Thursday, 29 March 2007


What can I say? Pants? That England have only managed 9 goals between them and Healy has managed that on his own for Northern Ireland probably says it all. NI were crackingly good value last night against Sweden and are making the most of their small talent pool. England meanwhile seem to be squandering their much more significant resources. McClaren never was 'The Man' and clearly isn't growing into the job. I'd like to see him go but that's just not going to happen unfortunately.

It strikes me there are two main problems - Gerrard/Lampard and our lack of a goalscoring striker. Clearly the answer to the first is to drop one of them. My preference would be to play Gerrard (and make him Captain) as I think he's the slightly better player and he's younger. I think we've seen the best of Lampard and his game will now begin to slowly deteriorate as he gets older.

The striker problem is a biggie. I don't think that Owen is going to turn out to be our saviour. Too many injuries will take their toll now. Anyone who's had knee surgery knows that it upsets the bodies balance - biomechanics I think it's called. I've had years of back trouble since my knee op, something I'd never had before. None of Crouch, Defoe, Johnson or increasingly Rooney look up to the job. My preference is probably for Johnson but I'd like to see a 20 goal a season man up front and currently they are all foreign.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

The Trap

A very interesting three part series looking at how politicians have taken us down the road to a more authoritarian society in the name of giving us freedom. I'm not sure that the arguments held up as well in this series as in 'The Power of Nightmares' whose narrative was drived by a much stronger and more coherent argument. It was however full of fascinating insights even if it felt, at times, like a series of introductory academic courses in sociology, number theorey, psychology, political philosophy and the like - the final episode revolving around the work of Isaiah Berlin underlined this for me even more.

My favourite piece was the story about the psychology experiment where eight people turned up at psychiatric hospitals in the US in the 60s and said there was a voice in the head saying 'Thump' but were otherwise quite sane. All eight were declared insane, admitted to hospital and had to undergo therapy including strong drugs. Eventually, after a month or so they all got out but only when each had admitted that they were insane and that the treatment was helping them! A fascinating story but I'm not sure how it fitted into the narrative of freedom. The whole area of how sanity became a load of tickboxes seemed a bit flaky to me and a distraction from the basic point of the series - that whenever governments enforce an ideology, illiberal or liberal, they invariably end up becoming intolerant and reducing our freedoms. The shopping list of the current government - ID cards, bio this and that, CCTV everywhere - makes this point in spades.

Adam Curtis' finishing point that Isaiah Berlin was wrong was well made but I don't know enough about his theories to know if his portrayal of them was fair. In a number of areas he skewered his intended targets: the New labour obsession with targets and how easily these were 'gamed'; the US and UK governments' love affair with the free market, since Clinton's conversion on ascending to the US presidency, and the rampant inequality that has become the legacy of that policy. Curtis' assertion that the crisis in Iraq was also the fault of the free market was unconvincing as total incompetence and lack of planning seems the more likely reason to me.

All in all, a thoughtful, interesting and rewarding programme and the BBC has to be commended for producing work of this quality. Being led through a series of disparate and interesting subject areas, I found myself being drawn into things I knew nothing about which in itself is a pleasure. three hours well spent. I hear that The Power of Nightmares will soon be out on DVD too.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Baby Sitting

Well, my intention of writing a post every day, at least during my working week, has come unstuck. Yesterday, the wife got gastric flu - very nasty - and was unable to look after the baby and disappeared off to bed and the toilet for most of the day. At four months old, working from home and doing the odd bit of child care doesn't really cut it. He needs full time attention not to mention a long trip out at lunch for his nap. And that's when I discovered something rather disturbing. I've known for a while that if he doesn't get a good two hour nap he's a complete horror all afternoon - tetchy, doesn't feed properly etc. So I wheeled him off to the park thinking I could read the paper while he snoozed but as soon as I sat down the pushchair started to shake - he was inside trying to kick. About five minutes later the squeeking started and it's get him moving or face an afternoon of hell. My wife likens it to the film "Speed"! So, two hours of walking was bad enough on top of a full day of keeping him amused, feeding and changing him and keeping the wife in hot, sweet tea. All this on top of about 4 hours sleep due to the aforementioned gastric flu. I fell asleep watching a DVD at about 7pm! It makes you appreciate work. And I'm back today.

The subject I wanted to write about yesterday was The Trap - What happened to our dream of Freedom that finished on Sunday night. It's another very interesting series from Adam Curtis, who previously gave us The Power of Nightmares. And as I've run out of time today, I'll take it up tomorrow.

Friday, 23 March 2007

First blog

I suppose I should start with a bit about me. By education, I'm a mathematician and an MBA. By profession, I'm an IT Manager for a medium sized American multinational. I'm also a husband and new father. I live in North London and work in the City and have to commute on the Northern Line most days - anyone who understands that experience will pity me.

Why am I doing this? Well, mainly because I'd like to do some writing that isn't work based and is about things that interest me. I find myself commenting quite a lot on the BBC boards, so I thought I'd try to do something more constructive and, hopefully, more coherent. I would also like to broaden the network of people that I know particularly in the technology and business arena and hope that this might become a forum for that.

What do I plan to write about? Initially, it will be a mix of the issues of the day - politics, economics, sport, - technology, work, babies, TV and whatever takes my fancy but as I get more competent at what I'm doing that may change.

To start with I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan cricket coach and ex-England cricketer, who was, shockingly, murdered last weekend. It frankly beggars belief that someone would do this in what is supposed to be a gentlemen's game. The possibility that this relates to gambling syndicates and thrown games - the two Pakistan losses in this World Cup look suspicious now - casts a long shadow over the competition and we have five more weeks of it for this story to germinate. Let's just hope the killer(s) are identified and caught soon.