Archive | January, 2013

Ill Miss Mario ..I will

30 Jan

I am genuinely sad that Mario, Super Mario is leaving Man City. In many ways he feels like a perfect embodiment of the club in its current phase. This isn’t meant in a sarcastic way at all.

At times he has summed the club up perfectly, unpredictable , flashy, confident and bonkers all at the same time.

Of course his greatest contribution to the club has been hats. Not just the five fingered chicken thing but snoods, bobble hats , chuyos , everything really. Oh and T-shirts, those with funny sayings like “Benny hill I love you ” as he slapped David Silva’s head , or the one where he told Rafael he loved her , I think that was before he took legal action to prove her child wasn’t his , perhaps he missed a trick there ” Rafael I don’t believe you but if you take a blood test ill consider it ” is maybe a bit too much for a t-shirt against Aston Villa.

I don’t remember a player who has been so divisive at the club. There have been legends and those players people loved, even those that weren’t that good but had cult status. And there have been those players no one liked. But Mario is the first to be all three, often at the same time to the same people – Hobbes it appears was right . (In case your wondering think _ Colin Bell , Imre Veradi and Steve Daley). He owns a camouflage car and has been on the front of Time magazine. He is a star , there is no doubt. Occasionally he’s played football and he’s not bad to be honest.

Oh he’s allergic to grass , not the football grass, or the smoking stuff but the other stuff. So alas a trip to our place is out as we’ve got oodles of it .

It probably would have been more fitting for him to have left last summer, his last kick being the pass that set up the goal that won the championship. That is a fitting end, not having a punch up with your boss. But this is Mario he’s different. Incidentally when did passing a football to set up a goal become known as an assist ?

But hell always be remembered as an ubercool penalty taker. There’s a guy plays for another Manchester team who just runs up really fast and hits it like a train about to crash …not Mario. Plus he might even do a nic nic with his hands to celebrate which is funny if nothing else .

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Beppe Grillo !?!

23 Jan

Beppe Grillo , if he was a fictional character you wouldn’t believe it. If he arose in any other country he’d be on Friday night TV , but never a politician with a serious amount of support. Beppe Grillo in some ways symbolises the lack of real political discourse in Italy in 2013.

Grillo was an accountant who turned comedian ..too many jokes to overload in that one . Remember Carmans quote about Ken Dodd. Anyway he rose through the TV ranks and had his own evening show Grillometro…I imagine this to be like Russ Abbots funhouse , then he started doing politics jokes , and making digs at politicians with their noses in the trough. He got lucky by calling Craxi a thief , and it turned out he was. It turned Grillo into someone to listen to ( so were well away from the Russ Abbot analogy now ).

In 2007 he started his Fuck off day celebrations. Now there’s not a great amount of discussion needed about these, it’s a simple concept a big urgh at the establishment.

It’s hard to know what he believes or stands for, or what if anything that he says is to be taken seriously. He says no one should be elected if they have a criminal conviction , yet he has one himself. For the not insignificant charge of manslaughter . He’s been gaining votes in local elections yet has little to say on the big issue. He has a strong ecological bent , but owns a sports car and a motor yacht. He’s caught the imagination of many with his Internet campaigning tools , though he used to end his TV show by smashing up a computer. Confused ?

As anti politicians go , he’s entertaining. But when Anti politicians start to pick up votes they need to be more than just a personality cult or entertainment. His party are hovering around 11%, imagine if Russ Abbott could manage that !

Italy’s election gets even stranger.

18 Jan

So what does Mario Monti do when faced with his rival Silvio making some strong and alarming poll increases ….simple he plays the catholic card. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/18/us-italy-vote-idUSBRE90H0T820130118
http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/italy-pm-monti-opposes-gay-marriage-135837310–sector.html

What is strange about this , other than why a man as sensible as Monti should be even interested in a position politically on gay marriage, is the overarching role of a foreign government in Italian politics. No other country looks to the Vatican during elections , certainly not Ireland or France with large catholic populations. The us stopped this in about 1960.

I thought a few weeks ago that this election would be very strange if family values and morality took centre stage. I may be proved correct.

Who is Mario Monti ?

17 Jan

It seems likely that the Italian election will deliver Mario Monti the position of deal breaker. He’s an enigma in modern politics but perhaps less so in Italian politics. A personality less personality cult. A senator for life standing for election. Standing to reverse tax increases he imposed. A reserved man who seems the opposite of his vain rival Silvio ..yet he puts his name on his party. He’s led the country through a turbulent twelve months , but seems unlikely to be remembered for it.

Monti seems to be running as incumbent leader but as a change candidate. This can only make sense in Italian politics.And weirdly it does. His premiership was on the back foot dealing with Italy’s financial crisis. They have averted a Greek style collapse , but still have one all the same.

Monti served his time in the EU as a commissioner and was previously an economist. Time is even calling him the worlds most important ex economics professor. I don’t know how you could validate that judgement.

At 69 he can’t be seen has having a long future in politics. In many ways his greatest political moment has passed , ensuring that Italy remained liquid in the bond market. He may well end up finance minister in the next government , and he’s likely to be orthodox if he does.

In many ways Monti is the normal guy , the man in the street. In Italian politics that makes him something of an outrider.

health cuts cuts cuts

9 Jan

This article http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=10857848 has started a mini debate but nothing substantial. The main issue I have is that the logic behind these type of cuts is never followed through.
Firstly we will cut these procedures to fund ” smarter ” ways of doing things. Until the smarter way of doing things is explained it’s nebulous. Show the real investment or shut up !

Secondly it’s a cut and run attitude. We will no longer fund these procedures , which though not life threatening are important to the recipients, in exchange they may have poorer quality of life but the downstream effects won’t show until we’re out of the picture. It’s no different to the ACC cuts earlier .

Democratic cycles don’t do good things to politicians and health !

CLR James ..a birthday post.

3 Jan

The 4th of January marks the birthday of CLR James. For me James is one of the most readable, thought provoking writers of all time. He had the turn of phrase of a good journalist, the depth of a philosopher and the insight of a historian. He was great at all of these and when he brought them together he fizzed off the page.
Phrases like beyond a boundary and any cook can govern have joined our language , his book on the Haiti revolution a must for anyone wanting to understand the modern world. His writing on this period was even turned into a musical with Paul Robeson , imagine being in the room with those two!

I point to three pieces of writing which for me are classic James. There are hundreds but I pick just three.
http://libcom.org/library/nine-year-old-leader-clr-james Writing on the 1981 riots James in a short piece breaks down all the thoughts and romanticism of revolution and the riots. I thought of this piece during the riots in 2012 and the way far too many people get carried away with what the “meaning ” of the actions were.James writes from the bottom up at all times.

A second key text for me is mariners , renegades and castaways. It shows James as someone steeped in the classic novels and he uses Moby Dick as a metaphor for modern America. Oh how this book seems to be even more relevant in the age of fiscal cliffs , banking crises and sanity in the pursuit of the insane.

Finally a piece on Barnes vs Constantine. I can’t help creating the most amazing visual images when I read this. A Lancashire league encounter turns into a battle of worlds. the cunning guile of Barnes even at 59 vs the explosive youth and pace of Constantine. Don’t get one dimensional and look for the best just be grateful you saw it , or for us we read about it. http://sporttaco.com/uk.sport.cricket/Barnes_vs_Constantine_by_C_L_R_James_3980.html

Stop Silvio at all costs

2 Jan

I have had a long standing interest in Italian politics for well over 20 years. It was initially sparked earlier than that , when the Bulgarian dissident got umbrella tapped ..I know he wasn’t italian but the link was made and ..wow I was intrigued. Plus when I found out the currency traded in millions for a loaf of bread that seemed much cooler than a green note with a queens head on it .

Anyway a dissertation on Gramsci lots of Negri, Croce et al and an inter Milan shirt later ( early 90s collared version ) I’ve maintained an interest in Italian politics.

In just over 7 weeks time Italians go to the polls , they don’t do it as often as they used to but ill be watching them closely. Why ? Mainly because Silvio Berlusconi is trying to make a comeback , and he must be stopped. He’s worse than many imagine. He’s not just an old joker, someone whose slightly out of step or a bit “un pc ” he’s a dangerous man to lead a g8 country now or ever. A man who ran the countries economy in a worse state than any other bar Zimbabwe and Libya .

Why ? Well that could fill a book, and has done. But here’s 5 and a half reasons why he should never return ..
1. A court found him guilty of fraud. He’s a convicted tax fraudster…nice leadership in the current climate. When your found guilty of fraud you really shouldn’t look for people’s trust. It’s not one charge either. The economist ran an article in 2001 covering 10 charges and why he was not fit to govern. He sued and lost !

2. He’s a racist. No other way around it. His comments to an African in a refugee camp about his sun tan are off the page. He also claimed the Chinese boiled children for fertiliser.Seriously.

3. If he doesn’t like the rules he changes them. Many of his laws were passed unconstitutionally. he has passed several laws to run rail-shot over judicial process. Not a comfortable feeling. Some of these changes have been to his personal benefit.

4. In 2009 he told people displaced from an earthquake to enjoy homelessness as though it were a camping holiday. Carry on Berlusconi …

5. He has used his tv monopoly to fry Italy’s social and political culture. The media empire is as much of a shark as news international. He has blurred the lines between politics and the media more than any other western democracy.

The half reason ..well he owns AC Milan , and anyone knows inter are much cooler..!

Without any real analysis of his political agenda or even touching on the sexual scandals and misogyny Silvio is not trustworthy. If he loses this election then at his age it must surely all be over …the alternative I can’t contemplate .