Cricket Sledging

Consider the legendary exchange between Glenn McGrath and the Zimbabwean Eddie Brandes after the latter played and missed for the umpteenth time;

McGrath: “Brandes, why are you so fat?”

Brandes: “Cos every time I f*ck your wife she throws me a biscuit.”
Public schoolboy bullying at its best.

Robbo resigns

About 7 months too late but finally, Andy Robinson resigns as England coach. 8 out of 9 defeats, looking bewildered at every turn, there was nowhere for Andy to go.

England lost and deservedly so, beaten by being technically and organisational incompetent.

The talk of Lawrence Dallaglio returning makes me wonder whether Andy Farrell was meant to be the answer to the leadership, ball-carrying, ageing, knackered-kneed, tough tackler vacancy?

>Some weekend football chants

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“Mike Newell’s Sexist Army!” Luton fans during game with Derby

“The referee’s a woman!” Luton fans every time the male ref made a bad decision.
“We want a woman ref!” Chanted by Derby fans whenever a decision went against them away at Luton.
“We dont pay Council Tax!” Chant during Edinburgh University’s first round Scottish Cup match to the opposing fans.
More here

Alexander Litvinenko died this morning

“I would like to thank many people. My doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are doing all they can for me, the British police who are pursuing my case with vigour and professionalism and are watching over me and my family.

I would like to thank the British government for taking me under their care. I am honoured to be a British citizen. I would like to thank the British public for their messages of support and for the interest they have shown in my plight.

I thank my wife Marina, who has stood by me. My love for her and our son knows no bounds.

But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death.
I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like.

I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition. You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price.

You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed. You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value.

You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilised men and women.

You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.

May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.”

PC is cleared over fast food dash

I used to joke about this….!

A motorist said the officer overtook him before passing the cameraA policeman who broke the speed limit on his way to pick up a Chinese takeaway has escaped a speeding fine.

Pc Stephen Akrill was caught driving a police Land Rover through a speed camera in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, at 48mph in a 40mph zone

He was spotted by a motorist triggering a speed camera and then entering the Wickersley Cantonese takeaway, emerging minutes later with several bags of food.

I know this story is true. Love it. More here

Another week’s gone by??? Damn…

Spoke to Scotty last night the first time in a few weeks. While time for me is a disappearing in a mundane way, gently meandering towards 2007, I imagine it’s racing by for him, getting ever closer to one of life’s most climatic moments, the birth of BabyG.

I noticed myself wondering about baldness yesterday and the possible treatments available. A few years ago, when I taught at the National Medical Centre in Seoul, a doctor offered me some under-the-counter medicine to prevent baldness, for its far easier to maintain hair than replace it. I turned it down at the time, slightly fearful of taking fairly unnecessary drugs but maybe I took the wrong decision. I’ve planned to get my eyes lasered for the last few years and still intend to so maybe the Elton is gonna be required too.

It goes with the fact that I’m 30 next year. Scotty talked about a diving term ‘spheres of awareness.’ That being, the awareness a diver experiences when diving. On the first dive you just watch yourself, your air, your buoyancy, acutely aware that you are in an alien environment and must survive. But as you dive more and more, you start to notice the fish, the coral, other divers, expand out from yourself. Your sphere of awareness becomes more larger as you start to interact with the world around you. That’s true of your thirties. Your knowledge is more established, your limitations known, your confidence a driving force. While you may live in your 20s, you can really achieve in your 30s. You often have greater responsibilities to earn for or maintain. Your motivation can be your making.

Well, NUFC were excellent last night against a talented Celta Vigo team. They were rarely in trouble and at times looked authoritative, controlling the second half. Solano looked like the right-back we bought 9 years ago, the rest of the defence looks assured and the team worked tirelessly, chasing every ball and hassling every opponent. In the end, they had nowhere to turn. So we qualify as group winners for the 32 final stage of the UEFA Cup. Yup, it is ludicrously long.

And lastly this weekend sees me watching the rugby on Saturday with a bit of shopping. Sunday involves beer and football with Nathan. After the big game at 2pm between Newcastle and Portsmouth, a must-win game for Glenn, followed by some small game between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Craig Ferguson Eulogises His Father

Craig Ferguson is a big star in the States. A Scot in Hollywood, I went to his show The Late Late Show (on after David Letterman) when I was in LA early this year. He always ad libs his opening monologues and here he talks about his father who died earlier that day after a long illness. Ferguson was at his father’s bedside two days before in Scotland but flew back to LA, only to hear he had now died. Moving stuff.

You may be smiling now……

So we’re now hearing that the Olympic cost has risen £900m or 38% in a year to £3.3bn according to Tessa Jowell, a woman who knows about money. The extra cost is due to a rise in steel prices (hmmm heard that one before somewhere else), the use of a delivery crony, I mean partner called CLM to make sure it all arrives late and over-budget. The extra cost is inflation which of course couldn’t be predicted at all considering or factored in despite the fact it has been stable for the last 9 years. That extra cost will be borne by council tax payers and national lottery funding which is of course a ‘fun’ tax. Many are pointing out that the cost will be far higher, maybe up to £8bn as regeneration and security costs have yet to be factored in. Of course, there are always critics and like sarcasm, it’s an easy role to play but could they have a point?

Let’s look at the government’s track record.

1. The Millennium Dome

After Don Blair entered power, he expanded out the project into the great Dome we see right now, rusting by the Thames. There is no doubt it looks good but like a lot of Labour projects, it ends in chaos and there are huge hidden costs which are paid for by the taxpayer. Estimated to cost £399m by someone who must have missed the page called the real costs, it cost £789m in the end which was funded through £603m of lottery funding. Apparently the debts were caused by a lack of visitors despite the fact that over 6m people visited in the first year, making it the most-visited attraction in Britain. That’s more than people in Scotland who naturally find it difficult to visit when the train costs over £120.

But it did look grand though on New Years Eve 1999 didn’t it? But like buying a ring for a bride who plan to jilt, what do you do now? Well, the policy document was entitled ‘Any Ideas?’ So the largest single-roofed structure and subsequently the world’s largest white elephant, praised by Blair as “a triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity” has sat vacant because in the end, ‘style has triumphed over substance.’

2. The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Rebuilt on the site of Cardiff Arms Park between 1997 and 1999, the 74,500 seater stadium was built with a retractable roof in 2 years 6 months for £126m. Quite an achievement. The money was from private investment, a £40m lottery grant and sales of debentures to supporters and was run by the Welsh Rugby Union. The stadium is relatively small, very compact and steep, offering a clear and close view for all spectators. Each bar is equipped with a “joy machine” which can pour 12 pints in less than 20 seconds enabling rugby fans to drink more than twice the amount than Twickenham goers.

3. Wembley Stadium, London

The Millennium Stadium has been the home of the FA Cup for the last 5 years, as Wembley has been under its 7 year rebuild. After being closed in 2000 and somehow only demolished in 2002, initial plans to have the stadium ready for 2003 were quickly revised like Orwell’s 1984. And have continued to be so. It was then to be finished by 2005, then 2006 and finally, 2007 apparently. The Sports Minister, the highly un-sporty Richard Caborn assured the nation in 2005 that “the Cup Final will be there, barring six feet of snow or something like that.” Well it was more like JCBs and hard hats as the stadium has taken another 18 months to finish.

When it is finished, the 90,000 seater will be the largest roof-covered stadium in Europe and will be the world’s most famous and most expensive stadium at £793m. Compare that to the Millennium Stadium or Stade de France which cost a mere £200m. Well that’s the cost they are saying right now. Naturally it was national lottery funded. But we do get a big arch which again is the largest free-standing arch in the world and is the signature mark. Whey! They have kept the steps to the Royal Box but like everything it just takes a whole lot longer with now 107 steps rather than the old 39. That’s an increase of 274% by my maths. Sounds about right.

This obsession with largesse is symbolic of Labour’s wish to leave their mark on the country, an obsession with Thatcher and the building of a legacy which Blair has now thrown away over the Iraq War. Rather than providing facilities accessible to all, rather than giving kids something to do in the evening, they have focused on grandness at the taxpayers expense and public delay. I thought the signature of Wembley was the football played there. The public don’t care what it looks like as long as you win and hopefully well. I thought the Millennium was about the nation having a good time. Void beer tax for the night. That would make us happy and would be a great publicity stunt. Give us a Millennium Stadium and lets us watch rugby. It’s far better than Wembley Stadium where we can watch the diggers trundle around.

It’s not about being cynical. These projects are important as mentioned in Blair’s words but the fact is the Welsh could have built 2 stadiums in the time it took us to build one and for a third of the price. And having visited many times, I like the Millennium Stadium, the location, the view, the bars. Everything but the fact that it isn’t at Wembley. I don’t need an arch to watch a game. I need a stadium. And the message from Cardiff is private projects such as football and rugby should be privately funded and managed and public projects need to be carefully looked at. It’s ridiculous that cost-benefit analtsis for public pet projects should be carried out by people who won’t be footing the bill yet seek to gain political capital from it.

But I can see the Olympic cost running out of control and the bill rests with the public as Tony jets off into his public-speaking and directorship future. We want the game of course but rather than trying to jimmie us up with shiny things, change our society. Thatcher, love her or hate, made a fundamental impact and changed the course of this country. Blair will be remembered for what?

Kennedy conspiracy talk

I’m not generally interested in conspiracies but without doubt, the 1960s were an era when increasingly brazen yet subtle and secret government activities. It was allowed to develop during the long Cold War which gave the military and law enforcement privileged positions within the centre of secretive US organisations. The perceived need for control over technology, the population, the media and ultimately politics facilitated an expansive role which was often kept a subtle yet blatant abuse of the laws we all live by.

The dominant US Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) had far-reaching powers in the name of the great often-abused phrase of national security. So powerful was it that Eisenhower warned against it in his farewell speech stating “in the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

With its military linked to technology, Hoover’s FBI tentacles bugging and spying journalist, businessmen and politicians alike, Nixon and Kissinger Realpolitik megalomania; the CIA, long involved in fighting the Soviets and for its own politics with a perceived need to control a still pliant media and a public, politically and socially living through a consumerist glaze. The Cold War was fought on many fronts, overt and covert. What happened, and to who, and when are questions we’ll often never know the answer to.

Below is a Newsweek story from last Monday about the assassination of RFK in 1968. Proof is difficult to come by but I have no doubt business, the government and the military, domestic and foreign, took great interest in their political leaders being sensitive to the long-term wishes of the mighty. The actors above used (and still use) all kinds of influence and pressure to get what they want. You see it on small issues and there is no reason to doubt it happens on the larger scale. Take a look what happened to the Alexander Litvinenko over the last few weeks.

New video and photographic evidence that puts three senior CIA operatives at the scene of Robert Kennedy’s assassination has been brought to light.

The evidence was shown in a report by Shane O’Sullivan, broadcast on BBC Newsnight. It reveals that the operatives and four unidentified associates were at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles in the moments before and after the shooting on 5 June, 1968. The CIA had no domestic jurisdiction and some of the officers were based in South-East Asia at the time, with no reason to be in Los Angeles.

More here