Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Goodness me

Well, I mean I thought the Edgebaston test was a close run thing but what about Old Trafford. This time I got to listen to nearly all of the match as I m on holiday and staying up until 3am listening to cricket is acceptable, even encouraged. From the moment Vaughan won the toss – no longer a luckless tosser – England didn’t look or take a step backward. And those Aussies? Played woefully in the main, honourable exceptions for Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting, whose 150 was truly exceptional. But the sting in the tail, the real nail biter was this. Last night, 2:50am, Ponting is out so it is Lee and McGrath, the last two batsmen, to face the final 4 overs. I’m gripped, the nation is gripped, can we do it? 3 overs to go, no wicket. Flintoff’s last over, big shout for lbw turned down, he can’t finish it. Down to Harmison, can he pull off a miracle like he did in the last over of the 2nd Test...? Well I won’t get to hear as my internet connection disappears and will not, even after rebooting the computer, re-connect to let me know what happened. At first I thought we must have done it and the connection failed due to a surge in logging on, or something. But no, it was my local server deciding that no one in Kawaguchi would be using a computer at 3am on a Tuesday morning.

So, onto Trent Bridge on Thursday week for the 4th with the series tied at a thrilling one a-piece.

The furies

The only bits of the 3rd test that I missed (except the last over) where due to some wonderful pyrotechnic displays that Tokyo has enjoyed over the last three evening. Not sure why, but there have been the most enormous thunder and lightning storms raging at about 7 to 8 pm recently, starting with modest sheet lightning but developing into huge arcs of fork lightning, earthing itself, I think, in the skyscrapers of Shinjuku – at least that’s the direction most of it seems to have hit. One massive, second long fork managed to black out Adachi-ku, just over the river from us, for a couple of seconds and I could watch as the grid rebooted itself and sections of the city flickered back into life. The whole stanza, from strike to the return of all lights, took about 5 seconds at most but wow, what a spectacle.

But what gets me is this – I am no physicist, but surely some of the billions upon billions of dollars that Bush and Blair are spending to ‘liberate’ the oil supplies of Iraq could be put into research into tapping lightning as an energy source? I mean there was enough energy released over Tokyo this weekend to power the city for a year, it seemed to me, and it was free, clean and abundant.

A job well done

Last but by no means least, the annual report into the crapness of Japanese teachers was released last week and made for some interesting reading, as ever. In 2004 a record high 566 teachers in the public/state system were deemed to be incompetent, up 85 from 2003. Apparently the increase in incompetence was not due to failing standards of the teachers but because the evaluations have become stricter with new guidelines – well that’s all right then.

But what was more worrying was this, in 2004 the number of teachers punished for alleged obscene acts or sexual harassment dropped by 30 to 166. That’s the good news, but of those 166, 95 were sacked and 30 were suspended. That, by my reckoning, is 125 teachers, so what happened to the other 41? The newspaper report makes no mention of these teachers, so were they let off, reprimanded, promoted? If I were a parent with a kid at one of these schools, I think I should like to know, don’t you?

But then again, these were only alleged cases of obscene acts does this mean that they weren’t investigated, or that to make an allegation is acceptable and the teacher concerned will be punished? Worrying if it is.

Oh, and one more thing

Yes, there’s going to be an election, it’s really hotting up and the parties are getting increasingly fractious. This means, of course, that blah blah blah. All a bit dull really, I will try to follow it all, but to be honest, I have some interesting paint I have to watch dry.

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