The Lineup
B.I.R. Column Of Fame
Man of Steel... Wood... and Mud: Bear Grylls
Rock Legend: Tom Morello

League Gods: The Emperor and Alfie

Str-8 Shoota: Malcolm X

Str-8 Shoota: Zack de la Rocha

Super Bad mofo's

Comrade Hillary

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bugger me sideways 

Well I nor any of the others based in Korea has been able to view our site for several days and after emailing 'blogspot' help line I was told...

That some countries block blogspot sites and so we have most likely been a victim of this. I'd like to say some really bad things about the whole thing but I'd better not on the off chance we get 'cleared'.

So we can not see what the hell we post from this day forth. Personally that takes half the satisfaction out of the whole thing for me so I really don't know what to do. Might have to either a) find somewhere else to host through, or b) chuck it all in.

mian hamnida

[as is usual when my fiance emailed my provider they said that they had not blocked our site, and blogspot say the problem is not at their end either. So now the ball has gone back into the Korean court by way of an email asking why ALL blogspot sites are blocked and not just ours?]

Monday, June 28, 2004

NZ's Test Bowlers - An In-Depth Analysis 

Yamis and I decided to work out a system for determining how often our test bowlers contributed to the Great New Zealand Cause. This follows our earlier analysis of NZ's test batsmen. I'll describe the system, and then post the results.

So, what counts as a decent contribution? Well, we first worked out how many runs teams are scoring now days, and divided this by the number of batsmen dismissed by a bowler (this excludes not outs, run outs, retired hurts, etc).

We counted the last 3 tests for all test-playing nations, except Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (both for fairly obvious reasons). There were 30,950 runs scored and 696 wickets taken by bowlers, producing an average of 44.46 runs/wicket. So, for the sake of argument, we said that a bowler "contributes" when he takes wickets at an average of 44 or less, and "fails to contribute" when his average is over 44, or if he concedes 44 runs or more without taking a wicket.

This includes the great majority of innings our bowlers have been involved in, except for the occasional 0-30 or 0-15, etc.

Specialist Bowlers

Chris Martin
Doing His Job = 18 innings (75.0%)
Not Doing His Job = 6 innings (25.0%)

Shane Bond
Doing His Job = 12 innings (70.6%)
Not Doing His Job = 5 innings (29.4%)

Daryl Tuffey
Doing His Job = 20 innings (58.8%)
Not Doing His Job = 14 innings (41.2%)

Daniel Vettori
Doing His Job = 42 innings (56.8%)
Not Doing His Job = 32 innings (43.2%)

Paul Wiseman
Doing His Job = 14 innings (50.0%)
Not Doing His Job = 14 innings (50.0%)


Jacob Oram
Doing His Job = 14 innings (73.7%)
Not Doing His Job = 5 innings (26.3%)

Chris Cairns
Doing His Job = 59 innings (63.4%)
Not Doing His Job = 34 innings (36.6%)

Obviously, there's a few confounding factors in all this. A bowler who is struggling is likely to be taken off by his captain, and brought back on when the conditions are a bit more favourable. By contrast, a batsman who's having a tough time of it doesn't get to come back later against worse bowlers or when the pitch has settled down.

Also, part-timers and all-rounders tend to have higher averages (but not in the case of NZ!), and this pushes the batting totals up a bit, when it's the job of the specialist bowlers to take wickets at a rate below the average per wicket. For example, we're not going to complain if Oram takes 1/45, but Tuffey, Martin and Vettori should do better than that.

Still, it's the specialist bowlers who have to put in the hard yards, sending down 25-30 overs a day in scorching heat on dead tracks, so let's not be too tough on them, eh?

Anyway, come back over the next week or so, and Yamis and I will compare these figures with those of some of the better-known bowlers (but not chuckers) around the world, and perhaps with a few players from the past, although it does seem that average scores are getting higher.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Thicker than pig shit 

I was drinking alone one evening this week when it finally dawned on me: I'm a loser. What's more I'm not even an average everyday run-of-the-mill loser.

Nope I'm the bottom of the scrap heap: I'm the Caleb Ralph of the All Blacks the Craig McMillan of the Black Caps, the Garth George of journalism.

Avid bloggingitreal followers may have noticed my absence this week although frankly, I doubt any of you gave a damn.

For the past week I've been sweeping up and trying to piece together my shattered self esteem; cruely smashed into a million pieces by this week's IQ-establishing Test The Nation.

I don't know why exactly I was expecting to succeed in the 3 hour television programme.

Despite having barely passed school exams - I found sport and ladies more attractive than studying - I felt up to date with news and thought I'm capable of formulating sound arguments.

But by question 3 of the test I was rapidly coming to grips with the fact that it was going to be a long and arduous evening.

I ended the evening - I'll spare you the detail - with an IQ which the television website describes as: "below the national average. About 25% of people will fall into this category".

They even created some excuses for the apalling performance for me:

"If you thought you should do better, a number of things can affect performance in an IQ test. Your concentration may have been affected by distractions, or you may have been unwell when you sat the test".

I wonder if the above quote is a suicide prevention measure? But come to think of it I do recall a slight cough, and that dynamite-juggling monkey sure did keep catching my eye....

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Usual, Plus Sickening Violence, Aussie Anthem, Korean Rock Concerts and Spiderkids 

As expected the verbal sparring didn't take long to start now that the Poms have arrived in Oz.

"Probably (Australia coach) Eddie Jones has never had a better chance of beating England...he hasn't succeeded yet," Woodward said.

"We're missing frontline players. They've got a far more experienced team and they've obviously got a lot to prove. They won't have a better chance of beating the English team for a long time."
You can guarantee that Australia will not want to add to England's current winning streak over them of five. That would be starting to get a little bit long for the side ranked third in the world me thinks.

And Chris Rattue (always love reading his articles) pretty much wraps up the English tour right here.

My favourite lines being:
Lawrence Dallaglio may have the look of a Roman centurion but he acted like a petulant kid in the aftermath of the Eden Park test.

Sir Clive Woodward whinged about the match officials - which partially worked as a smokescreen for England's inept performances - and stupidly, ungraciously claimed England were still the better side.

Shaw - the chief boof-head at Carisbrook - lost the plot, even if his knees-down may not have been quite as violent as a sending off suggests.

And Danny Grewcock is an out-and-out thug. His record shows that. People don't mess with that Danny, an English journo told me. He's got a black belt in karate, you know. Well that's appropriate, because it matches the black hole between his ears.

Every compliment paid to the first-class All Blacks - who after all had shown this version of the world champions to be second class - was followed by a planeload of provisos and excuses. Eden Park was England's lost chance for redemption on a number of fronts.

Back in real reality now though. Most of you will probably have caught the news about the latest victim of the gutless fundamentalist crusaders in Iraq. It's of course been massive news in Korea.

There's not really much you can say about it in many ways. It was not the news I wanted to hear at 2 am last night when I should have been trying to get some sleep.

Basically the Koreans are caught between a rock and a hard place because the US has 37,000 troops stationed here in Korea and has been 'defending Korea' from the North Koreans (and the Russians and Chinese more indirectly and historically) for over 50 years. And so the Korean forces are not there because they care about the Iraqi people and want to help rebuild the country or any of that claptrap. They are there because the US twisted their arm and they felt an overwhelming obligation to help their historic allies.

And it was basically for this reason that they could not (and cannot) leave Iraq (or hold the troops they are about to deploy in Korea). Sadly the majority of Koreans did not want their forces sent to Iraq in the first place and all this senseless killing (the dumb pricks who did it should have done more homework) may end up doing is to make Koreans more supportive of the upcoming deployment of 3,000 troops to join the 600 already there. And I don't think I could blame them.

In fact it even went this far;
Internet bulletin boards were flooded with postings yesterday expressing outrage at the hostage's execution. The Defense Ministry was even forced to temporarily shut down its Web site following a barrage of emails, some of which called for South Korea to launch a military strike on the Arab insurgents responsible for the b_he_ding.
Meanwhile onto something far more mundane across the Tasman...

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday ordered all schools to fly the Australian flag, remove "political correctness" from new plain-language reports and ensure children exercise for at least two hours a week.

Howard stopped short of introducing the compulsory singing of the national anthem at the start of each school day, but said the idea was one that appealed to him.
While I'm all for plain English (especially when talking to parents about what a rotten little shit their son/daughter is in class) I'm not so sure about the anthem thing. I mean would you like to stand through the national anthem everyday before you started work? I'm sure there are many of us that, at 8 am working a shitty job for peanuts, would be more likely to cut down the flag pole rather than hoist the stars and .... whoops I mean Southern Cross (with the red stars) and Union Jack.

While it's only suggested for schools and not all workplaces I have to ask what makes children so different that we have to torture them daily and not everybody else as well? In Korea the anthem is played before class daily and while it does serve to make them proud of their country, it also serves to make many of them rather too nationalistic - for many folk I know - to handle when they get older.

Now if it was just played on Monday mornings I could probably stomach it ...... briefly before vomiting.

Anyhow, it's not NZ so we will just have to wait and see if the madness spreads over the ditch.

And onto the fun stuff...

This Saturday just been I went into Seoul with my fiance to watch a concert by a hugely popular Korean band called 'Seo Tai ji' - named after the singer - who also happens to write AND record all the music before gathering together his band to perform live. I'd completely forgotten about this concert as we bought tickets ages ago and only realized days before the gig that I would miss the AB's test. Thanks for the text updates bluebeardnz! There I was standing in the rain in a line along the road that stretched for several hundred metres as thousands of people tried to get in order of their ticket number. Yes, in Korea you must lineup in the precise order that you bought tickets in. It works here where all the concert goers are amazingly polite to each other (Korean females really are lovely in all senses of the word) but I'd love to see it tried for a rock concert in NZ.

As usual I was the only honky there out of several thousand. In fact I was also the tallest person there and just about the only male as well ("paradise" I hear you blokes say?... yes, it damn near was). Seo Tai ji kicked arse (despite the acoustics being pretty shit), playing a mix of hard rock with melodic breaks and a little bit of hip hop thrown in for good measure. The support acts were a death metal group called 'ARES' (from Greek Mythology). They were pretty decent as death metal goes. I mean there's only so much creativity allowed in that particular genre (and yes I've been to a 'Pantera' concert so I know a little about noise). The second group on was called 'Peter Pan Complex'. Not sure where the hell that name comes from but they sounded very good despite the sound problems I mentioned (including the sound cutting out completely for the climax in one of their three songs). I'll have to check their album out. They reminded me a lot (and have no doubt been influenced by) another recently born Korean band called 'Nell'. They both sound rather like 'Radiohead'. I'll try and sought out some audio or video clips when and if I can.

Seo Tai ji spent a bomb on pyrotechnics as they tend to do and various video clips accompanied the songs. There was even a brief home video clip of Seo Tai ji arriving in the US in 1995 in an Air New Zealand plane. It was at this time that he basically vanished off the face of the earth with none of his fans knowing where the hell he was. He'd been in a three man dancing, poofy pop group before this time and decided to get the hell away from it all I suppose as he didn't quite feel comfortable in the commercial scene.

Anyway, he returned sometime around 2000 and had totally reinvented himself into something rather too visually close to 'Korn' for my liking, but the sound was different enough. The music since then has been even more original and I'm sure he'll continue to turn out some cool music in the future.

Right so anyway, here are a few video and audio clips so you can check him/them out for yourself.
(NOTE. If any of these 'daum' ones won't play straight off then click the back button which will take you to the previous video and then hit the forward button which will bring you back to the linked video and it will play no problem.

Also don't go blaming me if your computer is too ruddy slow to play anything!

ROBOT: It takes a short time to get into the song.

HEFFY END: Takes about 2+ minutes for the song to start but it's an interesting video and a great song IMO. I think it's the video sequel to ROBOT. Or is it the other way round?
(Audio Only): Heffy End

I KNOW: Opens in Windows Media Player or equivalent (I hope).

This link takes you to several videos.

And a song called Go-yang-ee (cat) from 'Nell', the Korean answer to Radiohead.

You'll need to listen to any of that lot with an open mind and probably more than once I think. Took me a while. Cynical remarks are best kept to yourself.

Also stay tuned for some mad flava breakdancing video links in the near future. Korea have some of the best break dancing crews in the world including the World Champs from a couple of years ago. And their moves are DOPE!

Finally, I was teaching tonight and I had my back turned for all of five seconds on the kids. When I turned around one of the eight year olds had climbed the door frame in a star-shape with her feet and hands both spread on the opposite side of the door. Her head was basically touching the top of the frame. She only measures about 4 foot.

Impressive stuff. I'm going to get her to teach me how to do it next week.

Well, If You Created the Mafia, You'd Be Paranoid Too, Right? 

Euro 2004 finally served up some real belly laughs overnight, with the surly Italians being sent packing in highly controversial (if, that is, you are Italian, paranoid and unable to see past your own teams complete lack of killer instinct in big tournaments) circumstances.

A little recap: before the two games in Group C, Sweden and Denmark sat on 4 points each, Italy had 2 points, and the Bulgarians a hard-fought zero. With the way the rules stand for splitting teams equal on points (which I believe may involve a combination of the following: goals scored, head to head match ups, Uefa coefficients, a duck, an umbrella and several domino tiles), the scenario was thus:

If Italy won against the Bulgarians (a country, I hear from a reliable source, that has the best looking girls in Europe...anyone have any documentation on that? The website www.bulgariansgirlseatkapamanaked.bu appears to be down at the moment), and there was a result in the Sweden-Denmark match, then Italy and the winner of the other match would go through. Simple enough.

If Denmark and Sweden drew 1-1 or 0-0, then the duck had designated that Sweden would progress with Italy (assuming, again, Italy won; as I'm sure you don't need me to point out - okay, not counting you, yamis - an Italy loss would mean Denmark and Sweden went through regardless of the scoreline in their game).

Where it got interesting was if the Sweden-Denmark game ended in a high-scoring draw (that is, 2-2 or higher). No matter what Italy did on the pitch (and it would no doubt involve stubble, flowing locks, tantrums, and Christian Vieri doing his manic depressive Mafia lieutenant impression), it would be Sweden and Denmark winging their way to quarterfinals.

Queue 6 days of Italian paranoia and Scandinavian defensiveness. Such is the extent to which Italians love to act the victim of a good conspiracy, the site I linked to relates the story of how the Italian state-run TV station installed camera behind the goals before last night's Scandinavian showdown in order to catch any collusion that was sure to materialize.

So, the results from last night. Just typing them sends shivers of pleasure down my spine:

Italy 2 Bulgaria 1
Sweden 2 Denmark 2

Oh, how I wish I could be in Europe right now to experience first hand the Italians teeth-gnashing indignation and gesticulating self-righteousness. And more or less to make fun of them. My antipathy for this team stems from three factors:

1. their football is only slightly more inspiring than the Germans, which is to say, slightly better than watching paint dry on the side of a student flat in Palmerston North, while Winston Peters stands next to you bad-mouthing Asians for being responsible for New Zealand not winning the Super 12
2. I can't stand Christian Vieri, who to me is as graceful as an elephant on a tricycle and as petulant as spoiled child. Him pretty much being Australian doesn't help matters, either.
3. The Italians massively ungracious exit from the World Cup in 2002, when they were beaten by the host nation South Korea.

2002: It's the quarter-finals, and Italy are expecting to walk over the plucky Koreans, who did well to survive a group that few expected them to emerge from (they were helped by the fact that Portugal and Poland played about as well as my Sunday league team). The Italians start to get their handbags ready when the Koreans are awarded a penalty within the first five minutes. Korean strikers being what they are, however, means that the penalty is bottled and the score remains 0-0. That is, until the worst possible happening...uh, happens: Vieri scored after 18 minutes. So for the rest of the first half, and, oh, 43 minutes of the second, Italy did what they do best: ponce around defending a slim advantage.

But then, out of nowhere, a defensive error - not the referee, not a linesman - leads to a totally uncontroversial goal for the Koreans, and the score is suddenly 1-1. Italy remember to playy football again, and a cross into the box finds Christian Vieri completely unmarked from 6 yards out and he skies the ball over the bar when it would almsot literally have been easier to score. Just to re-emphasize: the Koreans scored a fair goal after the Italians had resorted to negative defensive football to grind out a win, and then the Italians missed a sitter, with no outside influences, on full-time that would have won the match. So it makes perfect sense then, that when Korea gets a golden goal winner with three minutes left in extra time, it's all one huge giant conspiracy to advance the host nation at the expense of the innocently pure, dewy eyed Italians who couldn't be blamed in any way for the loss. Yes, Totti was unlucky to be sent off - it still wasn't a penalty, mind - and the offside decision was tight (though, despite what Italians will tell you, it doesn't count as a disallowed goal because the Korean keeper had stopped playing once the whistle had blown, and thus may or may not have saved it), but the whole whiny, sulky, totally unreasonable Italian ejaculation of unmitigated indignation was totally beyond the pale.

So bear with me, right now, as I quietly enjoy the fact that one of the world's least sportsmanlike teams have been bundled out again from a major tournament, and enjoy the weeks of whining that is sure to follow. I know I will.

Hot, Hot, Hot 

Well, there is under a week to go in the hotly-contested Canadian election, and my riding (or "seat" in New Zealand parlance) is expected to be one of many relatively tight three-way races between the Conservatives (far-right), the Liberals (centre-right), and the New Democrats (centre-left). Unfortunately, only the first and second parties have any chance of forming a government.

Anyway, the point I would like to make is that with 5 potential voters in our house (excluding me - a poor non-citizen - what ever happened to "no taxation without representation"?) not a single candidate has come to the door, and not a single flyer or piece of electoral advertising has come through the mail box either. And it's not as if our house is hidden from public view ... the Conservative incumbent can practically see our front door from his office up the road. Needless to say, DC_Red will be cheering heartily for his demise.

Meanwhile, the media continues to report on party leaders, candidates, and functionaries working feverishly to win over voters in tight races. Excuse me? There's barely enough election signs in my area to build a small campfire in which to burn our voting papers. Though god knows it's too hot for a fire right now.

Maybe the Marijuana Party candidate will stop by our place in the next few days. Their slogan: "Let's Roll".

Thieves, Criminals and Bandits in the Midday Sun 

Well ok, so they broke into my future sister-in-laws apartment sometime around 4 pm but it was still broad daylight.

I'm referring here to the apartment two storeys above me in Korea.

It happened a few hours earlier probably a while before I got home at 5:30. My fiance was cooking right in front of the gas pipes they would have used to climb up to get into the apartment kitchen window, but she too was probably on the spot a little while too late.

According to the police there were three of them and the window is bloody small (about two feet tall and less than a foot wide).

So using my amazing Sherlock Holmes skills I believe it was three teenagers (one of them scrawney) from the high school a few hundred metres up the road. They went home after school, got mentally organised and slipped off sometime around 4 pm. It's highly likely one of them lives in a nearby apartment or else why would they climb up two stories and poke their head in a tiny kitchen window to see if anybody was home. It seems obvious they knew nobody would be. You would need to know this neighbourhood quite well also as you can't simply drive by these apartments. We are a bit away from any main drags.

Once inside he let his two mates in. It was a two man job at best as anybody would know from watching the movies. One guys maybe knocks on the front door and asks if Bob is home? When the owner says, there's no Bob here the person says sorry and leaves. If nobody answers he gives the all clear for his mate to move in. So in fact you could theoretically do it alone even. The person simply retires around the back of the building, shimmies up the pipe and Bob's your uncle (and the bastard is not home as well!).

Obviously the more people involved the more the danger of being caught which again points to high school novices who couldn't pluck up the courage to do it alone.

They stole jewelry, a camera and a few other bits and pieces. I remember sweatepz telling me about a foreigner in this same area a few years ago waking up to find that somebody had also scaled the gas pipes on the outside of the building and was in their room. I think a bit of a yell and the wankhole baled but not too sure actually. I'll have to ask sweatepz to oblige me with the details again.

Personally I reckon they should lift all the fingerprints from the scene, go to the local high school, interrogate all of them, cut their fingers off and take them for analysis and return them later with a note of apology and some bandaids if it isn't them.

Actually I suppose there is stuff all chance of them getting caught but we can always hope.

Think I might roam the streets now asking random strangers "you... where... afternoon... house... climb building... monkey bad man... yes?" in Korean of course. I don't usually speak like that unless I've had far too many beers and am trying to speak so bluebeardnz can understand me.


[So now my fiance tells me that she saw a man of about 35 sitting on the street curb opposite the balcony window looking at the apartment for a long time the other day. Seems high school students are looking pretty old these days.]

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Rooney, eh? 

So the English press have a new wonder kid to salivate over for a few years, before inevitably picking apart his failings and reducing him to a shell of a human being (oh, and player too) before he's turned 25 ($25 dollars delivered straight into your bank account if you can guess to whom I'm referring, courtesy of yamis, who makes far too much and doesn't have nearly enough illicit vices to bring him back down to my level, fiscally speaking).

[Sidenote: anyone see the Czech-Netherlands game a few days ago? By far the best match of the tournament so far, and I can't see it surpassed in terms of overall skill and pace before the Czech's hold aloft the title on the 4th of July - a little tip for you, as long as they remember to defend at some stage. 36 shots at goal! The highlighting of the ridiculous nature of the new offside interpretation! Slack marking at free-kicks! Outstanding saves! Nedved demonstrating that just because you're a superstar doesn't mean that you have a good sense of balance! But it does mean you can whack 35m shots back off the crossbar! Liverpool's Baros with a screaming volley! Van Nistleroy's face becomes even longer! Bizarre substitutions (just to interrupt my own breathlessly lazy recap of the game, the removal of Robben who may well have been the best player on the Dutch side, with the possible exception of the reborn Edgar Davids, was the game's turning point, really; Robben was bombing up the left flank with the abandon of a smaller, paler Joe Rokocoko and was causing no end of trouble - Dick Advocaat apparently wanted a player to man-mark the irrepressible Nedved, and so he sacrificed an attack that frankly looked like scoring every five minutes in order to chase around one guy with no working knowledge of hairdressers who has seen this type of tactic before. Good one.) Unjust red cards! Vladimir Smicer (Smicer!!) scoring! And the Germans probably getting through to the Quarters again, despite being as inspiring to watch as Jim Bolger reading a select committee report, the jammy bastards.

One thing I've never considered, even though it was a big thing in my high-school debates about the merits of rugby vs. rugby league, is the amount of time the ball is deemed in play in soccer. According to this, the two teams combined had 42 minutes of ball possession. This compares to an average of 33.44 minutes (out of 80, obviously)of "ball-in-play" in international test rugby, a figure that has been increasing over the years. Of course, as per usual, I have no real point here, except that I assume the ball in play figures for soccer is a pretty damn high percentage - can't find any figures, so this is just a gut feeling - which means that roughly 50% being a spectator of soccer is watching te ball ping randomly uncontrolled between the sides. Sounds about right. As a comparison, the Germany-Latvia game on the same night had 52 minutes of ball possession, so I guess the sacrifice you make for less random ping-pong is to slip into a coma watching dull German sides pass the ball to themselves in their own half. Anyway, enough of these statistics, I'm starting to feel like I'm stepping on yamis' toes, and I don't want to be walloped with his sturdy pocket calculator again.]

Anyway, I've seen all the England games so far, and my verdict on Rooney is mixed. I believe he possesses a terrific shot, and he has great heart and stamina, but I'm not convinced with his touches, passing or dribbling quite yet. Particularly against France, where more than the other games he was relied on as the hold-up guy, a lot of his dribbling was clumsy and he was dispossessed a lot. I think he will benefit by moving to a better club than Everton, however, because I doubt his ability to put total effort for a side obviously treading water. I mean, last year, Rooney only managed 9 goals all season for his club (consider he has four in three games in this tournament), and NONE of them were against quality opposition: he scored against Charlton, Portsmouth (twice), Leicester (twice), Birmingham, Southhampton (twice in the same game)and Leeds - hardly a roll call of movers and shakers. It has shown that he can score against international quality defences, of which the teams listed above do not possess, so I guess it all comes down to motivation. With Steven Gerrard apparently debating a move away from his childhood club, it appears the days of playing for the love of your club may be waning for media superstars.

Your Opinions Please 

I was just out for a bike ride and when I ran over a small child and knocked an elderly lady down a muddy bank a thought struck me.

Our site has had quite a lot of hits lately (something like 800 unique visitors in the last couple of weeks, which is quite a lot I reckon) and I was wondering whether I should split the blog into two.

Have one blog strictly for sport and the other blog would be the one you are reading now. It would stay exactly the same; sport, slagging off conservatives, film reviews, soju discussion groups and displays of complete comtempt for people and society in general. It would have everything, while the posts that are only or mainly dealing with sport would go in some kind of sister site.

Just hit the comment button at the bottom of this post if you have an opinion. I won't bother doing it though unless I get some feed back as to what people are coming here for.

On to the bike ride. Well I had to 'dust the dust' off the damn thing (in my defence dust collects in Korea in a matter of minutes) before I used it but I got away quick enough. I passed a whole lot of high school students just leaving school .......... at precisely 10pm. Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is the education system that many New Zealanders often suggest we should copy (without actually knowing ANYTHING about it). While later in the evening when coming home I passed a whole lot of students on their way home from private classes in small academies that are everywhere. The time was 11:45pm. These guys have class at 8am but will have a couple of hours homework before then.

So the bike ride itself was quite nice. They have just put a 6.5km cycle and walking/running lane along the local river. Shame it's only about three metres wide, as it's hard to weave your bike in and out of several hundred people in semi-darkness.

And the only other thing I have to say is ... may my arse stop hurting by morning and may Croatia beat England in the soccer. I don't mind the English team, it's just that I tend to support the Croatians. Must have something to do with all the Croats out in West Auckland.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Triple Threat Tag Team Match 

It seems Woodward and Dallaglio have found a third completely wasted mind to fight their cause.

One Chris Hewitt. He's been out here on tour with the side and with a bit of luck has already left the country with whatever drugs he was on.

I just about choked on my powerade which I was drinking over lunch today while reading this pile of pretentious turd that appeared in the Herald online:
Three Antipodean disciplinarians should have spent yesterday confirming what the rest of rugby-loving humanity could have told them the previous evening - that the innately decent, fair-minded Simon Shaw is not a player who would even consider ramming his knee into the unprotected head of a rival laying helpless on the floor.
He might be decent, he might be fair-minded, he might also be a Girl Scout leader in his free time but the fact remains that he kneed a player who had his back turned and was lying in the ruck (like any self-respecting forward should do in this era of fast rugby).

He was not exonerated, as each and every one of his peers believed he should have been. This is intolerable.
Is that a bottle of chardonnay I can hear hitting the floor next to his type writer?

The outcome of yesterday's disciplinary session should have reflected what Clive Woodward, the England coach, correctly described as the "massive overreaction" of the match officials, most notably the Australian touch-judge Stuart Dickinson, who was directly responsible for Shaw's public humiliation.
Hang on? I thought Woodward was married? I didn't realise he was sleeping with traveling English journalists as well.

Shaw pushed a knee, almost apologetically, into his back to "let him know he was there", as Woodward put it. Robinson admitted afterwards he had felt nothing, but Dickinson took such a dim view of the incident that he persuaded Williams, the referee, to reach for red.

Shaw was first flabbergasted, then distraught. "There was never any malicious intent on my part," he insisted.

"I think the crowd was a factor because it was shown on the replay screen and I heard lots of people shouting 'off, off, off'." Woodward was incandescent, letting fly at the injustice of it all immediately after the game.

I'd prefer a verbal apology next time I'm lying in a ruck over an 'apologetic' knee thanks.

Following the hearing, the coach resisted what must have been an overwhelming temptation to tear into the officials anew. "I really don't need to get off-side with referees and touch-judges right now," he said, wrestling with his self-control.
Overwhelming temptation to moan, cry, bitch and blame the whole thing on everybody else once again. And to threaten to call the conference off if the pot plant in the corner wasn't switched with one from the lobby.

In all probability, England would not have beaten the All Blacks on Saturday, even had Shaw been permitted to remain on the pitch past the 11th minute.
That's right mate.

Yet while Shaw was on the field, the All Black forwards were given a thorough seeing-too at scrum, ruck and maul. There was also a revival of the English line-out, now managed by the splendidly committed Steve Borthwick.
Fantastic. If we could shorten matches to 10 minutes in length then England could be able to compete with NZ before being blown off the park after we get warmed up.

Across the field, players were stoking the fires: Woodman and Mark Regan, Dallaglio and Worsley, Andy Gomarsall at scrum-half - the Gloucester man produced his finest display at this level, by a distance - and Charlie Hodgson at stand-off, who established his international credentials beyond question.
You lost by 24 points darling. If the All Blacks suffered the heaviest defeat in their history (which that would have been) would we have had seven players all having blinders? I assume that's what being "splendidly committed" and "setting fires" and "finest display" basically means.

Basically the English were completely run off their feet.

At test level the majority of points are generally scored in the second half. Especially by the All Blacks after we break a team. Our backs didn't even play that well I thought and yet still ran in four tries in the second half alone. As far as I could tell England hadn't had a back sent off. Spencer was fairly quiet with the ball, Marshall was no better than average, Carter did a few good things with the ball and a few bad things as well, Umaga looks pretty boring on attack these days but rock solid on defense and doing the 'dirty' back work. Muliaina didn't get too much ball, and Evans made a few bad errors at the start but did well with what he had to do later in the match.

Meanwhile Rocokoko was bloody dynamite.

Thankfully there have been several other folk in the press who have seen the light (no, not the light Hewitt sees shining out of the English teams collective arse).

Here's a good one from Steve Davie at Pandasport.
And Wynne Gray writes intelligently as usual. As to does Richard Boock with his 48 Hours: Nonsensical excuses from Sir Babble.

And for something more along my lines try Peter Lampp in the Manawatu Standard.

I also just picked up on a Clive Woodward comment at the after match press conference where he said that at 10-6 down he thought they could win the game. Well then why did you also say that the sendoff ruined the contest if you thought you could still win it? You lost the second half 26-6. It's so easy to see through the guy. I wonder how long it will be before the English press start to cool off on him as he self-destructs along with the team post WC.

Just to go out on a nice note. Here's a comment from Eddie Jones regarding Woodward.

"I have nothing to say about Clive until he comes . . ."
Get ready ladies and gentlemen. Things could be about to get real interesting. Buy yourself an aussie jersey and a stuffed kangaroo (you can burn them after the game) and jump up and down on the couch for the Wallabies on Saturday night. I would definately definately draw the line at drinking XXXX though.

Bloody Sunday 

The thing about living where I live, the two major movie theatres basically get in the mainstream international crap that entices teenagers (currently showing in the 7 screen Lotte Cinema: THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (retitled merely TOMORROW in Korea), TROY and the horribly unfunny SHREK 2 on three screens on it’s own) or the prestige Oscar winners (and then, that’s only hit and miss – there was no MYSTIC RIVER shown, for example). So to watch anything outside these parameters requires commuting 50 minutes into Seoul, or just being lazy about it – my favored option – and waiting for the DVD to turn up in my local rental store ($1.30 New Zealand for a new release, can’t complain). Occasionally, though, a trip is warranted and worth it.

What I didn’t know about the situation in Northern Ireland (and the Republic of Ireland, for that matter) could fit into the space required to house Clive Woodward’s ego – i.e. I knew next to nothing. In fact, most of what I know now comes from a late night cram session last night inspired by a remarkable film I saw yesterday, and aided by this simple, clear rundown of Irish history.

BLOODY SUNDAY, made by relatively new film-maker Paul Greengrass (who has a history of anti-authoritarian films), makes no effort to orientate this infamous day in Irish history – January 30th, 1972 – with regards to Northern Ireland’s internal upheaval at the time or in the past. However, just a cursory glance at the parade of treaties, political parties, unions, movements, marches, riots, terrorist attacks and sanctions makes it clear why: to be made aware of the astoundingly complex political maneuvering is to lose sight of the inherently personal loss associated with the day. A political history of Northern Ireland is a tale for another time, another medium; here Greengrass is more interested in both the human dynamics and hoisting the blame on the English for what transpired. (Indeed, the complexities of the politics have tripped up other accomplished film-makers like Neil Jordan and his dull, lifeless MICHAEL COLLINS – even the title screams stupor. Of course, anyone who tries to get away with casting Julia Roberts in a period film, despite the fact that she fits the era about as well as a Shakespeare using a laptop, is tempting fate in the first place).

This is not to say that Greengrass ever intended for the audience to have it easy, to have Bloody Sunday play out as a slick melodrama. No, he may spare us the head-spinning political backdrop, but he doesn’t spare us the head-spinning. Right from the beginning, the exclusive use of a hand-held camera, the naturalistic acting and the dedication to period accuracy throws us right in with the people of Derry, demands us to at least recognize, and hopefully relate to, the mix of emotions that swirled around everyone involved. There is no hiding behind an aloof regard for cinematic style, the primary focus is the story, and we are not allowed to forget it. In fact, we are asked, spiritually at least, to join it. Of course, the amped cinema-verite is a style of its own, to be analyzed and dissected like any other, but its very use in this context, for this story, relegates those critical instincts behind the immediacy of the narrative situation, the sheer energy of the people involved. It’s a brilliant stylistic choice that doesn’t revel in its own existence (unlike, for example, a lot of David Fincher’s work, which is great for completely different reasons). You have to shudder at the thought of stately compositions with a tastefully unnecessary score in the hands of, say, a Michael Caton-Jones or a John Madden, begging for us to feel something with clichéd technique, when it is patently clear that just being there would be enough.

Of course, with the film throwing its hat so firmly into the ring marked docudrama, and with so many people to keep track of (apart from the sublime James Nesbitt, there are a handful of other people with roughly the same screentime), the film does tend to stray on the literal side, meaning that there’s very little to reflect back on once it’s over, except for the remnant pall of tragedy. Repeat viewings may be more of a chore, once the physics of the situation is mastered. However, there is one thing that may not make this necessarily so.

Nesbitt. He’s one of those typical British actors who you recognize, but can’t for the life of you picture where you saw him (for the record, I saw him in WELCOME TO SARAJEVO, WAKING NED and JUDE…..thank you, IMDB). Here, he is simply outstanding as the march organizer Ivan Cooper, tip-toeing the line between frazzled tension, outward optimism, genuine warmth and numb horror, without ever dipping into hey-look-at-me-emote showmanship, which would have sunk the whole enterprise. The way he bustles around the streets, trying to drum up support while at the same time trying to dampen the rowdier elements of the crowd, the way he tries and fails to use his slight frame to impose some order on those already throwing rocks, this is an actor completely in control of everything he says and does. The whole performance seems to be leading up to his last statement, which is chilling in comparison to how full of energy and naïve optimism he was in the lead up to the tragedy. When asked of he had anything to say to the young men bound to join the IRA in the wake of the massacre, Cooper has nothing to offer except a defeated utterance that in light of recent events, he was in no position to offer them any counseling whatsoever. Not only is it a film about the tragic loss of so many loved ones in a divided town, but it may well be just as much about the loss of one man’s fight for what’s right.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Liar, Liar, White Shorts on Fire 

Clive Woodward is about to be named the new Iraqi Information Minister I understand. He'd have to be after this bollocks...
"Julian White had stood on the player, and Simon couldn't get his leg away and he put his knee between the player's shoulder blades. He is not a dirty player, and it was a huge call from the touch judge, who was so far away.

"If you look at the facts, we had been given a penalty and it looked as though we were going to go 9-0 up, but it just ruined the game for the spectators.
Lets quickly dissect this shall we?

a) Julian White stood on a player which is a sinbinning offence on many occasions. He got off scott free *(see below for the law).

b) Simon Shaw had his leg nowhere near Robinson. In fact he was standing about a metre and a half away looking at Robinson before climbing in with his knee.

c) Yes, he is a dirty player. Or at least he committed a dirty act. He kneed a defenceless player.

d) If you look at the facts an English player kneed a New Zealand player on the ground and was sent off. NZ then put a 14 man English team to the sword.

e) Simon Shaw 'ruined' the game.

f) Judging by the spectators chanting "off, off, off" I'd say they weren't that upset.

g) Judging by Umaga's reaction when the red card came out I'd say he wasn't about to ask the ref to reconsider.

* Law 16.3 Rucking
(f) A player rucking for the ball must not ruck players on the ground. A player rucking for the ball tries to step over players on the ground and must not intentionally step on them. A player rucking must do so near the ball.

Penalty: Penalty kick for dangerous play.

I know Robinson was lying over the ruck but if it was ok to knee players slowing the ball down in a ruck or maul Dallaglio would probably end up in hospital every saturday. Rugby needs lines that you can't cross and kneeing players with serious intent must surely be over that line. If he stayed for that then does that mean it's ok to knee people in the future so long as they are sitting somewhere you don't want them to be. Hell my fiance is sitting on the left end of the couch right now which is where I want to sit to watch the K-League soon. Think I might go knee her in the back.

I've played rugby since I was a little whipper snapper and there have always been a few things that are a complete no-no. Firstly there are the things like, eye gouging, spitting on opponents, biting, calling the ref a naughty word and also grapping the testicles (or the 'christmas hold' as my father calls it) and I better not forget sticking your fingers up your opponents anus (thanks John Hopoate). Then there are the others such as kicking, kneeing and headbutting. Any of those things is a straight sending off offence, no questions asked (unless you wish to rewrite rugby etiquette like a certain person is trying to get away with).

The next tier down on the bad arse mutha f**ka scale has traditionally been (and still is for that matter) things like stomping on hands or over aggressive rucking (standing on players might be a decent example), punching, stiff arm tackles and several other similar offences.

I have seen dozens of players (as everybody else has also) sent off for committing those acts on tv and at club games which I have been watching or playing in. There is a reason why Dickinson and Williams went for the red card. They basically had no choice.

I thought NZ played a damn good game once again. Sure having a man sent off is going to be a pretty big handicap but the advantage of rugby is that you still have 14 guys running around tackling. It shouldn't have the affect of say... 5 tries to nil. England chose to stroll up to NZ and play two tests with no warm up games. They played better in the second test because they had had a game under their belts, and I would expect them to perhaps play a little better next week as well. But that ain't our problem. NZ has done the same thing in Europe plenty of times and done the business. Our players start training seriously in mid January and tour Europe in November quite regularly. Count the weeks.

Facing a few more FACTS...
- England put on a whole lot of fresh legs before the last quarter began.
- England won the penalty count 10-0 in the second half (17-5 overall).
- England never once seriously threatened the NZ line in the game.
- New Zealand played the last ten minutes with 14 players and still managed to score a try.
- If Lawrence Dallaglio shook his head anymore during a rugby game, it would fall off.

Basically Dallaglio runs around accusing the opposition of doing something, one second before he does it. The lineout 'discussions' were hilarious. They talked in the week about NZ closing the gap. Take a look at a replay and check out which team was closing the gap. The guy is fast becoming an average player and long ago became a whingeing cheat. He needs to learn from Martin Johnson (who was also a whingeing cheat, but an awesome player and a much better leader).

Clive Woodward on the other hand completely lacks any class. Nothing is ever his fault. NOTHING. He somehow believes that everything they do is correct, whether it is or not. If the AB's strolled up to England without a couple of our better players at the end of a long season (like we usually do) and lost by 33 and 24 points in the two tests, scoring no tries and conceding EIGHT, and had a player sent off for an unprovoked knee we would be crucified by all and sundry and our coach would be lucky to keep his job. Note our biggest loss in 383 tests is 21 against Australia in 1999. So how does it feel to lose by 24 and 33 points England? We haven't experienced it in over 100 years so you will have to share your experience with us. Our biggest loss to England was 0-13 in 1936.

Strange that you can suffer defeats that heavy though and still have Dallaglio and Woodward believing they are better than the All Blacks. What should they have beaten you by? 50 points? 60 points? 10, 12, 20 tries to none?

Here's hoping Aussie win by 10 plus. But then again maybe Woodward already has an excuse worked out which the English media and fans will lap up. There's a poll at planet rugby that has had over 12000 votes to date.

The question is Who was the villain of that encounter in Auckland?

33% of them have chosen Shaw to date while 15% trump for the ref, Nigel Williams of Wales (amazing since he went on a touch judge call which referees are entitled to do) But the man taking a beating is Stuart Dickinson with 40%. A further 3% pick Robinson (he deserved to get stood on and kneed. It's quite acceptable apparently), 5% for Dallaglio, 2% for Woodward, while they belatedly added Danny Grewcock who has picked up 2% and a 6 week suspension. How the hell can Robinson have had more votes than Grewcock?!

I see that Simon Shaw won't be punished any further but Danny Grewcock (who tends to spend most his time on the pitch looking for a chance to start a fight) has been suspended for six weeks for stomping on Daniel Carters head in the 59th minute. If it had been spotted by the officials he would have been sent off as well you would have to think. But as we all know, England play clean, fair and don't try to provoke reactions out of the opposition at all. Except for each time there was a breakdown. Graham Henry has mentioned how they were intimidated a bit and shouldn't have reacted as much as they did. Strangely these comments seem to have had sod all attention in the media.

Shaw told Woodward that the send off was "absolute bullshit" but then what would you tell a delusional boss who wants to hear nonsense like that? He could have said "I didn't do it, they got the wrong guy and the referee touched my balls at the kickoff" and Woodward would have stated it as fact to the media.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

A God-fearing Constitution 

It's about time that marriage laws were brought into line with Biblical teachings, don't you think? What with those homosexuals running around and claiming the right to marry ... each other. Well, here are some proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would achieve just that.

Biblical literalists everywhere will also benefit for taking this fun test.

While we're on the topic of families, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to what physical chastisement of children is permitted by law. Luckily, John Ashcroft's latest pronouncements provide invaluable guidance to frustrated parents everywhere.

If you're in the mood for more fun, check out this account of the world's unluckiest political candidate ... standing once again in a suburban riding in greater Vancouver.

Cricket fans might want to check out this summary of Cairns' test career, which notes that he was much more effective with both bat and ball in the last third of his games. Sambit Bal, also at Cricinfo, has this rambling review of Cairns, which includes the very refreshing perspective - discussed previously on Bloggingitreal - that the current media-driven obsession with sportspeople's off-field behaviour is stifling and inappropriate:

Cairns and Slater were kindred spirits, an increasingly rare breed in the contemporary environment which encourages, if not mandates, straitjacketing of individualism. Professionalism is a necessity in competitive sports, but it has to be conceded with a tinge of regret that it does rob the game of characters. The modern sportsman is expected to be the purveyor of moral conduct: he is expected to behave on and off the field, not show anger and disappointment, not express himself on touchy topics and smile angelically for the camera. It isn't a surprise that most cricketers these days are teetotalers and go to bed by ten.

Well, perhaps there's a little exaggeration at the end there, but I don't give a damn what sportspeople do in their time off - short of the most egrarious criminal behaviour - provided they perform on the field.

And my final advice for the weekend is - if caught telling a lie (say, about the reasons for going to war), and a respectable outside commentator exposes it, just stick to your guns, and insist - despite all evidence to the contrary - that you are right. Hell, it works for GW.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Gay Marriage Kills Ponies 

Ah, The Daily Show. Where would I be without the little nuggets they leave on the internet for people like me who choose to live in a country where checkers is deemed to be primetime material and no episode of any TV drama (or sitcoms, for that matter) can go by without some Korean girl dying on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle in a thunderstorm hours before they are due to get married? (This may well be the longest rhetorical question I have ever posed, so I think you should at least do me the favor of actually answering it. Where would I be, huh? Huh?)

The latest clip is something about the State Department's Survey of Worldwide Terrorist Attacks 2003, and the fact that:

(a) It claimed that 2003 had the lowest number of terrorist acts since 1969
(b) This was the result of ignoring November (and I assume December) because the report had to go to the printer at the end of October
(c) In fact, 2003 was one of the worst years on record
(d) There may need to be 8 pages of corrections in the report

Hell, watch the clip, it explains it better than I. But here's the thing: do the American people even care anymore that their government blatantly misrepresents the facts for their own end (or just blatantly change the facts) and then when are found out, shrug their shoulders and claim it's just one of those things.

They have been doing this for over three years now: WMD, Bush's war record, the Mission Accomplished Banner, the CIA/Valerie Plame affair (which many thought was capable of leading to indictments.....basically, all it has lead to is more spekaing engagements for her husband, Joseph Wilson) and so on. Watching from a far, it's difficult to get a true appreciation of what is going on in America, but my outsider view is of an administration that is willingly deceitful, unapologetically ideological, unwilling to admit to mistakes, and generally the kind of government you expect to turn up in the novels of depressed Eastern Europeans. I honestly (and call me naive, idealistic or a whining pinko-leftie), but I just can't fathom how regular people, people who have to go out and work their nine-to-five jobs, feed their families, and basically keep America going, could possibly continue to support something that is resolutely not of them or for them.

Hell, after all of this, he is still leading in head-to-head match-ups with John Kerry. Though if Americans were all historians, then we may not have a problem.

Maybe it's a simple matter of not wanting to admit a mistake. This is a frighteningly strong compulsion in basically every human being ever born, the incredible desire, to always be "right', whatever the hell that entails. I hate having my mistakes pointed out to me, and I'm not just meaning major you-should-have-weighed-the-body-down-with-rocks mistakes, but minor league errors like spelling on message boards (in my defence, I am quite possibly the world's worst typer which, combined with the fact I am the world's laziest proof-reader means I have plenty of opportunity to keep my indignation in working order) and wearing stripes with checks. God knows what it feels like to choose someone to run your country and then find out he has all the intellectual prowess of a bag of hammers. So you decide to stick with him, try to convince others that it was his complete lack of critical thinking, long-term planning and oratory skills that you were attracted to in the first place - you wanted Conan the Barbarian, because he was strong and would frighten people.

Anyway, quite how this devolved into a rant against one man, seeing as all I wanted to do was tell you that The Daily Show was one of the best shows on the planet. I'm going to go away and hone my ranting into something a little more specific and structured and get back to you. Hopefully within the year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Contraceptives - Abortion Rate 

I see today that there is a poll in the Sunday Star Times online asking the following question:

"Will providing better access to contraception reduce the number of abortions among young girls?"

Now I would have thought that the question is rather like asking: If one team scores more points than the other team in a game of rugby league, will they win?

But not to almost half of the respondents.

At the moment 1,291 have said "yes" while 1,245 have said "no".

It's obvious that merely making something available doesn't necessarily mean that people will use or do it (the sink is usually about a metre from the toilet but can you honestly say you've washed you hands 100% of the time?). However surely a few more condoms in a few more wallets or a few more young girls taking pill contraceptives will have SOME god damn influence on the abortion rate. Decreasing it even!!!, dare I say it.

The associated (albeit rather light) piece is filled with comments and questions from those supposedly in the know but once again there are few (no) answers from the very people who surely should have them.

The general thrust of the story is that alcohol is playing a part. Kids as young as 11 are getting on the turps, and doing things they might not normally. Basically the same as the rest of us grown adults do every other weekend. Of course we are talking about extremely young chidren here who shouldn't be anywhere near booze for several more years.

It's a bit of a tenuous link between the story and the question in the poll but then that seems to be their specialty. Surely a better question would have been: "Would raising the drinking age have any effect on reducing the abortion rate?" or something along those lines. And then perhaps a discussion of what can be done to keep booze out of youngsters hands (...and into mine).

Thinking back to my experience of sex education at school I can vaguely recall a few classes in primary school back in about 1988 and I'm still traumatised by the childbirth I had to watch in class on video in 4th (or was it 3rd) form back in '89' or '90'. I guess the classes weren't really for the likes of me though as it would be years before I touched my first beer in anger and ... ah... yeah.

I think it would be far better to actually survey young people on all the related issues. And perhaps even to collect information from the young girls who are having abortions. Of course I don't mean giving them the third degree and a 6 page questionnaire to fill out, I just mean a few simply questions about contraceptives and what they know about them. Now that could really go a long way to answering some of those questions that nobody seems to know the bloody answer to.

Meanwhile in Korea...

Wouldn't mind getting that for my car stereo.

Check the article out, about what they are up to.

and also I thought Chris Rattue's article in the herald about having longer test series against teams was good so if you haven't read it then have a gork.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

All Blacks v England, Eden Park Preview Extravaganza 

Thought I'd look at the AB's record at Eden Park and England's record in NZ etc before round two begins on Saturday.

Just quickly though, the 30 points the All Blacks scored in the first half against England last week was the 14th highest number of points we have ever scored in the first half of a test. Not quite up with the 84 scored against Japan in 1995 but not bad nonetheless. Especially when you consider it was our 382nd test match and played against the current World Champions.

Right so here are the stats that you may or may not be interested in.

New Zealand v England
P:26 W:19 D:1 L:6
For:552 Against:313
Winning Percent:73.08

AB's record at Eden Park
1920s 1 loss
1930s 2 wins, 1 loss
1940s 1 win, 1 loss
1950s 2 wins, 2 losses

so after four decades we had 5 wins and 5 losses. Hardly an invincible record now was it?!

1960s 7 wins (that's more like it!)
1970s 3 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses (back to the mediocre again)
1980s 12 wins, 1 loss
1990s 12 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss
2000s 4 wins

For a total of 43 wins, 2 draws and 10 losses.

It's been almost 10 years since the All Blacks last lost on Eden Park (remember that crazy French tour where they beat us in both tests?), 20-23 to France on July 3, 1994. We also drew the following year to South Africa on Eden Park 18-18. Since then it's been a run of 10 consecutive victories.

If the AB's win on Saturday it will tie their previous best winning streak at Eden Park of 11 tests between the 9-22 loss to Australia in 1986 and the aforementioned loss to France. Just think, if France hadn't pulled that one out of the place where the sun doesn't shine (no not Milford) the AB's could have been riding a 17 year, and 23 game unbeaten streak at the big mish-mashed, 'work the angles', home of rugby (time for cricket to find a different ground me thinks).

There's not really much to be gleaned from England in Eden Park test matches. They've played three, for 2 losses and a win. Going down 21-11 in 1963 (I remember it well, not), a 16-10 victory in 1973 (that would have been a dark day to be in Auckland) and a 40-10 drubbing a few years ago when they sent down a bunch of poodle's that wasted everybody's time.

In New Zealand they have played nine, won two and lost seven.

They have scored 111 points at 12.3 per test (no, not four penalties and part of a child you cynical bastard) while the AB's have scored 253 in the same tests at 28.1 (no that does not include 5 tries with 4 conversions either).

England have scored 13 test tries in NZ while the All Blacks have scored 32 against England in New Zealand. There was however a test (and this also illustrates my foul comments in the previous paragraph) where New Zealand kicked 6 penalties (thanks K.J Crowley) while England ran in two tries (18-13 win to NZ) in 1985. When the AB's lost to England in 1973 we were outscored 3 tries to 2 as well so just remember... shit does happen!

The top point scorer for the All Blacks against England all time is Andrew Mehrtens with 85 points from 7 tests. Grant Fox only played England once which gives you an idea of how recent our rivalry with England really kicked off. In that test Fox scored 14 points as NZ won 18-12 in the 1991 World Cup. I'll give you one guess who our top try scorer is/was against them. That's right me. No actually that would be the beer and wishful thinking. Jonah Tali Lomu scored eight tries in seven tests against the pearly whites, four in one game and ... well four in the other six.

And that's about it really. Feel free to verify my stats. I know you won't though so who knows? Maybe I made them all up!!! I've also played England in an unofficial test match in my head. I beat them 184 nil in a match which took a little over 3 minutes of my time.

Anyhow lets end on a mathematically created prediction for the final test:
England has only played a 'double header series' in NZ twice. Last time they lost 64-22 and 40-10, and we are in the middle of the second 'series' right now baby.

So using these results the AB's scored 62.5 percent of the points in the second test that they managed in the first.

If they repeat that they will score 23 points in the second test. Using the same formula for England (22 in the first and 10 in the second) they will score 1 point in the second test after rounding.

So New Zealand 23 England 1

hang on?

Te Tiriti 

OK then, a few thoughts on this Treaty business. I have read the Treaty before, but not for a few years, so I figured a refresher would be in order. I read the English version and the modern English translation of the Maori version, thereby using up about 5 minutes of my day. I don't know if I'm any wiser, but I thought the Preamble of both versions was pretty interesting, since it talks in pretty unambiguous terms about the Queen's desire to establish sovereignty over New Zealand.

Also, the 3rd Article (in the English translation) contains the interesting clause that
"the Queen of England will protect all the ordinary people of New Zealand and will give them the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England."

Now this would seem to preclude NZ becoming an independent (or quasi-independent) state, and establishing laws affecting the "rights and duties of citizenship" that differ in any way from those in England. i.e., it suggests that sovereignty would be permanently vested in the English crown, and thus in the Westminster Parliament. Although perhaps I'm being too formalistic here?

Also, the word "citizenship" is an interesting one, since there was no concept of "English citizenship" in the 19th century. And I doubt there was anything resembling "Maori citizenship" either. The correct term for "the people of England", as used in the English version, was "Subjects." Yes, sycophantic, forelock-tugging, "I'm not worthy" subjects, whose heads may be removed at will be the Divinely-Appointed Sovereign. A quick Google search suggests that British subjects in the UK became citizens on 1 January 1983. Canadians, by contrast, stopped being British subjects and became Canadian citizens on 1 January 1947.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand: Not reading the Treaty doesn't make you ignorant, and reading it doesn't make you wise, precisely because it's open to such widely divergent interpretations. I can read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in about 10 seconds, but it doesn't mean I know anything about how it has been, or should be, interpreted and applied.

To wit, a blow-hard of proportions more legendary than Derek Fox is one Judith Aitken, the former hag-in-charge at the Education Review Office, and winner of the National Business Review's New Zealander of the Year for 1998. Who would have thought that the NBR would listen to someone who consistently bashed public education for the sake of it ... talk about preaching to the converted. In the NBR article, faithfully preserved for The Ages here on the ERO website, she defined a "capable teacher" as one who, inter alia, "pronounced Maori accurately and understood the ramifications of the Treaty of Waitangi."

Well, as for Maori pronunciation, there's not a whole lot of consensus on some issues. Obviously Whangarei is not going to be pronounced "Wongaray", but take the word "Maori" ... I've heard Maori pronounce it from "Maarey" through to "Moorey" and everything in between. On the issue of the Treaty, well Dr Aitken, the whole bloody point is that no one is quite sure what its "ramifications" are or should be. Again, there is a huge spectrum of opinion, ranging from "simple nullity" to "document for Maori separatism". You are a moron ... it's not a teacher's job to engage in detailed historical, sociological, and legal analysis of quasi-constitutional documents. How about "an awareness of the Treaty of Waitangi"? That would about do it.

Alternatively, if we expect teachers to have the knowledge of lawyers and professors, perhaps we should start paying them like lawyers and professors. There's an idea. As it is, poor old Yamis will be soon be earning less per annum than his mechanic, his plumber, his painter, and, of course, his dentist.

Monday, June 14, 2004

It Was Like, Y'know, Suuuurrreeall...Man 

What the hell was up with that weekend of sport?!

I had an inkling that the AB's may just go ballistic and blow the poms away hence my hesitant pick for them by 15 points, but I didn't quite see that allround dominance coming. Not by a long way. There's no point going on about what happened as I'm sure you all saw it with your own eyes. Although I did notice that David Long mentioned in that Marshalls "passes to Spencer weren't always as clean as they should be and was shown up by Matt Dawson in this area whose passes were much more crisp", while Chris Hewett in the Herald said that "Dawsons service was laboured". So it's true then, they really do just make all those aftermatch analyses up.

Anyhow, I thought Marshall didn't have a great game by his standards and was probably the weakest performer in the team but his service has always been a talking point. That's his style though, he's a running playmaker type halfback rather than one who merely concentrates all his energy on passing as quickly and as accurately as he can from scrums, rucks, mauls and lineouts. That's the reason why we have all seen him surging through gaps around the fringes and having people run off him. If we want a robotic half who just levers the ball quickly out to his first five then wake me up when the game is over.

Also check out the great comments by the fans on the games over the weekend at Planet Rugby. Boy does Stephen Jones get it. I think I'll not bother mentioning the guys name in the future as it seems everyone in the entire southern hemisphere is hung up on one mans flawed opinion. Let the guy think what he wants.

OK so on to the second surreal moment of the weekend. The Warriors. I was off in an American military base in the centre of Seoul playing a soccer game on one of their artificial pitches. There's a whole story there about what's going to happen to this base in the coming few years, but that'll have to wait I'm afraid. So we played ok but lost 2-1 with yours truly 'throating' the ball into the goal for us before the oppositions star player knocked in a couple and blah blah. So then I get home late in the evening and quickly get on the comp to see what the score was. 50 fucking 4 loss to the Tigers and in NZ as well. Sorry Tony Kemp but the Watson boys would have been looking for a new coach for next season (or earlier) before the players came up the tunnel for halftime. Absolutely shameful.

I don't care how good people think the Tigers are this season I'm going to show you how good they are. They now sit 6th on the points table but that's slightly misleading as both the Sharks and Dragons have bye points owing to them which would see those teams draw level on 16 points. Looking at the Tigers results this season. They have had seven wins and six losses. All their wins have come against teams below them on the table with the exception of a win over a depleted Bulldogs team a few weeks back. Teams like the Sea Eagles, Warriors, Eels, Raiders, Cowboys and Sharks...whoop dee doo. I would say that tentatively you could pencil them into the playoffs though along with the Storm, Sharks and Dragons to join the current (and permanent) top four. All the Tigers have to do is keep winning the games they should do and they will get in there (only to get thumped out immediately). Those fringe teams I named seem to have a touch more consistency than the likes of the Knights, Raiders and Eels. Here's the reframed points table after each team is given all their bye points.

1 Roosters 22
2 Bulldogs 20
3 Broncos 20
4 Panthers 20
5 Storm 18
6 Dragons 18
7 Wests Tigers 18
8 Sharks 18
9 Knights 16
10 Raiders 16
11 Eels 16
12 Cowboys 15
13 Sea Eagles 12
14 Warriors 12
15 Rabbitohs 11

And then there was the cricket where we simply seemed to bowl too many four balls and once again lost a player through injury (Mills). I really don't want to spend half an hour trying to go through all the articles from the tour to get the full accurate count so here off the top of my head is the injury and illness list:

Bond goes, bowls, hurts and leaves.

Astle pukes and has to bat at number 7 in the second innings of the first test.

Vettori pulls his hamstring fielding in the second and pulls out.

McMillan breaks a finger and misses the second test (I assume that's why he only bowled 2 overs in the series).

Oram injured in first test then has to play as a batsman only in the second test (before bowling again in the third and finishing with series figures of 2 for 212).

Tuffey breaks down in the second test (series figures 3 for 246).

Papps breaks a finger and misses the third test.

Martin bowls 11 deliveries in the third test before breaking down.

Mills breaks down in the third test but not before bowling 36 deliveries for 31 runs.

and Fleming wanted to go home all along to give his body a rest.

What and who am I forgetting?

And anyway, last but not least from the weekend. I stayed up till 5:45am last morning? to watch England play France in Euro 2004 and boy was it worth it. England looked very solid for ninety minutes and if Beckham hadn't had his penalty saved in the second half it was all over at 2-0. But then somehow out of their froggie arses the French scored two goals in two minutes in injury time to win 2-1. You can bet that the 3-0 whitewash of the Black Craps has been swallowed up by the aftermath of that game. The looks on the English fans faces after the match was priceless. Utter disbelief and in some cases tears. And all that for their first pool match in a regional tournament.


Last week New Zealand's state broadcaster TVNZ televised a programme, State of the Nation, which coincidentally, intended to expose the state of the nation or as the show's co-host Kerre Woodham put it:

"Free from politicians and radicals, the show will hear from ordinary people - Maori and Pakeha - from a wide variety of backgrounds who want to contribute to the race debate. Hopefully, we will be able to talk rationally about our differences without it being threatening for either side."

(And oh how ordinary some of them were)

State of the Nation was timely following Don Brash's famous Orewa speech where he declared that under a National-led Government policies and decisions would be based on need, not race so as to avoid our nation's "dangerous drift towards racial separatism."

TVNZ even flew BBC World Service presenter, and Kiwi, Anita McNaught - or as one contributor to the NZ Herald's letters page today called her: Anita McZero...Allan Anderson of Birkendale must still be chuckling at the depth of his truly fantastic wit - to host the show.

That decision has come under fire from NZ First leader Winston 'keen for a drink' Peters... Yes how inappropriate for a state-owned broadcaster to pay for a quality, professional hostess for a tevelvised debate of national import! Shame on you.

Firstly though I want to relive my favourite moment during the State of the Nation discussion:

it was near the beginning and McNaught asked for a show of hands of the people in the audience - 50% Maori 50% Pakeha - of those who had read the Treaty of Waitangi.

Several in the 'pakeha' (European) side of the audience didn't raise their hands. Several more admitted they had read the document only after learning they were coming on the show.

"Expert" panel member and prominant Maori Derek Fox, former chaiman of Maori TV, lambasted those who hadn't read the Treaty labelling them, when pointing at one Pakeha gentleman in particular, "ignorant" and said no debate was possible with such an ill-informed audience.

The aforementioned gentleman obviously took exception to Fox's comments and said something along the lines of "well I've never heard of any white race of people eating each other" much to the horror of his fellow pakeha who the televison showed refreshing.

McNaught quickly told the gentleman that his comments were unacceptable.

However, I can't help but feel that Fox was merely trying to bait the gentleman and succeeded: his argument that because someone hadn't read the document that they couldn't have valid opinions on it is truly simplistic.

You don't need to have read the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 to have an opinion on the validity of marijuana's legal status.

Interestingly when someone pointed that out to Fox he reminded me of National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee and merely started shouting, presumably to hide an absence of knowledge?

That's the last time I quote you in a politics essay Fox.

Speaking of politics I also shared numerous university tutorials with one of the show's co-hosts Kerre Woodham who I found generally overbearing and mildly obnoxious.
If gossip in the NZ Herald is on the ball then I guess McNaught found her likewise.

But now here's my point - that's one for me inverted pyramid - the vast majority of New Zealand did not give a shit about the programme, or presumably, the state of our nation.

In fact, State of the Nation gathered a mere 12% of the possible viewing audience over 5 years of age. An identical percentage to a programme viewing on another channel: Third Watch.

Now as gripping as an American tv show about "the brave people who serve as paramedics, firefighters and police on the third watch - the shift between 3 and 11pm," is - they find a headless torso this week - doesn't this seem somewhat apathetic?

Forget the foreshore Helen Clark the masses aren't interested, you could probably obtain as many votes simply by flying Third Watch's cast out here for a photoshoot.

To hit two birds with one stone perhaps we could get some of these "brave" actors into the Warriors' front row? They'll try anything at the mo.

Third test in the balance 

Woke up this morning, got myself a gun.

Well, not quite, but I did wake up to find that England was 80 runs from victory, and 5 wickets down. NZ had been dismissed for 218, leaving England with a paltry 284 to win. Hell, I was knocking those kind of scores up single-handed in frontyard as a kid.

Interestingly, with NZ's bowling attack a bit depleted, Fleming hasn't bowled either McMillan or Astle ... perhaps he's figured they've alreayd done enough damage to the team's chances.

Unfortunate that Cairns couldn't score any runs in his last test, but hell the guy's taken 9 wickets in the match so far, so I'm not complaining.

Anyway, with NZ's 6 innings in this miserable series complete, here are the batsmens' totals, courtesy of Cricinfo. Read 'em and weap. (England now require another 56 runs with 4 wickets remaining).


The good:

MH Richardson: 6 innings for 369 runs at 61.50
SP Fleming: 6 innings for 308 runs at 51.33

The (not so) bad:

BB McCullum: 6 innings for 200 runs at 33.33
JDP Oram: 6 innings for 160 runs at 32.00
SB Styris: 6 innings for 191 runs at 31.83

The ugly:

NJ Astle: 6 innings for 138 runs at 23.00
CD McMillan: 4 innings for 36 runs at 9.00

Friday, June 11, 2004

Getting Out and Getting Down 

Russell Brown:
Yamis at Blogging It Real compiled an insightful look at how New Zealand batsmen's averages look if you remove their top three scores. He probably should get out more in Korea.
Tell me about it. Although I suppose my weekend trip to Tokyo last week would constitute getting out. I couldn't really think what to say about the place. Perhaps a comparison of the Asian countries I have been to might be in order in the future.

I've been counting down the hours this week. It's been a case of going to school, teaching my socks off, coming home and teaching some more then sitting in front of the computer for some light mental exercise that doesn't involve repeating words like "zoo", "video" and "this" (words Koreans have notorious difficulty pronouncing due to there being no 'z', 'v' and 'th' sounds in their language).

Everybody was in a good mood at school today, the teachers, the students, the lovely bloke in the store I use (although he always is so he shouldn't count) hell even I was enjoying sweating my arse off in the 30 degree temps we had to put up with. And to top it off even the taxi driver was bloody nice. We had a good chat -albeit in shonky Korean on my part- about NZ. He was travelling around New Zealand and Australia at the time of September 11 and so he was going on about what a nightmare the security checks were in Australia. I too was travelling at that time and will never forget the 4 hour delay out of Heathrow that made me damn near miss the last bus from the Venice Airport to get me to the train station to get me to Prague (don't ask me why I was landing in Venice and going straight to Prague, it's a long story and not at all interesting). Oh and the British airline lost my bags as well and then never paid out the insurance money. Fucking wankers. We got completely stiffed twice by insurance agents on that trip. Classic cases of delay, delay and delay until they give up.

So anyway where was I?

right, "getting out", ... well not only will I be getting out tonight I'll also be 'getting down' (many beers) and then hassling all the Irish folk on my footie team about ... well being Irish is always a good start. But not before wopping my Canadian friends arse at pool (which 'sweatpz' suggests I do). It really is like being in the United Nations teaching in Korea.

And finishing where all good blogs should...on sport (actually they should start there as well).

Well done Mr Fleming on what was obviously a 'f-you England I'm angry' kind of effort. Also Richardson once again proving what a fantastic player he is. Now if Styris could just belt 250 odd and Oram something similar we should be in a good position to ... ah who am I kidding. It's our bowlers I'm worried about. That's why dc_red have the mother of all bowling analyses in the pipe for the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Time to Wind Down... 

Well, oral exams are over for the semester and it appears my little rant a few days previous was a little premature: I was surprised just how many of the students actually put some effort in this time around. It took me about 16 hours to get through the four classes (about 96 students) and I still retain some rational thought and the will to live, so that's a bonus. It's amazing quite how different giving a test can be when you are facing off with a student who is prepared, smart and friendly and one who is unprepared, dumb and, well, they are all pretty friendly. One is like a short conversation in a coffee shop (albeit with more creative grammar usage) and the other like suffering through all 10 hours of THE POSTMAN again, though with more narrative structure and less Kevin Costner in leather.

So for the next three weeks, it's a matter of catching up on drinking, watching Euro 2004 and then hopping off on an adventure that will take me to The Philippines, The Netherlands and Canada. Oh, and a week in New Zealand, which will give me ample time to read the letters page of The Herald and wonder what the hell they are putting in the drinking water in Auckland.

Herr Freedom?  

It often intrigues me that while my great grandparents and just plain ol' grandparents' generations were training and preparing to go off to battle the Germans in numerous wars the biggest problem weighing-down on me is where to score some sticky buds. (And around early January I'm telling you it really is a problem)

I often wonder if they would still have gone off and fought and risked their lives, or worse, had they known my liberty would be solely used to get high and watch the NRL?

But not any more compardres, bennyasena has been entrusted by the State as a law-abiding representative of society to ensure that justice is served.

That's right I've got a jury much for the police state monitoring my every move.

Now I know your initial reaction - as was mine - although knowing nothing of the case is to yell "Not Guilty Bro, Legalise!"

But after an hour or two passed the seriousness of the situation started to dawn on me and my intrigue was heightened.

It could be a case of kidnapping (verdict as yet undecided) or one of police brutality (Guilty - told ya you'd regret issuing that speeding ticket pig)or perhaps a Mafia related trial where no-doubt I'd either have to take a bullet or accept a bribe (no please don't give me that cool mill in untraceable 20 buck notes Tony).

Really it could be any number of highly exciting and glamorous trials. I wonder if the judge will let me do a live trial-blog from the jury booth?

That way blog readers could avidly follow my commentry, my fickle impulses and Homer-like attention span while some poor clown's future lies in my hands...muhahahaha.

Further I imagine, having worked as a storeman once at BigFresh, that I am a leading candidate for the jury foreman role, wicked.

Now I've heard that they don't pay you your normal wage which I think sux but I can help even that up by charging them the $2.40 bus fare each way to get there and just walk that's justice.

Now i've just got to work on my apperance as I hear that you can get challanged by the defence's lawyers.

I was thinking it would funny to be immaculately presented on day 1: suit and the works and the next day to arrive wearing my functioning pothead t-shirt and beanie.

Now onto topic two: for those of you how are unaware there has been a controversial street race planned for inner-city Auckland in two years time.

Now as with every other significant news event in Auckland (i.e Hikoi) the story has been solely-framed around its effect on traffic - major roads closed for a few days businesses cut-off etc etc yawn - but I think I might have the solution.

If Auckland University can be positioned around a 4-lane deathway otherwise known as Symonds Street then surely there is no real need to close off inner-city Auckland just for some measly car race.

The race could even be billed as the Natural Selection Supercar Race: only the quickest survive...and attract extra spectators.

Anyway just food for thought

Black gold ... and sex ed 

Just to show that we're not just about sport over here at Bloggingitreal (though thanks for the link, Public Address!) I thought I'd point in the direction of some of the great writing done by Bluebeardnz on Soju, South Korea's national drink, and by George Manibot over at the Guardian.

In his most recent post, he notes that something in the American psyche rebels viscerally against the prospect of car-pooling and riding bicyles to work (and come to think of it, Hunter S. Thompson's "savage journey to the heart of the American dream" was propelled by great big convertibles, among other things...). The simple fact is that oil is a finite resource, and this has some interesting ramifications for politics:

The price of oil has been rising because demand for a finite resource is growing faster than supply. Holding the price down means that this resource will be depleted more quickly, with the result that the dreadful prospect of men sharing cars and riding bicycles comes ever closer. Perhaps the presidential candidates will start campaigning next against the passage of time.

But a high oil price means recession and unemployment, which in turn means political failure for the man in charge. The attempt to blame the other man for finity will be one of the defining themes of the politics of the next few decades.

Canadians are whining heartily as gas prices hover around the $1 per litre mark (NZ$1.19/l), but I see most of them are quite happy to pay $4 for a 300ml latte at Starbucks. Still, it's sobering for someone who is thinking about owning a car again, for the first time in 5 years.

Monbiot's previous post makes the important point that the abstitence-based (non)-sex education so loved by neo-cons is, in fact, producing exactly the sorts of things (teenage pregnancy, the spread of STDs) that they attribute to "sexual liberation" and genuine efforts at educating young people.

The prevalence of both teenage pregnancy and venereal disease in this country and the US is generally blamed on lax morals and a permissive welfare state. Teenagers are in trouble today, the conservatives who dominate this debate insist, because of the sexual liberation of the 60s and 70s and the willingness of the state to support single mothers.

Were we to accept the conservatives' version, we would expect the nations in which sex education and access to contraception are most widespread to be those that suffer most from teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. The truth is the other way around.

The United States, which under George W. Bush spends a vast fortune on "virginity training", has an appalling teenage pregnancy rate of 53 births per 1,000 teenagers - a record worse than those of India, the Philippines and Rwanda. Monbiot continues:

The UK comes next with 20. The nations the conservatives would place at the top of the list are clumped at the bottom. Germany and Norway produce 11 babies per 1,000 teenagers, Finland eight, Sweden and Denmark seven and the Netherlands five.

Take that, moral conservatives. Speaking of which, I'd like to add a few cents to Russell Brown's recent criticism of the morons from the Maxim Institute.

Defending something because it is "a tradition" is one of the weakest ways of defending something. It's merely saying that it's been commonly done in the past. All kinds of things are traditions: slavery, archaic rape laws, eating with chopsticks, eating with forks, using the Roman alphabet, using the Cyrillic alphabet, playing poker, beating your wife and kids, using evidence and logic in argument, beating someone up instead of arguing with them, eating cheese... (thanks to IDM for making some of these points).

The list goes on and on. Some traditions are worth saving, others not. Some things that are radical today will be traditions tomorrow. Get a life.

Finally, well done to the Mullet for another good first innings performance (117), and a brick bat for McMillan who has scored the grand total of 6 runs in 3 test innings.

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