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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Job application

My apologies for the non-existent blogging the last few days. The reason is nice and simple: I am been furiously completing a job application that is due in on Monday.

I hate job applications with a rage that is not easy to describe. I am also utterly petrified of them. The merest thought is enough to make me start to quiver. Once I have the application form I will do almost anything I can to avoid working on the application (which helps explain why I was so prolific in the first half of the week, even accounting for the fact I have been on holiday). And then the penny finally drops, and I have to knuckle down.

This mostly consists staring over my computer at the telly, or stomping around downstairs dooing the hovering or some other household task that has been too long neglected. Very occasionally something might get written.

Part of the problem is that I am very bad at selling myself, though I appear to have gotten somewhat better (or, more accurately, I've got better at recycling the best parts from former efforts).

But that is now all behind me. It is done. The dreaded document has been attached, and faithfully sent courtesy of Yahoo! Mail to the warrens of the Personnel Department. And now I am beginning to be scared. Really scared.

Time, I feel, for a not so wee dram of Lagavulin 16-year Single Malt.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Further review

A brief comment on the first UK showing of the film. Apparently the empireonline team didn'y find the gore that excessive, which makes me wonder to what degree American cultural mores have been dominating the debate to date that are not shared elsewhere.

That's just a thought, don't put any weight on it.

Reaction on the Passion

OK, I've read a few more reviews now on this film, and I am quickly coming to the opinion that the anti-Semitism controversy will be exceeded by arguments about the violence of the film.

Andrew Sullivan, though he makes some comment on the anti-Semite claim, mostly concentrates on the violence, which he abhors, for example. Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times seems mostly in favour, but also mentions the violence. Ramesh Ponnuru at the National Review again is basically positive but makes reference to the violence. And I have read the same basic theme just about everywhere since.

I think the word I would use the film to describe the word at this point - given of course that I have not seen it - is "uncompromising". We are treated to a violent spectacle. I doubt that it would be realistically possible to over-do the violence of Passion, given that the Passion of Jesus, from arrest to death took considerably longer than could ever be protrayed in a film. Not only that but there is an additional language barrier - not one word is in English (though as far as I know there are subtitles).

This is clearly not a film meant to make us feel comfortable or happy. It does not pander to modern sensibilities, does not allow us to set the agenda.

I think it will be interesting to see what I think when I have finally seen the film, but I am intending to do so in Penitential mood. It is still not clear if my local cinema will screen it. Even if it does not I will make a journey to somewhere else to see it.

Comment on Judicial activism and democracy

This is not an original thought, but I am always slightly taken aback by how inflamed abortion and gay marriage get in the US. I have come to the conclusion that a great deal of this is because of the way these issues are prosecuted, through the Courts.

As I understand it there is nothing final about a Supreme Court ruling. They can be, and sometimes are, reversed. And it depends entirely on the nine men and women that make up the court. That is an incredibly small number of people effectively pronouncing on these important matters, probably basing their decisions on concepts and ideas that most of the nation simply cannot understand. Moreover, there is a sense of dis-empowerment. One can always lobby one's representatives in Congress, campaign to get people who share similar views elected. There is no such democratic element to judicial decisions.

Another problem in democratically governing a big country, in terms of population, is that the minorites get too big. There is no really alternative to having a majority decision go through, but when minorites are large and/or grouped very much in one place democracy starts to run into problems. Think about it a moment. 90% of people in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri (to pick three states at random) believe in one thing, but overall in the US only 40% or so do, you have a problem. Which is one reason why the States are such a great idea. They bring things down to the more local level. It is also why I think big government in any large population, but especially large-population geographically big democracies is inherently dangerous.

If abortion, or gay marriage, were fought through the court legislatures there would still be a great deal of heat. These are emotive issues after all for all concerned. But at least then the people, on both sides, would be democratically empowered. I am pretty sure one reason why these issues simply don't raise as much comment over here is that changes are legislated. The constitutional amendment is simply the logical progression of Roe v Wade. But it is easy to try and claim constituional rights and convince a few judges of your position that try to convince your fellow human beings. That is at least one other reason why there remains great tension - the two sides don't speak to each other because the courts disempower them. So they spew rhetoric without trying to come to agreement, because they "know" they don't have the capability to make agreement.

It is traditional wisdom that the easy option is rarely the best choice. But alas, we humans are, if nothing else, imperfect. The easy option holds such allure.

An entirely different film

Given all that's been mentioned about The Passion of Christ I thought I'd mentioned another film that I have now read a couple of reviews about. Osama (go here for what I consider to be a fairly typical review, is the first major film to come out of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. The story is about an Afghani girl that pretends to be a boy under the Taliban's rule. She adopts the name Osama. Then is discovered. Unfortunately I doubt it will get released in my home town here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A case of theft

Have you seen a stolen steel bridge? It appears there were no witnesses, of course. All credit to the enterprising nature of the theives. I would love to by a fly on the wall of any eventual court case. I wonder just precisely what the felons will be charged with.

Of course, if I were a fly on the wall I'd have the learn Ukrainian to be able to work out what was going on!

Citizenship ceremonies

What of the things that strikes almost everyone from the UK about the US is how seriously Americans take being part of the USA. Citizenship really really means something in a very tangible way in the US, that for the most part does not exist over here any more. And I say anymore because I think it did, once a upon a time not so distant.

Anyway, some time ago the government said they were going to start organising citizenship ceremonies for new Britons, and the first one is occuring soon BBC Article.

I am all in favour of this. Changing one's nationality ought to be more than just signing a dotted line. One's nationality is a vital part in anyone's identity, both in self-awareness and in how others perceive us. Tellingly one of the comments was: "The ceremony strikes me as a little American."

Another was: "You can't just become British by standing under a flag. That's why American people are patchwork communities rather than just one big nation."

I entirely agree, you can't just become anything by standing under a flag and swearing an oath. That's why the people have lived her for some time first, and the same of course happens in the US (one marvels that some people think changing nationality is so simple).

However, most of the comments in the article are generally positive. Indeed, the two most negative comments come from home-grown Britons who probably simply cannot imagine the importance of changing one's nationality.

This is the pledge:

I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.

I pretty much think that says all that needs to be said, assuming that the above also acts as a pledge of allegiance the Her Majesty the Queen. Maybe one day in the distant future they'll get this recited annually in schools or something. I can live in hope.

Oddball thought - given that the EU is set to get more invasive, and assuming that the British public continue their fairly unremitting hostility, would this eventually cause the growth of more public patriotism again? Probably not of course, but I think assuming current anti-EU feeling persists, that the question of British-ness and English-ness are going to become more popularly defined. It'll be interesting to observe, that's for sure.

Apparently I'm a spoilsport

YOU ARE RULE 11!

You were designed to make sure that attorneys in
federal cases make reasonable inquiries into
fact or law before submitting pleadings,
motions, or other papers. You were a real
hardass in 1983, when you snuffed out all legal
creativity from federal proceedings and
embarassed well-meaning but overzealous
attorneys. You loosened up a bit in 1993, when
you began allowing plaintiffs to make
allegations in their complaints that are likely
to have evidenciary support after discovery,
and when you allowed a 21 day period for the
erring attorney to withdraw the errant motion.
Sure, you keep everything running on the up and
up, but it's clear that things would be a lot
more fun without you around.


Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Human cloning

I am made very uneasy about human cloning, for whatever purpose. Innocence, once lost, can never be regained. As a human race we marvelled as we split the atom. The atomic bomb is one of the great scientific success stories of our time - if not the great success story of our time. While others cheered in New Mexico the man who, if anyone can claim to be the creator, Oppenheimer turned and said "I have become Death: Shatterer of Worlds". At least he knew what he had created.

Modern researches seem no longer to have the ability to realise the enormity of their creations.

Anyway, this NY Times Op-Ed motivated the above post.

The Passion - An Interesting Article

One of my gripes is that the Passion is not opening over here for about a month. There is something incredibly symbolic I feel about this film opening on Ash Wednesday, something entirely fitting about that date.

Anyway, in the NY times I found this Op-Ed by Kenneth L Woodward that I found to be very interesting.

He basically contends that the visceral element of the film, its portrayal of the suffering of Jesus, is the real story here in a modern Christianity that de-emphasis this raw element. He also identifies the suffering of Christ as being one of the unique things about Christianity in this paragraph:

Significantly, the Passion and death of Jesus is the chief element in the Gospel story that other religions cannot accept. In Islam, Jesus does not die on the cross because such a fate is considered unfitting for a prophet of Allah. By Hindus and Buddhists, Jesus is often regarded as a spiritual master, but the story of his suffering and death are considered unbecoming of an enlightened sage. Like the Buddha, the truly liberated transcend suffering and death. But Jesus submits to it — willingly, Christians believe — for the sins of all.

Now, I don't know enough to comment if this is a true statement, but its feels right to me.

In any even read the article. It is a refreshing look at an aspect of the film that hardly mentions the whole anti-Semitic idiocy.

Clarification

Just an addendum to below. I find the judicial legislation of the Massachusettes case to be very disagreeable on an intellectual level. I have the same disagreeable reaction to Roe vs Wade. The politicisation of Court appointments will only increase though as a result of the Massachesettes decision, since there is no effective way to counter them except through federal amendment. Or not as I understand the set-up anyway.

As for gay marriage, I generally disagree, but mostly because for me marraige is a religious, not a civil union and the state has no business there. I would attribute most of the current breakdown in marriage to its currently increasing civil nature. I do not think the remedy is to further secularise the institution.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A comment on the gay marriage situation

It looks like Bush has finally come out firmly behind the FMA, or a similar amendment. Instapundit suggets that what happened in SF pushed him over the edge. I find that very possible.

It's a bit like the surprise Andrew Sullivan and others expressed at the Vatican's restatement of its position on homosexuality. Newtonian physics tells us (unless I've completely misremembered my science) that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In life this is useful to remember. The gay marriage activists made made several actions. They must surely expect the reaction.

Oddball thought - did that SF mayor want to push the issue to make problems for Arnie and/or Bush by forcing them into a position? After all, with the Massachuesetts court decision Bush could at least say the matter was under consideration. The SF event though, by its illegal nature (and with the typical liberal attitude that it's ok to break laws if you disagree with them) boxed him into an effective corner.

Stephen Hawking in Hospital

Washington Post article I hope he recovers.

Bush attacks Kerry

Bush attacks Kerry, and probably about time. One of the problems about this Democratic Nomination being decided so early (according to the pundits at least, though we ought to know for certain after Super Tuesday) is that Kerry has had alot of airtime and print to attack Bush as opposed to his competitors. What polls I'v seen reflect this nearly one-sided assault that of course really began with Howard Dean last year.

Naturally Bush and the Republicans had to make a move sooner or later, and I can understand why they decided enough was enough. The Democrats have had a free ride, I hope they've enjoyed their 2004 honeymoon.

Effects of the "Liberal Revolution"*

Oliver Kamm complains about a debasement of public life, in particular public grief. He talks about the frenzy that occured after the death of Princess Diana, but then turns to the more recent death of the Queen Mother. I quote:

Yet in my view an even more dispiriting thing happened on the death of the Queen Mother. I recall watching the television pictures of her funeral procession and noting that instead of maintaining a dignified and respectful silence, many of those who had gathered by the road-side applauded as the hearse went past. Presumably to them it was a mark of approbation, fitting to the occasion, yet I can't recall a precedent for this and I found it arch and inappropriate.

Oliver Kamm is a self-professed liberal, but I think like so many liberals he fails to connect the modern miasma he here identifies with the "liberal revolution"*of the 1960s and 70s. The cult of the new that tore up traditional organisations and mores without thought in that period has led directly to the "replacement of ritual with fashions of convenience" that Oliver Kamm so regrets. I feel it is up to him, and others with similar views, to decide if he feels the deep damage done to the fabric of society is a worthwhile price to be paid for the changes that are rooting in those times. Today we reap what has been sown.

*An explanation of the quotation marks. While I do think the cultural changes of those two decades were revolutionary I don't find them to be particularly liberal, or rather I find that their most vocal proponets are extremely intolerant to those who disagree. Since tolerance is supposed to be one of the hallmarks of the liberal revolution ... let's just say that I think liberal is something of a misnomer given other meanings of the word. I can't really explain further however because I am only 24, and I don't have everything worked out.

Online shopping

I live in a rural town in the south-west of England. I do not drive. This means that shopping always because an exercise in how much strain I want to put my back under, especially since the supermarket I like shopping at is a 15 minute walk to the nearest relevant bus-stop (and the buses are not always the most reliable things).

Thank goodness for online shopping. Probably two-thirds of what I buy is now online. I am also arranging a trip to Lille for the weekend in a couple of weeks time. So far the travel is booked, and the accomodation I'll do later in the week. Again all online.

I love the internet.

A message from God

Well, it's nice to know that he and I are in agreement. ;)

Yankee-Dixie speech

I've seen it in several places, and I ended up taking this test. Some of the questions I just had the guess at because they did not really apply (we don't really do yard sales over here, but that is the term I would use, mostly thanks to Toy Story . Anyway, I got 59% Dixie, which made me chuckle. Take that as you will.

More Meier idiocy

So, I am continuing to read Athens: A Portrait of a City in its Golden Age by Christian Meier. Unfortunately I am now into Chapter 4 and it is still failing to live up to its early promise. Indeed, my disillusionment has reached new heights. Take this paragraph, which I quote in full. Christian Meier is discussing the reforms of Cleisthenes towards the end of the 6th century BC that gave Athens a limited form of democracy.

We have no reason to assume that the Greeks experienced the kind of major generational conflicts we have witnessed in recent years. History was not moving fast enough at that time, and too few issues might have rallied the young against their elders. There was no philosophy of history, not were there outmoded ethical commands to rebel against. The adults did not know what the young had yet to learn, nor did the young think they knew what their elders would never be capable of discovering. At least this was not the case on a major scale. Old and young were too concretely involved with each other.

Now, I have some fairly major issues with the above paragraph. I make two major contentions. The idea that the pace of history is somehow faster today in our rather sedate western democracies would astound anyone who lived through the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the period of Jacksonian democracy, the period in the lead up to the American Civil war. For slightly older periods, how about the Reformation? Sixteenth century Europe was a tumultuous place. So was 12th century Europe, so was the early Rennaisance. So was 4th century AD when some of the great debates about Chrsitianity took place. So was the first century BC and the final paroxysms of the Roman Republic. It is a bankrupt idea, and I do not know why it persists, save from the collective arrogance of all to many of the 60s generation that seem to think that they are somehow more important than the rest of humanity.

But Christian Meier continues in the very next paragraph:

But we may assume that it was primarily the younger men, filled with enthusiasm and courage, unencumbered by doubt and caution, who embraced the new, supported reform, and threw their energies into Attic politics. Among the youngest to reach the age of full citizen's rights when the granting of such rights began to mean something completely new were Themistocles and Aeschylus.

So there was no generational conflict, "too few issues might have rallied the young against their elders", and yet Mr Meier thinks that the new reforms supporters could have been broadly defined by age and, as he makes clear, what was going on was absolutely revolutionary. How on earth he expects anyone with a modicum of intelligence to read these two paragraphs - the second right after the first, I have not cut out a single word - and not raise their eyes in question I do not know.

But let us remember that this was hardly political revolution, as perhaps best shown by the reference to Themistocles, Athens was undergoing a cultural explosion the likes of which has quite possibly never occurred anywhere else. From those years so much of modern culture is descended. There are possible comparisons - the Italian Rennaisance or Elizabethan England - but both of those ultimately are grounded by what occued in Athens 1500-2000 years previously. And this is represented by the mention of Aeschylus. I almost wonder if Meier properly read Agamemmnon by that great playwright. I studied it an A-Level. It looks like a masterful rendition of the death of Agamemnon. Woven into though it is one of the most realistic portrayals of the horror of war ever to be done in literature. These days it would be called anti-war (and I have heard it described as such, though I dislike the term because of modern and current political meanings).

All I can say is that Meier really needs to work out his own logic, look properly at his subject matter, and divest himself of the idea that history or time somehow moves faster today than it did in yesteryear. I expect such trash the most populist historians, but not from someone as respected as this, who in the first chapter clearly demonstrated that his work can be to such a high level. I will persevere however, and continue. If nothing else it will give me things to blog about.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Nader

So, he is entering the race. My gut feeling is that anything that siphons off votes from either of the main party is good for the other one, and in a race that could hang on the way relatively few votes swing in a dozen or so states...

I think the Democrats are right to be concerned. I think though the fact Nader seems to be running as and independent means he won't be as much of a factor as in 2000. Not terribly original thoughts I know.

Unless he is running specifically to wreck the Democrats. If he could claim to have denied the Dems two Presidential elections, well, he might think that would make the Democratic Party take the issues he is concerned about very seriously. I don't think that will happen, and I hope most sincerely that whatever the result in November we do not have the spectacle of 2000 (which would mean Nader would become a no-factor).

My gut feeling also (and this is based entirely without fact) that Kerry stands more to lose than Edwards, should he win the nomination, by Nader's candidacy. Whatever else Kerry may or may not be he is the definition of a Washington politician. Edwards is not yet cast in that mould, and Nader certainly isn't. Just my ha'penny piece.

Weekend Sports - part 2

Well, I didn't, in the end, watch any ice-hockey. Mostly because I ended up doing other things, which were dominated by catching-up on a forum that I had been absent from for only 36 hours. Talk about being busy. Anyway, one reason why I had been absent for that length of time of course was the rugby on Saturday day, as related below, by another couple of programmes on Saturday evening I wanted to watch: The Day the world was born - a documentary comparing the formation of the earth to a 24-hour clock. Quite good and recent, only done last year; and the offering of Britain's Best Sitcom, which was Porridge, a now somewhat dated but still very entertaining sitcom set in a jail.

So, onto Sunday, and I did maintain my intentions here.

Six Nations

Wales vs Ireland. Final Score 36-15 to Ireland.

I, along with most others, thought this was the most important match-up of the weekend, and thought it could go down the wire. Well, it probably was the most important match-up, but as a game it was mostly disappointing. Wales simply underperformed.

But that doesn't tell the story. Wales underperformed in one very significant area. Their forwards. From the first minute Ireland established dominance in forward game (and scored the first try), and that was the way the game went. Out in the backs the Welsh and Irish were evenly matched, with some fierce Welsh attacks, but the backs can't do anything without the ball, and the forwards consistenly failed to get them it. The Irish tactics become computer-game predictable. If they won a line-out within or near the Welsh 22-line it was simply huddle into a maul and drive. All credit to them for finding and exploiting the Welsh weakness.

When Wales did get the ball however they really tested the Irish defence, and twice broke it in the second half. But in the first half it was like England v Italy. The second half was basically a draw, though the Irish did play marginally better than the Welsh. But the damage in points had been done.

The Irish back-line performed far better than against France, and that performance can be put down to one man: Brian O'Driscoll, who was out with injury last week. He played a full fiery game, and his presence simply electrified the Irish backs. It's a 15-man game, but sometimes one man can make all the difference, not by the points that he scores, but by the simply presence of his being on the field. O'Driscoll is such a man.

NASCAR Subway 400 @ Rockingham NC

Quick and slick. This was an exciting race mercifully free of a large crash. Lots of passing and battling for the lead, even if it was mostly held by Matt Kenseth. For most of this race I only had half-an-eye on the screen, or no eyes at all, as I did various bits and bobs about the house. But I sat down and watched enthralled at the last 30 laps. By that time the race for the lead had come down to 3 cars really, Kenseth, Kasey Kahne (a rookie), and Jamie McMurray in that order. As the laps counted down the cars got closer and closer together. In the final lap McMurray fell away, and it became a two-car race, each moment vital. At the final turn Kenseth went high, Kahne went low, and was pipped at the post by a photo-finish 0.1 second finish by Kenseth. If there had been an extra ten feet of track, it would have been different, but what happens at the checkered flag counts.

It was great race by Kahne, who had some serious difficulties earlier one. I don't know if Kenseth has answered his critics in any meanginful way, certainly in the post-race interview I thought he could have said something more positive about how well Kahne had done. Second only start, coming second. That is a far greater acheivement, and though no one can begrudge Kenseth's win one feels it would have been an even better race if he had been the one pipped at the post. Oh well.

Other News

First impressions of the Orioles new coach seem to be good. Not that one would expect any different reaction of course on the first day, but still, hopefully the Birds can do something this season.

Incidentally my reason for liking the Orioles is entirely because I went and saw a game at Camden Yards in August when I was Stateside. Much like I support the Pats in Football because they were playing the first game of NFL I ever watched on telly. Silly reasons perhaps to support a team, but hey, one reason is much like another for me considering that there is no way I could have a 'local' team.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Why fight a war?

Waddling Thunder has made a typical historically-informed post about war never being good for the short-term economy (it can, of course, be good for a longer-term economy, especially if economically important territories or privileges are conceded). If war is so bad for the economy, why fight a war at all?

I think this answer is best represented by the lesson of the United Kingdom in WW2. Whatever one thinks of the "historical trends" pre-1939, there is little doubt that WW2 cost Britain the majority of her Empire and her place in the world. Economically and materially she was, in 1945, a devastated nation. In the immediate post-war years saw very great suffering, diplomatic humiliation over Suez, and economic impotency. The UK was a victor, but rarely has victory come at such a price. Churchill saw himself as the great defender of the British Empire - he struggled politically for decades to maintain it. In many respects it was his life-time aspiration. He failed.

Why did he fail? Because he realised there was something more important than the British Empire, or perhaps something more important, and something more terrible than its fall. Civilisation was more important, and Nazi domination was infinitely worse. With the benefit of hindsight one can honestly say that Churchill sacrificed the British Empire for a free Europe. OK, for half of Europe freedom from the Soviet, as opposed to the Nazi, jackboot had to wait for 50 years. But there would have been no freedom if the UK had buckled in the eighteen months or so from the French collapse in May/June 1940, and Pearl Harbour in the end of 1941.

War is destructive. Perhaps Britain would be better amorally if we had not fought. But Churchill, so representative in so many ways of Britain, could not contemplate anything less than to keep on fighting. It should however be remembered that Churchill was hardly universally popular in the war. Several times he faced votes of no confidence, and these were serious challenges politically and not just the agitating of the half-baked few. There were always those who struggled to understand the very nature of WW2 - Lord Halifax, who made peace moves to Germany as France fell, was chief among them.

In 1940 Nazism was the evil that needed to be confronted, and as Churchill also knew the other great evil of his day was Communism. Today terrorism is the great evil of our times. Its intolerance and will to dominate and destroy are no less great than that of Nazism or Communism. Just as the two great scourges of the 20th century abused the great inventions and acheivements of that age, so today's evil abused the great acheievements and inventions of our own era, primarily the wonders of our communication technology. Like those scourges it challanges the very nature of our civilisation, it threatents our entire way of life, and seeks nothing less than our total extermination.

There is no better reason why.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Weekend Sport part 1

Well, since I'm slightly more organised I thought I break this up. I managed to watch all of both Six Nations games this afternoon. Both good games. First off

France vs Italy

Final Score: 25-0 to France. The Italians were unlucky not to get score in this match, but the French score about accurately reflected the French ability. That is to say that the French were lethargic and inconsistent throughout, with only moments of brilliance. The Italians made plenty of mistakes, a bundle-full. They also started once more to tire at the end, but no nearly so much as they did against England, I suspect because the French weren't working them as hard as England did.

I have to say though that this game brought home to me that basically commentators know nothing more about any sport game than the averagely well-informed viewer. The French pack did poorly against the Italians, except in the line-out where the French did dominate. I thought they did not perform well against the Irish, and this is an area where they are clearly vulnerable. The French back defence remained strong however, and that showed.

The French performance though was epitomised by a missed try. Domenici was over the try-line, but for reason did not put it down immediately. As he got near the end of the box his own knee dislogded the ball, and it went out of play. The slack, lazy play was typical of most of the entire French performance. Added together with their game against Ireland you simply have to wonder when the French team will step up its performance, because if they continue playing like this then England and Wales are going to have some very agreeable games.

England vs Scotland

The 125th anniversary of the Calcutta Cup, and this annual match-up is a true grudge match. Lots of politics in that of course. As one of the commentators said near the end of the first half "this half has been ... strange". That remark goes for the entire game. In soccer they use a round ball, but in rugby its oval. Its a strange ball, and odd things happen. In this game the bounce that oval ball produces was more than usually fickle.

Final score: 35-13 to England. Scotland played, imo, a great deal like Italy. I was rather surprised when none of the talking heads made this comparison, but I guess the idea of a long-standing rugby playing nation playing like the newcomers is too much for many to get. Too outside the box, but it makes sense when one considers that this Scottish team is extremely young, and like Italy, relatively inexperienced. Like Italy too they played with fire and determination. Like Italy they made a barrel-full of costly mistakes in attack, but their defence was very good.

There was one main blot of their performance, and that was the sin-binning of Simon Talyor for a professional fowl that probably robbed England of a try. While he was out England made up for it. Otherwise Scotland's own try was the only time the bounce of the ball really worked for them, and they deserved it for a gutsy game, that is likely to pick up the adjective 'dogged' as bestowed on them by Josh Lewsey, the man of the match.

England did not play at their best either. I have the feeling that England were experimenting, and it showed. Jason Robinson was all over the back line, but he did do a very nice little move in the tail-end of the first half. He was the receiver of a pass from a ruck, he passed it on and then quickly ran onto the outside to receive it again, before charging down the touch-line. The Scots had men there, and there was not much room to work with, but I feel that with another 5-6 feet that would have been a try. Definitely a little move that has future potential.

Other than that there was a lot of very good forward play from both teams, but there was also far too much kicking. I entirely dislike kicking. Sometimes I think it is justified, to get it up the field. Line-outs are chancy, and you always have the chance of winning an opponents line. But in this game far too many of the kicks when straight into the hands of other players, and that just gives the other side possession. OK, sometimes there is a chance that someone form your own side might be able to get underneath it, but all too often that is not the case.

England clearly need to concentrate on finding a set-up they like. Its Ireland next, iirc, in 2 weeks time. Clive Woodward and his boys need to make some decisions about what they want to play, otherwise the other 3 matches of this tournament are going to be a lot tougher than they need to be.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Looking forward

So, it'll be another weekend filled with rugby and Nascar. My intentions - to watch the England-Scotland match-up. To watch the Ireland-Wales match-up. That is probably the only chancy encounter out there this weekend. As for Italy-France, I'll watch it if I'm not doing anything else.

Then comes the Nascar. Since I have next week off I am a lot less time pressured than usual for a Sunday evening. Therefore I intend to pay rather more attention than I usually am able (which is just having it on in the background).

However, what this also means is that I'll try and catch some NHL as well on Saturday night. I haven't worked ice hockey out yet. It's intriguing, but I haven't yet acclimatised.

EU Summitt

Tony Blair has won alot of support from me in the last two years. But by cosying up to the Franco-German stitch-up method of running the EU he is risking losing a fair bit of it again. Tony, Chirac only wants to screw you over and get re-elected for a third term to keep his arse out of jail. Don't make immoral deals.

NB: Yes, I am really very anti-Chirac.

Presidential senators

Just a random thought. It's been a very long time since a sitting Senator made President. This is most often said in reference to Kerry, but can it equally be applied to Edwards?

In this round probably not, he's just not been there long enough. But in a possible future campaign? Food for thought certainly.

Edwards

I should just say though, that although I like Edwards a lot I loathe his protectionism. Much in the way I like GWB, but loathe his protectionism. On the other hand, it's an imperfect world out there, and I understand electoral realities. And if a little protectionism in the US is what is needed to get a decent President then I will grumble and moan and whine, but won't entirely object.

Howard Dean bows out

I am very relieved.

In my not so humble opinion this is a good thing. Dean was essentially a single-issue candidate. Single-issue candidates have no place in running for the position of Head of State.

Of course, whether Kerry, who so far seems to be a no-issue candidate, is any better is open to question. (I did have a link about the lack of serious policy announcements by Senator Kerry, but I've lost it. If I find it I'll post it.)

Dean though was particularly pernicious. He was based entirely on rage. That Yeaaaaaaaaah at Iowa was symptomatic. Rage needs to be controlled to be effective. Dean just let it run riot. Kerry, for all his faults, is a good deal more stable.

All that said, Dean was incandescent, and there was a passion in him that Kerry lacks. Unless Edwards comes from behind to the win the nomination at the final hurdle the Demoratic PResidential Nomination campaign for 2004 will be remembered for Howard Dean.

Come on Democrats. Vote Edwards.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Note on below post

I thought long and hard about linking to the discussion I mention below, but I decided not to because, to me, that discussion is no different than any discussion I might have in person with a bunch of friends and acquaintances. If I were commenting on that it would not be linkable, and since in many respects the two here are analogous I decided not to. I leave it for wiser heads to decide if this is an example of internet concerns invading personal-life, or personal-life advancing further onto the internet.

The Passion - a spin off debate

On a forum I frequent I have gotten involved in a spin-off discussion about Mel Gibson's new film (why on earth can't it be released in the UK on Ash Wednesday too is what I want to know. We get it late in March, so perhaps I'll go see it on Palm Sunday or something - though in fact I'll probably go the weekend it comes out unless all my trusted sources come out universally against it).

Some one posted an article, running the fairly typical this will inflame Europe's anti-Semitism, yadayadayada. Just about everyone who posted disagreed with the article, but a debate did start about how useful are the gospel accounts historically. I post my own thoughts on this - partly in response to a guy who was claiming the gospels are as reliable as Homer for historical info, because they include miracles and the divine et al.

Attempts to draw parallels between the gospels and Homer runs into a serious problem when you consider the situations when both were written.

Homer was compiling various oral traditions several centuries after the events he recounts. The gospel writers (well, Mark, Matthew, Luke - given that John was later revised) all wrote well within living memory of the death of Jesus. And in the case of John the revision could possibly have occurred within living memory, or would have occured not far outside that envelope, probably by c.100AD at the latest.

That is a pretty serious difference. You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion of the miracles, but the presence of miracles
does not invalidate the historicity of other elements in the account. From a historical perspective the gospel accounts (or, for that matter, any of the more 'historical' texts in the Bible) should be examined just as if there were another contemporary historical source, but with no especial cautions because of their religious nature.

And I repeat again, these are accounts that probably rely on eye-witnesses, and it is more than possible that the writers were eye-witnesses for substantial chunks of what they report. Rather different from Homer, who existed at least 300 years after the events he was telling, and possibly much longer, with a dark age intervening between him and the his subject-matter.

Now, the prime point of the gospels is not history, so their value historically is from indirect reference. But then, Plutarch's point of writing was not history, but rather moral tales. Neither was Juvenal writing history, but it is from Juvenal that we try to understand social conditions in early Imperial Rome. Most of our roman sources write compilations of letters or court cases, but we plumb them for historical information. And the same is true for the gospels.


This highlights two of my pet-peeves. The first is Homer-Bible comparisons. The Iliad and Odyssey are not religious texts, the Bible is. A simple, but rather fundamental difference. Homer is not the basis of Greek religion, but is the basis for much of ancient Greek (and Graeco-Roman) culture. Shakespeare's role in the English world is probably the best analogy to the place that Homer played in ancient Greek/Graeco-Roman society - especially when one examines the great influence of Shakespeare's Histories. He is so uniquitous in our culture we hardly notice his presence. Arguably the only writer since to have come anywhere close to Shakespeare's influence is JRR Tolkein, and he is definitely far to recent to make an accurate evaluation of his long-term place in English/English-speaking culture.

The second is that just because a text happens to be in a religious context it has no historical value (the other assertion the person made that I was responding to). As someone who has studied ancient and mediaeval history I know you have to search hard to find any historical text that does not include explicit religious elements like divine intervention throughout the whole 2000 year period I ended up studying at university*. We do not throw away countless ancient and mediaeval historians, be they Christian or pagan, just because they talk openly about gods and miracles. Nor do we throw away countless accounts because they are not explicity historical in purpose. We evaluate them, and look for corroboration.

In the gosepls themselves there appear to be at least two separate accounts, Luke and Mark/Matthew. Some people would say three, and separate Mark and Matthew. I leave out John because, as anyone who has read all the gospels knows, John is very different in nature from the other 3. Among those 3 though, the Synaptics iirc, there is a remarkable degree of corrorboration in the events of Jesus' minsitry and Passion. There are differences, but these are either eye-witness accounts or are based on such. Considering that, and considering how variable eye-witness accounts can be, there is remarkable homogeneity. For me that alone is powerful evidence for the basic historical facts of Jesus' life - that is his minstry and his death. Well I also believe in the Resurrection, I accept that is a matter that is outside proper historical debate.

Incidentally another person was trying to argue that Christ could not be crucified because Tiberius apparently ordained that executions were to be carried out by strangulation. His source was a chance line in Suetonius' The Caesars, which were written about 120AD. He never actually produced the relevant quote in Suetonious (or hasn't yet that I've noticed), but even if he did it would not matter. Unfortunately I think that counts as good historical argument in popular circles.

*I took courses that covered the ancient world from the 5thC BC to the 6thC AD, most detail on the 3rd+4th AD; and from the 9thC AD to the 15thC AD. A large part of my course was studing historical documents from England from c.1320-c.1420.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Burnt finger

I was going to type something more today, but while I was getting my tea I managed to burn (or more accurately, scald) my left index finger. This has rather curtailed my ability to type.

It really hurts, but what really gets me is just how aggravating it is!

Monday, February 16, 2004

Weekend Sport

For a moment I was tempted to type "sports", but when you get down to it I am British, and sports sounds just so ... American ;).

Six Nations

Anyway, on Saturday I watched most of the second half of the France-Ireland game. Final score 35-17 to France, when I started watching Ireland had 10 and I think France was on 25, but to be honest I can't quite remember. The only reason I didn't watch more was because I got carried away in a computer game (it happens). What I saw was some very good rugby from both sides. France was undoubtledly the superior side, and should have won, though the winning margin was a little larger than it should have been. Ireland were very unlucky a couple of times. The Irish forwards were very impressive, and really challenged the French defence. Indeed, I never really felt that the French defence managed the Irifh forwards terribly well, there was a desperate quality to their defence. Ireland's problems was in the backs, and there the French defence was quite simply superior. There were occasional flashes of Irish brilliance, but the open field was France's territory. When the French turned to the attack it was much the same. The Irish forward defence was good, holding the French up well, but when the French backs broke through the Irish lost territory, and points. Of course, the Irish team was badly hit by injury, so while they must be disappointed I think they can look forward to their match-up with Wales with confidence.

I did not have a chance to watch Scotland-Wales match. Final score 23-10 to Wales. By all accounts the Welsh, still riding high from their impressive World Cup form, basically outclassed the Scottish team. Since I was born in Scotland I do have some sympathy for the Scots, and there is clearly a serious problem with Scottish Rugby at the moment. Wales will of course go to face Ireland with confidence too, and that is surely going to be one of the great match-ups of the tournament (I think only France-England has the potential to be greater). Scotland of course have to face England nex weekend, and that, by all indications, is not going to be pretty.

I watched the entirety of England-Italy. Final score 50-9 to England. Italy is the newcomer to the tournament (until a few years ago it was the Five Nations). It shows in as much as their team still has many weaknesses, but every year the Italians have raised their game, and despute the scoreline this opening match was no exception. Indeed, Italy could well beat Scotland, and possible Wales or Ireland. It is a shame in some ways that their beginning games are against England and, next weekend, France.

The Italians were fiery and physical, and showed some masterful forward play. There were early problems in the line-out, but these sorted themselves out after the first quarter or so. Despite the score-line this was no walk-over, Italy made England work for every point, and early on scored a magnificent drop-goal that was strikingly similar to the one when England won the World Cup. Even the camera angle was the same.

Of course, England has lost players to injury, not least a certain kicker called Wilkinson who has been put out of the entire tournament. It did not show. There were moments of weakness, but England looked a lot more together than they did in some of the World Cup games, where they had looked decidely wobbly. Jason Robinson scored a hat-trick. All the focus on Wilkinson and now retired Martin Johnson has perhaps meant some of the rest of the talent in the England squad has been overlooked. Italy made England do the work, but at the end of the day they were simply out-fought. Towards the end of the game teh differing levels of fitness really began to show, the Italians just getting tired, but they remained determined to the end. Once or twice they caused moments of danger, and came ever so close to scoring a try, but England's defence only got better the closer to the line.

Italy did make one or two serious mistakes, the prime one imo being kicking the ball to Robinson in open field, which led quickly to a magnificent back's try. I generally prefer forward play, but every so often the back's do something that the forwards can never manage. There is gracefulness to the best back play that the roughness of forward play does not allow. In the end I think Italy will be able to hold their heads high and go forward in the tournament with pride. France showed itself to be surprisingly weak in defence several times in the World Cup, especially against the quickness of Japan. The Italians are quick, and I think will give the French a good run for their money. As for England-Scotland, I really can't see at their current form how Scotland will be able to do anything against England.

And then, if all that wasn't enough, just after England-Italy finished I went up to my room, hooked up the Sky, and switched on...

NASCAR Daytona 500

Don't ask me why I like NASCAR. I don't know. As (probably) many people have commented, all it is a bunch of rednecks turning left. Well, of course it is hardly a bunch of rednecks these days (the current defending champion is from Wisconsin after all) but there is a lot of turning left. Towards the end of last season I decided that the two drivers I really liked where Dale Earnhardt Jr and Ryan Newman. Which made it particularly sweet that Earnhardt won this race. Bad luck for Newman - I actually support him 'more', but he got tangled up in the crash that also took out Waltrip and a bunch of others.

Not too many cautious though, which meant strategy came into it a lot. And ability, and their was some fine ability on show throughout the race. This was especially true of Steward and Earnhardt, though several others deserve honourble mentions which I am going to have to omit, since time is running on. If this is a hint of the season to come, I'm going to be happy.

And finally...

A-Rod

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

How could you? The Yankees are evil EVIL EVIL EVIL. *stamps* I know that the Rangers were a poor spot, but are you telling me that with a but more work you couldn't have sorted something out with the Red Sox, or anyone OTHER THAN the Yankees.

Allow me to indulge my sorrows in some alcohol.

Note to self: Lewis, why are you getting so expressive about a sport you only started watching in July? Who knows - let's just say that it didn't take long for me to work out that the Yankees are the Man U of MLB, and I hate teams that buy their way to success.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Chapter 3

I am starting to get some seriously bad vibes about this book by Christian Meier. Chapter 3 was filled with social mishmash topped off with an uncovincing quasi-economical sauce. It was called "The Greek Way", and was a terrible attempt to try to answer the question "what made Greece in general, and Athens in particular, special?"

It was bad. I hope once he gets onto history as opposed to semi-history the quality of chapter 1 will return.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Manslaughter

I am currently reading Athens by Christian Meier. So far it is a reasonably good book. The Prolgue chapter "Salamis - the Eye of the Needle" was an excellent portrayal of the momentousness of that occasion sometime in the autumn of 480BC (John Stuart Mill said of the Battle of Salamis that it was more important to the history of the England than the Battle of Hastings).

In the second chapter, not as good in my opinion though, there was one little detail that I found fascinating. It mentions the law-giver Dracon, who lived in Athens in the second half of the 7th century BC, and gave Athens its first conclusive law-code in around 620 or so. The punishments he advocated were severe, and he is today remembered cheifly by the adjective draconian.

However, he also made a law for manslaughter. If someone was accidentally killed, if the dead person's family was unwilling to forgive him, he would be exiled as opposed to being executed in turn. Solon reformed most of the Draconian law-code a generation or so later, but this law apparently remained on the statute-books for many, many years.

I just thought that was interesting (there is a reason why I read more blawgs than other blogs).

Tea

I am a very much a tea drinker. It is in my blood. My parents drink tea, my grandparents drink tea, my great-grandparents drank tea. Indeed, one of them was a tea-taster by all accounts.

But every so often I drink coffee. Particularly when I'm in a rush on my way to work, knackered, and needing a boost.

My solution - Venti Latte to go with espresso shot.

Half an hour later I feel like I'm walking two inches above the floor. But I did have a very good day at work on Friday, so perhaps this is a routine I ought to institute more often.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Democratic Presidential Nomination

So Kerry wins Tennessee and Virginia, and Clark goes. Dean is basically dead in the water, and Edwards is holding on for form's sake. Barring a very surprising turn of events Kerry will win the nomination.

I fundamentally don't get Kerry. If he were a UK the press would tear him apart, not really because of his policies, but because of his persona. Look what has happened to IDS as an example of the way the UK treats its less photogenic politicians. The American press seems to be a lot more forgiving.

I also have a great issue with Kerry. While he may have been technically true to say that the Democrats don't need the South to win an election, this is hardly the statement any national contender should make. It's nice for the folks back in New England I bet, and maybe folks on the West coast too, but you can bet your bottom dollar this one has gone in Karl Rove's campaign book and will be hard to escape from.

More importantly his managers must be wondering how on earth to prevent another such gaffe in the future, closer to the election.

At the moment my gut feeling is that Kerry will lose to Bush in November. I hope Edwards does not run as VP, he'll have a better shot at the PResidency I feel if he avoids this old battleaxe. Also it will give him a chance to build up more political experience. I look forward to the day, however, of an Edwards Presidency, though I guess Hillary Clinton may have a role to play there (perhaps they could be running mates?)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Prince Charles

I am a big supporter of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne of the UK for a number of reasons.

Doing stuff like supporting British ex-pats in Saudi, and the other stuff he has been doing these last few days, like visiting Bam, or most especially visiting Iraq, are just among the reasons. Well done Charles, keep up the good work. I, for one, would be proud to be your subject.


(Incindentally I could not find an article on the BBC website about the Iraq visit, though it was mentioned in passing in a couple of other articles. I know I'm being paranoid about BBC news, but just because you're paranoid does not mean that they are not all out to get you, or, in this instance, that the BBC News remains anything else than the best ally Osama bin Laden and friends could wish for).

BBC spin

Read that link very carefully. It says:

"The bill also has the guarded backing of one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam - the Grand Sheikh of Egypt's al-Azhar mosque.

Speaking after meeting French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy in Cairo in December, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi said Muslim women may ignore the obligation to wear a headscarf if the law where they lived demanded so."

Now, is the statement in that first line at all supported in the second? The first suggets that the Grand Sheikh is in favour. The second, taken alone, sounds like the Grand Sheikh is advocating a "render unto Caesar" kind of approach, but I would hardly describe the sentiment as 'backing'. Now there may be a quote out there that disproves my suspicion, but if there were would the BBC fail to reproduce it?

You can't teach an the old dog of BBC News the new tricks of honest reporting it seems.

French headscarf ban

Well, the French lower house passed the headscarf ban - excuse me, the ban on all obvious religious symbols. *cough cough*

I like to think that Britain is a fairly cosmopolitan place, that we in the UK are fairly good at integrating our immigrants into the melting pot that is our culture, best symbolised by our mongrel language. Likewise I do not think it is wrong to say that we are, for all our faults, one of the least racially divisive countries in Europe. We got to be where we are today by doing precisely the opposite of what the French are doing now.

Another reason to be especially skeptical of the EU while it remains beholden to this corrupt and intolerant government and political nation.

Another Microsoft bug

There is a new bug in Windows.

I know a fair few friends of mine get very irate about all this business. I personally take a rather more relaxed approach to Microsoft bugs et al. It comes down to a phrase that my mother taught me, with several variations. The variation that comes to mind right now to any whiners is "Life's not fair - deal with it".

The dominance of Microsoft is a fact. If Windows was so awful it simply never would have become the dominant OS, and that is a simple truth. Sure, others may be technically better yadayadayadayada *boredom*. Flaws like these are what you get with insanely complicated programs, and Microsoft does provide corrective patches for free, and if they didn't tell us we'd all be up in arms about cover-up.

So well done Microsoft for finding another bug in your programming - I'm certainly gland that you're looking for ways to improve your products. IMO that is a sign of a superior software company. Well done.

So let's all download the patch and be happy.

(I just had a 'discussion' with someone over this, anyone notice?)

The Passion

Mel Gibson's film has caused plenty of comment. This sounds to be a very sensible view on the whole anti-Semitism debate (thanks to Hear the Hurd for the link).

My own views on the Passion and the furore surrounding it is that Jews, and Christians, have to accept that those that organised Jesus' crucifixion were the representatives of the Jewish people at that time. This is not to say that the Jews are responsible for Deicide, a charge the Vatican has now unequivocally put to rest. The fact remains though that any honest telling of the Passion is going to be uncomfortable in the context of Christian-Jewish relations. But here is a thought that the critics ought to bear in mind. Crackpots aside, I know of no Jewish commentator who blames today's Christians for the pograms that accompanied the Crusades. Likewise, crackpots aside, I know of no Christian who blames the Jews of today for the actions of a few men in power 2000 years ago.

A Book Review

Pompeii by Robert Harris

I picked this book up in hardbook in the Xmas sales, mostly because I had just been paid and it was selling half-price, and I had WHSmith vouchers to spend. I had just read it in the last couple of days.

This book was a very easy book to read, I managed to read it cover to cover in one sitting in about 2 1/2 hours on Sunday evening. It is 356 pages long in hardback, which means I was reading it at amount the limit of my capacity. Its not quite the fastest I've ever read anything (that remains LoTR last year for the 20-somthing time). The UK cover is nice and restrained, and typeface good, and there is a nice map of the Bay of Naples.

The story is, of course, the Vesuvian eruption. The book begins a couple of days before, and continues up to the 4th pyroclastic flow of the eruption, the one that destoryed Pompeii. The story is well-written, but I found it ultimately did not compare to Fatherland or Enigma, the other two novels by Robert Harris that I have read. It is certainly enjoyable, pleasant entertainment, but nothing more than that.

I think the problem comes with issues of characterisation - the 'main' character simply does not come across very clearly. I got the feeling he was more of just a conduit for our eyes and ears rather than a real character at all. The best developed characters were, without a doubt, Pliny the Elder and, perhaps somewhat unlikely, the Via Augusta aqueduct. In some respects his portrayal of the aquaduct was one of the great things about this book.

As for the eruption itself, Robert Harris concentrates at first on the actions of Pliny the Elder. This is more than understandable, and those scenes are some of the best written in the book. Indeed, Harris was at his best here describing the historical facts, and not so good with the more fictional elements. His handling of Pompeii's final moments was restrained and tasteful, though the very end left me somewhat unsatisfied.

However, there was one character in all this I felt to be missing: Pompeii itself. It is not that Pompeii is ignored, but that the city is never more than a place to be. We see only a very small selection of its inhabitants, directly connected to the plot (not the eruption), and therefore the masses of people remain amorphous blobs.

I suppose my final summing up (and I am thinking aloud here) is that this is a book that wants to sound like Stalingrad or Berlin by Anthony Beevor, but failing because of the fiction. An evening's entertainment, but nothing more.

Monday, February 09, 2004

A stellar performance

Waddling Thunder has apparently been mentioned among some distinguished company. It is at moments like these that it is useful to reflect that even in that most wondrous of constellations, the Pleiades, can only be truly appreciated in magnification, for some of the stars are so feint that they cannot be seen by the unaided eye, even if they are closer to home that the brighter lights amid which they are placed.

Phew, that was a complicated sentence. It might even be grammatically accurate, but I'm not putting too much hope on that.

Most influential European

The FT is doing a poll of the most influential European of the past 25 years. The link is here.

An interesting bunch of names. At first I was split between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. Then I noticed Francois Mitterand, Jacques Delors, Helmut Kohl, and Vaclev Havel. What Pavoritti was doing in the list I do not know, but kudos to them for suggesting Stephen Hawking.

However, in the end my vote went for John Paul II.

But in any list like this, how is it really possible to aim for the single most superlative person in a constellation of so many stars. It is not, and therefore this poll, like all such polls, is basically without point.

On a similar vein I am yet to vote in Britain's Best Sitcom gala. Of all the ten short-listed there is only one that I query - the Vicar of Dibley. I do not personally like Only Fools and Horses, but that's just personal preference. My opinion is that Blackadder is superior, but that mostly rests on the last episode of series 4 (Goodbyeeee). Or, more accurately, for about the last 3 minutes of that episode. Watch the whole series, in order. Watch that episode. and then you will see where I am coming from.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Editing 2

Well that seems to have worked. Of course, I made extensive use of the preview button. I'm still on my ABC where HTML comes to call, so it was a rather painful process.

Thank heavens for February

For it means that the Six Nations tournament begins, and NASCAR starts rolling again. In other words, sport that I can watch is back on TV (as opposed to NFL playoffs and superbowl, which, due to airing times I most often can't watch). NASCAR finishes usually at a very considerate 2200 or 2300 GMT/BST. As for the Six Nations, no matter how much like like American Football, Rugby Football is just a superior game.

Now just waiting for baseball to begin again and I'll have something to watch most weekday evenings too.

Editing

Just edited a little and updated my links. Let's see if it worked.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Job applications

How I loathe them. Will have to do some in not too distant future.

Vanilla Diet Coke

Just a moment to hail the wonders of this creation. I love Coke, but it has been a contributory factor to me now being rather overweight (the other primary reason being Salt n Vinegar chipsticks). Now, I am not terribly strong-willed where my appetite is concerned (apart from around Lent, but more on that later in the month) so I can easily create reasons why not to diet. One of the simplest things I was told to do was to switch from 'fat' coke to 'thin' coke. Problem, to be Diet Coke tastes like fizzy soapy water. My trip Stateside in August enlightened me fully to the wonders of ice!

Such a discovery I here you say. Well, in this little island called Britain we tend to forget about things like ice or chilling. Coke comes from the kitchen cupboard, not from the fridge. However, ice-cold diet coke, I realised, turns from being sickly to being tolerable. Then, back on this side of the pond, I made another discovery. Diet Coke with Lemon (flavouring) was just about acceptable.

A few weeks ago, due to the lack of anything else in the shop near where I work in their drinks cabinet (who knows why they had sold out of the ordinary diet and diet with lemon) I picked up Diet Vanilla. I have never looked back.

This actually tastes nice! And remains tolerable at room temperature. I think I have found another reason to love Coca-Cola and, by default, America.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Hutton

All I can say is that I'm disgusted by the response of many of my countrymen and women that refuse to believe the government might actually be innocent.

Pakistan

I can't say hearing about the admission of the Pakistan chief nuclear scientist to be terribly surprising. I'm also not terribly concerned about recrimination. What's done is done, and recriminations could hurt the US & UK in the future a whole lot more than just letting things slide. Rather, now the cat is out of the bag we need to learn how this ingrate worked around the systems to make those systems better.

CNN is showing tape from a 'dramatic rescue' in the floods in northern wales yesterday. Translation = a car got stuck in water not more than 2 feet deep, and that someone was stupid enough to try to drive through it. Reason = human interest story. My opinion = this is junk. Why do I watch it? Cause I want to hear some news about NA politics, not flooding in Wales! I wish CNN would forget about trying to be an international news channel. It fails miserably.

Ok, from about now.

The Primaries

One of teh things I lvoe about the Primaries is that they are a whole new level of electoral spectating that simply does not exist in the UK.

Personally I feel that Edwards would be the best choice for the Democrats, but I imagine they'll plumb for Kerry.

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