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29 September 2006

"Evidence of the ball" convicts controversial umpire

I doubt that there is anyone in the world for whom Deborama is their main source of cricket news. Nevertheless, for my own sense of closure, I will post a link to this arcane (to me) and masterful commentary on the latest, and nearly last development in the Hair vs. Inzamam saga over ball-tampering allegations and a forfeited test match. To summarise, the ICC (International Cricket Council) has ruled on the charges, and Inzamam, captain of the Pakistani team, is cleared of ball tampering, but convicted of "bringing the game into disrepute" due to the Pakistani team's sit-in protest over the cheating allegation. But the fact that the key charge that started it all, that some unspecified member of the Pakistani team tampered with the ball, has been overturned by the ICC is almost unprecedented, possibly a career-ender for the controversial umpire Hair, and bad news for umpires generally. Angus Fraser, author of the linked article, had a chance to examine the ball himself, and agrees that there is nothing like conclusive evidence of tampering, even if such a thing could be concluded from the appearance of the ball alone. Another expert witness examined the ball briefly then tossed it aside with a curt "There's nowt wrong w' that." So, ahem. Fraser reckons laws are due to be changed in the near future.

28 September 2006

Bereft of a budgie

Sadly, one of our budgies flew the coop on just the third day of his stay with us. Earl, the one lurking in the background in the picture below, shot out of the cage and out an open transom and we have not seen him since. But this was just after what was meant to be the fourth budgie was introduced to the cage. He is Huey, a yellow-green with grey factor (I think). Apart from that, the budgies are fine. I got Sanjay to come right up close to my hand, holding a millet spray, inside the cage. Pearl is quite wary of me, though, and the new guy, Huey, is somewhat subdued. His head is so fluffy it is hard to tell when his eyes are open. A lot of my Google activity the last few days, apart from trying to find a sports bra to replace the one that's missing, has to do with budgie behaviour and care. I will post more pics soon. The news from the outside world has mostly been too dreadful to comment on.

24 September 2006

Our three new arrivals

The size of our family has just doubled this weekend. Previously, it was me, DH and Des (a dog) and yesterday we added Sanjay, Pearl and Earl, three lovely budgerigars. They have already settled in, although we are going to get them a nicer and bigger cage very soon, and today we went out and bought lots of cute little bird toys for them. This is a new experience for me, although DH had pet birds in his childhood.

23 September 2006

100 Years Ago in Atlanta

NPR has this story about the Atlanta race riot of September 22, 1906. At the time, it was a world-wide story, reported as far away as Italy and France. (The picture left is of a contemporary French newspaper.) In its immediate aftermath, black and white leaders of Atlanta began meeting, the most virulently racist and sensationalist newspaper went out of business. Within 10 years, the movement for black equal rights had turned its back on the accommodationist philosophy of Booker T. Washington and turned to a more activist agenda. However, the race riot has not been taught as part of the history curriculum of Atlanta or Georgia or the US. Until this year, that is, when Georgia politicians re-discovered the lesson and its importance.

18 September 2006

The truth about fundamentalism

Karen Armstrong is the foremost world authority on the fundamentalist elements of all three "religions of the book". I am amazed that she can maintain her academic detachment, knowing all she knows about the bloody histories of their fratricidal contention. Today's comment in the Guardian gives just a taste of what she's on about.

What's wrong with Kansas/Connecticut/the Democrats?

Gary Younge is so brilliant. Here is another wonderful commentary he's written in the Guardian, which has the best explanation about how electoral politics work in the US (without getting into the whole "third" party miasma - don't get me started!) This will explain, far better than I ever could, why people who are too poor to pay taxes love the Republicans, why the numbers don't seem to add up in the red state/blue state comparison (hint: they are ignoring someone - could it be? oh, no not again! - black people!!) and, most perplexingly to Brits who know a few Americans, how someone like GW can be elected and even popular.
Some provocative excerpts:

In his book What's The Matter With Kansas?, Thomas Frank described the tendency of working-class people to vote Republican as a form of derangement. He said that the working class had been hoodwinked into voting against its economic interests by "values" issues such as abortion and gay rights. There were two main problems with this argument. . .

So what's the matter with all these analyses? First of all they seem to step over a huge elephant in the room - namely race. There is a reason why we are only talking about white working-class voters: black people, regardless of income, overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Indeed, were it not for black people, the Democrats would have won the presidency only once, in 1964. That was the year President Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights act, turned to an aide and said: "We have lost the south for a generation." We are well into the second generation now, and the racialised politics of the south seem to be influencing the rest of the country rather than the other way round.

12 September 2006

My second hotspot blog

Well, not counting the two I did in between from a motel in Minneapolis. I am back in Keflavik in the 1.5 hour stopover between Minneapolis and London Heathrow.
The trip was great. The highlight, after being there for my grand-daughter's 3rd birthday celebration at a faux Italian kid-friendly restaurant, was Homecoming Sunday at Walker Church. The music has got better in the three years I have been away. It was very powerful. I requested number 62 in the Walker songbook - a countryish number called Powerlines by a guy called Larry Lattanzi.
Powerlines across the prairie
Haybales in the rain
Fields that stretch forever
Fenceposts across the plain.
It's a song about riding the train through America's heartland on a "steel gray afternoon" and just the ticket for the homesick blues. We finished up with "I saw the light" and then of course "Amazing Grace" in the circle afterwards. I feel better now.

09 September 2006

Wasn't that a time?

The Guardian has a retrospective article about the Greenham Common Peace Camp. Participants in the demonstrations are asked for their recollections, both the positive and the negative, and it is interesting to see where they are now and how they compare the political feel of the present day to 1981-83. One of the women pictured left is now a Plaid Cymru member of the Welsh Assembly. She feels very betrayed by the Labour party's present support for war in Iraq and the Trident missile. No surprise there. Many women today question the exclusion of men that was a major hallmark of the Greenham Common camp. Could there be a connection, do you think? Who knows how many gentle, thoughtful young men, now more anonymous even than the Greenham heroines, were discouraged forever from political activism, and what if they had come to lead the Labour party, rather than a naked opportunist named Blair and a curiously old-school, paternalistic socialist named Brown, and all their male and female acolytes, none of whom would have been at Greenham Common in the first place? It kind of makes you think.

03 September 2006


I have been in Minneapolis since the evening of the 29th and I've been pretty busy catching up with my grand-daughter Savannah and my daughter Aimee. On Wednesday we went to the Midtown Global Market, which is almost as good as I had been led to believe. My middle sister Cindy was also here from Wednesday night through Saturday morning. We took her to the Seward Cafe Thursday morning and on Friday she took Aimee and Savannah on a mini-shopping-spree at the Mall of America. We all got together with Savannah's paternal grandma and her sisters and mother on Friday night at the Old Spaghetti Factory for Savannah's 3rd birthday. Savannah is a big fan of Dora the Explorer and her cake and most of her presents featured Dora and her companions. Aimee and Savannah go home tomorrow night and then I must turn my attention to all my friends here that I came here to see. The trip will culminate for me with Homecoming Sunday at Walker Church and then back home via Reykjavik. I really have no excuse not to blog constantly, because there is free wifi everywhere including my motel. But as you can see, I am not blogging constantly; must be age and laziness.

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