"..a bardy view!"

Volcano Live and the BBC…..

MayonI was watching "Volcano Live" on the BBC the other day.

Of the two presenters – one – the somewhat vacuous OMG Kate Humble and the other some twit who vigorously masticates every vowel before spitting them out and holding out his hands to catch them (I know he's a twit because he presented a documentary a few months ago about geology etc and he thought that Mount Mayon was Mount Pinatubo), and a question from a viewer asked if it was OK to take lava from Mount Vesuvius.

Mr Twit replied that it was illegal to take stuff from Mount Vesuvius. He obviously hasn't been there recently, because there is a veritable army of stalls flogging stuff off the mountain. If it was illegal, then surely they would be banned? Then again – It's Italy you know!

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July 14, 2012 Posted by | Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Europe, Events, General, History, Humour, Italy, London, Mount Mayon Volcano, Science, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deja Vu – again! Brian Cox is back!

Dromedary Brian Cox is visiting the Philippines. Who is he you ask?

Well Brian, Professor Brian, has experienced a phenomenal rise to fame, and his documentaries have been accused of excessively loud background music, and he has also been accused of being more style over substance.

This populist dumbing down and pandering to the lowest common denominator is indicative of modern educational programming.

I wrote about Brian a couple of years ago (D:Ream A Pale Reflection of a Blue Dot). I remarked in my post (a most entertaining read) that Brian was a particle physicist, but a rather lightweight particle (I was new to blogging at the time and seeking attention!).

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October 8, 2011 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, History, Humour, Science, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

World Cup 2010 – The End of Football As We Know It!

Unfortunately, this is the World Cup which changed the game. No longer will we be able to get riled and angry blaming "the Ref". No longer can we have arguments in the pub about dubious decisions. No longer can the referee's decision be final.

After today, the glorious game will be monitored by technological micro chips, and if it happens at FIFA, it will happen at UEFA and eventually football associations around the world.

Congratulations to Spain, but just prior to their goal, there where two decisions which could have affected it.

When Maradona's Hand of God gave Argentina the divine intervention, England suffered in 1986. Then, for all the huff and bluster, it was regarded as dubious sportsmanship, nay gamesmanship and the name of the game.

In the South African World Cup, England again was the victim of a poor decision in their match with Germany. Could these events have changed England's mental and physical performance in both these games? Who knows.

Holland were superb in the 70's but never won the tournament. They took it well each time they made it to the finals, and that small country was big enough to handle it. As they will now. The Netherlands is unique in Europe. It is the most charming country, and I for one feel utmost pain at their defeat.

England were on the top of their game in 1970. As Champions they had the greatest collection of players in the world. However, a win on home soil at Wembley and then to play in the oppressive heat of Mexico demanded physical fitness and acclimatisation which most players were not used to, and they didn't play for teams overseas either.

On top of that the respected captain Bobby Moore was arrested for stealing some bracelet or other. Clearly innocent, it was an event that he and the players needed to rise to. How that would have been treated by 24 hour news media today I dread to think. No doubt the BBC and Sky would have catapulted their journalists all and sundry to dig the dirt.

Fortunately, that facility wasn't available back then. I'd like to think that Alf Ramsey would have shoved his opinions up where the sun doesn't shine (Fabbio take note).

But let's remember the greatest ever football match – that one in Mexico between England and Brazil. Sadly, if the micro-chip existed then, perhaps we wouldn't remember at all.

I remember the game, Brazil won 1-0 and I remember Moore swapping shirts with Pele. (Tomorrow, at some point, a lawyer will seek a ruling on health and safety, implying that his client caught an itch, which may interfere with his future performance or potential modelling career because of a rash. The days of shirt swapping will soon be over!)

Joking aside the problems are obvious. The flow of the game will be interrupted in the future. The heat and passion will be removed. The referee and his linesmen will not have ultimate authority, but usurped by the micro-chip – in the ball, in the net, and God knows elsewhere.

Big Brother has arrived in the great game. Fans may think this a step forward, but they do not realise the loss of human interaction. Football has almost become a non-contact sport, and what would be the point of defenders giving their all if their tackle can be instantly replayed. Ok for the pundits and followers, but for the referee his whistle would just be a passage of hot air.

The money is so huge, the international prestige and showcase so massive, that there is no room for error.

American team sports are clinical affairs dictated by sponsors and advertising. Today Wimbledon uses the technology to ensure a ball in or out. The likes of McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Năstase etc could not have been as entertaining with the electronic all powerful spy. And as for the women – I'd rather watch Yvonne Goolagong over the William sisters any day.

The new Centre Court roof was a reaction to the British weather (or was it the prospect of Cliff Richard singing again?) yet it planted a carbuncle on the stadium, and surely it is a lousy investment that will rarely be used? The summers are getting drier according to the climate change bods. (Yeah – its Cliff's fault!)

In tennis, human officials have been replaced by the micro-chip, and the game has suffered. When was the last great Wimbledon tournament?

Rugby has it's sin bin, but it is a contact sport and the referee must be respected. He has a link in his earpiece to a third referee when he needs it.  Cricket still maintains its umpire authority except when a wicket is in dispute.

Football (and by the way FIFA stands for Federation of International Football Associations for anyone thinking that the game is called "soccer" – It's not FISA) is different. This World Cup has created a knee-jerk reaction, fuelled mainly by media pundits because England had a goal disqualified.

Sepp Blatter (the FIFA bigwig) after much soul searching (about 48 hours) concluded that goal-line technology must be implemented – something he has rejected for years. But the power of the dollar is paramount. The money is too great. Football must enter the techno, clinical world of absolute accuracy.

This World Cup was not the greatest, but it meant alot for South Africa. Whilst they and the Spanish will dance into the night, and for many nights to come, a wake will be held elsewhere -  because the truth is football died in 2010 and it will never be the same again.


July 12, 2010 Posted by | Cricket, Culture, Current Affairs, Football, General, London, Politics, Sport, Tennis, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Newspapers – Pressing Issues…..

If I said I was a Daily Mail reader it would be true. But then again I read all UK national newspapers. 
Daily star

I mention this because there is a notion with certain politicians, academics and charities that a right of centre view must be influenced by the right wing Daily Mail.

If it's flog 'em and hang 'em then its the Daily Mail; society and liberal centre-left it must be the Guardian; pretentious analysis must be the Times; Conservative values must be the DaiyTelegraph. These are the general perceptions.

Forget about the Red Tops, they're just comics. The Sun couldn't care less as long as it thinks it has the pulse of the nation. The Mirror still believes it is the paper of the working class Labour die-hards, and the Daily Sport, well…forget about journalism. Take today's headline there for instance – "Britain's Loudest Bonker – Courts give noisy sex woman lust chance". This is enhanced by "secret boob flash pics" of a soap opera star on the front page.

Anyway, where am I going with this? I've forgotten.

Oh yes I remember. I can't recall the last time I bought a newspaper because they can all be read online. Research has shown that the advertising displayed, with all their flashy gimmicks are subconsciously rejected by the reader. And that's the problem, because if the press, with their great Fleet Street traditions aren't selling their newspapers, and revenue cannot be generated by advertising, then sooner or later they will have to dumb down or charge subscriptions for content.

The great subscription debate is in full flow. How many people would be prepared to pay for news when they can get it for free in abundance from other sources? This big issue has severe consequences for impartial and accurate journalism. Newspapers may not be able to keep their staff journalists or afford to send them on assignment.

Quality journalism has a price, and its loss is detrimental to everyone. A free press is the hallmark of democracy. Take the BBC for example. From TV to radio to online there is no advertising save their own self promotion.

But as a public broadcaster it relies on the license paid by everyone in the UK who has a television set. By law it is an offence not to pay. Only those over 75 are exempt. Even the blind must pay (with concessions) although its significantly reduced for a black and white TV. (Though I fail to see how that can make a difference to a blind person. Maybe I'm missing something). A certificate from an ophthalmologist is a must.

The cost for everyone else is £145.50 per year. That equates to £2.78 per week or 0.40 per day. Put into that context I cannot see why there is such animosity toward it.

If that is the price for quality journalism and programming then it is a price worth paying.

The BBC provides that, and having travelled rather extensively around the world, I know there is nothing to match it. Radio 4 alone is worth at least 0.40p a day. It's only the price of a postage stamp.

You don't have to read the Daily Mail or any other newspaper to know what's going on in this world, but they and their ilk shine with in-depth investigative reporting. Digging deep for good or ill is their forté.

Their survival is our gain, and their loss would be a considerable pain.


July 1, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, General, London, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Brown-Cameron-Clegg Show – Dont Switch Off – Switch Over!

I was in the United States during the Presidential debates – I was especially keen to see the Vice-Presidential head to head with Sarah Palin and Joe Byden. I was looking for the (then) Alaskan Governor to make some stupendous gaffs which would cause me great amusement. As it happened I was disappointed. Both conducted themselves very well with admirable decorum. Indeed, Byden appeared restrained and gentlemanly, and Palin said little that was controversial. It was a very civilised event.

Tonight, for the first time the British public have the opportunity to see their own version of televised debate between the three main contenders for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Brown-Cameron-Clegg show will last 90 minutes and the very thought of it fills me with apathy. I wonder if this is a media event for the media, more than a genuine tool to enlighten an already tired electorate.

If the three leaders hope to engage the voter, it's because they have fallen to populist media pressure. We are not voting for a President – we are voting for a party to govern. We are not voting for personality, we are voting for policy. The UK has fallen victim to razzmatazz American style politics, and now that the genie is out of the bottle, things can only get worse. The 24 hour TV and radio news channels will analyse the event with a fine tooth-comb – over and over again. Pundits will seep from the woodwork, presenters will wax lyrical and all but the most die-hard viewer or listener will switch off.

Don't believe what the BBC, ITV or Sky say when they try to convince you that this is the most exciting chapter ever in British politics. They have vested interests. In fact they are leading the agenda and not merely reporting on it.

Perhaps we should just let them entertain us on X-Factor or Pop Idol. Voters can ring in and that will be that!

Welcome to celebrity Britain, where even the politicians must dance and sing to feed a short attention span populace.

My advice is to switch over to BBC2 where the documentary "Welcome to Lagos" is on. It took the reporter a year to make it and suddenly his programme has been shafted by three preening politicians. He must be gutted!

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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