December 28, 2011

Horse 1262 - DRS and Absolute Impartiality?

Rahul Dravid was bowled off a no-ball, given out and proceeded to walk off, except that the South African umpire Marais Eramus told him not to go and referred the decision to the video umpire Paul Reiffel. Reiffel duly noted that Peter Siddle has overstepped the mark, and the man they call "The Wall" was still not out at the end of the day's play.

Under normal circumstances letting a batsman play on because they were genuinely not out is fair and reasonable but given that both Shaun Marsh (given out for a duck) and Test debutant Ed Cowan who fell at 68 and was well on his way to making a Century on debut, were both given caught behind despite not actually making contact with the ball, I begin to smell a rat.
Why is it that an Indian batsman was allowed to continue, but two Australian batsman were denied the use of the same technology?

Personally I don't really like the ability of players in any sport to challenge the decision of the officials.
Law 5 of the Laws of the Game of football used to read that the referee among other things was the sole arbiter of the match and curiously the sole arbiter of time. Did that make him a Time Lord?.. and have access to time travel?
Law 3 of Cricket states that Before the match, two umpires shall be appointed, one for each end, to control the game as required by the Laws, with absolute impartiality.
It's that last thing which I've found particularly grating about the decision to let Rahul Dravid stay at the crease. I can understand the Board of Control for Cricket in India's stance that the DRS shouldn't be used but then don't particularly like that same stance when if they should be stading up for the principle, why have they not even made a peep about it when they've benefitted from it?

At the 2011 ICC World Cup, India were on both ends of decisions referred through the DRS:
When Ian Bell survived a DRS review for an LBW decision going on to make another 52 runs, the Indian captain MS Dhoni was livid; calling the DRS "an adulteration of human decision and technology"

Yet when Sachin Tendulkar had a decision reversed against Pakistan also at the same tournament the BCCI made no official noise whatsoever.

I mean fair dos if the two captains have agreed to either use or not use the DRS before the match, but if one side benefits from its use but the other side is denied its use then the absolute impartiality of the umpires is surely compromised.
Furthermore if the BCCI wants to take a stand against the system, then should that stand be consistent, rather than only disagreeing with decisions that go against them? It is totally understandable given human nature that we have a rather selfishly and corrupted view of justice, but there's still something wrong about a set of circumstances which causes a batsman to be out when he clearly wasn't (and denying him a Test Century on debut) and another batsman to be not out also when he clearly wasn't because of the country which he happens to come from*.

*Oh yes India, this is pointed at you. The BCCI have had all sorts of power disputes with the ICC and this is just one of them.

December 22, 2011

Horse 1261 - Jesus Son of Nun

The little notes at the bottom of my bible in the Gospel of Mattew, indicate that Jesus or Ἰησοῦς is the Greek for of the name Joshua. The name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎‎ or Yehoshua in Hebrew means "Yahweh is salvation" and in Greek and most Orthodox churches, Joshua is almost always rendered "Jesus son of Nun" in the Greek to differentiate them.

Now a lot of the Old Testament can be taken as Object Lesson for what was and is to come; so I'm wondering what sort of parallels should be drawn between the two.

Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to report on Canaan and only he and Caleb gave reports which were optimistic in Numbers 13 & 14 and ultimately he would be the one to lead the nation of Israel in conquest of the land.
Maybe there is a parallel between Jesus in Joshua in that Jesus was sent to make a report; not on the condition of the enemy but of the soon to be arriving Kingdom of God. It could also be said that Joshua's job was to conquer the land of Canaan and to smash strongholds. Jesus' job was conquer sin and also to smash strongholds, though maybe that's too long a bow to draw.

Maybe there really isn't any parallel to be drawn, maybe Jesus name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎‎ simply means "Yahweh is salvation" and that's that. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that does it?

December 20, 2011

Horse 1260 - Death Of A Madman... Enter The Madman?

The BBC:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, state-run television has announced.
Mr Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said.

The Age:
Kim Jong Il, the second-generation North Korean dictator who defied global condemnation to build nuclear weapons while his people starved, has died, Yonhap News reported.
He is believed to have been 70 years old, although North Korean official records said he was 69 years old.
The news came in a radio broadcast at noon local time, Yonhap reported, citing North Korea's official media. The veteran leader died on December 17 at 8.30am, a weeping announcer said, Agence France-Presse reported.

I can only hope that this is the beginning of North Korea's acceptance back into the free-world and the reunification process; maybe even bringing back the Emperor. Hopefully Seoul and Pyongyang will start talks more or less immediately to finally get rid of the stupid line that separates the two Koreas.
I was born into a world of two Germanys and two Koreas. East and West Germany were reunited in 1990 rather seamlessly as it finally turned out but the 38th parallel that marks the DMZ between the Koreas remains.

Not long after the news reached the South, I got a text message from a friend of mine in Busan who has gone home for Christmas. He seems to think that the television report was all staged, even down to the crying from the lady and that Kim actually died maybe two days ago because he was apparantly seen opening a shopping centre (after seeing this new invention in China) on Friday and that maybe North Korean media were waiting for the most appropriate moment to break the news.

The South remains on high alert; almost a state of emergency because really no-one know much about the third son Kim Jong-Un at all. Quite unlike his father who had maybe the best part of 20 years being groomed for the position, Kim Jong-Un has had at best 15 months. One of his older brothers Kim Jong-Nam had fallen out of favour after being arrested and deported from Japan in 2001 because he wanted to go to Tokyo Disneyland and had travelled on a forged Dominican Republic passport.

The next few weeks and months will be interesting as the new Kim begins to show his hand. Presumably his government will be propped up by China merely to stop a wave of refugees from fleeing North Korea's borders. Given that there are 1.2 million soldiers under the employ of the government from a population of 24 million, even just the economic task of demobbing them should reunification ever appear on the cards is a difficult one. Quite unlike the two Germanys, where the East was the biggest and most prosperous economy other than Russia on the dismal side of the Iron Curtain, North Korea in comparision is impoverished and very very closed.
There are also reports of a missile being tested off the coast. Presumably this is a show of strength because I'm sure that the military probably wouldn't be all that happy at an untested 20-something assuming control of the armed forces.

Some commentators have mentioned that maybe there is an opportunity for the people to rise up in much the same way as many peoples have done in the so-called "Arab Spring" of 2011. I don't think this highly likely because as far as I'm aware, there are no mobile phone networks in North Korea to speak of, the internet as we know it doesn't really exist and certainly none of the social media tools like Facebook or Twitter that were instrumental in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

If the cult of personality fades, the three most likely outcomes for North Korea are regeiem collapse, a military coup and the status quo being maintained in much the same way as when Khrushchev took Stalin's position.
I like many South Koreans would love to see the day of a reunited Korea but I just don't see it happening in the near future. I hope and pray that history proves me wrong.

December 17, 2011

Horse 1259 - T20 Big Bash - A Shiny Diamond Duck

Last night was the beginning of supposedly a shiny new era in Australian cricket with the first ever match in the new T20 Big Bash between the Sydney... oh I don't care.

And that is the point.

The first of the new T20 competition only got a paltry 12,287 people turning up. This I imagine would be very disappointing because being a Friday night in summer, you should be able to get far more than that.
The biggest problem as I see it isn't the format of the game but a horrid case of mismanagement of promotion.

Firstly rather than simply add two teams to the existing state sides to make 8 (I would have added NSW Country and Northern Victoria), they decided to tear down everything and rejink the colours so that they have zero connection which what went on before.
Cricket in Australia has been played between the states since 1892. That's 119 years of tradition simply just dumped into the bin. And seriously, in Sydney who in blinkies is going to want to support a team that plays in pink? PINK?!

The second major problem is that the new T20 competition is exclusive to Foxtel. When the late Sir Kerry Packer basically re-invented and reinvigorated cricket with his World Series Cricket in 1977 and again when the ACB relented in 1979-80, he had a ready audience on Channel 9.
The point is that cricket on free-to-air telly had an audience of several million, whereas the new T20 competition is only available to Foxtel subscribers and even then only to people to have further subscribed to the sport package. Casual cricket fans and people who aren't really cricket fans but might have watched it anyway, will now not see any of the T20 matches at all.

Kerry O'Keefe on ABC's Grandstand made the comment that in Sydney on a Friday night, everyone is probably out drinking and at pubs and clubs. Okay, so those people will probably already be at pubs and clubs and wouldn't have turned up anyway but most pubs and clubs do have Foxtel so they'll no reason to then go to the cricket, so the question is who is the intended audience of the new competition?

If cricket is on Foxtel then the rights are owned by News Ltd; that gives away the answer away. The rights can then be onsold to World Sport Group, Astro and the SuperSport channels throughout India, Malaysia and the rest of South East Asia, and into the Arabic nations (maybe even China?).
The T20 Big Bash seems to be a vehicle merely to sell TV rights to other countries and leave Australians largely ignored. That's fine I suppose but it does suggest the reason why I was watching free-to-air ABC1 and Midsomer Murders.
Even if the people who sell TV rights are able to extract just 50 cents from every person in India, that would still be half a billion dollars which would easily satisfy most broadcasters need for profits.

December 15, 2011

Horse 1258 - Bob Katter FC - Canberra Crocodiles
"I mean, if you could imagine 20 or 30 crocodiles up there on the roof, and if all that roof was illumination, and saying that we wouldn't see anything in this room because of a few croco-roaches up there,"
- Bob Katter (visionary), 12th Aug 2009

Bob Katter didn't know it at the time but I hope that his words will inspire a nation's capital. Currently Canberra has no A-League team; it has a W-League team in Canberra United, but that's it.
Allow me to dream for a couple of minutes and present what I think is a truly visionary idea, inspired by one of this country's greatest heroes.

To truly represent the nation's capital, a Canberra side should probably play in Green and gold. Either in a green or gold at home; since there are already more goldish teams in the A-League with both the Central Coast Mariners and the Newcastle Jets. Green therefore is the logical colour. To that end, a strip similar to the existing Canberra United strip would be good:

Next there is a question of the name of the team. For alliterative purposes, a team playing in green and called the Canberra Crocodiles would be quite good I think.

Next we turn our attention to the stadium. Bob Katter's wise words already point the way - "if you could imagine 20 or 30 crocodiles up there on the roof, and if all that roof was illumination". I can't imagine 20 or 30 crocodiles up there but I can imagine one very big illuminated one:

Turkish club Bursaspor will be moving into Timsah (Crocodile) Arena in 2013. All we need to do is find the designers and ask them to do it again. Basically Canberra Stadium (formerly Bruce Stadium) is a rubbish venue. When heavy rains come, it floods and a deep pool starts to form. I imagine that in a prolonged period of heavy rain you could probably hold mock sea battles there just like they did in the Colosseum.

So then, Canberra's new A-League team playing out of the redeveloped and renamed "Bob Katter Stadium" I think would be the sort of irreverent thing befitting a nation like Australia.
The question then is, what would Bob himself think?

"I approve of this plan, The people are crying out for something different"

Let's hope the Canberra Crocodiles are that football illumination up on the roof that the country sorely needs.

Horse 1257 - How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Jarad Bennett, of Singleton, astonished Column 8 by asking ''How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?'' Not because we hadn't heard the question many times, but that it was being discussed over dinner the night before, and the answer was given by a fellow who assured us that it had appeared in a Donald Duck comic in the 1960s. Apparently a woodchuck, if it could, would chuck ''16 board feet of lumber'', but we stand prepared to be corrected.
-Column 8, Sydney Morning Herald, 15-12-11

The Woodchuck (Marmota Monax) or Groundhog weighs anywhere between 4-9lb, so an average woodchuck would weigh roughly 7lbs. (I'll be using imperial here because Metric is decided French). Assuming the average 16-hand tall horse is about 1000lbs and generates 1 horsepower, then the average woodchuck is 7/1000ths as big a horse.

1 horsepower is 33,000 ft.lbs/min or 550 ft.lbs/sec. 7/1000ths of that is 3

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
I think roughly 4 pounds or about 8 kilos. That also seems perfectly reasonable to me too.

December 09, 2011

Horse 1256 - The Opportunity Cost of a Decade

So far the war in Iraq has cost this much money:
Iraq War Cost

I'm not going to use this post to discuss whether or not the underlying reason for the war in Iraq was to do with oil or not, but I do wonder about the money which was spent and what would have happened had all of it been used for more profitable purposes.

In economics the term for this is called the "Opportunity Cost". If we assume that money is a finite thing (you can't spend money you've already spent on something else because you've already spent it, DUH), then I wonder what the Opportunity Cost of the War actually is.

The "Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" or more simply the Interstate Highway System of the United States is the largest public works project ever undertaken in history. Even if you adjust the costs for inflation going back to 1956 when it started, you end up with a figure of just over $517 billion. Even with the clock ticking above, the War in Iraq has cost at least one and half times that of the largest public works project ever undertaken in history.
What else could have been done with that money?

Could the United States have had a Universal Health Care System? What about funding research into finding alternative renewable energies other than oil? How would the world have changed if more than $800 billion had been spent on that?

If you adjust for inflation, then the cost of sending 12 clowns to the moon only cost about $99 billion. What sort of advances in space technology could have been made with $800 billion? Would we already have people on Mars by now?
Sure, sending people to the moon was a colossal waste of money but it was probably a more inspiring waste of money than 8 years of needlessly blowing people up.

What's not to say that if Iraq and Afghanistan hadn't been invaded/liberated/whatever you like to call it, that during the Arab Spring of 2011, they wouldn't have decided their own fate for themselves; maybe earlier?

Perhaps the most worrying thing of all is that over the next decade (the tens?) the Baby Boomers in the USA will start to collect on their Social Security benefits. Almost none of the money that will be required to pay those benefits was ever saved in advance. I'm wondering what would have happened if instead of spending more than $800 billion on blowing people up, whether that money wouldn't have been better put to use in training and educating the generation who will be paying for those benefits through their taxation. How much more productive would the population have been if $800 billion had been spent on improving the quality of the labour force instead of the almost negligible benefits of being at war.

Just what was the true opportunity cost of the last decade, and will the next one be a so-called "lost decade" because of it?

December 05, 2011

Horse 1255 - Channel 10, No Longer "Your Home of Motorsport"

But it did mark the end of an era — of terrestrial television’s 35-year stranglehold of Formula One.
It was in 1976 that the BBC first started showing every race of the season live. Until then, its output had been restricted to the odd marquee race.
But the introduction of blanket coverage transformed the public’s relationship with the sport. This was the golden age. Formula One became a staple of our Sunday afternoons, the likes of James Hunt, Gilles Villeneuve and Murray Walker infiltrating our living rooms every fortnight and becoming household names in the process.
From next season, though, the BBC will share its coverage with Sky Sports, who will show half the races exclusively live on a dedicated channel. Sky will clearly plough considerable resources into a sport it has largely ignored thus far — you can guarantee, for example, that Sky Sports News will suddenly deem it a good deal more newsworthy than it used to — but by and large, it feels like another step backwards.

Given that Sky in the UK is largely a News Ltd organisation and that they also own a considerable chunk of Foxtel, what's to stop F1 coverage going to pay TV in Australia?
Given that the only motorsports events in Australia which are covered by the Anti-Siphoning laws are the Australian Moto GP, Bathurst 1000 and the Australian Formula One GP, what's to stop Foxtel from simply buying the lot and sticking it on Pay TV?

Channel 10 has already done its level best to insult people who don't have HD by showing races up to three hours late because of this policy successfully managed to show ZERO races live on standard definition television. Not even the Brazilian GP which started at stupid o'clock Australian time was shown live and on standard definition the telecast started after 25 laps had been completed (I was watching live timing).

Channel 10 has already had a poor record of showing F1 (see Horse 1187 and 1191 for further details) so I suppose they have been preparing us for this in a roundabout way.

If it does go to Foxtel then my interest will probably become more academic and I'll be forced to read results in much the same way I do English Premier League Football because I'm not a subscriber.

The CEO of Ten Network Holdings Limited is none other than Lachlan Murdoch. The TenSport Website merely says that they will be live streaming in 2012 but I note that the drop down menus for Formula One have already been removed. I wonder what that says.

I can guess:

The lineup on ONE HD and Channel 10 will be thus:

18 March - Australian GP - ONE HD
The rest of the season... Foxtel.

December 02, 2011

Horse 1254 - The Spirit of the AE86 Corolla

As a result, the 86 offers fun driving at a level unprecedented in earlier sports cars.
It carries on the spirit of the AE86 Corolla in its aim to be a car that evolves with its owner.

I wonder if Toyota's statement that the new "86" "carries on the spirit of the AE86 Corolla" is true or not. Personally I think that it's going to be a very successful marketing ploy, but that the 86 moniker isn't really deserved.

The original "hachi-roku" or 86, has a chassis code that tells its own story:
A - for the 4A engine, 1.6L in-line four cylinder (96kW)
E - is Corolla
8 - The 8th Gen Corolla was E80 and variants
6 - if for the sixth variant of this generation.

If you were to compare that with the current "86" then the chassis code might read (I speculate because I don't know yet):

D - for the D-4S boxer flat-4 engine, "jointly developed" by Toyota and Subaru (though in reality entirely Subaru). Subaru call the engine the FA20 in their documentation; it puts out 149kW
KD - which I think is about the right sequence for what the next Toyota model is
1 - is for the 1st Generation.
0 - is for the only variant of this generation.

Putting it all together we'd get DKD10, which if it was actually carring on the "spirit of the AE86 Corolla" by taking an existing one, should read DE155.

Really if the car was going to be a sporty variant of the Corolla, then nearest thing which actually does carry on "spirit of the AE86 Corolla" would have been the Corolla Axio as used in Japan's Super GT series:

Perhaps they meant it slightly differently. The Corolla was a car for the masses, and a reasonably small one meant for spritely city driving. Surely a 1.6L variant of an existing 1.5L car would have been in order; perhaps making a coupe from an existing sedan.

A donor car to fit that purpose would have been the Third Generation Toyota Yaris. Taking the existing chassis code as a guide from that car would have produced a code of ZP133 with the engine presumably being the 1.6L "Valvematic" in-line four in the European and Japanese Domestic Market Corolla/Auris. Curiously in 20 years, the engine puts out just 1kW more than the 4A engine from the original AE86 but does so sipping just 7.3L/100km rather than 10.8L/100km.

If the car is pitched in the low $30K range as is being suggested, then the car's logical competitor is the Subaru Impreza which also reveals its new Fourth Generation next year and with the same engine.

Given that Subaru's BRZ is pretty well much exactly the same car but with a different badge on it and has already been revealed by Autoweek, I don't know why people would by the Toyota 86. If all it comes down to is the badge on the front, then I'd prefer the Subaru. Subaru has more street cred which has been built through rallying and the 86 doesn't really carry on the "spirit of the AE86 Corolla" at all.

Maybe it should have really been called Toyotabaru?