Thursday, May 31, 2007

Former Norwich Loan Players/Stars


I knew it!

It was only yesterday that someone told me that because David Bentley had been selected for the England football team the EDP would have the usual “Former Norwich Loan Player/Star” (FNLP/S) story.

And they did.

Am I the only one who finds this sort of gormless pandering to the divots who populate the seats at Carrow Road completely pointless? Surely I can't be? Can I?

There it was on page 48. Headline: Bentley included in Pearce's squad Article: Former Canries (could someone explain what Canries are? - why can't the EDP employ some old-fashioned sub-editors?) loan star David Bentley has been included in the England U21 squad for the European Championship finals in Holland.

Could someone explain to me what this had to do with anything?

David Bentley has never been a local player. He has never even been a player contracted to Norwich City Football Club. Why are we reading this drivel in the local paper?

The variation to this story is when Peter Crouch is chosen for the England senior squad. Headline: Former Norwich City Loan Star Crouch in England Squad. What complete tosh! Why not just stop reporting nonsense about football? Why not?

If they did they might avoid the despairing headlines they managed to come up with today. In the morning: Marshall turns up the heat. City target demands transfer. In the Evening News: City see Marshall bid turned down.

Only by reading the respective stories is it apparent that there is no story here at all. The morning news is simply speculating that NCFC might like to sign David Marshall, who was on loan at Norwich this season,. The afternoon paper speculates that negotiations between the clubs are on-going.

In other words – there are no real developments and no real news. So, why are they printing this?

I conclude that in the absence of any real story – why not make one up.

Might sell a few papers (Norwich fans are stupid enough to buy the paper just because NCFC is mentioned in the headline!). Meanwhile, the sports writing staff can go to the pub instead of trying to cut through the drivel and find a real story to write about.



Crazy - or What?

I'm afraid the illogical news media are at it again.

News that the Russians probably had something to do with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko is not exactly news. The finger of suspicion has been firmly pointed at the Kremlin since Litvinenko's death in London. What makes this story so annoying is the typically parochial way the UK media are focussing on the lack of an extradition arrangement with Russia – despite the fact that Andrei Lugovoy could be prosecuted in Russia for this crime – if sufficient evidence exists.

So, where's the illogicality?

The Enron Three, that's where.

How so? Read on.

Three British bankers are set to be extradited to the United States over charges related to the Enron scandal, following a High Court decision which could have far-reaching consequences for UK extradition law.

Lawyers for the three men tried to block the request by arguing that the Serious Fraud Office should investigate the case.

But Lord Justice Laws ruled the case "has very substantial connections with the United States and is perfectly properly triable there", saying it would be "unduly simplistic to treat the case as a domestic English affair".

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the decision was "nothing short of a disgrace" and the trio were being traded like "sacks of parrots".

Mark Spragg, who acted as solicitor for the three men, spoke of the consequences of the court's decision.

He said: "This judgement means that no UK person or body has to decide which country should prosecute an alleged offence involving more than one country." - The Telegraph

Paraphrasing: we can't let anyone else have anything to do with deciding where to extradite our citizens and (even in the USA) the “foreigners” can't be trusted to organise a trial or dispense justice.

I think this is the same as the Russian position.

Sources in the Office of the Prosecutor-General pointed out that under their constitution they did not extradite their own nationals. They should be tried, if anywhere, in Russia.

There is no bilateral extradition treaty between Britain and the Russian Federation; and although in 2001 the federation signed up to the extradition arrangements under the 1957 European Convention on Human Rights, it retains the opt out that it need not extradite its own nationals. - The Times

Yep, that's what I thought – that is the Russian position.

So, how can the media get outraged when British criminals (alleged) are extradited to the USA to stand trial and then start a media feeding frenzy of astronomical proportions when Russian criminals (alleged) are not extradited to the UK to stand trial?

Anybody ever heard of logic?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Test Cricket

England go into the second test against West Indies still smarting from the draw at Lords. At least they should be.

Given all the advantages in the match: a big first innings score; four centurions; helpful conditions for the bowlers; England should have easily wrapped up a win in three days. Instead, the Windies did an excellent job of derailing the England pace attack – so much so that it was Monty Panesar who looked most likely to swing the game England's way.

There is a lot of nonsense in the press about how “unlucky” England were not to have bagged an early series win. The fact is: the bowlers were not really up to scratch.

Bowlers win test matches. Batsmen get all the headlines, but bowlers win test matches. The opposition must be dismissed twice and England never looked capable of doing that. Of course, they were unfortunate to have lost Matthew Hoggard. Bowling with one short is no fun and can be a nightmare. Even though he found it difficult to get the ball to swing from the right areas, Hoggy's loss was a real blow; for it simply heaped more pressure on an already fragile Steve Harmison.

Steve faces problems that eclipse those of “fragile” cricketers from a bygone age. He is constantly in the media spotlight. The first bad ball he bowls is analysed minutely from a physical and mental standpoint. He is branded by the media as a “bit flaky in the head” and therefore all his problems are immediately brought into focus by the lens of the TV camera. This is unfair and probably untrue. Fact is he had an exceptional year in the Ashes win and has struggled to repeat that form. Whether or not he can become again a match-winner is problematical. He needs help from the other bowlers.

Flintoff is out. No help there.

Plunkett shows promise, sometimes. He is unlikely to win you a match, even at Headingly. Collingwood is really a batsman, and I question whether or not he's good enough at that!

So, some bowler or bowlers will have to be drafted in. Who? Nobody immediately springs to mind. Mahmood has been tried – perhaps he'll get another go. Sidebottom has been drafted into the thirteen – plenty of Headingly experience. Whoever is chosen they are unlikely to put the fear of God into the Windies batsmen.

And so, with the strength of England's batting and the West Indies reluctance to gamble by playing an extra bowler, best bet is another draw. What! At Headingley? Yep. That's my tip for the day. With some dodgy weather forecast for the weekend, I'd get down to Ladbrookes and get money on a tame draw. Or, I'd wait to see the result of the toss. England win the toss and bowl, possibly bet on England. Windies bowl, bet on draw. Looks that simple.

Last word to the West Indies press:

The West Indies batsmen, as much as they may be willing to fight again, should find England's bowling too good for them at Headingley.” - Jamaica Gleaner

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fighting Cocks

Imperial Arrogance

Watching the media's coverage of the tragic disappearance of Madeleine McCann on the Algarve is made all the more poignant by the crass parochialism of the media. I'm almost sick with anger at their treatment of the Portuguese authorities and their insinuation that the British police would have done everything different and much better.

The disservice to Britain's oldest allies is a tragedy almost on the same scale as the little girl's disappearance.

A Portuguese spokesman said:

"Some details of the investigation cannot be brought to the public because of the law," Mr Sousa told a frustrated group of British journalists. "Things are not equal in the legal system in Portugal and in the UK. It's not your fault and it's not my fault.”

The British media have construed this as unacceptable. The idea that the Portuguese police should or must carry on their investigation exactly as it would be done in the UK is so arrogant as to rival Goering's boast that if bombs ever fall on Berlin, you can call me Meier. Mistakes can be made in any police investigation, but to characterise the Portuguese as incompetent is a travesty. Why? Because the Duke of Wellington says so, for starters!

Wellington called his Portuguese allies this “Fighting Cocks” during the Peninsula Campaign which eventually led to Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon. His estimation of the quality of the soldiers from Portugal was undiminished by hardship and occasional defeat. The Iron Duke had no hesitation in placing his Peninsular veterans in the forefront of the fighting against the French.

No doubt the Duke is currently spinning madly in his tomb to think that the press – who so roundly praised his allies 200 years ago could be so ungrateful.

It seems a British disease to assume that British police, British government, British courts, British culture and British justice is the gold standard against which all others must be measured and found to be wanting.

Any objective assessment of foreign justice will confirm that things are, indeed, done differently in other places; but, different does not always mean inferior.

It is the height of arrogance for the media to characterise the Portuguese authorities as incompetent simply because they are foreigners! They may have made a mistakes – but the catalogue of errors in British police investigations, trial, sentences, etc. should temper any criticism of foreign customs.

Poor old Wellington would be distraught in the extreme.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Have found a very interesting new web browser called Flok.

Perhaps it stands for "Flog you too, buddy!"

It may be more obscure, and therefore even more secure, than Firefox.  It is supposed to be the "bees knees" for posting photos to a blog - but I have yet to figure it out!

When I know what I'm doing, I'll let you know!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bill's Place


That Good 'Ol Boy, Bill Bryson, has been selected at the Chair of CPRE, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. That Bill Bryson sure takes some beating!

Like me, Bill isn't even English, though he has lived here for many years and has an English wife. Also, he lives in rural Norfolk. His new job? Protect rural England. From what? From people. If I meet him on Wymondham High Street, I may have to give him a good smack and remind him of a few unpleasant truths.

Number one. England ain't Iowa. He instinctively knows this for he says, "You are very lucky to have so much. Iowa is the same size as England, but I would struggle to find six places to show you. Here you have a wealth of beautiful places. You have taken them too much for granted."

Poor old Iowa – bit short-changed there Bill!

What Bill has neglected to tell you is that the population of Iowa is just under three million. Yes, that's three million in a whole state the size of England.

A CPRI (Campaign for the Protection of Rural Iowa) is not needed. In fact, a campaign to get anyone from England to visit Iowa might be more in order. Folks here go to Florida in the summer (mad as a June Bug!), or trek off to shop in NYC (voted the worst place in the world in my official self-centred poll), or head for California (which, as everyone knows, is not really a part of the U.SA. at all!). No-one goes to Iowa, or Missouri, or Kansas. And, it's not because there isn't anything there to see or do. It's because it's in the middle. Planes don't fly there.

Therefore, the CPRE is charged with an impossible task. How to squeeze the 60 million people of the UK into an area the size of Iowa without causing damage to the countryside?

Pretty good trick if you can do it!

Bill's solution? Bugger the people, just make sure the litter they produce is dealt with in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.

Bill old buddy, you can afford to be cavalier with the countryside in Iowa. Here – it's a bit different. England suffers from a shortage of housing. No matter how many are built, there are never enough. It's a bit like the South Sea Bubble that never bursts. So, the NIMBY's have held sway in rural England since the Conquest. (NIMBY – not in my back yard – which in England means not anywhere, since the back yard in question encompasses the whole of the rest of the country!)

What we need is a CPPHN (Campaign for the Protection of People's Housing Needs). Getting folks to pick up their litter is a worthwhile project for Bill to sponsor. When he tries to balance the need for affordable housing in our rural areas with the NIMBYs chronic short-sightedness, he may find the leadership of the CPRE a bigger challenge than he imagines.

Good luck 'Ol Boy – you may need it.