Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 12th

What a bumper news day. Every page of the EDP has a story worth commenting on. And, here they are:

Page one

Banner headline, How Could It Happen Again - 17 month old baby murdered by parent and others? Social workers and health professionals mess up big time. Impossible to comment on adequately without resorting to cliché.

Page two

Man found guilty of a stab attack in dispute over debt - Norwich low-lifes get in a knife fight over 400 quid and nearly kill each other. Such a lovely, peaceful place, Norwich.

Page three

Cheaper bus fares to hospital - Visitors to the N&N hospital can get a pound off tickets in the mornings and afternoons. Why we have to pay to park to be ill or visit a dying relative is not, as usual, discussed.

Page four

Dog justice - Man (presumably) described as “pervert”makes an obscene gesture to woman whose dog promptly attacks the culprit. Well done Fido.

Page five

Two monkeys stolen from wildlife park - Two female squirrel monkeys are stolen from their pen at a Cotswold wildlife park. Some randy male squirrel monkeys on the lose?

Page six

Dead babies no joke - Facebook removes the group, Dead Babies Make Me Laugh for the second time. See page one for a possible explanation for the murder of the 17 month old baby.

Page seven

Jury sworn in to try mother of Shannon - Just when you thought the saga of the Dewsbury Chavs could not get any worse, it appears that Fat Karen had aided in the drugging of Shannon to collect the 50 000 reward. Nothing these people get up to is a surprise any more. Must visit Dewsbury some day.

Page eight

Everyone's talking about the tax cuts – so what's the catch. EDP devotes a whole page to analysing the fall out from the credit crunch and decides that we're all doomed. Tell me something I didn't know, please.

Page nine

A sobering thought as you lift your beer glass - Messages about death and dying could go on beer mats, the government's cancer czar suggested yesterday. Fatuous – or perhaps even beyond fatuous!

Page ten

Armistice day round up - Cromer was closed off by police for a short service at 11:00 – the silence was broken by the barking of a dog. Could it have been the same dog that was on page four?

Page eleven

. . . and while you're about it, try slowing down - Children from Pakefield Primary School joined PC Barton on the busy road outside to school gates yesterday morning to highlight traffic problems. Yes, that's really what it says?

Page twelve

Nothing here – I draw breath!

Page thirteen

Man quizzed on jewels shop raid - Arrest of a man possibly involved in a robbery in Yarmouth. Question: what's a jewels shop?” Jewellery perhaps?Where are the sub-editors?

Page fourteen

Warning to landlords over cold housing - Dozens of privately owned flats in Norwich are so cold the tenants are freezing to death. A spokesman for the managing agents reports that they have upgraded one of the 84 flats to show what could be done. Well done, lads.

Page fifteen

Norwich still a safe place says Minister - Despite the death of an innocent passer-by recently, a Govt. Minister thinks Norwich is fine. Suggest he stands around until a fight breaks out and then tries to break it up.

Page sixteen

Drink-drive landlord may have to close village pub - Darren Bond, of The Ploughshare in Beeston is looking for sympathy. Because he was banned from driving for being drunk – he cannot do his other job – taxi driver. Let's all have a whip-round for poor Darren – not. This one is right up their vying for my favourite story of the day.

Page seventeen

City striker's brother may be facing jail - What should be a simple story about an attack by some minor celebrity's brother out on the booze is ruined because the EDP run the story next to a photo of a crazy-looking guy with two knives in his hand – who is in the adjacent story about an Army chef. Journalism at its best!

Page eighteen

Even on the editorial page – a triumph for the EDP. Under the scariest photo ever of the Dark Lord, Peter Mandelson, the paper starts the caption with: NOT SO BAD. Another journalistic triumph!

Page nineteen

Diplomat praises 400 million paper mill investment - Unbelievably important news story – should be on page one.

Page twenty and twenty-one

We make it to the middle of the paper, hanging on to sanity by a thread. In the letters, Derek Gibbs of Ludham writes, “Just wondering if it's common to see three swallows flying together at this time of year. I saw three this morning flying over fields in Ludham. And the EDP printed this along with the continuing saga of whether a stoat can be killed by a rabbit or a pheasant. Pass the aspirin, please.

Page twenty-two

On the Announcements page is reported the birth of a baby girl at 10:43 and her death at 12:15. This is directly above an announcement of the safe arrival of another baby girl. I'm not sure who most to be annoyed with: the parents who have lost an infant and still feel it necessary to broadcast this tragedy to the world or the idiot who set the two announcements so close together? Absolutely unbelievable!

Page twenty-three

Attractions raring to help save lives - Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, Bressingham Steam Museum and the Blakeney Hotel are being equipped with defibrillators to save victims of sudden heart attacks. I know which hotel I'm saying at if in Blakeney.

Page twenty-four

Friends do the write thing to mark milestone - Were it not for the appalling attempt at using a homonym, this tale of middle age ladies trying to make a buck by getting some free advert time for their book might just be excusable. These gals are giving writers a bad name.

Page twenty-five

Carnage? No, just good-natured fun - 1500 kids go on a pub crawl in Norwich organised by Carnage UK – who's slogan is, “it's going to get messy!” Apparently the only thing that got messy was the party-goers, who embraced the porn theme by wearing hot pants, suspenders and bras on show. Another quiet night in Norwich – and I missed it!!

Page twenty-six

Till receipts to help victims of domestic abuse - A supermarket in Lowestoft is putting anti-domestic violence help line information on their till receipts. A break-through for community action and law enforcement.

Pages 27-32

Classifieds - I am resisting the temptation to comment on the EDP Farmer's Market.

Page 33

Sport - Did you know there are 72 teams in the Norwich and District Table Tennis League? Neither did I.

Page 34

Sport – Fishing - My favourite columnist, Roy Webster, outdoes himself this week as he reports that a British record barbel has been hauled out of the River Wensum. “The superb specimen, locally know as 'the beast'” beat the previous record by those numpties from the Great Ouse near Bedford by nearly one ounce. I just can't tell you how excited I am!

Page 35

Sport – Miscellaneous - Tonight's greyhound card. This paper is going to the dogs.

Page 36

Sport – Cricket - England are sentenced to extra net sessions after falling to a second or possibly third rate Indian team in their warm-up match. Not much change from the Stanford Super Series then.

Page thirty-seven

Sport – Football - PFA to oppose home drugs testing. Apparently the PFA do not want footballers to be tested for drugs in their own home because it would be an invasion of privacy. Maybe they should test the WAGS instead – if they are using, then you can bet the players won't be missing out.

Page thirty-eight

Sport – More Football - In the Dolphin Autos Anglian Combination, Division One, Kirkley and Pakefield Reserves lost to Sole Bay 1-2. I'm distraught. Honest.

Page thirty-nine

Sport – Yet more football - Under-fire Norwich City manager, Glenn Roeder, asserts that ,”It's very difficult to sign quality players on contracts.” Funny, I thought it only took money?

Page forty

Sport – Delia bites back - Delia Smith reveals she has recruited a “takeover king” Keith Harris to find new buyers for Norwich City. How low can this old trout sink? When nothing comes of this clap-trap – where does she go then?


The Creature Feature cartoon had me stumped for two days. This is more than annoying and may be the first sign of a deteriorating brain. In the first pane, two of the little snakes are pictured in a restaurant setting. One is cooking and one has on a bow tie (obviously the waiter). The waiter creature says, “The customer at table four is complaining about his egg. I didn't quite catch what he said . . .” In pane two he continues by saying, “Something about it being too runny.” I finally worked it out – the witticism is in two parts – first the “didn't quite catch” (because the egg is runny) and second (and I only just noticed this) there is an egg, complete with egg cup, scooting off stage right with little legs sticking out from it. This is far too subtle for Norfolk.

Happy days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Banged up and barely standing

I got to watch most of last week's KC Chiefs game. This was surprising in itself as the season is going so poorly I was amazed they made it to the Sky coverage. It was the alternative game, yet it did, at least, give me an opportunity to have a look at the problems for my self. When you're one and eight there are no shortage of problems to look at.

Injuries are killing us. Of course, injuries are a part of the game and every team suffers, but the Chiefs seem to have suffered more than most. They signed some guys off the street last week and they played on Sunday. It doesn't get much worse than that!

The QB situation has been a pleasant surprise. Tyler Thigpen, after a disastrous debut, has played well – actually very well! Some credit must go to the coaches who have given him the kind of game plan he is comfortable with, but some credit must go to him. He has not thrown an interception for a long time. That's a good enough record for where the Chiefs are now. I still expect to see the Chiefs go for a quality QB in the draft. Thigpen would make an ideal Number Two. My prediction: the next time Brodie Croyle gets hurt – he's history.

Running backs have been injured almost as much as QB's. LJ (Larry Johnson) is back this week and none too soon. Chiefs are lightweight at this position and must address this during the draft.

The receiving corps looks good. New guy (off the street) Mark Bradley looks a real find and a nice complement to Dwayne Bowe. Tony Gonzales is having a pro-bowl season – despite having his wish to be traded to a contender turned down – a real professional.

The O-line is looking just about adequate. New boy, Branden Albert, is doing well at tackle. The rest of the boys are in danger of becoming a “no-name” line. They just don't stand out. I expect the Chiefs to draft here again.

Even considering injuries – the defence is poor. Glenn Dorsey was the number four pick in the draft and from what I saw on Sunday he was over-rated. About the best you can say is he did “Ok”. Run defence is patchy. Pass defence is poor – mostly because the pass rush is non-existent. Linebackers are invisible. Secondary is so beat up it's hard to judge their progress.

Let the Chief's website put it into perspective:

As of Tuesday and over the first 10 weeks of the season, the team had already had 70 players on their active roster of 53 players. Of that group, 63 have stepped on the playing field and played in at least one of the nine games so far this year. Throw in quarterbacks Ingle Martin and Quinn Gray who have been active backup quarterbacks but did not play, and that’s 65 of the 70.

This week the Chiefs are talking up their chances against the Saints on Sunday. It's a home game. The team is definitely getting better. LJ is back and should provide some running game. Everyone has had a week to recover. I'm waiting to be convinced.

Chiefs might be better to win the last two and go 3 and 13. Use the draft. That's supposed to be the plan.

A Darker Shade of Pale

Home Truths from Abroad.

I'm sure I have seen Steve Jones on TV. I'm sure he is the “expert” regularly trotted out when matters concerning genetics are hot topics. He is, according to the Times, “The leading geneticist Steve Jones”.

Good enough for me.

Steve is explaining this week “how the world's population is blending into a single shade”. What's he's not explaining is how the world's population got to be so many different shades in the first place. This is probably a wise move as it might lead him into speculating on the origins of race in human populations. This, as you know, is mostly a taboo subject - for many, and sometimes good, reasons.

Steve explains how because of today's modern lifestyle with its almost limitless opportunities for travel and intercourse (in the sense of interaction) with people from all over the globe, we are all becoming a bit browner and much more racially homogeneous. From his tone you can conclude that he thinks this is a generally good thing.

Me too.

My own family are a fairly cosmopolitan lot. I have grandparents with English, Norwegian, Scottish and German genes. My children can add an infusion of more English and some Irish. Their children are shortly to add some South American and Jewish (via Ecuador) genetic material.

We are certainly getting about.

This exchange of genetic material is good for us. Nature loves diversity. It keeps us moving forward in the survival of the fittest stakes. Our browner children will be better equipped to deal with life's problems caused by genetic deficiencies – like my skin problems owing to my very fair, mostly northern European skin.

Things are looking up – evolution-wise.

Three paragraphs from the end of the article, Steve gets really interesting. He reminds us that “most readers will see on their way to work tomorrow more people than the average member of the human species would, until recently, have seen in a lifetime”.

I'm tempted to type that again – it's so profound.

He goes on to explain that, “For 99% of our past we were hunters and gatherers – rare and not particularly successful primates that gathered berries, hunted wild animals (and were hunted by them – Steve forgets to mention this important point) and flirted with extinction.” He goes on, “. . . . for most of history we lived in tiny, isolated groups, married the boy – or girl next door and lost diversity as a result. If the few hunter-gatherer tribes still left a few decades ago were any guide, any attempt to join another group, let alone exchange genes with it, was likely to be met by death”.

The implication here is easy to see.

The racial characteristics that we see today must have been present in the human population when we were very small in number. Steve asserts, though he doesn't explicitly state it, that we stayed in small very genetically homogeneous groups for most of human history. Therefore if racial characteristics are recent – they simply wouldn't exist. He, therefore, prescribes a mechanism to explain race in human populations – remembering that no matter which race we belong to we are all almost genetically identical. Steve says that we just didn't move around from group to group. We stayed put and interbred with our “home” population.

Thanks, Steve for that brilliant insight.

So, can you tell us how we managed to populate the planet in a very short space of time?

Just imagine: somehow we have to explain how we got from a small bunch of evolutionarily-challenged apes who disliked others of their own species for the purpose of breeding so much that we avoided them at all costs. Does this make any sense to you?

Me neither.

One thing that we do know about humans is that they would rather procreate than do almost anything - except run away from hungry lions. Given the chance, hunter-gatherers spying a loose female on the horizon will do what comes naturally.

Steve says no.

Somehow we need to explain how these “home-loving” HG's (hunter gatherers) managed to populate an entire planet in less than 2500 generations.

Computer says crap.

We are getting to the point where some very respectable scientific theories need to be either explained better, challenged or discarded.

Lest , dear reader, you assume I am making this up – or have lost what little marbles I ever had; I suggest you have a look at:

and then try to explain how such a racially diverse population of humans developed in so short a time; and how a tiny number of people whose very existence was challenged on a daily basis by predation, disease and starvation could possibly fill the earth in so short a time? Some part of this has to be wrong.

Either the DNA evidence is puppy-plop or the archaeological evidence is dog-dung.

Think about it Steve (as I hope you are reading this ) and let me know.