Thursday, December 22, 2011

An email triggered by the Suarez verdict

My friend Russ Liley wrote this email that was inspired by the recent Suarez verdict. I liked it so much that I asked if I could put it on my blog.

Sadly, having played competitive football to a reasonable level for many tears I know the level of abuse and the very calculated and deliberate way that all players on the pitch set out to gain advantage over their opposite number by making them lose their cool and make poor decisions.

In a game you pretty much end up in a one on one situation matched up against your opposite number in the other team for 90 minutes. All premiership footballers are very intelligent and at premiership level 90% of the game is in the head, they all have skill in abundance but if they lose focus for even a second they can lose their team the game or end up getting sent off. Many players suffer from vulnerability in this matter and everyone has their trigger points. Wayne Rooney for example struggles against the red mist. There was a recent episode when his father (I think) was banged up, and Rooney played, and then you can be absolutely certain he spent the whole game getting abuse centered on that incident. This resulted in Ferguson observing that it may have been a mistake to play him as he lost focus during the game.

At the level I played at there were many incidents of this nature and whilst most of the team wouldn't even consider some levels of abuse, there were always one or two players in every team who did this, and you knew what you were going to get before the kick off, and everyone else on the pitch knew what was going on. On one occasion our centre forward announced in the pub after the game that he that knew next week’s opposition centre back had a nipple ring and that after the second corner he would have it. We all told him not to but he did it regardless and the opposition centre back spent 75 minutes trying to kick lumps out of him and they lost 5-0 with Brian scoring 4.........

In my honest opinion I believe Suarez knew what he was doing............ he will have known about the ambiguity in the usage of the word in Uruguay, depending on the way you say it, and the intent it has, it can be either acceptable to a friend, or an insult to a stranger. He will also have known the likely effect it could have on Evra.

You can also be absolutely sure that Liverpool’s sports psychologists and language teachers will have prepared him for life in the premiership and life in England. He will know what is acceptable and what isn't, he will know what gestures people find insulting, and what is going to get you banned. He will have been to classes specifically about this many many times and it will be discussed in great depth with his teammates and with the clubs coaches and psychologists. The FA itself may have issued guidelines to the clubs on what is and isn't acceptable on the field of play.

This happens at every level of life in our modern multi-cultural world, even the Spanish work experience students we get at Freeline for 3 months are given a 1 week course telling them how to behave in England and how to avoid getting beaten up in Exeter........ I can't believe football clubs do not acclimatize their players in a similar manner before they put them on the pitch.

I believe one of two things happened: either one of the various insults Evra admitted saying struck a chord with Suarez and he lost it in the heat of the moment or Suarez took a calculated risk in using the word to try and get Evra to lose it, believing he would be able to hide behind the cultural ambiguity and avoid punishment, I favor the latter but the only person who really knows is Suarez. Regardless of which of the two scenarios is true, the one thing he has shown is massive naivety in is attempting to use the excuse he has, ignorance is not a defense, and I am sure it will have been demonstrated in the hearing that he has been told that potentially racist remarks and names will not be tolerated in the UK. Sadly he has probably gotten away with this kind of behaviour in the previous leagues he has played in, all he has shown is naivety in thinking it will work here, it doesn't mean he is a bad guy it just means Liverpool have to accept they haven't prepared him properly for life in the premiership.

To be honest the only thing that surprises me is that Liverpool couldn't persuade him to make a different defense as the ignorance one had so many weaknesses that it was always going to fail. It is possible that his temperament is similar to that striker of ours 'Brian' who got so wound up about football he was sick before every game and had to get angry to get motivated......

John Terry is similar but less naive and far more deliberate, I believe JT is a nasty piece of work and he knows exactly what he is doing, he has gotten away with numerous distasteful bits of behaviour (like the rubbing gob in hair incident) without any real sanction because all of the offenses are relatively minor yet very calculated and deliberate. I am concerned he will get off with this one as I reckon he is calculating enough that he may have deliberately prefixed the racist comment with the words "I didn't say" so that he had a defense when the lip readers are called in. I really hope they throw the book at him but I fear he is a bit too canny to have gotten caught, unlike Suarez whose main error is probably being foolish enough to think he can get away with stuff that he used to in other leagues.
Russ would love to hear from Brian if he is out there somewhere...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Iron Man by Tony Iommi

This is Tony Iommi's autobiography. It has a lot of short chapters, quite a few of which read like anecdotes told to a friend, this generally works pretty well. I skipped most of the anecdotes that involved practical jokes and this enabled me to finish the book in half a day. There is very little about Ozzy who is treated as a solipsistic enigma. Famous incidents like the firing of Ronnie James Dio have little light shed on them. The 1980's saw an overwhelming number of musicians pass through Black Sabbath and this will seem as much a blur to the reader as it seems to have done to Iommi. Despite this I did like this book, though it isn't anything like as good a book as Keef's There are some good photos like the one above right of Tony at a shoot for a Rolls Royce calendar. The book ends with hints of a reunion of the classic lineup, which we all hope will produce some more entertainment.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Another picture of Kate Moss

Another picture of Kate Moss because... do I really need an excuse? OK, this is from this little gallery of covers of The Face.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Port of San Francisco, strategic center of world trade

Port of San Francisco, strategic center of world trade.
Port of San Francisco, strategic center of world trade

Focal Center of World Commerce

Situated in the center of the Pacific Coast of North America on the SHORTEST DIRECT SEA ROUTE between the Atlantic seaboard and the Orient, the Port of San Francisco is the FOCAL CENTER OF WORLD TRADE.

Distributing Center for Pacific Coast

The central location of the port makes San Francisco the radial point for coastwise traffic. It is the jobbing and manufacturing center of the Pacific Coast.

Financial and Industrial Center

The Port of San Francisco is the financial, business and industrial center of Western America

Premier Port of the Pacific

San Francisco bay is the greatest land locked harbor in the world. Its developed facilities exceed those of any other port on the Pacific.

Western Entrepot of America

The Port of San Francisco offers more direct rail routes to the farming and industrial centers of America than any other port on the Pacific Coast. Five trunk lines running east, north, and south reach every section of America.

The Port of San Francisco is the world's central market

Sea Routes shown on the butterfly map invented by J.S. Cahill F.R.G.S.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Kate Moss as David Bowie

Do I detect a bit of photoshopping with the eyes?

Peta Stamps featuring Vegetarians

Monday, November 28, 2011

A small review in Smash Hits by Neil Tennant foretells the future

In this old Smash Hits there is a review of New Order by Neil Tennant which sounds like a blueprint for the Pet Shop Boys entire career.

Insistent itching rhythms underly music that is electronic but human (even romantic!), sometimes beautiful and often melancholy.
If only we could combine the two... but wait! We can.

Friday, November 18, 2011


The Times of South Africa

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Two articles on the problems of College/University in the USA

The new York Review of Books has an excellent article which surveys recent books about our universities. As the parent of a soon-to-be-college-age child I am getting increasingly interested in this. I liked this balanced article which doesn't leap to conclusions about the obvious problems with the university system in the USA.

All this to pay for an education that—as we have already seen—means little, intellectually, to many of those who are courting debtors’ prison to pay for it. The unkindest cut of all, of course, is that those who drop out must still carry the full burden of the loans that so many of them have taken out—even though they will, in all probability, earn less and fare worse in hard times than graduates. Yet even unemployment among graduates has been rising—as have rates of student loan default.
Meanwhile the NYT has an article on why Science and Engineering degrees are too hard. Unfortunately it seems that those subjects that are useful after you leave college actually require more work:
The latest research also suggests that there could be more subtle problems at work, like the proliferation of grade inflation in the humanities and social sciences, which provides another incentive for students to leave STEM majors. It is no surprise that grades are lower in math and science, where the answers are clear-cut and there are no bonus points for flair. Professors also say they are strict because science and engineering courses build on one another, and a student who fails to absorb the key lessons in one class will flounder in the next.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Return of the Leerer

The Telegraph shows Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Friday, November 04, 2011

London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics posters

Is Keeping up with the Kunenes the same as Keeping up with the Joneses?

Can someone explain if Keeping up with the Kunenes is the same as Keeping up with the Joneses? I also observe a new level in ugliness for rugby kits

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Explaining Oracle's NoSQL announcements

When Michael Stonebreaker said that SQL was Intergalactic Dataspeak I believe he implied that SQL was going to be the future language for accessing databases. Recently there has been a movement to implement NoSQL databases - these are often simpler: they don't implement SQL, they may have only support key-value pairs. These database systems are used a lot in social networking systems, which often have extravagant performance demands. Now Oracle has announced a couple of NoSQL products, and Daniel Abadi has written an excellent explanation of them which I urge you to read. Be sure to read the comments as they include some from the implementers of one of the new systems, including Margo Seltzer.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two Tolstoy quotes about learning

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him

Source: boing boing article and discussion.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday, August 08, 2011

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011