Friday, May 18, 2007

Facebook is a wonderful thing.

Facebook is awesome! It's a website which allows you to connect to sooooo many people. Over the last month or so since I've joined I've got back in contact with so many people I lost contact with when I moved from England to New Zealand. So many friends I'd made up to the age of 12 are now just a computer click away. And they are all perfectly recognisable, I guess people's facial features dont really change that much.

It's a great website, and there's plenty of Kiwis on there too... so get connecting!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Relegation

Sorry I haven't posted for a little while but my bitterness has meant that I haven't felt like it.

On Sunday 29th April I went on the internet - heart in my mouth as usual - to check out the Championship scores. As soon as I discovered that we'd drawn after a last minute Ipswich equaliser, and Hull had beaten Cardiff, I knew this meant we had been relegated. The first time in our 88 year history we had been sent down to play in the third tier of English Football.

I started to cry. Tears ran freely down my face. It's not the first time I've cried sitting on a computer at Uni, I'm surprised no-one has caught me yet haha!

People don't really understand how bad I feel. I spend over an hour practically every day reading about Leeds on the sites, message boards etc, sometimes up to 3+ hours (yes I am a saddo). Since my whole life is practically subsumed with hope and worry for Leeds, since I exert so much of my energies on my favourite team, the fact that everything has come to this...is so goddamn terrible.

I just sat there crying.

Since then I have felt anger, and I have felt flat. Just plain old dejected. A bit like the 2006 playoff final except worse.

The cycle of tears, anger and flatness is one I've become used to in 2007. It's not a nice cycle let me assure you.

I've kind of lost my interest in sport after the news. What with the Black Caps losing their semi-final as well.

I've just got to hope that sometime in the next 10 years we can get somewhere close to our previous glory.

I am Leeds United and I'm proud of it. Marching on Together. We Will be back.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Poll

On what is possibly my favourite website (Waccoe - a Leeds Utd message board) there is currently a poll. The question asks "Will we stay up, Use Head not Heart"? I have voted no. Looking at the results as they stand 49 say yes, 137 say no.

This on a partisan message board says it all really.

:(

One Square of loo paper.

Hmmm, Sheryl Crow has just advanced a theory on how to do our bit against global warming...

Impose a one square of toilet paper per person limitation! Or 2-3 in messy situations haha!

Well I agree that some people can be excessive in their use of toilet paper, but how is she going to impose the restriction on people? Employ people to hand out one square to each person who enters a public toilet? There's no way it can be done, and it will have zero effect on global warming even if it is achieved.

Her comments are ridiculous in the extreme!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Am I about to scale the peak of bitterness?

What a SHITTY SHITTY Saturday night. Awful. Bitter and awful. Anger and despair.


Yes, its Leeds I'm talking about again.


A highly controversial sending off for Alan Thompson on 38 minutes stuffed up any chance we had of winning. Wise then sacrificed Blake for the defensive Foxe - and defending became the order of the day. We defended magnificently until the bitter 84th minute and Bradley Wright Phillips broke thousands of collective hearts across the globe.
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It wouldn't have been quite so bad had all the other results not been so goddamn shitty and awful for Leeds. A 90th minute equaliser from Hull against Stoke, and a last minute winner for Leicester against Preston made it a dark, dark day for Leeds Utd.
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Yet again with 10 minutes to go, results were going our way only for the true agony of last minute goals to come our way again. Following those last few minutes live on the Internet truly made me want to smash every computer and tv across the country.
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2 games left, and it is still possible to survive. I rate it at about 15%. We need the marriage of Harry Houdini and Lazarus to achieve that goal. We could conceivably get relegated this weekend. If Hull beat Cardiff and we fail to beat Ipswich - then we are gone. If we win, and Hull don't then we grab back the initiative. Unfortunately now Barnsley and Leicester are 5 points ahead of us. The only chance we have of overtaking one of them is to win this weekend and put us two or three points behind one of these teams (given the fact they will be playing each other) going into the last game.
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If this weekend sees wins for Leeds, Leicester and Cardiff, then, and only then, will I get some belief back.
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This weeks home match is the biggest in our 87 year history. And should we not be relegated in this game then the last match against Derby will take over this position.
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Bitterness, depths of despair...surely someone somewhere can shine a light at the end of the tunnel???

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The money is irrelevant.

As some of you may know I have $120 riding on Leeds Utd. A $100 bet with Liam that we will survive relegation (made ages ago when we were both rather intoxicated!) and a $20 bet with Andrew Falloon that we will not finish last.


Barring a miracle Andrew's $20 will be mine. The $100 is still very much in the balance.


But I am sick to death of people speaking to me about Leeds bid to survive relegation in terms of "maybe you won't have to lose $100", "you won't want to lose $100". Let me make it very clear to those who don't already know:


The money is irrelevant! Of course I'd rather not pay up but quite frankly that is the last of my considerations. I want Leeds to stay up because I am simply obsessed with my wonderful team. Because I am a fanatic, hardcore Leeds supporter who feels every goal we concede as a stab in the heart. Leeds have never been below the second tier of English football, to do so would be immensely bitter. Since I have cried at relegation from the Premiership, and losing the Championship playoff final last season...since Leeds United means so much to me...it's NOT ABOUT THE BLOODY MONEY!
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In fact - I would pay my bitterest enemy $1000 if it was the only way Leeds could guarantee survival. One Leeds fan on a message board said "I would put my arse up for rent in Armley Jail if it meant survival". LOL.
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Logically I shouldn't care whether a group of blokes are better at kicking a football around on a patch of grass than another group of blokes. The sad reality is...I care too much.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oh dear. Scum and Chelscum are monopolising.

Unfortunately the FA cup final will be between Manchester United and Chelsea. Blackburn came ever so close in their replay with Chelsea last night, but ultimately a late extra-time winner from Ballack prevented it. This despite Blackburn having about 3 times more shots. But Chelsea sneak themselves to a winner...again.


The Champions League final also has the potential to feature the same two teams. I really hope Liverpool can spoil that party.


And of course the Premiership is a two horse race between those two sides.


Will I watch the FA cup final? No. I will break the tradition of a lifetime. Why would I want to watch two teams I hate, full of many players I hate, battle it out for this prestigious piece of silverware? As a Leeds fan I've traditionally hated Man Utd. And of course ever since the age of negative 14 I have hated Chelsea - when they cheated their way to a victory in the 1970 FA cup final replay against Leeds. My hatred of Chelsea has really been solidified though since they started splashing the cash. The splashing of cash in itself is not that bad, its the how. I always cite this example but spending a ridiculous amount of money on one team's best player and then rarely playing them is the epitome of their largesse. 25 Million pounds for Shaun Wright Phillips only to put him on the bench at best. It's just not acceptable to me. At least Man Utd always have a core of young talent coming through, groomed by an excellent youth system. Plus Chris Waddle makes a very good point when he attacks Chelsea's brand of football - particularly considering the money they have at their disposal.


Anyway it's not good for football to have two teams dominate so much.


In fact football is in tatters at the moment due to too much money being around in the Premiership, this is only going to get worse rather than better - especially with some of the deals in the pipeline. It's disillusioning, and hence I'm not watching as much premiership action these days. There are too many foreign investors throughout the leagues as well.
Anyway...Scum and Chelscum...Grrr!

3 games left and I'm shitting bricks.

A 1-0 win for us over Burnley last weekend...and it's clear that the relegation fight will go right to the wire. If we go down on goal difference, or by 1-2 points it will be terrible. To have got so close and yet still be relegated will be bitterness personified. It will leave me wondering about all the what ifs...what if we hadn't conceded that last minute goal against Colchester...what if we'd managed to convert one of our many 1 goal losses into a draw...etc.


The table as it stands:


QPR 49
Leicester 47
Barnsley 47
Hull 45
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Leeds 45
Southend 42
Luton 37


Leicester have one game in hand (this will be played shortly - lets hope they don't manage to do what the likes of Barnsley and Southend have - beat Birmingham!)


Anyway - it's ever so close...so many permutations. We have a tough last 3 games starting with Southampton away this weekend. This will be followed by being at home to Ipswich and away to Derby. Tough, tough games. Some of the other teams have damn hard run-ins as well though.


I'm shitting bricks.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Liberty and Society Conference.

Well I'm back from an interesting weekend in Sydney. Got to hear some fascinating speakers, meet some great people, and generally have a good time. This included eating a lot of good food (those who know me won't be surprised to realise that I ate a helluva lot - constantly piling my plate high and going back for more) and drinking plenty of red wine! All on the house of course :) Yes. I am a glutton!


Friday Night: After navigating my way through the airport, a couple of train trips and a short walk I arrived at the Centre for Independent Studies in good time for the welcome dinner. This was my first chance to meet the people attending the conference. There were about 30-35 of us including 5 New Zealanders. I started consuming quite a lot of red wine which I continued to do throughout the dinner! The speaker at the dinner was Tanveer Ahmed - a fascinating speaker. He discussed issues related to muslim integration and of the forging of one's identity. He discussed ideas of the conflict between first, second and third generations of immigrants such as how the first generations often desires to cling to the traditions of the old world, attempting to limit their children's interaction with white Australians. He pointed to how their strong opinions leads to differing forms of extremism among the later generations. A lot of the speech reminded me of one of my favourite novels: "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith in which these issues are thoroughly explored through one of the novel's strands - the depiction of one muslim Bangladeshi's family having emigrated to England. (I know I've kind of gone off on an aside here but everyone should read this book - it's fantastic - I've read it twice and will no doubt do so a few more times in my life!) After the dinner some of us headed out to the Crow's Nest Hotel Bar not far away. I stayed an hour or so before retiring for bed.
Saturday morning saw Nick Southwood talk to us about the political philosophy of classical liberalism. It was a wonderful session: since I'd already looked at many of the issues in a first year philosophy paper it was easy to get a handle on. He's a big fan of John Stuart Mill - and used him to get to the crux of the issue a few times: the fundament of classical liberalism being the harm principle, that anything goes unless it causes harm to others. Quite self-explanatory really - although defining harm can be quite tricky. It was quite a wide ranging talk on the theories of the philosophy of liberalism and managed to encompass a fair amount - such as the ridiculousness of utilitarianism. In the second half of his session he talked about groups - whether liberalism would allow one to sign up to a group that forced one to endure or do certain things - providing there was an exit strategy. This provoked a very healthy discussion - especially when we were in our breakout groups. One group came up with the extreme example of forming a snuff club whereby a member would join on the monday, agreeing to be shot on the friday, and waiving the right to an exit strategy. Nick seemed to think that one couldn't consent to homicide. I asked him if this meant there was a limit to liberalism, and if so how one would decide where to draw the line. He couldn't answer. Anyway - the hypothetical philosophical puzzles was one of the highlights of the weekend! It reminded me that I did enjoy the 2 philosophy papers I have done (Stage 1 - Philosophy and the Good Life and Stage 2 - Bioethics) and maybe I should do some more!
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After a big lunch it was over to Jason Potts for the economics session. Having not done any economics at uni or school, and having only skimmed the readings for this topic, I was a little daunted by it. Jason certainly did end up using quite a lot of jargon I wasn't used to, and I will admit to being a little bored by his section. He did suggest something about everyone ignoring Keysian economics - or in other words about half of what they learn through the educational system. Jason is very strongly libertarian and is of the view that the market will solve everything. The market came across as Jason's God. He even extends this to the privatisation of education which was an idea that provoked a lot of debate. Many people, myself included, could not countenance such a radical change. In response to our comments regarding 'what about the poor?' he seemed to think that they could just take out huge loans on their 5 year old child's future educational needs. He certainly disagreed with some of us who thought a limited amount of paternalism in the education sector was justified. I certainly began to wonder about his sanity when he somehow got onto the idea that we could and should privatise pandas! That if you wanted to save the pandas you could just buy them. Hmmm Jason - what if some people wanted to make pandas extinct and they had the money to buy them. Would this make it right? Anyway, where and how does one buy a panda? There is certainly an argument for right wing economics having the potential to be good for conservation but this was just loony. And yes I do know it was just a silly non-serious example, but I still question his sanity! I found myself shaking my head at him a number of times for his "the market will solve everything" approach. I thing perhaps Wolfgang Kasper would have been a preferable lecturer for this section by what others have said.
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Saturday Evening saw a great dinner at a Thai restaurant and yet more red wine! It was great that throughout the weekend I got to constantly sit with different people at meal times, and in breakout groups, getting to meet a big percentage of everyone who was there. There were a lot of incredibly intelligent, interesting and vibrant young men and women. It was also good that the lecturers were available throughout the weekend giving those who wanted it, the opportunity to talk to them further. After the dinner many of us hit the pubs and clubs for a night of fun and frivolity...good times :) That is, apart from the fact that I ended up not being able to manage to meet up with a great friend from primary school in England (who I haven't seen since then), Thara Mogwe. We were both pretty disappointed that we were unsuccessful in this quest. I also ended up watching some of the NZ-South Africa cricket match - so as not to wake my room-mate I ended up jumping on a friend's bed for a while, I wonder if Jamie Simpson will delete the photo he took which reveals me in my boxer shorts!
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Sunday's lectures arrived after very little sleep, I found it extra difficult to jump out of bed, but still managed to sneak in ten minutes for another good ole traditional breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, tomato, pancakes etc. I shovelled it all down with plenty of orange juice like the glutton that I am! Unfortunately I did leave my shampoo at the hotel! Anyway - Sunday morning's lecture was delivered by Daryn Jensen and it was to do with the state of law. I say 'to do with' as my mind glazed over for good portions of it as I half nodded off a few times. It probably would have been interesting though! The second half of the session was good however as we went off into our breakout groups and analysed the State of Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 with relation to some real-life situations, and whether they could have been charged under the Act. This of course led to a discussion about how far liberalism should extend into law - whether or not hate speech legislation for example can be justified.
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The afternoon session (after another good lunch) was a real highlight. Peter Saunders discussed issues of the Welfare State and social policy. He provided a number of absorbing facts that highlighted the problems of welfare dependency in Australia (and New Zealand). There were some amazing statistics about how much the economy has grown, the country become richer, and yet significantly more is spent on welfare than ever before. He also pointed out things like how about half of the money we pay in tax comes straight back to us. He also introduced some interesting concepts I hadn't considered before - such as negative income tax. There are a number of problems in the huge amounts spent on welfare but the challenge is coming up with solutions. The question was even asked whether the welfare state could and should be dumped entirely (including any state funding of education, health etc) which naturally got a couple of positive responses from a few people; one of whom described this situation as "my idea of nirvana". Peter himself though is not really a classical liberal himself, merely right-wing, and hence has broadly similar views to myself on these issues. It was also mentioned about how cutting down the welfare state would get a public reaction about how the right-wing 'doesn't care' about the poor etc - when it is in fact right-wing policies that tend to benefit the poor. But this line of reasoning often comes up against the brick wall of public ignorance and prejudice.
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So - the end of the conference...I'd had a great weekend. I met a load of wonderful people, had some stimulating conversations, had some good meals, checked out a bit of the Sydney night-life, and all in all would highly recommend to anyone interested in politics, political philosophy, economic thinking etc. And it's not just for liberals...there were people there who are involved in the Australian Labor Party and the Greens, and it wasn't as if the whole forum was completely dominated by libertarians either. The conference solidified my thinking in many ways, extended it in others, and introduced me to some completely new ideas.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My perspective on life.

I can't believe the way that some people view life's events, their philosophies on how life works itself out. It is so alien to the way I view the world.


The other day my friend Lisa said two things to me that a lot of people would agree with, and which I have always considered pretty ridiculous. 1) "I believe in karma" 2) "Everything in life happens for some reason". Let's look at both comments in turn.



Comment #1: Karma: The general principle of karma is that people are rewarded or punished later in life for their previous actions or conduct. This may be seen immediately or it may be delayed. In colloquial terms it is the idea that "what goes around comes around". (In Hinduism and Buddhism the idea is that the reward or punishment occurs in the next incarnation. I'm not even going to consider that. I'm sure reincarnation could be fun but that idea to me is also fatally flawed). Anyway, I just can't conceive of how karma might occur. A religious person might suggest that God is watching everyone's every move and rewards them or punishes them later in life for their actions. But isn't the whole principle of God that he rewards or punishes upon death by sending people to heaven, hell or in some people's conceptions, purgatory? And isn't he supposed to not interfere with life? - he gave everyone free will remember. Perhaps then karma is an inherent principle of the universe without the intervention of any supernatural Being. Perhaps it is as fundamental as Newton's 3 laws of physics?? Or perhaps not. The trouble is that anything can be interpreted in terms of Karma, when in fact what happens in life is merely random. Merely the totality of science. Does science decide who gets a heart attack by assessing the fact that it is time they had some bad karma, or is it perhaps a result of that person eating too much cholesterol throughout their life? Just as an aside - I'd like to see someone explain this news article in terms of karma! And speaking of karma - does that mean that all Leeds Utd fans are sinners and the last 5 years or so is their punishment??? And why is it that as Billy Joel sings "only the good die young" - which anecdotally for me has a ring of truth.



2) Hmmm, everything happens for some reason? What reason could there be for someone having two friends die of suicide in the same year, a friend dying of cancer, your child becoming disabled etc? Some might say that it is a test for the person, a means of making you stronger. But what of the actual person who has directly suffered: did they deserve this? For what reason have they experienced these woes? The answer of course to all this is that nothing happens for a reason - things just happen randomly, as a result of decision making, or science or whatever. I just can't get my head around people thinking like this.



Then there is my ex-girlfriend who contends that "if something is going to happen it's going to happen". In other words she thinks that had she not met her ex-boyfriend who she was engaged to when she did, she would have met him at some other time. She also thinks that if she hadn't met me when she did, she would have done at some point. In other words it's the idea that if something is meant to be it's meant to be. Of course her examples are possible. But these people may for example have met under completely different scenarios yielding completely different results. Or quite easily they may never have met at all. In my opinion everything is random. There is lucky random, and unlucky random - for example asking someone for a job a week before they fill a vacancy, or a week after. Hmmm, does unlucky random = karma for having done something bad? lol.




I also heard some interesting view from my friend Kate. She thinks that heaven is a place where all the good souls come together. My question: is there actually such a thing as souls? Souls are supposedly the inner essence of each living being, to her they are immaterial substances although some consider them to have a material component. People say that our soul determines our decisions. I say it is simply the totality of our genetics and our environment. I've never seen any proof of a soul. It seems to me a very wooly concept.




She also put to me the question: if our lives are pointless, and there is no God, why don't you just kill yourself now? My simple answer is that I enjoy life. Once I die that is it - nothing ever to experience again...why not enjoy myself while I'm here. I want to enjoy the taste of an Indian curry, I want to indulge in a Chiraz on the palette, I want to enjoy the experience each time Leeds United win, I want to enjoy my relationships with my family and friends, and I want to continue enjoying the pleasures of sex. In short there are a lot of things to enjoy about life. Despite the fact that I don't enjoy growing older. That I want to bottle up each good memory - such as finally getting to kiss my first love Rebecca Shaw when I was about 10 (in a game of kiss catch!) - and revisit it whenever I feel like it. I can't do that, but I can continue to try and enjoy the future. Despite many tearful or bitter moments I wouldn't want to end my experience of - and association with - life. Not for anything.




For many people I think, all these ideas I've discussed, are a crux for them. Some way of explaining life, so that they don't get depressed. This isn't their conscious perspective - this is their subconscious speaking. It's nice to believe in these ideas. Believe me, I'd like to share them. If I could imagine the people who have died in my life, up in heaven...if I could believe that every bad or good action were rewarded appropriately...if I could believe that everything happens for some reason, or that what is meant to be will be...it would certainly help me to feel better about this random universe we live in. But my mind is too grounded in the principle that "science is everything". And how could science possibly explain karma? Perhaps karma helps the human race evolve?




I'm not completely close-minded to any of these concepts. But I am very sceptical. Can anyone out there put forward any good arguments for me to alter any of my views???? Please comment if there are any arguments out there which are potentially persuasive!




I may have a very cynical view of life. I may not believe in god, I may not believe in the concept of souls, or the presence of karma. My view may well be that science explains everything, and everything is random. But that just means I have to make the most of our short time in the mortal realm!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Agony of Last Minute goals.

Going into the last 10 minutes of the Championship's Easter Monday fixtures Leeds were looking in pretty reasonable shape to make a good fist of survival. We were up 1-0 over Colchester, Southend were losing 2-1 to Preston and Luton were beating QPR 2-1.


How the last ten minutes changed everything.


Colchester, Southend and QPR all scored twice.


An 82 minute equaliser and a last minute strike by on fire striker Jamie Cureton condemned Leeds to a loss - putting an end to our 5 game unbeaten streak. Southend scored 2 goals in the last 3 minutes to grab themselves a victory. And QPR also managed to change their losing situation into a winning one.


With 10 minutes to play the scores would have had Leeds six points ahead of Southend. Now we are level. It would have had us 1 point behind QPR. Now we are 7.


Barnsley's shock victory over Birmingham puts us back into the relegation zone. We had managed to be out of it for the first time since November. But it only lasted two days. At least Hull also lost.


Current Table:


QPR 49
Leicester 47
Hull 44
Barnsley 44
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Leeds 42
Southend 42
Luton 37


And our captain - hardworking Jonny Douglas got himself sent off after the final whistle, expressing his frustration at the ref's incompetence with foul and abusive language. So he won't be able to play again this season.


The wheels are well and truly falling off.


Saturday sees us face an in form Burnley side at home. It also sees a huge game between Barnsley and Southend. And Hull have got Colchester. Its a mammoth set of fixtures. It has the potential to completely wreck our season.


I am a nervous wreck. My head is in tatters. My heart is thumping in my chest.


There will be nothing more bitter than relegation into League 1.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Leeds hanging in there.

I spose I better update my blog, I just haven't been in the blogging frame of mind lately - too much stuff spiralling round my head!

However last weekend was great as far as Leeds Utd were concerned. A brilliant 2-1 win over high flying Preston including an 89th minute winner from man of the moment David Healy. And the only other team in the bottom six to win was Hull - and even that could be a godsend considering it was Southend they thrashed 4-0.

But it's a false hope I think...I can still smell relegation. Bitter.

Today QPR have also beaten Preston: 1-0. Bitter! And Burnley beat Plymouth 4-0. Bitter!

So dammit I still think we're stuffed. But I live in hope!

6 games to go starting with a mammoth match against Plymouth this weekend. Can we do it???

I bloody hope so!

Burnley 45
Hull 44
QPR 43
Barnsley 41
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Southend 39
Leeds 39
Luton 37

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gordon Brown the mucky bugger. lol

If you like to see clips of politicians that they don't want you to see then check out this clip from youtube. It really shows his human side. After all - everyone likes to pick their nose don't they!

Malinga the Slinger

After watching the Irish I caught the tail-end of South Africa and Sri Lanka's Super 8 match. South Africa appeared as if they were coasting to victory till Malinga struck. 4 wickets in 4 balls! His hat-trick delivery dismissed Kallis who had already made 80 odd. Then with 9 wickets down South Africa, needing 2 runs to win, faced about 10 dot balls till Robin Peterson edged a boundary to attain what should have been a comfortable victory. Still - what a performance from Malinga. And what a finish to a match!

The Home Nations and Euro 2008 qualification.

Four wins and a loss for the home nations this morning.


I was up at 6.30am to cheer on the Irish against Slovakia. Kevin Doyle's goal did the business. Duff had a great game though sometimes a bit aimless with his crossing, and the game was an enjoyable affair. Keeps the Irish in with a shout of qualification - but with the Czechs also winning against Cyprus the Czech Republic and Germany are still in the strongest position to do so. Its getting nice and close though. Come on Ireland! We've only qualified for one out of the last 6 major tournaments (ie out of the last 3 euro champs and last 3 world cups we only made 2002 and a heart-breaking loss to Spain on penalties that turned out to be as well). Prior to that though 1990 and 1994 had seemed to herald good fortunes for Ireland. Bring back Jack Charlton - brilliant ex Leeds and England centre-half of the 60s/70s and legendary Irish manager of the early 90s!



Wales had a 3-0 win over San Marino. But then everyone beats San Marino. Wales don't really have any realistic chance of qualification but its still nice to see them do well. Hopefully they can help the Irish by thwarting the Germans and Czechs whenever they next may play them.

England beat Andorra 3-0 and if they hadn't won it would have been a huge shock. Andorra are after all over 150 places behind them in the rankings I believe. It took until the second half to get any goals as well. Russia and Croatia are in the best positions to qualify from this group but it would be foolish to discount England - despite the fact that Steve McClaren is a bit of a useless turd.
Northern Ireland had a fantastic 2-1 win over Sweden. That's 5 goals in 2 games for David Healy. He can't seem to replicate his form for Leeds but that could either be because our shower of shite don't link up and play him in very well, or maybe he's just more motivated for his country. Come on David - you've got 7 games to fire us to survival - please do it! Northern Ireland have never been much cop, and their current team aren't exactly fantastic but David Healy really is the toast of Northern Ireland - and qualification practically rests on his shoulders. They are in a pretty good position to qualify but don't expect the likes of Spain to give up the fight yet - qualification could still easily implode for the Northern Irish.

Scotland had a 2-0 loss to Italy leaving them in a bit of a vulnerable position. They are on 12 points alongside Ukraine and France, with Italy just behind on 10. But Scotland have played one more game than the other 3. This group should go down to the wire.
Come on the Home Nations - lets see Ireland, N. Ireland, Scotland and England qualify. Would be bloody nice for a change. But reckon only 1 or 2 at the most will end up making it.

Only time will tell.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Confidence in the police?

If there is any group of people we need confidence in, it is the police. When I was young I was always taught: if you are lost a policeman will help you find your way home, if you have a problem the nice policeman will help you etc.


But would you want that message drummed into your daughter if Brad Shipton was the policeman? I certainly wouldn't. Engaging in group sex with young females while on duty is bad enough but reading about his sex tape it's a lot worse than that. Biting on them till they bleed? Strangling to the point of black-out? Baton inserted vaginally and anally? Controlled rape role play? To name but a few.


This is suggested to have been a regular occurrence, revealing a police force with a disgusting pack mentality. It appears sexual activity often took place with girls who thought they were just being given a friendly lift home. There have also been a few allegations that quite a bit that has happened between police officers and young women has actually been rape but the females often haven't wanted to seek out the justice of the courts.


This whole story sickens me.


It might be consensual but by god it still undermines confidence in the police and their ethics.

Black Caps hit by injuries; bad news for The Chin.

Oh dear. What is happening with the Black Caps? Will World Cup 2007 derail? Or can we cope with the ever widening injury problems?

We now have 2 players coming back to New Zealand - their World Cup dreams in shatters.


One of them is Darryl Tuffey who's re-injured that bothersome knee of his. But that's OK, Tuffey's not much of a loss; many would argue he shouldn't be there anyway. But what of his replacement Chris Martin? Well he doesn't inspire me with confidence.



The second one is a much bigger concern: Lou Vincent. Now I know I've been a big critic of Lou's from time to time but the CB series in Australia made me have a bit of a rethink. He'd finally got rid of that ridiculous urge to play the ridiculous forcing shot and getting out early. He had started to show some maturity and class. And what is more - we are weak in the opening position. Lou wasn't exactly what I want in an opener - but he's as close as we're realistically going to get right now. Shane Bond cracked him on the wrist in training. I hate those kind of injuries. They make me angry.

And so who has replaced him in the squad? Hamish freaking Marshall. I thought we'd seen the back of him, only for him to rear his ugly head again. Marshall aint no opener - so who is going to open? Experiment with McCullum again? no thanks - he's too valuable down the order. I'd give Fulton a go at opening - but I bet the selectors don't try that. I'm not quite sure who they're going to put there but the fact is no-one is ideal. We should have got Astle out of retirement. I'm deadly serious about that. Don't get me going on a bitter Astle rant. I'll bend your ear all day!


Taylor's got a strain, Gillespie is getting over a virus... who's to bet that Shane Bond breaks down next? God I hope not.


Can we win the World Cup? You bet we can! But not if Zeus et all continue to conspire against us like the Gods have conspired against me and my family since eternity.

Aussies pummel South Africa; Ireland back in business in Euro 2008 qualification!

I can't believe that on Saturday night I made the decision to not watch this game and instead just get up for the Wales - Republic of Ireland Euro 2008 qualifier at 3am. However thankfully I did end watching from the start! A text message woke me up at about 1:15am - being too busy chewing the fat to go back to sleep I decided to get up and watch the start of the match, only to see a brutal opening stand by Hayden and Gilchrist set up a huge total of 377-6. Hayden, although riding his luck on occasion, was simply sublime scoring the fastest ever hundred in a world cup (beating John Davison by 1 ball thanks to an emphatic six down the ground). To think that 18 months previously he appeared on the outer of the Australian side!


At 3am I did switch over to watch the football (flicking back to cricket now and again naturally) !With Ireland being my favourite international football side (behind the All Whites of course!) I'm always very keen to watch them. Of course it also helped my frame of mind that Johnny Douglas was selected in the team. Douglas is of course a Leeds Utd midfielder who recently became captain after the messy Nicholls saga. He's not much of a player but he's tenacious and useful. And its nice to watch a fairly good international side employ a player from the start who plays for the Championship's bottom club (by god it pains me to say that!). Unfortunately his playing on Saturday against Wales and then on Wednesday against Slovakia is not good for Leeds as our game against Preston is on Friday. So it would be nice if he didn't start on Wednesday! Anyway - the Ireland Wales game wasn't the most rip roaring affair but it was satisfying to see Stephen Ireland score the winning goal. It keeps us in with a shot at qualification. With Germany beating the Czechs, we now see Germany top with 13 points with the Czechs and us on 10 (although we have played the extra game). And then we have Slovakia only one point behind us, and with the game in hand! This makes our match up with Slovakia huge! As the match wound up it was great to hear the commentator inform us of a late Scotland goal to take a 2-1 win over Georgia. Hopefully the Scots can avoid defeat against the Italians, keeping them in good shape to secure a surprise qualification.


Who finds it strange that I'm referring to Ireland as us? Well although I'm English I do have a smidgeon of Irish in me. My Mum's Dad's Father was Irish so I guess that makes me 1/16 Irish. And as I feel great affinity with my grandfather on that side, and my mum's maiden name, I feel a strong pull towards Ireland. I feel more patriotic towards them than I do England. I feel a pull towards England but I guess that's more directed towards Yorkshire where I was brought up. Anyway - when I found out that England Israel had been a draw, I wasn't overly concerned and certainly managed to see a bit of the funny side. Steve McClaren is useless by the way. The sooner the FA see that the better for England. I support all the so called home nations! I love Ireland and want to see Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do well! I do support England too although its hard to support a football team that containst the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville!


I didn't watch the South Africa innings. Bed came a calling. If the unbelievable game at the Wanderers a year before was anything to go by then the match certainly wasn't over. And the opening stand of 160 odd proved that. However a collapse eventuated and although South Africa made a very good 294, this was still an 83 run loss.


And thankfully I could have a weekend without the stress of Leeds Utd playing!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Nugent call up for England.

David Nugent, the very talented Preston striker is in the England squad for the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier with Israel. This is the first time since 1999 that a player outside England's top leagues has been selected. He is also the first Preston player to be selected for England since Tom Finney almost 50 years ago. It makes me remember the wonderful days of the late 80's/early 90's when Steve Bull spent many loyal years at Wolves (who were outside the top league season after season) and was selected for England a number of times. Hopefully Nugent will get some gametime and do very well.

I can't see him staying at Preston much longer though. He'll no doubt be courting the big money signs of the Premiership come summer.

NCEA or Cambridge?

School examination systems have been in the spotlight recently. Closeup on Wednesday had an item discussing the fact that 37 schools offer Cambridge exams (International GCSE's). This included an interview with Christchurch Boys' High School principal Trevor Macintyre who is very much against the mediocrity that NCEA promotes.

There are a huge number of problems with the NCEA system. One of these days I'll write a big post on why I believe this to be the case. This will probably include some solutions to make NCEA a whole lot better.

The Cambridge system offers a very challenging qualification. My brother has been (and still is) involved with Cambridge English and Maths, and when I look at what he's doing in comparison with what the same year level does at NCEA, the gap is significant. Tutoring students at school I regularly get to see the lackadaisical approach of NCEA, and the lack of intellectual rigour of the system.

Cambridge offers something that can be recognised internationally and teaches a number of more difficult concepts. I am right behind those parents who are going down this line with their children.

So for once I agree with a Libertarianz spokesperson on something! (That is until he starts spouting off about how all schools should be within the private education market!).

This is only a brief post for me to sound off that I'm not a fan of NCEA, and that I do like Cambridge. Sometime in the future I will go into a lot more details on this!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yay. I'm off to Sydney!

Roughly last August I applied to go on the Liberty and Society conference in Sydney after hearing how good it was from Andrew Falloon who went in April. Unfortunately they did not accept my application but said I was on the next round of candidates to invite.

Thinking nothing more of it, even considering that I had already heard of a couple of people who were going, I received an email from the organiser Jenny Lindsay on March 5th asking if I would like to be considered again as she still had my application from last time. The cut-off date to apply was March 19th - so a couple of days before that I thought I might as well flick her an email and tell her they were free to consider me.

A couple of days ago I received an email to say I was accepted for the conference! (Dates: April 13-15). We get accommodation, meals and flights paid for (apart from a $50 contribution we are expected to make). Guess that means I'll just be paying $50 plus transport to and from the airport, and probably a few beers! Sounds like a sweet deal :) We will be hearing from a number of experts and indulging in a lot of discussion with the ideas of classical liberalism as a framework. I expect to have a thought-provoking weekend.
And no doubt will check out the Sydney nightlife as well :)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Other World Cup titbits.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has passed away at the age of 58. This is very sad news for the cricketing world.

Since then Inzamam-Ul-Haq has decided to retire from the one-day game after the world cup, and to relinquish his position as test captain (though still be available for tests).

Flintoff's drunken misdemeanours after England's loss to the Black Caps has resulted in him being stripped of the vice-captaincy, not picked for their win against Canada, and no doubt the heaviest fine of the 6 men involved. Flintoff is renowned for his drunken antics!

A day of shocks follows a Black Caps win.

First off I must note that I was happy to watch the Black Caps record a comfortable win over England. The team picked was the right one, with the possible exception of the harsh decision to leave Fulton out. However my theory to have him in ahead of an out of form Styris wasn't a great one considering that Styris continued his excellent record in the West Indies, with both bat and ball. Bond was fantastically economical and dangerous in his bowling. But it was a pity we couldn't quite finish the English batsmen off as Nixon and Plunkett starred in a large tailend partnership. Still - crucial points for us to take through to the Super 8!



St. Patrick's day motivated the Irish to a fantastic victory over Pakistan in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Strangely enough I had almost thought it half possible in Pakistan's current malaise for this to happen. Having drawn against Zimbabwe and beaten Pakistan it is amazing to think that Ireland are now in the box seat for qualification to the Super 8!



On the same day Bangladesh also beat India! This is an upset but not so much as you might think. I have always maintained that Bangladesh had a chance in this group - they have progressed a lot over the last few years and are always in with a chance.

Leeds Update

Not much has changed with last weekend's games. We managed to salvage a point against Southend with Healy scoring an 88th minute equaliser. We were also denied a blatant penalty, and created enough opportunities to score plenty more goals. So we are still in the battle for survival but could really have done with a win. Luton's loss means that we are now equal bottom in terms of points. QPR's victory over Leicester moves them out of the bottom 3 and makes things just a little tougher for us.

Table:

Burnley 41 (37 games) Goal diff: -5
Hull 41 (39 games) Goal diff: -17
Barnsley 41 (39 games) Goal diff: -24

QPR 40 (38 games) Goal diff: -14
-------------------------------------------
Southend 39 (39 games) Goal diff: -19
Luton 36 (39 games) Goal diff: -20
Leeds 36 (39 games) Goal diff: -25


Come on boys!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Zimbabwe Ireland thriller!

A draw! Not very often this happens in cricket, and a great shock. Pity Ireland couldn't quite pull it off properly. Plus I reckon if you get the same number of runs, the team with the least wickets down should win. And if that were the case - Ireland with 9 down would have beaten the all out Zimbabweans.



It's a bit of a disaster how bad Zimbabwe have become thanks to the corrupt regime of Mugabe. They used to have a solid team with the likes of Flower (x2), Vermeulen, Campbell, Strang Olonga etc.

Black Caps England Preview.

The Black Caps get their world cup game underway with a crucial game against England. Both teams have injury concerns going into the match - yet both may well end up playing all their big guns, despite fitness concerns. James Anderson's broken finger may not keep him out of the starting line-up, McMillan has supposedly got through training OK with his bruised toe, and Fulton is set to play despite his finger problems. The so-called longer term casualties of Oram and Pietersen, both of whom were expected to make comebacks later in the tournament, are both likely to start! What this indicates to me is that there are many people (all teams inclusive) who are being rushed back - desperate to help their teams to the holy grail of the world cup. This is good to see - as long as it doesn't backfire on anyone with longer setbacks a result.

Both the Black Caps and England are incredibly inconsistent. Both can be bloody brilliant. And both can be dreadful. And both can be anywhere in between. Let's hope for a Black Caps win so we can take the points through to the Super 8 (as one would assume that both NZ and the mother country will qualify!)

I can't exactly talk...

Yes I know Leeds are very likely going down, but I might as well revel in a little misfortune of one of my most disliked clubs! What a great song to the tune of the Hokey Cokey! (Anyone who doesn't know the Hokey Cokey by the way must be shot!):

You put your Argies in,
Took your Argies out.
The Iceman comes,
And your manager's out.
You're selling Reo-Coker
and your're going down,
Thats why we like to shout...........

Oooooh Wanky Wanky West Ham,
Oooooh Wanky Wanky West Ham,
Oooooh Wanky Wanky West Ham,

Misfits, Has-beens HA HA HA!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

You've gotta laugh.

Found this on a Leeds Utd message board. Whilst we are often involved in mutual hand wringing and anxiety, this is a great bunch of fans with a dark sense of humour. Which without it, we would surely cry instead!



Congratulations Taito Phillip Field!

His delaying tactics of introducing 50 last minute amendments will delay the passing of the controversial anti-smacking bill. This will mean more time for Labour and Maori Party MP's to be put under pressure. Lawyers have lately come out saying it is a badly worded law, and that parents who simply lightly smack their kids could end up in a police cell over night.


Unfortunately Chester Borrows amendment failed which would have actually defined reasonable force, and was a good middle ground.

NZ injury situation.

Bond bruises McMillan's toe with yorker putting him in doubt. Fulton broken finger, may play. Gillespie virus. Oram still with finger problem. It's never easy as a Black Caps fan - let's just hope for a good result in the game against England during the early hours of saturday morning. Any injuries for any team in a world cup piss me off!

Fantasy Cricket

To keep me vaguely amused throughout the world cup, I have a fantasy team in the competition. The worst news for my team is that James Anderson has just broken his finger and is in doubt. But at least I have Ricky Ponting! I recommend others to create a team, you'll only start a couple of games behind the play. If you know me feel free to join the provate league "one and all", key: 1172660625

New Football rule suggested.

The Football league is considering a proposal to scrap draws, and make them go into penalties instead. This is completely ridiculous in my view, and to even consider it is a farce. The draw is a sacred part of football. When two teams can't be separated, giving them 1 point each in the league is perfectly fair, instead of throwing up every game to the lottery of the shootout.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Down Down Down.


Well I've been checking out this morning's full round of Championship action, and thanks to a 1-1 draw with Leicester we've now picked up a win and a draw in our last two games. Unfortunately this unusual event of actually doing OK for a change is not as good as it looks. This is because of the excellent form of some of the teams around us. Southend have picked up 2 wins in a row after beating Ipswich on the weekend, as have Hull. We only seem to have made real ground on Luton, and perhaps QPR. We've been having a lot of bad luck this season, combined with the fact we've actually been really shit at times. But 4 points out of 6 and still bottom is not good.



I think God doesn't like us.



8 dates with destiny to go. Including a MASSIVE game against Southend this weekend.



I think we'll be relegated with a couple of games to go. In which case I will be crying like a baby :(



Current Table:



Burnley 41 (36 games) Goal diff: -3

Hull 41 (38 games) Goal diff: -15

Southend 38 (38 games) Goal diff: -19

Barnsley 38 (37 games) Goal diff: -23

----------------------------------------------

QPR 37 (37 games) Goal diff: -16

Luton 36 (38 games) Goal diff: -18

Leeds 35 (38 games) Goal diff: -25

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

World Cup gets underway!


It's here and I'm excited. Except for the fact I'm already rather behind in my uni work and won't be able to dedicate myself to the cup as I would like. I could pretty much watch all the live games if I had the chance but unfortunately it seems like the highlight packages might be getting a pounding instead! Tonight is West Indies v Pakistan to set the tone for an exciting few weeks.




Go the Black Caps.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dwayne Leverock is my hero.

Dwayne Leverock is a member of the Bermuda side competing at the 2007 cricket world cup. He has also topped 21 stone (about 135 kg). Simply put: he is one helluva big lad. Yet he's one of the team's stars. In his sides friendly against England he managed an excellent 2-32 from 10 overs (easily the best figures of the team), including the prize scalps of Pietersen and Collingwood. His slow left-arm orthodox bowling is very accurate, and quite dangerous. As Michael Vaughan noted: "He bowled very well. Any spinner that drags Kevin Pietersen out of his crease and does him in the flight, it is a good delivery". It is quite a sight seeing him stagger in to bowl but he obviously has some quality.
Good luck to him for the World Cup. You are my hero. And obviously have created a bit of stir already if some of the British Press is anything to go by!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Frank Haden dies.

Sad to hear of the death of Frank Haden. I used to really enjoy his columns in the Press regarding the use of the English language. I even emailed him once (while I was in seventh form I think) about two things, and lo and behold he included both my comments in his next column. One was that these days students are not taught grammar, suggesting that practically no-one would know what the past pluperfect tense was (don't ask me what it is either!), the other was the annoying habit of certain cricket commentators (Ian Smith) using the word connotations when he actually meant permutations during the VB series round that time. Haden also used to write articles on political issues in the Sunday Star times, usually with a centre-right perspective.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A little Green on the inside.

I've always been someone deeply concerned about our environment, and in this regard have held some sympathies towards the greenie protestations coming from the Green Party. Unfortunately their few iotas of sense are mixed up with the likes of scaremongering (peak oil, and even more so an almost fanatical opposition to the wonders of Genetic Engineering) and their other extreme political viewpoints that are completely non-environment related, and often completely at odds with my perspective. Examples would include their considering the Treaty of Waitangi in almost gospel like proportions, leading them to positively discriminate towards maori - a concept that has gained in popularity with the emergence of the maori party as a force, their seemingly unmitigated desire to perpetuate the cycle of welfare dependency, and an addiction to increased social spending.

However, at the risk of being accused of authoritarianism or being a 'filthy filthy tory', I have found myself in the rare situation of agreeing with Metiria Turei and Hone Harawira. They back up the Cancer Society and OSH's desire to ban point of sale displays of cigarette and tobacco products. It's a very nanny statish call but it's one I would be in favour of. Smoking is a disgusting habit which leads to a plethora of health problems such as lung cancer, never mind the cigarette companies making huge profits from the addictions of the populace (especially from the lower socio-economic groups who are over represented in these statistics). These companies will naturally exploit any means of marketing their product (even at times in breach of legal regulations) - and no doubt these above the counter visual images increases their sales. Check out the Cancer Society article for further discussion upon this point. Smoking really is something we need to encourage youngsters not to take up, so we should do what we can on this score. Plus if there's anything we can do to drastically reduce the number of cigarettes people smoke we should try and do it. If something as simple as product placement even might make a difference then it's worth a go. It is rather ironic though that the Greens are strongly against cigarettes and yet would decriminalise (or even legalise) Marijuana - and have an avowed pot smoker amongst their ranks.

Another idea coming out of the Green Party ranks shouldn't be completely dismissed. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman has suggested that those who sign up to Kiwisaver should be given a 'socially responsible' option as to where to invest, citing that "the New Zealand Superannuation Fund has investments in companies that manufacture nuclear weapons, destroy the environment and breach labour and human rights". I don't know the validity of his claims, nor how he defines destroying the environment - chances are he's spouting some extremist propaganda - but his comments do raise a question in my mind: when looking to invest - do we just look for simply the best financial return or should we try and balance this out a little with our moral and social concerns? I suggest the latter. Life shouldn't just be about more money at whatever cost.

Having stood up for the Green Party a little here, readers should be clear that overall I think their set of policies is one of the crazier in parliament, and one of the most out of tune with my perspective. But sometimes, just sometimes, there's a smidgeon of sense hidden away somewhere. Most of the time this is where conservation is concerned - but occasionally, sense crops up elsewhere!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Not Guilty!

Rickards, Shipton and Schollum have all been found not guilty on historic sex-charges...again. Is it just me or does something stink about this? I usually make it a policy of mine that I don't comment either way on court charges because you can never know the truth.
But everyone knows their guilty. To me it is just bloody obvious. This decision is enough to make anyone bitter. Those poor women who have tried to fight their case in court and failed because of the smarmy lies of Rickards and co.
Not happy.

Compulsory Savings

Recently Winston Peters has been espousing his much loved ideas on compulsory savings. There is some merit to his ideas as it is important that New Zealanders try to save healthy chunks of their income rather than just using it irresponsibly. A lot of New Zealanders have no idea of the concept of savings. Many people like to spend their full quota of income, perceiving it as somehow wasted if it's sitting accruing interest in the bank. New clothes must be bought, or expensive restaurants dined at, or the latest gadget bought for their 9 year old boy.

It's disappointing that many people don't know the meaning of savings. My family is in a comfortable financial position because they worked hard, and scrimped and saved a vast majority of their earnings. If 10 pounds was left over at the end of the week it wouldn't just be spent on luxury items, it would be added to the savings. We have family friends who earn a lot but spend it all, and hence can't afford it when an unexpected bill comes along. This is a nonsense. Savings must be encouraged. People, especially lower earners, should be encouraged to spend only on what is necessary, in the long-run it will be good for them.
But regardless of the excesses of many people, compulsory savings shouldn't be the way to go. There are lots of pressures on household finances as it is that many may not afford it. Plus it is everyone's personal choice as to how much they save. In a sense though, if it were compulsory, there could be an opportunity for relieving government spending in the area of superannuation, giving a top-up to their compulsory scheme. Again, whether this is a good thing or not is easily debatable.
We haven't heard much from Winston on this since the 1997 referendum when the voting public were strongly against it. Savings is an important part of life but we shouldn't legislate for it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Buck up your maths skills kiwis!

According to an article in today's Press (A7): "poor mathematics skills are leaving shoppers out of pocket because they fail to notice getting shortchanged." It also noted that "one in three workers admitted their inadequate skills had lost their company money".

This is shocking but unsurprising.
Too many people are leaving school without even the basic school certificate (NCEA level 1) Maths. Or even enough knowledge in applied Maths to work out the change. As someone who was once called "William the calculator" for my skills in mental maths I find it incredibly hard to understand how you can pass through a school system without these skills, even if you bunked most of the time and hardly listened. The amount of times I see shoppers and shopkeepers struggling is unbelievable. And if they can't do this, I bet they can't sit there and quickly work out whether the 300g or 500g option is cheaper per gram. I always have to work this out - it's a simple technique that saves me a few cents here and there - which all add up.

At least New Zealanders tend to use eftpos a lot! Come on Kiwis, buck up your ideas and at least follow your maths teacher who helps you try and solve these practical problems.

Alcohol consumption hits a high: some philosophical meanderings on attitudes to alcohol.


According to the Weekend Press New Zealand's alcohol consumption is the highest in 20 years, a staggering 464 million litres. That's 2.15 litres per man, woman or child per week. If we ignore the 21.5% of people aged under 15, that's 2.74 litres per week. Considering that this of course includes all the teetotallers and people for whom one to 5 standard drinks in a week is the norm, one would suggest that there is a huge amount being consumed in the under 25 bracket, the time in one's life when alcohol consumption is probably at its peak.

Alcohol watchdogs are blaming RTD's for the increase. Rebecca Williams notes that "RTD's are cheap, convenient and designed to appeal to young people". She's right. And the people I believe it to be affecting most are young women. Young women these days are notoriously big drinkers compared to their counterparts of a generation ago. In some cases women try to out-drink the men with disastrous consequences. The culture these days find it acceptable for women to get absolutely off their face. This is particularly prevalent among students, for whom binge-drinking of any kind is the norm. It is no good for these young women's livers or other biological functions. Naturally binge drinking is not good for us blokes either, but a women's system is even less designed to cope. The Alcopops range is very appealing to girls pretty much anywhere from high school upwards, and in many of these drinks you can't even taste the alcohol, meaning youngsters become absolutely slaughtered before they know it.

The problem with these 'slaughtered' young women is that they can become pliant, and easy to be taken advantage of. It is likely that many a time a young woman in this situation - who acquiesces to consensual sex - soon regret their actions. The bloke cannot be charged with rape because everything was ostensibly consensual but he has taken advantage of their high alcohol intake. Naturally this can work the other way round but this way appears a more common scenario. Of course the more people drink alcohol, the more they have sex...and the more they have sex, the more chance of STI's and unwanted pregnancies becoming a reality (given that alcohol leads us to less rational decisions like not worrying about contraception). Children having sex younger and younger is something to avoid as well!
The culture of binge drinking is to a large extent ingrained in the Kiwi psyche. Rugby and Beer seem to be our national icons, and the two are synonymous with each other. Middle aged New Zealanders binge drink, their children binge drink. Binge drinking is particularly bad in students lifestyles. I have participated in this binge drinking culture, and far too often at that. Most people go out from time to time with the simple objective of getting wasted. Others go out for a few quiets that descend into a binge. I can sit here and tell you that if I have a dozen beers in one night, I don't consider it a huge night. Neither would others. It may well be seen as a moderate, fairly drunk night, depending how quickly they were consumed of course. And this of course is a dangerous perspective to have.
It is the binges that are doing us damage. If I had 3 standard drinks 6 nights of the week, this would be much healthier than one night of sinking 14. Somewhere along the line education has to solve the issue. Raising the drinking age to 20 is not going to help. Well it could a little, but it's a measure I would vote against. At 18 you are deemed an adult who can participate in most legal activities, surely you should be allowed the fundamental right of supping a beer in a pub?
At the moment, as the law stands, it is illegal for those under 18 to buy alcohol, but it is legal to supply a minor with alcohol and for them to consume it. Apparently the Hospitality Association's Bruce Robertson wants an actual drinking age of 18 to be considered with any minor who consumes alcohol, effectively becoming a criminal. I can see the rationale behind the idea. It is certainly not good for children to drink. To abuse your body with alcohol is not good at the best of times but before the age of 18 when your liver hasn't fully developed is a particularly bad time to be doing it. Especially if it's week in week out systematic abuse. I wouldn't support the measure though. My parents gave me my first beer when I was about 13 or 14. I was never allowed more than one until I was about 17 or so. If this age range can learn to sensibly have a drink or two under controlled parental supervision then this is surely a good thing. They are less likely to go off the rails when they are 18. France doesn't have a drinking age. A glass of red wine is considered something worthy for any age. And France don't have the problems we have.
That is because it is all about culture and education. With the right education, with an improvement in our drinking culture our problems will diminish. One of these days I'm going to listen to that voice in my head telling me every binge session is doing me damage. If we could all listen to that voice in our heads more often, society would be a lot better place!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Leeds United: Relegation Inevitable

One of my darkest days as a Leeds fan is right now, and it certainly suits my current mood. I fully expected to lose to Wolves last night but the result is still hard to take, especially when you take into account how the bottom six are sitting. A week or two ago everything had squeezed up and we were in with a shout of survival. But the draw against QPR a few days ago was crucial. They were on a freefall. A win would have lifted us to level on points with them but an abject 0-0 draw resulted. And now the loss against Wolves makes the table look like this:

Luton 36
Hull 35
QPR 35
------------
Barnsley 35
Southend 31
Leeds 31

And we have the worst goal difference. We have 12 games to go. We are not yet down but we sure as hell will be. 95% chance of going down. I feel so hollow. This just adds to my hollowness about at least two other things. I did have the hope that checking the results today would ease some bitterness instead of just exacerbating it. The end of LUFC is nigh. Leeds United: rest in peace. Dennis Wise you are a muppet as was John Carver and Kevin Blackwell before you. Ken Bates you are a useless turd. And as for the players: this is the Leeds United shirt we are talking about - play like you could die for it instead of just going through the motions. Very few of you actually seem to care. You pick up your healthy pay cheques and start planning which club you are going to join next season. Our vast array of injuries don't help but our players are not only not up to the job - they are not up for the job. Players, management, hang your heads in shame. You have 12 games to be heroes. 12 games to retain our status. Here are the games for us remaining:

Birmingham v Leeds Utd
Leeds Utd v Sheff Weds
Leeds Utd v Luton Town
Leicester v Leeds Utd
Southend v Leeds Utd
Leeds Utd v Preston NE
Leeds Utd v Plymouth
Colchester v Leeds Utd
Leeds Utd v Burnley
Southampton v Leeds Utd
Leeds Utd v Ipswich
Derby v Leeds Utd

We should lose against Birmingham but the next 4 games after that will completely define the season. If we could get a minimum of 3 wins and a draw out of Wednesday, Luton, Leicester and Southend then we would really give ourselves a fighting chance. And these are potentially winnable matches against lowly ranked teams, two of them also fighting relegation. I very much doubt we will but we need good results in those games, and set us up for the tough last 7 games.

But whatever way you look at, I think we're done for. I feel too down and upset to cry. No doubt I will do a few times before the season is over. And play a bit of "Everybody Hurts" by REM, or John Blunt, to make me feel even more upset. When we failed in the Championship playoff final last season the next day I was singing the Leeds songs to myself all day long with tears in my eyes. I have to prepare myself for a similar eventuality. What a circus for Leeds fans to endure. I hope the Leeds fans go to the last game of the season against Derby and throw a party.

We have never been as low as the third tier of English football. To go there would be the worst moment as a Leeds fan. The last 5 or 6 years have been like hell on earth for us Leeds fans. But if we do go down, I just have to hope that we can come back over the next few years instead of remaining condemned to the lower leagues for an eternity.

We'll be back.

MARCHING ON TOGETHER (highlighting - all my own choice)

Here we go with Leeds United
We're gonna give the boys a hand
Stand up and sing for Leeds United
They are the greatest in the land

Every day, we're all gonna say
We love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!
Everywhere, we're gonna be there
We love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!

Marching on together
We're gonna see you win(na na na na na na)
We are so proud
We shout it out loud
We love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!

We've been through it all together
And we've had our ups and downs (ups and downs!)
We're gonna stay with you forever
At least until the world stops turning 'round

Every day, we're all gonna say
We love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!
Everywhere, we're gonna be there
We love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!

Marching on together
We're gonna see you win (na na na na na na)
We are so proud
We shout it out loud
We love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Anti Smacking Bill.

Today Sue Bradford's Anti Smacking Bill is set to comfortably pass its second reading. This bill would effectively repeal s59 of the Crimes Act which permits parents to use reasonable force against children. My position on this issue is exactly in line with Chester Burrows of the National Party who is set to place certain amendments on the table.

My problem with s59 is that it allows parents the opportunity to get away with unacceptable levels of violence against their children. I know people who have disciplined their children far too harshly such as with a belt or stick. I'm even not a fan of the slipper. Any discipline that leaves the child with marks on their body is surely unacceptable, with no place in modern society. So some change is desirable.

However repealing s59 would effectively criminalise parents who simply smack their children. Sue Bradford says it won't: "Repeal of s59 will not criminalize parents. Police, as always, will exercise discretion about mounting a prosecution, as their procedural rules require them to do. Only abusive parents have reason to fear the repeal of S59." However their actions would still be deemed within illegal bounds, and police time would be wasted on a trifling matter. If criminalising these parents is not the intent why can't we just define reasonable force?

Nanaia Mahuta who has come out in favour of the bill says that "there continues to be far too many instances of young people being abused, neglected or killed, and this cannot continue." Certainly she is correct, but how making smacking illegal will help that is surely anybody's guess. She is clearly radical on this issue, disappointed that the bill does not go as far as it had originally, in other words outlawing reasonable force as a defence. Would she prefer that the parent being attacked by an enraged child just take it, and not defend themselves at all?

A smack, delivered occasionally, is a valuable parenting tool. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been on the receiving end of a smack. I deserved that punishment. And it was effective. It shouldn't be overused however because then it simply becomes meaningless and commonplace. Effectively making smacking illegal however would be a disgrace.

In summary let's hope we get Chester Burrow's amendments. We should keep reasonable force but define exactly what that is by outlawing the use of implements, and simply making the only acceptable physical punishment as an open-handed smack.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Whaling

Over the last few years there has been a lot about whaling in the media. I am vehemently opposed to whaling. Part of the reason is due to objective analysis of the facts, but it is also due to an emotional response. Thus I am against whaling objectively and emotionally. I don't see why, just because I am emotively against something, this should make my response invalid. Humans are not robots after all.

Let's analyse my emotive response first.

My mother has always instilled a strong conservation ethic in me, and she has always been strongly against whaling. In 1994 I was living in England and my family came to New Zealand for a holiday (and with a view to emigrating). One of the highlights of the trip was going to be whalewatching. As we fitted the whalewatching around my 10th birthday (April 25th) and my mum's birthday 3 days later it was extra special. First the family took a boat out. Seeing a Sperm Whale only a matter of 10 yards away was an awe-inspiring experience. The whale dived down. It was majestic. The whole experience was breathtaking. I was transfixed. Afterwards just Mum and I decided to take a helicopter ride and watch the whales breathing on the surface. This was also simply spectacular. Ever since that fantastic day I have loved whales. I started reading up on them, and I had a poster of all the different species on my bedroom wall.

I am completely behind Greenpeace in their attempts to stop whaling. There are many things I disagree with Greenpeace on, such as Genetic Modification, but on whaling: I stand beside them 100%. I completely respect their actions in doing things like getting in between the whalers and the whale, and sometimes I almost wish I was doing it myself. It's also great when they come up with something innovative to get their message across! It may make me sound like a bit of a radical, or a lunatic, but I love the work of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society such as their lobbing acid onto whaling fleets, and when I hear Japanese whalers come out with something like: “Sea Shepherd is conducting a campaign of outright destruction and terrorism. We have serious concerns that someone will be injured or killed in its destructive terrorism.” - I actually think: well good on them!

But objectively there are plenty of reasons to be against whaling too.

(1) Whaling is unsustainable. The gestation period of a whale, depending on the species, is anywhere from 1-2 years. The amount of whales that are killed there is no way the whale species can regenerate even a fraction of the amount that are killed.

(2) Killing just one whale can put the whole ecosystem out of kilter when you consider that a humpback whale for example eats millions of krill per day.

(3) Whales cannot be farmed. If they could there may be a theoretical argument in favour of whaling. But there is no way you can put a fence around them. These are wild creatures not sheep or cows.

(4) Whales are endangered. For the sake of biodiversity no species should become extinct. When whaling nations such as Japan or Norway are supposedly going after the more plentiful Minke, I can't trust that they're not going after the highly endangered ones also. Even killing Minke at the rate they want to will soon make them become highly endangered also.

(5) Whaling is a very painful experience for the whale. A harpoon can cause a whale to writhe around in agony for hours, spewing blood. It is horrible. That we can still inflict such pain on these beautiful creatures is barbaric.


(6) Although whaling is supposedly for scientific research it is clearly for commercial gain. Whale is considered just another delicacy by many Japanese, and people pay extortionate prices because it apparently tastes so good. Research is just an excuse. But even if it were for research, this would be research that is not needed. Why should humans thirst for knowledge cause mass killings of whales? Much can be learned by observing them in the wild or cutting up an already dead beached whale anyway.

Keep up the good work Greenpeace. Whaling is despicable both objectively and emotively.