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Category: Politics


A gold medal with the olympic rings inside

A gold medal with the olympic rings inside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its been a glorious 17 days of sporting action. London did the UK proud. I do not think London has ever seen anything like this before –  a 2 week (and a bit) carnival of sport and sheer joy.

I spend all of last week in London watching the games and doing the tourist bit too. I could not blog using my ipad because for some strange reason, the latest WordPress app update is malfunctional. There was me thinking updated technology was meant to make things easier.

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Any road, a fantastic time was had by all. The weather sulkily stayed good. It wouldn’t rain on this parade. The athletics was great. The athletes were superb. Even the Royal Family was out in full force supporting the Games. The highlight for me was watching the Men’s 200 metres and being totally overwhelmed by the sheer excellence of the Jamaican sprinters. Mo Farah won 2 Golds in the 5k and 10k – What an achievement. It takes guts, stamina, drive and some incredible motivation to achieve such a feat. And who will ever forget the ‘mobot’!. The Golden Girl, Jess Ennis did not disappoint either. She came, overcame all the others and delivered. Perfection! I was also impressed by Michael Phelps. What an amazing achievement! All those medals collected over 3 Olympiads. He is a legend and will forever be remembered as a fantastic athlete/swimmer. Another Legend I was honoured to watch was  the lightning bolt that is Usain Bolt, in the flesh. He has swept all before him. What an athlete. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up in Rio in 4 years and simply sprint away with the medals again. The British cycling Team was marvelous too. Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, and the rest of the crew did not disappoint. The British Sailing team,Tennis players,  the Boxers, Pentathletes – all the athletes did remarkably well. Andy Murray finally won a title at Wimbledon! He was also oh so close to becoming a Double Gold medallist!  Football attendance  crowds beat all the records it is a pity Team GB ladies and men’s teams disappointed. However, the finalists gave us a good show. Brazil were shocked by Mexico, it seemed like the Brazilian team presumed they would walk away with the Gold medals. Congrats to Mexico. Many World records were set or broken-David Rodisha’s was exceptional. He simply annihilated all before him in winning the 800 metres.This young man is one to watch for the next few years. There was one other remarkable athlete who shall be remembered for his courage and athleticism- Oscar Pistorius. He fought hard to be included in the main Olympiad when others argued he should instead participate in the Paralympics. He did himself proud, his country and the whole world. Hats off to him.

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I hope this penny-pinching Government will continue supporting the sports people now the Olympics has left town. They have been making the right noises so far. However, I never trust politicians and I will not be surprised later if we find out the sports budget is somehow curtailed surreptitiously. A lot of effort and energy needs to be invested in competitive sport at Primary school and high school levels. Moreover, pupils should be made to realise you have to compete to win. Taking part is important, however, a winning mentality needs to be nurtured from a very young age. This is something I find quite disappointing every time I attend our local school sports day. There is no real competition at all. The remarkable achievements of the youngish Chinese and American swimmers are a case in point. Pupils should learn to compete at an early age and strive to be the best in whatever sport they take part in.

Some people my choose to disagree here with me. I found it hard to appreciate that BMX racing is an Olympic sport. Please! Roller-blading next!  Since we will be in Rio, maybe introduce Samba dancing as a sport too. I have got nothing against the BMX sport, however, I have always viewed it as a hobby. Walking marathon is another. Well,how does one train to be a walking marathonist? I just don’t get it. Golf has been added to the list of Olympic sports. I love watching Golf, but I seriously do not think its an Olympic sport. I don’t think anyone will ever convince me to think otherwise. Why are they leaving out Squash and or even Darts? These important people entrusted in making such decisions are a funny bunch indeed.

Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony was just as spectacular as the opening ceremony. Brits know how to throw a party! They did a good party. I will never forget watching the politicians dancing to the music, especially Boris Johnson!! It was interesting, didn’t realise the man could move! He is just as quick on his feet as he is with his one-liners! The ceremony was great. It did market some of the best bits about the UK to the outside world-I loved the convertibles on show! Wow! If I was some rich prince somewhere in the Middle East watching the Ceremony on my super-cool 3D, I would have been on the blower instructing one of my many assistants to get me one of the convertibles! It was a remarkable show and the Guardian’s apt description is on the money:  “a kaleidoscopic spectacle” that showed “the energy of British popular culture over the past few decades. We even had a glimpse of the Spice Girls, they arrived in London Cabs! It spiced the evening for me,and millions others. The imagination, artistic imagery and the crowd made it such a special occasion. A fitting end to the ‘best Olympics games‘ bar none. According to the Washington Post: “The host country truly was Great Britain. London delivered a rousing Olympics. …..the most organized, enthralling and enjoyable Games since Sydney in 2000.” London 2012 won a Gold Medal of its own. I hope people like Mitt Romney and the others who doubted this great City could deliver are eating humble pie. And I hope this is not the only misjudgment this Republican candidate has made.

Hats off to all those involved. The 70 000 volunteers were remarkable and made the games all the more enjoyable. The few we met were always smiling and always helpful. The crowds were magnificent too. Lets hope the Olympic spirit will linger longer and be like  an extra-strength dose of a mood-enhancing drug to the country and the economy.

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A day at the Olympics

The weather was great. The stadium was buzzing. The Olympic Park was teeming with people-Welcome to London 2012

Watched Usain Bolt in the 200m heats. Highlight of the day. He was very quick. Too quick for the chasers. Also saw his heir apparent, Yohane Blake. He is a strong sprinter. OMG

Usain Bolt in celebration about 1 or 2 seconds...

Usain Bolt in celebration about 1 or 2 seconds after his 100m victory at Beijing Olympics 2008, breaking the world record. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Olympic Park is a magnificent tribute to the Olympic Heritage. It’s like a hive. So much buzzing. So many people. All having fun. No trouble too. London /2012 is worth the cost to the taxpayer. The spectators are having a ball. So too are the athletes. It’s sad though when an athlete gets disqualified for a false start. Rules are rather strict.
Talking of rules. It’s rather nightmarish going into Olympic Park. Security is so tight bordering on the ludicrous. I am sure these measures are necessary, after all there is (un)clear and rather present danger. However, the security measures kinda spoils the fun to a degree. Even Usain Bolt made his tuppence worth comment on the measures.
The organisers deserve a pat on the back for the great work. It is a magnificent spectacle. There are Live events such as Park Live, there are groups of performers around the park, and all amenities are easily accessible. The support staff are quite helpful too. I should add.
Britain is third on the medals table. Who would have bet on that (Refer to 3 other Olympics articles on this website). China and USA are fighting for top dog status. The Team GB athletes deserve all the applauds. So do all the other athletes from all the other countries. It is disappointing though that Team GB were not even competing  in the steeplechase.  Team GB were also found wanting in javelin, hurdles, sprints, triple jump etc. Surely with all the lottery and other sports funding Team GB should have been doing much better. Not that the natives are complaining. It’s just that I’m sure we spend more on developing our sprinters say in comparison to Jamaica. For instance, yet Jamaicans are somehow quicker. Could it be the training? Maybe some athletes should emulate Mo Farah and enlist with overseas trainers to help them cross that bridge. Swimming and diving are the other sports that disappointed. Without trying to apportion any blame on anyone, Team GB should and could have done much better.
One bit of the Olympic story I could never understand is the Philips Odowu story. How can an athlete chosen to represent a country be so ‘big’ to be allowed to dictate to the selectors? If he was not fit, he should not have been selected. Period. If he was not prepared to avail himself, he should never have been allowed to represent the country. One athlete holding a country to ransom? Maybe there is more to this sad saga than we are made to know. Either way, surely Olympic selectors should reserve the right to assess and monitor the fitness levels of all those selected. It also beggars belief that the UK can only produce one strong male triple jumper in fours years! Someone, somewhere is not doing their job right. Surely the country should have a few long jumpers on the wings and if we can produce a university graduate in say 3-6 years, why can’t we regularly produce athletes good enough to compete at the Olympic level?
The international community has made these Olympics what it is, a great carnival. We have met loads of folk from overseas and everyone is having a ball. May this glorious spirit continue to flourish.

How the mighty have fallen

Scroll crest worn from 1990–1994

Scroll crest worn from 1990–1994 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scottish football has been  caught between a rock and a hard place right this summer. The league football started this weekend and who could have guessed that one half of the Old Firm would be playing their League football this weekend, instead of a next Saturday when the rest of the Scottish Premier League starts.

Glasgow Rangers went into administration last season and were bought by Charles  Green’s Sevco consortium which then created a new company after failing to prevent the old one being liquidated. Scottish Premier League clubs voted against accepting the new club into the top flight and the Scottish Football League clubs voted them into Division Three instead of the First Division. Charles Green has accused some of the SPL clubs of jealousy, pettiness and bigotry after they denied the new Rangers into the SPL. He may be right. Or could also be wrong. We are not here to judge.  The Scottish FA  having taken cognisance of the massive impact the implosion (caused by the Rangers meltdown) would have preferred Rangers to play in the First Division. They attempted to restructure Scottish football and offer incentives to the lower division teams. This alternative was however, unsuccessful as the other teams saw this as a chance to punish the League giants for their misdemeanors. Rangers played Brechin in the League Challenge Cup this weekend and came out winners after extra time by 2-1! A fixture the Rangers of  the past would not even have contemplated during the off-season (unless it was a pre-season friendly or testimonial match).
This refrain shall be heard down in the lower echelons of Scottish League football next few seasons:

Hullo, Hullo
We are the Rangers Boys
Hullo, Hullo
You’ll know us by our noise
We’re down to our knees to see our team
At Ibrox or away
For we are
The Glasgow Rangers Boys

Rangers FC  is definitely down to its knees. Scottish Football too may also be down to its knees as result. As a result of the meltdown at Rangers, the majority of their first teamers have left. The Manager Ally McCoist reckons over 20 players have left. A few have crossed the border to join the likes of Everton FC, Norwich and other Premier League and Championship teams. Rangers deserved to be penalised for the misdeeds of the previous owners/executives. Moreover, tax avoidance is abhorrent. However, penalizing the ‘newco’ so excessively will be to the detriment of Scottish football. How many people outside Scotland will be looking forward to the SPL games on television? Many of the SPL teams are going to suffer financially as a result of the chasm created by the absence of Rangers football club. Clubs like Inverness Caley Thistle and St Mirren (just to mention two) have all ready voiced their concerns. The financial plight that faces Scottish football, in the backdrop of revenues that have not significantly increased for years may take some clubs to the wall. It will be a sad day indeed if any one of the SPL clubs faces bankruptcy or liquidation. Moreover, the absence of the ‘Old Firm’ games will remove the only ‘glamour’ Scottish league game from our screens. Many people from across the globe have always followed the ‘Old Firm’ matches – frenetic, sectarian, absorbing, tribal rivalry very exciting all the time. There will be no one standing in the way of Celtic for the next few years, and if that does not make a League boring! Celtic are a great club, and the rest of the SPL are not anywhere near Celtic in terms of quality or financial power so it is going to be quite interesting to see how things pan out.

Rangers like the phoenix will rise again. They are wounded, and certainly hurt. However, the club with the backing of the thousands of its supporters will get back to the top of league football again. In the meantime the team’s presence in the lower reaches will be good for the 3rd Division teams financially. Juventus suffered the ignominy of relegation to the Serie C in 2006 following one of the worst scandals in Italian football. The Old Lady of Turin only won the Italian Serie A again  last season. We wait to see how Rangers will fight back. We are certain they will come back stronger. Scottish football though may yet suffer more heartache in the meantime.

A silver medal with the olympic rings inside

A silver medal with the olympic rings inside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally they have arrived. The whole world witnessed one magnificent spectacle last night when the Olympics were officially kicked off.

More than 11000 athletes are competing. Well, watching the archery today I thought, umm maybe the word athlete is abused here. Whenever ‘athlete’ is mentioned, I for one expect a specimen of physical fitness, evidence of hard work at the gym, running swimming or whatever. The Olympics motto is ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ and I am sure the Olympic family embraces all those who take part.  But looking at the archers,well! It doesn’t matter anyway. The Queen apparently parachuted herself into the Olympic Park! Who would have ever thought or imagined that possible. Whether it was the Queen or not is secondary. David Cameron was in attendance too. What he made of it I will always wonder. The best bit for me was watching the athletes walking into the stadium. They are the performers, without them there will be nothing to watch.

Mark Cavendish (cyclist) did not win the gold medal as everyone expected. He didn’t get any medal at all. After Bradley Wiggins‘s victory in France last week, we all expected Cavendish to triumph on home soil as well. He is a very, very good cyclist.It wasnt meant to be. Michael Phelps could not get a look in as well. He came fourth in the 400m Individual Medley. Ryan Lochte,had the cheek to beat him. The American part of the Olympic Village must be a fun place to be tonight. Team GB ladies football team is doing well and I hope that will be replicated by the male team.

Football/soccer

Just been watching English teams playing or showcasing the ‘beautiful game’, in the USA and Canada. They prefer calling it soccer in those parts. Liverpool just played a 0-0 draw with Spurs,and that got me wondering whether the Americans enjoyed it at all. Or how much they are enjoying it. Of course there is a significant proportion of fans who have always watched ‘our football’ or migrated from the hotbeds of football and they will of course enjoy watching the teams from England and Europe. Liverpool have a massive fan base across the globe too. The English teams have every right to invade those ‘virgin’ territories to develop more marketing opportunities. How is the market responding?  The MLS seems to be getting stronger and more competitive too. It’s a good thing the MLS never thought they would name their competitions a ‘world Series’ like the MLB does. Is soccer proving to be a major competitor to MLB, NBA, NFL, NASCAR etc? As a football lover, I really hope soccer becomes big in America. The other side of the same coin though, is that I would also love to watch say the Boston Red Sox playing the White Sox or the Dodgers in the UK. The NFL have a game annually at Wembley. Surely MLB could also have something similar, at Lords or the Oval! After all even NBA has exhibition ,matches, plus, there is the Harlem Globetrotters!

Darts.

It is indeed a very good weekend for sport. We have got darts tonight as well. We have got the World Matchplay at Blackpool. Here is to Hoping Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor is victorious. Whats in a name anyways? All these sports like to call their tournaments ‘world’ this and that. Americans do that for competitions involving not more than 2 countries. Yes Uncle Sam that’s true. Darts now have also got onto the act and proclaim to have a ‘World Matchplay’. Possibly involving more than 5 countries. The mind boggles. But does that give these sports the right to add ‘world cup’ to their competitions? At least with football (or soccer we know every country in the world gets a look in. Why is darts not an Olympic sport,any road? Surely it is a sport and you are very unlikely to find anyone taking performance enhancing drugs in this sport. Moreover, there would have been a guaranteed Gold Medal for Team GB – Phil Taylor would have won it. It time the IOC reviewed the games on offer. Talking of performance enhancing drugs, Hysen Pulaku from Albania has all ready been thrown out of the Olympics for using anabolic steroids. At least two other athletes from Morocco and Hungary have been precluded from taking art in the Olympics because of the use/abuse of these illegal substances.

Formula One

Congrats to Lewis Hamilton getting pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The boy is made of sterner stuff. The British tabloids have been relentlessly trying to make his personal life a nightmare of late. If not discussing the ins and outs of his contract with McLaren, they are busy trying to turn a mole hill into a mountain – Apparently Lewis Hamilton had the temerity to hang out with mates (including girls)  when Nicole Scherzinger was away working.Therefore his girlfriend is either (1) going to give him a stern talking to, or (2) Dump him. Well,well, well,I bet the same journalists are allowed to go out for drinks with friends of the opposite sex without asking for explicit permission from their other halves! Ignore the barracking Lewis, and win the Hungarian Grand Prix for all the millions who follow you and McLaren. Admittedly McLaren have had a bad time of late with pit stops, mechanical faults, weather et al. Hopefully they have turned a corner! An interesting fact I just felt I had to throw in: Sebastien Vettel has never won in July. He doesn’t win in July. Therefore the competition for first place tomorrow will just be Alonso, Webber, Schumacher and or Button. Those are my bold predictions. Ladies and gentlemen.

It is quite exciting at the moment.London is doing well. We hope the weather decides to take a back seat and not rain on this parade. Oh and we hope Mitt Romney and his apparatchiks are watching: ‘YES WE CAN.

52nd Post

English: World Athletics Championships 2007 in...

English: World Athletics Championships 2007 in Osaka – Jamaican 200 metres runner Usain Bolt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have done the golden jubilee, half-century or just plain 50.Now racing to the hundred. Actually sprinting, so Usain Bolt better watch out!

I thought to celebrate the grand occasion,I would review one of the best books I have read, and share my views.

KAFKA:  The Trial

The trial is about a man called Joseph K who, on his 30th birthday gets accosted by two ‘police officers’ and gets arrested for a ‘crime’ he never committed. A ‘crime’ he was not to know either. Josef K is a junior manager for a bank and lives by himself. He is of course very enraged and starts to wonder what is really happening around his world. Thus the nightmare begins.

The book is a detailed account of the trials and tribulations Josef K goes through until the day he is ‘judicially murdered’ a year from the day he was first arrested. It is like someone somewhere has been watching Josef K and is reminiscent of Big Brother (1984) in a way. Kafka is subjected to ‘Chinese water torture‘  for the whole year. The saying ‘those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad’ aptly describes the ordeal he had to suffer throughout that period. His life is turned upside down and he becomes a ‘prisoner’ and is told to ‘accept his situation’. The warders and the courts never tell him what his ‘crime’ is.

The bureaucracy and Invisible Law is staggering. He attends court, there are constant court appearances yet he does not know what the charge(s) is/are. The legal system is so crushing and it is hopeless. Maybe he should never have acknowledged that he had committed a ‘crime’. He is made to interminably wait and they simply mess up with his head. The court systems is at best very strange and yet at the same time there is such a bureaucratic mire he has to navigate. The court officials do not seem to have an acute understanding of cases and ‘consequently they could hardly ever quite follow in their further progress… ‘It looks like there is a psychological determination to destroy him.Perhaps its he way the bureaucratic system was perceived in early 1900s when the book was written. Joseph K is offered advise from ‘mentors’ and they all seemed to at times. He also tries to put his trust in females,but no one can help him with his case. He is marooned.  The psychological quagmire he is entrapped is so suffocating. ‘Guilt’ seems to be the overriding theme. Everyone assumes he is ‘guilty’ or else he would not be in that ‘situation’. When he tells court claim that he is ‘innocent’, he is asked in turn ‘innocent of what’? He has no human rights whatsoever and his life is at the mercy of the state apparatus.

It is not difficult to find oneself sympathising with this character. The state has pressed a self-destruct button and although he tries to keep level-headed, going to work and keeping to routines, he can not escape the knowledge that in the eyes of the law he is deemed  guilty. Its said Kafka did not finish the book and the end comes rather unexpectedly. Maybe that is why there seems to be a gap between the Cathedral  scene and his final demise. At the Cathedral he seemed to suggest to the priest he was going to fight to prove that he is not guilty. Yet when the two warders come to collect him and lead him to his death he does not protest. Joseph K ultimately dies at the hands of the state’s executioners. He accepts the inevitability of his death. Is this a final act to escape the nightmare or is it mere submission to authority yet again? At least the nightmare comes to an end.

The book seems to want to highlight the problems with bureaucracy. Even senior officials do not know the rules, they claim to work under. People who work in these bureaucracies might as well be robots. It also portrays the state as an organ that it can willy-nilly disregard the rights of  citizens. It is omnipresent and also destroys people’s lives. Kafka  also cleverly illustrates the human tendency to submit to authority. Even when the authority’s actions are questionable. However, one finds themselves wanting to support him, and or expose the state for what it is, a cold-hearted bully.

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