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Category: Dave Brockington

You’ve Got To Be Joking

[ 25 ] December 2, 2010 |

I’ve been (finally) writing a couple posts, one a ‘coming out of hibernation’ omnibus, but holy crap, FIFA have challenged the laws of physics with this.

I’ll have a bit more of a run down later tonight (or early tomorrow) but I had ranked Russia second or third likely to get the 2018 cup, and Qatar?

I didn’t even consider that bid a realistic possibility.

When was the last time Qatar were in the World Cup finals?  They’ll be there in 2022.  I’m sure they’ll progress far.

At least with England not getting the 2018 cup, we won’t have the embarrasment of Plymouth hosting matches with a 3rd Division club (assuming they’re still in business next week) and I don’t have to worry about any roadblocks preventing the continued depreciation of the value of my house.

Update [Paul]: I’ve got $20 that says the 2022 World Cup won’t be held in Qatar. First the bid is based on assertions that yet to be invented technology will be deployed to deal with the heat in open air stadia (it’s 115 in the afternoon in the summer). Second the security situation is likely to be bad. Third not enough people are going to want to spend big bucks to go to a desert nation with a population of 1.2 million where you can’t drink in public. So what will happen is that in a few years FIFA will raise “serious concerns” about infrastructure, security etc. After an ugly wrangle the thing will get moved elsewhere (cf. the 1986 Cup). The bribes, however, will not be refunded.

Dave Niehaus 1935-2010

[ 5 ] November 11, 2010 |

Dave Niehaus, the broadcaster of the Seattle Mariners since their first game, died yesterday.

Stories / tributes here, here, and here.

I’ll add the usual narrative: for me, Niehaus was baseball.  From their first season in 1977, at the age of nine, I was hooked.  After I moved to Europe nearly ten years ago, I would listen whenever I could when back in Seattle.

Niehaus would call 5,284 out of the 5,385 games that the Mariners have played.  There was a lot of really bad baseball, but Niehaus made it more than endurable, he made it enjoyable.

An Ode to Ichiro

[ 8 ] September 1, 2010 |

OK, it’s not an ode  in a technical sense, but ode is a word I’ve often thought of when considering Frank Deford.

To Know is To Hate?

[ 19 ] August 20, 2010 |

I’m on the road so off the grid not infrequently, but I’ve settled down for a couple days in time to see the new Economist / YouGov poll on attitudes towards the proposed Cordoba House, and while amusing, it doesn’t really surprise.

Some highlights: 14% of Americans believe that mosques should not be permitted anywhere in the United States.  A clear partisan divide exists over both self-reported understanding of, and tolerance for, Islam.  Republicans are far more likely to claim an understanding of Islam either somewhat or a great deal than Democrats: 58.5% of Republicans compared to only 48% of Democrats.  Of course, this self-professed understanding doesn’t lead to tolerance; where 25% of Democrats have a somewhat or very favorable view of Islam, only 8.3% of Republicans share the same outlook.

ConDemed Coalition and Thatcherism

[ 3 ] August 15, 2010 |

William Keegan draws some chilling parallels in The Observer today.  Broadly in agreement, Left Foot Forward offers evidence suggesting that the emergency budget is hurting the economy.

Troubling to me is the sustained fall in housing prices, while my house sits on the market . . .

Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives

[ 8 ] August 14, 2010 |

I wonder where this rates?  Sadly, this sort of invective, especially the advice to not marry out of one’s race, will likely enhance her ratings.

And hell, we have a black President, right, so racism is over now, not worse, right?

When is Commuting a Sentence to Hanging a Good Thing?

[ 2 ] August 13, 2010 |

When you’re on Iran’s death-row, which has seemingly been convinced to upgrade their standards of decency to the level exercised by my home state of Washington, at least in terms of method.

I’m not entirely comfortable, however, with the use of “commute” in “her sentence of stoning has been commuted to hanging”.  Technically correct, I suppose, if one accepts that hanging is a less severe form of punishment than stoning.

Who Will Make it Three?

[ 5 ] August 11, 2010 |

Dan Rostenkowski, 1928-2010.  The quintessential Chicago pol.

Managerial Responsibility

[ 14 ] August 9, 2010 |

Or, what can Don Wakamatsu and Martin O’Neill possibly have in common, besides either newfound unemployment or having managed teams that I give a damn about (the Mariners and Celtic, respectively)?

Aston Villa manager O’Neill shockingly resigned with immediate effect only days before the season is to commence.  Rumor has it that transfer policy this off-season sent him over the edge.  Specifically, it looked as though Villa were about to lose two of their top players, James Milner (late of the England World Cup debacle) and Ashley Young, while O’Neill was not allowed to re-invest 100% of the proceeds from the sale, nor did ownership sanction the contract demands of Stephen Ireland, coming in part trade from Manchester City in the proposed / rumored Milner move to Manchester.  O’Neill, perhaps correctly, interpreted this as a surrender of ambition, and walked away.  O’Neill is highly regarded, and considered a hero by Celtic faithful.

His timing is crap for not only Villa, but also his own; walk out a couple weeks ago, and the Liverpool job is his.

Less surprisingly, the Seattle Mariners just fired their manager, Don Wakamatsu, and several members of his coaching staff.

Wakamatsu did not deserve this.  Last year, he was regarded for his brilliance, if not for every tactical decision he made on the field, for his ability to actually manage the cast of highly paid athletes / egos under his supervision.  This year, a 42-70 could have had the effect of attenuating the perceived brilliance, and his correctly showing Ken Griffey Jr. the exit door to his career made him close to universally unpopular.  These are superficial, anecdotal pieces of evidence; the sabermetric literature (that I am familiar with, I am now a couple years behind I’m afraid, although there is some interesting stuff here) has had a difficult time establishing that the field manager of a ball club has much measurable effect at all, and is negligible at best.

If baseball managers do not have any (as of yet) measurable effect on the probability of team success, is the same true for soccer managers?  Typically, soccer managers have a dual role from an American perspective: GM and field manager.  Player acquisition / disposal, the starting lineups, and on field tactics are wholly under his (or her) control.  This is not so in baseball, but also not the entire point.  While analysis on this question is highly limited, my non-rigorous, unsystematic hunch informed by anecdotal evidence perhaps hobbled by some subconscious selection bias tells me that the manager has a measurable effect on the probability of success.  Note, I’m not suggesting that the manager is the sole determinant of success, but that it is measurable.  (That study does not quite get at my question, but it’s the most rigorous I’m aware of).

I suspect that a “name” baseball manager would have also walked if presented with the situation O’Neill faced: the classic ‘fire sale’ followed by a clear lack of ambition, because his reputation is on the line.  However, the difference in the two cases is that the reputation of O’Neil is deserved, while the reputation of Wakamatsu, be it his brilliant 2009 or his miserable 2010, is not.

Milk Snatching in the UK

[ 5 ] August 8, 2010 |

has been avoided for the 21st Century, in a comical manner.

Last night as I went to sleep, I was informed by BBC Radio 4 that the coalition government was going to eliminate free milk for the under five set as it did not “provide value for money”.  At £50 odd million, it’s not very expensive, and while I doubt that it makes a huge difference in terms of public health, it does allegedly teach good dietary habits.  But, I immediately recognized the scale of the political blunder.

In grasping free milk from my daughter’s delicate hands, the government, rather stupidly, invoked the image of “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”, when Thatcher did the same for 7 to 11 year-olds as Education Minister in the early 1970s.  The last thing that David Cameron would want is a direct and valid comparison with Thatcher.

Hence, a classic U-turn, clumsily executed.

Turkey in the EU

[ 26 ] July 27, 2010 |

Finally, something the PM and I agree on.  I especially like the comparison regarding French intransigence regarding the UK’s membership in the 1960s and their same position today regarding Turkey — though it’s likely that their position vis-à-vis Turkey is more racially motivated than that regarding the UK, which had more to do about entrenching French “power”.

The logic of Turkish membership has always seemed clear to me.  Political scientists who study the EU have long held on to theoretical notions of how potential EU membership prods a country to adopt progressively more democratic features, and once membership has been secured democratic norms and institutions become entrenched.  Turkey has come a long way on the former with the explicit goal to satisfy Brussels; the only point I see blocking formal accession talks is Cyprus.  Furthermore, the benefits of Europe in institutionally embracing a Muslim nation are plain (even if this means a watershed moment in legitimizing cults everywhere, especially in Tennessee).

I’d be surprised if this were a popular position back on the (British) island.  Indeed, the poll in the Daily Mail, which otherwise did an atypically even-handed job with this story, runs 80% against.  While it’s a self-selecting population of self-selected Daily Mail readers, rendering the results theoretically a hair short of reliable, that 80% of British citizens are opposed to Turkey’s membership doesn’t seem too wide of the mark.

The PM risks more than alienating several EU partners, but also his own party:

Mr Cameron’s words put him at odds with France, Germany and Tory Right-wingers who believe Turkey may be incompatible with the EU.

Though it must be said that those same Tory right-wingers also believe the United Kingdom to be incompatible with the EU.

Privatize by Stealth.

[ 2 ] July 24, 2010 |

After seven years of living in the UK, two institutions that I admire (which never fails to invite derision from some quarters in Britain) are the BBC and the NHS.  The former is funded by one of the most regressive taxes on the planet, one that I happily pay every December.  Last August, at the height of the health care “reform” debate in the United States, I wrote at some length about my personal experiences with the NHS.

Fortunately, with the Tory erm, so-called “coalition” government, privatization is once again all the rage, so neither are likely to emerge from the current Government unscathed.  The BBC is under a muted threat, with Tory plans to reduce the annual license fee.  Their incentive for doing so is unclear: the license fee tax is solely used for the BBC, so their incentive is either demonstrating their tax cutting prowess in a manner that doesn’t affect the current fiscal position, or a spiteful assault on the institution.

The NHS is under a more direct threat.  The best MSM analysis I’ve read about this comes from the NYT, which is perhaps understandable given the distance.  Devolving budgetary authority and responsibility to GPs is risky, bonkers, and is unlikely to generate the savings promised.  What is clear to me is that this is a Tory wet dream: it’s a stealth privatization scheme, one utterly inconsistent with the promises of the coalition Government.  But hey, it worked for the trains.

Considering the weight and direction of these policies, one has to wonder what the hell the Liberal Democrats are doing in this coalition (besides selling out)?  Lib Dem supporters are themselves befuddled, with deserters breaking 2:1 to Labour.  Lib Dem support is down to 16%, and only 41% of the electorate support the coalition government.

It would be easy to quip that it’s little wonder the Tories want to adopt a five-year fixed term Parliament, but in reality it is now in the interests of the Tories for the government to fall.

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