Monday, 30 July 2012

#Olympics: rules are rules

Yes, like them or not, rules are rules.  The big news overshadowing the fact that Team GB won a Bronze medal in the Men's Gymnastics Final is the fact that we were on course to win Silver, following a mistake by Japan's Kōhei Uchimura, until an appeal by the Japanese team caused them to be promoted back into second place, having slipped down to fourth.

There followed, predictably, a considerable amount of disappointment, as well as anger directed at the Japanese Gymnasts.  Disappointment I can understand - anyone would be disappointed with the Bronze medal after having had a taste of the Silver - but anger I cannot.

Not only does this miss the point that Bronze is still a fantastic result for Great Britain, who haven't even qualified for the Final in this event since 1924, let alone won a medal, but it also completely ignores the fact that Japan were correct to appeal, and deserved the Silver medal.

Uchimura slipped as he went to dismount from the Pommel Horse apparatus, and it was this mistake which caused him to lose points, thereby meaning Japan slipped from second to four place on the leader board.  But the rules state that he did complete a dismount, because he landed on his feat - it was a poor and a messy dismount, and he had clearly made a mistake, but it was a dismount nonetheless.  He deserved to lose points for the sloppiness, but he didn't deserve to be denied the dismount points altogether.

It was a mistake by the Judges in not awarding Uchimura the dismount points (albeit minimal dismount points, for the shoddy quality of his dismount) which caused the upset, and Japan were right to appeal against this.  We (in Britain) may not agree with the rules which allow them to do this - but rules are rules, and must be adhered to, whether they help us or hinder us.

If this had happened to a British Gymnast, fighting for a medal position, rather than a Japanese one, there would've been an uproar had we not appealed, and been awarded the points which were due to us all along.

It's natural to be disappointed not to achieve the Silver medal, but we can still be proud of Bronze - and we've no right to be cross with the Japanese for fighting every inch of the way to make sure they get the points owed them, in one of the biggest Gymnastics competitions in the world; isn't that what any team would do?  It's what any team's fans would expect them to do.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

My first (and hopefully only) #Olympics Blog post

Personally, I'm really looking forward to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

I enjoy watching sport, and the Olympics is one of the biggest and most prestigious sporting events in the world, so I'm expecting it to be good!  Not only this, but it allows me to watch some of my favourite sports which don't always get as much TV coverage as I might like - especially sailing, and table tennis.

However, a lot of the Olympic-related comments I'm seeing at this time are making me feel quite uncomfortable.  If Twitter is to be believed, the events at which which Great Britain really seems to excel are moaning, whinging and grumpiness - and, while I respect the fact that everyone has a right to their own opinion on the Olympics, I don't see why you wouldn't think that getting the chance to host the Games in the UK is a great opportunity.

Now, I'm not saying that the organisation of the Games couldn't have been done better, or that there aren't ways in which we could improve - but the blanket anti-Olympics, and anti-everything-to-do-with-Olympics attitude which some people seem to espouse has become very tiresome.

If you don't want to watch it on television, that's fine - you're perfectly at liberty to watch something else - but to suggest that the whole thing is a waste of time, and to make comments like "what right has the Government to spend money on this event?  I wasn't consulted!" (wait a minute - do you expect that the Government should ask you personally on every point of taxation or economic policy?  That's absurd!) is ridiculous, and gives Britain an image of bitterness and resentment which we can well do without.

Is that the impression we want to give our visitors from around the world this summer (be they athletes, trainers, support staff, spectators or tourists)?  That we don't care, we're not interested, and we wish they weren't here at all?  No, of course not.

Hosting the Olympics here in Britain is a very special opportunity - one which is unlikely to come around again in many people's lifetimes.  It should be a chance for us to celebrate the talent, hard work and expertise of all our home-grown sportsmen and women, in a huge range of different sporting disciplines, and to build bridges with other nations.  It should be a way to inspire more people (of all ages!) to take part in sports and exercise, at all levels.  And it's our opportunity, while the rest of the world is watching, to show everyone what Britain is really all about, and what a great country this truly is.

So, c'mon - let's not spoil it now with all this grumbling!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

SatNav snobbery

Being someone who drives around a fair bit for work, I have a SatNav (a Garmin Nüvi 1300, if you must know) and I use it a fair amount.  Now, I'm not one of those idiots who would blindly follow a SatNav wherever it told them to go - even if that were off a cliff, or from Solihull to Barnsley via Ashgabat - without ever exercising any common sense, but I do find it very useful to use the SatNav when I'm doing a lot of travelling.

However, something I often find irksome is the strange kind of SatNav snobbery which some people exhibit.  I'm sure we've all experienced this, at some point...  Someone gives you the address of their house, school, workshop or tinned soup processing plant, and then adds: "oh, you'll have to use a road map to get directions, SatNavs can't find our address."

I don't know why this irritates me quite so much, but it always does.  It's like they're trying to say: "we're too special for that; our address is so exclusive, your plebeian SatNav won't possibly be able to find it.  We're down a Private Road, don'tcha know?  You can't even see the entrance to our road ordinarily - it only appears to you if you drive past in second gear, reciting cornucopia handlebar squirrel reticence, while not wearing trainers!"

Whenever I find myself in that situation, I like to drive to that destination using nothing but the SatNav to direct me - just to prove that they're not so special after all.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Damn those noisy megabytes!

Yesterday, I went to London by train.  I don't travel by train very often, as I much prefer driving to taking public transport.  (Long-time readers may well recall some of the reasons for my dislike of trains.  Newer readers - or those who simply wish to refresh their memories - can read my post about the trials of rail travel here.)

Thankfully, my rail journeys yesterday were pretty uneventful - aside from the vague uneasiness caused by sharing my mode of transport with so many strangers.  (I am always nervous that someone will drug me and steal my shoes.)  However, something which perplexed me was the rules and regulations surrounding the Quiet Coach.

The Quiet Coach is one coach of the train in which one is not permitted to behave in a way that disturbs other people.  The idea is to provide a refuge for those who might want to travel without the annoyance of people talking on mobile phones, or playing music through speakers, noisy kids, screaming babies, etc.  I can understand that.  But I can't understand this announcement made by the Guard on the train:
"There is WiFi available throughout the train - except in Coach B, which is the Quiet Coach."
I didn't know WiFi was particularly loud.  Indeed, I've never been disturbed in any way by the presence of WiFi.

I know that the reasoning for this is that being able to access the internet gives one the facility to be watching videos on YouTube, playing games, talking on Skype, and generally using technology to make a nuisance of oneself.  But that's totally illogical - it isn't the WiFi itself that's annoying, it's the way certain people might use it; you may as well say that people clicking their fingers could be irritating, so everyone in the Quiet Coach has to wear mittens the entire time.

It is, of course, possible to access the internet very quietly indeed.  In fact, I am doing so right now.  Withholding WiFi in the Quiet Coach is absurd - it's not WiFi which is the problem, it's people's inconsiderate behaviour.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Happy Facebirthday!

So, yesterday was my birthday...  (I'm twenty-two; thanks for asking.)

As is normal in this day and age, I experienced a high volume of traffic on my Facebook profile, with plenty of friends and acquaintances dropping by to wish me many happy returns.  (I probably had more people talking to me on Facebook within the space of twenty-four hours, than I do in six months during the rest of the year!)

Of course, Facebook is in now, when it comes to communicating.  Some people would say that a message written on someone's Facebook Wall (sorry, Timeline) is less personal than a traditional birthday card, a handwritten note, or even a 'phone call - but we must move with the times, and personally, I still appreciate the fact that people have got in touch with me to wish me well on my birthday.  It's nice.

As I said, I really appreciate my friends' taking the trouble to speak to me on my birthday, and I always try to respond to each person who has done so.  However, it really irritates me when other people respond so impersonally to birthday wishes on Facebook.

I often notice other Facebook users displaying less gratitude to their friends, and simply posting a "one-size-fits-all" status update during the day, saying "thanks to everyone who has wished me a happy birthday!!"  No doubt they feel overwhelmed by the large amounts of people getting in touch with them, and feel it unnecessary to reply to each one individually - I'm sorry, but I don't agree, and I think if someone has taken the time to write you a comment, you can take the time to write them one back.

After all, it wouldn't look great if, on every day which is not my birthday, I just posted a status saying "happy birthday to anyone whose birthday it happens to be today!" instead of actually bothering to talk to my friends individually, would it?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

#Vlog: Cioko Cake comparisons

An unexpected twist in the Cioko Cake saga occurs, when a strange, unbranded imitation appears in a local rehearsal studio vending machine... Watch the video to find out more!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The #Wimbledon gravy trainwreck

This entirely fictional story lifts the lid on Wimbledon's past, and explains why the playing surface can sometimes be a little gooey...