May 2011

31 May 2011
If there's one thing that has come out from Weinergate it's... that I have no idea how Twitter works.

28 May 2011
Sex, Science and Politics - Terence Kealey

Really good and free to me.  And nearly free to you if you can find it remaindered.

Slightly misnamed.  It really should be called “A History of Everything” covering - as it does - history, agriculture, technology and even language. 

Central claim: markets bring forth technology; technology brings forth science.

Fun quote: “..the benefits from doing research do in fact accrue to the researchers because they - and only they - understand other people’s research.”

24 May 2011
Live (Pause) Blogging Chennai v Bangalore - the first semi-final

It’s not do or die time.  The loser gets a place in the second semi-final.  How cool is that?  Actually, for Chennai it’s even better.  The second semi-final (and final) are being played at Chennai.  On the ground where we’ve never lost. But even so, we want to win.

1536 Ravi Shastri’s wearing one of those long Indian shirts.  Normally the commentators wear a branded Western shirt.  What is going on?  Is an element of traditional Indian culture creeping into the IPL?  I think we should be told.

1542 And already all the talk is about Chris Gayle.  Without him Bangalore were bottom of the table.  With him they were top.  He has played 9 games and won 8.  No other player has had that sort of impact on the tournament.  Just as well.  On the other hand, with Chennai every performance is a team effort.  It’s a fascinating clash: the one-man team versus the all-man team.

1555 Simon Hughes is talking about trends in where batsmen are holding the bat.  What an analyst.

1557 Oh hang about, Mark Butcher has out-analysed him.  Low down is more manoeuvrable.  Watch out Mark - he’ll be out for revenge now.

1601 Hughes is backing Chennai to win.

1627 Gayle out, lbw b Ashwin 8.  Game on.  And Hawkeye agrees.  Now what do we do?

1643 Interview with the bowling coach.  While the over is going on.  Not sure how I feel about this.  Team members are guardians of team secrets.  So either they spill the beans - disaster - or they’re so bland there’s no point.

1648 OMG, they’re interviewing the umpire!  Hasn’t he got better things to do?

1743 Six.  Pommersbach.  Amazingly flat. (121-3, 14.50).  So, not such a one-man team then.

1751 Out! Pommersbach.  Bowled.

1757 Ashwin’s just got hit on the head.  I’m amazed he’s concious let alone walking.  He’s left the pitch. Albie Morkel got hit the other day from Chris Gayle.  When I was growing up it was the batsmen who were the vulnerable ones.  Now, it’s the bowlers.

1940 What a game!  Chennai win with two balls to go with the most amazing slogging over the last 4 overs.  Everyone’s exhausted.  Raina’s gone down with cramp.  The worm is amazing: level pegging ball by ball.  Even the wickets fell at similar times.  Gayle should win man of the match for his bowling.  Even so, it goes to show that Bangalore are far from a one-man team.  They’ve clearly got a lot better as the tournament has gone on, Gayle or no Gayle.  And we’ve still got a final to play.  I’m not sure I can stand it.

19 May 2011
The struggle for Irish “freedom” was a waste of time

I think the Queen visiting Ireland is an overwhelmingly good thing.  It suggests that a majority of the Irish and and a large majority of its ruling class no longer hate the British.  Good.

But there was one thing that disturbed me: the Queen laying a wreath at the memorial to the dead of the Irish War of Independence.

Quick analysis time.

What was on offer before the war:
Devolution excluding Ulster

What was accepted after the war:
Dominion status excluding Ulster

Was it worth it?

Even if I were properly, Gaelic Irish and a passionate believer in Irish independence I’d have to say no.

17 May 2011
Do assassinations work?

Lets see:

Lincoln. Didn’t make a whole heap of difference that I am aware of.

JFK.  Ditto.

McKinley.  I believe that did change things quite a lot - his replacement, Roosevelt being quite the interventionist.

I ask because I’ve been watching an excellent documentary on Yesterday about Hitler’s bodyguard.  It seems there were an extraordinary number of attempts on his life over the years.  But would it have made any difference?  Well, one way to find out is to see if any other assassinations made a difference.

Sadat.  Not really.

Rabin.  I have no idea.

Alexander III.  Again, I really don’t know.  Although didn’t the Tsarist pogroms against the Jews start soon afterwards?  And wasn’t the faked “Protocols of the Wise men of Zion” part of it?  And wasn’t that one of the main influences on Germany’s Anti-Semites?  So, maybe.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  Well, you’d have to say the assassins got what they wanted.  At a hell of price but they got it.

Getting back to Hitler, intuitively you feel it would have made a huge difference.  Who but Hitler had the charisma to dominate the Nazi movement?  Who but Hitler would have gambled the way he did?

Further thought.  Hitler and the Nazis are a complete outlier in history.  And therefore we can learn nothing useful by studying them and in fact the lessons we do learn are likely to be the wrong ones.

04 May 2011
(Almost) live blogging the IPL

It’s the Super Kings (that’s Chennai (that’s Madras (that’s my team to the uninitiated) to the uninitiated) to the uninitiated) versus the Rajasthan Royals.  Or, to put it another way MS Dhoni versus Shane Warne.  Or, to put it another way, two of the best teams in the league are going head to head.

In Chennai.

In 44C degree heat.

With 98% humidity.

Albie Morkel looks like he’s spent the night in a bath of spermicide.

Sound quality of the commentary (but oddly enough nothing else) is dreadful.  It’s like watching football via satellite in the 1970s.  India is a long way away.

1226.  Ways to tell you may be watching too much IPL #1: you start thinking in an Indian accent.

1228.  Oh boy we’re having a nightmare in the field today. (56-0, 7.1)

1229.  If you’re going to have the bit after the decimal point in base 6 (or is it 7?) shouldn’t the bit before be too?  32/32 cricket.  Catchy, don’t you think?

1232.  I should perhaps explain why I am such a Chennai fan.  They have more or less the same kit as Watford.  Nothing but the best of reasons for me.

1232.  Can you really be considered a poor country if you have one of the biggest sporting leagues in the world?  Could it be THE biggest?

1235.  Another appeal turned down.  This is turning into a disaster (64-0, 8)

1237.  This is the great thing about the IPL: I can love Shane Warne.  Even when he’s on the other side.  Making the Mumbai Indians look like a bunch of amateurs the other night was class.  And the guy can bowl a bit.  Who knew?

1237.  Isa Guha.  Drool.

1237.  Not quite sure what the story is with her.  She started off as a talking head when they had an Indian Indian bird as co-presenter.  And then, all of a certain the poacher had turned game-keeper and she was presenter.  Indian Indian bird nowhere to be seen.

1237.  Looks like they’ve lost all commentary.  Sorry, my mistake, it’s just got even worse.

1237.  1237 again.  I’m taking my times from the Vista tray.  And it seems to have frozen.  What a piece of garbage.  My phone says 1248.

1250.  Karbon Kamal Katch!  At last!  Not that it’s going to save us (87-1, 10.3)

1252.  Hey, they’ve sorted out the sound!

1253.  Maybe, this is what Obama and Co were watching.  Obama looks miserable.  Reckon he’s a Pune Warrior.

1255.  Switched Vista on and off again.  Time now works.  For now.

1256.  Catch.  (92-2, 12.3)

1257.  Johann Botha in.  Warne didn’t want him apparently.  Why not?

1258.  It must be really tough being a woman sports presenter.  You spend a lifetime proving you know what you’re talking about.  You get to the pinnacle of your career and all of a sudden (if you’re any good) you have to pretend you know no more than the average couch potato.

1309.  At the beginning of the game one of the commentators was saying that he reckoned Dravid was going to score loads.  Sounded like a curse.  Sadly, it wasn’t.  Dravid’s on 61.

1311.  Botha out!  There is hope if not very much. (113-3, 15)

1317.  Dravid out!  Let’s sing the Banana Splits tune.  Tra-la-la la-la-la-la..

1320.  Beautiful stroke from Taylor.  Four.

1322.  First wide of the innings.  No sixes yet.

1327.  Well left!  He he he.

1332.  Mixed cheerleading.  You saw it here first.

1333.  Two wickets in two balls.  More importantly, the Royals’ run rate has been slashed.  Greatest comeback since… er… the last game.

1339.  What IS a Citibank Moment of Success?

1342.  147-6, 20.  No DLF Maximums (did I really say “six” earlier?  I should wash my mouth out with soap.)  Mind you one of the Royals’ coaches did say 148 would be a good score.

1346.  Interview with Jakarti.  In English.  EVERYONE speaks (or at least appears to speak) English.  When did that happen?  HOW did it happen?

1348.  Jakarti has all the platitudes.  Can you really be considered a poor country when your sports stars are masters of platitudes?

1357.  Here we go.  Start of the Chennai innings.

1359.  Boy, it’s quiet.  More Arsenal than Watford.

1401.  If Warne had been Australian captain:  There wouldn’t be a pitch in the country that hadn’t been turned into a car park.  The Wisdens would have been taken from the shelves and burnt.  The word “cricket” excised from the dictionary.  And anyone caught in possession of either leather or willow thrown into a prison hulk and sent to the colonies.

1407.  Raina to the crease.  Go Raina!

1412.  Run out?  No. Hits and then runs on to the boundary.  And I thought we were having a bad day in the field.  Last over, a misfield turned one into four.

1414.  They’ve done it again!  “Every time the ball goes to Binny they’re going to run.”

1418.  Another wide.  At this rate we’ll win through Rajasthan mistakes alone.

1420.  Dropped catch!  Warne’s going to explode.

1423.  They’re interviewing Raj Kundra, owner of the Royals, in mid-over.  Perfect middling Lunnun accent.  As in, I believe he was brought up in London and not to particularly well-off parents.  This is a weird old world.

1426.  Ah, a Maxx Mobile Strategic Timeout.  How did we live without them?

1439.  Raina and Hussey are playing some wonderful shots.  50 partnership. (73-1, 10)

1446.  DLF Maximum!  At last.  Hussey, who else?  Er, Raina I suppose.

1447.  And another one!  Raina, who else?  Er, I’ll shut up.

1455.  100 partnership.  Both have 50s.  Beautiful shot making.  Brilliant.  (109-1, 13)

1459.  So, they’ve got sponsors for the kits, the stumps, the boundary ropes, the grass, the catches, the sixes, the ad breaks, the “moments of success”, the man of the match, the umpires as well as the tournament itself.  And people accuse the Americans of being commercial.  Coming next: the air that we breathe and the thoughts that we think.

1513.  Well, it’s 136-1 and 19 balls to go.  Chennai are going to win.  With serenity.  Never a doubt in my mind.

1520.  Raina skies one and is out.  What a shame.  To be replaced by… Morkel???!!!

1522.  Four and it’s all over with 8 balls to go.

1523.  Stadium announcement ie nothing to do with the telly, seems to be in English.  Hmm.

1537.  Has Warne had a facelift?  He has that look of someone who’s been beamed down from the planet Zarg.

1541.  “Track” as a synonym for “pitch”.  When did that come about?

1541.  Dhoni talking.  I hear him, he says words and I drift off.  He stops talking and I have absolutely no idea what he has said.  Clearly, genius at work.


History in the making
As a colleague put it: “They could be watching a porn movie for all we know.”