Category Archives: Tennis

Body Without Organs Part 2

Thunderous Objections Continue

You know a document has hit some kind of mark if the people against it are lining up to make their views heard. One gets the feeling the journalists covering this document were all pretty aghast at what was being presented, straight-faced and brazen, to a greatly sceptical audience.

Peter Martin slammed it saying the underlying assumption is that the only way Australia can get back to surplus was through cuts while leaving the current tax system untouched, while it even answered questions it was not asked like drastically cutting the minimum wage.

Michael Pascoe was just as pointed describing its approach as “casual brutality”. He also pointed out the notion that if the states ought to compete with one another, it would result in putting the states falling behind now in a worse position, not better; and that those states would end up having to pay more. Australia is – last we checked – still a ‘commonwealth’ and not a ‘competition of states’.

Steve Keen was more in a demolition derby mood as he pointed out the fundamental stupidity of Australia worrying about getting back to a surplus now, given the context of the world economy. The fundamental assumptions underlying the very exercise seems to be dodgy, while the preconceptions going in were just as misguided.

I know from Pleiades that the AFR s not happy either calling it ‘illogical hostility’ and decidedly critical of the notion of abolishing key industry support programs. The AFR is also reporting that customers are taking action, protesting the four major banks for their support of fossil fuel investments. Some of these are major funds looking to allocate funds to companies and projects that are genuinely eco friendly. The Federal Government is flying into a storm with its contrarian position on Climate Change, and its stated desire to shut down all these green initiatives.

Basically there has been a loud chorus of boos from the press gallery, which probably doesn’t mean much to the man in the high office.Β  But it’s interesting to note some of this is spreading out to the world and will have consequences for Australia’s economy. If you look at the document it appears it is not that different to the sort of position statement that might come from the US Tea Party, and it would certainly be interesting to see how this document looks when lined up with the Tea Party’s position statement. After all, as Michael Pascoe points out, it appears Tony Abbott really wants to turn Australia in to a facsimile of America.

Gen-X Will Retire At 70

In amidst all the brouhaha about the Commission of Audit and its audaciously hostile report, was the gem that Joe Hockey announced that the pension eligibility will be raised to 70.

The line he drew in the sand?People born after 1965. That’s pretty much saying Gen-X onwards. I was going to lambast him for being born in 1964, but it turns out he was born 1965. So if you’re an old school mate of Joe’s you can thank him for that gift. He’ll be drawing on his generous Parliamentarian superannuation as soon as he leaves Parliament while some of his mates might never reach the age of drawing a pension. If there is such a thing as poetic injustice, it might just be in there somewhere.

If you thought demographics was crap, and that distinctions like Baby Boomers and Generation X and Generation Y and Millennials were just marketing brackets then the line in the sand drawn by the Treasurer might just give you pause. I’ve pointed out before that Generation-X were the first to get hit with HECS after the Baby Boomer generation went by on free Tertiary Education. It’s really no mistake that the boom is falling on the queue just in front of Generation X, because the Baby Boomers are fitting up the social cost of their lives and their education and their retirement on to Generation X.

I don’t know if this is going to work. 2035 is 21 years away, and there’s a lot of politics to be played out between then and now. It’s long enough for another generation to grow into maturity and look at all the social costs being passed on to the latter generations and tip the balance the other way. I’ve pointed this out before but the ALP is already coming into the next Federal election with a front bench dominated by Generation X, headed up by Bill Shorten. The script might be written, but this movie is far from shot, cut and mixed. πŸ™‚

Oh, Let’s Cut All of It!

One of things that got put on the table for cuts was Screen Australia. Naturally there was an outcry from the usual voices.

“Culturally it would put us back in the stone age,” said John L Simpson, producer and founder of the film distribution company Titan View of the Commission of Audit’s recommendation. “I thought that Australians had got over the cultural cringe, the idea that the only culture engaging with is the culture imported into this country, but that’s what’s going to happen. We’ll be a cultural backwater if we don’t invest.”

“It would have a devastating effect on the Australian film industry,” said film producer and director Sophie Hyde. “It’s already a very underfunded industry. We do so much with the small amount that we get, but I think that would effectively decapitate it.”

Robert Connolly, a filmmaker and former board member of Screen Australia described the recommendation as “catastrophic”. He said that Screen Australia receives around $100m a year and has funded some of the most successful homegrown television of recent times. On 9 February, he said, “there was the INXS biopic and the Schappelle Corby one and there were almost five million Australians watching drama that Screen Australia had invested in.

You mean it would upset your gravy train perhaps?.

The people most vocal about it are the people who have received the most support from the funding bodies over their careers. Honestly I’d like to see all of it abolished just to see what would happen. I’ve got no love for film making in Australia any more, so I really don’t care if it goes to the dogs. Heck, if I can’t have it, let them not have it, is how I feel. Screw the bastards with their mouths firmly attached to the government teat and above all, screw the film bureaucrats. They can go find a job in another industry and work until they’re 70.

Yeah, don’t cut it in half, cut the whole damn lot.

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Cultural Differences

No Leaks

It’s been a weird week in Australian sport, what with the big press conference saying ‘This is The Blackest Day in Australian Sport’.

AUSTRALIA’S top sporting codes have been rocked by revelations that organised crime is behind the increasing use of banned performance-enhancing drugs by ”multiple athletes” across sporting codes and possible attempts to fix matches and manipulate betting markets.

The heads of all the main professional and participation sports expressed shock after being briefed on a 12-month investigation by the Australian Crime Commission that found professional sport in Australia was ”highly vulnerable to organised crime infiltration”

The article goes on to say that all of our codes of sport probably have had doping going on. Lance Armstrong’s name came up and some anonymous football player in some code even piped up during the week with an article saying what an edge it was to have the injection.
The declaration sent all these bodies scurrying for cover (how else do you explain the rush to declare “We’re clear!“); and swimmers saying they refused injection in fear it was contaminated with banned substances.

It’s interesting how the sport bodies have responded. the NRL has put together an ‘Integrity Commission‘, which suggests, they’re up to their eyeballs in the doping problem. The Minister for Sport says it’s ‘game over‘ for the cheats, but again you’d expect her to say it without any follow through – what else would we expect a Minister for Sport to say? “We give up?”

The strangest call of them all may be the call to name names mentioned in this one:

The Australian Crime Commission’s chief executive John Lawler hit back on Saturday at critics to clear up ”confusion” as to why he did not name names, given the explosive nature of the allegations.

Mr Lawler said classified strategic assessments had been sent to all police agencies around the country and Commonwealth agencies, which were now responsible for pursuing action.

”Very detailed information, the names of the clubs, the names of all the persons, the details of how, when and why and where, based on the intelligence, the persons suspected, has been provided to the anti-doping agency ASADA and to the police. Particularly the NSW and Victorian police,” he told Fairfax Media.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare echoed Mr Lawler’s comments as a number of sporting identities and commentators questioned the investigation and motives behind the report’s release along with its veracity.

Given the nature of the witch hunt that is about to ensue it seems entirely understandable that some people want the messenger shot. But really, with Australia’s insane libel laws, it would a brave ACC CEO who would start naming names. The way this normally goes is through leaks, starting at the biggest names in the various sports.

If this were America, somebody somewhere in the chain of information would leak to the press. After all, tat is how we found out about Barry Bonds and the clear and the cream; Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte using HGH; A-Rod being on some PEDs in his peak years in Texas; and ultimately Lance Armstrong as well. The cross-hairs a re firmly on performance-enhanced athletes now and the witch hunt is in full swing over there.

That such leaks have not happened seems to indicate that the ACC investigation was pretty subtle and went very deep. There also seems to be a cultural difference here as opposed America that the press are not willing to tarnish the names of the stars just yet. It maybe the case that the culture is about to change and professional sport will never again have the cozy relationship with the media as it does now.

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Election Blues

We Do Live In Strange Times

Bad, nay, abysmal rhetoric seems to be the talisman of communication wielded by Julia Gillard who has called an election.

Ms Gillard tried to put the manner in which she got the top job and the accusations she reneged on a leadership deal with Mr Rudd behind her, revealing Labor’s campaign slogan would be ”moving forward”.

”This election, I believe, presents Australians with a very clear choice: this election is about the choice as to whether we move Australia forward or go back,” Ms Gillard said.

Ms Gillard said Labor would focus on the economy, education and its commitment to deal with big issues such as climate change.

She raised the spectre of Work Choices, accusing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of wanting to bring back the deeply unpopular policy. ”I always thought Work Choices was wrong. Mr Abbott has always thought Work Choices was right,” Ms Gillard said.

Mr Abbott issued a statement yesterday morning promising that if he was elected he would not change the industrial relations system during his first term in office.

Mr Abbott urged people to dump Labor and predicted a ”filthy” campaign. ”The Prime Minister wants to move forward because the recent past is so littered with her own failures,” Mr Abbott said.

”If we stay with Labor we’ll be moving forward to more debt, more taxes, more spending and more boats. Labor needs to move out for our country to move on.”

Well, if Ms Gillard is moving forwards, then Tony Abbott is moving in a very strange direction talking about the deficit. I guess it’s always the bag of tricks that worked last time thatgets dusted off on the first day. I’m happy to take Mr. Abbott’s word that he won’t be revisiting Industrial Relations if it would stop Ms Gillard with her horrible munchkin-esque ‘Moving Forward’ campaign.

The problem with ‘Moving Forward’ is that not all forward movement is good. Like, forward passes in Rugby League and Union; and vomit. Maybe that’s not enough to convince you it’s a terrible slogan, but it is true that it flies in the face of the evidence at hand.

For one, she and her party are not anywhere near as progressive as the moving or the forward direction implies, and what they’re busily trying to leave behind in the rear view mirror are the shenanigans that brought down Kevin Rudd. Well, I have a long memory and I doubt I’m the only one. The ALP have not reckoned with their choices in the electorate and they’re about to find out.

Which leaves me with the concrete problem of the two-party preferred system which makes my vote for the lower house eventually count for one or the other of these clowns. It’s enough to consider donkey voting, which is against my principles, but sometimes we all must abandon our principles and do what’s right. In my opinion neither of these clowns are deserving of my important vote.

Tennis Great?

Maxine McKew versus John Alexander is going to be one of those media-hyped campaigns in this election, just as as Ms McKew’s ousting of John Howard turned out to be one of the biggest narratives of the Kevin07 campaign.

Here’s a snippet of John Alexander on the campaign trail, giving you some insight into ‘the sequel’ campaign for the seat of Bennelong.

Setting up shop outside a fruit stand, Mr Alexander was surrounded by tennis fans as well as the politically minded. Admitting he was ”new to all of this”, he nonetheless followed the Liberal Party line of Labor’s debt and deficit.

”We have a track of fiscal prosperity. The government doesn’t. It is that simple,” he said. ”This is going to be a very close race and I am in it to win it.”

Inspiring… not. I can feel my eyes glazing over, just reading that snippet.

So, here’s my question. How is John Alexander a tennis ‘great’? The guy never won a singles Grandslam.The way I see it, a tennis Great wins at least 1 of these things, if not 2 just to prove the other wasn’t a fluke. Pat Cash is borderline great with his 1 Wimbledon – but he did all right by Australian tennis by all he his Davis Cup heroics that stopped the school day back in 1983. Pat Rafter is without a doubt a tennis great; Mark ‘the Poo’ Philippoussis is not; even Lleyton Hewitt with his nasty little racist outburst is a tennis ‘great’ by his record. John Alexander was never in that class. I guess John Alexander has 2 Grandslams as a doubles player.

Anyway, I just thought I’d throw that out there for the sharks.

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Agassi And Chrystal Meth

Okay Then, What Next?

Andre Agassi is outing himself in his autobiography as somebody who abused Chrystal Meth while he was still a pro.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Slim is stressed too … He says, You want to get high with me? On what? Gack. What the hell’s gack? Crystal meth. Why do they call it gack? Because that’s the sound you make when you’re high … Make you feel like Superman, dude.
“As if they’re coming out of someone else’s mouth, I hear these words: You know what? F*** it. Yeah. Let’s get high.
“Slim dumps a small pile of powder on the coffee table. He cuts it, snorts it. He cuts it again. I snort some. I ease back on the couch and consider the Rubicon I’ve just crossed.
“There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I’ve never felt so alive, so hopeful – and I’ve never felt such energy.
“I’m seized by a desperate desire to clean. I go tearing around my house, cleaning it from top to bottom. I dust the furniture. I scour the tub. I make the beds.”

And here is another:

“My name, my career, everything is now on the line. Whatever I’ve achieved, whatever I’ve worked for, might soon mean nothing. Days later I sit in a hard-backed chair, a legal pad in my lap, and write a letter to the ATP. It’s filled with lies interwoven with bits of truth.
“I say Slim, whom I’ve since fired, is a known drug user, and that he often spikes his sodas with meth – which is true. Then I come to the central lie of the letter. I say that recently I drank accidentally from one of Slim’s spiked sodas, unwittingly ingesting his drugs. I ask for understanding and leniency and hastily sign it: sincerely.
“I feel ashamed, of course. I promise myself that this lie is the end of it.”

We may yet find out Steffi Graf was a hermaphrodite. Nothing surprises us these days which says more about our jaded loss of innocence – read ignorance – about spots an drugs. I’m not even convinced that there wasn’t a whole slew of drugs in tennis given the constant allegations of match-fixing and gambling related shenanigans coming out of Eastern Europe.

Kind of places the PED abuse in baseball in a wider context of professional sport and money being difficult bed-fellows.

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Fed’s 15th

An Epic Match

Roger Federer made history at long last. It sure didn’t look like it was going to happen along the road this year, but he dug deep and got it done against his favorite whipping post, Andy Roddick. Of course it wouldn’t have been so epic had Roddick not put up a good fight, but in the end, the man of destiny beat it out to the promised land.

federer_co_wideweb__470x339,0Federer’s 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 16-14 victory in four hours and 18 minutes came 12 months after he had suffered a heartbreaking defeat here in another epic five-set battle with Rafael Nadal.

This time, however, with a collection of the game’s all-time greats looking over his shoulder from the royal box anticipating the Swiss would win the unprecedented 15th major title, Federer finally endured, breaking Roddick’s serve for the only time in the match on the American’s 38th service game to seize victory.

Clearly exhausted by his toil, and perhaps stunned by the opposition he had been forced to endure from an opponent over whom he had held a 18-2 career record, the often emotional Federer was more relieved than elated as he received the Wimbledon trophy for the sixth time.

“It’s a crazy match, my head is still spinning,” Federer told the crowd.

Pete Sampras, who had flown in for the match at the last minute to see Federer move ahead of him on the all-time grand slam winners list, paid the Swiss the ultimate accolade saying he considered him the greatest player of all time.

“I have to give it to him,” said Sampras. “The critics say Laver, and Nadal’s beaten him a few times … in my book he is.”

The man is a great player and nobody is going to quibble with him being called the greatest until somebody comes along and wins more. Roddick had these interesting words at the end:

Roddick said Federer had, for the first time, been unable to read his serve.

“But you didn’t even get a sense that he was even really frustrated by it,” said Roddick.

“He kind of stayed the course and just toughed it out. He gets a lot of credit for a lot of things, but not a lot of the time is how many matches he kind of digs deep and toughs out. He doesn’t get a lot of credit for that because it looks easy to him a lot of the times. But he definitely stuck in there today.”

If you go 2-19 against the best player of all time, how disappointed can you be at:

  • a) winning twice?
  • b) getting to play the man 21 times?
  • c) your surname has 2 euphemisms for ‘penis’ while the greatest player has none?

Roddick’s a cool dude.

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Fedex The French

Roger Federer Wins Slam No.14

After the way Nadal demolished Federer on the slow rebound ace at the Australian Open earlier this year, it seemed highly unlikely that Federer would win the French Open played on clay. He sure didn’t look like he had the game to get past Rafael Nadal. In fact, everybody could see that he could beat everybody else except the lefthander who to all intents and purposes played with the advantage of a righthander on his backhand side.

It just seemed highly unlikely that Federer would get his Slam No.14 if he had to go through Nadal to do it.

Luckily Nadal lost in the earlier orunds and so Federer was able to sneak into the final and demolish Robin Soderling in 3 sets.As a result of lining himself up with Pete Sampas, Pistol Pete has pronounced Federer is the best ever.

Federer wins French 2009“Regardless if he won there or not, he goes down as the greatest ever. This just confirms it,” Sampras told the Guardian newspaper.

“I’m obviously happy for Roger. If there’s anyone that deserves it, it’s Roger. He’s come so close (previously),” Sampras said of the new champion and world number two, who lost the last three consecutive French Open finals to Spain’s Rafael Nadal.

Well, I dunno about that Pete. Seems to me Pistol Pete was a pretty good player with a good claim to having been the best ever except he didn’t win the French. The only other guy who has won on all four surfaces since Rod Laver happens to be Andre Agassi who also has a good claim for being the best all-round player, but I guess Federer’s French Open win sort of cements his place at the top of the tree. After all, he’s won on all the others as well.

The only knock on Federer’s win here is that he didn’t have to face his current nemesis Nadal to do it. Then again, surely there was a cheap final for Sampras and Agassi and Connors and McEnroe and Borg. I can remember McEnroe playing one Chris Lewis in a Wimbledon final once. That was pretty one-sided and it wasn’t exactly McEnroe’s fault that the top seed from the other side of the draw didn’t get through. Similarly, it’s not Fed’s fault Nadal wasn’t there to contest it.

When it’s all said and done, it’s hard to think of a champion who has loved the game as much as Federer has over the years. It’s like he is up against the record books because it means so much to him. It’s a rare quality in a champ.

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Just A Quick Note

Binfield For Bankers

I’ve been meaning to post this one up from Pleiades.

Announcing the hearings last week, Barney Frank, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said that public patience with Wall Street bailouts had worn thin.

“As I’ve said to a couple of the bankers, ‘Here’s this problem: People really hate you, and they’re starting to hate us because we’re hanging out with you,'” Mr Frank said.

Yesterday, he urged them to be “cooperative, not grudgingly, not doing the minimum” as the US government seeks to impose a new culture of responsibility on an industry that has become known for its enormous pay packets, corporate jets and lavish junkets.

“Understating that there is substantial public anger and alleviating that public anger not with mumbo jumbo but with reality is essential if we’re going to have the support in the country to take the right steps,” Mr Frank said.

Public anger boiled over last month when it was revealed that the total amount of bonuses paid out to staff for 2008 was $18.4bn – a figure that prompted President Barack Obama to describe the pay-outs as “shameful” while banks were being propped up by taxpayer money, and led him to impose a pay cap of $500,000 on executives of banks that need more emergency cash.

“It is abundantly clear that we are here amidst broad public anger at our industry,” Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, said.

The chief executives before Congress included Vikram Pandit, the head of Citigroup, which received government guarantees of more than $300bn after coming close to collapse in December.

Mr Pandit made $216m when Citigroup bought his hedge fund business to lure him to a top job at the company and paid him bonuses to sign on as chief executive in 2007.

Yesterday, he took the lead in promising that Wall Street understands the new realities of life with the government as a significant investor. “I’ve told my board of directors that my salary should be $1 per year with no bonus until we return to profitability,” he said. “We will hold ourselves accountable and that starts with me,” he said.

Outside the House of Representatives office building where the hearing took place, about a dozen protesters taunted Bank of America’s Ken Lewis. “Hey, Ken Lewis, feel our pain,” they chanted.

“I feel more like corporal of the universe, not captain of the universe at this moment,” Mr Lewis said inside, after coming under intense questioning from the California Democrat Maxine Waters.

Yep. Blinfields for Blankfein!

Look Back At Mr Anger
Heres’ something I missed too. It’s a little old, but it has a nice mention of our man, Mr. Angry Mac.

I could point to the artistry of his game as a get-out clause, as a way of justifying my admiration for someone whose behaviour I’ve deemed not good enough in others.

If an overpaid soccer player carried on the way McEnroe did at times, this column would be outraged.

I don’t have a decent excuse for this double standard, except that no one is perfect. And I’m not talking McEnroe here.

In truth McEnroe was so bad at times that there is no way of justifying any worship of him. It is what it is, and I even found, and still find, the McEnroe the world sees as likeable.

I suppose it is like life itself, that people’s attraction to others is not always completely rational, and can be irrational.

McEnroe will always be up there, alongside other personal favourites like the English cricket batsman David Gower, our own cricket maestro Richard Hadlee, Christian Cullen, Bryan Williams, film clips of George Best and Muhammad Ali, the Swiss Miss Martina Hingis, and the anticipation I feel whenever Wayne Rooney gets near the ball, as providing my most cherished viewing of sport.

Those aforementioned favourites are easily explainable of course. I beg forgiveness on this one though, because I could watch McEnroe – bonus tantrums included – for hours.

It’s a pretty cute column worth the read.

The Weirdness Of World Interest

I’m not berating you the reader, but it is somewhat disturbing that the interest in a 13 year old dad outweighs the interest in Paul Kanjorsky telling how we came 3 hours from the total meltdown of our economic system. I mean, for every person interested in what Kanjorsky said, there are 7 people who wanted to know about Alfie Patten. I mean, that’s a little nuts folks. πŸ™‚

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