Monday, December 17, 2012


Gun Control

Gun control is actually a misnomer – it should be called sensible gun regulation but the chances of this happening are about as great as the members of the NRA all becoming Quakers or joining CND.

So, Newtown, Connecticut joins the sad litany of communities that have suffered such unthinkable and appalling crimes. The list is long and it is not confided to one country, continent, ethnicity, religion or creed. It is truly an all-encompassing human tragedy.

Is it possible to stop such crimes? Is it possible to identify those of us who are likely to commit such crimes? Are such crimes preventable?

The answer to each of the above is no. So, what should we do? Anything? Nothing? Give up?

The first step would be to identify the problem. Sounds simplistic, but too little is known about what makes some of us “snap” in such an unimaginable manner. We must not abandon efforts to come to a better understanding just because the task seems so difficult. As the old saying goes “ An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

By all accounts, the perpetrator of this tragedy would fit most criteria for mental illness.

Unfortunately, so would a large number of others who pose no risk to society. Are we likely any time soon to be able to identify potential mass murderers? No.

Does that mean that we should give up trying to improve mental health screening and treatment? No – absolutely not.

Next we need to consider what the role of government is in the quest for some solution – or at least some improvement.

The NRA and others would have you believe that the government can have no part to play in gun control at all because of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Seems fairly simple. Or is it?

The first part is often not quoted or misquoted. This is the part that mentions a militia. In its historical context this makes perfect sense. In 1787 most of the country was not settled. Indian intrusions in the parts west of the Appalachians were a real and present danger.

George Washington's early military career was spent in the Virginia militia. The Founding Fathers recognised that the citizen soldier was invaluable in maintaining order on the frontier. They were also vehemently opposed to the English practice of hiring mercenaries. They believed, quite rightly, that a citizen force drawn from the local community would best serve the need of the new nation. In this they cannot be faulted, even after 200-odd years. The citizen militia is guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Unlimited access, use and ownership of guns is not.

It's the second part that causes controversy. “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.

The Supreme Court has ruled - When the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, it was the first time the Court had considered the meaning of the Second Amendment in 69 years.

In the previous case,
U.S. v. Miller (1939), the Court noted: “In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a [sawed-off shotgun] at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly, it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”  This reaffirmed the "collective right" interpretation of the Amendment that federal courts had taken since 1791.

In fact, no federal appellate court had adopted an "individual right" interpretation of the Amendment until the 2003 case of
U.S. v. Emerson. Yet in the Heller case a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that, "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home." The ruling overturned a long-standing ban on handguns in the District of Columbia. It was the first time in history that a gun control law had been struck down on Second Amendment grounds.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, made an important qualification, however.
"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited," he stated. "The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on long standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." My italics.

it is clear that there is no unqualified right to bear arms. The question is how do we quantify the right guaranteed in the Constitution?

On one side we have the people who believe that the right extends to carrying any kind of firearm and also carrying it as a concealed weapon if they choose. Others believe the right does not extend so far. What is clear is that the Supreme Court has been very reluctant to rule on the over-arching provisions of the Second Amendment.

With good cause – it's a minefield.

The English Media is predictably confused on the issue – not quite realising that the Constitution is the US equivalent of the Queen; so, changing it is tantamount to replacing the monarchy.

Does this mean that nothing can be done? Not necessarily.

Many people have conveniently forgotten that during the Prohibition era Congress did impost limits on the Second Amendment.

In 1934 FDR took action with the National Firearms Act

Brought about by the lawlessness and rise of gangster culture during prohibition, President Franklin D. Roosevelt hoped this act would eliminate automatic-fire weapons like machine guns from America's streets. Other firearms such as short-barrelled shotguns and rifles, parts of guns like silencers, as well as other "gadget-type" firearms hidden in canes and such were also targeted. All gun sales and gun manufacturers were slapped with a $200 tax (no small amount for Americans mired in the Great Depression; that would be like a tax of $2,525 today) on each firearm, and all buyers were required to fill out paperwork subject to Treasury Dept. approval.

In 1968 we got the Gun Control Act
The assassination of John F. Kennedy, who was killed by a mail-order gun that belonged to Lee Harvey Oswald, inspired this major revision to federal gun laws. The subsequent assassinations of Martin Luther King and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy fuelled its quick passage. License requirements were expanded to include more dealers, and more detailed record keeping was expected of them; handgun sales over state lines were restricted; the list of persons dealers . . .

The key element of this bill outlawed mail order sales of rifles and shotguns; Up until this law, mail order consumers only had to sign a statement that they were over 21 years of age for a handgun (18 for rifle or shotgun); it also detailed more persons who were banned from possessing certain guns, including drug users, and further restricted shotgun and rifles sales.

In 1986

Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act

Made it illegal for anyone to manufacture or import armour piercing ammunition, or "cop-killer bullets," which are capable of penetrating bulletproof clothing.

Firearms Owners' Protection Act

Eased restrictions on gun sellers and the sale of some guns. Imposed additional penalties for persons using a firearm during certain crimes and persons with robbery or burglary convictions who are illegally shipping guns.

The idea that the government has not and cannot limit the sale, use, possession or ownership of guns is simply wrong. The government has and continues to do so.

The question then must be has any of this done any good?

The answer is a qualified yes.

In general crime and particularly crimes of violence using firearms has been falling. It is still far higher than even in neighbouring Canada, but the trend is downwards.

Unfortunately, this is not relevant to preventing people who are clearly not in control of their faculties from committing another Sandy Hook. People as these are not deterred as “normal” criminals are. No amount of judicial punishment or restrictions will stop them.

This is a good time to see what others are doing. Gun crime is international. It knows no national, ethnic, religious or cultural boundaries.


The Sandy Hook episode pales in comparison to Oslo/Utoya, Norway in 2011. Anders Breivik, 33, murdered 69 people – mostly on Utoya island in Oslo fiord with an additional 8 killed when he bombed a government building in Oslo.

“July 22, 2011 will live long in the memory of all Norwegians after the carnage that unfolded that day.

After detonating a bomb outside the prime minister's office in Oslo, killing eight people, Anders Behring Breivik took a ferry to Utoya Island and embarked on a shooting spree that took the lives of another 69 people attending a youth camp. Total killed 77 and many were youth workers meeting on Utoya for a conference.

Authorities said Breivik roamed the island shooting at campers, before members of an elite Norwegian police unit took him into custody.

In August this year, Breivik, who boasted of being an ultra-nationalist who killed his victims to fight multiculturalism in Norway, was judged to be sane at the time and sentenced to 21 years in prison after being charged with voluntary homicide and committing acts of terror.

An independent report into the worst atrocity on Norwegian soil since World War II blamed a series of intelligence and planning failures for delaying the police arrival on the island by 30 minutes.

Despite ownership and the type of ammunition permitted for use being tightly regulated, the report also criticized Norway's gun controls as "inadequate." It called for a total ban on semi-automatic weapons of the type Breivik purchased with relative ease.

Like Finland, Norway has a high number of guns in circulation with hunting a national pastime. According to the Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City," there are almost 32 firearms per 100 people in Norway. This compares to 88.82 per 100 in the United States.”

This case is unusual in that Breivik was arrested and stood trial. The judges ruled, perversely in my view, that he was sane at the time of the killings.

In one of his first acts as leader, Prime Minister John Howard announced major reforms to Australia's gun control laws just 12 days after 35 people died at the hands of a lone gunman wielding a military-style semi-automatic rifle at a popular tourist spot in Tasmania on April 28, 1996.
In the wave of public revulsion against what became known as the Port Arthur massacre, the move for stricter gun controls was led by Howard, who had taken office just seven weeks earlier and who, in the first few hours after the tragedy, declared himself horrified "at this shocking and senseless act."
He took his anti-gun campaign around the country, at one stage addressing a hostile pro-gun rally wearing a bullet-proof vest. He also oversaw a successful gun "buy-back" scheme that took some 650,000 guns out of circulation.
Australia's eight states and territories got behind legislation that addressed mass shootings: High calibre rifles and shotguns were banned, licensing was tightened and remaining firearms were registered to uniform national standards -- an accomplishment regarded by many in the country as Howard's enduring legacy.
Australia has been compared to the United States for its "frontier mentality." But unlike the U.S., there is no constitutional right to bear arms, gun ownership is markedly lower and American-style gun culture has taken hold in only a few pockets of Australian society -- most notably among the crime gangs operating in the two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.
Finland enjoys a strong tradition of hunting and has a high proportion of gun ownership, with 1.5 million firearms owned in a nation of more than five million people, according to government figures.
Gun control has also been more relaxed here. Until recently anyone aged 15 and over was able to apply for a gun license if they offered a valid reason such as membership of a gun club.
Though gun crime is rare, the country has suffered two major incidents at schools in recent years.
On November 7, 2007, a teenager opened fire with a handgun at his high school in the southern Finnish town of Tuusula, killing eight people before fatally turning the gun on himself.
Police said all of 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen's victims had multiple gunshot wounds, most to the upper body and head. Some 69 shells and more than 320 unused bullets were found at the scene.
Auvinen, who had no criminal record, obtained a license for the weapon the previous month and regularly practiced sharp-shooting as a hobby at a local range, police said.
The authorities said Auvinen, who police later described as lonely and antisocial (my italics), had posted a series of videos on YouTube featuring guns, with some hinting at the massacre at Jokela High School itself.
The following year, on September 23, the country was numbed by news of another mass shooting. Over the course of 90 minutes, 10 people were fatally shot as Matti Juhani Saari, wearing a ski mask and black fatigues, rampaged through a campus at Kauhajoki city's School of Hospitality in south-western Finland.
The 22-year-old later died in hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Chillingly, police revealed Saari had been questioned days before the shooting about a video posted on the internet showing him firing a gun, though no action was taken because he was licensed and had not broken the law.
In the wake of the shootings, the Finnish government moved to issue new guidelines on the use of firearms, particularly handguns and revolvers. New applicants for handgun licenses are now required to show they've been active members of a gun club for one year and be vetted by their doctor and police.
The minimum age for purchasing licenses of short barrel weapons has been raised to 20 -- 18 for hunting rifles. Permits are now valid for a period of five years before being reviewed.

Despite relatively limited gun ownership and availability, Britain has experienced several mass shootings in the past 25 years.

On August 19, 1987, 27-year-old Michael Ryan went on a bloody rampage for several hours in the southern English town of Hungerford, Berkshire armed with a pistol, hand grenade and an automatic rifle. He murdered 16 people and wounded over a dozen others, before he shot himself after being tracked down in a college building in the town.

In the wake of the Hungerford massacre, Britain introduced new legislation -- Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 -- making registration mandatory for owning shotguns and banning semi-automatic and pump-action weapons.

Nine years later, on March 13, 1996, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton burst into a school in the picturesque town of Dunblane in central Scotland and embarked on a terrifying shooting spree that left 16 five and six-year-old children and their teacher dead. The former scoutmaster turned one of the four pistols he was carrying on himself.

The following year, a new law -- Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 -- was passed effectively banning the private ownership of all handguns in the UK. This followed a highly successful public campaign in the months after Dunblane that included a petition being handed to the government with almost 750,000 signatures, according to British media reports.

Britain was shaken by another massacre in June 2010 when a lone gunman, named as Derrick Byrd, killed 12 people and injured almost 30 others after a near four-hour shooting spree in rural Cumbria, northern England. After a huge manhunt, the body of the 52-year-old taxi driver was found alongside two powerful rifles, one equipped with a telescopic sight. He had taken his own life. Police were investigating 30 crime scenes at one point.

The tragedy again raised questions about the effectiveness of Britain's gun laws after it was revealed Byrd was licensed to carry firearms. The licensing application process involves being vetted by police as well as the applicant's doctor to assess their fitness to own a weapon.

Enough said? There is no American gun control problem – there is a universal, world-wide gun control problem with some unidentifiable individuals killing their fellow men. No country has the monopoly on gun crime. We are all in this together.

What's to be done? President Obama has hinted at some measures. There is very little chance that any legislation will be forth-coming. The world moves on. It's sad but true. There is no appetite in America for legislation.

But, some of the crazier aspects of local laws may be shamed into oblivion. The idea that we should have more guns being carried by citizens, either openly or concealed, is more that idiotic – it's just plain criminal.

There is this notion that maybe if the teachers had been armed at Sandy Hook or the caretaker or the principal or the janitor or casual passers-by then the tragedy could have been prevented.

What tosh!

The more people we have routinely carrying guns the more deaths we will suffer.

Of course, you and I are fine – but what about him down the road? Or Uncle Joe? Or Jasper, the coon-hunting red-neck who is by common consent three short of a six-pack? (Great – give him one of the semi-automatics, I hear the nuts saying)

Arming school personnel would only result in so many more tragic accidents that Sandy Hook would look like a Girl Scouts picnic.

Ok, let's put police in every school.

There's an idea? Maybe cops on very street corner, 7-Eleven, Mom and Pop store, shopping mall, sports event, kindergarten, grade school, high school, university and college, bar, country club, VA hospital, America Legion Hall. (This list is as inexhaustible as is is silly and fruitless. - who is going to pay for all this – the NRA – the already hard-pressed tax payer – the ACLU – it's just beyond belief that some rational people I know are advocating this kind of prescription – think – think – this would not save a single life – it never has!)

Some people are just not thinking.

Time to make my recommendations.

Let's increase the spending on mental health.

Let's try to reduce the guns in society which have nothing to do with hunting. (BTW the best hunting weapon I know of is a .50 calibre machine gun – you can hit a target a half- a mile away – I know I qualified at Ft Hood, Texas in 1968 – BTW is the NRA advocating twin 50's mounted on the back of Ford Broncos?)

Let's have a grown-up debate about gun legislation – not the silly ideas that we are currently being snowed under by. I support the Second Amendment. I support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Let's do all we can to make sure our citizens are safe at home, work, school or wherever.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cricket Umpiring

No balls and Wides

“It ain't that people are ignorant that causes so much trouble; it's just that they know so damned much that just ain't true. - Josh Billings

Applying this to cricket in general and umpiring specifically, proves that many a true word is spoken in jest!

Each Saturday in the LFNCL we have a variety of people umpiring matches. All have different cricketing experiences and (hopefully) some knowledge of the Laws. Some are playing in the match, some are local volunteers. Some are dragooned in to it, some enjoy it, some see it as a necessary evil to be endured. Not surprisingly we sometimes wonder at some of the decisions given.

Two anecdotes from last season may illustrate this. Firstly concerning Law 42.6 Dangerous and Unfair Bowling - Subsection (b) (i) and (ii).

A local cricketer told me about a game he was playing in. The bowler came in to bowl. It was a full toss. It passed the striker above waist height and hit the top of middle stump. (I have seen this before, no matter how unlikely it sounds!)

The umpire at the non-striker's end called a no-ball under Law 42. The game continued - but after the game and in the pub, the players were discussing the situation, because they genuinely were not sure if the correct decision had been reached.

I asked if the bowler was a slow bowler. Under Law 42 the ball must pass the striker over shoulder height if the bowler is a slow one - not over waist high. It was a slow bowler he informed me. Was the decision correct? Not as the situation was described. The batsman should have been given out. This looks like a case of just not knowing the Law.

Those of us who have played and umpired for a long time will remember when the no ball call was made by the square-leg umpire. Not now. It's the umpire at the non-striker's end who makes the call, but wise umpires will look at square leg for an indication of the height of the delivery from their colleague. If the square leg umpire had been consulted in the above case perhaps a better decision might have been reached.

Case two – whilst umpiring a LFNCL match I was behind the stumps at the non-striker's end. The bowler, who happened to be a slow bowler, bowled a legal delivery (not a no ball) but it was very wide of the striker's off stump. The striker moved out to meet the ball. He did not attempt a shot but let the ball pass the stumps where it was taken by the wicket keeper. He then stood staring at me in a perplexed manner. When a run was taken and he found himself at my end he said something like, “Surely that must have been a wide?”

I tried to explain the Law to him, but he was in no mood to listen. Eventually, and after an exchange of emails on the subject, he informed me that the delivery in question would have been called a wide on 90% of Norfolk grounds. I responded that in that case we are in big trouble.

Law 25 Wide Ball 2. Delivery Not a Wide – The umpire shall not adjudge a delivery as being a wide (a) if the striker by moving, either (i) causes the ball to pass wide of him . . . or (ii) brings the ball sufficiently within his reach to be able to hit it by means of a normal cricket stroke.

This is one of the Laws that does make sense! For example, in my scenario above, suppose the batsman had attempted to hit the ball, got an edge and skied it to extra cover? He's out, of course. A ball cannot be a wide if you hit it!

Now, stop and think. Have you ever seen a professional cricketer chase a wide one? Probably not as the risks far outweigh the possible advantages. You cannot get two bites of the same cherry. If you chase the wide one and hit it, you can either score runs or get out. Is the risk worth the possible reward? Your choice, but having made the choice you cannot expect the umpire to ignore the Law and call a wide if you move and bring the ball into play.

Notice that I left out Law 25 1. Judging a Wide. Judging a wide is subjective. When umpires are appointed, it's possible to believe that consistency will be the watch-word. When players are doubling as umpires consistency is a probably a forlorn hope. Get on with the game!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Nation of Shopkeepers

Retail Woes

I'm at a loss to fully explain my frustration and outright, overflowing anger with the retail experience in the UK. It is, in short, abominable (perhaps not even that good!).

I will get on to my fellow shoppers; but before I do, a few words about the retailers. Let's try to be fair. They do have a lot of obstacles to overcome. Without exception the premises they have to work with are less than desirable. Actually they are almost uniformly not fit for purpose. The aisles are just too small. There is barely room enough to swing a cat on a Tesco or Sainsbury's aisle.

Why is this? Simple. In order to make use of the maximum amount of space, stores cut down on the aisle space. To a retailer the aisle is just wasted space. And, and most importantly, shoppers here in the UK are already used to having no space to move yourself or your trolley. They just accept it as the status quo. Shoppers are so used to being treated like cattle they just don't know any better.

By way of demonstration - in the USA things are very different. Customers are accustomed to very wide aisles and simply would not shop in stores which resemble rat-runs or obstacle courses. They are spoiled rotten by the relative cheapness of land and the subsequent mammoth car parks with enough room to open your car door as wide as possible and still be in the bay you are supposed to be in.

Down at Roy's of Wroxham (and this is typical of every supermarket car park I've eve seen in England) there is barely enough room to open the door at all. You have to be very lucky indeed to be able to open fully – only when parked next to a Smart car for instance.

Again, retailers are only interested in packing in the maximum number of cars for the space available. (Here's a good one for the much maligned planning authorities – why not specify how many car park bays, and the size thereof, which must be available to the public before granting an application!) My prediction? Never happen.

So, your first job is to park the car and get out. This is quite a task even before you get to the shop.

Then you need to get your trolley and try to negotiate the small spaces in the aisles whist at the same time overcoming the vicissitudes of your fellow shoppers. This is the really hard bit.

Let me demonstrate by recounting my experience last week. I left home at 13.15 to go to Roys for a very small amount of shopping. We needed a few things for that day's dinner and a small bottle of whiskey for the afternoon's rugby international (about the only time in the year when I drink whiskey except for the obligatory bottle at Christmas). This should have been a 15 minute job.

I managed to get a car parking spot in the Londis car park. Very naughty but what the heck – I was going to the post office as well. Into Roy's and got my basket – not a full trolley – just a hand basket. The hand baskets can be more of a hindrance than a help. Unless you hold it in front of you it will not assist you in negotiating the aisles. Hold it at the side and you will hit other shoppers. jolly bad form, what!

The whiskey was the challenge. On my way to peruse the offers, I became aware of an almighty row going on at one of the checkouts. This is unusual – even for Roy's. Everyone in the store whilst pretending not to be interested was, in fact, trying to get close enough to find out what was actually happening.

As near as I could tell, a chap who was having his groceries scanned by the assistant was engaged in a particularly unpleasant exchange with the woman who was next in the queue. He was saying, quite loudly, something about “bloody women who always expect ??? and moan and groan when they don't get it”.

Could this be a case of queue-jumping (an almost unheard of faux pas in Britain)?

I never did get to the bottom of the struggle as I was in a bit of a hurry to get home before the rugby started.

I should have dallied for all the good it did me.

At the booze aisle, I was completely screwed, blued and tattooed – all in one smooth movement.

This aisle is particularly narrow. There were four people already in the aisle, so I stepped in and stood, patiently, behind them with my basket in front of me. Both sets of Norfolk Numpties had a trolley with them which they had strategically placed against the wares on offer whilst they stood either side of the trolley.

Now here is where the fun began. I could see the small bottle of Bannock Brae which I required on the bottom shelf. There was no way to get to it.

The smeg-heads on the left were carefully examining the brandy. Every bottle of brandy, and with each examination there ensued a conversation about the relative merits of the drink in question. It appeared that they had never bought a bottle of brandy before. (What, my lucky day!)

The gherkin-brains on the right, meanwhile were attempting to buy a bottle of whiskey as, I learned from just standing near them, a present for a relative.

Gentle reader this went on for some time – I mean some time – without and real progress being made.

This scenario went on and on. The most amazing part of the whole fiasco was the two pairs of saddos were completely unaware of the chaos they were causing. I firmly believe that British people lack what the rest of the world takes for granted – a sense of empathy. Most of them just do not even consider what effect their idiotic and selfish behaviour is having on others. It's a fact – no matter how unpleasant.

I missed the beginning of the rugby match by at least 10 minutes. The 10 minute job became a 40 minute one!

Ordinarily, at this stage I would be offering some kind of advice or solution.

I just give up.

I have none.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Taking the Oath

Constitutional Questions

The election is over. Barack Obama won. Much has been made of how the results show how divided the nation was and the legacy which may ensue.

I have been particularly struck by some of the comments of the losers – the Republican party and its supporters. I detect a kind of historical and anti-constitutional amnesia engulfing some the commentators and politicians. They should know better.

Time to get back to basics, perhaps.

I have sworn the oath of allegiance.

At the Induction Center in Kansas City I raised my right hand and said:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

The President swears his oath in a slightly different form:

US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Fine. So what exactly is the President to preserve, protect and defend? It's the Constitution stupid!

Have a look at the Preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The important part here, in this context, is “promote the general Welfare”. The Founding Fathers were no saints, they were no real democrats either. But they what they believed in - “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

It's the powers given by consent that they were so keen on.

We have JKK to blame for some of the confusion. His famous contention that - "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" is exactly and precisely wrong. The men who made the constitution knew this. The only reason to give up some powers to the government is because you expect to get something back. Otherwise all bets are off.

Anything which promotes the general welfare is part and parcel of what the constitution is about. People expect that the government will do things for them. They have a perfect right to expect this.

The Republican party seems to have lost sight of this fundamental idea. Their election campaign seemed to focus on small government (or no government at all). Their attempts to equate government plans and programs with some kind of socialist plot were misguided in the extreme.

The electors know this without being told.

They want the government to help them when they are in need. They want those with lots to be taxed lots. They want opportunity for all – but not at the expense of the people suffering hardships for which they are not really responsible.

To try and pretend that these principles are wrong is unconstitutional. Simple as that.

In order to rebuild a strong Republican party (essential for having a productive debate and a real two party system) the leaders and people with influence must stop blaming the electors and examine their principles. Let's get back to basics.

Support and defend the constitution. That's the American way.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Chiefs Sink and Fast

Picking your way out of trouble?

Trying to account for the Chiefs disastrous season so far is a bit like trying to find an honest man in politics – hard to do and over ripe with choices.

Having got egg all over my face (not the only one I may add) in predicting a break-out season, what has gone wrong?

Obviously, if I knew that I'd be the General Manager or Coach or both.

But, I think I've got a handle on something that might go some way to explain the terrible smell coming out of Arrowhead at the moment.

You will remember that General Manager Pioli has long advocated building the team through the draft. His special talent is (or is supposed to be) identifying talent and signing the right players. That's the way to success on the field, he says.

So, how has he done and, more importantly, how have the Chiefs done in the draft in general?

Lets go back to 05 for the starter. Pioli wasn't around then but it's just 8 years ago and by now something should have happened? Surely? I could have started in 09 when Pioli came on board but the picture would seem depressingly similar – or even worse.

Starting on 05 allows some comparison with what came before Pioli and what came after. And, all the first round picks since 05 are still on the KC roster. So, it makes sense that they should be the basis of the team and the team should be winning a lot of games – at least that was the Pioli plan.

In 05 the Chiefs went for Derrick Johnson, a line backer. Is he in the starting line up? Yes, quite regularly. Is he making big plays and stuffing the run and intercepting passes? A bit. Yes, just a bit. Give him a C+.

In 06 we got Tamba Hali – originally a defensive end but now a line backer in the 3-4 defence. He has made the pro-bowl and regularly features in the sack count. Give him a B.

In 07 the Chiefs drafted Dwayne Bowe a wide receiver. How's he done? He's made pro bowl appearances and regularly leads the team in receptions and yardage. He drops too many balls, everyone will tell you that. Can get a B-

08 was a big year – we had two picks in the first round. Glen Dorsey and Branden Albert both came on-board. Dorsey is a bit player, He starts at defensive end – when he's fit. He has never shook off the number one pick disease and gone on to stardom. He's barely adequate and gets a D.

This, incidentally, is the start of the Pioli reign. Branden Albert is a starter on the O-line and has done quite well. He's solid and dependable. His pass protection is generally good and he can run block. He's a good player. Is he a great one? No. He can have a B-.

In 09 Tyson Jackson was drafted in round one. He's opposite Dorsey on the D-line. He's adequate. He may get better. He is only a D+ on present form.

In 10 Safety Eric Berry was picked at number one – fifth overall in the draft. He was going to be the lynch pin around which the defence would solidify. Before he had a serious knee injury and sat out all of last season he was living up to the hype. Now he may struggle to regain the momentum. He's a good player but the jury is out on whether he can be the world-beater we hoped for. At present he's a C-.

Wide receiver Jon Baldwin was the 11 pick. So far this is a disaster happening before out eyes. His numbers are poor. His play is poor. He has never really recovered from a chequered start to his NFL career – as the speculation about a pre-season injury never was cleared up satisfactorily. I had Bowe and Baldwin as a real twin receiving threat. This has never happened. He can only get an E.

Finally we took Dontari Poe, a real nose tackle, in the 12 draft. I thought he'd be the final piece in the puzzle. Now with three first round picks on the D-line, the pieces all fit together. No-one could run the ball on us and we'd get pressure on all QB's. Not happened. He may be a rookie but he seems not to be a factor. He can only manage a D-.

Something really depressing is building up. The Pioli picks are all bombing.

That's why we have never led in a game this season and why we are 1-8.

I'd like to see the way back, but I can't.

I'm depressed.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Natural Justice


I'm in that uncomfortable minority again. This time it feels very uncomfortable and very unpopular.

After the restoration of Charles II, the powers that be (despite the King's opposition – to his great credit) decided to dig up the bodies of the regicides and do nasty things to them – like hanging what was left of them from London Bridge until they rotted away. Perhaps it made Parliament feel better as most of them were implicated in the “crime” - just not as deeply as Cromwell, Harrison and Ireton.

Charles went on to be the “Merry Monarch” and lay the seeds for the Glorious Revolution.

We are, it seems, back to square one. Sir Jimmy Savile is tried, convicted, hung, drawn and quartered.

Where to start?

I used to do an investigative unit in English based on the assassination of President Kennedy. Even today, a large number of Americans believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill Kennedy, or, if he did, he was part of some larger conspiracy, There is no real evidence for this, but still people believe it.


First and most importantly Oswald was never charged with the crime. Neither was he ever tried in a court of law. Why? He was killed by Jack Ruby before anyone had the chance. So, since no-one was tried and convicted, people think they are free to believe what they want.

Jimmy Savile is kind of in the same boat. He's dead. He was never accused, tried or convicted of any crime. Therefore, like Oswald, he can't defend himself. Nor, can we hear his side of the story. (Incidentally, Oswald famously said he didn't kill anyone!) The downside seems to be that everyone who feels like it is free to accuse Savile of almost anything and the Prime Minister seems content to join in.

Whatever, I ask, happened to the rule of law?

Pardon me, but I thought that you were innocent until proven guilty? It now appears that Savile had, allegedly, been abusing youngsters since the 1970's. No-one investigated or brought charges. Three people allege that they told the police of abuse three years ago and were not believed. (Or, and it is just possible, the police did not believe that they were credible accusers). Either way, no charges were ever brought against Savile in his life time.

So, now we are to judge and convict him in absence?

This is not right. Nor can any trial ever take place as he is not able to confront his accusers. That is a fundamental right under the law.

Now we hear that over 300 people have come forward to accuse Savile of abusing them. How many made complaints to the police and were willing and able to go to court and testify? Precisely none.

Ah, but surely there is no smoke without fire! Maybe, but wasn't it Goebbles who made telling a lie often enough and people will believe it into an art form? I think it was.

Other celebrities have now been implicated. Fine, if they are still alive, like Freddie Starr, then get them into court and test the evidence.

If Savile and others are serial offenders then they deserve no sympathy or slack. But, make sure that the baby is not disposed with the bath water in the process.

Otherwise, when they come for you there may be no-one left to protest.


I'm for the rule of law – no matter how inconvenient it is sometimes.

Monday, September 17, 2012



Much is being made of the recent report into the Hillsborough disaster.

Finally we learn what the people in Liverpool have been saying for years: the police action on the day were the cause of many deaths that could have been prevented.

This is not new; nor is it news.

The wheel has turned full circle. No-one now is prepared to blame anyone except the police and the authorities.

Another tragedy is likely to be played out in the coming months as normally responsible and thoughtful people jump in the band-wagon to blame everyone and anyone except Liverpool supporters or, indeed anyone else who may have been responsible for this tragedy.

Perhaps this is only right?

After all, many innocent Liverpool supporters were killed in tragic circumstances. This is now beyond question. And, the police and other authorities have been shown to have been either monumentally stupid, carelessly incompetent, or downright criminal.

This is clearly beyond the pale.

However, and no matter how unpopular it may sound, the primary cause of the tragedy was the behaviour of a large proportion of the fans at Hillsborough that day. The actions of the police were reprehensible, but they must not have to shoulder the complete blame.

The fans who turned up late, probably having another beer in the pub, and overwhelmed the incompetent police, who were supposed to be supervising the crowd, were the cause of many deaths.

People in Liverpool who now view this tragedy as somehow a vindication of the fan's actions should be ashamed and are complicit in tarnishing the memory of those who died.

There are many people in Liverpool whose punishment is daily to remember their part in causing the deaths. That is probably punishment enough for them. Others, including the police who were complicit should be brought to justice.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


We lost the dog today.

I just forgot how sad I could get.

We keep cheering each other up and reminding ourselves of the positives, but it's not really doing much good.

She was fine yesterday, hanging around the dinner table to see if she could cadge a few scraps. She went racing down the garden this morning absolutely sure she had spied a cat. She had two small biscuits and then got on the settee. About mid-morning, I noticed that she was panting and not really asleep. Julie's nurse came at 12 and Sheba went to her water bowl, I say “her water bowl” but it's the water bowl she shared with the cat. She made to move outside but dribbled wee all the way out of the conservatory. She had never done this before. She got back on the settee and we could see she was not well. Her eyes were rolling and she was panting hard. I rang the vet and they could see her at 12:30. We managed to get her in the car, but instead of getting excited as we drove up Park Road thinking she was going somewhere exciting, she just lay on the back seat next to Julie. At the vets, she did not want to get out and I had to lift her. She managed to walk in but lay on the floor outside the vet's door.

Sorry, just had a short break, watched a bit of the One Show, but as I got up I glanced at the settee and was upset not to see Sheba lying in her usual spot.

The vet took her for an X-ray and a scan. I expected the worse and I was not disappointed. She had a massive growth on her spleen. It could be cancerous, about a 90% chance. Our choices? They could operate and remove the growth but the op would probably kill her – she was 13 and quite a large dog with a heart murmur. I opted to have her put down. We managed to call Pete who came down and we had 10 minutes alone with her. She was in a little pain, but lay quite quietly on the vet's table. The actual injection is a strong tranquillizer and quite quick, she was gone in just a minute.

I always draw the short straw. I had to take Suzy down to be put to sleep in 1999. That was traumatic, but now that more than 10 years have elapsed, it has faded in the memory. Today's has not had time to fade and it's quite raw.

The vets were very good. They ask if you want cremation (No) and provide a large box to bring her home in. She was weighed just before she went in to see the vet and was 28 kilos. That a large amount to lift as “dead weight”. I got Pete to come back in and lift the box into the van. She went home with Pete and Julie in the van and I drove the car. It was all so sudden.

Pete dug a nice grave halfway down the garden near the bush where she liked to “hide” her football when you kicked it. We removed her collar and Julie remembered that we never had another name tag made for it. Her first collar, which wore out, had a tag that Julie had had made with Shebba on it. We teased her often about that and sometimes called the dog Shebba for fun. We put her in with her yellow Frisbee and the “manky football” she loved so much. I took a few photos. I spied another of her footballs near the door and kicked it angrily towards the apple tree. Pete retrieved it later and placed it on the grave. I spent the evening comforting Julie and expecting the sense of loss to fade.

I went to bed early convinced that I would be able to sleep, but all I could do was doze and think about the dog. I had to précis the Chiefs football season over and over in my mind to stop from feeling sad and finally went to sleep, only to wake at 03:30 for the toilet and just dozed until time to get up.

In the morning Pete appeared and confessed that he had slept little and could not stop thinking about Sheba. We agreed that it was probably the suddenness of her going that had affected us so badly.

I thought it might help to remember what I had been telling the family for years, i.e. “That dog lives better than we do!”. And, she did.

Sheba was a rescue dog from Gt. Yarmouth. She arrived in the spring of 2000 on a Saturday. Pete and Steve were both away at University and I was working away at Finborough during the week, so I thought that Julie should have a dog for company and as “protection”. Suzy had passed away a few months earlier. They brought her over from Yarmouth in a car and we waited at home. She bounded out of the car and into the house. She was a bit bigger than we had hoped for but they said she wouldn't grow much more (they were wrong). She immediately latched on to Julie. I gave them a cheque for £50. I hope it helped to place other dogs. We prepared the garden by having a small brick wall built to close the gap between the bathroom and the garage. We blocked the gap between the hedge and the garage with the old metal gates that used to be at the top of the drive way.

We had a lead and we walked her down the road. She pulled a lot, so Julie bought a special collar to train her not to pull. It was never entirely successful. She settled straight in. How many time did I say over the years, “Dog, it was the luckiest day of your life when you arrived!”? She followed Julie everywhere and incessantly – most likely afraid she would lose her. I was at work on the Monday but got reports everyday by telephone. She soon proved her worth during the week when she barked at a woman causing a row in our road in the early hours and woke Julie. Clearly nothing could move near the house without her knowing and then letting you know. This talent stayed with her all her life.

We booked her in to the Bridge Vets and had her spayed and vaccinated.

One of her first walks was to Salhouse Broad. We had one of the extendible leads so she could roam a bit and we occasionally let her off the lead entirely. Fortunately, she was on the lead when she spied a group of ducks sitting on the quay side and charged. She flew through the air and landed in the Broad. She just sank. I managed to grab her collar and pull her out. I have never seen a more surprised look on the face of a dog.

One of her favourite walk was down to Caen Meadow where she would race up the hill for the ball and swim nearly across the river chasing a stick or the ball. When young she never tired of this. As a middle-aged dog she loved to play there in the snow and would happily lie in the river even if she had to break the ice in order to get in.

I thought to finish this today, but have to stop. Julie, Pete and I were just talking about Sheba and we all started crying again. You can tell yourself how silly this is, but it doesn't seem to do any good. I intended to pick it up on Sunday, but I was in the garden and was telling my next door neighbour Geoffrey about it and I stated crying again. I think I'll have to leave it for a bit until I can get some kind of closure. I feel so silly, but I just can't deal with this at the moment.

Months have gone by and I'm ready to finish this off.

We are never really good without a dog, so after my knee replacement and some recovery time we found a small Jack Russell/Patterdale terrier cross for sale in Norwich. Just a 12 week old puppy and with the same colour fur as Sheba; so I bought it. She has settled in well. We move on, but we don't forget.

Just heard today that my friend, Linda Taylor, has lost her dog, Shelby. Hope she and Robert get over it quicker than we did.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Chiefs Prospects 2012

Here we go again!

Instead of my usual shot in the dark kind of prediction for the Chiefs this season I decided to have a look at what the “experts” have to say.

The Chiefs are at 17 in one of the the power rankings and a few pundits have them as Div winners or wild card prospects. A few weeks ago, when I first looked, they were far more favourably assessed.

What's gone wrong?

Pre-season results were poor. In the areas where they were seen to be strong – they were weak. The defence couldn't do anything and the offence scored few points. A sure-fire recipe for dropping in the rankings.

The most quotable quote I saw is “As Matt Cassell goes, so go the Chiefs”. Matt is running out of time. He has to produce or he is gone.

Ignoring the pre-season, simply because it is the pre-season, things do not look so black. The running game is back and back stronger. Both offence and defence line play looks much stronger. The receiving corps looks very good. All positives.

The Chargers seem to be the favourites to win the Div. Nothing new there – they always are and always fail to produce. The pundits love them but they can't win consistently. The Broncos have the Peyton factor, but that's about it. He will bomb in Denver. Believe me, he will not be a factor. The Broncos will sink and sink fast. The Raiders will be the Raiders. They may win some games.

The Chiefs look the strongest in a weak Division. They should win it. I'm going with the positives from:

NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs at 13

The expectations are high in Kansas City after general manager Scott Pioli added a load of talent in the off-season. How well it pays off depends on the incumbents, not the newcomers.

The Chiefs offence will only be as good as Matt Cassel is at quarterback. He struggled in the 2011 campaign minus Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki, and the team hopes a shuffling on the offensive line plus the addition of Eric Winston will help Cassel play more consistently.

The defence was a great unit in 2011, but the front three in the 3-4 defence is a major issue. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson haven't lived up to their draft stock, and even 2012 first-rounder Dontari Poe is on the second team right now.

The Chiefs have stiff competition in the West, but the division is theirs if they play up to their potential.

Summing up: the Tribe are on the up. Cassel will have to play well for them to win. The running game will keep them in a lot of games. The defence will be better (barring injuries). They should win the Division and may win a play-off game. They are still a year or two away from a Super Bowl. But, who knows? As usual, the NFL will be super-competitive and very hard to predict. Everyone has the Packers as Super Bowl favourites. They were last year as well and look what the Giants did!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

Bulldog spirit?  Nah, too wet!
Think it might rain at the Olympics?  You can't get good odds that it won't!

Despite all the contingency plans in place, the incessant rain during the Olympics will cause major headaches and possible calamities.  After all, the Olympic experience will attract many visitors to this island.  If we ever want them to come back, we better provide some kind of excellent experience.  One that doesn't involve an umbrella.

Mind you the Sunday Times had an article about how Washington DC can not provide electricity to run the air conditioners and folks are barely surviving as a consequence.  Totally unprepared and under-funded apparently. 

Some of us can remember a time when there was no aircon.  Oh happy days!  Not! 

Eventually, we did get one of the room air conditioners.  You know, the ones that just sit in the window and are propped up on the outside wall.  Mom and Dad had one in their bedroom.  Only fair when you have to get up and go to work, I suppose. Meanwhile, we poured with sweat and panted the night away dreaming of a cool dip in the pond.

And it is the pond that is the problem.  The big pond, the Atlantic pond, has gone haywire.  The jet stream is too far south and all the rain that usually falls on Scandinavian mountains is now falling on the East Anglian plain.

What's to be done?

Nothing as yet.  I predict the Olympic experience will sour relations with the rest of the world for a generation. Enjoy the Olympic experience while you can for London will not host another games for a generation (or two).  The games start in seventeen days.  Looking at the forecast for the rest of this week – it's a washout!

So the seventeen becomes ten.

Then the long-rage forecast will show even more rain on the way.

I can't wait for the 100m final to be run in a torrential downpour, or postponed or cancelled.

Misery loves company and if you are of that bent you have a lot of company in store.

We need some method of covering the country, like the centre court at Wimbledon.

Failing that:  I give up.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Then Germans Bombed Our Chippie

Germany 2 - Greece 0

Is anyone else just about fed up with Fat Frau Merkel? If reports are to be believed, she thinks we should all become more like the Germans. No, not marching with a funny walk and invading Poland, but being really thrifty and hoarding our cash.

Hang on! Have we not been here before? Let's remind ourselves. After WWII we gave the Germans millions of dollars and pounds and francs to rebuild their country. Everyone was scared they would choose the Commies (which Fat Frau's family did), so we bribed them to be nice Western Europeans. See my blog of 5 November 11 for more details.

The result is, apparently, now we all have to join up with the Germans in a kind of Pan-European superstate where the Krauts make all the rules and everyone else picks up the tab.


There are people, of course, who consider that “let bygones be bygones” is correct. They are commonly called idiots. There are those who say “the sins of the fathers should not be visited on the sons”. They are well-meaning idiots.

My view is simple. The Germans owe us. Forget that the present generation might not have been born. They still owe us. They will go on owing us for about another 900 years. Then we might have a re-think.

An interesting programme was broadcast by the BBC the other night about Greece and the problems they are having. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Also, beware of Greeks bearing grudges. An old Greek war hero (of the resistance) was interviewed. He forecast doom and gloom if the Greeks are forced to accept yet another form of German hegemony. Who could blame him? He was captured and tortured by the Germans. Now he is supposed to kowtow to them and accept a crust of bread as his reward? I think not.

Now the Greeks are hardly blameless in their present financial situation, but to hear Fat Frau lecturing them on the moral way to behave really must make them sick.

I can't blame them.

I like a lot of Germans I have met, as individuals. This does not excuse their guilt. The fact that they effectively rigged the Euro to suit themselves has somehow got lost.

They must not be allowed to forget. Neither should we.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


A history lesson

A fascinating documentary last week about Nazi football hooligans in the Ukraine and Poland ahead of this year's European Championship.

Of course, everyone knows that Hitler and his Nazi cronies were quite the most unpleasant volk on the planet during the short-lived “Thousand Year Reich”. What is less well-known is the well-documented flirtation of the Ukrainians and some Poles with some of the more despicable acts of the Germans.

BTW, I have never understood why today we are so concerned with the Germans and what their attitude is to the EU.. They owe us. They owe us big-time. The only reason their economy is now so strong is that it is built on the back of the post-war handouts, chiefly from the US but also from other European countries. When they get on their high horse about Greek debt it makes me sick. Do they remember what they did to the Greeks only a short time ago? If I were in charge in Athens I'd invade the bastards and take all the money I needed from the Bundesbank. All citizens of countries devastated by the Germans in WWII should be entitled to a new Mercedes. Audi or BMW when they need one. Simply turn up and collect. See how much money they have then!

Back to the football. Some bright spark decided that rewarding the bad boys of Europe with a major tournament would be a good idea. What tosh!

Most of the really nasty concentration camp guards were Ukrainian. The Ukrainian anti-Semitism is well know and well-documented. So now we are to celebrate their culture, including Neo-Nazi hoodlums, and reward them with a major championship? Crazy.

Unfortunately, the “plucky Poles” of legend pale into insignificance when set against the collaboration of a large proportion of the Polish population who not only collaborated with the Germans but actively supported the final solution. It's no accident that a large proportion of the Nazi death camps were in Poland. Local Poles could be relied on to keep stum. The Polish Home Guard refused to arm the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto. No Pole raised their head above the parapet to save the Jews of Poland from mass extermination.

I saw an interview with the head of the Polish FA saying that there is no neo-Nazi problem in Polish football. Time will tell, but it still looks like UEFA are rewarding criminal behaviour.

Before we go further, let us deal with the “sins of the fathers” argument. It is crap. Nations which have contributed to mass murder and torture in the 20th century will need a lot more that 70 years to redeem themselves. We should have no truck with those who would forget the past for they are destined to relive it in the future.

Back to football. I enjoyed the Italian politician who suggested that in the wake of the match-fixing debacle in Italy all football should be banned for, say, three years. I want this man on my team. What a blessing it would be.

Is it only consequential that the most base elements of society find expression at a football match?

It is not. There are nutters everywhere, but only football gives them an excuse to get together and a rationale to behave like morons. Why?

Because football in inherently inane. Football relies on so-called supporters hating the opposition as well as “supporting” their own team. It is beyond contempt. Football provides the vehicle for morons to behave appallingly and call it legitimate. Our Ukrainian friends were defended by their FA saying that their chanting anti-Semitic garbage was OK since one of the local teams was owned by Jews. Unbelievable.

When I take over football will be played in the park. Leagues will be outlawed. I'd love to see Cartoon Rooney try to make a living doing something useful, like hospital porter.

I await the day.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Angevin Empire

“The problem with the weather is that everyone talks about it, but nobody ever does anything about it”

So true. But, I have a plan. It's a bit radical but it will work. I think.

Let's all up sticks and move to France – well acutally let's move to the best bits of France, kick out the cheese-eating surrender monkeys that are currently infesting the area and take over.

Sound good? It should do, for it's all been done before.

The Angevin Empire of Henry II was a cracking example of how to both improve the area and also get rid of the Frogs. Henry nicked the French king's wife and with Normandy already his dukedom by the time the French woke up to what was happening all they could do was shout Merde!


We'll even let them keep Normandy – after all the climate isn't really much better that England's. What we really want is Gascony, Maine, Aquitaine and Anjou. These are the best bits climate-wise and also grow some great wine grapes!

Is there room? Well it might be a bit of a squeeze but what the heck, the English are used to queuing!

Wait a minute, if we go for the whole nine yards and hit the Froggies with the Henry V thing, we can get the lot!

You will remember that Henry would have become King of France had he lived just a little while longer, but passed the crown to his son, Henry VI, who was crowned King of France.


Now the Queen is pretty much a decendent of Henry VI (give or take a few Germans along the way) so all we have to do is swap places with the Frenchies and we take her with us! I think she'd be Elizabeth I of France.

Works for me!

So we swap the whole country. Even the bits of France which aren't completely sun-drenched could be useful. There are some English people who don't really relish the sun and the heat. (They are probably direct descendents of the Germans who took over the place in the 450's). Hengst and Horsa, eat your hearts out!

Sometimes I frighten myself with my own brilliance!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Chiefs Go for the “Big Boys”

The only way is up!

Another draft class is on-board at Arrowhead, assuming they all sign contracts.

The 2012 class is an interesting one. There are no “big names” even though the Chiefs were picking at 11. Rumours of trades eddied and flowed all day but the Chiefs were content to pick where they were.

The biggest boy is undoubtedly Dontari Poe – the number one pick. This guy is a monster nose tackle. Truly big. Not surprising the Tribe went for him to fill a real need. If you are going to play 3-4, and the Chiefs are committed to it; you must have a big man to plug the middle and keep the offensive line-men off your linebackers. He fits the bill - big time. Now we can move Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson outside and see if anyone can run on that formation. You stop the run and bring pressure up the middle. Simples. With the addition of Poe we should be able to do this all day. Welcome to the AFC West, Peyton.

So, with a big man at number one, what do the Chiefs do with picks two and three? Get some more big men. This time we may have to part company. At two we have Jeff Allen and OL. Big guy, yes. Big enough and good enough to beat out the incumbents? Hard to say. Same for pick three – another OL, Donald Stevenson. I hope these guys pan out and provide depth and competition on the OL, but I'm not convinced. This league is about scoring points. I read the offence as shaky. With people coming off injuries, maybe a round two or three pick at RB or even QB might have been more insurance. Hope I'm wrong.

At four we get Devon Wiley a wide out. Fine we could use someone to be a slot receiver, I'm not sold on Breaston. Could this kid do it? We'll find out.

We get another DB at five, DeQuan Menzie. Could he challenge for a spot at Safety. Chiefs look a bit thin there with Berry coming off an injury. I never did like last year's back-ups.

A running back at six – Cyrus Gray. Who knows? Special teamer or find of the season.

By the time you get to round seven it's a bit hit and miss. We got another DL, Jerome Long and another WR, Junior Hemingway. Experience tells you that these guys, although they will have a shot, will probably not make the team. Quite often there is a surprise and we could sure use one.

Okay, so what did we miss? LB. I'm surprised we couldn't find a good linebacker somewhere in the draft. Does the front office know something we don't? QB? Brady Quinn is in and is as good a draft pick. Stanzl may struggle to stay on the team. Chiefs are again committed to Cassell. For better or worse, till death do us part.

Summing up: an interesting draft class which if it all pans out could propel the 2012 season in the right direction.

The jury is out.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Grampa Goes to Galesburgh

The Journey of a Lifetime - or Two

The truth is I didn't know my Grampa Kauffman very well. The truth is, I suspect, not many people did. He certainly didn't get along with my father. Perhaps he held it against me that I was born to be named after him and my birth certificate confirms this. I am, officially, Kendall Edward Kauffman, though I was only ever known by this name for a short period. Then, according to family accounts, my old man fell out with Grampa big-time and I was named Malcolm Rodney instead ( I have a name change document from Cook Co, Illinois to that affect) – maybe just to spite his old man!

Add to that I was never Grampa's favourite. My cousin Jerry Stone took that honour. When he drowned in a swimming pit aged about 12, it affected Grampa almost as badly as My Aunt Mae and Uncle Mel. Somehow I always felt that Grampa wished it were me that had drowned. Just a feeling I had.

Anyway, he was from a different generation by a long way. In the fifties he must have moved to Independence for he was about with my Grandma Erickson.

He was definitely in charge of whatever house he was in. Aunt Jane and Uncle Bud never had children so perhaps Grampa had forgotten what it was like. My Grandma died in 1960 and after that Grampa must have moved in with Aunt Jane and then remarried.

Family tradition has it that he was bit of a ladies man. I've heard stories that Grandma threw him out on occasions for womanising. You might have thought that age had slowed him down but apparently not, as he took Ethyl from Galesburg, Illinois as his second wife.

By 1965 or so he would have been well into his late seventies.

I was fairly shocked and not a little displeased when my old man said to me one day, “Grampa wants you to drive him to Galesburg.”

This was typical. Grampa would not deign to ask me – he would tell my old man what he wanted and expect it would be provided.

Anyway the deal was already done. I was to drive Grampa's car – with Grampa for company – to Galesburg. I was to stay overnight with Grampa and Ethyl and he would put me on the train back to Independence the next day – and give me £10. That's the way it was explained to me.

Would that it were as simple in execution as in inception.

Now, to get to Illinois the traditional route was 40 Hiway across the state and then US 54 to cross the Mississippi at Louisiana, Missouri and then US 67 to Galesburgh No dice for Grampa. He always went US 24 to cross at Quincy and then catch up with 67 and on to Galesburg. This was not the way to go and I told the OM so. It did me no good. It was 24 Hiway all the way. It was two lane most of the way. It took a century as you went through innumerable hick towns along the way. Such metropoli as Bucknor, Levasey, Lexington, Waverley, Moberly, Paris, Monroe City and Paris slid by slowly, re-pleat with traffic lights and stop signs. It was early evening before Galesburg hove into view.

Ethyl was a very nice lady and I had dinner with her and Grandpa. No other form of entertainment being on offer, I went to bed early.

As promised next day Grampa took me to the station, got my ticket and put me on the train to Independence.

Yes, there were still trains in those days which serviced small Illinois and Missouri towns.

I duly arrived back in Independence a sight quicker than it took to get to Galesburg.

I never saw the $10 and I never had the nerve to ask Granpa for the money.