All posts for the month January, 2013

Sorry folks. The site has started running very slowly – 4 seconds to load?

Something to do with memory cacheing and the database size (growing over 12 years). I have a dedicated VPS with 800Meg allocated RAM running this baby, though it barely ever reaches 0.5 CPU capacity. Guess I need to optimise the cacheing somewhere?

Where there’s ALF & Hope (Akpan) there’s a way. Fair bit of  rhetoric (standard memes) about skills, spirit, youth, experience & character too, but it’s telling that Brian says

“We sign the person first.”

And I think he means it, judging by the other relationships in the club. Some mad results for Reading FC recently. ALF’s late goals as substitute striker (1, 2 & 2) giving us points in three important games recently, despite him failing to score in the cup game where we scored 4 and he was on the pitch the whole 90 minutes.

Particularly mad yesterday where ALF came on in 66th minute and scored in 87th and 94th, both assisted by Hope Akpan, and both scored by single-touch volley / half-volleys, and the ONLY two touches he had in the whole game, a game in which  we barely even got into their final third, let alone a single shot on or off target until then.

BHA have an “Are you a humanist” quiz doing the rounds at the moment. I scored 80% incidentally but I had to be playfully creative with the actual responses to get through it since there were too many questions (including the first one) where my answer was none-of-the-above.

I’ve been a humanist since before the BHA existed, and it makes a mockery of humanism to reduce it to a caricature of scientistic arrogance.

I’m a big fan of George, not least because a party called Respect names the right virtue for a complicated life, and politics is as complicated as it gets. And, being a small independent, you can be fairly sure George is genuinely true to his expressed principles. Trust and respect – a great combination.

Much twittering around the personally dismissive straw-man Dave threw back at George in response to his PMQ – about hypocrisy in which Islamic regimes we support and which we don’t. Now (see complicated, above) there is always a level of “hypocrisy” between actions and justifying reasons, and even with open debate before the Mali action, I doubt the outcome of supporting the French in Saharan Africa would have been different. Even with principles, in practice you always need to choose your battle-grounds, fighting where you might expect a positive result, pulling punches where …. life’s complicated.

George is a first class rhetorician, and an ace orator in steadily enunciating his whole question amid the house heckling, and ultimately in resisting the impulse to react to the personal insult he received for his troubles. In fact you might say he’s too good; hoist by his own petard even. His own use of rhetoric, right from the off with the euphemistic “adumbrate”, followed by a string of emotive venom-loaded barbs within the basic question, meant the undoubted moral high-ground in the question, is largely eroded by the time we get to its end. In essence:

“Could the PM explain why his government chooses to support Regime X but not Regime Y?”

The PM is maybe entitled to respond to the rhetorical barbs, but he is not entitled to introduce a straw-man of George’s controversial personal history, nor is he entitled to use it as a deflector to avoid the actual question. Too many barbs let Dave off the hook. (Anyway – the follow-up is in writing.)

But of course the question was not framed to elicit an answer, it was framed as a sound bite to raise the debate in public. Too good ? Very good. Dave and George both knew it full well. It’s a tough high-stakes game, a rhetorical arms-race. Another case of “the medium is the message” when the medium is George – quite clear from the moment Bercow introduces George to speak.

[Post Note: Here in intelligent debate with Andrew Neil – very impressive. A side issue, but given my rhetorical comments above, interesting that Neil opens with the question of his PMQ leaving him open to the attack.]

I am to Brian Cox as Stephen Hawking is to Schrödinger’s cat:

“When I hear of Schrödinger’s cat, I reach for my gun”

The worst possible face of popular science imaginable. (Closely followed by – I am to popular news items about the Higg’s Boson as Hawking is …. but that’s last years “news”.)

Amazingly candid and positive comments from Dave Kitson, talking about the pain of relegation with Reading FC:

“You are responsible for people losing their jobs and you are coming into training in your nice car and you see people carrying boxes of their possessions out. You just think, ‘I did that, that’s my fault’. It has affected me to this day and I nearly lost everything over what happened there.”

“They’re my team and they’re the team I take my son to watch; I always have a chat with [Reading boss] Brian McDermott after their games, whatever the result, He was the one who convinced Steve Coppell to take a chance on me and I can never thank him enough for that. I really hope he can keep them on their current run and they can survive.”

Funny after (appearing to be one of those) holding out for unreasonable financial reward following the demise of Pompey, but as he says in the article he nearly lost everything. I remember Dave Kitson standing out at Cambridge against Reading before we bought him. He was never going to be “top-flight” Premiership quality, but fondly remembered after that oh-so-nearly era of Butler, Cureton and Forster.