Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Plucked Canaries

Time Runs Out for Gruntie

Today is a bumper day for NCFC. After years of superciliously mouthing the “company line” the EDP finally printed some pungent criticism of the club. The press are not there yet – but at least it's a start.

Two items of particular note surfaced. In the page 10 article, “No sign of another Green, Earnshaw or Ashton yet”, reporter Steve Downes commented, “In previous times of trouble, the club has been able to pick the fruits of former chairman Robert Chase's astute property purchases by selling off chunks of land around Carrow Road for housing development”.

I'm sorry. Strike me down dead if this reporter is not actually praising the most vilified chairman in Norwich history. One wonders if he has cleared this article with the EDP editor? Certainly, no one at the paper has written anything praising Mr Chase for many years. Is this a new dawn? Probably not – but at least the truth has been acknowledged. Mr Chase, for all his shortcomings as chairman, did, at least, have the foresight to invest wisely in land. If only the present board were as astute as Mr Chase we would not have to read the tosh about finances regurgitated by reporter Downes in the first eleven paragraphs of his article. His thesis: Norwich are doomed for lack of money. His reality check “ . . . Norwich are left with a squad made up of unproven players and journeymen.”

Where Downes fails is in not laying the blame squarely on the board's shoulders. Time and again we are told that players wage demands are so extravagant that it is impossible to lure them to Norwich. What that really means is that the board will not pay the kind of wages that other clubs do. You cannot then blame the players for going somewhere else.

Gruntie Grantie is a moaner. Fans have just learned this, seemingly. More of them should read this blog. Besides enticing a bunch of Gorbals rejects to move down south and collect big wages, he had done nothing but moan about the players – mostly his own players. All the bad vibes are now coming home to roost. The press, the fans, the players and even the board are less than convinced that he is the man. If he want to remain as manager he really ought to do something to improve the situation. So, what can he do?

Some of his team selections are not very bright. Supporters expect to see an effort by the team to win every game. Too often his selection for away games seems to say, “I'm praying for a nil – nil”. That's ok if you get it, but the supporters who pay good money to follow the team expect more. There are signs that the rats are considering their Saturday afternoon options. Two letters to the EDP say if fans are not entertained, maybe they ought to vote with their feet. If that happens, Grantie's managerial career could be a very brief one, until he resurfaces in the Scottish Third Division.

The Canaries even made the lead on page one. That idiot Dopey Doncaster, gets another opportunity to explain why nothing that goes wrong at the club is either his fault or the fault of the board. It really is just too much. Where is St Delia? Has she taken to the booze again? Somewhere in the press it is reported that she has converted some of her “lendings” to the club into shares. Question: how can she lend money to a club she already owns? Can I lend money to myself and then reduce my tax burden? Not flaming likely! Only people with real money can do that – folks like Delia.

I have no problem with this – it just makes me more incredulous when the press let her get away with it!!

The supporters are just about ready for a revolt. It could be touch and go in the next few weeks. Hopefully the team will start to play well. If not, there could be blood on the carpet. Question is: will it be Grantie's (most likely) or Doncaster's (not very likely) or Delia's (Mission Impossible!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


All summer long we have suffered with the parents of little Madeline McCann, missing in Portugal. Now, they are both suspects in the investigation. What is going on?

What is going on is that the Portuguese police seem to be going back to first principles. All police forces know as a matter of faith that the person most likely to do you harm is a member of your own family. That's just a fact. Not surprisingly they seem to have come late to this realisation. Because the McCanns are an ideal media couple - very respectable doctors, devoutly religious and photogenic, the idea that they might be responsible for Maddie's disappearance is hard to believe. But, as they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Fact is: there has been no concrete information about Maddie's disappearance since May. For all intents and purposes she may have been abducted by aliens. She just disappeared. That's one of the few indisputable, concrete facts we can cling to.

What seems to be swinging the investigation towards the parents is DNA evidence. However improbable, it is reported that the police have found Maddie's DNA in a car hired by the McCanns long after Maddie's disappearance. How can this be?

All sorts of theories have surfaced. The DNA came from Maddie's stuffed toy: items of her clothing were transported in the car: the parents used the car to transport Maddie's body somewhere and bury it. What is true is the case raises questions about DNA evidence that have been troubling me for some time.

Ever see the set of adverts on TV which show people acting like apes? The adverts go on to say that human DNA differs from chip DNA by considerably less than one percent. I wonder how many people actually know what this means in practical terms?

I wonder how many people know that the human genome shows almost no genetic variation. We are all remarkably closely related. At the same time, of course, we all have unique DNA sequences which set us apart from other humans. Except for identical twins, we all have a uniquely special set of DNA inherited from our parents. That's the theory anyway, and it fits the known scientific evidence quite well. But, is it foolproof?

Where the sample DNA consists of only minute quantities, or material that has suffered damage, the picture is not so clear. Nevertheless, we take the shibboleth that DNA evidence is the be all and end all of conclusiveness. If the DNA says you did it – you did it.

I've always thought this is very dangerous. Maddie's case highlights some real concerns. If there is DNA in the hire car and it is from Maddie, how did it get there? It's dangerous in the extreme to suppose it must have been deposited by the parents moving the body. Without other corroborating evidence, it should not be possible to convict anyone of a crime solely DNA evidence. If “your” DNA is found on a murder weapon and you know it wasn't you you will soon become a convert to the Scepticism Club. Probably a founder member!

The jury is out on Maddie's disappearance. It is possible the parents are involved/responsible. DNA evidence may help to clear this up. It cannot be used on its own to convict them – or, indeed, anyone else.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chop Till You Drop 2007

Go Chiefs!

The new NFL season is almost upon us. Through the wonders of the internet I have been following the fortunes of the hometown Kansas City Chiefs – even after the season ended in January.

First we have the draft. Watching the shenanigans surrounding football transfers one cannot help but speculate that the FA and FIFA could do worse than model the movement of players from one club to another on the NFL draft. Chiefly because the purpose of the draft is to even things out – to ensure that the clubs operate on a fairly level playing field when signing players. Why this should be so alien and contentious to the FA is a mystery?

The Chiefs drafted well – even though they had none of the very top picks. They took Dwayne Bowe in the first round – a big, fast, athletic wide receiver. What Trent Green wouldn't have done for one of those in the past 3 or 4 years! Too late for Trent now – he's traded to Miami. The offensive and defensive lines were strengthened. Absolutely essential – the quarterback, the running backs and the receivers get all the column inches – but knowledgeable people know the game is usually won or lost in the trenches. Chiefs grabbed defensive end Turk McBride in Round Two. Turk looked good in the pre-season and should contribute to a solid defensive line this season. Tank Tyler, a defensive tackle was the third round pick. They should both strengthen an already good set of linemen.

So, where are the problems? In the backfield, that's where the problems are. Larry Johnson finally signed a new contract but missed most of the pre-season. He will have to be eased into the season instead of hitting the ground running. Backups look ordinary. Chiefs are trying to make a full back out of a lineman. They think it will work. It might. If not? This brings us straight to the nexus - quarterback, or lack thereof.

Coach Herm Edwards made no secret of this desire to unload Trent Green. Green had been the shining light in the Chiefs offence for many years until he got hit once too often in the head and lost confidence. Whether he can regain it in Miami is problematical. His transfer saga went on too long. It could have only unsettled the team. When he left Edwards made no secret that the job was Brodie Croyle's. Young guy, he's the future franchise quarterback. His backup was to be last season's backup, who ended up playing a lot when Green got crocked, Damon Huard. Just one problem. At the end of an uninspiring pre-season, Edwards suddenly realised Croyle was not ready and handed the job back to Huard. This could be a disaster and it's not hard to imagine the Chiefs taking some time to get untracked this season.

The fact is the Chiefs do not have an established franchise quarterback. This usually spells disaster. The season opener is at the Texans. Not exactly a powerhouse football team, thought there are no easy games in the NFL. Come Monday morning we should have a much better idea of how the season is going to pan out. Super Bowl? Not likely, but, then again, not impossible. That's Chiefs football!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What Passing Bells?


Summer has just about had it. So far: in August vandals dug up our cricket square – no not just the pitch ala' Headingly – but the whole square; Big Tone has departed to be Middle East Peace Envoy – ok stop laughing right now; Gordo had taken over the Labour leadership and is trouncing Cammo in the polls; Ol' Dubbya has declared that we are winning in Iraq, for the umpteenth time; Norwich City have signed a bunch of nobodys, 25 jocks and a motley collection of journeymen professionals whilst professing to be ambitious – so what's new? And the England Rugby team are off to Frogland to defend the World Cup, with little prospect of getting anywhere near it. It's all depressingly familiar.

Apparently there was some aggro at a cricket match at Southtown one Sunday. We weren't playing, but the report is that Southtown were involved in an altercation with some local yobbos who were riding their mini motorbikes around the outfield whist the game was in progress. That's what I heard. Whether this is true or germane, I've no idea. So, on a Sunday night person or persons unknown dug large holes in across the whole square. First I heard, council called Monday morning to tell me we wouldn't be playing there for the rest of the season. I had a look on the Wednesday and it was horrific! If you've a strong stomach, check out: http://www.beltoncricket.co.uk/devastation.html

Good news is the council managed to repair the damage (mostly) and we had a game there at the beginning of September.

People are beginning to wonder if Big Tone was just a figment of their imagination. Since he has been appointed Middle East Peace Envoy (I said stop laughing and don't mention Satan and St Joan either!) he seems to have disappeared. Am I the only one thinking he is trousering a large wad for doing nothing so he can support the family whilst he writes his very lucrative memoirs?

Gordo takes over. He has variously been described as cheerless, morose, bloody-minded, dictatorial and with all the charm of a mud skipper. His opponent, Cammo, is young, good-looking and full of new ideas. Result: the voters prefer Gordo. It's a funny old world.

Dubbya just gets worse and worse. There is no other way to say this. It's a good thing you can't be impeached for being an incompetent moron. Otherwise, he'd be on the first plane to Texas (home of steers and queers!). Where Dubbya fits into this well-know Texan epithet, you guess.

NCFC are beginning to really annoy me now. Not content with incessant bitching at the unholy unfairness of it all when their best players depart to Premiership pastures new and feeding the Norfolk numpties endless pap about how prudent the club is – they now are already tossing out plausible excuses for failure in anticipation of a terrible season. Today's EDP has a banner story about an African player (discarded by that powerhouse of international football, FC Lucerne, who is (apparently) having trial at Norwich. Someone is having a laugh!

Only the England Rugby team think they have a chance of defending the World Cup. This may be no bad thing. Maybe the good teams will take their eye off the ball, literally as well as metaphorically and they could sneak it. Personally I wouldn't be surprised if they slip up in the opener against the USA Eagles (Go Eagles !!) By the way, the Sunday Times eventually recognised that the USA has an almost endless untapped pool of rugby players in the vast majority of college football players who never make the pros. Some day this pool will be recruited. Watch out All Blacks, you head it here first!