Monday, July 26, 2010

The Boks Blapse - telling it like it is

SHOOT: Below the fold is a view from abroad, an extract from an article by Chris Rattue, placed in the comment section of an article by Gavin Rich. Link follows below.
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There is no disgrace in losing away games in the Tri-Nations, but the manner of the South African defeats reveals they are wasting their vast playing resources. A failure to eliminate poor discipline also indicates a leadership problem.
De Villiers is a faux test coach, a man who got his lines from a joke shop with a free Groucho moustache thrown in.
South Africa may feel the rest of the world is unduly harsh on de Villiers, but the rest of the rugby community can rightly feel miffed that the game’s leading team doesn’t take the job of head coach seriously enough.
Shame on the South African team management for strong-arming an apology out of former Wallaby Brendan Cannon, for calling de Villiers a clown.
The Springboks threatened to withdraw Fox Sport access to their team. South Africa, which is still trying to recover from years under an evil regime, should value the importance of free speech. And Fox should have backed Cannon.
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Which strategy should the Boks employ for the 2011 World Cup

The Bulls kicking-orientated strategy [which works at high altitude] won't help in New Zealand in 15 months time. Nou wat nou? Should they maintain structures with kick and chase as king, or employ more willy-nilly running?

SHOOT: The answer is, do what you do best. Structures work for the Boks, but in NZ they won't be able to kick and chase. So stick to structures and run when you're in the opponent's 22. I don't think, given the current squad, that running would work. The kiwis and wallabies are both choosing the freer, running style. If we want to compete with themon their terms we'll have to usher in new, fleet-footed, younger Boks who can also run.
But let's face it, right now our chances of success in 2011 aren't looking good.
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It is alleged that significant differences exist between the coaching style espoused by the two assistants, Gary Gold, who has always been from the more structured school, and Dick Muir, who as we saw with his Lions in the Super 14, is in favour of a more free flowing style of play.

Head coach Peter de Villiers takes his lead from them and is said to be undecided on the way forward, while the players, who had the major say in playing style under the old interpretations last season, where they employed what could be described as the Jake White template, are divided in the absence of a clear voice to guide them.

Regardless of the veracity or otherwise of the reports, it was clear from the three matches in Australasia, but particularly the last two, that the Boks are caught between a rock and a hard place and are unclear what to do. Their game-plan seems to fluctuate between the old one, where structure and kick and chase is king, and one where willy-nilly running is the order of the day.

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The View from my Bicycle [COLUMN]

What are you waiting for? - by Nick van der Leek

You may have noticed the countdown to the Soccer World Cup.  The newspapers did it, some websites joined in.  It has come and gone and left something of a vacuum in its place.  Maybe you are counting down to the end of your work week, or to your next birthday, or the next time you see your loved one.  Perhaps its a countdown to payday, or to your next holiday.  Maybe you're waiting for a new phase in your life.  Or for someone to call.  Or for the economy to change.  Maybe you're waiting for an email or for permission.  But the truth is, there is a time for patience, and for action.  What do I mean?

There are many factors beyond our control.  And when whatever it is we are waiting for finally happens, or turns out different to how we expect, or doesn't happen at all - then we have merely invested ourselves in faith and hope.  If we love our lives, and if we're conscious of the fact that death is a certainty, then we should value time, and our time with each other.

What we all have control over is the work we do.  Preparation.  Think of it as training.  Then, when race day arrives one is best able to perform.  And if race day doesn't arrive, or comes along in a guise that is not quite what we expected, at least one is in a state of healthy readiness.

I am referring to many things of course.  Perhaps one fears the onset of an economic depression.  Or a divorce.  Or matric.  Or the onset of winter. Should one wait for it, or prepare?  How can one prepare?  What can one do?  The answer is, of course, a lot.  We can cut down our expenses, or stop wasting energy.  We can begin to transform our mindset beyond a 'growth at all costs' mindset, and focus on what we know is more effective.  We can pursue alternatives.  Whatever it is we are waiting for, I would like to encourage you not to wait.

A movie said it best: Get busy living, or get busy dying.  Action, doing, making decisions and acting on them - is how we live.  If you have no idea what you can do, do the most simple thing.  Move your body.  Exercise.  Often.  Because having your health counts for a lot in world where 28 million around the world are dying of cancer.  And what about them?  Do you wait to die?  Or do you get on your bike and somehow, through sheer act of will, through preparation, keep cancer at bay.

Because cancer is a good metaphor for entropy, for those unhealthy, unsustainable habits. Endless TV and movie watching, endless excuses.  Watching, learning, reading - none of that is living.  It is waiting.  It is a lethargic approach to one's body and mind.  In fact when the mind is filled with pernicious thoughts, and our habits are a cycle of non-activity, the body begins to respond in a way that simulates sickness. One of the reasons that drives this lethargy is loneliness, or isolation.  I know I am prone to this.  I can be a little anti-social, and let's face it, social media is making more and more of us more and more prone not only to being anti-social, but worse, not knowing how to interact with those around us.  Not knowing how to disagree,or how to have arguments, or how to resolve issues.  The result tends to be alienation.  This isn't good for anyone. Why?

Social connectedness is important to Ilardi. In The Depression Cure, he argues that the brain mistakenly interprets the pain of depression as an infection. Thinking that isolation is needed, it sends messages to the sufferer to "crawl into a hole and wait for it all to go away". This can be disastrous because what depressed people really need is the opposite: more human contact. More.

Exercise is the opposite.  It is a healthy and creative response that embraces the world and participates in it.  It's good for you. Please do not continue to waste your time.  Answer the question: what should you get busy with in order to be best living out your life?  Decide what you should do and do it. Go out there.  You have a gift to give the world.  Please give it.  Today.  Right now. If you can do this you stand to gain living a full life with all its joys and riches.  Whenever you choose to exercise your choice to involve yourself in the world, you stand to gain the experience that knocks on your door each and every moment.  Living.  So what are you waiting for?

The Surf Diaries

#17 Stay Alert, Stay Alive

The sea reveals itself today to be energised. This vigor fuels the length of the beach so there is a traffic jam of surfers, probably 30-40 of 'em, jostling for space.

The water is unusually brisk.  It's another one of those days where you have to be on top of your game because the size of the waves demands it.  I see a cormorant diving around for lunch, and notice a longish fish dart through the lime green shallows.

In the opening stages of this session I stand on an avalanche that swallows me into a foaming abyss.  I windmill through in a standing position, my board glancing by my jaw, then flashing by my shoulder, then feathering a calf, the telltale temporary tugging of my ankle providing the only sense of reality - a tug must mean the board is behind me, being funneled by a wave.  When I emerge I clamber back onto my board and ponder the similarities between surfing and being in utero.  Suspended in fluid, an umbilicus, and a thundering heartbeat droning through a dark though milky emulsion.  Birth and light - intertwined.

I seem to have made progress as I seem to purchase a few seconds of standing within the sets of animated symmetry.
But, to be honest, I am still struggling to get my one leg higher up on the board, and the inescapable conclusion I have reached is: my big round stomach is in the way.  I need to reduce belly size, and being a little lighter can't hurt either. I will have to add a few runs to the week's workload.

Around me body boarders, long boarders and surfers are making the most of the sets moving through.  This is also one of the best days I've experienced here. For once there's variety and good vertical size, and also reasonable water depth after the wave break.

Walking back, I'm amazed and grateful for the opportunity to spend a Sunday afternoon in this way.  If you're in Bloemfontein, what is there to do that comes close to this?

More Awesome TDF Pictures

SHOOT: What an amazing race.
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SHOOT: Click on the link below for some amazing coverage.
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"First there were caravans, then 4x4s, and now people are investing in mountain bikes so they can be outdoors."

The carnival atmosphere of the Mr Price Karkloof Classic Mountain Bike Festival in the Midlands in May also attracted thousands of entrants to its night, cross-country and marathon races.
And, of course, mountain biking has more surprises than road cycling. Swarming bees on the Karkloof cross-country race last year forced cyclists to divert into the forest.
This year the Mabalingwe Lion Man Mountain Bike Race in the Waterberg in May had close to 1500 riders - a tenfold increase on 10 years ago. The Lion Man is the only race in a Big 4 nature reserve, although the riders of the tough 80km course are probably going too fast to do much game watching.

SHOOT: I think if you can combine Mountain Biking with the elements that make up hiking and game viewing, well that's got to be a winner.
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LIFE CYCLE: Mountain biking enthusiasts have pioneered many new routes

Cycling past lions in the bush or along cliff tops or next to a waterfall are experiences unique to mountain biking. On winter mornings, the exhilaration of being outdoors on a rocky trail and the chance to have fun and stay fit gets riders out of bed. Across the country "weekend warriors" - the majority 30- and 40-somethings with testosterone, although the ratio of Amazons is rising, hit riverine and forest single-track at dawn and unwind later at coffee bars and cafés with cycle racks.

One Sunday, I spotted five groups of lesser-muddy Swampdogs riding along the Braamfontein Spruit, about 40km of paths. Allan Laudin, founder of the 300-member Swampdogs club, says: "Mountain biking is not about the speed; it's about pleasure. This lifestyle has attracted a diverse collection of individuals, not clones in club kit but free- spirited, lateral thinkers, men and women from eight to 60, couples, singles and families."

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Sweden Hotel is cutting edge and invisible

The units are constructed from sustainably harvested wood and have electric radiant floor heating and "a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly, incineration toilet".

SHOOT: Problem is you might not be able to find it.
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mirrored treehouse sweden photo exterior

They said it couldn't be done. When we first wrote about the almost
invisible tree house
to be built in Sweden by Tham & Videgard, 899 commenters
thought it was computer-generated eye candy, impossible to build, and death for

But the architects built it, one of six units in a "Treehotel," which recently opened 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Sweden.

mirrored treehouse sweden photo reflecting

The four-meter glass cube looks as spectacular in reality as it did
in the rendering. Kent Lindvall, co-owner of the TreeHotel, has been quoted as saying:

Everything will reflect in this -- the trees, the birds, the
clouds, the sun, everything. So it should be invisible nearly in the
mirrored treehouse sweden photo closeup

And what about the birds? According to Designboom, Lindvall says that
a special film that is visible to birds will be applied to the glass.

mirrored treehouse sweden photo interior

The units are constructed from sustainably harvested wood and have
electric radiant floor heating and "a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly,
incineration toilet"

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Were mortgage debt to shrink by even half of $4tn [for example, if homeowners crystallised the debt by defaulting], the US economy would slump

Dhaval Joshi at RAB Capital believes it is not feasible for the US economy to return to anything like "business as usual" when it has 4m more homes than it needs, when one in four homes is in negative equity, and when there is an overhang of mortgage debt worth an estimated $4tn – 30% of national output.

"On the balance of probabilities it seems that, in at least one quarter in the next three, US GDP will record a quarter-on-quarter decline. Such a development would excite talk of a 'double-dip' recession. But it should, more accurately, be interpreted as evidence of an economy in depression."

SHOOT: No one has dared use the 'D' word...until now. Of course energy prices [at a premium] have driven and will continue to drive world economies to ruin. A new system has to be derived, one that does not involve growth or fossil fuels.
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Fears are growing for an economy carrying a 9.5% jobless rate and a predicted $4tn in excess mortgage debt

AARP Hosts Job Fair For Workers Over 50 In New York

A crippled housing market. Stubbornly high levels of unemployment. Falling consumer confidence. Slower growth in industrial production. No wonder Ben Bernanke, the world's most powerful central banker, appeared a worried man in his testimony to Congress about the state of the US economy last week.

Bernanke's most striking observation was that the prospects for America were "unusually uncertain" – central-bank-speak for concern at the highest levels that the US was at risk of tipping back into a double-dip recession.

The possibility of an investment-led recovery is not the only reason to be cheerful cited by bulls on Wall Street.

This fails to convince the pessimists. They point out that despite the colossal stimulus, recovery has been weak by American standards. In the past, the labour market has recovered quickly in the early stages of upswings, with millions of new jobs created.

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Tourists raped in the Eastern Cape

SHOOT: If this had happened during the World Cup there would have been a massive uproar, and cries of 'I told you so'. This is disgusting and unacceptable.
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Johannesburg - Two foreign nationals were raped in two separate incidents in the Eastern Cape, police said on Sunday.

A 15-year-old German girl was raped, allegedly by two armed men who broke into a chalet she was sharing with her 14-year-old brother at a bed and breakfast facility in Addo, said Captain Ernest Sigobe.

"The men allegedly gained entry by breaking the back window at 06:00 yesterday (Saturday)."

The two men allegedly raped the teenager while her brother watched helplessly.

In the second incident, a 27-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly raped a 22-year-old woman from the Netherlands in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The woman was doing voluntary work in Storms River since July 15.

She was out walking when she was raped around 06:00.

The man is expected to appear in court soon.

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Jackson announces 'Avengers' cast

SHOOT: Love Thor. Can't wait.
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Robert Downey Jr, Samuel Jackson

They got the chance Saturday at Comic-Con, when the cast of the forthcoming "Avengers" film took the stage. Samuel L. Jackson surprised some 6,000 fans gathered for a Marvel Studios presentation when he stepped out just as it was ending and started introducing the cast of "The Avengers."

Jackson brought out stars Clark Gregg, Scarlett Johannson, Chris Hemsworth of "Thor" and Chris Evans of "Captain America."

He then introduced another surprise guest, Robert Downey Jr., who brought out the rest of the all-star cast, including Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner.

"The Avengers" is based on the comic book series of the same name, which brings various Marvel superheroes together. The film is due in 2012.

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Mandla disgrace to Mandela legacy

Mandla allegedly destroyed the crumbling foundations of Mandela's original homestead to erect his own home and at least six mud huts.

He ignored the museum's last-ditch attempts to preserve the site, located below the open-air museum, by using materials other than those from which the original structures had been built.

SHOOT: One word - greed.
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Mandla Mandela and his first wife, Tando

Mandla Mandela, former president Nelson Mandela's grandson, has been accused of attempting to hijack Madiba's legacy.

Members of the Nelson Mandela Museum, a national heritage organisation that oversees the Nobel peace laureate's legacy projects in Mthatha and Qunu, have accused Mandla of trying to strong-arm the National Lottery Board into giving him an R8-million grant, ostensibly to extend the museum, without consulting or getting approval from the museum board.

They also accuse him of banning them from the historic Mandela museum landmark in Madiba's birthplace, Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape.

And they believe he has let the landmark - a bamboo, concrete and steel structure bearing portraits of Madiba - go to ruin, causing the museum board to take the site off its Mandela Heritage map.

When questioned by the Sunday Times yesterday, Mandla said the Arts and Culture Ministry had secured the grant from the lottery board for the project in Mvezo.

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Did you hear about the T.Rex that crossed the road?

SHOOT: It was actually a chicken!

"We determined that T rex, in fact, grouped with birds - ostrich and chicken - better than any other organism that we studied. We also show that it groups better with birds than modern reptiles, such as alligators and green anole lizards."
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Tyrannosaurus rex, the "tyrant lizard", has confirmed its place on the vertebrate (backboned animal) family tree, thanks to the new study, which was made possible thanks to an extremely unusual T rex fossil found in 2003.

Even though most fossils contain only preserved hard tissues, like bones or shells, this one contained some of the dinosaur's soft tissues, such as collagen and blood vessels.

Now, Dr Chris Organ of Harvard University and the Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and his colleagues have analysed the proteins in the collagen preserved from that T rex fossil and another fossil, a mastodon that was some 160,000- to 600,000-year-old.

They compared these proteins with proteins from 21 modern-day vertebrates, including chickens, ostriches and elephants.

The proteins from T rex were most similar to those of birds, while those from the mastodon were most similar to elephants, they conclude in the journal Science.

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New York Heats Up

SHOOT: The funny thing about climate change is you can talk it away, but then you start tofind it gets more and more uncomfortable when those temperatures actually start to rise. It's an amazing phenomenon known to some as 'reality'.
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In New York, the heat and humidity combined to give the metropolitan region an almost tropical feel.

The temperature reached 97 degrees in Central Park on Saturday afternoon, tying the high for July 24 set in 1999, according to the weather service.

The torrid conditions on Saturday prompted the weather service to put a heat advisory into effect covering New York City through 6 p.m. Sunday. Mr. Murray said those kinds of advisories were a result of consecutive days of high heat and humidity.

Mr. Murray said the average temperature in Central Park this month, through Friday, was 81.7 degrees, just over 5 degrees above normal.

For firefighters and other emergency responders in New York, the increased heat affects their work in many ways, said Deputy Assistant Chief John Sudnik, the commander of all fire companies in Queens.

Mainly, it makes them busier.

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Will Smit Face The Axe? And Who Else?

They were again out-paced – perhaps the most crucial aspect -- and out-smarted despite being on the receiving end once again of a referee, George Clancy, who tended to blow against them infuriatingly often in the borderline calls.

And Smit, in fairness, has not been the only senior statesman in the Springbok side to look unacceptably off the pace, despite doing certain grapple ‘n grunt tasks to fair enough standards.

We are not seeing great rugby either, at present, from iconic men like Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana, while all of Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, Morne Steyn, Pierre Spies and Schalk Burger can hardly be branded automatic, confident shoe-ins for the New Zealand challenge on the Highveld.

SHOOT: Where is Francois Steyn? Meanwhile the Currie Cup presents a great opportunity to look at the CV's of a few new players - and coaches.
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He has been a genuinely distinguished servant of the Springbok game, both as leader and player.
With the Tri-Nations already almost certain to fall back into Antipodean hands, there is a case for saying that now is the perfect opportunity for the Boks to vigorously shake the bag in the three remaining Tri-Nations fixtures and introduce a few pairs of younger, faster legs in various positions to see whether they offer sound credentials for the World Cup defence in 2011.
And deep down, the currently too-cumbersome Smit, labouring to make the conversion back to No 2 after his stint as tighthead, will know that the likes of Gary Botha, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Tiaan Liebenberg – not to mention Bismarck du Plessis once fit again – are or will be knocking powerfully at the door.
The side which crashed in Brisbane was not lacking for willingness and did not wilt irreversibly -- they kept bashing away nobly even with the outcome emphatically decided.
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USA's middle class is being wiped out

The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

SHOOT: This can't be good.
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The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck,
which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007
83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people
66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans
36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings
A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement
24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year
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