A rare insight:
“Substance,” here, is beside the point, and this enrages a certain spectrum of the intelligentsia. As for Barbara Bush, her husband had not one iota of star power; her son had a little, but his qualities—non-eloquence, an Everyman outlook, a red-state appeal—are Sarah Palin’s, too… a closeness that may embarrass Barbara Bush more than a little, and really sting.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
A rare insight:
Posted by ed thomas at 9:18 PM
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The importance of options: no need to BRIC it (part deux)
Liam Halligan comments on currency games in Japan. The Japanese have been trying to reduce the overblown value of their currency to help exporters. The reason it has strengthened is because currency investors wanted to find a currency outside the Euro or Dollar in which to hedge. The upside of the strengthening might be the ability of Japanese firms to make investments abroad. It is an old game which is being played with a new intensity in the modern era.
(click timestamp below to read more)
Sunday, September 05, 2010
No need to BRIC it yet...
A year ago for some wee wee publication I wrote:
"more than a third of the world's population lives in... China, Brazil and India. Together with Russia... they have been called the „BRICs“ (Brazil, Russia, India, China) by many economists. The problem is that the world is not used to an economy which is built on the BRICs. People question whether the BRICs can continue growing without US and EU economic leadership."
(click the timestamp below for more; I haven't got this "read more" feature sorted yet. PS I've been considering matters economic in recent times, so this is something I might be adding to the content here, which sad to say I neglected)
Posted by ed thomas at 7:53 PM
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Woolmer again back in the spotlight:
Following up my latest post, see this remarkable blog from Jamie Pandaram of the Sydney Morning Herald where says:
"There still remains deep suspicion in Pakistan - despite no proof - that former coach Bob Woolmer was murdered by mafia types because he was set to expose match-fixing within his own team. The most sinister characters are linked to illegal bookmaking in the sub-continent, most notably Dawood Ibrahim, one of the world's most wanted terrorists, who has close links to Osama bin Laden. Some have suggested Ibrahim uses profits from his various gambling operations to fund butcher operations by al-Qaeda. Bookmakers are said to organise fixes with players, then place large bets with rival bookies to collect major winnings. One Indian bookmaker who believed he had been stung by a fix refused to pay up, and, fearing for his life, fled to South Africa. He was recently found chopped into seven pieces."
Those crooked Pakistanis: the world around us
I was interested rather than shocked to learn of the fixing scam being carried out by at least a number of Pakistani cricketers, and it reminded me of a few things; not least how unusual a game cricket is. In some ways it might be considered the most popular game in the world, enthralling as it does 1.4 million asians plus a hundred million or so of other ethnicities. It could certainly be bigger than soccer when all is said and done. In addition, it's a sport of the Empire association which we know as the Commonwealth. Yet I suppose it's played internationally by only about 200 or so players, estimating generously. So, across India and in a couple of rich Western countries you have many thousands of bets on a game controlled by 22 players, or rather, by 11 players should they decide to play a certain way. In Pakistan gambling is officially banned. Playing a certain way with a certain objective is so much a part of cricket that it's regarded as a skill to get the result you want- usually considered to be a win or a draw depending on circumstances. It lends itself perfectly to corruption and no more so than when played by the 11 prima donnas elected for elevation by a teeming asian nation. With many players never having had access to such money as the game offers, but that money swamped by its gambling action, the temptations are massive.
Yet Pakistan, rather than India, is the country with the bad reputation. Why is that I wonder? It may be because the Pakistani players are paid much less than their international counterparts. I suspect it might also be to do with the fact that gambling is a non-Islamic tradition, and therefore the players can enrich themselves at the expense of dhimmis in their "ill-conceived" "favourite" activities. Apparently key players and the captain were in on the scam- and as former cricketer myself I can say that it would be difficult for ordinary players not to know about such activities.
Was the whole match fixed, or just parts of it? According to Michael Slater here, cricket holds the most money in betting outside of horseracing. He says that "spread betting" was the approach that the Pakistanis were playing to. What you can bet on in a cricket match I can't exactly say, but I know the potential is endless. However it does seem that the Pakistanis were also at times playing to the biggest gambling topic of all- the result.
In all this there is another thing this reminded me of: the death of Bob Woolmer in suspicious circumstances during Pakistan's world cup campaign of 2007. There was talk then that Woolmer had confronted players over possible corruption. This would be at about the same period as the man arrested over fixing, Mazhar Majeed, claims to have been involved with the team's fixing activities. I wonder why the Pakistanis needed a new partner after Woolmer's death, since Majeed claims that he was approached by the players rather than vice versa, and this is information we know from the confidence he shared with the investigating journalists...
to whom we owe a debt of gratitude and an acknowledgement that surely someone with Pakistani origins or connections, possibly investigating journalist Mazher Mahmood, was needed to provide the insights and the contacts which led to the uncovery of the scam. If so, then Civilization 1 - the Barbarians at the gates 0 is the real result of this contest. But the darker question of the real fate of Bob Woolmer remains.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Sense of direction
The event of a new Government in the UK reawakened my interest in politics there. It seemed only sensible to hibernate (even emigrate) during NuLabour's nuclear winter of toxic bubbles and exponential increases (in housing, immigration, debt, spending, incompetence etc). NuLabour had decided so many questions ideologically that all you heard about was the presentational detail, particularly as the State's mouthpiece, the BBC, was given lavish auhority to set the news agendas.
Now I guarantee you will bear much more detail about politics, much more about dissent, and more about failure. After all, with a Libservative approach mistakes will be bugs rather than features (ooh ahh, views rather than scenery), with the exception of a few policy areas like energy and the environment, where lights going out may well be seen as a successful implementation of a policy of making everyone's personal energy needs fail to be met. When the policy objective is reducing standards of living it may well be easy to meet that objective, especially for those in prime positions like that of MPs and Ministers, or Prime and Deputy Prime Ministers.
To look on the really positive side of the Libservatives, one has to see that, amidst all their delighted abandon in slicing unwonted chunks out of each other's manifestos, they have determined at least to reform the National Health Service (a Tory election pledge notwithstanding, natch). This is the counter-argument to the one which says that Cameron is a closet commie. There could be no greater boon for Britain, and no greater boost for Conservatism, than reforming the Stalinist NHS. Doing so would be a fulfillment not of recent Conservative policy but of Liberal Democrat Orange Book philosophy- and Clegg himself is one of the major Orange Libservatives.
One more thought- Cameron may have a few deep games afoot in his posturing, on many fronts. Not least this might include the alienation of the so-called Tory Right. It's expedient now to do so in order to lash the Liberals to the mast of the coalition. Wait and see the fiscal Conservatism this enables... and meantime ditch any conceivable baggage that no-one has claimed for a decade or two.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The New Government...
Is depressing, I have to say. The modern politician in Britain is so self-admiring that he prefers to have a beauty contest with various grades of beauty than a sense that some politics is human and other politics inhuman; thus in the post communist settlement all are shades of gray, Blair was on the right track until squished by Gordon; everything must be public/private cooperative; the EU is our
density destiny etc.
I'm not sure if a Conservative Government under Cameron is worth having, except as a break from the slimeballs of NuLabour and a brake on their overweaning self-regard and confidence. I'm even less certain about a Libservative government which on the one hand preserves such institutions as the BBC and on the other extends the power of the EU to take on Foreign Office responsibilities.
Today's politicians are pleased as punch to be "in power", whatever that means. Well of course it means committees and delegations and protocol, plus influence, flattery and prestige. That's it? These guys are not worthy.
On the one hand they enjoy the trappings of a unique political position enjoyed by a class that benefits from hundreds of years of stable statehood, serene democracy and effectually expressed economic and military power; on the other hand they are the linchpins responsible for negotiating that away to the EU, lending the EU the credibility only we among European nations have, and reducing the nature of the country from effectual and dynamic to decorative and simply heritable.
Friday, February 26, 2010
As the UK election approaches, more and more the NuLabour machine rages, and sadly to effect. I look forward to the day when we pursue people like Campbell and Mandelson and put them in the dock for conspiring to subvert the democratic process. It makes me so mad when I hear of the so-called "charity" Commission investigating the anti-bullying charity whose Chief Executive spoke out after Peter Mandelson denied any stories of bullying in No 10 Downing Street.
Where to start in the sorry mess? What about the Charity Commission- an over-politicised institution no doubt? What about the anti-bullying charity- understandably engrossed with political signals about the bullying issue? What about Mandy himself, "unleashing hell" on the charity and its leadership after it crossed his media spin operation. Mandy is the nearest thing the UK has to evil, the biggest bully boy of all.