Friday, June 27, 2008

SPORTSHYPE: Rugby Refereeing - Not For Sissies!

The game of rugby always needs more referees. Your local union would almost certainly welcome your interest!

However, in addition to the benefits (exercise, keeping you out of the pub on Saturdays, developing management skills, camaraderie), there are a couple of hazards that go with being a rugby referee. In addition to the number of players the game's single referee has to manage (30), s/he has to be careful of swinging legs at the tackle, and also has to stay out of the way in general. Keeping up with play is a full-time job though, so occasionally bad things can happen.

The lead picture - click it to see the larger version - shows French referee Christophe Berdos after a head-to-head collision in a Heineken Cup match (Leinster-Gloucester on 2006-10-21). Here's another one showing the aftermath, and another showing him being helped off the pitch.

Have a look at a few video clips below that showcase these dangers. You can also find more at Rugby Dump. The first one shows the Berdos incident in great detail, and was put together by the IRB:

Next up is an amateur contest in Biarritz, France, which leaves the ref with a broken nose:

Then there's the non-systematic risk, if you will. Every now and then a crazed supporter decides that s/he doesn't like the way the game is being called, and goes after the ref. Here's David McHugh getting attacked by a guy twice his size (resulting in a separated shoulder) while refereeing the Springboks vs. the All Blacks in South Africa:

However, at most levels, the enjoyment people get from refereeing is palpable. Especially compared with other sports. Check out this English guy's story about why he stopped refereeing football (soccer) in favor of the oval ball code:

Here's a perfect example from an English Premiership match - the two team captains get into a shouting match in front of the referee about whether or not a try was scored. They are quickly put in their places, calmly and surely. Note that they stop arguing immediately:

If you're interested, leave a comment and we can put you in touch with the right people in your area. The Daily Hype has a global audience, so it wouldn't make much sense to put more than a couple of links here. However, the first link in this article is to the RFU referee recruitment site (England), and here's a similar one for the USA Rugby local referee organizations.

There's also other rugby hype on offer here at The Daily Hype.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It was a great year for the Cheese Roll, a Gloucester, England favorite event. It was made especially exciting by all the rain!

If you are not familiar with the sport of Cheese Rolling, it goes something like this:

At the command (given by the Master of Ceremonies) of ........

'ONE to be ready!'

'Two to be steady!'

'Three to prepare!' .....

........ the guest 'roller' releases the cheese, which rolls down the hill at great speed,

The M.C. continues .....

.... 'and FOUR to be off!'

At this point the competitors hurl themselves down the slope after the cheese.

The first person to arrive at the foot of the hill wins the cheese.

Those who come second or third receive a small cash prize.

The slope has a gradient that is in places 1-in-2 and in others 1-in-1, its surface is very rough and uneven and it is almost impossible to remain on foot for the descent. Injuries incurred are usually minor and competitors (particularly the successful ones) enter again year after year.

The 5 downhill races are held at twenty minute intervals, one is a ladies' race.

Between the downhill races there are also uphill races, one for boys of 12 years and under, one for girls and an 'open' race there is an open mens and open womens uphill race too!

Obviously no cheeses are rolled, but a small cheese is the prize for the winner of each race.

Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire
a great website for all things realted to Cheese Rolling. A must read!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

AVIATIONHYPE: Heathrow's Ghost Flights

In these days of rising airfares, reduced airline capacity, and near-daily introductions of new fees for what used to be included in your ticket price, you'll be glad to hear that airlines still have a few more dirty tricks up their sleeves.

At London's Heathrow Airport (one of the world's busiest), not just anybody can turn up in their airplane and expect to be able to land. That rule goes for private planes as well as the biggest of the big airlines. There's a concept at work called slot allocation - basically, a limited number of takeoff and landing slots each day/week/month/etc. Airlines pay a lot of money for these slots, naturally, and are then forced to use them or lose them. If they don't maintain a certain level of service, the slots are taken away and sold to someone else.

For the purposes of this article, the term "ghost flights" does not include any of the following:
  • Planes flown empty due to lack of crew or other operational reasons like repositioning;
  • Canceled flights due to weather or equipment malfunction;
  • Mysterious aircraft owned by CIA front companies (allegedly) used to transport disappeared terrorism suspects around the world.
Except for the last point, those are a normal part of the airline business.

The following, however, is not. A couple of different news outlets have reported on how airlines will go to any length to maintain their slot rights at places like Heathrow. For example, here's a story about British Meditteranean Airways as seen in The Australian's business section in March 2007:
An airline is flying an empty passenger jet between Heathrow and Cardiff on a daily basis - just so that it can hold on to its lucrative slots at the London airport. The flights, which have pumped hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the past five months, threaten to undermine the aviation industry's public stance of trying to reduce emissions.
Wait, so the airlines are doing something different than what they're preaching to the public? No - it can't be!
The flights are being run by British Mediterranean Airways (BMed) - until recently part-owned by the family of Wafic Said, the Syrian-born financier - which flies the Airbus passenger plane from Heathrow to Cardiff and back six times a week. No tickets are sold and all 124 passenger seats are empty. Because there are no passengers, the "ghost" flights, which have run since October, do not appear on departure or arrival boards.
Could it be that the owner of this airline is rolling in piles of petrodollars? It seems a reasonable assumption to make, but then again, BMed no longer exists as a separate entity.
The sole purpose is to keep hold of landing slots on runways at Heathrow, the world's busiest airport for international flights. The slots can be reallocated if an airline does not use them regularly. They are so valuable that they can change hands among airlines for up to £10 million each.

By the end of this month, the flights will also have cost BMed at least £2 million. There is a £2,500 fuel bill for each flight, plus £300,000 a month for the lease, insurance, crew and maintenance charges.

The flights reveal the lengths to which airlines will go to hang on to runway slots. A slot is the right to use a runway for a take-off or a landing at a given time of the day. The practice is known in the airline industry as "keeping slots warm".
Interesting, isn't it? A business is doing something that otherwise may appear illogical just so they can hold on to something of value. And let's not consider the reduction in taxes created by these artificially- and purposefully-generated losses... what about the environmental angle? Surely flying an empty airliner back and forth between London and Cardiff (~125 miles/200 kilometers, or about the same as the trip from Philadelphia to Washington DC) can't be good for the environment, can it? Here's some more analysis from the article:
Over the five months, the 12 flights a week will have sent as much CO2 into the atmosphere as 36,000 cars streaming along a motorway. It is equivalent to the annual CO2 output of a town of 2,000 people.

Graham Thompson, of Plane Stupid, a campaign group, said: "It's quite shocking. These ghost flights very much undermine the greenwash we get from the airlines on how they are going to protect the environment. This shows that they are willing to sacrifice the climate for a profit."
Companies would rather make money than take care of the environment? Really? It can't be!

Here's the original story, along with another report with a slightly different angle from the BBC.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

POLITICSHYPE: Obama vs McCain vs YOU

OK, I really don't want to spoil this for all of you (clueless tools) who are enjoying the whole us-against-them, I-believe-the-puppet-on-the-left/right-shares-my-views nonsense, but John Pilger "renowned investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, [and] one of only two to have twice won British journalism's top award", steps forth with a painfully insightful view into our latest mock-battle for the position of "most powerful man in the world".

After Bobby Kennedy

John Pilger," wrote Harold Pinter, "unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him."

Somewhere deep in the heart of the un-brutalized inner child I still carry within me, I always wanted to believe that RFK was the one (like Neo) who was pure and uncorrupted and still in the game at the highest level. This despite all I had learned about JFK... but listen, really, at that level, it's all front men for evil cabals -- the only question is which cabal are you with? And none of them seem to give a damn for me so f*ck them, JFK and RFK included... oh yeah, and Barack, and Hillary, and John, and the whole crew... it's a game, kids, and all your votes for these lying scumbags legitimize the game.

If we could get money out of the electoral process it might make a difference. Muhfuggahs might get into politics because they had a good idea about how our government might more effectively serve the people for less money, with the goal of a more just and peaceful society. Other muhfuggahs might vote for them because they too desired justice and peace and less pain for the muhfuggahs I see daily sleeping in f*ckin' doorways... but noooo... I (your name here) do solemnly swear to manipulate the business of the people so as to steer the greatest amount of munitions contracts to my boy (his name here) who bullsh*tted enough muhfuggahs and bribed enough corrupt muhfuggahs to get my ass in this office (and damn my leather chair is sweet!)!

What was that lyric by OK Go! again?
Well here it goes here it goes here it goes again yeah here it goes again I should have known should have known should have known again

OK Go! Here It Goes Again at YouTube

Don't believe the hype - its a sequel
As an equal, can I get this through to you
The meaning of all of that
Some media is the whack
You believe it's true, it blows me through the roof
Suckers, liars get me a shovel
Some writers I know are damn devils
For them I say don't believe the hype
Yo Chuck, they must be on a pipe, right?
Their pens and pads I'll snatch
'Cause I've had it
I'm not an addict fiendin' for static
I'll see their tape recorder and grab it
No, you can't have it back silly rabbit

Public Enemy "Don't Believe The Hype"

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I found these pictures of Antarctica and it occurred to me that it may be awhile before we run out of ice on this planet.

But then again.... 

From National Geographic:
• Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
• The rate of warming is increasing. The 20th century's last two decades were the hottest in 400 years and possibly the warmest for several millennia, according to a number of climate studies. And the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that 11 of the past 12 years are among the dozen warmest since 1850.
• The Arctic is feeling the effects the most. Average temperatures in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia have risen at twice the global average, according to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report compiled between 2000 and 2004.
• Arctic ice is rapidly disappearing, and the region may have its first completelyice-free summer by 2040 or earlier. Polar bears and indigenous cultures are already suffering from the sea-ice loss.
• Glaciers and mountain snows are rapidly melting—for example, Montana's Glacier National Park now has only 27 glaciers, versus 150 in 1910. In the Northern Hemisphere, thaws also come a week earlier in spring and freezes begin a week later.
• Coral reefs, which are highly sensitive to small changes in water temperature, suffered the worst bleaching—or die-off in response to stress—ever recorded in 1998, with some areas seeing bleach rates of 70 percent. Experts expect these sorts of events to increase in frequency and intensity in the next 50 years as sea temperatures rise.
• An upsurge in the amount of extreme weather events, such as wildfires, heat waves, and strong tropical storms, is also attributed in part to climate change by some experts.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

FINANCEHYPE: Cutting Costs the AA Way

Back before the days of $130-a-barrel oil, airlines were worried about more mundane things. Cutting costs was always a priority, however, and one of the best in the business was Robert Crandall. He was the CEO of American Airlines (AMR) from 1985 to 1998, and not too long ago was interviewed as part of a special report on the airline by MSNBC.

Here's a short excerpt of his views on how to cut costs. I won't spoil the story, which should be required viewing for any business student, but I will present the dramatis personae:
  • A station manager at a small island in the Caribbean
  • A night watchman
  • A guard dog

Mr. Crandall, apparently, is available to speak at your function for a fee in the neighborhood of USD 15,000 - 20,000.