Saturday, August 28, 2004

Long-term effects

Backword Dave has an interesting piece, responding to this Germaine Greer column, about the long-term effects of athletic competition on the body.
But running does strengthen the heart muscle, it does result in lower rates of osteoporosis (which affects women more than men), and it does raise self-esteem. All things I thought a feminist would endorse. Does it cause lasting harm? I train with Mick McGeoch, who until 2002 (he was injured in 2003) had run every London Marathon — and averaged under 2:30 overall. The wife of a fellow runner works in the same place as him, and has, on more than one occasion, related, with tears of laughter in her eyes, accounts of his exit from his car in the morning. But Mick is, as well as being as truly nice guy, something of an obsessive. Still, he’s nearly 50, and beats almost all younger runners. Sebastian Coe took up judo in order to practice with William Hague. Steve Ovett was a triathlete, until a car hit him. Steve Cram still runs. “Agony and disability” don’t seem to mar them, nor the other BBC ex-athlete journos, like Sally Gunnell or Sharon Davies.

The exception to that rule would seem to be Brendan Foster, who looks like his training in the 90s consisted solely of pies (he's lost weight recently) yet he still regularly does the Great North Run.

It got me thinking about what happens to other sportspeople after they retire and, without any statistics to back this mostly anecdotal argument up, it seems that footballers are perhaps those who suffer more for their sport than any others (though I'd expect rugby players - in both codes - don't do too well either). I can recall when Steve Bull announced his retirement from professional football, one of his reasons was that he wanted to remain fit enough to be able to play football in the garden with his son. Consider also Gordon Strachan's hip replacement, Marco Van Basten having to retire young because of the damage to his knees and all the others who quit because of the damage caused by a catalogue of injuries. There's also the stereotypical image of the former pro sitting at the bar of his pub, watching his waist measurement grow with every year. In comparison to the athletes that Dave mentioned, it seems the urge to remain in shape post-retirement isn't as strong amongst footballers as athletes.

I was thinking about cricket too, but there it's hard to make any real judgements, as it's only been recently that there's been any real consideration of general fitness amongst players and it's still a sport where someone the shape of Rob Key , Arjuna Ranatunga or Shane Warne can have a successful international career. Yet when you see former players like Mark Nicholas, David Gower or Geoff Boycott on the TV, the last thing you think is that they've let themselves go. Mike Gatting, of course, is still as rotund as ever, yet Ian Botham, thanks to his charity walks, is perhaps slimmer and fitter than when he was competing internationally. Perhaps we'll have to wait for a few years to see how the current crop of fitter cricketers look after they've retired, and what the effects of today's longer seasons with more intense matches are on the body.

The wisdom (or otherwise) of crowds

Chris Lightfoot has now had enough responders to his estimation quiz to do something with the data and there are some quite interesting results in there.

It's not easy being Mike

According to The Sun:
TORY leader Michael Howard has been barred from the White House and told he will never meet President George Bush, it emerged last night.

Which makes me wonder what would happen next year if (and it's a big one, I know) Bush is re-elected and then Howard wins a General Election and becomes PM. It'd probably all be brushed under the carpet and sent to the It Never Happened Department, but would raise the interesting prospect of Howard and Chirac founding a 'rightwing leaders against Bush' movement.

This game is sponsored by Slurm

Not likely to be included in the Olympics, but Slime Volleyball is stupidly addictive.

Maybe I'm missing something...

But seeing as how General Elections and by-elections can be organised with just a few weeks notice, surely two months is enough time to allow for the devolution referendum in the North East to not be an all-postal ballot?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Within a degree of magnitude

Chris Lightfoot's Estimation Quiz is an interesting way to waste a few moments, even if it's just pondering what nefarious scheme he's using the information for as he won't tell yet. I got 59%, so try and beat that (without cheating).

Thursday, August 26, 2004


I'm too busy shouting at Europa Universalis (it keeps crashing, just as my Catalunyan forces are rolling across North America and inflicting a crushing victory on the Iroquois) so why not go and check out Jody Dunn's blog or Impeach Blair instead?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Ca-loonication breakdown

Diverted via a strong wind in cyberspace this morning, I'm happy to share with you this memo that's come to my attention, seemingly some communication between flunkies at a minor political party.

From: Director of Long Term Plans
To: Director of Media Stunts
Subject: Olympic-sized cock-ups

Congratulations on getting us so many column inches yesterday. All publicity is good publicity and all that, even when it makes us look like a bunch of arses. And a bunch of arses we most definitely resemble right now.

Now, I know it's sometimes hard for you marketing-types to hold anything in your head for more than five minutes, but perhaps you ought to try remembering what this party stands for - we're right, Johnny Foreigner's bloody useless and so we should have as little to do with them as possible. Note that the uselessness of Johnny Foreigner is only diminished when said Johnny happens to be American, otherwise they're all useless skivers who just want to make us do all the work. So, implying that Johnny Foreigner could organise a better Olympics than us here in Britain is not a good idea. We in Britain are capable of doing anything we want, and showing Johnny F how it's done in the process - if we lose the Olympic bid, it's because we played by the rules while they cheated, and because Blair's useless, not under any circumstances because they might be able to do it better than us. Understand?

(I understand RKS will be writing to you separately to ask why you chose the frogs over the dagoes, anyway. Apparently he was willing to volunteer to liaise with the chaps behind the Madrid bid)

I'm also informed by one of the younger chaps in the office that we're apparently doing rather well in these games. I wouldn't know, as for some reason golf isn't included in the event. I might just have overlooked your stupidity if we were doing badly and thus there was an anti-Olympic tide to surf on, but when there's a general positiveness amongst the people, you really need your head examining.

Anyway, keep up the good work. I would sack you, but then you'd probbly sue us under some Brussels-imposed law and that would be far too embarrassing for the party. Anyway, I'd never be able to look your father in the eye at the Rotary Club if I fired you.

Come again

Some people have mishear song lyrics, resulting in comic misunderstandings, I have the same problem with the news. I turned on the TV this morning to hear that Mark Boucher had been arrested in South Africa in connection with an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea. Cue lots of strange speculations in my mind, wondering whether this would turn out to be another strange twist in the Cronje affair, only for the news to turn out to be the slightly less bizarre news that it was actually Mark Thatcher who'd been arrested.

I've got the brains, you've got the looks

The observant amongst you will have noticed a slight change in the page layout, namely a set of Google ads running across the top. I thought I'd try out AdSense and see if it can make me any money, and if it can, just how much it could make me. I'm sure we'll be talking pennies here, perhaps even tens of them if I'm really lucky.

And to celebrate the floods of money that will literally come pouring in through someone else's door in the not so distant future, I've got four Gmail invitations to give away, should anyone out there want one. If you do, leave your request in the comments - in the unlikely event of there being more than four people who want one, I'll choose the four most entertaining requests.

Update: Ads are now in the sidebar as they were causing all sorts of blank spaces with Firefox. Hopefully, that'll fix it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

An almost open mind

Well, it's good to see that the Tory 'review' of the Human Rights Act is going to be open-minded and be allowed to come to whatever conclusion the facts demand. Well, as long as that opinion agrees with David Davis' opinions, of course:
Members of the Tory commission will be announced in October, with the instruction to report back before the general election expected next spring. They will be told that leaving the Act unchanged is not an option.

The issues that the commission will be asked to examine include the "escalating volume" of rights claims against public bodies and the effect on the immigration system, which Mr Davis said had been to hamper the removal of failed asylum-seekers. (emphasis added)

Loons, loons, get your loons here!

Apparently, Kilroy-Silk's going to stand in UKIP's 'most winnable seat' at the next election. I suspect this means, similar to Sir Jammy Fishpaste's standing in Putney, that he'll stand in whatever seat he wants to and then claim that it's their most winnable merely because he's standing.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Pitying the fools

There's really no problem that the A-Team can't solve:
Murdock and Face knock on door of terrorist sleeper cell disguised as pest-control authorities. Meanwhile, Hannibal unleashes cockroaches in air vents to give terrorists the willies. Murdock and Face gain entry. While terrorists' attention is diverted, replace radioactive materials with horse manure. Later, when bomb detonates harmlessly, have B.A. deliver line, "Now that's what I call a dirty bomb."

Your dating options

It's up to you - missionary dating with Date to Save ('Not only can we date cute guys, but hopefully we can lead them to God and save them from the burning fires of Hell') or political sex with Fuck The Vote ('By stripping conservatives out of their clothes, we can also strip them of their power').

Maybe someone should get the two sites together for a meet-up? It'd be fun to watch.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Taking about the same time to create as the real thing

Better blogs in handy bite-size chunks

The Poor Man on the latest anti-John Kerry ads that the Bush campaign had absolutely nothing to do with, oh no:
So, I have a question: are we really talking about this? I'm not dreaming? Because I have dreams this weird sometimes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, really, when you think about who made this ad, and who they made it for. People who believe that dinosaur bones were planted by Satan to trick unsuspecting archaeologists into atheism. People who think that the National Academy of Sciences is a front organization for radical leftists who want to take away your freedom by saying that climate science is real. People who think that Jesus talks to George Bush. (Jesus hasn't suffered enough for you, now he has to spend his free time with that smirking pussy? Give Jesus a break already.) People who think that FOX News is, actually, fair and balanced. Basically, people who think that if the facts don't support what you want to believe, you probably aren't believing hard enough. Oh, and they run the country. Yeah, this one. Nice...

So, everyone keep doing what you're doing. Keep it up. Keep on trying to pretend that this is anything but a singularly transparent and clumsy hatchet job. Keep pretending you aren't making complete asses of yourselves, debase yourselves. Do it 'til you can't do it no more, because, when the smoke clears, I don't want there to be any doubt about what you are. Work it for me. You're doing great. Hacks and whores.

All good, but you know you really go there just for the 10 Most Ridiculous Black Metal Photos Of All Time.

Tough on grammar, tough on the causes of grammar

OK, I know that I'm not the most gramatically correct person, but can anyone tell me what this sentence means?
My priority as MP, if I am elected, of course - would be to increase access to that world of content rich networking, rather than thinking, because I am communicating with the minority with internet access, my job is done.
Ah, the spirit of John Prescott burns strong in North East Labour.