Tuesday, April 24, 2007


On what is possibly my favourite website (Waccoe - a Leeds Utd message board) there is currently a poll. The question asks "Will we stay up, Use Head not Heart"? I have voted no. Looking at the results as they stand 49 say yes, 137 say no.

This on a partisan message board says it all really.


One Square of loo paper.

Hmmm, Sheryl Crow has just advanced a theory on how to do our bit against global warming...

Impose a one square of toilet paper per person limitation! Or 2-3 in messy situations haha!

Well I agree that some people can be excessive in their use of toilet paper, but how is she going to impose the restriction on people? Employ people to hand out one square to each person who enters a public toilet? There's no way it can be done, and it will have zero effect on global warming even if it is achieved.

Her comments are ridiculous in the extreme!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Am I about to scale the peak of bitterness?

What a SHITTY SHITTY Saturday night. Awful. Bitter and awful. Anger and despair.

Yes, its Leeds I'm talking about again.

A highly controversial sending off for Alan Thompson on 38 minutes stuffed up any chance we had of winning. Wise then sacrificed Blake for the defensive Foxe - and defending became the order of the day. We defended magnificently until the bitter 84th minute and Bradley Wright Phillips broke thousands of collective hearts across the globe.
It wouldn't have been quite so bad had all the other results not been so goddamn shitty and awful for Leeds. A 90th minute equaliser from Hull against Stoke, and a last minute winner for Leicester against Preston made it a dark, dark day for Leeds Utd.
Yet again with 10 minutes to go, results were going our way only for the true agony of last minute goals to come our way again. Following those last few minutes live on the Internet truly made me want to smash every computer and tv across the country.
2 games left, and it is still possible to survive. I rate it at about 15%. We need the marriage of Harry Houdini and Lazarus to achieve that goal. We could conceivably get relegated this weekend. If Hull beat Cardiff and we fail to beat Ipswich - then we are gone. If we win, and Hull don't then we grab back the initiative. Unfortunately now Barnsley and Leicester are 5 points ahead of us. The only chance we have of overtaking one of them is to win this weekend and put us two or three points behind one of these teams (given the fact they will be playing each other) going into the last game.
If this weekend sees wins for Leeds, Leicester and Cardiff, then, and only then, will I get some belief back.
This weeks home match is the biggest in our 87 year history. And should we not be relegated in this game then the last match against Derby will take over this position.
Bitterness, depths of despair...surely someone somewhere can shine a light at the end of the tunnel???

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The money is irrelevant.

As some of you may know I have $120 riding on Leeds Utd. A $100 bet with Liam that we will survive relegation (made ages ago when we were both rather intoxicated!) and a $20 bet with Andrew Falloon that we will not finish last.

Barring a miracle Andrew's $20 will be mine. The $100 is still very much in the balance.

But I am sick to death of people speaking to me about Leeds bid to survive relegation in terms of "maybe you won't have to lose $100", "you won't want to lose $100". Let me make it very clear to those who don't already know:

The money is irrelevant! Of course I'd rather not pay up but quite frankly that is the last of my considerations. I want Leeds to stay up because I am simply obsessed with my wonderful team. Because I am a fanatic, hardcore Leeds supporter who feels every goal we concede as a stab in the heart. Leeds have never been below the second tier of English football, to do so would be immensely bitter. Since I have cried at relegation from the Premiership, and losing the Championship playoff final last season...since Leeds United means so much to me...it's NOT ABOUT THE BLOODY MONEY!
In fact - I would pay my bitterest enemy $1000 if it was the only way Leeds could guarantee survival. One Leeds fan on a message board said "I would put my arse up for rent in Armley Jail if it meant survival". LOL.
Logically I shouldn't care whether a group of blokes are better at kicking a football around on a patch of grass than another group of blokes. The sad reality is...I care too much.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oh dear. Scum and Chelscum are monopolising.

Unfortunately the FA cup final will be between Manchester United and Chelsea. Blackburn came ever so close in their replay with Chelsea last night, but ultimately a late extra-time winner from Ballack prevented it. This despite Blackburn having about 3 times more shots. But Chelsea sneak themselves to a winner...again.

The Champions League final also has the potential to feature the same two teams. I really hope Liverpool can spoil that party.

And of course the Premiership is a two horse race between those two sides.

Will I watch the FA cup final? No. I will break the tradition of a lifetime. Why would I want to watch two teams I hate, full of many players I hate, battle it out for this prestigious piece of silverware? As a Leeds fan I've traditionally hated Man Utd. And of course ever since the age of negative 14 I have hated Chelsea - when they cheated their way to a victory in the 1970 FA cup final replay against Leeds. My hatred of Chelsea has really been solidified though since they started splashing the cash. The splashing of cash in itself is not that bad, its the how. I always cite this example but spending a ridiculous amount of money on one team's best player and then rarely playing them is the epitome of their largesse. 25 Million pounds for Shaun Wright Phillips only to put him on the bench at best. It's just not acceptable to me. At least Man Utd always have a core of young talent coming through, groomed by an excellent youth system. Plus Chris Waddle makes a very good point when he attacks Chelsea's brand of football - particularly considering the money they have at their disposal.

Anyway it's not good for football to have two teams dominate so much.

In fact football is in tatters at the moment due to too much money being around in the Premiership, this is only going to get worse rather than better - especially with some of the deals in the pipeline. It's disillusioning, and hence I'm not watching as much premiership action these days. There are too many foreign investors throughout the leagues as well.
Anyway...Scum and Chelscum...Grrr!

3 games left and I'm shitting bricks.

A 1-0 win for us over Burnley last weekend...and it's clear that the relegation fight will go right to the wire. If we go down on goal difference, or by 1-2 points it will be terrible. To have got so close and yet still be relegated will be bitterness personified. It will leave me wondering about all the what ifs...what if we hadn't conceded that last minute goal against Colchester...what if we'd managed to convert one of our many 1 goal losses into a draw...etc.

The table as it stands:

QPR 49
Leicester 47
Barnsley 47
Hull 45
Leeds 45
Southend 42
Luton 37

Leicester have one game in hand (this will be played shortly - lets hope they don't manage to do what the likes of Barnsley and Southend have - beat Birmingham!)

Anyway - it's ever so close...so many permutations. We have a tough last 3 games starting with Southampton away this weekend. This will be followed by being at home to Ipswich and away to Derby. Tough, tough games. Some of the other teams have damn hard run-ins as well though.

I'm shitting bricks.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Liberty and Society Conference.

Well I'm back from an interesting weekend in Sydney. Got to hear some fascinating speakers, meet some great people, and generally have a good time. This included eating a lot of good food (those who know me won't be surprised to realise that I ate a helluva lot - constantly piling my plate high and going back for more) and drinking plenty of red wine! All on the house of course :) Yes. I am a glutton!

Friday Night: After navigating my way through the airport, a couple of train trips and a short walk I arrived at the Centre for Independent Studies in good time for the welcome dinner. This was my first chance to meet the people attending the conference. There were about 30-35 of us including 5 New Zealanders. I started consuming quite a lot of red wine which I continued to do throughout the dinner! The speaker at the dinner was Tanveer Ahmed - a fascinating speaker. He discussed issues related to muslim integration and of the forging of one's identity. He discussed ideas of the conflict between first, second and third generations of immigrants such as how the first generations often desires to cling to the traditions of the old world, attempting to limit their children's interaction with white Australians. He pointed to how their strong opinions leads to differing forms of extremism among the later generations. A lot of the speech reminded me of one of my favourite novels: "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith in which these issues are thoroughly explored through one of the novel's strands - the depiction of one muslim Bangladeshi's family having emigrated to England. (I know I've kind of gone off on an aside here but everyone should read this book - it's fantastic - I've read it twice and will no doubt do so a few more times in my life!) After the dinner some of us headed out to the Crow's Nest Hotel Bar not far away. I stayed an hour or so before retiring for bed.
Saturday morning saw Nick Southwood talk to us about the political philosophy of classical liberalism. It was a wonderful session: since I'd already looked at many of the issues in a first year philosophy paper it was easy to get a handle on. He's a big fan of John Stuart Mill - and used him to get to the crux of the issue a few times: the fundament of classical liberalism being the harm principle, that anything goes unless it causes harm to others. Quite self-explanatory really - although defining harm can be quite tricky. It was quite a wide ranging talk on the theories of the philosophy of liberalism and managed to encompass a fair amount - such as the ridiculousness of utilitarianism. In the second half of his session he talked about groups - whether liberalism would allow one to sign up to a group that forced one to endure or do certain things - providing there was an exit strategy. This provoked a very healthy discussion - especially when we were in our breakout groups. One group came up with the extreme example of forming a snuff club whereby a member would join on the monday, agreeing to be shot on the friday, and waiving the right to an exit strategy. Nick seemed to think that one couldn't consent to homicide. I asked him if this meant there was a limit to liberalism, and if so how one would decide where to draw the line. He couldn't answer. Anyway - the hypothetical philosophical puzzles was one of the highlights of the weekend! It reminded me that I did enjoy the 2 philosophy papers I have done (Stage 1 - Philosophy and the Good Life and Stage 2 - Bioethics) and maybe I should do some more!
After a big lunch it was over to Jason Potts for the economics session. Having not done any economics at uni or school, and having only skimmed the readings for this topic, I was a little daunted by it. Jason certainly did end up using quite a lot of jargon I wasn't used to, and I will admit to being a little bored by his section. He did suggest something about everyone ignoring Keysian economics - or in other words about half of what they learn through the educational system. Jason is very strongly libertarian and is of the view that the market will solve everything. The market came across as Jason's God. He even extends this to the privatisation of education which was an idea that provoked a lot of debate. Many people, myself included, could not countenance such a radical change. In response to our comments regarding 'what about the poor?' he seemed to think that they could just take out huge loans on their 5 year old child's future educational needs. He certainly disagreed with some of us who thought a limited amount of paternalism in the education sector was justified. I certainly began to wonder about his sanity when he somehow got onto the idea that we could and should privatise pandas! That if you wanted to save the pandas you could just buy them. Hmmm Jason - what if some people wanted to make pandas extinct and they had the money to buy them. Would this make it right? Anyway, where and how does one buy a panda? There is certainly an argument for right wing economics having the potential to be good for conservation but this was just loony. And yes I do know it was just a silly non-serious example, but I still question his sanity! I found myself shaking my head at him a number of times for his "the market will solve everything" approach. I thing perhaps Wolfgang Kasper would have been a preferable lecturer for this section by what others have said.
Saturday Evening saw a great dinner at a Thai restaurant and yet more red wine! It was great that throughout the weekend I got to constantly sit with different people at meal times, and in breakout groups, getting to meet a big percentage of everyone who was there. There were a lot of incredibly intelligent, interesting and vibrant young men and women. It was also good that the lecturers were available throughout the weekend giving those who wanted it, the opportunity to talk to them further. After the dinner many of us hit the pubs and clubs for a night of fun and frivolity...good times :) That is, apart from the fact that I ended up not being able to manage to meet up with a great friend from primary school in England (who I haven't seen since then), Thara Mogwe. We were both pretty disappointed that we were unsuccessful in this quest. I also ended up watching some of the NZ-South Africa cricket match - so as not to wake my room-mate I ended up jumping on a friend's bed for a while, I wonder if Jamie Simpson will delete the photo he took which reveals me in my boxer shorts!
Sunday's lectures arrived after very little sleep, I found it extra difficult to jump out of bed, but still managed to sneak in ten minutes for another good ole traditional breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, tomato, pancakes etc. I shovelled it all down with plenty of orange juice like the glutton that I am! Unfortunately I did leave my shampoo at the hotel! Anyway - Sunday morning's lecture was delivered by Daryn Jensen and it was to do with the state of law. I say 'to do with' as my mind glazed over for good portions of it as I half nodded off a few times. It probably would have been interesting though! The second half of the session was good however as we went off into our breakout groups and analysed the State of Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 with relation to some real-life situations, and whether they could have been charged under the Act. This of course led to a discussion about how far liberalism should extend into law - whether or not hate speech legislation for example can be justified.
The afternoon session (after another good lunch) was a real highlight. Peter Saunders discussed issues of the Welfare State and social policy. He provided a number of absorbing facts that highlighted the problems of welfare dependency in Australia (and New Zealand). There were some amazing statistics about how much the economy has grown, the country become richer, and yet significantly more is spent on welfare than ever before. He also pointed out things like how about half of the money we pay in tax comes straight back to us. He also introduced some interesting concepts I hadn't considered before - such as negative income tax. There are a number of problems in the huge amounts spent on welfare but the challenge is coming up with solutions. The question was even asked whether the welfare state could and should be dumped entirely (including any state funding of education, health etc) which naturally got a couple of positive responses from a few people; one of whom described this situation as "my idea of nirvana". Peter himself though is not really a classical liberal himself, merely right-wing, and hence has broadly similar views to myself on these issues. It was also mentioned about how cutting down the welfare state would get a public reaction about how the right-wing 'doesn't care' about the poor etc - when it is in fact right-wing policies that tend to benefit the poor. But this line of reasoning often comes up against the brick wall of public ignorance and prejudice.
So - the end of the conference...I'd had a great weekend. I met a load of wonderful people, had some stimulating conversations, had some good meals, checked out a bit of the Sydney night-life, and all in all would highly recommend to anyone interested in politics, political philosophy, economic thinking etc. And it's not just for liberals...there were people there who are involved in the Australian Labor Party and the Greens, and it wasn't as if the whole forum was completely dominated by libertarians either. The conference solidified my thinking in many ways, extended it in others, and introduced me to some completely new ideas.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My perspective on life.

I can't believe the way that some people view life's events, their philosophies on how life works itself out. It is so alien to the way I view the world.

The other day my friend Lisa said two things to me that a lot of people would agree with, and which I have always considered pretty ridiculous. 1) "I believe in karma" 2) "Everything in life happens for some reason". Let's look at both comments in turn.

Comment #1: Karma: The general principle of karma is that people are rewarded or punished later in life for their previous actions or conduct. This may be seen immediately or it may be delayed. In colloquial terms it is the idea that "what goes around comes around". (In Hinduism and Buddhism the idea is that the reward or punishment occurs in the next incarnation. I'm not even going to consider that. I'm sure reincarnation could be fun but that idea to me is also fatally flawed). Anyway, I just can't conceive of how karma might occur. A religious person might suggest that God is watching everyone's every move and rewards them or punishes them later in life for their actions. But isn't the whole principle of God that he rewards or punishes upon death by sending people to heaven, hell or in some people's conceptions, purgatory? And isn't he supposed to not interfere with life? - he gave everyone free will remember. Perhaps then karma is an inherent principle of the universe without the intervention of any supernatural Being. Perhaps it is as fundamental as Newton's 3 laws of physics?? Or perhaps not. The trouble is that anything can be interpreted in terms of Karma, when in fact what happens in life is merely random. Merely the totality of science. Does science decide who gets a heart attack by assessing the fact that it is time they had some bad karma, or is it perhaps a result of that person eating too much cholesterol throughout their life? Just as an aside - I'd like to see someone explain this news article in terms of karma! And speaking of karma - does that mean that all Leeds Utd fans are sinners and the last 5 years or so is their punishment??? And why is it that as Billy Joel sings "only the good die young" - which anecdotally for me has a ring of truth.

2) Hmmm, everything happens for some reason? What reason could there be for someone having two friends die of suicide in the same year, a friend dying of cancer, your child becoming disabled etc? Some might say that it is a test for the person, a means of making you stronger. But what of the actual person who has directly suffered: did they deserve this? For what reason have they experienced these woes? The answer of course to all this is that nothing happens for a reason - things just happen randomly, as a result of decision making, or science or whatever. I just can't get my head around people thinking like this.

Then there is my ex-girlfriend who contends that "if something is going to happen it's going to happen". In other words she thinks that had she not met her ex-boyfriend who she was engaged to when she did, she would have met him at some other time. She also thinks that if she hadn't met me when she did, she would have done at some point. In other words it's the idea that if something is meant to be it's meant to be. Of course her examples are possible. But these people may for example have met under completely different scenarios yielding completely different results. Or quite easily they may never have met at all. In my opinion everything is random. There is lucky random, and unlucky random - for example asking someone for a job a week before they fill a vacancy, or a week after. Hmmm, does unlucky random = karma for having done something bad? lol.

I also heard some interesting view from my friend Kate. She thinks that heaven is a place where all the good souls come together. My question: is there actually such a thing as souls? Souls are supposedly the inner essence of each living being, to her they are immaterial substances although some consider them to have a material component. People say that our soul determines our decisions. I say it is simply the totality of our genetics and our environment. I've never seen any proof of a soul. It seems to me a very wooly concept.

She also put to me the question: if our lives are pointless, and there is no God, why don't you just kill yourself now? My simple answer is that I enjoy life. Once I die that is it - nothing ever to experience again...why not enjoy myself while I'm here. I want to enjoy the taste of an Indian curry, I want to indulge in a Chiraz on the palette, I want to enjoy the experience each time Leeds United win, I want to enjoy my relationships with my family and friends, and I want to continue enjoying the pleasures of sex. In short there are a lot of things to enjoy about life. Despite the fact that I don't enjoy growing older. That I want to bottle up each good memory - such as finally getting to kiss my first love Rebecca Shaw when I was about 10 (in a game of kiss catch!) - and revisit it whenever I feel like it. I can't do that, but I can continue to try and enjoy the future. Despite many tearful or bitter moments I wouldn't want to end my experience of - and association with - life. Not for anything.

For many people I think, all these ideas I've discussed, are a crux for them. Some way of explaining life, so that they don't get depressed. This isn't their conscious perspective - this is their subconscious speaking. It's nice to believe in these ideas. Believe me, I'd like to share them. If I could imagine the people who have died in my life, up in heaven...if I could believe that every bad or good action were rewarded appropriately...if I could believe that everything happens for some reason, or that what is meant to be will be...it would certainly help me to feel better about this random universe we live in. But my mind is too grounded in the principle that "science is everything". And how could science possibly explain karma? Perhaps karma helps the human race evolve?

I'm not completely close-minded to any of these concepts. But I am very sceptical. Can anyone out there put forward any good arguments for me to alter any of my views???? Please comment if there are any arguments out there which are potentially persuasive!

I may have a very cynical view of life. I may not believe in god, I may not believe in the concept of souls, or the presence of karma. My view may well be that science explains everything, and everything is random. But that just means I have to make the most of our short time in the mortal realm!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Agony of Last Minute goals.

Going into the last 10 minutes of the Championship's Easter Monday fixtures Leeds were looking in pretty reasonable shape to make a good fist of survival. We were up 1-0 over Colchester, Southend were losing 2-1 to Preston and Luton were beating QPR 2-1.

How the last ten minutes changed everything.

Colchester, Southend and QPR all scored twice.

An 82 minute equaliser and a last minute strike by on fire striker Jamie Cureton condemned Leeds to a loss - putting an end to our 5 game unbeaten streak. Southend scored 2 goals in the last 3 minutes to grab themselves a victory. And QPR also managed to change their losing situation into a winning one.

With 10 minutes to play the scores would have had Leeds six points ahead of Southend. Now we are level. It would have had us 1 point behind QPR. Now we are 7.

Barnsley's shock victory over Birmingham puts us back into the relegation zone. We had managed to be out of it for the first time since November. But it only lasted two days. At least Hull also lost.

Current Table:

QPR 49
Leicester 47
Hull 44
Barnsley 44
Leeds 42
Southend 42
Luton 37

And our captain - hardworking Jonny Douglas got himself sent off after the final whistle, expressing his frustration at the ref's incompetence with foul and abusive language. So he won't be able to play again this season.

The wheels are well and truly falling off.

Saturday sees us face an in form Burnley side at home. It also sees a huge game between Barnsley and Southend. And Hull have got Colchester. Its a mammoth set of fixtures. It has the potential to completely wreck our season.

I am a nervous wreck. My head is in tatters. My heart is thumping in my chest.

There will be nothing more bitter than relegation into League 1.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Leeds hanging in there.

I spose I better update my blog, I just haven't been in the blogging frame of mind lately - too much stuff spiralling round my head!

However last weekend was great as far as Leeds Utd were concerned. A brilliant 2-1 win over high flying Preston including an 89th minute winner from man of the moment David Healy. And the only other team in the bottom six to win was Hull - and even that could be a godsend considering it was Southend they thrashed 4-0.

But it's a false hope I think...I can still smell relegation. Bitter.

Today QPR have also beaten Preston: 1-0. Bitter! And Burnley beat Plymouth 4-0. Bitter!

So dammit I still think we're stuffed. But I live in hope!

6 games to go starting with a mammoth match against Plymouth this weekend. Can we do it???

I bloody hope so!

Burnley 45
Hull 44
QPR 43
Barnsley 41
Southend 39
Leeds 39
Luton 37