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Category archive: Australasia

Wednesday March 04 2015

Yes, incoming from Michael Jennings:

As I see it, we have five teams in this World Cup who are any good and have some chance of winning it: Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lankan in Group A, and India and South Africa in Group B.

New Zealand will win Group A, the winner of the game between Australia and Sri Lanka on Sunday will come second, and the loser of that game will come third. (England will probably limp into fourth.) Barring major upsets, India will win Group B and South Africa will come second. Pakistan and the West Indies (or possibly even Ireland) will take the third and fourth places, but it is very hard to say in what order at this point.

This means in the quarter finals, New Zealand, India, and the winners of Australia v Sri Lanka get relatively easy quarter finals, and South Africa and the losers of Australia v Sri Lanka get a tough one. Given South Africa’s history of choking in World Cup knockout matches, I can’t imagine this thrills them. The possibility of playing Australia at home in the quarter final really doesn’t thrill them, I suspect.

Australia will want to beat Sri Lanka, though. Not only do they avoid South Africa in the quarter final, but that way they also avoid the possibility of having to play New Zealand in New Zealand in the semi-final. If they beat Sri Lanka and come second in the group, the only way they can play New Zealand again would be at the MCG in the final. The New Zealand crowd was apparently rather abusive towards the Australian players last week, and Australian crowds remember such things and have a tendency to want to get their own back. (The New Zealand players were apparently paragons of sportsmanship, though.)

Makes sense.

I’m following it from here.

Alas, the team I’ve been supporting (aside from Dead Team Walking England), Afghanistan, have just been crushed by Australia, by what I am guessing is a record (of some sort) margin.  These record margins have become a World Cup Thing, presumably because net run rate now looms large in qualification calculations.  So, when you get on top, you make sure you stay on top and cash in.  It will be interesting to see if anyone does qualify, or fail to qualify, because of run rate calculations.

Sunday March 01 2015

The other day (to be more exact: on this day) I described England as a “dead team walking”, in the currently unfolding Cricket World Cup.  So, if England now turn around and start winning and winning well, well, that’s good because hurrah England.  But if England carry on losing, and losing badly, then hurrah me for being right.

How to snatch happiness out of thin air: be a prophet of doom proved right.  There are other ways to place a bet besides spending money.

This explains a lot about the world, I think.  Basically, as Steven Pinker has pointed out in the first half of that excellent (because of its first half) book of his, everything (approximately speaking) is getting better, slowly and with many back-trackings, but surely.  Yet to listen to publicly expressed opinion, both public and posh, you’d think that everything was getting worse, all the time.  And it’s been like that throughout most of recorded history.  But people are not really that pessimistic.  All that is really happening is that people are predicting the worst in order to be happy if the worst happens, and also happy if the worst does not happen.

Friday February 27 2015

Indeed:

image

If you know your cricket, you can learn an amazing amount about what just happened from a screen like that.

For me, the most remarkable bit is where it says: “80 runs, 3.2 overs ...” What we see, basically, is the moment when the game went from difficult for the Windies to win, to impossible.

Match report here.

I had the radio on all night to listen to this game, woke up at about 7am when SA were about 320 off nearly fifty overs, listened until they were 378 with one over to go, went for a piss, and came back to find them having finished on 408.  30 off the last over, including four sixes.  I then switched off, in order to get back to sleep quickly enough for it to be worth it, confident the game was over as a contest.  So it proved.  Gayle made 215 in the previous Windies game, but I was not surprised to see him get out for a small score against SA.

I also had the radio on for the previous night, when Afghanistan beat Scotland, in a see-sawing thriller.

I am now suffering from World Cup lag.  I think as reason why I am enjoying this tournament so much is that England are a dead team walking.  They were a long shot going into the tournament, and it would now take a total miracle for them to win it, by which I mean about three miracles laid end to end.  That means I can relax and enjoy all the other teams knocking seven bells out of each other.  And if those miracles do start happening, I can enjoy them too, as a bonus.

Thursday February 26 2015

This is cool, says Instapundit, and he’s not wrong:

For all his joie de vivre, Jardine is a master drone builder and pilot whose skills have produced remarkable footage for shows like Australian Top Gear, the BBC’s Into the Volcano, and a range of music videos. His company Aerobot sells camera-outfitted drones, including custom jobs that require unique specifications like, say, the capacity to lift an IMAX camera. From a sprawling patch of coastline real estate in Queensland, Australia, Jardine builds, tests, and tweaks his creations; the rural tranquility is conducive to a process that may occasionally lead to unidentified falling objects.

Simply put, if you’ve got a drone flying challenge, Jardine is your first call.

So, Mr Jardine is now flying his flying robots over volcanoes.  There are going to be lots of calls to have these things entirely banned, but they are just too useful for that to happen.

When I was a kid and making airplanes out of balsa wood and paper, powered with rubber band propellers, I remember thinking that such toys were potentially a lot more than mere toys.  I’m actually surprised at how long it has taken for this to be proved right.

What were the recent developments that made useful drones like Jardine’s possible?  It is down to the power-to-weight ratio of the latest mini-engines?  I tried googling “why drones work”, but all I got was arguments saying that it’s good to use drones to kill America’s enemies, not why they are now usable for such missions.

Monday February 02 2015

Incoming from Michael J:

Katy Perry and dancing Nazi sharks. I guess this is why you stay up for the Superbowl.

image

Actually I missed KP’s half time performance, but I have it on one of my various TV hard disks.  I did stay up until the Superbowl ended, but I found myself only giving it about a third of my attention.

I did tune in at the end.  That bizarre catch was fun.  But the game ended the way it did because, at any rate in the opinion of all the commentators, the Seattle Seahawks made a horrible mistake.  ("I cannot believe that call!") Truly great games are won because of something wonderful, not something horrible.  In an ideal world, you want the losers thinking, not: “Oh Shit, What Were We Thinking?!?!?  We’ll have nightmares about that for the rest of our lives.” You want them thinking: “Well, there was nothing we could have done about that.” And the winners can spend the rest of their lives remembering that they did it, not that the other guys did it for them.

And then this morning there was this:

6 1 6 . 6 6 | . 4 W 4 W 1 | 1 . 1wd 6 6 6

That’s the last three overs of the England Second Eleven‘s batting effort against the South Africa Second Eleven.  I love how you can now follow these bizarrely obscure games.  Ben Stokes, who has been having a rough time of it of late, is the one hitting six of those seven sixes at the end, and finishing on 151 not out (off 86 balls) , out of 378-6.  Perhaps someone in the England First Eleven (recently crushed by Australia in a triangular warm-up tournament) will get hurt during the forthcoming World Cup, and Stokes will be inserted into their team.  Such is the romance of sport.

Finally, here is a piece by cricket boffin Ed Smith, about how having fun is very important.  Because of fun, Alexander Fleming invented penicillin, etc.  But the real reason for fun is that having fun is fun.  It’s articles like this that cause insane parents to send their children to Fun Classes.

I shouldn’t mock.  It’s a good piece.  And fun is what this blog here is mostly about.

Tuesday January 27 2015

Lexington Green, here:

What if … ?

What would a history of the British Empire look like if it did not use the “rise and fall” metaphor?

What would that history look like if it examined not just the political framework or just the superficial gilt and glitter, or just the cruelty and crimes, but the deeper and more enduring substance?

What if someone wrote a history of the impact of the English speaking people and their institutions (political, financial, professional, commercial, military, technical, scientific, cultural), and the infinitely complex web of interconnections between them, as a continuous and unbroken story, with a past a present … and a future?

In other words, what if we were to read a history that did not see a rising British Empire followed by a falling Empire, then a rising American Empire which displaced it, but an organism which has taken on many forms over many centuries, and on many continents, but is nonetheless a single life?

What if we assume that the British Empire was not something that ended, but that the Anglosphere, of which the Empire was one expression, is something that has never stopped growing and evolving, and taking on new institutional forms?

What if it looked at the unremitting advance, the pitiless onslaught, universal insinuation, of the English speakers on the rest of the world, seizing big chunks of it (North America, Australia), sloshing up into many parts of it and receding again (India, Nigeria, Malaya), carving permanent marks in the cultural landscape they left behind, all the while getting wealthier and more powerful and pushing the frontiers of science and technology and all the other forms of material progress?

What if jet travel and the Internet have at last conquered the tyranny of distance which the Empire Federationists of a century ago dreamed that steam and telegraph cables would conquer? What if they were just a century too early?

What if linguistic and cultural commonalities are more important than mere geographical location in creating political unity in this newly shrunken world?

I recall musing along the same kind of lines myself, a while back.

The important thing is, this mustn’t be advertised first as a plan.  If that happens, then all the people who are against the Anglosphere, and who prefer places like Spain and Venezuela and Cuba and Hell, will use their ownership of the Mainstream Media to Put A Stop to the plan.  What needs to happen is for us to just do it, and then after about two decades of us having just done it, they’ll realise that it is a fate (as the Hellists will describe it) accompli.

Because, guess what, we probably are already doing it.

Thursday January 22 2015

This morning I had fun keeping half an eye on one of those Big Bash 20/20 games they are having just now over in Oz. 

This morning‘s hero was a certain Jordan Silk of the Sydney Sixers, who slogged five such boundaries against the Sydney Thunder.  And thanks to the www, I immediately learned about what a long neck the man has.

Below, on the left, Jordan Silk, and on the right, former England bowler Gladstone Small:

imageimage

Silk has a huge neck, but Small has no neck at all.  I imagine the (cricket part of the) internet is awash with pictures of these two guys, side by side.

The game was what they call these days a roller coaster ride.  One moment half of Sydney was cheering.  Next moment it was the other half cheering.  Thunder looking like walking it, with the sixers on seventy something for 5 after 13 overs.  Then someone is reminded of his team’s name and hits three consecutive sixes to swing it the Sixers’ way.  But the Sixers still need way over fifty off the last three overs.  In over 18, they get 25!  But, next (penultimate) over: 1, 4, W, 1, 1, 1.  Thunder look like winners.  Sixers still need 23 of just the one last over.  Someone called Lalor then comes on to bowl the last over, with bowling figures so far of 3 overs 1 maiden (a maiden in 20/20 being a miracle) 6 runs 4 wickets.  And Lalor then goes for 23, and the Sixers win on the last ball.  Jordan Silk and his big neck score two sixes off balls 2 and 3 of the final over.  But Silk gan only get a single off ball 4, which swings the match back towards Thunder.  But then, a tailender, needing 8 off two balls, promptly hits two fours, from his second and third balls faced.

Quite a game.

The one thing I really do not like about cricket writing is whether to put two or 2, four or 4, six or 6, twenty or 20, etcetera.  Comments about that, anyone?

Sunday December 21 2014

Incoming from Michael Jennings:

As of this morning, thirteen successive Australia v India tests have been won by the home side. Seven of these matches have been won (and hosted) by India, and six by Australia. If Australia win the remaining two tests in this series (which may or may not happen) this will be the fourth successive Australia v India series to be a whitewash to the home side.

He was talking about this game.

Cricket has been a bit of a wasteland for me lately, what with county cricket being in hibernation and England playing nothing but one day cricket, which they are rather rubbish at.  They have been preparing for the forthcoming one day World Cup, by losing a one day series in Sri Lanka and then by replacing their captain.  But the feeling among cricket’s chattereres is that sacking Cook will improve England, and one day knock-out tournaments are such a lottery that I will live in hope, for as long as there is any.

Home advantage and hoping for the best in the World Cup
Early tries by my guys
Games lovely games
England crush Australia and keep the Ashes
Gloomy Earl’s Court picture
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Ashes black out
Who was the youngest batsman to reach 7000 runs in Tests?
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Interesting software NewZ
Australian selection inconsistency and getting the causal link the wrong way round
Quite a morning
Australian cricket is doomed! - or maybe not
Views from Kings College
Carnage at Adelaide
Interwar Old English pub dwarfed by modernity
NZ doing a bit better than England
New bridge in Melbourne
Sportsmanship by us – bullying by them
Boxing Day morning at the MCG
The Green alliance
No wickets in the first over shock
The Ashes: chickens and now a swallow
How quickly the mood can change!
Wagga Wagga has been flooded by the Murrumbidgee River
And it resumes …
A down and up weekend
More blood to Australia
First blood to Australia
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Nice try
Twenty ten twenty ten
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Ums and ahs
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Stepping forward into the abyss!
In other news …
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Another Samizdata piece
Dongling at Michael’s
Brisbane church dwarfed by modernity and this posting behaving very strangely
Keith Windschuttle on history - truth - Robert Hughes
A new British citizen
Guido Fawkes gets Douglas Jardine wrong
New Zealand crumple at Trent Bridge
First Jaques – then Ponting – then Katich – then Hussey cleaned up
Ashes news
Fourth innings heroics
More rugby talk
Australia out! – New Zealand out! – pass forward!
Further pictorial shallowness