Friday, September 28

Well, at least we might have a chance to score well...

I noticed last week in a local sports pub there was a sign that showed that they normally concentrated on football - for the Rugby World Cup, they had a list up of all the games they were showing. It wasn't completely accurate - their list would suggest that rather than a very tricky must-win battle against tough(er?) opponents this evening, England are instead facing a third tier nation who only won their first rugby game in 2003...

Tonga, Togo - only two letters and 18604 km difference...

What, no run rate?

Looking at the cricket on the BBC News (Ian Bell really does seem to be in good form at the moment, hopefully he'll do as well in Sri Lanka as he did at home against India), and noticed the Twenty20 averages link on the page, which I hadn't looked at before. I have to ask - why isn't scoring rate included? You can't list things the same as in Test matches, as the games are so different - in a Test, a slowly ground out century can be an admirable thing of beauty, while a frantic thrash to thirty followed by getting out is throwing your wicket away, unless you're a tail-end bowler with a declaration looming. In Twenty20, by contrast, a batsman who goes in early, scores 30 off ten balls, then gets out has arguably done his job.

Monday, September 24

Disestablish the Church of England!

Although many schools are not classified as being of religious character, if they do not carry out the daily act of worship they lose points during inspections by Ofsted.

Observer article from 23rd September

Down with this sort of thing!

Really, they're entitled to their churches and all that, but why should they make it a requirement that they get to try brainwashing children with mythical beings?

As for this quote
'Either overtly or by default, this country is still a Christian one.'

It's not just because you say it is while wearing some daft collar around your neck.

If these bishops should have an automatic place in the House of Lords, then at the very least so should the Royal Society, UK Universities, etc. etc. Which is complex - where would it end? So the real solution is this - complete the disestablishment of the Church of England in England.

Sunday, September 23

RWC2007 so far

Well, if like me you're an Englishman with sufficient Irish ancestry that you could qualify to play for Ireland if you weren't utterly crap at rugby (I did once score a try at school, and for the team I was on, but it was by accident) then this year's tournament has been rather depressing. OK, I expected England to be poor - the draw that pretty much set us up to lose to Australia in the QFs is annoying, I'd have rather got the All-Blacks and been able to accept defeat without being gloated at - but Ireland's poor performance has just made things worse. At least England showed against Samoa that they do appear to have some inkling that there is a modern game out there. It's not enough to beat Australia, quite possibly not enough to beat Tonga, but it's a start.

Why won't they beat a good team? Because too often the ball is being passed to a stationary man, who then runs forwards. Or they kick the ball deep to a waiting opposition player who has all the time in the world to kick the ball into touch. Against a team that is actually good at lineouts (or merely adequate), then the middle half of England's play would see them lose.

A further improvement in their game by Friday might see England get past Tonga. They'd need an even further improvement to get past the Aussies, but that's asking for too much.

Endangering endagered animals

Historically, one threat that can turn an endangered animal into an extinct one is the knowledge that it is rare leading to exaggerated prices that some people will pay for the animal, dead or alive, or bits of it.

The value that immoral collectors will pay for these creatures is such that some people will go to quite surprising lengths to smuggle them out. I'm sure having three iguanas in a compartment in your prosthetic leg isn't going to make a flight any more comfortable...

Sunday, September 16

List of countries England could learn from in Rugby Union

I'm not going to type it all, it would take too long. But to be blunt, it now includes Portugal, who at least managed to score - and score a try - against a strong Southern Hemisphere side.

The All Blacks were showing "sensitivity" in the scrum, but if there were any plans for sensitivity elsewhere on the pitch got quickly thrown away when the Portugese scored to make it 12-3 after 22 minutes - the Portugese had shown they were here to play Rugby. All credit to them.

So why don't the likes of Portugal - and Georgia, who nearly beat Ireland - get more games with the Six Nations teams? That's the only way Rugby Union can expand.

Friday, September 14

Outrun, out-thought, out-kicked, outclassed

It seems a lot longer ago than four years that England could claim to be the best Rugby Union team in the world.

I just spent a highly painful evening in the pub watching England get taken apart by a South Africa team who didn't appear to be engaging top gear. I couldn't decide whether England looked like a minnows team of amateurs or something from the 1980s. Apart from Jason Robinson, who went down fighting to his last, none of the England team appeared to deserve to hold their heads up high after this one.

Me and my big mouth

England have, inevitably, succumbed feebly to the Australians, making the big mouth episodes of individuals such as Kevin Pietersen and this idiot look even more embarrassing. The only bright spot is that the Aussies didn't quite manage to slaughter us in nine overs, so there is an opportunity for the team to at least put up a decent performance against South Africa. Hell, it would be nice if *one* England team could put up a decent performance against South Africa this weekend...

Didn't England do well today?

No, not the cricketers, 135 is a crap score and the Aussies will go hell for leather to see if they can beat us so heavily we end up behind Zimbabwe on run rate, and my gloating of earlier will be as ashes in my mouth. Damn, now I've reminded myself of the Ashes again.

No, I'm talking about the women footballers. Hampered by the myopic FA, who did their misogynistic bit to stop women playing football for years (banning them from using FA grounds from 1921 to 1971), women's football in England is well behind the continental game. Particularly Germany. So drawing 0-0 in the Women's World Cup against the Germans is a great achievement.

Mind you, I bet the Germans would have won if they'd had penalties in the first round.

Indian government versus an army of monkeys

The Indian government is in a little bit of trouble at the moment for suggesting that a large geographical feature made up of sand and stones might not have been built by an army of monkeys.

One madman is a madman. A hundred madmen is a cult. A million madmen is a religion (any religion, they're all mad).

Thursday, September 13

Twenty20 gloating

Having waited until England at least batted reasonably well against Zim, I shall now gloat about the Aussies loss yesterday.

Hopefully, England's bowlers perform well in the rest of the match against Zimbabwe, and then we beat Australia to knock them out of the tournament (if we do, I shall henceforth insist that it is a real world cup after all).

Indiana Jones IV

Like a lot of fans, I might take a bit of time to get used to the title of the third instalment - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
It seems a bit long, which is odd as it's only a syllable longer than Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, but then the IJ bit was added to the latter film in retrospect, while Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade are a bit snappier.

It appears to be a good myth to go for - the first was found in Belize (unfortunately, they've already used Temple of Doom, so can't call it Indiana Jones and the Skull of Doom, which would have been a great title). With a fair bit of the action being in 1950s South America, I wonder who the bad guys are going to be - hidden mad priests (as in Temple of Doom), communists as in US 1950s fears, or hiding Nazi war criminals?

Tuesday, September 11

Not a world cup

Hooray, the Twenty20 Not-a-World Cup has started. A last chance to pick up a trophy before Flintoff's ankle explodes altogether.

As any true Englishman should do, I will accept it is Not-a-World Cup fully once we make a hash of it, but if we go on and win the thing, or indeed make the finals against anyone other than Australia, I will insist it really is a World Cup as nobody who would be capable of winning it is absent (Scotland and Kenya are also in as they were the best two teams in the ICC World Cricket League Division One last year. Ireland aren't in as they weren't).

Unlike the bloated This-is-a-world-cup of a few months ago, this will also be over in a fortnight, which is the right length for a world cup. Even if it isn't one.

Microsoft Exchange Rules

It would probably be of little surprise to most people to realise that this is not a blog comment declaring how great Microsoft is, but yet another rant about the rules for Microsoft Exchange. Yes, I know, it's old, it's hackneyed (the rant I mean), but still.

32kb of rules per folder? In the 21st century? Can't they at least do something like, say, give us the option to have more than one set of rules? I mean, OK the 32kb thing is to limit it to one remote procedural call (RPC). It's jargon, I don't understand it, but it may make sense. But is there a real reason why you can only make one RPC? Why not two in a row? Or five?

Tuesday, September 4

Statistical maps of the world

I like these maps, I think I shall use them in arguments.

Cat 5 no 2

Since proper records of hurricanes began, only five Atlantic hurricanes have been recorded as being at category 5 at landfall.

Two have come in the past fortnight - Hurrican Dean and Hurricane Felix. Really not good news for Central America - given the problems with deforestation, the amount of water that Felix is going to drop is going to result in some pretty horrendous scenes in places.

I'd rather hope that two Cat 5s landing in a year, let alone a fortnight, is an improbably blip. However, I do expect some in the global warming scare lobby will throw this at the refuseniks in retaliation for their claiming 2006 meant warming was a myth. In the meantime, the scientists will try to work out what is going on.

Monday, September 3

Dirty nanotech

Carbon nanotubes are often touted as a major material of the future. One problem is that the manufacturing processes are somewhat inefficient, leading to a lot of byproducts, which an MIT/Woods Hole Institute study has shown are pretty unattractive things to go chucking out into the atmosphere as part of an industrial process.

They will be working with the already existing small-scale nanotube manufacturers to work out how this technology can be scaled up without adding to the environmental woes already inflicted by industry.

Sunday, September 2

One more last chance to see

Apparently, video evidence of a large white thing swimming in the Yangtze River in China suggests that the obituary for the Baiji dolphin isn't quite ready to be printed yet. Problem is, things aren't about to get better (unless they can find sufficient breeding numbers to put in their reserve lake), so this is extinction delayed rather than prevented.