Thursday, 28 April 2005

Melodramatic Snooker related quote of the day

by Ted Hoffman

When Chas 'n' Dave released 'Snooker Loopy' back in 1986, we all assumed the title was a reference to the madcap antics of Steve Davis, Tony Meo and those crazy Matchroom Boys. But 19 years and a host of damaged careers later and it turns out the Cockney troubadours were attempting to relay a darker truth.
Ben Dirs at BBC Online

Ebdon through to the semis

by Ted Hoffman

Brilliant Snooker match last night. It is intriguing how a game that looks so mundane on the surface, can produce hours of such tension and drama. Whilst this will go down as one of the best matches I have ever watched, it won't be for the quality of the play. Ronnie was dreadful, and Ebdon whilst playing comparatively well, made numerous errors.

A lot of criticism was being hurled at Ebdon by the various ex world champions on the BBC commentary team. Entirely unfairly in my opinion, Ebdon was slow, as he is well entitled to be. He didn't deserve to be essentially accused of cheating by the BBC presenter (whose name escapes me) in one of the first questions he faced after completing one of the most brilliant come backs the game has seen.

Sunday, 24 April 2005

Being back, the future of the blog, and snooker.

by Ted Hoffman

Back from conclave duties, not my 1st choice, bit soft for my taste, kind of got harried into it, but what's done is done.

Anyway unless my co-bloggers pick up pace this blog will from now on be concentrating mainly on snooker and analysing the lyrics of Thunder Road. Politics will take a back seat, these things tend to be cyclical, but I currently have little interest in the various political goings on, and given I am working away on May 5th and haven't registered for a postal vote, I will miss voting in a general election for the first time since I have been eligible. I'm sure UKIP will cope.

On the former subject a bit of a round up is due.

O'Sullivan has yet again threatened to quit. I'm not someone to put up with groundless whingeing lightly, and O'Sullivan has always been a big culprit in this regard. My impression is that he has bought into his own myth too much, he is a hugely successful multi millionaire, at the top of his game, with a legion of fans. If this is too much to cope with, then quit; nobody is stopping him, and he doesn't need the money. But he probably won't, just like he didn't quit on any of the last dozen occasions he threatened to. He, like a good deal of the snooker fan base, likes to see himself as the enigmatic genius whose only real opponent is himself. I am holding out hope that Williams, who seems to be playing exceptionally, will take him down a peg. Even then he will no doubt claim that he didn't care if he won or lost.

As things stand Stephen Lee seems to be swiftly advancing to a quarter final, which will easily be his finest achievement for a year or two. If I remember correctly then he was recently considering quitting, hopefully if he finishes off Ebdon, he will reverse that decision. The commentators like to say that Lee has the finest cue action in the game, which given that a) cue action is perhaps the most important skill in snooker, and b) he has won almost nothing, is a claim on par with claiming Ian Poulter has the finest ever golf swing, but they do have hours of air-time to fill. One of their favorite past times is to assign made-up-on-the-spot 'best ever' categories to the players. My favorite from today is 'Best long potter from tight under the cushion' which goes to John Higgins apparently, based, I am cynically assuming, solely on the one long pot from tight under the cushion that he had just pulled off.

What is Alan Mcmanus doing in the Quarter Finals?

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

World Snooker Championship preview

by Ted Hoffman

This weekend is the start of the top event in snooker, and there are some cracking ties to look forward to. O'Sullivan is boring me, no doubting his talent, but I'd be pleased to see him get a kicking off his first round opponent Steven Maguire. Maguire has been one of the few players recently who has really taken the game to O'Sullivan, and it is as hard a first round as possible given that technically Maguire is not a seeded top 16 player until next season.

A few years back I loved to see Ronnie win titles, back then he was a talented, but temperamental son of a bitch, who would often end up 2nd to a Hendry, Higgins or Williams. His improved match temperament has made him the man to beat for a couple of years now, but I don't quite buy into the often circulated idea that he is either the best player of all time, or considerably better than his peers. On the top of their game I don't think there is a lot to choose between Hendry, Williams, Higgins and O'Sullivan. The fawning over-the-top praise heaped on him by the commentators has become nauseating, if O'Sullivan has an edge it's that he can play brilliantly both quickly and ambidextrously, but that is neither here nor there in the scheme of things, I would take a Hendry circa 96 over today's O'Sullivan.

With China investing its considerable population advantage into creating a world beating snooker player, it's probably one of the last championships that won't have a 16 year old Beijingian mocking the supposed genius like skills of our top guys. I don't predict great things of any of the 4 non British Isles players, Aussie Neil Robertson would have been my tip, but his 1st round opponent is an in form Hendry, so maybe next year.

Only 5 of the opening rounds don't contain a player who has at least got to the finals before. Before hearing his recent bad news I would have given the best chance of being a new winner to Paul Hunter. He will be receiving cancer treatment during the tournament, even if armed with a copy of 'it's not about the bike' his form this season has been poor, so I think it's perhaps too much to hope for anything spectacular, though it would of course make a phenomenal story.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

Charity advocates censorship

by Charles Pooter

The "national environmental transport campaign" Transport 2000 (Registered charity No. 1101929) have called for the BBC's Top Gear programme, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, to be censored. "This is not about censorship" said Steve Hounsham, a spokesman for the registered charity, after calling for Top Gear to be censored by being "taken off the screen". Transport 2000 wants the show to be replaced by a programme promoting "sensible driving in sensible vehicles". Anyone got any suggestions for titles for this exciting new show? All I can come up with is Bottom Gear, No Gears or The Sustainable Transport Hour (with new presenter George Monbiot).

Saturday, 9 April 2005

Light blogging

by Ted Hoffman

Court cases and conclave duties mean new posts will be thin on the ground for a week or so.

Wednesday, 6 April 2005

Airport blogging

by Dom Corrigan

I thought I take a leaf from Michael Jennings' book and write a blog entry from an airport, in this case Heathrow Terminal 4, where only 20 minutes ago my attempt to blag my way into Business Class failed in utter ignomy.

But that's not what this post is about, if indeed it is about anything - and we shall see if anything occurs to me before my time expires which it surely will because this airport internet business isn't provided gratis to us proles in economy.

I've often wondered why I find air travel so uncongenial to my delicate sensibilities, and have concluded that firstly, it is because I have more heirs and graces than my wallet will allow and, that air fares are pretty cheap, and so "just tolerable" is all you're going to get. And free internet access isn't part of the deal.

Should it be? Well, no. No more than phone calls from airports should be included in the price of your ticket. But what should be included in your ticket price? well I've talked to a few people about this, and they reckon I have in my hands a brilliant idea that could change the face of air travel, making it a lot more pleasureable to all concerned.

It goes like this. What you do is to t

I never realised backgammon was so popular

by Dom Corrigan

Looks like Brian's site might be back from the dead. From the author of the best blog post of all time, not a moment too soon.

(The post title is just so that I can join in with the trackback spammers, those wags.)


This is no fun. Micklethwait has probably disabled trackbacks. Quite sensible and what I'd expect. Naturally.

Sunday, 3 April 2005

Neil Young

by Dom Corrigan

I've a long held theory that Neil Young has written every decent song of the last 30 years (ie not just the Neil Young ones). Even if we just consider his output in terms of the music I'm definitely able to attribute to him (ie the ones on Neil Young albums), he has an astonishingly broad and interesting back catalogue.

Young was unable to appear at the Juno Awards earlier this week when he was admitted to hospital earlier this week for emergency surgery on a brain aneurysm. We wish him a swift and complete recovery - not least for our musical future.

Friday, 1 April 2005

Gmail does it again - for free

by Captain Oates

Now approaching it's first birthday, Google's web based email system Gmail has doubled the size of it's mailbox.

The already large 1GB capacity has been increased to a whopping 2GB. The sevice is free, and advertiser funded. I must say that I have been using gmail for about 6 months, and never found the adverts to be a problem. Membership is by invitation only, and the service spreads virally.

Google has taken this step, because a small number of 'heavy users' are approaching the 1GB storage limit.

"Since we introduced Gmail, people have had a lot of place to store e-mail, but some of our heavier users have been approaching their limits and have been wondering what's going to happen," said Georges Harik, Gmail's product management director. "So, starting Friday, we're going to give people more and more space continuously and indefinitely on Gmail, as we're able to technologically."

I for one, know that I am using about 5MB of my now 2GB email inbox, but shan't be complaining.

Bill Thompson watch 1

by Ted Hoffman

I was reminded of the 9 foot cyber guru yesterday when he was suggested as a possible Dr Who by my colleague Dom. He has been of interest to this blog in the past, and I've been intending to mention him again, so I've decided to start a Bill Thompson watch.

Lots of blogs have 'watches' where journalists and other opinion formers are singled out for particular scrutiny. Whilst there is no rule against doubling up, there seems little reason to cover ground against a Toynbee, Galloway, Fisk, etc, that is perfectly adequately covered elsewhere. Though I hardly feel we've drawn the short straw, Thompson is controversial, completely wrong a lot of the time, but discusses interesting techie areas, and not the more murky and difficult subjects like the Iraq war, which I keep meaning to post about, but frankly it has begun to bore me.

This first criticism is only short, given that the article in question is quite old now. His suggestion that children should be banned from chat rooms is both completely impractical, and clearly an individual issue for parents.

That will do for starters, his better thought out works will receive a more meticulously analysis on this blog in the weeks and months to come.