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Showing posts from July, 2014

MH17 passengers victims of a preventable war

I’ve just returned from two weeks in Cuba - not the easiest place from which to follow world news.  The internet is restricted and slow, wifi scarcely exists and the English language edition of the island’s only daily newspaper, Granma, publishes mainly stagnant propaganda on behalf of the Castro brothers. 
As a result, I’ve had to catch up with the tragic story of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine on its scheduled route between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, resulting in almost 300 deaths.  Western countries and the current authorities in Kiev claim that the passenger plane was struck by a missile fired by ‘pro-Russian’ forces and supplied by Russia.  These allegations are refuted by the separatists and have drawn a flat denial from the government in Moscow.
For the time being, it is difficult to determine the exact truth.  Investigators from the Netherlands are struggling to access the crash site, which lies in territory fiercely contested by both sides …

Northern Ireland blogging nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

I spent a little while over the weekend slimming down the ‘blog roll’ of websites on the right hand side of this page.  The majority of links were either defunct or more or less disused.  It made me think, if the ‘weblog’ is not dying, its best days are certainly behind it. 
Of course, my own site has become a fitful affair.  There are times when a visitor might expect to see tumbleweed blow across their screen, rather than a fresh new article, and when I do post, the number of hits is negligible. 
I’ve never had an enormous interest in theoretical discussions about blogging as a medium.  Personally, if I hadn’t written blog-posts, I would have written something else.  I would have pitched my material to newspapers, or offered articles to magazines, or squirreled them away in notebooks.
I didn’t start a blog because I wanted to be a blogger.  I started a blog because I enjoyed writing.
Still, all those dead and dismembered links caused more than a twinge of nostalgia.  Five years a…

The US never has been and never will be a football country

Why have so many neutrals been supporting the USA in this World Cup?  There is a natural tendency to back an underdog, but remember that the United States contains 330 million people. 
Some people clearly think, deep down, that the greatest sport in the world needs to be endorsed by Americans, to have truly global credentials.  Let’s be clear, the fact that the United States has never taken to football is a reflection on that country's sporting predilictions, rather than the greatest game in the world.
The US took over 90 minutes to be beaten by a small European nation with an average World Cup pedigree and that has now been taken as some type of triumph.  It really isn’t.
Football has no need to proselytise.  It already is the world’s game.  It has no requirement to expand into any new territories, because the ‘new territories’ are the freakish exception, rather than the rule. 
Meanwhile, sport in the US is generally a poor spectacle.  ‘World’ competitions span one country, co…