The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Alternative government, the CCC axe, and Tsonga vs. Ðoković

Friday 25 January 2008 at 11:21 pm
  • Remember how, during the election campaign, it often seemed that Team Ruddster wasn’t really that different to Team Howard? It certainly sounded that way this week, with the Defence Minister promising that spending levels won’t change, the Foreign Minister promising to keep the American alliance strong and the Human Services Minister promising yet another crackdown on people receiving Centrelink payments.
  • In Perth, oh look, the CCC has claimed another scalp! But this time it’s the super-high-profile boss of the WA Health Department, Neale Fong. In honesty I wasn’t nearly as impressed by his performance in that job as the Health Minister seemed to be, and so I’m not exactly sad to see him go.
  • Shock, horror, demand at Perth Airport continues to grow. Meanwhile, the owners are still stuffing around with barely-adequate carparks ever further from the run-down domestic terminals.
  • Finally, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Rafael Nadal! And Novak Ðoković beat Roger Federer! Both in straight sets! Excuse me while I lift my jaw off the floor. The men’s Australian Open final is going to be very interesting …
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Match point at 4.30am?

Sunday 20 January 2008 at 1:51 am

An Australian Open rant: I’m not sure that Lleyton Hewitt deserved the win he just scored in that insane game against Marcos Baghdatis. I mean, 5 games to 1 and 40 – love in the fourth set — three match points — and he couldn’t convert!

Which isn’t to deny that both players did a superb job surviving a super-long match that didn’t start until midnight. What on earth were the organisers thinking to allow a match to go so late? Think of the (ball)children …!

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Wimbledon, words, and wars

Tuesday 10 July 2007 at 11:43 pm

Roger Federer holds his Wimbledon trophy
photo by bluemoose

  • The Wimbledon men’s singles final was pretty awesome! That was the first time in a while that I’ve seen Federer look weak, or for that matter so worked up about line calls. In the men’s doubles, the Bryan brothers lost! And in the women’s singles final, Marion Bartoli looked promising, but didn’t have her game together quite enough to overcome Williams.
  • The Saturday newspaper amused me by having a relatively early article about new research that debunks (again) the silly urban legend that women speak more than men, followed a few pages later by some pseudoscientist author citing exactly that myth as part of a seminar. (In unrelated amusement, the research paper cites the blog Language Log!)
  • Similar amusement can be had in tonight’s news, where we have on the one hand the IEA (formed after the 1973 crisis) warning of a possible new oil shock, and our dear PM on the other telling us to be patient with respect to the Iraq war. These couldn’t possibly be related, could they?
  • Finally, and on that note, this imagined history is a somewhat-exaggerated but still-interesting read.
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Awesome tennis, but not on TV

Sunday 28 January 2007 at 9:08 pm

Roger Federer at Australian Open 2007; Creative Commons licence doesn't apply to this image

Props to Roger Federer for an utterly awesome Australian Open win. And also for being a great bloke — signing autographs, cracking jokes in his speech, chatting to his opponent after the match — putting to shame a certain Australian tennis player.

But a thousand curses to the WA management of Channel 7, who decided that the men’s final wasn’t important enough to show live. Using the three different live functions of the official site (each with slightly different delays!), this is how I ended up “watching” the final:

The Australian Open online scoreboard, PointTracker, and radio playback window; Creative Commons licence doesn't apply to this image

I can understand the reason why the telecast was delayed (which doesn’t make it forgivable) … and the more I think about it, the more I look forward to a future where TV is delivered over the Internet. Whether it’s GooTube or Yahoo! or Apple, or even Microsoft or AOL, the day that the first major sporting event is streamed live and in full will be a great one for fans.

Freed from the shackles of conventional please-everyone-in-one-stream broadcasting, I reckon that day will also spell the death of traditional TV corporations. They’ve lifted their game (in the US at least) because they’ve realised that DVD and video games let people see what they want when they want it. But unless there’s a massive change in TV industry politics, the quality new shows seem to be too much stopgap and not enough cure …


Comet! (and some tennis ramblings)

Wednesday 24 January 2007 at 11:17 pm

I’d been thinking of mentioning the flag “ban” at Sydney’s Big Day Out, but everything I thought of has already been said.

So I shall post a photo I took last Friday of Comet McNaught, from an outstanding location for amateur astronomy — namely, the roof of my parents’ house.

Comet McNaught

(Awesome pictures by the dude who discovered it may be found here.)

Unrelatedly, the Australian Open has been throwing a few surprises. The biggest of these, for me at least, was seeing Marcos Baghdatis play a weak game to lose in the second round. At first I thought that Gael Monfils was going to replace him and become, if you will, the Baghdatis of this year’s Open (Jim Courier was right to describe him as “fun to watch”) … but then he lost his next game. Against Baghdatis he had the same determination and spark that got Baghdatis through last year, but against the (admittedly more experienced) Gasquet, all that energy seemed to vanish.

Later, the awesome game between Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal (why on Earth did it start at 10pm?) had me thinking that Murray might become this year’s Baghdatis, because he was playing an awfully clever strategy. But then he lost his nerve in the fifth set and it all fell apart.

Tonight’s game, though, saw Nadal fall (surprisingly quickly!) to Fernando Gonzalez. This has me thinking I’ve found my new source of Baghdatis-style awesomeness for this year — particularly considering the players he’s beaten so far.

Thus, what I’d like to see in the men’s final: Gonzalez versus Federer, in a clone of last year. The upstart won’t be good enough to dethrone the ice man, but we’ll all be amazed at how well Gonzalez plays regardless.

And for the women’s final: a three-set thriller whereby Serena Williams plays well enough to prove that she’s made her comeback, but Kim Clijsters scrapes through to end her career on a high.

P.S. thank you Adobe for finally updating the Linux version of Flash Player! (But curses for taking so long.) This allowed me to actually use the official Open site enough to make the links above …


A crazy Sunday night of sport

Monday 10 July 2006 at 10:03 am

Wow, so Italy won the World Cup. I won’t even try to make sense of the massive outpouring of blog posts on the matter, but suffice to say that I’m not the only person to be suprised.
(With my couple-of-generations-removed Italian heritage, does that make me some sort of heathen unbeliever?)

Also last night: Roger Federer won Wimbledon. Again.

I swear that this man is increasingly looking unstoppable, at least when he’s off the clay. One day I might even be able to say “ahh, back in my day, we watched Roger Federer!” and the young ‘uns will know who I’m talking about.

(Oh, and Amelie Mauresmo did a reasonable job herself the other day, nicely complementing her Aussie Open win …)

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