Monday, July 26, 2010
The Tour de France is not just the World's hardest sporting event, it is in a totally different league from anything else. 23 days of racing at a pace that most good cyclists could not maintain for half an hour. (The British media reward their efforts with no tv coverage on the main channels and a few column inches in the newspapers squeezed beneath the latest on Wayne Rooney's holiday in Barbados.)
Well done to Alberto Contador in winning, to Lance Armstrong for battling on when things weren't going his way, unlike many stars who would simply have pulled out and to our own Mark Cavendish whose stage win on the Champs Elysees yesterday was spectacular and left a bunch of world class sprinters scattered helplessly behind him.
Now we just need Bradley Wiggins to get his act together for a podium finish next year.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Flying with Ryanair the other week, I discovered at check in that my luggage was 3 kg over the limit (15kg). Rather than pay the excess baggage charges, I chose to suffer the indignity of boarding the plane wearing three tee shirts, two jumpers and a waterproof coat with a trainer in each pocket. A towel draped casually around my neck, trying desperately hard to look like a scarf (It was about 30 degrees C in the airport) completed the image of the suave and sophisticated traveller.
Now I have only admiration for Michael O Leary's business model of paying exactly for what you use and nothing more, but I really feel that he has missed a trick. Why don't airlines weigh each passenger with their luggage and charge a set fee per kilogram. After all, mass is mass (as any science teacher might be able to tell you) and needs fuel to carry it from A to B, no matter whether it is in the hold or attached to the person sat next to me. I'm sure various groups would object, such as the Friends of Fatties and the Stout Supporters Union but they could all be told where to go.
If you are reading this Michael- then go on, I dare you...
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Imagine 10 000 people in a bike race on closed roads, with huge climbs and hair raising alpine descents. This was the 'Etape' on Sunday; a 112 mile course in the Pyrenees over the stage that the Tour de France will ride this Thursday.
You can really fly through the bends using both sides of the road (although judging by some of the competitors' bike handling skills, this was probably what they normally ended up doing) and there are loads of spectators along the route shouting "allez!", ringing cowbells and generally doing French things, so you feel just like a pro as long as you don't look at your watch. (The photo shows me just missing someone who was wheeling a broken bike out of the way.)
There were three big climbs on this year's course; Col du Marie Blanc, which wasn't too bad except for the bottleneck near the top, the unrelenting Soulour and just to finish us off at the end; the 12 mile horror of the Tourmalet. All in all, a hot, sunny and extremely memorable day out. Comical moments included a donkey wandering across the road on the freewheel down to La Mongie after the finish, which nearly wiped me out.
If you've ever even vaguely considered it, then get training and race next year. There is a real carnival atmosphere about the event and loads of Brits go out to do it.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
For those of you who are interested, I am once again riding the Etape du Tour this Sunday. It's in the Pyrenees this year and features such delights as the Col du Soulour and the Col du Tourmalet; neither of which sound very flat to me. The pros ride the course next Thursday as Stage 17 of the Tour de France.
If I survive the experience, then I will be back next Tuesday.
ps if anyone can tell me why my Orange Mobile Broadband has been so slow and erratic for the last week then please let me know, as Orange don't seem to be in any hurry to do so.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
For the second week running, I've read an article in the Sunday Times explaining how either a car or a city will be 'powered by water'. I can't post the link because they would now like you to pay to access their website.
If anyone who works for the Times is reading this, could you please use some of the money to pay for the science editor to take a GCSE in the subject. They will then discover that it actually requires lots of energy to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. (If you do it the opposite way round-ie combine the two gases to make water, then you can generate electrical current to power whatever you like)
The general standard of science reporting throughout the media is absolutely terrible. Articles either contain basic mistakes or are sexed up versions of something that appeared in New Scientist a few weeks earlier, with a bit of certainty added for good measure.
Monday, July 12, 2010
I urge you to listen to Jeremy Vine today (Monday). He's got a couple of fruits who agree with Zenna's comments and it's hilarious. "Schools should reflect society and children need to see that not everybody is perfect" was one of the lines I remember.
I have to say though, that I'm starting to come round to the idea that we need really crap people employed in every career, because they really do make you feel better (unless they are a doctor in which case they probably don't in the long term).
Anyway, for all those of you who would love to see me in a darkened room, click here to watch my short ITV interview which didn't make the Ten O' clock News the other night because Moaty couldn't make up his mind whether to talk to Gazza or top himself.
Oh and Here's a link to the facebook page set up for PC David Rathband
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I've met some very good school inspectors but also plenty of dimwits and after hearing Zenna Atkins' words of wisdom; maybe it's time to scrap Ofsted and simply run the state school system like Tesco, with area managers for each county who have the power to reward the good teachers and heads and sack all the rubbish. (Every member of staff knows exactly who they are- just let them vote on it)
Regional managers could in turn keep an eye on them and somebody at the top can take overall responsibility and face the shareholders (ie the taxpayers). Surely that couldn't be any worse than the current ridiculous system of hoop jumping inspections which don't really measure anything worthwhile and paying everyone the same regardless of whether they are good, bad or not even there for months on end.
There is a great article on the front page of today's Sunday Times (I can't link to it unfortunately) where Zenna Atkins, chairwoman of Ofsted (whose job it is to maintain standards in state schools) announces that "every school should have a useless teacher"
I was inspired by this comment and have immediately re applied for my old job.
Her rationale is that "children learn how to identify which teachers are good role models and become adept at exploiting incompetent ones, which is a valuable skill for playing authority in later life" (seriously, I'm not making this up)
Hopefully those recruiting for other jobs (such as airline pilots or nuclear power station controllers) will take Zenna's wisdom on board and stop this ridiculous drive to only take on people who are good at what they do.
It does make you wonder though. How exactly did Zenna, who apparently left school with just one 'O' Level; manage to become head of the education standards watchdog?
Friday, July 09, 2010
Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim's hairdresser is surrounded by armed police.
I just love the expression on that guy's face with the tazer. He needs to be put on every recruiting poster immediately.
Anyway, now that it's all over the police clearly have a few embarrassing questions to answer:
1) Why was Gazza not involved in this case right from the start? So much for armed police and trained negotiators- Gascoigne turns up and despite being five pints the worse for wear; brings the situation to a successful conclusion in no time at all.
2) Why did nobody lay down their weapon and challenge Moat to a one on one martial arts style fight? I saw this on a film once and it did the trick.
3)Why has no apology been given to local residents who have suffered days of radio and tv interference caused by Sue Sim's hair.
The only serious bit is the condition of PC David Rathband whom the media seem to have forgotten about. Let's hope for the best.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Loondog Raoul Moat (even his first name sounds like the cry of a werewolf) has declared war on the police (well, those who are unable to defend themselves anyway- not the ones carrying submachine guns). I was scared witless when I turned on the news to see the lady with the funny hair from Northumberland Police. (See Inspector Gadget's blog for a picture and lots of comment about arming the police)
Which halfwit thought that letting him out was a good idea? (I'm talking about Raoul, not Sue Sim)
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Once again the clear link between a diet of junk food and poor behaviour has been demonstrated; this time by ex-hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi who had to be thrown out of this year's competition at Coney Island, New York.
If you think nothing of polishing off 50 hot dogs, or maybe you fancy your chances in the blueberry pie (hands free) category; then the official website for Major League Eating can be found here.
ps due to an unfortunate misunderstanding with local sponsors, the international round of the hot dog eating event due to be held in Soeul, Korea has had to be cancelled at short notice.
Monday, July 05, 2010
The inability to get rid of poor teachers has been a problem for decades. It's partly down to poor recruitment and poor training, combined with a lack of leadership within schools. The absence of any emphasis on discipline combined with an obsession with every new 'teaching method' no matter how bonkers, does not really help matters.
Mix in a culture of political correctness which allows no criticism, along with unions who enthusiastically support those who cannot do their job and you have the perfect recipe for a profession in crisis. That's what attracted me to it anyway...
Panorama discusses this at half eight tonight. Watch it if you like.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Today (on Newsnight) someone uttered a statement I've heard a thousand times:
"Immigrants do the low paid jobs that the British don't want to do themselves"
Why have I never heard the obvious reply?
"The only reason the Brits won't do these jobs is because they are paid benefits to allow them to sit at home watching daytime TV"
Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke wants to send fewer people to prison and give more criminals community service instead, claiming that people are more likely to re offend if they go to jail.
Well nobody has ever robbed my house whilst they have been safely behind bars. Also nobody ever actually does community service, you simply turn up on day one, muck about a bit then go to your doctor and get signed off with a bad back. Alternatively you can simply threaten your supervisor to mark you present.
If community service meant pink overalls, chain gangs and hard graft, supervised by people who weren't actually terrified of you, then it would get my full support.