Archives » 2012 » June

Germany 1-2 Italy

Euro 2012, Semi-final, National Stadium, Warsaw.

I missed the other semi-final. (Probably just as well because it sounds as if it was a bore fest.)

This was a good game, though, with both teams wanting to win it. The Italians seemed unusually nervous at the back to begin with but that all ended after they pounced.

Mario Balotelli showed just how effective he can be. His movement for the first goal was brilliant, but he couldn’t have done it without Andrea Pirlo’s exquisite pass out to Georgio Chiellini and Antonio Cassano’s wriggle past the defender. A simple (simple?) over the top ball from Riccardo Monotolivo exposed the Germans for the second and Balotelli’s finish was never going to be saved.

The German substitutions at half time rather gave the game away that the wrong choices had been made in the first place; but even they were too late. Jérôme Boateng looked a liability at right back but when Thomas Müller repalced him the Germans lost whatever shape they had had. Italy ought to have picked them off and buried them. This German team doesn’t have enough old heads in midfield (or perhaps guiding them from the bench.) Or did they believe their own hype?

The Italy-Spain match-up in the final is an intriguing one.

Will Italy play three at the back again? It nearly worked to give them a win in the group game.

Will Spain play a striker of any description? They usually lack width so perhaps there’s no point. Maybe they’ll just try to hypnotise the Italians with their movement. (It could put me to sleep.)

Reelin’ In The Years 46: Joy To The World/Mama Told Me Not To Come

Another couple of songs that might as well have been from the 60s.

As you might expect from the title the first is a jeu d’esprit. From a band known rather peculiarly as Three Dog Night – apparently something to do with Australians on cold nights warming themselves up with dingos – it was a hit in 1971.

Three Dog Night: Joy To The World

Their other UK hit came a year earlier and was a Randy Newman song, a warning about the dangers of strange places and unusual substances.

Three Dog Night: Mama Told Me Not To Come

Newco or Not Newco?

With over five SPL clubs now having said they’ll vote against a team bearing the word Rangers at least somewhere in its new name being in their division next season it now seems that the Newco will have to apply to the SFL for a place.

The thought that they might be in Division 1 next season fills me with foreboding. If Dundee take their place in the SPL it would mean that Dumbarton’s first league game in Div 1 for 16 years will not then be at Dens Park (thus incidentally depriving me of the opportunity to walk to the game from my son’s flat) and may be at Ibrox – in which case I’ll not be going.

Any precedent here is surely Gretna, who when they were relegated from the SPL while in administration were immediately demoted to Div 3. But the Newco will not quite have been relegated, they will have been expelled.

Moreover they are a NEW club and ought to apply for the vacancy which will (due to shuffling within the leagues as before – Airdrie Utd you win again!) be in Div 3, not Div 1.

I fear though that some SFL clubs may vote for short term financial gain over sporting integrity despite the fact that the original Rangers were part of the process of shafting the rest of Scottish football (probably hoping it would wither on the vine) when the SPL was set up. The SFL clubs, though, have not withered but rather have managed to keep themselves alive and financially viable – certainly in Divs 2 and 3 – unlike their supposed betters.

This open letter
to the SFL was written by a Raith Rovers fan and puts the case very well.

My feeling is that the misdemeanours of Rangers have been so grievous that a mere one division demotion is no sanction at all: any other club could then play fast and loose financially and expect to get away with it with as little to pay. I am even coming round to the notion that Newco Rangers ought not to be admitted even to Div 3 (they do not meet the entry criterion of having three years’ accounts for a start.) Scottish football will find its level without them – and become steadily more competitive as Celtic will not have a partner with which to bully the rest. If this means fans of Rangers are lost to the Scottish game so be it. The smaller clubs don’t depend on them anyway.

Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

Angry Robot, 2009, 314p.

Moxyland cover

Like Beukes’s second novel Zoo City – a nominee for the BSFA Award last year – Moxyland, her first, is set in South Africa, which does add an unusual flavour; but whereas in Zoo City that seemed an important element Moxyland could really be set anywhere. It is almost a 1984 in reverse; it is not the state so much as corporations that exert power. How 21st century. How timely.

In Moxyland not only the conversations but also the wider narrative are in a stripped down demotic (eg a vid chat sesh.) This adds to immediacy and the sense of future shock but takes a little getting used to. In this regard the multiple viewpoints employed to tell the story add to the dislocatory effect.

In its totally phone-connected, over-surveilled society where semi-cyborg police dogs called Aitos make your average Alsatian look like a tame poodle and mobile phones are the conduit for everday transactions but are fitted with “defusers” to administer taser-like electric shocks as a public order or restraint mechanism, to be “disconnect” is a punishment, to be switched off an act of resistance intrepretable as terrorism. Not that there aren’t terrorists around….

The plot circles round the insidious nature of totalitarianism, the illusion that free agency is possible, that you matter.

The Moxyland of the title is a throwaway, an online game for children, heavily moderated. Adults do access it but any player can be denounced anonymously as such an illicit user. While the game is mentioned (we are shown one of the characters playing it) it really has no part in the plot and as such is rather too obvious a metaphor for the wider society of the novel.

Moxyland is a hyped-up, near future, thriller light, seeped in creeping paranoia – but where they really are out to get you – or at least get you to conform – but the characters don’t quite breathe as they might. The many viewpoints don’t help with this, even when we see the same events from differing perspectives. It was Beukes’s first novel though, and still an interesting read; a good pointer to the more polished tale she gave us in Zoo City.


On the way back from Dunbar a couple of weeks ago we stopped off in Haddington, which used to be the county town of East Lothian.

There were a couple of buildings which may have been Art Deco. The fenestration on this is of the period anyway.

Possibly Art Deco

Then there was this:-

PossIbly Art Deco  Building 2

PossIbly Art Deco  Building 3

Again it’s the windows which feel right.

I didn’t find the War Memorial (it was a cursory visit) but there was a nice garden/bower built for the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

aNormandy anniv trees

The trees are part of the memorial. The wording on the plaque is below.

Normandy anniversary plaque


2312 cover

My latest book for review in Interzone has thumped on the doormat – and when I say thumped I mean thumped.

It weighs in at 561 pages and I’ve to review it in 650 words by July 31st for inclusion in Interzone 242.

It’s by Kim Stanley Robinson and is entitled 2312.

I fancy (and I may be taking a wild stab in the dark here) it’s probably set in, em, 2312.

New Season’s Fixture List

I see the Challenge Cup* has us taking on Queen of the South on July 28th at The Rock. Probably yet another entry in our ignominious record in this competition. Especially so since they were just relegated and we’ve swanned up past them.

*I’m not using the sponsor’s name.

I’ve also perused the League fixture list for the new season on Dumbarton FC’s website.

From this distance, and given we’ve not been at this level for 16 years, it looks, well, intimidating.

We kick off against Dundee at Dens Park.

Well, unless they’re in the SPL by that time in which case we may be playing Govan Zombies. (But let’s not go there. In all senses of the phrase.)

Reelin’ In The Years 45: I’m Mandy Fly Me

Most folk would choose I’m Not In Love as their 10cc song of choice but I feature this mainly because I always wanted to write a parody of it – to be called I’m Randy. Try Me. (But I never got around to it.)

10cc: I’m Mandy Fly Me

Euro 2012

I’ve not posted about Euro 2012 yet because I’ve not seen many whole games.

I did catch all of the England – Ukraine game last night, though. If Ukraine had had a striker they’d have won this. England rode their luck and not just with the ball over the line incident.

I take issue with the commmentators over that. In real time I couldn’t tell if the ball was over the line or not. Even with the benefit of the replay using the along the line view I couldn’t tell that the whole ball had crossed the line when John Terry kicked it out. Neither could the fifth official be sure. And he has to be sure to give the goal. It was only when Terry was stripped from the picture and the frame was frozen that I could tell – and how was I to know what other manipulation may have been done to the image? The line official didn’t have that luxury.

Still, roll on goal line technology.

It must be said Uefa haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory over the Niklas Bendtner fine and ban for ambush marketing vivs-a-vis racist chanting and inappropriate banners.

As to possible winners; who knows?

Spain look get-at-able at the back. If it weren’t for Iker Casillas they would have been going home early: both Italy and Croatia would have beaten them. They also seem to have developed this novel way of trying to win football games. It involves not trying to score goals. (To be fair Dumbarton have been using that system for donkey’s years; but not deliberately.)

Against Croatia the Italians did that Italian thing of taking a lead and trying to hold it. The only thing is their defence isn’t good enough these days to sustain it. Had they gone for the second they might have saved themselves a fraught third game. They looked good going forward against Spain though.

Greece? Not likely, but we’ve thought that before.

Germany look impressive and Mario Gomez has morphed from being the German Luca Toni and suddenly found goal scoring form in a tournament.

Czech Republic? I doubt they’ll have enough to beat Portugal who were too fragile at the back against Denmark. But do the Portuguese have enough striking options beyond Ronaldo to get to the final?

France were shown up against Sweden and must play Spain.

England are teed up to lose to a Mario Balotelli goal. They have exceeded their usual Euro performance in getting to the quarter-final, after all.

At this stage it looks like the Germans.

The Sales Equation

Being of a mathematical bent I just love this equation Ian Sales has posted on his blog:-

How Science Fiction works

It purports to give a mathematical expression to how Science Fiction works.

I immediately recognised its similarity to the Drake Equation:-

Drake Equation

which tries to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilisations in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

See his post for the full argument but in Sales’s equation the terms are:-

W = wonder
lg = greatest distance mentioned in the text
tg = greatest length of time mentioned in the text
Nn = number of ideas/nova in the text
Nf = number of ideas/nova reader has encountered previously
ir = closeness of the viewpoint character to the reader as a function of background, worldview, attitudes, etc – ie, an indicator of their ability to identify with the character
jn = number of situations of jeopardy for point-of-view character(s)
ja = amplitude of situations of jeopardy for point-of-view character(s), where 1 is fatal
Cn = size of cast in the text
Br = bandwidth of the reader (calculated from educational level, number of books read, age)
Dr = willingness of the reader to suspend disbelief.

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