Saturday, 30 May 2009

Searching for safety

Many reports of terrible attacks on Indian students in Australia are making their way into the news, both here and in India. I am a bit disturbed by the repeated discussion of whether or not racism is involved. As I have said before, racism is a real and dangerous issue, but by its nature it often obscures other things.

I doubt that anyone, whether making accusations or denials regarding racism, actually thinks the victim of a random robbery is any less in need of support than the victim of a racially targetted or even motivated attack. Nor is a mixed local community suffering regular attacks any better off than an ethnic community suffering racial attacks. That shouldn't be the issue. What differences does the motivation make? I see two - which group is the indirect victim, now in fear of attack, and the question of what can be done to prevent it.

In itself, coming to public conlusions about such things does little more than speed up the spread of fear about whatever pattern is identified. Even when correct, this may or may not help - it is the response to this that matters. So how does the motivation inform our response. In one sense, it is tempting to identify things as purely opportunistic, since it is hard to know how to combat racism. Perhaps making a big fuss about it is part of creating a culture that will shame the perpetrators and have even greater long-term effects. Perhaps the argument I am disturbed by is necessary after all.

However, even public condemnation does little to stop this sort of thing. Opportunism is easier to deal with - tactics for making the vulnerable less vulnerable have shown success for a long time. There are valuable skills to be learnt in unfamilar situations. History by no means distances racism from preying on the vulnerable. In cases like this, focussing on the opportunistic factors is helpful, as well as the more subtle work against racism and the general policing that is necessary regardless of motivation. These horrors need to be stopped, not just condemned.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Whinging at Poms

Now Ricky Ponting has joined the discussion about the forthcoming opening Ashes Test's 'move' from Lord's to Sophia Gardens. Since pres-series interviews these days tend to be exercises in psychology rather than honesty, I don't think we can conclude that he actually expected the schedule to resemble that of 2005 to start with.

What is the effect he's after, though? All I can think is that he wants to remind the English (and Welsh?) of their poor record in St John's Wood to maximise Australia's 'psychological advantage' in the 2nd Test. Maybe if he'd pulled it off, he just might have been able to make it sound like England have resorted to such scheduling because they don't have much hope otherwise. In reality, he just comes across as a whinging schoolboy who wishes things were more "comfortable" for his team.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Spinning Wel(sh)

It seem that it's not just the subcontinent that produces Bunsen burners hot enough to annoy the officials. Apart from the fact that the E(&W)CB's penalties seem harsher than anything the ICC hand out, a domestic game policed by the local board seems a good place to discuss the actual issue of what is "excessive" turn. Unfortunately, I've only got a scorecard, which doesn't really tell us anything. Anyone know anything about how the pitch actually played?

Of course, I doubt this has much relevant for the ground's First Test match later this year, despite all the noise. It seems a bit of an isolated event. Perhaps more interesting are the more cultural factors surrounding Test cricket's Welsh debut. That argument could go on and on, but I do wish people would stop suggesting that Sophia Gardens has replaced Lord's. The Mancunians and Nottinghammers migth be annoyed, but Shane Warne's comments aside, it should be noted that the 2nd Test will be at Lord's, just as it has been since 1981 - the only exception was 2005.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

A very good reason

for less sleep, less quiet and certainly less blogging.

Isn't she gorgeous?

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Half the story

I don't wish to annoy any journalists who might read this, especially any I'm related to, but I'm noticing an awful lot of unfair journalism these days. Exhibit one is brought by Homer - a Cricinfo article on the IPL's security arrangements. On reflection it is (was?) less fair than I first thought, but it's still got fairly minor problem compared with some of the stuff floating around.

Last week, I read a newspaper article which used very creative/stupid quoting, and was supplied with a headline and introduction which contradicted other content. I suspect I have a habit of discarding headlines once I acutally read a story, but I came across this article after I saw a letter in response from a reader who obviously didn't take in the "finer" details.

Last night, I happened to see a TV current affairs report. For those who might be able to guess which one I mean, I will say that I'm not trying to say anything about the case itself - I don't know anything more than reported, and wouldn't comment if I did. The issue I have a problem with is the way the targets' response was reported. It often looks bad enough when someone doesn't offer an interview, but that doesn't justify obscuring any written response that is received, by saying nothing more than that it is on the website. Will anyone not feeling sympathetic in some way bother looking for it? As I see it, journos should either give viewers an idea of hte response, or not imply that they were willing to give a fair hearing. But a written response just isn't good tv, is it?

Arabian nights

Wow! Australia have one an ODI series for the first time since... beating Bangladesh last winter. At least it was good to have an interesting series again, even if the timezone is awful for day-nighters, and the free-to-air media seemed to ignore it. The ODI series in SA made the IPL seem like a welcome relief, even though I'm not that keen on the three hour game. It's not that Aus v SA shouldn't be a good series, it's just that the same two teams playing each other almost non-stop for four months makes you wonder why they can't find anyone else to play...

Anyway, Michael Clarke seems to have handled the team well enough. I'm sure captaincy is good for him, whatever side you take on the Ponting debate.