Thursday, 27 September 2007

Porthemmet Beach

The BBC website is reporting about a website hoax, which is receiving 1000s of hits with 10,000 hits in a few hours on Thursday.

It advertises a fictional beach in Cornwall which boasts...
For younger visitors, the southern part of the beach has many beach bars, pubs and clubs, as well as being the only beach in the UK to allow topless sunbathing! The more liberal among you may be interested to know that police officers never patrol Porthemmet Beach since the local council decided that they distress elderly locals. Beach parties are often visited by some of Cornwall's most famous musicians.
It also has some amazing surfing, a regularly spotted pod of dolphins and the best pasties in Cornwall in a nearby shop.

He advises tourists that there is a private joke in Cornwall whereby locals will pretend to not know where Porthemmet Beach is. Don't be fooled, every Cornish person knows about this beach, they are just having some fun!

It's just not cricket!

My Dad has started a really good discussion about the merits of Twenty20 cricket, however he has done so on a blog that he has told no-one about, and in a format that does not allow you to post responses! So, I hope he doesn't mind - I'm hijacking it here.

Dave said...
Following the success of the recent Twenty20 cricket world cup, I want to pose the question as to whether Twenty20 cricket is a dumbing down of the game of cricket. This is not an original thought - many others have voiced the same question.

Twenty20 cricket makes for a fast and exciting game, that doesn't last for too long - so it can be played in an afternoon or an evening. But does the rise of this form of cricket mean that people will be less interested in the longer form of the game? And, possibly more importantly, does this mean that county and national structures will be more interested in developing players suitable to the shortened form of the game, and patience as a batsman or a bowler will no longer be a virtue?

This is a topic that I know a little about, having talked about this very question in an essay for my 'Economics of Sport' module. In it, I conducted analysis on attendance data for the different competitions.

One of the influences on attendance at cricket matches is the introduction of day/night games. This increases the appeal of one-day cricket as not only do spectators have to commit less time than if they were to watch a County Championship match, but a they are more likely to be able to fit day/night games around their other commitments such as school or work.

When looking at attendance figures for Middlesex County Cricket Club this point is emphasised. In the year 2000, there were eight National League matches held at Lords (the home ground of Middlesex County Cricket Club), four of these matches were played at ‘normal’ times, whilst the other four were played under day/night conditions. Attendance at the day/night games was almost double that of the ‘normal’ games (12974 for ‘normal’ and 23606 for day/night games). Indeed, Paton and Cooke (2005) in their econometric analysis of attendances for the 2000-2002 period find that matches being played in the day/night format are likely to attract around 1700 more spectators (61% higher).

One of the main factors that I found that influenced attendance was that of 'uncertainty of outcome'. This is where more spectators turn up to watch matches were the result is hard to predict. When you have two teams of varying capabilities then over a three, four or five day game, the better team is likely to shine through and win overall. However, with matches having a total of just 40 overs, ‘twenty20’ style of cricket means that a lesser ability team can sometimes cause an upset. This can be seen for the Derbyshire County Cricket Club. In the year 2003, they failed to win a single of their county championship (four day) games. In the 2005 ‘twenty20’ cup, they managed to win half of their games.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for the longer versions of cricket. Whilst the data that was analysed saw an increase in attendance for matches played over one day (or half a day), figures show that County Championship annual attendance has risen from 479,946 in 2000 to 530,938 in 2003.

This is largely down to the restructuring of the championship into two leagues. With teams split into two ability-based divisions, they are likely to be playing matches against teams more evenly matched and so therefore it would be less obvious who was going to win. Also, with the possibility of promotion and relegation between the two divisions would mean that there would be a decrease in the number of irrelevant matches as teams vied for the top spots, or to avoid relegation.

In conclusion, I would say that Twenty20 cricket is a good thing. It brings more spectators in to watch matches and generally produces more interest in the sport. It is important, however, for County Championship cricket not to get left behind. But with the changes made to league structure several years ago, attendances for these matches appears to be on the increase.

Please accept my apologies for the length of this post, but I (and Dave, I'm sure!) would be interested to get your comments.

Boris Johnson

It has been confirmed that Boris Johnson has been confirmed as the Conservative Party's canditdate for the London Mayoral Elections. Famed for a) his appearances on BBC TV's 'Have I Got News For You' b) some of his outspoken views, especially against the city of Liverpool, and c) that tackle in the England v Germany Legends match.

With a convincing victory, he gained 15,661 votes, whereas his nearest rival only polled at 1,869. Maybe it is a shrewed move by the Conservative Party - Ken Livingston was elected after a lot of publicity when he campaigned as an independent candidate after failing to get the backing of the Labour Party and Johnson is certainly no stranger to publicity!

Chris, my brother-in-law, will be pleased to hear that he is a keen cyclist (indeed he has been quoted as saying it is his wish to "decoy bicycles throughout Islington and send Navy Seals in through the windows of thieves" after he was the victim of several bike thefts) and we will certainly all be hoping he gives us more great material for our blogs!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Missile Base for Sale!

For those of you who are looking to move house, buy-to-let or start your own terrorist cell, this is a must! Ebay are hosting an auction for an old American Missile Base, located in near Washington. The blurb boasts:
The place was all fitted out to operate as a NUCLEAR MISSILE BASE with THREE 100’ Titan rockets SET UP UNDERGROUND ready to fire at any time

The Buildings include...
1. Three - 160' Tall Missile Silos
2. Three - 4 story Equipment Terminal Buildings
3. Three - Fuel Terminal Buildings
4. Two - 6 story Antenna Silos
5. One Air Intake/Filtration Building
6. One 100' diameter Control Dome Building
7. One 125' diameter Power Dome Building
8. One - 6 story Entry Portal Building
9. and a few other misc buildings and areas.

The options are endless - converting it into a massive paintball arena being my favourite!

New UK-wide Monopoly Game

A new Monopoly edition has been launched after a nationwide vote to decide on the towns and cities used.

Liverpool and Leeds have the dubious honour of being the new brown 'streets' (the cheapest on the board), whilst (in a move that will please Chris and Hannah) Exeter, along with St Albans have the prestigious purples to their name.

Dundee and Cardiff are the only Scottish and Welsh cities to appear on the Monopoly but Northern Ireland is represented by "Belfast Airport", but the board does not specify whether this is Belfast International Airport or George Best Belfast City Airport.

It looks like the board has a rather random mix of towns and cities and I wonder whether the vote was the best way to decide on where to place them on the board, or even whether to have them on the board or not. The BBC website uses the example of Keele. Permanent population = 4000, but with the students at the local university vigorously campaigned, they have managed to secure a place on the board.

I have to say, if it had the places that I care about on there, I would probably have bought it, but I would much rather buy a Swansea, Newcastle, or a 'make-your-own' (fill-in-the-blanks) Monopoly than get into a bidding war over who wants to buy Leeds!

Alpha Advert

Continuing with my theme of adverts, a friend of a friend of a friend's (you get the picture!) blog pointed me towards this one.

It's the new advert for the Alpha course, and again, I'm impressed! It appears to be aimed at those who are going through life, think that things are ok, but have a feeling that there may be something that they are missing. What do you think?

Monday, 24 September 2007

New Cadbury's Advert

I saw this advert today, and I can't really put my finger on why, but I think it's great! Hasn't got anything to do with chocolate, and I'm certainly no Phil Collins fan but I'm going straight out to buy a bar or two!

Saturday, 22 September 2007


I've just watched Arsenal's 5-0 victory over Derby on Match of the Day and I have to say, I am impressed!

There has been a lot of criticism in recent seasons that despite Arsenal's flowing play, there was a lack of finishing. Looking at what I have seen this season, it appears that this may have been solved, thankfully without having to forgo the attractive play.

It also appears the 'Cesc Fabregas may be this seasons Christiano Ronaldo who had a stormer last season. He's scored more already this season than he did all last season! It's just a shame I'm not the only one in our Fantasy Football league that has him!


Over the past month or so I have been thoroughly enjoying watching all seven series of The West Wing. Not only is the acting brilliant, the storyline's well thought up, but it also succeeds (in my eyes) in making politics interesting. The only problem is that I now know more about the Democratic and Republican party (or at least their fictional equivalents) than I know about the Big Three (well, arguably two!) parties in the UK. Sure, I find the politics in this country interesting, and enjoy debating with people about the few issues that I know anything about (such as the Euro), but I have to say, for someone doing a Masters degree with not only politics in the title, but run by the Politics department of Newcastle University, my knowledge, or lack of it, is almost embarrassing.

Part of the problem, I feel, is that although I may like a particular party's stance on one issue, I dislike their stance on another. It's like choosing the better of two evils. I'm going to make a real effort over the coming year (without detracting from my studies, obviously!) to look at what each party stands for and some of their key policies. Hopefully this will stand me in good stead for the looming general election.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

First Premiership Managerial Casulty!

A statement on the Chelsea website has announced that: "Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho have agreed to part company today (Thursday) by mutual consent."

My first reaction was shock, but when you look at it, I'm actually not THAT surprised. Sure, if you looked at the pre-season betting odds on the first premiership manager to get the sack, you may have seen one of the newly promoted teams' manager there, or someone like Sammy Lee. But I'm sure Jose's name would've probably featured fairly high up, certainly top of the 'big four'.

It is hardly surprising when you think of the millions that have been ploughed into the club since Abramovich has taken over, that winning the league is not enough. Champions League success was what Mourinho is judged on, and although he was only given one game in that competition this year (an unconvincing draw with the 1000-1 outsiders for the competition, Rosenburg) he has also had a poor start to the Premiership.

It will be interesting to see how Grant fairs as manager, and the role that Abramovich will play in the management of the team. The rift between Mourinho and Abramovich widely documented last season, however Grant and he are reported to be 'close friends'.

Oh, and Chris... I wouldn't pay too much attention to Liz's ribbings on your blog yesterday - when I told her that Mourinho had been sacked she said in a panicked voice... "He's not in my fantasy football team is he!?" He he he

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

"Free Goal" and betting irregularities

Some of you may remember a few weeks ago, the Nottingham Forest v Leicester Carling cup game being abandoned when Leicester defender, Steve Clarke, collapsed in the dressing room at half time.

This game was replayed last night, and in a gesture of pure sportsmanship, Leicester allowed the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper to score from the kickoff to reflect the fact the they had been 1-0 when the previous game was abandoned.

Whilst I applaud the sentiment and would probable have hoped for Arsenal (the team I support) to do the same thing had a similar situation happened to them, I am mindful of the implications that this has to the betting on the match.

Indeed, a similar thing DID happen to Arsenal a few years ago when the ball was put out of play buy Sheffield United because of an injury and Nwankwo Kanu (then an Arsenal player) poked in a cross when it was presumed that the resulting throw in would've been played back to the Sheffield United team as they had possession when the injury had happened. The referee allowed the goal as there was no rule that had actually been broken. Ultimately, Arsenal offered to replay the game, however there was talk on the day as to whether the Arsenal goalkeeper - David Seaman - should've allowed United to score in order to even up the score. The argument given against this was that if people had bet on the score, and scorers of the match, this sort of action could severely influence the results of these bets. I just wish I'd put my whole student loan on the Forest keeper to score first last night. Would've netted me a tidy sum of money.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Video Game Pianist

I stumbled across some of this guy's videos on YouTube today - he is an absolute legend! Born in Hong Kong to Chinese and Japanese parents, Video Game Pianist moved to California when he was three years old and began taking interest in the piano at the age of 4 when, after hearing his sister play, he began imitating songs. His parents noticed his potential and enrolled him in piano lessons.

He then combined his two great passions, music and video games, repetitively listening to the Mario themes so that he could play them himself.

In this particular video he goes through a medley of pretty much all the Mario themes, and although it is 10 minutes long, make sure you listen to it from 9:15 onwards - possible the fastest bit of piano playing ever!