Sunday, 10 June 2012

England can upset Les Bleus

The Three Lions have endured a predictably turbulent build-up to Euro 2012 with injuries, fears of racism and Rio Ferdinand's controversial omission from the squad dominating headlines. If you believe what you read, the tournament promises to be one to forget for Roy Hodgson's men. France, on the other hand, are as optimistic as they've ever been. The shambles of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa have been forgotten and Laurent Blanc leads a reinvigorated French team to Ukraine on the back of a 21 game unbeaten streak.

On paper, Les Bleus certainly have a strong side. The attacking quartet of Ribery, Nasri, Malouda and Benzema would frighten any defender to bits, whilst a defence including the likes of Patrice Evra and Philippe Mexes will be tough to break down.

England manager Roy Hodgson
England, despite being severely weakened with the losses of Lampard, Cahill and Barry, and despite being almost universally written of in their homeland, are still a force to be reckoned with. In Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney (when he's available) and Ashley Cole, they have three players who would grace any World XI. They also possess ever-reliable stalwarts such as John Terry and Steven Gerrard in their ranks, whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ashley Young could provide lighting pace down the wings, so long as the latter actually stays on his feet for an extended period of time.

Two areas England may have to worry about are at right-back and upfront. Wayne Rooney's two game suspension means the manager is likely to go with Welbeck, Carroll or Defoe as striker(s), while Roy Hodgson's inexplicable, unexplainable, baffling and completely unfathomable decision to pick Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly as his two right-backs when he has Premier League winning vice-captain Micah Richards at his disposal could cost England dear. Johnson has endured a poor season at Liverpool whilst Kelly, who can also play at centre-half, has found first team opportunities hard to come by. In contrast, Micah Richards won the Premier League as one of Manchester City's most important players.

Indeed, despite finishing eighth in the league, Liverpool maintain a mysteriously high presence in the England squad, with the much maligned trio of Henderson, Downing and Carroll joining Gerrard, Johnson and Kelly in Hodgson's 23-man squad. This possibly owes to Roy's ill-fated stint in charge of Liverpool, and represents a familiar problem with England managers, where they pick teams based on who they know rather than who's actually playing well.
Anyway, I digress. England's encounter with France promises to be an entertaining affair. Roy Hodgson's men go into the game as supposed underdogs, whilst France, who have been in such good form, risk becoming complacent. England, so often considered to be arrogant, are now carrying around an inferiority complex which could work to their advantage. Gone is the overwhelming expectation. Gone is the crippling pressure. The Three Lions finally have the luxury of going into a game knowing anything but a loss would be satisfactory. Let's hope they use it to their advantage and prove the doubters wrong.
Possible starting XIs:

France (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra; M'Vila, Cabaye; Ribery, Nasri, Malouda; Benzema

England (4-4-2): Hart; Cole, Terry, Cahill, Johnson; Young, Parker, Gerrard, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Welbeck, Defoe
Score prediction: France 1-2 England.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Manchester City yet to hit the big time

Carlos Tevez is not a player who is known for his loyalty. The Argentine’s career is littered with transfer requests, court cases and morally questionable transfer deals, often instigated by his mysterious ‘owner’ Kia Joorabchian. But even by his standards, the striker’s conduct at Manchester City has been nothing short of disgraceful.

Carlos Tevez
To fully understand this whole sorry affair, we must cast our minds back to 27 September 2011, when Manchester City played Bavarian giants Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. With City 2-0 down in the 55th minute, manager Roberto Mancini asked Tevez to warm up in preparation for coming on as a substitute. Tevez refused, and his team duly lost the match. Mancini was incensed, declaring in his post-match interview that Tevez was “finished” at Man City and would “never play for the club again”.

Tevez was immediately placed on “gardening leave”, and would spend much of the next four months relaxing in Argentina, accumulating millions of pounds worth of fines in the process. He and his agent had hoped for a January transfer away from Manchester, but despite a plethora of potential suitors, a move didn’t transpire.

The Argentinian forward returned to Manchester City earlier this month, and didn’t do himself any favours when he insisted Mancini had treated him “like a dog”. Despite all this, and despite Mancini’s insistence that he’d never play for the club again, Tevez was welcomed back into the fold, and is likely to make his first appearance since September in the coming weeks.

If this whole saga has taught us anything, it’s that Manchester City - despite their millions, despite their fantastic players, despite their wonderful football, and despite being top of the Premier League table - are still a small club.

Could you imagine a Manchester United player behaving the way Tevez has behaved, then being welcomed back with open arms? It would never happen. As we’ve seen in the past with the likes of Beckham and Keane: at Man United, no player is bigger than the club.. The players know this, and they know that if they get too big for their boots, they’re out.

At Manchester City, it’s a very different story. Most of the players are mercenaries, attracted to the club by money and money alone. They don’t care about the club, and they don’t respect it. As long as they’re getting their millions, they’re happy. They also know that the club doesn’t have the self-confidence to hand out appropriate punishments, as the club needs them more than they need the club.

That’s not to say this won’t ever change. As we’ve seen with Chelsea, it is possible to buy big club status providing the club achieves prolonged success. But based on the evidence of the Tevez affair, it would appear Manchester City have a long way to go.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The death of English footbal


It’s fair to say English football is going through a rough patch at the minute. Most of the world’s best players now ply their trade in Spain’s La Liga. Two of the Premier League’s major powerhouses, Manchester United and Manchester City, have been consigned to the indignity of the Europa League. Attendances are falling. The national team is faltering. It seems as though English football’s decade or so of global domination is coming to an end. Many will see that decade as a golden era. I, however, will remember it as the final nail in the coffin of football.

The noughties was a decade which saw, among other things: a huge influx of foreign players, a steep increase in ticket prices, wages and transfer fees inflating to astronomical levels, new stadiums hellbent on being as dull and characterless as possible, cheating becoming an art form, fans becoming flask-drinking, blanket-wearing, picnic-eating middle-class bores, and clubs becoming shameless businesses determined to bleed their fans, or ‘customers’, dry. It was the decade where English football went truly mad.

Most of these problems can be traced back to one date: 15 April 1989. It was the date on which 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death during an FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium. This tragedy brought about the Taylor Report, which recommended all stadiums be converted to all-seaters by August 1994. Considering the Hillsborough disaster had absolutely nothing to with standing, but rather was caused by poor policing, overcrowding and metal fences, this was a huge knee-jerk overreaction.

But no one could have foreseen the dire consequences this report would have on English football. The all-seater stadiums resulted in smaller capacities and higher costs for clubs, which largely contributed to a dramatic rise in ticket prices. In turn, this priced out the poor and helped shape a new breed of fan: the middle-class. Football, for over a century a bastion of working-class culture, suddenly morphed into a sport attended primarily by the well off. Out went the singing, chanting and drinking and in came the eating, clapping and sitting quietly with a flask of hot chocolate.

Another outcome of the Taylor Report was that many clubs inevitably sought new homes. That’s all well and good if you’re a big club who can afford a luxurious new complex such as the Emirates, but the smaller clubs had to seek cheaper options, which often meant swapping old grounds, soaked in history and character, for anonymous identikit bowls such as Pride Park, the Ricoh Arena and the Walkers Stadium. These stadiums are known for their flat atmospheres and dull appearance, the antithesis of traditional English stadiums such as Fratton Park and Craven Cottage.

The most cancerous issue affecting the English game, however, is that of player wages. On the face of it, this complaint seems rather petty and envious. After all, why is anyone else’s business how much a player earns? It’s our business because we’re the ones being ripped off in order to pay distinctly average players such as Bobby Zamora the quite grotesque sum of £90k per week.

These days you’d expect to pay well over £30 to attend a Premier League match, and up to £100 at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. Compare that to the average ticket price in the German Bundesliga of around £19 and you’ll see the true extent to which us English are being taken advantage of by our clubs. But why do we pay so much compared to other European countries and the England of old? Because that’s the only way clubs can cover the costs of these hyper-inflated player wages. It’s a case of robbing from the poor and giving to the rich. Football is no longer a sport for people enjoy. It’s an industry designed for people to make money at any cost.

The most frustrating thing about these problems is that they could so easily be fixed. A cap on wages and transfer fees, as well as the introduction of safe standing similar to that practiced in Germany, will result in cheaper ticket prices, far less club debt and a much improved supporter experience. Sadly, I fear the sport is beyond salvation. It’s been consumed by greed and money and has no way of turning back.

RIP English football.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Mourinho’s the man for England


England don’t do things the easy way. The team’s preparation for their last major tournament, the 2010 World Cup, was marred by the John Terry-Wayne Bridge scandal, which saw the Chelsea defender stripped of his England captaincy. This year, the FA have gone one better and not only stripped Terry of the captaincy due to the ongoing racism scandal, but also in turn forced the manager into resigning. This could be a major disaster for the national team, with only four months remaining until Euro 2012 kicks off in Poland. However, if the FA pick the right man to succeed Capello, his resignation could instead prove to be a blessing in disguise. Here’s a look at the top three candidates.

Harry Redknapp (Tottenham Hotspur)

The bookies’ favourite. The media’s favourite. The fans’ favourite. Harry Redknapp looks guaranteed to takes over the reins of the most difficult job in football. With a cheeky chappy persona and an impressive record at Spurs, many think he’s the man to put the England players at ease and get them playing attractive, winning football. Looking at his overall record, I’m not so sure.

In nearly thirty years as a manager, Redknapp has won just one major trophy: the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008. Nearly every club he’s managed has plunged into financial chaos soon after seeing him leave. His trail of destruction along the south coast is one rivalled only by that of the Luftwaffe. Indeed, his actions as manager of Southampton - where he arrived from bitter rivals Portsmouth, got the club relegated to the Championship, lumbered them with poor players on high wages and promptly legged it, back to Portsmouth no less, when things didn’t go well - have shown him to be a reprehensible man with few morals and no loyalty.

Despite all that, it cannot be denied that Redknapp has done a wonderful job at Spurs, taking them from the relegation zone to the Champions League within two seasons. Whether this means he can do the same with England is another question. Redknapp has spent his career managing small clubs, such as Portsmouth and Bournemouth, and medium sized clubs such as Southampton and West Ham. Spurs are, of course, a big club, but he’s yet to prove himself at the very top, managing big stars and big egos.

Stuart Pearce (England caretaker manager)

Currently managing the England team on a temporary basis whilst the FA searches for a replacement, Stuart Pearce is second-favourite with the bookies to take the job full time. Having been manager of England U-21s for five years, Pearce knows the English game inside out. However, considering his only previous managerial experience at club level was an unsuccessful two year spell with pre-arab Manchester City, it’s unlikely Pearce would be a popular choice with the media and fans.

As a proud and fiercely patriotic former England player, Pearce will undoubtedly inject some much needed passion into a dull and apathetic England team. What’s more, he knows the players well, having been a member of England’s backroom staff for five years. This would no doubt play a key role in keeping an often disjointed dressing room together.

However, Pearce’s inexperience is likely to count against him. The England job is one of the biggest in football, and needs an experienced head who can demand respect from top players. Pearce simply does not have the reputation required for such an important role.

Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid)

Growing increasingly unhappy in the Spanish capital, Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to return to England. Manchester United is his most likely destination, but with Ferguson showing no signs of relinquishing control of arguably the biggest club in the world, it looks like he’s in for a lengthy wait. So what better way to keep him busy whilst he bides his time than the England job?

The move would allow Mourinho to return to his beloved London, reigniting his love affair with the English media, who would doubtless be excited at the prospect of more omelette based metaphors and charisma-fuelled rants. And there’s no doubting his credentials. He worked miracles at Inter and Porto, easily met expectations at Chelsea and is currently top of La Liga with Real Madrid.

The appointment of Mourinho would also revive interest among an increasingly apathetic fan base. The shambles that were the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and the disastrous Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, along with a series of stoic and uninspiring managers, have driven disillusioned England fans to actively disliking the national team. Mourinho would be a breath of fresh air, reviving the reputation of a hitherto unspeakably dreary England team with his unique combination of charm and controversy.

The only stumbling block is the timing of the vacancy. Neither Mourinho nor Madrid would be willing to part ways in the middle of what’s proving to be a very successful season for the club. The FA would probably have to wait until the summer for Mourinho to become available, leaving him only a month to settle in before Euro 2012, with Stuart Pearce taking charge as caretaker manager until then. Not ideal preparation for a major tournament, but that’s a chance the FA could be willing to take.

The media love him. The fans love him. English football loves him. It’s a match made in heaven.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Cameron is spot on regarding Islam. The EDL...not so much.

David Cameron is set to make a speech today regarding Muslim extremism and multiculturalism. According to the Guardian, he will say:
"Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values."
I couldn't agree more. You only have to go to the city centre of my home town, Southampton, to see the effect of immigration and multiculturalism. 1 in every 11 Southampton residents are Polish immigrants. If I go to town, every other conversation I hear is in a foreign language. We are the third most densely populated city in the country yet immigrants are still flooding in. I think it's perfectly natural to worry about the industrial scale of immigration we are currently experiencing, yet previous governments have been too cowardly to address the issues, instead choosing to label anyone who disagreed with them a 'bigot'. Yes, immigration has made us what we are. From the Romans, Saxons and Normans to South Asians, West Indians and Africans - all have contributed to the culture of modern England. But now, immigration is different. Many modern immigrants aren't interested in integrating or learning; they're just here to work. Thus, they don't add to our culture, they just transport their culture here.

The effect of multiculturalism
And what's worse is the Labour government encouraged this. They envisaged a society where cultures lived side by side. Well we already have that; it's called human society. We humans all share different cultures, and these cultures are usually separated into different nations. Nations where multiple cultures do exist almost universally fail, so to try and suddenly force British, Muslim, Indian, Eastern European and many other cultures into one country was always going be a disaster. As a result of Labour's policies, many areas of England have been transformed into vast foreign communities. I travelled through Leicester not long ago and was momentarily transported to the Indian Subcontinent. Every shop was selling Indian products, with every pedestrian Indian, dressed in Indian clothing. This is not how a healthy society should be. Britain is the fantastic country it is because of the influences of great foreign cultures, not because of the quantity of foreign cultures it houses. Quite why Labour attempted to change this tried and tested method of cultural absorption is beyond me.

Cameron will also talk at length about the threat of Muslim extremism:
"Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries. We need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of these terrorist attacks lie – and that is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.

"[This ideology] includes those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of sharia....Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world-view including real hostility towards western democracy and liberal values.

"If we are to defeat this threat, its time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past. So first, instead of ignoring this extremist ideology, we as governments and societies have got to confront it in all its forms."
Again, I completely agree. For far too long society has been too scared to confront radical Islam. Just look at what happened with the Danish cartoons fiasco. Islamic nations went absolutely berserk, killing, rioting, and making threats, all over a fucking cartoon. Yet many were too meek to stand up to them. English newspapers refused to print the cartoons. South Park was banned from showing Mohammed in one of their episodes for fear of offending Muslims. It was just plain embarrassing.

The debate around Islam will become even more heated with the English Defence League set to storm Luton today in protest against militant Islam. Needless to say there will be no shortage of racist thugs to back up their leader, Stephen Lennon, who appeared on Newsnight Monday evening to take on the notoriously ferocious Jeremy Paxman. He was obviously nervous and unprepared, and didn't really get his points across well. There was also a short documentary on the EDL preceding the interview, and overall, they came across pretty poorly. Needless to say they were laughed at by the media, dismissed by the thinking public, and their reputation took a further dent. But are we dismissing the views of this organisation too quickly? Well, yes and no.

EDL members
Lennon said on Newsnight that the EDL are against radical Islam and radical Islam only. They apparently have many non-white and gay members. They don't mind immigration at a controlled level and they despise Fascism and Nazism as much as we do, burning a Nazi flag to prove it. Even their spokesman, Amit Singh, is a non-white Sikh. This sounds like a perfectly fair organisation, until you realise that this is probably a desperate attempt to give the EDL a veneer of respectability. They will instantly destroy this veneer when their pierced, tattooed, shaven-headed members turn up in Luton and inevitably start huge riots with the equally moronic UAF (Unite Against Fascism).

So, a quite unsavoury group of people then. But lets pretend for a minute that the EDL are a respectable organisation. Just working class men and women who want rid of burkhas, extremists and those pesky suicide bombers. Would they deserve support? I think so.

The fact is, Islamic culture is burrowing it's way into British culture. Many Muslims integrate with the English community perfectly well - dressing in Western clothing, having English friends - whilst still managing to maintain their own culture. Some, however, choose to cling on to backwards Islamic ways whilst enjoying the benefits of living in the West. Take the burkha for example. The burkha is a leftover remnant of Middle Eastern oppression. People wearing burkhas in England is no different from, say, a Congolese tribesman emigrating to this country and walking around in his tribal outfit. Yet society accepts it because it's 'part of their faith'. Well, it's not. Nowhere in the Quran does it tell women to wrap their heads in a stupid bit of cloth. It's a cultural thing. In the same way that Western women usually wear jeans and a blouse, Arab women wear veils, because their husbands have to obsessively protect them from other men like they're some sort of valuable possession.

It's the same with mosques. I don't know this for certain, but I'd imagine that the Quran doesn't specify how a mosque is supposed to look. So why is it mosques here have to look like they've been plucked out of the Middle East and dumped into Britain? Yes, the buildings look beautiful when they're surrounded by similar buildings. But when they're right next to modern shopping centres and terraced housing, they just look downright ugly. Why can't they adapt their mosques to their surroundings? Why do they have to look exactly the same as they do in the Middle East? This may sound like a very superficial complaint, but my point is that people often get faith (a despicable 'virtue' in itself) and culture mixed up, and this is how Islamic culture is forcing its way into Britain.

As offensive as it sounds, Islam is, at it's core, a vile cult based on myths and legends. The same is true for Christianity, but the difference is, Christianity has learned to control itself, whilst Islam has not. If a Christian extremist disagrees with you, they'll quote something from the Bible, say you're going to hell and that will be the end of it. If a Muslim extremist disagrees with you they will kill you. This is why the spread of extremist Islam has to stop, and at least now we have a Prime Minister with the testicular fortitude to come out and actually say it. Maybe things are finally going change! But with the way this coalition's been performing, I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A Gray day for free speech

Female assistant referee Sian
Massey
I'm slowly starting to lose it with football: the diving, the cheating, the pricing out of fans in favour of ridiculous wages for players, the continual dehumanising of the game (Piquionne sent off for celebrating with fans), and now this debacle: the sacking of Andy Gray. If you don't know, he has been sacked by Sky Sports for series of 'sexist' 'rants'. First of all, somebody secretly recorded him having an off-air conversation with colleague Richard Keys, berating the fact there was a female "linesperson." And then a video was released of Gray "treating the lineswoman as a sex object." Finally, a video emerged of Gray asking a female co-presenter to put a microphone down his trousers. This is ultimately what he was sacked for, and it's all left me a bit bewildered. I suppose this isn't really an issue with football, but more with a society as a whole.

I'm going to start off by saying I am not in favour of women in the MEN's game. The sport is separated into ladies and men's football for a reason. To allow them to mix in with each other is just needless. In fact, I would go as far as to say allowing women to referee in men's games is more sexist than not allowing them. It implies that the ladies game is not good enough for them, that ladies football doesn't deserve the very best female referees. Would we get Howard Webb to referee all the Women's Premier League games? If this female 'linesperson', Sian Massey, is so good, why not let the women's game have her? And the fact that Massey is just 25 also reeks of a vulgar desperation to find a token 'lineswoman'. There are very few linesMEN that age who would ever be appointed in a Premier League match. It all seems a desperate attempt to be politically correct.

I know what you're thinking: Oh great, another Daily Mail reader with his 'PC gone mad' nonsense. I can assure you I'm not that sort. However, I have been surprised at the extent to which people will go to appear politically correct. Every newspaper has been up in arms at Gray's "prehistoric" views. I, along with every other non-feminist, have been branded a "dinosaur", "caveman", "Neanderthal" and, controversially breaking away from the stone-age rhetoric, "medieval" in various forums. No argument. No debate. Just "you are a sexist dinosaur, we are all enlightened individuals and your prehistoric views are beneath our realms of intelligence, you caveman", or words to that effect. They all displayed that holier-than-though, sanctimonious attitude that ultra-liberals are known for.

I also heard a lot of offensive comparisons to racism. "If this was a commentator being racist, he would be sacked immediately." Please. Only a moron would put racism and sexism on the same level. There is a massive difference between the two. A person's skin colour affects a person's appearance, nothing else, which means race is meaningless. A person's gender, however, affects everything about them. Women, in general, are more emotional, physically weaker and possess better communication skills. Men, by and large, are physically stronger, think more logically and are more authoritative. Therefore 'sexism' is subjective where as racism is, literally, black and white. For example, if a company favours a man over a woman in a job involving heavy lifting, this is obviously common sense due to men's natural superior strength, not sexism. However if a company favours a white person over a black person for the same job, this is clearly racist as the colour of a person's skin does not affect one's ability to perform a job.

Anyway, back to Andy Gray. The first instance of sexism:



I can see how that's sexist, but he's simply reflecting the view of most male football fans. Every man jokes about women and the offside rule. Many men are opposed to females in men's football. This is not unusual. It's merely a by-product of the sport being historically linked to working class men. And the Karen Brady stuff? Brady is a fame hungry attention-seeker who incessantly moans about sexism, despite being a female in a position of great power working for a PORN BARON! She deserves all the criticism she gets. Also, and I don't know if anyone has noticed, but this was a private conversation between two mates. This wasn't broadcast to the nation, so what gives us the right to pass judgement on it? The only reason we've heard it is because someone has gone out of their way to secretly record a conversation between two colleagues and pass it on to newspapers.

But I can understand some anger for that conversation. It was a bit offensive, even if no one had the right to hear it in the first place. The second instance of 'sexism':



Again, behind the scenes footage, again recorded behind his back, and again just male banter. If every man got sacked for commenting on the attractiveness of a woman, then the queue at the job centre would be at least 43 miles long. But again, although I found it completely baffling, I could just about accept anger at these comments.

Then, the straw that broke the camels back:



Yes, this was apparently "sexual harassment." Not harmless workplace banter. Not flirtatious tomfoolery. SEXUAL HARASSMENT. This is what Andy Gray ultimately got sacked for. I don't need to explain why this is ridiculous. He didn't exactly force her to stick her hand down his trousers and feel his cock, did he? It is clear to any sane human being that they are joking. He laughed, she laughed, it would not look out of place in any workplace, especially one where the ridiculously beautiful Charlotte Jackson works. She probably gets that everyday, I'm sure she would have complained about it by now if it irritated her that badly.

What also disturbs me is the mysterious circumstances under which these comments have been released. The sexist conversation happened to be recorded by an anonymous colleague who, for no particular reason, passed it on to the Daily Mail. Two Sky cameramen also separately decided to film and release more sexist conversations between Gray and colleagues. Nobody knows who they are, nobody knows why they did it. I'm amazed this hasn't been brought up in mainstream media. Now I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but isn't it strange that Sky is part-owned by Rupert Murdoch, the man who also owns the News of the World, the paper Andy Gray is ironically suing for secretly bugging his phone. As @Herring1967 put it on Twitter:
"So Andy Gray gets sacked by Sky after essentially being bugged, whilst complaining about being bugged by a paper owned by [the] bloke who owns Sky."
I certainly won't be surprised if this whole furore has been instigated by Murdoch in order to smear Andy Gray, or at least teach him a lesson. After all, this is the sort of evil villain-like behaviour Murdoch is famous for.

This whole farce, for me, is one of the many nails in the coffin of free speech. If people can get sacked for private comments, then, and I don't want to sound completely mental, we are not far from becoming a police state. What makes me laugh is the press have been falling over themselves to condemn Andy Gray's private comments, essentially causing him to lose his job, whilst at the same time they constantly whinge about the 'nanny state.' It saddens me that I actually want to become one of these slimy, hypocritical bastards that we call journalists.

Anyway, there we have it. From now on, no expressing private views in the workplace, no commenting on the looks of a female to your mates, and no flirting. If you do this, YOU WILL BE FIRED!

EDIT
-----------------
So Richard Keys has now resigned, effectively jumping before he was pushed, off the back of this ridiculous furore. Well that's two 20-year careers down the drain. I hope whoever fucked them over with that recording is happy. This whole thing, like the Shilpa Shetty racism row, Sachsgate, and the utterly bewildering lady-puts-cat-in-bin...gate, shows that whenever the media get their claws into something, they never let go until they've fucked someone's life up. The sad thing is the public will always blindly follow.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Top 5 annoying feminism-isms

I consider myself, broadly, quite a liberal person. I'm an atheist, a sceptic, a secularist, a vehement anti-racist, I read the Guardian, hate the Daily Mail and I am against recreational hunting. However, there are some things on which I hold a Conservative position. For example: I'm patriotic, I like tradition, I'm against gay adoption, I'm against extreme political correctness and I'm indifferent to global warming. I also dislike feminists. They have always bothered me, and it's not so much their views (although I do consider them wrong), but more the way they go about expressing these views. Anyway, I thought I'd make a list to express this dislike: my top five irritating feminism-isms (not an actual word, but it should be.) Enjoy!

5) "You go girl!"

There is no phrase in the English language that makes me cringe more than this. It's almost exclusively uttered enthusiastically when a woman has got one over on a man, or when a woman proclaims her independence:

Angry Lady 1: "I've just dumped my cheating bastard of a boyfriend. I don't need men anymore, I'm a strong, independent women! (ugh)"

Angry Lady 2: "You go girl! Who needs men anyway?!"

Angry Lady 1: "I know, men are pigs!"

It's just so patronising and artificial. "You go girl!" It's like giving encouragement to a child who's just learnt to stand up to bullies.

4) Females in sport

Feminists always say that the way men exclude women from certain sports is unfair. Now I'm all up for women's participation in individual sports and softer team sports like netball, baseball, volleyball (ideally, beach volleyball) etc. I'm also happy for them to participate in traditionally men's sports such as rugby and football, as long as they don't waste television airtime (I watched the ladies FA Cup final last year; truly unbearable) and don't waste public money trying to go professional when it's not viable (as the ladies Premier League is doing).
I am not, however, happy for females to get involved with the men's game. I've heard two female commentators and both were screechy, repetitive and constantly squealed feigned excitement. It effectively ruined the games. I also recall a female refereeing a men's game at Conference level. What's a player supposed to do if he disagrees with a decision? He can't exactly shout at her or get angry; she'd give him the silent treatment for a start. Females just take the passion out of the game I'm afraid.

Also, there is the theory that team sports are tribal and replace war. Therefore society prefers men to participate in them. So there is some science in this argument; it's not just me being misogynistic.

I realise this bit is probably more sexist than anti-feminist, but hey-ho.

3) "If a man sleeps with lots of women, he's a stud, but if a women sleeps with lots of men, she's a slut."

A slut, according to Google
Another clich├ęd quote. There is a perfectly good reason for this: because the man has to do all the work! Just as you'd praise a man for having any particularly sought after skill and putting it to good use, surely it's reasonable that a man receives some congratulations should he have the skill to persuade scores of women into bed.

Females, on the other hand - what do they want congratulating for? All they have to do is decide whether to sleep with the man or not. That's it. Not difficult if you ask me.

Let me put it this way - if somebody is born with a silver spoon in their mouth and has everything given to them on a plate, then they are seen as spoilt and greedy (the 'slut'). On the other hand, if somebody has everything they want because they've worked hard for it, they are admired (the 'stud').

Or, to put it an even better way: "If a key opens many locks, it's a master key. But if a lock is opened by many keys, it's a shit lock."

2) "Pornography is degrading to women!"

A classic feminist argument, and one of the most illogical. On the one hand, feminists argue that a woman should be independent and in control of her own body. On the other hand, they think that a woman making a choice to have sex on camera, effectively taking advantage of men's sexual appetite and making money from it, is exploiting them. Well make up your mind. Should women be independent and thus allowed to do as they please, or should they hide their bodies for fear of exploitation (sort of like the grotesque Sharia Law).

And correct me if I'm wrong (as I, of course, know absolutely nothing about pornography...), but aren't there men in porn films as well? You know, I think there are! Well where's the masculist movement against the exploitation of men in porn? Oh that's right, there isn't one. Because they get to have SEX with beautiful people for MONEY! Why can't feminists think like that?

1) The belief that women can fight nature

If you've made it this far, congratulations! You now get to read the proper, serious argument against feminism! I can literally feel your excitement.

Men and women are fundamentally different from birth. Women are more emotional and better at communicating, which is why they far outnumber men in jobs like social work. Men have better mathematical skills and think much more logically and clearly about things, which is why they outnumber women in high pressure jobs. This has nothing to do with sexism, these differences are all naturally determined by brain formation.

As well as psychological differences, there are also obvious physical differences; men are much bigger and stronger than women, so are more suited to heavy lifting.

So bearing all this in mind, why do feminists get all up in arms if they find out a particular area of work is not exactly equal between men and women? I always hear complaints about how the business world is male dominated; surely that is completely logical given the aforementioned advantages men hold over women (logical thinking, better with pressure etc.).

I also hear a lot complaints about inequality in the military, how women should be able to fight on the frontline. Again, men's natural advantages mean we are infinitely more suited to fighting. Not only are we physically stronger, but men have a higher pain threshold and there are also fundamental differences in the way we handle stress. Men employ a fight or flight response, releasing large amounts of testosterone, where as a woman releases large amounts of oxytocin, inducing calm and nurturing feelings. I think it's obvious who you'd rather have on your side in battle.

These advantages also explain why there are more men in positions of power. I know what you're thinking: "well that's just because the world is male dominated." But that's exactly the point; men dominate. That is surely a major factor in leadership qualities, to be authoritative and assertive. Again, nature dictates men's roles.

Now we've established that men are better suited to most forms of work and fighting, what does that leave women? You guessed it: child rearing. Apart from the aforementioned female traits (communication, emotion etc.), there is also the well known maternal instinct. Women feel a strong love and connection with their child, fostered during the foetus' time spent in the womb, and during breastfeeding. Now I've seen some strange men in my time, but I don't think any can provide that.

This is why, ideally, the male should work and the female should raise the child. If a couple feels it would be better the other way round, fine. There are obviously cases where people are better suited to the opposite gender's natural role. However I would feel uncomfortable in a society which goes against biology as a social norm.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Pope to get sainthood after 'miracle'

I came across an article yesterday stating that the late Pope John Paul II will be made a saint on 1 May this year. According to the Guardian:
"The late Pope John Paul II moved a step closer to sainthood today when his successor approved a decree attributing a miracle to him.

"The miracle concerned Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a French nun diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, from which Pope John Paul himself suffered.

"She said her illness inexplicably disappeared two months after his death after she and her fellow nuns prayed to him. Church-appointed doctors agreed there was no medical explanation for her being cured."
I cannot begin to even think about articulating the utter stupidity of this farce. But I'll give it a go.

The first thing which should arouse suspicion in this story is that this 'miracle' happened AFTER HE DIED. How can they possibly know that a specific dead person cured a parkinson's sufferer? It's just not possible. They are obviously attributing this to him out of wishful thinking rather than the actual belief that John Paul II did this.

Pope John Paul II
The story goes that said nun, suffering from Parkinsons, wrote Pope Johnny's name on a piece of paper, prayed to him all night and woke up perfectly healthy the next morning. So what about the millions of people around the world who are suffering famine, the hundreds killed in the recent Brazilian mudslides, the thousands of troops and civilians dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lives destroyed in the disastrous Australian floods, all the people suffering in the worldwide economic downturn - don't any of them matter to John Paul? Evidently not. No, the only person that he cares about is some obscure, old French nun. If he has the power of miracles, why doesn't he prove it by helping these millions that are suffering? If not that, why doesn't he at least perform a miracle which can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt? He could inscribe "John wuz here" in giant letters on the moon. That would convince me.

You may also have noticed that this 'miracle' was confirmed by 'church-appointed' doctors. Why couldn't she have seen a regular, non-biased doctor without an agenda? Catholics have wanted John Paul II to be made a saint since he died. You can't honestly expect doctors, who were probably Catholics themselves, to have all that pressure on their shoulders, and then say her recovery was just a coincidence.

And there's more. I found this article, published March 2010 and also from the Guardian, which reads:
"Hopes that the former pope's canonisation would be fast-tracked by Sister Marie Simon-Pierre's recovery from Parkinson's disease have been set back by reports that the French nun has fallen ill again.

"One of the doctors charged with scrutinising the nun's case believed she might have been suffering from a similar nervous disease, not Parkinson's, which could go into sudden remission."
So, there you have it. It wasn't a miracle after all. Just one big misunderstanding. But apparently that's not important to the Catholic church. All that's important is that John Paul II, soon to be the most dubious Saint since Ali Dia (...google it!), gets a sainthood, and nothing will get in their way.

Personally I am completely baffled as to how such outdated beliefs can still exist. It's the 21st century for crying out loud! We've sent people into space, cured numerous diseases, we have all the information in the world available at our fingertips, yet people still believe in miracles! It truly beggars belief.

And on that note, I leave you with this:

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Football is losing it's integrity

Football, as we know, is the greatest sport in the world. But the game is losing credibility at a rapid rate, and this decline is showing no sign of slowing.

There are numerous reasons I could give for this: ostentatious amounts of wealth being thrown about, fans being treated as mere 'consumers', the utterly embarrassing incompetence and corruption of FIFA (Qatar 2022 - I could go on about that for hours. I'll save it for another day.) But the one thing that is ruining the game more than anything is the disgraceful lack of integrity shown by today's players.

There was a game the other day where Arsenal's Jack Wilshere became involved in an altercation with another player. Basically, Wilshere tackled him, so this player got up and slapped Wilshere in the face. Now this was one of the most flimsy, innocuous of slaps you can imagine. Did Jack hit him back? Did he burst out laughing at the femininity of his slap? No, Jack went down like a great big pussy, rolling around and clutching his face.

Now unless he had really, really bad sunburn, he did that for one reason and one reason only - to get the player sent off. And he succeeded.

Not only does it annoy me that he intentionally got a fellow professional sent off, but he's an 18 year old lad for god's sake! Does he not have any pride? Is he not embarrassed to look like a complete pansy in front of millions of people? I know I would be! It shows a complete lack of pride and sportsmanship.

The media aren't any better either. The commentator didn't even mention Wilshere's play-acting. He just said that the opposing player "raised his arm" so therefore deserved the red card. There was also a recent incident in the Man United vs Liverpool game, where Berbatov took a blatant dive to win a penalty. The commentator said there was 'contact' and so warranted a penalty, even though the contact was minimal. What's more, the pundits, Allardyce and Southgate, said diving was "just part of the game", and Rio Ferdinand tweeted afterwards that it was a "blatant penalty."

And this is where the problem lies. If the players know they can get away with it then they are going to do it. What if every time a player dived or play-acted, the commentators, pundits and media highlighted it and condemned them. The players would think twice about doing it then wouldn't they?

But there's an even easier solution to cheating! Referees are supposed to issue yellow cards for a dive, but obviously it's very difficult to make that decision in real time. So what if officials check the videos of every game, and any player found to be diving or cheating gets an automatic one match ban. Simple. That would solve the problem instantly.

But that will never happen. Because people at the top don't care about the game. They don't care about the fans. They care about money and only money. Implementing any such plan to combat cheating will just take too much time, cash and effort. Unless the footballing world takes on a completely different attitude towards the game - one of pride, of respect and of sportsmanship - then the sport as we know it is doomed.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Why is obesity acceptable?

After the recent Kenneth Tong furore on Twitter, or 'tong-gate' as I like to call it, I thought I'd talk about anorexia, or rather, people's attitude towards it. For those of you who don't know, Kenneth Tong (@mrkennethtong) is a twitter user who promoted 'managed anorexia', and generally said some pretty offensive stuff regarding 'fat' people. However, now it's all turned out that it was just a hoax, a social experiment to see how easy it is to get fame. But still, people's responses to him were telling.

Most people were, quite rightly, outraged. There were campaigns to get him off Twitter (because free speech counts for nothing apparently) and thousands of justifiably vitriolic tweets were directed his way. But the overall theme was a quite bizarre attitude towards anorexics and skinny people in general. Many tweets to Tong went along the lines of: "Who wants to be all skinny and bony?", or "Skinny people look horrid! Give me a girl with curves any day." But then, in the very same breath, these same people would say something like: "Do you realise that you're making thousands of girls insecure by saying these things?" See where I'm going with this? Yes, apparently, it's okay to have a go at skinny people, but fat people are off limits. Now I'm not saying thin people should be immune to criticism or fat people should be open to it. But people shouldn't lambaste someone for offending one group of people, and then sneer at another group the next. (I also heard the 'big girls are beautiful' line quite a bit. I'm sorry but if someone resembles a giant baby with more rolls than a bakery, then to me, they are not particularly attractive.)

But that wasn't even the most hypocritical aspect of people's attitudes. Many tweeters said, to paraphrase: "Girls, don't listen to Kenneth. Anorexia is unhealthy. You're just curvy. You're beautiful as you are, eat as much as you want!" Hang on! Condemn anorexia by all means. But don't go and condone an equally unhealthy lifestyle the next minute! Although nobody should ever go to the lengths of bulimia and anorexia, obese people should want to get fitter and healthier, to eat better and exercise more. Don't discourage it!

I see this attitude everywhere, mostly among females. For example, a celebrity gossip TV presenter might look at a photo some skinny nobody (think Lindsay Lohan), look disgusted and say they're 'unhealthy'. How many presenters would look at a larger celebrity (think Fern Britton) and say "ugh, she looks so unhealthy. She needs to do something about her weight issues." They wouldn't.

Is it jealously? Or do people simply see thinness as more of a threat to people's health than obesity? My guess would be the former, although I'm sure nobody would admit it.