem to be pretty reasonable: £80 for a 144 page book, about A4 size.
Therefore instead of sorting out the house and preparing for our housewarming party, I am going to be playing with this. Much better than housework :)
17 November 2006
- All pre-school children's programmes
- All programmes on mainstream channels aimed at children
- All cable and satellite children's channels
- Programmes aimed at young people, such as music shows
- General entertainment programmes which would appeal to a "higher than average" number of under-16s.
In moderation, all these foods are fine and it is better that the message is spread by the junk food companies that moderation and exercise are necessary. An example junk food ad might be:
At the moment, there is no incentive for the companies to clean up their message. Ofcom had the opportunity to make a difference, but instead took the easy way out by the blanket banning. Government agencies, policy makers, etc have to realise that people will continue to do those things that are bad for them. Telling them not to do something is a sure enough way of making people want to do it. Be realistic and educate people, its the best option for improvement.
While Ofcom are at it, could they create an index for how moronic advertisements are? An advertisement with a high index rating (for example the Phones4U campaign) should be automatically banned, the video tapes destroyed by incineration and the person that thought of it sterilised to prevent them from infecting the gene pool any further.
16 November 2006
Nevertheless, I think England played a reasonably good game and were probably deserved a win, rather than draw. The goal they conceded however smacked of poor defending that is untypical of the back four, the scoring player having been unmarked at the time. Not too sure who you can blame: Terry, Ferdinand or Ashley Cole. That being said Micah Richards had an impressive debut for an 18 year old, with no signs of stage fright and a good shot on target. How nice would it have been to score on your England debut as a right-back?
Steve McLaren's email to fans was pretty upbeat about the performance, however England are now in the position of having to win just about every remaining game in their qualifying group to get through to the tournamenet. I hope they can do it, but we still have to face Croatia again and two legs with Russia and Israel (both of whom I would not write off as easy to beat). I think that we may not make Euro 2008.
My other concern, is that England have found their position in Europe: mid-table fodder unable to throw of the shackles of Sweden or Holland and rise above them. I include Portugal in that group, who constantly are found wanting against strong opposition.
13 November 2006
After the Republicans suffered probably their worst defeat in twelve years, old GW decided that may be things in Iraq were not actually going to plan and it was time to think about new options.
In a totally unsuprising move, our Ovine Prime Minister has come out a few days later and said the very same thing. This is just under a month after he stated that troops were there indefinetly. However, because George Bush has changed his mind, so must Blair.
In a show of some originality, Blair did entertain the idea of Iran and Syria. However as these are the very countries that form part of Bush's famed "Axis of Evil", I think the chances of this ever happening are slim to non-existent. And not solely for that reason.
Blair is missing one of the fundemental precepts that is causing the problems in Iraq: the Balkan war happened fundementally because the stabilising force (Tito) was no longer in power (actually he was dead) and Communism in the area was taking it's last breaths. The tribes were therefore free to start causing mayhem by extracting revenge on each other after years of oppression. Fast-forward a few years, and you have a similar situation to how it was in the Balkan states now in Iraq. The violence in Iraq is predominantly sectarian (Shi'a muslim vs. Sunni muslim), even though the numbers of security force personnel injured seems to be rising daily.
Finally, factor in that Syria is 75% Sunni muslim (like Saddam is) and Iran is about 85% Shi'a muslim, I don't think that Iraq will be peaceful anytime soon.
10 November 2006
So Stevie Mac has announced his squad for the international friendly on Wednesday night, which can be found here. Unfortunately, I am not that impressed.
It's good to see Joe Cole back in a 3 Lions jersey so we have something on the left, and I assume Frank Lampard is going to hog his spot in the centre and push Gerrard out to the right wing. Gerrard hates playing there, and everyone can see his best form comes when he has freedom in the centre. Lamps has had a poor run of form recently, but seems to be returning to his normal ways for Chelsea - can he continue like that for England though? Personally, I would have Lamps on the subs bench, the lack of certainty over a starting position may help him find some form.
Up front, there is not a lot to shout about. Rooney has seen his form improve recently, although he missed a sitter on Saturday, Crouch is Crouch; he can have a brilliant night or an absolute pudding of one, once he figures out how to prevent the puddings, then he'll be consistently dangerous. I'm undecided about Johnson, his club form is great but he hasn't sparked in the England jersey. And as for Defoe, lets just hope he eats well before the match!!
The defence is as solid as ever, no complaints there at all. I am intrigued to see how new boy Micah Richards performs though. I guess every friendly squad needs a Theo though.
09 November 2006
Now, I have no problems with referees trying to put some discipline in to the game. It is something that needs to be addressed, but likewise swearing happens all the time and to start making random sending offs for it is going to lead to nothing but controversy.
Still, if the FA decide that Poll's ego has become too much for the game, they could demote him to the Championship League or expel him all together. Here's hoping it's the latter...
08 November 2006
Well, the results of the US mid-term are just about in, and it looks as if GW and his party have suffered a bit of a bloody nose. The loss of the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years, along with the anticipated change in the Senate, means that the Republicans are on the back foot and at first analysis it looks as if things are going to improve, however a brief look at the facts here can dispel that notion.
Quite surprisingly for the Telegraph, they have a blog posting "revealing" media bias during the mid-term's campaigning, as if it was an untoward occurrence. Wake up and smell the roses! All media companies have an agenda, normally instigated by their Chairman or equivalent, to paint a picture that matches their own colour on the political spectrum. Although the BBC often gets a lot of abusive from the right for its bias, the real issue is the News International brand of newspapers as whomever the Sun has backed to win the UK general election has ultimately won. This shows the power that the media can have over parts of the population.
In the ideal world, all media would be like Switzerland - neutral and good at making chocolate.
The house is a complete bomb site at the moment as I try to assemble furniture (Lewisham council's recycling truck must be overloaded with cardboard waste from me) and we had my sister and her partner's wedding over the weekend. Plus there were interviews for that elusive job.
But I am back now, although with a strained back from lifting heavy furniture incorrectly. Remember people, bend the knees not the back!
05 November 2006
This site poses a series of statements to which you then have to say how strongly you agree or disagree. To prevent fence-sitters, there is no neutral box so you are forced to have an opinion either way. The results are then plotted on an x-y graph, where the x-axis is how left- or right-leaning your economic views are. The vertical axis represents how authoritarian you are, the higher up the scale, the more of a bossy boots you are.
Two examples cited on the website are Maggie Thatcher who was quite far to the economic right and quite authoritative (based on her assumed scores) and Adolf Hitler, who was naturally nearly through the roof when it comes to authority, but was way to the economic left. Anyone with an understanding of pre-WW2 Germany, will agree that is a true assessment.
So without further waffling, my results:
As I expected, I am slightly to the economic right - after all a free market means free people*. What was suprising though, was that I was totally neutral. I had expected me to be tending towards the authoritative side. A bit of a revelation.
* Except in China, where the free market has not meant the people are freed, however in reality the markets there are not truly free, so the mantra sticks.
01 November 2006
The way I see it, the future of English football is to get kids at young age having the fantastic balls skills as seen on South American and certain European sides. England for years has produced players that are "hard", they push around the opposition and when they go down, they get right up again and keep running. The problem is, ball skills are sometimes left behind so that anyone that is slightly above normal skill is labelled a wonderkid.
Not that I want to see anything like this mind.
31 October 2006
I did find the accompanying article interesting reading. It sort of flies in the face of Capitalism being seen as the root cause of the environmental issues. It does beg the question why Greenies are almost without exception Socialist, though.
30 October 2006
29 October 2006
An article in today's Mail on Sunday has a copy of a "secret memo"* sent by the Secretary of State for the Environment to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This memo lists a number of measures that the government should consider introducing in order to make the general population more environmentally conscious. Let's take a look at some of these proposals and run them through the cynic's filter, shall we?
- Increase vehicle excise duty for gass guzzlers: hmm, ok I guess but there are some people (farmers, etc) that need such vehicles and why should they be penalised just because DINK1 and DINK2 each want an 4x4 drive to work? As well as raising the duty, why not make it claimable as an expense for those engaged in agricultural work, as long as it was under a certain age. This would give farmers a reason to upgrade to cleaner models, and penalise the urban off-roader (which is the true intent of the tax).
- Exemption from stamp duty for zero-carbon homes: fantastic idea, however I would also like to see greater rebates for those wishing to upgrade their homes, such as additional double-glazing, windmills or solar panels.
- Increased tax on aviation: no! economic growth in the airline industry can lead to greater uptake of newer models which are more efficient and less polluting. Just give airlines (and manufacturers) a reason to upgrade.
- Pricing to reflect enviromental cost: a nice idea in a utopian society, but if the government wants to encourage economic growth, raising prices will not achieve this unless salaries rise correspondingly - something that the government will not want.
- Public sector activities to be more environmentally conscious: nice idea, but I would have expected most sectors to be reasonably environmentally aware. The only exception would be the armed forces, and really there's not a lot that can be done without massive expensive.
All in all, there are some good ideas, a few not so well thought out ideas and a couple of mistakes. Putting my cynical head on, it is likely that the tax increases will adopted a lot quicker than anything that either provides rebates or increases public spending. One thing Gordon Brown is not averse to is putting his hand in the electorate's pocket.* The classification of it is actually Restricted which is the lowest classified level for Government documents, but lets not get hung up on semantics here.
27 October 2006
Also got my mate coming over from Basingstoke for a pub crawl around Blackheath. Should be a messy night as Heather is away :)
26 October 2006
What am I talking about? Well, let me run you by a brief story: I was wondering around WH Smiths today looking around for something to read, as nothing on my bookshelves was inspiring me. Now, I have read some really bad stuff in my time (the Da Vinci Code being an example) and I have some stuff that although bad is a guilty pleasure of mine (the Sven Hassel series of books for example). As such, I will consider buying something that may provide me with some entertainment, no matter how bad it appears.
Today, however what I saw beggars belief; and that is not hyperbole. I was wondering around the biographies section seeking inspiration as I have read a couple and as long as the person in question I either respect or looks interesting, I will always give it a crack. The tome I saw today was the biography of someone that I neither respected nor did it look interesting. No, it wasn't GW Bush, it wasn't Blair, Major or any politician. It was Wayne Rooney's girlfriend and I am not kidding. Look, Victoria Beckham (hate her or love her) did achieve a degree of fame by being the near mute one of the Spice Girls. To the best of my knowledge, Ms McLoughlin's road to fame was to snog Wayne Rooney as a teenager. What on earth is there to say?
It's a sorry state of affairs when the wives and girlfriends of footballers (I refuse to use the acronym as it is another sign of society dumbing down) start getting as much or more attention than the players. In the same vein, there is talk about Frank Lampard heading off to Spain to play for Barcelona as his girlfriend is from that region and misses home. Given the success of every English player since Steve McManaman left Spain, if Lamps has any plans on having a future in football he might be advised to deal with the nagging.
25 October 2006
On the surface, it looks like a good idea - cuts greenhouse emissions, penalises those bad drivers who say that they need it to protect their children, etc. However, the fact that the parking permit for a Nissan Micra driver has risen, just goes to show the real motive for this: raising revenue.
It's a pity that governments, whether they are local or national, use people's genuine environmental concerns in this cynical matter. The fact is that if local governments were genuinely interested in reducing emissions, they would tackle their fleet of diesel-spewing, often dilapidated buses and either improve them or replace them with genuine greener alternatives.
If national governments wanted to reduce emissions, then they could better invest their energies in developing an integrated transport policy that made greater use of the rail networks (which incidentally need to be cleaned up first) and removing the reliance on road haulage, where diesel-powered vehicles burn up and down the M1 when it should be transported en-masse.
If a government is going to espouse socialism and social conscious at least follow the Scandinavian model of socialism. It may cost a fortune, but the services delivered make up for it.
Still I don't think there is a full set of balls in the government at the moment.
24 October 2006
I am talking about the uproar surrounding Jermain Defoe's "bite" on the arm of someone who had repeatedly tackled him from behind, the last one being a two-footed tackle.
Yesterday's Telegraph covered it in an article that did not really dwell on it greatly other than to mention the incumbent Minister of Sport whining like a spoiled child to the FA (via the media of course) to do something about it. Contrast this to an article in the Sun where not content with publishing the picture again, they have a diatribe from Javier Mascherano claiming it the most outrageous thing he has suffered in the UK.
My biggest issue with the incident is not the biting; tempers get riled in all sports nowadays and people forget these sportsmen and women are only human. My issue is that the moment Defoe made contact with Mascherano, Mascherano immediately started rolling around in agony on the floor - it's the diving mentality in him immediately taking effect. It appeared to me that the intention was to get him red-carded. This is the behaviour that has to stop, as diving has ruined two World Cups but it doesn't look as if it is going to end any time soon.
And if that is the worse thing Mascherano has suffered, he should head to a few home counties towns and deal with drunken ASBO candidates on a Saturday night like the police force have to.
23 October 2006
20 October 2006
We had our consignment arrive today from Australia. It had been in storage while we travelled and started its own journey itself at the end of August.
The guys from Allied Pickfords were scheduled to arrive at 10am, so we set the alarm for 8:30 to give us time to shower and get dressed. Heather came out of the shower first at 9:10 and 5 minutes later the guys arrived (nearly taking down a tree in front of our house in the process).
After reading about the troubles our friends had when they moved, I was a bit nervous about what state ours would be in. In fact, everything went really smoothly with only a couple of minor breakages, which hopefully the insurance will cover.
Our place is currently full of half-empty cartons as we did not bring over any wardrobes as our last place had built-ins. We have ordered some cheap junk from Argos, which should arrive soon. Until then, it's a bit more living like a backpacker (albeit with nice furniture, HD tv, etc).
Oh and happy anniversary Sophie and Paddy!
09 October 2006
We are renting a 3 bedroom place in Blackheath, which is a really nice suburb in London - very close to the Canary Wharf and the city but green and picturesque.
When we walked across the common for the first time, I knew that this is the place I wanted to be when I saw the church sitting in the middle of it. Hopefully, it will be cold this winter and it will get covered in snow. That would be a picture worth recording.
Our stuff arrives sometime soon (we hope) so our sparse place will soon be a lot more homely.
08 October 2006
This blog will be a place for me to keep a record of what goes on in our life, what (non-holiday) related activity we are up to and a place for me to vent my opinions on politics, world affairs, sport, etc.
Let's get cracking!