25 Sep 2007

Socialism vs Monks

Lost in all the MSM stories about the protests aimed at bringing down the Burma regime is that the junta oppressing the sad Burmese people is a socialist one. I wonder how the left wing media can easily handle the fact that it is the "reactionary" force of religion, led by Bhuddist monks, that threatens to collapse a "progressive" regime. Not much different to Poland, come to think of it.

That's easy, just airbrush out the nuances. Thus the Guardian reports on "the ruling junta" and "the ruling generals " who resort to "repressive measures". Yes, just like that. They have no ideology, they are just a "military regime ".

Meanwhile the gormless cowards at CNN continue to cringe and call Burma "Mynyamar", the name those "generals" coined for it. Not even the image of the lovely,brave and serene Aung Yang Soo Kyi, one of the few Nobel Peace Prize winners to actually deserve that debased accolade who calls it Burma, of course, can change that.

Global Gobbledegook

More signs of just how confusing and contradictory the "certainty" science behind much of the global warming hype is, the BBC reports:

Amazonian forest 'more resilient'

Terra satellite. Image: Nasa
The Modis instrument scans the Earth's surface every eight days
The Amazon rainforest may be more resistant to rising temperatures than has been believed.

Researchers found that during the 2005 drought, many parts of the rainforest "greened", apparently growing faster.

22 Sep 2007

Mugabe Drags On

"Comrade Bob" continues with the fascism that has ruined one of Africa's brightest countries and regional African leaders continue to give him standing ovations at conferences but the end is very near for this ruinous fool. The price controls imposed on all forms of Zimbabwean industry are, if the evidence of 5000% inflation is not enough, the final attempts to prevent a societal implosion that would sweep him away. Yet given Africans' notorious passivity, partly borne out of a fear of the brutality of African governance, don't expect to see Harare's version of the storming of the Bastille on your TV screen any time soon.

A quarter of the population has fled and the country has obviously sunk to levels that were not even approached in the times of white supremacy. Actually a lot of older Zimbabweans are probably wondering why they bothered to fight Ian Smith & Co at all. Still, Comrade Bob has plenty of supporters in Africa showing that taking self-destructive actions against white people ( even if their are your own citizens) is far more important to many Africans and their leaders than anything else they might do. One would have thought that Aminism in Uganda might have taught some lessons to the continent, but it appears not enough.

16 Sep 2007

Borat At The Rugby World Cup

Questions will soon be asked at this Rugby World Cup why Europeans pay fortunes to watch gelled up, pampered professional superstars prance around the pitch like show ponies when Georgia nearly caused the biggest rugby upset in history by going down 14-10 to 5th ranked rugby superpower Ireland.

With just 8 rugby pitches in their entire country, the East European unknowns arrived on the pitch looking like stubble-faced Borats on steroids. Only the Irish did not end up laughing. Possessing bewildering names like Dimitri Kalasnikavili and Kav Dzernevshu and wearing what looked like rolled up bicyle shorts only a handful of Georgians were professionals, and those all play in the French 2nd Division. The rest were amateurs.

To say mighty Ireland were lucky to win this so-called mismatch does not tell half the story. Georgia missed four drop goals by inches and had a winning try held up in-goal. They scored a stunning intercept taken at full sprint, made double the number of tackles to the Irish, took 66% of the territory and close to 70% possession and laid a twenty minute last ditch seige on the Irish line when they went through more than sixty phases of possession. If they lost it was only because they lacked a few finishing touches that should come as second nature to any professional team. This was one of the most thrilling matches of this or any other World Cup and the entire stadium of 35,000 were on their feet chanting "Georgia, Georgia".

They played a style of old fashioned forward rugby not seen for perhaps 20 years, meeting head on the pampered professionals that are amongst Europe's highest paid and biggest stars. And they shattered those pretensions. So far did this game smack of today versus yesterday that Georgia did not bother to go off the pitch at half time. The Irish led 7-3 and hustled off to be attended to by a doctor, three masseurs, two sports paramedics, a nutritionist, a statistician, three coaches and no doubt Father O Reilly, for they were in need of prayers. The Georgians stood on the pitch munching apples and discussing what to do next.

The surreal moments did not end after the final whistle, as seasoned sports broadcasters spluttered and ran out of adjectives to explain what they were witnessing. When winger Georgi (what else?) Shikinin, looking uncanilly like Mr. Bean, was presented with the International Rugby Board's "Man Of The Match" trophy after the game, he spilt a toothy,shy grin, waved at the camera and said cheerily,"Firstly thanks you, I want..like.... I means... I am wanting wish hello to my mummy and nice sister also all my familly.Hello". It was as priceless as it was perfect.

On a serious note, the IRB has mooted plans to kick out tiny rugby nations like Georgia, Namibia and others from future RWC events and restrict the tournament to 16 "super teams". Yet to many fans and even more commentators, the performances of a number of the unsung nations bring into question just what is happening in Europe when the Big Six of the North have so far played mostly abysmal rugby against countries one cannot locate on a rugby atlas. The minor league teams have gained the hearts of everyone.

The only sides to give any thrills to the audience besides the small nations ( as anyone who saw the breathtaking 35-34 win of Fiji over Japan can attest) have been the mighty southern Tri-Nations teams of the Springboks, Wallabies and All-Blacks, assisted by fellow Southerners Argentina. They are actually playing rugby. Established Europe has played rubbish. The IRB should think of ways to cut the salaries of the Six Nations teams and donate the proceeds to the Rugby Unions of Georgia, Portugal, Fiji, Namibia, Tonga, the USA and a few others if they have any idea at all of how to grow the global game.

10 Sep 2007

RWC Shockers

It's hard to read too much from the preliminary games of the RWC which tend to feature minnows vs giants, but the question has to be asked: what on earth has happened to European rugby?

From four years ago, when the gap between Northern and Southern hemisphere rugby had closed to a crack, European teams seem to stare at a with a chasm of class between them and South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Starting with the shock of southerners Argentina beating fancied France in the opening RWC game, one watches amazed as rugby powers struggle and stutter against nations that are the equivalent of a Third Division soccer side.

England ground out a 28-10 win over the USA that flattered. The USA outplayed them in the second half. Tiny Namibia with a few thousand players shocked mighty 5th ranked Ireland, holding them to a 37-17 win helped by a blatantly wrong referee's decision. Lowly Canada led Wales at half-time before finally succumbing and debutants Portugul made Scotland labour to win.

Contrast this to the Southern nations. The Australians demolished Japan 90-3, Italy were thumped by the All-Blacks by more than 40 points and Samoa crashed to South Africa's Springboks 52-7. All these wins were classy, error free and decisive. Samoa and Italy are also IRB Top Ten ranked nations unlike the small fry who made Europe's best creak and clank towards the try line like rusty old tractors.

3 Sep 2007

Rugby World Cup 2007

I've just watched the defiantly quaint Springbok send-off gala in Jo-burg, complete with gold trimmed Boy's Own blazers and every squad member wearing his tasseled cap. It was a relief from the Gaygear soccer uniforms they and others will don post Sept 7th. Thoughts naturally turn to who might win the RWC 2007? The town of Paarl on South Africa is not large, which is why you have never heard of it. They have two main schools there, Paarl Gymnasie and Paarl High. I watched as the two school teams slugged it out on Supersport TV. The crowd was merely twenty thousand. If passionate addiction to rugby would bring home the trophy, surely the Springboks would carry it off easily.

I am not sure that will happen. The build-up of the Wallabies and All-Blacks has been enveloped in a dark cloak of secrecy and we know next to nothing of their post Tri-Nations XVs. Ireland, who promised so much, appear woeful and exposed for depth, Wales are a shambles, Scotland awful and the less said about England the better.

The team that has impressed most is home ground France and by the length of a punt at that. Their tough build-up of two games against England and one with Wales were easily won. Everything about them looks complete, polished and even easy. More ominously, they appear complete for the sort of European pitches the Australians and South Africans in particular are not used to. As for depth they have been able to put out close to 45 different players without their pulse rate rising above 72 bpm. Formidable and frightening Frogs would be an apt moniker.

Naturally the Brazil of rugby, the All-Blacks, remains firm favorites. Just like Brazil, they sometimes fail to deliver, are prone to choking and can fall apart. They have problems at centre unless Mauger is fully fit and their line-out does not impress any more than No 10 Dan Carter's 2007 form. They however do possess a great backrow, superb strikers like Rokokoko and perhaps overlooked , the finest bench of impact players of all. Their ability to double the game's tempo in the second half is incomparable. Thus they will be finalists if the rounds go according to form but may have peaked in 2006 when they needed to do so this RWC year.

Their opponents, if they reach the final, are likely to be the Springboks or the French and I tend to think the latter. South Africa has the best scum half in the world (Du Preez), the most lethal winger (Habana), a massive, skilled presence in the second row and, at least until wonder boy Pierre Spies developed embolisms, a backrow of exceptional lethality with Burger and Juan Smith. Their build-up and lack of racial interference from politicians has been smooth and unexpected. What counts against them is a fade-out tendency in the last quarter and an inability to punch attacking holes with their backs. They can poach intercept tries, in this they are masters. Yet with the defensive styles employed in RWC ties, snatch-and-grab opportunities may not be there for them. Will they get past England? Probably. Will they pip the French on a home ground semi? I think not, but unlike the 2003 Boks, they are well capable of beating any team and going all the way. One more problem is that since “nobody has ever met a nice South African”, the refs tend to single them out for decisions in the 50/50 phases.

England retains a formidable pack but outside one J.Wilkinson seem impotent and clueless in the backline. If they don't get by the Boks who seem to freeze whenever they face England, then a dumping in the quarter-finals is their likely fate. To win the World Cup you need world class players. In 2003 they had perhaps four. This year, Wilkinson included, they have none.

With no European nation save France likely putting a hand up, Argentina remain dark horses who could upset any team, starting with France in the opening RWC match on Sept 7th. However, the Argentina team is not as good as it was a year or two ago and the momentum towards the Pumas XV becoming a Top 5 ranked rugby nation has slowed.

Australia has a veteran team and is renowned for their clever and even sly rugby. With George Gregan as the most capped rugby international of all time, his sublime partnership with fly half Stephen Larkham plus the skills of centre Matt Giteau and fullback Chris Latham, Australia will be the equal of anyone. Masters of gamesmanship, sledging and referee tweaking, nobody should underestimate the Australian ability to dominate a match psychologically, even one they otherwise deserve to lose. Their biggest block to a final spot will probably be a semi against the All Blacks but they, like South Africa, have no fear at all of the favorites and could easily swing the upset of the tournament.

Figures Lie, Liars Figure

We are all told endlessly in the media that the USA is a violent and crime ridden society, compared to peaceful Europe. No wonder America remains the overwhelming choice of Kenyans seeking emigration, when we look at the real figures as opposed to media hype.

Here are Interpol 2001 crime statistics (rate per 100,000):
  • 4161 - US
  • 7736 - Germany
  • 6941 - France
  • 9927 - England and Wales

Thus the US has a substantially lower crime rate than the major European countries!

Here are the Interpol 1995 crime statistics (rate per 100,000):

  • 5278 - US
  • 8179 - Germany
  • 6316 - France
  • 7206 - England & Wales

Hence the trend in the US is towards a lower crime rate, while the trend in Europe (except Germany) is towards an increasing crime rate.

Even the USA's higher homicide rate has been dropping dramatically.

However, the homicide rates have been dropping dramatically :

Homicide Rate/100,000 by Date in US:

  • 1980 - 10.2
  • 2000 - 5.5