Category Archives: sport

Public displays

Not of affection, but of religion. I stumbled on the recent hubbub over an American football player, Tim Tebow, who likes to pray a lot during a game. A fan decided his pose was one for the internet meme world, and started a hilarious website called “Tebowing” where people pose in the same style (like “The Thinker”). Now part of the joke is that you are doing this while everyone else around you is doing their normal thing… like playing a football game, or in the case of the internet meme people, a wide variety of things to various degrees of hilarity.

The problem is, at the moment there is a contingent of the American public and press who are pretty upset about the fact that two players in last week’s opposing side also struck the Tebowing pose when they had managed to get on the right side of defensive plays where Tebow was humiliated. See articles here and here. The quarterback himself seems to be generally in good spirits about the entire thing, and is not the one criticizing the opposing players.

Now I, as I said, find this amusing and was hoping to find a friend to join in the fun and do some photographs in front of major English landmarks to submit to the site. I have a few ideas as to which of my American-in-the-UK friends might be up for this sort of chicanery! But I also have really strong feelings about the entire phenomenon. Whenever religious expression supposedly involves very public actions, I cringe a bit. I consider religion or spirituality to be a very personal thing. I consider prayer, especially, to be a very personal thing. So this kneeling in the end zone thing is something that I would typically consider affectatious and for the benefit of the observers, not related to the spiritual interior of the person putting on the show. But interestingly enough, in America, and especially in American football, this is a widely accepted practice. This is one of those places where I’m more comfortable in my local environment than in my native one. Maybe I really am becoming European.

Bits and bobs revisited

I’ve done this before when I had a bunch of random US-UK tabs open in my browser window. In the spirit of the game, I will leave them in the random order they’re in, and not edit the order to group things on common topics, hopefully creating an interesting non-pattern.

There we have it, bits and bobs for a crazy Thursday. I took my team to the pub tonight to introduce a few new recruits, and it turns out that if you count passports, birthplaces, long-time residence locations and birthplaces of parents, we are a mini-United Nations with all 6 inhabited continents represented, most more than once, and a remarkably complicated set of allegiances. This I love about my line of work. Although it just reinforces my relatively new prejudice that I get along best with people who have also been expats or closely allied with expats…

Aussie update

I have been in Australia since Saturday morning (it’s Tuesday evening now) but until 5 minutes ago, I had no internet access other than what was on my phone. I almost didn’t notice because I’ve been so busy, and since I could check key emails on my phone it was not so horrid, but I sure felt like something was missing. I’ve already been in two Australian cities and will depart for the third on this trip tomorrow, so it will take some time to catch up! But for now, photographs from the amazing Saturday afternoon Aussie Rules football match that saw the 150-year old Melbourne Demons football club win in a complicated and emotional victory.

Ds field

Ds goal kick

Ds end zone

Cricket and the Giant Killers

I admit it freely, I’m a complete cricket nut. It’s always a shock to my UK colleagues when the subject comes up; apparently, although the first ever international match was played between the US and Canada in NY, and the first UK international tour was of North America, it is assumed that Americans have never heard of the sport. I started watching classic one day matches on the old “Fox Sports World” channel in the states, long before I moved to the UK, and after receiving as a gift the book “A Mathematician’s Apology.” So forgive me for this brief sports-related interlude, but it’s going to be an exciting cricket-y summer here in the UK.

Given today’s rainy weather, I’m not sure there will be new cricket news coming out of the world Twenty20 today, but the news the last few days has been pretty exciting. I was completely shocked yesterday morning to find that the Netherlands, a country in which cricket is listed as the “25th most popular sport” (I dare you to come up with 24 other sports…), stunned the English at Lord’s in the World Twenty20 tournament opener. The press coverage of the defeat was alarmist, to say the least:

Never in the error-strewn history of English cricket, never in the rich 195-year history of Lord’s, has there been a day as dark.

Now as an Aussie cricket fan ahead of the Ashes, I was feeling pretty good, for about 4 hours. Until the Aussies got totally crushed by a resurgent West Indies team (the same team that beat England in a recent test series, albeit one marred by poor pitches and draws).

I was secretly delighted in both results. Clearly there is some ambiguity ahead of the Ashes matches between the UK and Australia later this summer, with both teams in mediocre form. But more importantly, as a fan, I think it’s good for cricket to see some matches won by the underdogs. And there is no better underdog result than the Dutch one. And I’m not just saying that because of my grandmother’s link to Dordrecht. The sport needs to expand to survive; for all the criticism I’ve heard about the US and its “world” titles in sports in which few other countries compete at a professional level (Am. football, baseball, ice hockey–although the case for international baseball is better than for the others) cricket suffers from having only about 8 sides competing at the world level. Twenty20 brings the opportunity, just as the one-day game did earlier on, for teams to get involved in a shorter form of the game, thus requiring less investment than keeping a professional test side. After all, the Dutchmen who humbled the English on Friday are part-timers. And they won’t easily forget their win at the spiritual home of cricket. I say it’s good for the game. Now if only the Americans would get their act together and join up.

Advance, Australia Fair

Having just returned from nearly 3 weeks down under, and having taken over 1,000 photos with my Nikon D70, I was thinking the easiest way to do this would be with a photo-rich summary and then maybe if I feel like expanding on anecdotes later, I can. It was so strange to have little connectivity for all that time, and no ability to post to the blog. It’s funny how one gets used to habit and routine! Although I really did enjoy the time off, and hopefully it will become clear that I used the time wisely!!!

My base was the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour south of Melbourne. This put me in walking distance to the beach.

beach

Melbourne was also an easy train ride away, again with the station in walking distance at the beach end, and the terminus of the train at the fabulous Flinders Street Station.

flinders

That dumps one into Federation Square,

fedsq
where there are restaurants and museums and easy tram links to the rest of the city, like to other museums.

melbmus

Crucially, you can also easily reach the MCG,

mcg

for a little sporting entertainment.

cricket

There was wildlife,

roo

koala

and even some wildlife in their natural habitats.

octopus

shane

(Speaking of Shane Warne, the best spin bowler of all time, I also went to see “Shane Warne The Musical!” which was both hilarious and really top-quality in the music and staging.)

There were day trips to hike,

schank

and a memorable time off-roading in the bush … in a Hyundai. Not my idea.

hyundai

Several such adventures included going to the top of tall things to look at things.

tall1

tall2

But oh, the beach.

sunset2

sunset

Life is short, part 2

The Olympics got off to a bang with pomp, pageantry and fireworks, and then a Minnesota man was stabbed to death while visiting tourist sites in Beijing. In the face of supposedly “massive security”.  And it was not just any Minnesota man, but the CEO of a beloved Minnesota company, Bachmans Floral. I have to admit, I have been ambivalent about these Olympics, of course there are interesting stories, athletes with amazing abilities, but the thing itself seems to have gotten bigger than it should be. Montreal only finished paying off their Olympic debt in 2006, after holding the games in 1976. This year’s games were due to be a mess of protests over China’s human rights record. Now there is this black mark on the latest event. Isn’t it time to stop, to rethink the expense and to consider the many ways that this massive amount of money could be put to better global use?

Observed at the grocery store

Two critical observations from my local Sainsbury’s tonight.

  • On Cheese. They did have some slices of something that looked like American cheese. As in, it was yellow and in a package of individually wrapped slices and called “Cheese-flavoured slices” which I thought was very amusing. They also had something shockingly scary-looking called “Dairylea Nachos” which I bought just for the heck of it. Full report later, but I’m guessing it will be nothing like American nachos. For one, the cheese is the wrong color!
  • On Hokies. Sainsbury’s is for some reason channeling the Virginia Tech sports teams with their odd new color scheme for the uniforms.
    Hokie logo

    Hokie logo

    Sainsbury’s has always been about the Orange but for some amusing reason they have switched the uniforms from UVa colors (dark blue and orange) to the Tech colors (maroon and orange). Can they possibly know here the ramifications of this loyalty switch given the intense rivalry? Are they trying to show much delayed solidarity for the victims of the Tech shooting? Inquiring minds wish to know.