Day 197 – An unfair comparison right now, but still…

Top Tip: Never read The Independent for political news, thinking that it will give you a fair, balanced viewpoint. The name is merely designed to fool you into thinking that way.

The tagline for The Independent used to be:

It is, are you?

…suggesting that The Independent was actually independent and additionally offering that up as some sort of virtue, like there was some problem with holding an opinion on any given matter of the day.

Get over yourselves.

Anyway, it turns out that The Independent really isn’t very independent at all.

But this isn’t post about The Independent. I just thought I’d add a bit of unnecessary context because I’m looking at a story from that outlet in this post.

It’s this story (and it’s not very political, so I think we’re ok to run with it):

This is very much in the same vein as the post I wrote a couple of days ago detailing a similar issue in the USA.

The thing is, the USA post I did compared the numbers of deaths from Covid-19 this year (because it’s new) and those from influenza over the last five flu seasons over there. Covid-19 was much, much worse than flu, despite comparing the figures from when flu was at its height over there.

But yes, flu is very seasonal, and so there’s no real surprise that if you look at the figures between January and August (which they have done here) then the numbers for Covid are so much higher: most of that time wasn’t flu season in the UK.

Deaths linked to Covid-19 were higher than deaths due to influenza and pneumonia between March and June.

And yes, they’ve added in “pneumonia” as well, but again, that isn’t as prevalent during the summer months.

It’s not a fair or meaningful comparison.

Still, it still doesn’t make for pleasant reading because the real story is probably yet to come.

As winter – and flu season – approaches, if we see what we have seen in the Southern hemisphere, then influenza will be less of an issue this year (because more people will choose to get vaccinated this time around and because of measures in place to try to combat coronavirus will limit influenza transmission as well) and that’s a good thing, but coronavirus will almost certainly continue to knock people off.

And so, with coronavirus cases already increasing again, it seems likely that Covid-19 will likely still be far more deadly than flu in the UK, even when the playing field is levelled.

Day 188 – Football is ruined

Football. It’s ruined.

For me, at least. It could be that other people are still enjoying football, but if they enjoyed football a few years ago, I simply can’t see why they would still be enjoying football now.

Because it’s ruined.

Not all the reasons behind this ruination are football’s fault, but equally, some of them certainly are, and football would do well do look at the stuff it can control and then control it better. Especially since the causes of football’s ruination are cumulative and so removing some of those causes would make things a bit better.

Let’s run through a few of the things which have ruined football. And while doing so, let’s also remember that this is a sport that I – like many others – have loved for several (or more) decades. It pains me to see it this way and it pains me to write this post. (I’m quite sure it pains you to read it too, but that’s nothing to do with football.)

The crowds are gone. And football without crowds is crap. Whether it’s 33,000 at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane or 120 up at Sandygate, it’s amazing the difference that having supporters at games makes. The novelty (if there ever was any) of hearing the players and managers shouting expletives at one another has well and truly worn off. And the fake FIFA20 noises were briefly amusing but are now very annoying. And haven’t improved in their accuracy.

This one isn’t changing any time soon. March 2021 before they even risk trying again, I’m told.

The commentators‘ desperate efforts to keep the audience engaged in games which are very dull because the standard is poor or because it’s 5-0 with 2 minutes remaining are becoming ever more irritating. Yes, they need us to hang around so that we can boost the figures for viewing their adverts, but phrases like “there’s still time for a miracle comeback” should only really be used on Easter Saturday outside a cave in Jerusalem, and are plainly completely inaccurate when Fulham need to score 4 goals in 25 seconds to scrape a draw.
Or 4 goals in any length of time, to be honest.

And the co-commentators are getting worse as well. Thankfully, it seems that David Pleat is only dug up from his vault and briefly semi-reanimated when everyone else is busy or infected these days, but hey, step forward Jim Beglin stating the bleeding obvious with gems like:

Yeah, well Arsenal will be hoping to keep a clean sheet this evening.

and (on Arsenal’s goalkeeper):

Yeah, well I think he’ll be glad he was in that position because it came straight at him.

No shit, Sherlock. Thanks, Einstein.
I’m so glad that they’re paying you the big bucks for insight like that. Honestly, I would pay almost as much never to hear your irritating, talent-free, Irish/Scouse voice polluting the air in my living room ever again, you lousy, utterly clueless goon.

And I’m clearly not alone. Because how many other co-commentators have their own Facebook group like this?

No. I didn’t set that up. It’s real.

Then there are the changes to the handball rule. Utterly ridiculous. I don’t want to get technical here (and so I won’t), but the rules are crap and they’re being applied poorly.

Even  with helpful synopses like this:

and this:

… it just all seems like randomised, inconsistent guesswork from the referees.

And while we’re on the subject of refereeing, even those who hate VAR have (to some degree, at least) welcomed the new guidelines instructing referees to use pitchside monitors during games this season. It’s just that they don’t seem to be using them very much, or very consistently. It’s massively frustrating, especially when everyone except them can see that they’ve got a big decision wrong and the technology is there to put it right and… isn’t used.

There could be a lighter, happier side to try to balance out all these ills, but as discussed earlier, that’s not there right now either. And yes, of course that just makes the whole thing even more miserable.

It all adds up and now it’s got to the point where my FOMO at not watching games has been easily overcome with my desire to just go to bed. I haven’t watched a single minute of this last weekend’s Premier League football and I haven’t missed it at all.

Big wow? Yes, big wow.

You need to understand just how scary that is for a guy that will watch literally every minute of every live game he can, no matter how arbitrary or pointless those matches may seem to be.

There is a hole in my life where football-based enjoyment used to be and it’s making me very sad.

Football is ruined and needs to be unruined as soon as possible. Will someone please sort it out?

Day 144 – The great staycation debate

It’s bad news for me.

 

This shouldn’t really be a thing, but I have a feeling that this could be a thing.

It was Stuart Maconie who (rightfully*) felt the need to correct those who contacted his weekend breakfast show on 6 Music claiming they were “on a staycation” because they were “staying” in Britain, rather than going abroad for their “vacation”.

“Hang on though,” said Stuart. “You’re erroneously conflating the word ‘staycation’ with the term  ‘domestic tourism’.”

Damn straight. It’s not hard.
Domestic tourism is when you stay in your own country for a holiday.
A staycation is where you stay in your own house for a holiday.

And given the current situation, both are going to be a whole lot more popular this year.

Check out wikipedia, which is always right:

A staycation (a portmanteau of “stay” and “vacation”) is a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within day trip distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodation. Common activities of a staycation include use of a backyard pool, visits to local parks and museums, and attendance at local festivals and amusement parks. Some staycationers also like to follow a set of rules, such as setting a start and end date, planning ahead, and avoiding routine, with the goal of creating the feel of a traditional vacation.

Ha. I think that solves everything. So shall we m… I’m sorry… look at what?
The next sentence?

…in British English the term became associated with taking a holiday in one’s own country as opposed to travelling abroad (domestic tourism).

Well, ok. But this is from wikipedia and that’s not always right.

Let’s have a look at the Oxford English Dictionary, which will confirm that they are wrong and Stuart Maconie and I are correct, as expected.

A holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

Oh.

So it seems that we are right.
But so are they. Bugger.

So this is one where I have to admit defeat. This is not a hill (in my own garden or even in my own country) that I am willing to die on.

They were right. And I was wrong.
And Stuart Maconie was also wrong, which has shaken me a little, I’ll admit. I might send him this post, just so he knows not to keep on at this one again this coming weekend, because actually, he’s not right.

Maybe one to just sweep quietly under the carpet.

 

 

* or so we all thought

Day 117, part 2 – Traffic solution

Here’s a thing I spotted on Twitter today (I have lost where from though).

I’m not claiming that it’s the be-all and end-all of the traffic problems that major cities around the world face, but it might go some way to sorting them out.

I don’t have the figures in front of me (or anywhere else either, actually), but I would imagine that bought shit does mean more trucks on our roads. Therefore, stopping buying shit should also mean fewer trucks.

It all makes sense. So there you have it, if you don’t like trucks, simply stop buying shit.

Problem solved.