Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Banging On A Theme

Okay, so its time to return to Orwell. Sorry but today got me thinking about the whole perversion of language because the BIG story of the day was the report by Sir Nicholas Stern.

WHO? The treasury economist.

Oh so its some boring essay on taxes then?

So what the hell IS it about then?
Climate Change


Yes that and its those two words that got me thinking. Climate Change! FRIGGING CLIMATE CHANGE! I thought we were serious about the environment and the DAMAGE yes DAMAGE we are doing to it. I thought the more extreme political right had been defeated and debunked as suicidal crackpots.

But no.


Because they won the language war. Because climate change can be explained away. After all climate changes throughout history. There have been cycles of warmer and colder periods throughout Earth history, so the naysayers of climate change can argue whose to say this is not an exceptional warm period in the cycle?

Whereas there is growing evidence of the environmental DAMAGE or VANDALISM we are and have inflicted on our planet. Climate change will not just change our weather and affect us directly. The changes will affect us indirectly by demolishing ecosystems. Food chains may be disrupted as animals unable to cope with the vast pace of damage become extinct. Water sources, already becoming scarce may dwindle, causing possible water wars. Thus the climate will not be the only aspect vandalised but the Earth's surface itself will become distorted. What happened in the former Soviet Union with the Aral sea may become more prevalent even without human interference via dams. (The Aral sea is an example of human damage to the environment. It has shrunk due to rivers being diverted for irrigation. The sea is heavily polluted due to weapons testing, industrial projects and fertilizer runoff).

Combat climate change? Well its a bit wishy washy after all it might change for the better tomorrow.

Combat global environmental vandalism? My god who are these vandals?

On a slightly less serious note but no less misleading are companies, usually car dealerships, who locate in an area but call themselves something different.

E.g. Heathrow Volkswagon. Address: Ashford Middlesex. Last time I checked riots were not happening all the time, or indeed at all. There were no terror scares there either......

HR Owen Heathrow BMW sounds all very posh (good egg and all that) only its in ......West Drayton. Now I have not been to West Drayton but I'm sure its a lovely idyllic place but I guess it does not have the same kudos.

Even schools are getting in on the act!

How about Sir William Perkins (Surrey) going to great lengths to conceal the fact they are located in Chertsey! I have been to Chertsey, lived in Chertsey and its not THAT bad!

Stop lying people!

Else I shall refuse to call a spade a spade. Instead I shall demand it is renamed as a turf digging implement!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Self Produce...

.........and save the planet?

As some of you may or may not be aware I am a football fan that tries to go to as many games as possible. One such game was the Sheffield United Vs Chelsea game and travelling up there I was talking to a fellow supporter who mentioned her husband grew his own vegetables.

This got me thinking. After all one supermarket slogan is every little helps, well why not with the environment. If those of us with gardens or a greenhouse grew some of our own produce, for our own consumption, the carbon cost of growing vegetables and moving them around the country/planet to move on to supermarket shelves would be decreased- a step towards helping combat climate change.

After all:

There is enough for all. The earth is a generous mother; she will provide in plentiful abundance food for all her children if they will but cultivate her soil in justice and in peace.
(Bourke Coekran)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Football is dangerous to your health.

Particularly if you are a goalkeeper! Not just when others challenge you like Hunt did with Cech or Sonko on Cudicini but let us not forget another German in the week Schumi retires. Bert Trautmann played on with a broken neck in an FA Cup final. That was true grit and determination as Alan Hansen would say.

But on a personal note I have also joined the ranks of the slightly screw loose goalkeepers.

The Westmin Journos have set up a five a side indoor team and I volunteered for goalie duties mainly as I have been a goalkeeper before and quite like it.

However trying to dive around on hard flooring is not kind to the human bone system.

I now have two grazed knees some slightly sore elbows-thankfully my goalie jersey saved them from most of the brutality. Having not played football for some four years I seemed to have pulled some muscles in my back which I only discovered this morning having played last night.

But I had a wonderful time and hope my body cooperates by getting better soon so I can start working on my fitness, wheezing like a goldfish out of its bowl is not a good look.

Perhaps I shall also invest in some kneepads and a Moto GP style back protecter and than I can become the first Robogoalie!

Monday, October 23, 2006

So long....

....... and thanks for all the memories!

Okay, so I did not know the fastest German on four wheels personally.
I never went round his house to play football, never spoke to him and only saw his face as a series of colourful moving pixels/dots on a TV screen.

Still I will miss Michael Schumacher.

I never got close enough to shake him warmly by the hand or look him in the eye and say you are a motor sport genius.

Mind you he knows that anyway!

Yet just by watching him race, the perfect awesome display of man and machine as one. Enjoying his finest hours like his four stopper in France 2004, the wet races where he cajoled a machine of fiercesome speed round a track as slippery as a politician eating eels faster than anyone else. He should have been sponsored by adidas-to him impossible was nothing- stuck in the wrong gear? never mind I'll still take second.
Last race, puncture puts me last, full tank of petrol, nevermind I'll set fastest lap!

And thus I feel this sense of loss. It may only be an end of an era but I supported this man through thick and thin for thirteen years.

He first came to my attention in 1993. The British Grand Prix in fact. The Williams, to those who have only followed the sport recently, was in its pomp. A class above the field. The Renaults of their day. And here was this young gun in a Benetton-probably an early season Honda or a Toyota, not only keeping pace but at times splitting them.

I was in awe, that guy must be unbelievable. And so my support began.

It's like supporting Manchester United or Liverpool and then they suddenly say oops no sorry we aren't playing anymore. On a smaller scale but that is the kind of paradigm shift I face.

Who or why am I going to keep watching F1? Much as it is claimed to be a team sport its not. Its about the drivers. Before Schumacher I supported Mansell. So 1993 was my who do I watch year but back then you had a host of names to keep you involved-Senna, Prost returning, Berger, Alesi. And then Schumi happened!
All characters off the track as well as on. Even Schumacher can be relied on to spice things up-say what you will about the incidents but come on- Jerez, Monaco '06, they were talking points, still are.

Today Schumacher Junior is good for a quote off the track but is not really doing the business on it, Alonso is fast but still seems, I don't know, too moody and his off track persona will only get worse at the strictly corporate straitlace Mclaren.

Raikkonen I have decided has no respect. Having watched the way he dismissed a presentation from Pele-a god if not the god of football-to Schumacher who, rightly or wrongly, is the King of F1 Stats seemed churlish. Even if you did not like Schumacher, or indeed football, surely anybody who is not too self absorbed would realise the sense of the occasion and said something better than I was having a shit!

Oh god! I'm turning into Mourinho banging on about respect!

Moving swiftly on I guess 2006 will be 1993 again watching and seeing if there is somebody I admire enough to support. Maybe as a would be tifoso, converted by Schumacher's move to Ferrari I will support a Ferrari driver after all.

Its about time a Brazilian rose to the mantle of champion once again.....

In fact it had been 13 years since a Brazilian won their home grand prix.
2007 will be 13 years since the death of the great Ayrton Senna.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Truth is the truth is the consensus of current belief.

I think...

.....therefore I am.

Descartes. One of the most important philosophical conclusions.

Well I have been doing a LOT of thinking recently. Indeed its probably one of the things I do well.

I am always thinking. Probably too much and not always about intelligent stuff either.

Like on the way home I was thinking about the merits of a McD cheeseburger meal. I resisted only because the nearest McD on my journey is at the frenetic Waterloo station and queuing for a McD in the hustle and bustle with my ears being pounded by train announcements was as appealing as putting on a wetsuit filled with blubber.

Generally I whizz through Waterloo quicker than Fernando Alonso on crack. If he took crack that is!

Anyway I also thought about various strands I had been taught/worked on/musings and frankly I have to agree with Stephen Fry who has released a new book based on his show QI called General Ignorance. Basically its starting point is that we know nothing. And it would be better to admit we know nothing.

Then damn coincidence reared itself again and Jeremy Clarkson mentions a similar vein of thought in one of his books based on his newspaper articles. The more we're told the less we know-in essence if you know little about a topic-for example muclear weapons its very easy to paint a black and white picture of the world-our weapons good North Korea's bad.

When really all nuclear weapons are bad but its a Pandora's box thats impossible to close. Thus its hard to know what to do to control the situation. If it is controllable that is. What could be called the spiral effect may kick in and blow down the house of cards us human piggies live in. North Korea now has a bomb, possibly it will or have detonated a second. Time believes Korea will be the test case for Iran to see how tough the Security Council is or can be. Then if Iran does manage to get a bomb a whole host of countries from Turkey to Egypt will start clamouring to join the club. So what then? Do we say no? Which is hypocritical really as we have nuclear weapons why can Turkey not? They are meant to be almost responsible enough for EU membership but fears over human rights remain, despite being an ally in the "war on terror". Or indeed Egypt? Or say yes in which case why not hand them out like christmas presents? But this increases the chance of some mad lunatic one day setting off the biggest firework display to bring down our final curtain. So we return to the beginning. Perhaps we should get rid of all nuclear weapons.......but the genie is out of the bottle, the knowledge is there and if we dont have them someone else may break ranks and start the whole race up again so does anybody have an answer? Not so easy is it.

Anyway Descartes also suggested the same thing with his think therefore I exist idea as he believed memory was unreliable so only a person's present thoughts were the truth at any one time.
Socrates could also be looked at here with his Method. This he used to deflate an opinionated person and their argument if it lacked logical thought behind it, again proving that convictions are not necessarily built on rock but the changing sands of time.

Like Pluto. Planet? Nope not anymore but a textbook from the eighties will proudly display this as fact. Once people KNEW without a doubt Earth was the centre of the universe and that the Earth was flat. Who knows what we will "know" in the future.

Therefore truth is relative. The sooner we learn this and accept it the sooner we can move on from dogma and fundamentalism. We can try and remake a freer society where, what is commonly attributed to Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", is the attitude of the day.

The truth is like the sun in Plato's story, we can be blinded by it and miss the shadows all around us.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Power of Prescience and some Apologies.

What a strange week it has been but more on that later. First some apoligies.
Firstly sorry this is going to be another somewhat involving post-I had aimed to do something light like a piece on toasted cheese but that will have to come another day.

Secondly Neil (of a good football blog A Load of Ballacks) has rightly pointed out my little rant on armchair fans at the beginning of the Sofia post was not as well thought out as I would have liked.
For the record I do not think armchair fans are any less knowledgeable about football. What I was driving at (and again prices in this country maybe make this hard) is that some, not all, armchair fans may not fully realise the hassles supporters who go to games sometimes endure-particularly away games.

On to prescience.

pre·science (prĕsh'əns, -ē-əns, prē'shəns, -shē-əns) pronunciation
Knowledge of actions or events before they occur; foresight.

Chris Horrie-yes him again, stunned us with his powers of prescience in the first week of our course. First up he gave an example of a good Hey Doris! story: dogs biting babies faces off. Hey Doris! is the kind of story that has people talking in corner shops. A couple days later the Rottweiler story breaks. Next he talks about old people and the aging society, a couple of days later a story on age discrimination.

Well it seems doing Journalism turns you into some weird magnet for coincidental occurences. I was talking to David Dunkley-Gyimah, one of our lecturers, whose award winning site viewmagazine is linked on the right, about the future of Journalism after his lecture. I found the idea that everything will live online intriguing and said I could see that happening particularly with TV or as it may be termed in the future Net Vision or NV. He said not only would Laptops, Computers and PDA's (personal digital assistant) carry this stuff, with ease of use via wi-fi, but you may one day be able to see it in the air with no screen.

Well David check this out:


Why will it stop at ads? If the Tech is there it can be improved on so one day holographic communication and viewing-a technology I have prayed to see since I saw it first in a game called Syndicate Wars-could be common place.

Journalism may not need newsrooms anymore, you could truly have a virtual newsroom with reporters just beaming themselves, like they do in star wars, into your living room to tell you the news where they were.

One of the things David was teaching us was Web 2.0. Well what do you know? I read Time magazine and in the latest issue (Runs till 23 Oct 2006)it has a section on the next YouTubes and "what you need to know about Web 2.0.". Exciting stuff.

In the same issue a reader mentions 1984 again something we have covered only last week and Time notes in its editorial, To Our Readers, how the internet has revolutionised its reporting via its website. Good Stuff.

And personally I had to write a piece on the history of radio where I discovered Marconi may not actually have invented the radio after all. In America the patents important for early radio were awarded to a man more synonymous with electricity- Nikola Tesla. Lo and behold I saw in a paper the other day a film is being made starring one of my favourite singers David Bowie as........yep Nikola Tesla!

So they may be coincidences but they have happened in such a short space of time surely there is some kind of hotspot where Journalism is concerned. Guess it goes with the territory.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Football as a form of Religion?

It was inevitable really! I am a football fan and I like to philosophise so I was thinking what is religion? What is football? Why can football not be a religion itself?

Bear with me!

re·li·gion (rĭ-lĭj'ən)
Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Notice the last one in particular! I am not mad enough to go down the route of pretending footballers are supernatural although to cloud matters it can be said they have a god given talent.

But no the last one: A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Is that not what football can be defined as-an activity pursued with zeal and conscientious devotion. The football fan going to the matches every other saturday or every week or every game. Is that not devotion? You could reference in the Coca Cola ad campaign Eat Drink Sleep Football. Maybe make it the first commandment of football fans.

Ok what about places of worship? Football has those the Stadiums. Some have become synonymous with their own folklore and traditions-Old Trafford, Camp Nou, Anfield. Some are even poetic with grand sounding names that sound almost reverential like the Stadium of Light. Re-read that. Stadium of Light, it reminds, me anyway, of the quote by Jesus I am the Light of the World. Mind you Sunderland fans are experiencing some dark days at their Stadium of Light but Benfica are faring better.

Ok what about rites. Well fans all have similar rites of passage particularly the lean years. I am quite lucky at the moment that my team is doing well and was doing fairly well when I began supporting them-in the mid nineties.
BUT my mother who has supported them for longer has had to bear with the last gasp saves from relegation, actual relegation and all thats in between.

There are rules within the actual game itself but also the pre-match rituals. The pre-match and post-match pint and the match day pie-a football fans communion and wine.

There are the religious symbols of our devotion-the football shirts,

and like the ancient Greeks and Romans players (or in ancient world warriors) that have distinguished themselves in battle (matches) are promoted to gods with a small g.

So you have Peter Osgood the King of Stamford Bridge who if there was a church of football would gain a sainthood, Gianfranco Zola the Italian Wizard of the Bridge, Cantona the god of the Theatre of Dreams, Bobby Moore and Upton Park, Don Revie for Leeds and Alan Shearer at Newcastle-these names have lived on long after their deaths in some cases and will i am sure in those still present. In this sense they have been canonized:

can·on·ize (kăn'ə-nīz')
tr.v., -ized, -iz·ing, -iz·es.
To declare (a deceased person) to be a saint and entitled to be fully honored as such.
To include in the biblical canon.
To include in a literary canon.
To approve as being within canon law.
To treat as sacred; glorify.

as the last one: To treat as sacred; glorify

And the world over has them, Pele, Di Stefano, Eusebio, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Messi, Kempes, Passarella, Maradona, Garrincha, and so on around the world. Beckenbauer the Kaiser.

Football has its hymns-the anthems or terrace chants and sung at full volume in a stadium at capacity can be electrifying.
I have yet to hear a better version of You'll Never Walk Alone than when sung at Anfield.

I could go on but I fear that extra time shall have to suffice.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Religion: Personal, Political or Problematical.

Is religion the cause of the morass we are in? Or has it been tainted by our own mess?
Is religion itself inherently bad or is it those that practise it?
Should religion be confined to the home or should it be something that defines a section of society and their laws?
Or should religion itself be made redundant in a brave new world of technological advancement-advancement which brongs us uncomfortably close to rebuilding the Tower of Babel-i.e being unto like God?

As ever there are no definitive answers. As Morpheus in the matrix said you can believe what you want to believe. I think religion and globalisation have come together and ultimately will reinvigorate each other but on the fringes the extremes have also frayed and crossed over-religion is neither cause and effect which leads on to inherence.

No religion is inherently bad. It all comes down to interpretation. I'm sure somebody could reinterpret Buddhism in a fundamentalist way and decide for example that the destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan calls for a worldwide defence of Buddhism against Islamic fundamentalists (Buddhists are allowed to defend themselves just not be the aggressors). Christian history is littered with acts of cruelty that are today considered deplorable. Islam has done much for culture around the world.

However I think we are at risk of losing a happy medium we had since the enlightenment. We perhaps need to return to the early liberals such as John Stuart Mill and his idea that can be synthesised thus-my right to throw my fist ends at your face-. In other words, religion should be freely expressed in public be it wearing a cross or a hijab maybe even the veil if freely chosen, but a theocracy which forces people to follow a set of religious rites is wrong.

Religion also is needed more than ever to help reinforce a rigorous moral and ethical examination of our potential advances because while we have unlocked many mysteries of the body there is as of yet and probably will never be a gene for the soul.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

North Korean Sanctions

Among the sanctions against North Korea was the non supply of miltitary equipment such as tanks, helicopters and missile systems.

Also any material that would help North Korea's fledgling nuclear programme.

Funds of those helping North Korea's nuclear programmes and North korea's weapons related exports are also banned.

My only question is what the?

I mean why was this not being done already?!!!!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Rise of the Blec and Just Who is Running the Farm?

I am on a journalism course at Westminster uni.

Today one of our tutors called Chris Horrie, who I have decided reminds me
of Columbo, i.e quickwitted under cover of chaos, gave a lecture.

His lectures will be available online at our coursesite and thus blec (web lecture) is created.

His lecture was on language and how to write good pieces of journalism.

Enter Orwell who wrote many key works, none more so than 1984 with its thought police,
ministry of truth etc.

Orwell came up with a theory that as thought is conveyed by language, thoughts could be controlled by "owning" the language.

I learned that there are so many examples of such language Orwell predicted all around us,
for example nuclear deterrent. The West has a nuclear deterrent, our allies have a nuclear deterrent
but our enemies have a nuclear bomb. The technology is the same, more likely the West's is more advanced, and if used the end result is the same-mass death. Yet try campaigning against a deterrent-you would be labelled a member of the loony left who would like to dance naked through Siberia inviting hardened criminals back to your house for tea and cake.

Orwell also argued in an essay on the English language that modern english was filling up with grand sounding words that mean little: indefatigable for example sounds very nice amongst politce circles but really what is wrong with tireless?

i.e He travailed indefatigablely

it actually can be phrased He worked tirelessly

Right now we all know what we are talking about.

But this got me thinking: governments are creating new word groups/forms/words themselves to try to change our thinking so for example wars are no longer wars. We have humanitarian interventions which sounds noble and enables us to believe that civilians will be protected and deaths will be minimal. This is why when civilians are killed they were not killed they become collateral damage-part of the cost of fighting a humanitarian intervention. But war by definition is not humane. We have a War on Terror. You cannot have war on a noun, else we better start nuking dictionaries. Actually some people may like that no words no thought and we can shuffle like lambs to our end.

On the other hand we have academics, businesses and countless others building up language into these huge complex mazes which when unwound like a ball of string there is nothing inside.

"Implemeting our core competencies we furnish customer centric bespoke turnkey solutions"

This may sound amazing to a potential customer, who may think gee they must know what they are doing look at those long words but does anyone know what it means?

ok if you did without cheating and looking words up congratulations; go on countdown, write a technology manual etc.

But for those that didnt get it and/or cheat

"Using our strengths we give a made for you solution that will open up chances for you"


"We create for you"

Anyway like Chris Horrie I have gone off what I wanted to say which is if one group are perverting language to change the way we think and another group is trying to build language that just does not mean anything to most people who the hell is running our modern day animal farm?

Does anybody actually know?

Or perhaps one Blair has simply improved on a previous Blair and decided that why bother controlling language to stop ideas, why not do away with ideas themselves. Perhaps thats why his education policy is a shambles. He likes it that way!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

REPOST of a blog I made on a previous site

Levs in Sofia

Armchair football fans know nothing about support for a club! Saying that some clubs dont care for anything but the armchair fan but thats a diff blog! Right now I will say is fancy getting up at 2am to catch a 6:40 from gatwick? Hmmm Lev number one!
Lev number two! Because Bulgaria are currently out of the EU and the Eurozone their currency is the mighty Lev:

1 Bulgarian lev = 0.346429405 British pound

BUT! They are quite hard to get hold off so end up not flying with any Levs!

Anyhow off we go and to be fair sofia is an ok city but it did not help that it was just like england usually weather wise, i.e Lev number three RAIN!

Oh hum but they have for delight of lovers of fast food the golden arches and some other nice western eateries but we went to a Happy grill which does a mix of both types of food.For the record Bulgarian food is supposed to be typical european cuisine i.e bread, yogurt and fresh milk, cheese, tomatoes, paprika.
For a more in depth visit


As for tourist attractions predominant in the skyline I visited was St Alexander Nevski Memorial Church or Cathedral

However there are a couple more attractions if the weather is nice see


use google images for pics as the info here is nice and concise.

WARNING! by the St Alexander Nevski are market stalls which could be ok but I did not get anything from them and would not regardless of Levs they seem to sell either knock off or genuine WW2 memorabilia from Nazis and Soviets which either way cannot be right. Also religious icons.

Lev number four was in nervous laughter as they seem obsessed with knives there- they had them on the market stall and one shop had fully fledged swords in the window display all very worrying and the match hadnt started yet.........

Lev number five was very similar. Our stewards warned us that as Levski fans love their flares they try to hide em down their pants. So we too were threatened with an intimate body search!......Levly!

In the end we seemed to be spared this but then it might have been a slack night as flares seemed to be strangely present in pockets of the Levski crowd! so what happened there then?

Hmmm anyway the final laugh (I as you have have got bored of the crappy pun) was for early parts of the game Chelsea looked like they would lose and then to cap it all we let them score in the dying minutes when a clean sheet was screaming to be kept. Lets face it if we cant keep out Levski what hope the combined mights of Ronaldinho Messi et al........


Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter


    About Me

    My photo
    United Kingdom
    Under rigorous examination I suppose I am a considerate, intelligent, humorous type of person