Monday, March 31, 2008

The Nifty Fifty

If his first post is anything to go by, this Birmingham-based blog will be brilliant. I used to be a frequent traveller on what is generally regarded as the best bus service in Birmingham. I think killing the planet by global warming may well be more humane.

Hope this blog continues. Too many do not make it past the first year. What we need is a trust fund to help those blogs abandoned by their authors. Or a new reality TV series where someone like Tim Ireland or Iain Dale goes around rescuing abandoned blogs.

Update 16:05: Also linked to The Cowfield, Bob the Black Country Brummie and Methodist Preacher in the Greater Birmingham Blogs area. If you have/ know of a good West Midlands blog please e-mail me at the address on the right-hand bar. If you link to me and have not got a link back please also use this e-mail address to let me know. Please note that I am unlikely to link to blogs of an extremist nature.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Derby Down but Not Out

Four goal Man United broke the 400 point barrier in the Promroiship, as they and fellow Promroiship rivals Arsenal increased the gap between them and the rest by 7 points. The complicated scoring system really came into its own this weekend, with Derby v Fulham receiving the lowest points total this weekend despite not being last on MOTD. Presumably, even the BBC believed the relegation of a Midlands team was newsworthy. However, relegating a four goal thriller to fifth in the running order, behind a three goal match involving Sunderland and West Ham and a couple of other four goal matches, saw a pitiful return for an uncharacteristically early Derby appearance on Match of the Day. Reading v Blackburn's nil-nil bore draw picked up the same amount of points as the matches at Birmingham and Sunderland, where more goals were scored so the elevated position in the running order was justified. Liverpool's appearance in Sunday's Merseyside derby drops them into would be the relegation places in a normal league. Fans may forgive Benitez for their team's pitiful performance in the Premier League while they regularly reach the Champions League final, but will they forgive such poor performances by the Reds in the Promroiship?

A reminder, points are calculated using the following formula:

(Points for position in running order - number of goals in match) * number of matches on MOTD

where a team gets 10 points for featuring in the first Premier League match, 9 for the second etc.

Promroiship Results March 29th 2008 (Match of the Day Running Order)

Bolton v Arsenal........35
Man Utd v Aston Villa...35
Birmingham v Man City...28
Sunderland v West Ham...28
Derby v Fulham..........14
Portsmouth v Wigan......21
Reading v Blackburn.....28

The Promroiship Table after Round 13

Manchester United ...413*
Arsenal .............383*
Reading .............356*
Fulham ..............322*

Birmingham City......314*
Sunderland ..........308*
West Ham United......300*
Newcastle United.....298
Chelsea .............297
Tottenham Hotspur....281
Portsmouth ..........272*

Aston Villa .........262*
Middlesbrough .......253
Everton .............247
Manchester City .....237*

Bolton Wanderers ....222*
Wigan Athletic ......211*
Liverpool ...........207
Derby County.........200*
Blackburn Rovers.....191*

* indicates match played in Round 13

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Buggers Broadcasting Christianity

Readers of this blog probably know that I am not the biggest fan of the BBC, in particular the way it is funded. However, I must give credit where credit is due and praise their most recent historical drama in association with HBO, The Passion. Unlike the film of a similar name, it was not gratuitously violent and concentrated on the theology and teachings of Christianity in an accessible manner. Purists may be unhappy with some of the editing of the words and happenings, but I found two things in particular made this interpretation praiseworthy. Firstly, it highlighted the difficult line the High Priest Caiaphas had to tread in ensuring the Jewish protectorate was true to its roots while keeping the occupying Romans happy. It is easy to criticise the High Priest in hindsight, as it is to criticise the modern state of Israel who I am not a huge fan of either, but the truth is nearly all leaders of the Jews in history have found themselves in the unenviable position of having to make difficult compromises between their ancient traditions and their contemporary situation in order to keep the peace. I was also particularly moved by the way the drama portrayed the way Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, outwardly different but recognisable by his teachings and actions. There are many right-wingers who claim the BBC is biased against Christianity, and while this may be arguable in its political coverage, shows like this and Songs of Praise demonstrate that this itself is a biased view.

However, just to prove quality public service broadcasting does not have to be paid for via a license fee, Channel 4 had another excellent documentary by the Midland's own Dr Robert Beckford, this time on the 12 disciples. He explored alternative histories of Jesus's closest followers to those often expounded by the traditional church, in particular my own tradition of Catholicism. For example, it is well known that St Thomas founded a Church in India that exists to this day, but the programme looked at how the Portuguese under direction of the Pope tried to suppress this ancient version of Christianity because it was not European based. It also looked at how St James was reinvented as a Spanish patriot to become a figurehead for the Christians in their fight against the Moors, and how women may well have been treated as equals in the early church. It is a loss for the West Midlands that Dr Beckford no longer works at the University of Birmingham, nor has a show on Radio WM, as I believe his rational documentaries based on emerging historical evidence are exactly what our religion needs to stand up to the irrational faith-based fundamentalist movements that are gaining so much traction in the current climate.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

World Stunned as Death Defeated

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated"

Mark Twain Jesus Christ

Unlike the reports of His Resurrection.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Risen Toon

With the Big Four taking a break until tomorrow, the rest of the Promroiship got a chance to catch up and steal a decent slot on Match of the Day. A first win for Kevin Keegan not only boosted their Premier League survival hopes, but also lifted them to fifth in the Promroiship. Chelsea's day of inaction saw them slip to sixth, being overtaken by local rivals Fulham. Villa may have lost ground on a European place in the Premier League, but a 1-0 defeat featuring second on MOTD lifted them away from the bottom, where Blackburn stay firmly rooted after a 3-1 win damaged their Promroiship standing and left Derby one place above bottom; a spot they seem unlikely to occupy this season in the Premier League.

Results March 22nd 2008 (Match of the Day Running Order)

Newcastle v Fulham.......64
Aston Villa v Sunderland.64
Blackburn v Wigan........32
Reading v Birmingham.....32
Everton v West Ham.......32
Tottenham v Portsmouth...24
Bolton v Man City........32
Middlesbrough v Derby....16

The Promroiship Table after Round 12

Manchester United ...378
Arsenal .............348
Reading .............328*
Fulham ..............308*
Newcastle United.....298*
Chelsea .............297
Birmingham City......286*
Tottenham Hotspur....281*
Sunderland ..........280*
West Ham United......272*
Middlesbrough .......253*
Portsmouth ..........251*
Everton .............247*
Aston Villa .........227*
Manchester City .....209*
Liverpool ...........207
Wigan Athletic ......190*
Bolton Wanderers ....187*
Derby County.........186*
Blackburn Rovers.....163*

* indicates match played in Round 12

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An Irresistable Force

What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Or in more modern terminology, what happens when a team that always appears first on Match of the Day meets a team that always appears last? Round 11 of the Promroiship gave us the answer to this timeless riddle.

Derby fans must have been quite dizzy seeing their team first on MOTD, but the beeboid executives had not gone mad; they were playing Manchester United. A one-goal match ensured that Derby climbed 4 places and off the bottom, while Man Utd's Promroiship hopes were done no harm either.

Chelsea not only clawed themselves back into contention in the Premier League, but also climbed to third in the Promroiship, giving the top of the table a familiar feel. Bolton and Wigan dropped into the bottom three and play each other today in a relegation six pointer; but for all their efforts, they will not be getting any points in the Promroiship this weekend.

A reminder, points are calculated using the following formula:

(Points for position in running order - number of goals in match) * number of Premier League matches on MOTD

where a team gets 10 points for featuring in the first Premier League match, 9 for the second etc.

Promroiship Results March 15th 2008 (Match of the Day Running Order)

Derby v Manchester United..54
Arsenal v Middlesbrough....42
Sunderland v Chelsea.......42
Liverpool v Reading........24
Portsmouth v Aston Villa...24
West Ham v Blackburn.......12

The Promroiship Table after Round 11

Manchester United ...378*
Arsenal .............348*
Chelsea .............297*
Reading .............296*
Tottenham Hotspur....257
Birmingham City......254
Fulham ..............244
West Ham United......240*
Middlesbrough .......237*
Newcastle United.....234
Portsmouth ..........227*
Sunderland ..........216*
Everton .............215
Liverpool ...........207*
Manchester City .....177
Derby County.........170*
Aston Villa .........163*
Wigan Athletic ......158
Bolton Wanderers ....155
Blackburn Rovers.....131*

* indicates match played in Round 11

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Brief History of White

I think the BBC may finally have well and truly lost the plot. The recent White Season seems to be one of the most confused pieces of programming scheduling I have seen in a while.

My review of the first programme was here and mainly positive. While I still think this, Beaman pointed out it was rather biased. Perhaps I had prematurely given the BBC the benefit of the doubt; after all, there was a whole week of shows to prove not all white working class people pledge allegiance to the Swastika, surely?

Next came a programme on Enoch Powell's speech in Birmingham which ends with the words "Like the Roman, I see the River Tiber foaming with much blood" (someone should come up with a catchy title which encapsulates the fear contained of that speech). My instinct was that although the programme tried to exhibit a range of views to the speech, it ended up with a rather orthodox reaction to it (which I happen to agree with). A well argued, revisionist history that the programme could have contained is available here.

White Girl's inclusion in the season was simply bizarre. The subtext seemed to be that white working class people can save themselves by converting to Islam. While their are individuals where this may well have been the case (and this drama was apparently based on a true story), it could be construed as being highly offensive and denigrating to white working class culture by including this in the season.

The Poles are Coming was an interesting look at the Polish invasion since the EU expanded, but left white working class people looking like work-shy dole cheats. There was no balancing view.

The Primary was a fantastic look at a multicultural inner city school in Birmingham, and appeared to show working class white people who (shock, horror!) did not mind people of other races. For a programme included in white season however, it spent very little time with the minority white community in the area and rather a lot of time looking at the others.

All White in Barking was yet another show which concentrated on white working class flirtation with the BNP. However, it did acknowledge insularity in other cultures. Holocaust survivor Monty's heart-rending story should have a programme all to itself.

Now what was the point of this season? The infamous advert advertising it seemed to refer to the white working class being drowned out by other cultures. If this season was supposed to be about the white working class in relation to other cultures, it was simply too one-sided. Where were the (I would say majority) white working class people who are appalled by the BNP and have friends and colleagues from other races and cultures? Or those who oppose the level of immigration in this country but oppose the BNP's exploitation of it? Or those whose children have married people from other cultures and get along well their in-laws? Or those who have extended their hand in friendship even when they have it thrown back in their face?

And excuse me if I am wrong, but it is only the BNP who truly believes that the only issues the white working class face are based on their relationship with people of other cultures. What about white working class people who live on sink estates, living in fear of "their own kind" as some in this season might put it? Or those who are trying to get their children into the best schools despite the best efforts of the choice agenda of the middle class? Where are the working class people who have values of hard-work, self-reliance and decency who abhor the benefits culture? Or those who believe or no longer believe, as the case may be, in the institution of the trade union?

Is the white working class becoming invisible? If this is the kind of programming being used to report about them, then the answer appears to be yes. However, the problem does not lie with other cultures coming to this country; the problem is the bog-standard programming produced by the state broadcaster, which once-upon-a-time used to be the envy of the world.

Instead of advertising this series by writing all over a white person's face in foreign languages, perhaps it would have been more aptly demonstrated by hitting him around the head with an overpriced TV licence instead.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Blackburn Last but off Bottom

There may have been some shocks in the FA Cup yesterday, but the Promroiship gave the six teams involved in Premier League fixtures a chance to return to normality in Birmingham's greatest fictional League competition.

Blackburn took the opportunity to climb of the bottom of the Promroiship, being replaced by Derby which seems right given their default position of being last on Match of the Day (when they are playing at least). Liverpool took the opportunity to climb a place but still seem to be placed lower than would be expected. This may possibly be due to the fact that because they are seen to be out of the race for the Premier League, they often appear in the fourth match on MOTD, but tend to be in some high scoring matches. The Promroiship is, of course, based on the debatable belief that the "Match of the Day" should be the match with the most goals in it.

Manchester United and Chelsea's matches in the FA Cup did not count, because it was specified in the rules that only Premier League matches count. It is not obvious how to fiddle with the scoring system to take account of the fact that these two teams had matches that were deemed more important than the corresponding Premier League fixtures. Given the nature of the shock results, however, I think we can forgive the BBC for showing these matches first.

A reminder, points are calculated using the following formula:

(Points for position in running order - number of goals in match) * number of Premier League matches on MOTD

where a team gets 10 points for featuring in the first Premier League match, 9 for the second etc.

Results March 8th 2008 (Match of the Day Running Order)

Liverpool v Newcastle United..(10-3)*3=21
Reading v Manchester City......(9-2)*3=21
Blackburn Rovers v Fulham......(8-2)*3=18

The Promroiship Table after Round 10

Manchester United ...324
Arsenal .............306
Reading .............272*
Tottenham Hotspur....257
Chelsea .............255
Birmingham City......254
Fulham ..............244*
Newcastle United.....234*
West Ham United......228
Everton .............215
Portsmouth ..........203
Middlesbrough .......195
Liverpool ...........183*
Manchester City .....177*
Sunderland ..........174
Wigan Athletic ......158
Bolton Wanderers ....155
Aston Villa .........139
Blackburn Rovers.....119*
Derby County.........116

* indicates match played in Round 10

Saturday, March 08, 2008

White is Right

I have been looking forward to the 'White' season on BBC ever since they started advertising it and I must say that the first programme yesterday 'Last Orders' did not disappoint. I say this as a working class Asian who grew up among second generation descendants of Irish immigrant labourers. It is important for the BBC to show the concerns of real white working class people so we can see and understand their real concerns, which are usually not the same as those of the BNP who claim to represent them.

Hopefully, it will go some way towards redressing the balance on the BBC, which is perceived to be biased towards the liberal middle classes. We do not need one season of this; we need to have a regular stream of programmes that challenge and educate us about the issues facing 21st century Britain particularly targeting groups that are under-represented by the mainstream media and political establishment (and it is not just the white working classes believe me).

Having said that, some right wingers will never be happy until the BBC broadcasts the Queen reading 'Mein Kampf' in English simultaneously on all available channels.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Villa's Season Given Kick Up the Arse

Arsenal must be fed up of the sight of Brummies at the moment. After Birmingham nicked a draw with a dubious penalty and crippled one of their strikers last week, Villa managed a draw this week to close the gap at the top of the Premier League to one point. Playing Arsenal did Villa no harm in the Promroiship either, with this match nearly doubling this seasons points tally and lifting them above Derby. Blackburn remain bottom, still handicapped by the amount of games they have not played on Saturday.

A nil-nil bore draw between Derby and Sunderland was always guaranteed to be last on Match of the Day. I think Mike Whalley should do the honourable thing and declare them the top scoring team on this season's Gubbometer count now. After all, Paddy Power would.

A reminder, points are calculated using the following formula:

(Points for position in running order - number of goals in match) * number of matches on MOTD

where a team gets 10 points for featuring in the first match, 9 for the second etc.

Promroiship Results March 1st 2008 (Match of the Day Running Order)

Arsenal v Aston Villa........(10-2)*8=64
Fulham v Manchester United....(9-3)*8=48
Birmingham v Tottenham........(8-5)*8=24
West Ham United v Chelsea.....(7-4)*8=24
Newcastle v Blackburn.........(6-1)*8=40
Middlesbrough v Reading.......(5-1)*8=32
Manchester City v Wigan.......(4-0)*8=32
Derby County v Sunderland.....(3-0)*8=24

The Promroiship Table after Round 9

Manchester United ...324*
Arsenal .............306*
Tottenham Hotspur....257*
Chelsea .............255*
Birmingham City......254*
Reading .............251*
West Ham United......228*
Fulham ..............226*
Everton .............215
Newcastle United.....213*
Portsmouth ..........203
Middlesbrough .......195*
Sunderland ..........174*
Liverpool ...........162
Wigan Athletic ......158*
Manchester City .....156*
Bolton Wanderers ....155
Aston Villa .........139*
Derby County.........116*
Blackburn Rovers.....101*

* indicates match played in Round 9

Saturday, March 01, 2008

New Labour, New Template

Following Hercules at the end of January, I have decided it is time for a bit of a change in the People's Republic and have therefore changed my template following complaints back in November when I joined Blogpower that 'No 897' was difficult to read (yes, planning permission in the People's Republic is as bureaucratic as the old country). 'No.897', which recently has not been showing the banner properly, was originally chosen because I felt it best represented freedom, mainly due to the star in the header. It was also the template of the Cornish Democrat when he applied to Blogpower, but where the wheels of bureaucracy move slightly quicker than the People's Republic (he changed it within a week of joining).

What do you think of the new template? Please leave a comment below and/ or vote in the sidebar. I am looking to make further changes to the layout so any advice would be greatly appreciated.