Adventures of Frangipan

Monday, 16 April 2012

Two Horses put down at the 2012 Grand National

…while millions watch, either at Aintree or on their TVs at home, cheering if the horse they put their money on won, or sulking if they didn’t.

I continue to wonder how the people involved in horse racing can honestly claim to care about the animals. And shame on the BBC and RSPCA for continuing to support this. Nothing about horse racing is about the animals or their welfare. They are pawns in the entertainment industry, dressed up in pretty colours for people to enjoy betting and a day of drinking and merriment.

Yet while the ladies and gentlemen in the grandstand continued to enjoy their drinks, horses were being treated and put down on the racecourse.

A horse of mine was put down because he was kicked by another horse and it broke his leg. Completely sliced off about 6 inches above his hoof. I heard the shot that killed him. That was about 13 years ago, and I can still remember it. I wonder if anyone at Aintree (or any of the other countless racecourses where horses are killed) heard or will remember it?

Ignorance is bliss. It must be so nice to go for a day at the races, not for one second thinking about all the horses that are bred into that world, never make it, and end up as dog meat or glue. It must be nice not to think of the retired racehorses who are not cared about anymore. Only the ones who don’t win big of course.

I’ll support horse racing when it’s the jockeys who are getting beaten around a 4-mile course at full speed, expected to jump hedges bigger than them.

 I put this post on my tumblr site with a link to this Animal Aid article.

From the Animal Aid article, you can learn about their campaign and also sign the petition to ban the Grand National. Animal Aid has also been keeping a list of horses killed and injured on racecourses around the UK since 2007.

As of 16 April 2012:
816 in 1862 days

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Homosexuality in Sport

Apparently I haven't already blogged about this, which surprises me. I watched the Amal Fashanu documentary about her uncle, Justin Fashanu, who was the first footballer to come out, and later committed suicide. It surprises me that I don't remember it because I really liked football in the late 90s.

Anyway, the programme disappointed me slightly: I think I was expecting something a bit more hard-hitting, where she would really get at the system that condones homophobia in football, and sport more generally. But, from the perspective that it was obviously a difficult time for her family, and that she had to ask her dad some difficult questions, I think she was very brave. Amal certainly came across much better than her dad did.

It was really disheartening to see how evasive almost everyone she talked to was, and how difficult it was for her to even get anyone to talk to her. The FA seemed to employ some sort of misguided equality tactics, by sending a woman to speak to her. Because it's not just a boys' club, you know, women work there too (maybe they should've sent a black woman so they could tick two boxes). And they had to meet outside. Could they not even let into the building and offer her a coffee?!

In fact the (surprisingly) best contributor from the British football world was Joey Barton. Probably the player with the worst reputation in professional football, chastising the industry for its poor attitude towards homosexuality. As well as Joey, Amal also managed to interview the only openly gay footballer in the world: Anton Hysen, in Sweden. You would hope that the positivity he has experienced would encourage others.

I completely understand why footballers and athletes are apprehensive about coming out. It's a sad state of affairs that they have to be. But I really can't wrap my head around why people have a problem with homosexuality. Does it really come down to being worried that a gay footballer might fancy his team mate? To not wanting to be looked at in that way? Are they worried that if two footballers on the same team are gay they might start kissing in the changing room? Even if it did happen, that would still be less shocking than what some get up to. And what are the fans worried about?

Apparently this is also an issue in the US, where the You Can Play project takes this stand:

Locker rooms should be safe and sports venues should be free from homophobia. Athletes should be judged on talent, heart and work ethic, not sexual orientation.

The Justin Campaign does similar work in the UK:
The Justin Campaign seeks to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist around LGB & T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans) people and work towards a future where the visibility of LGB & T people in football is both accepted and celebrated.
I stopped following football a few years ago when I decided that there was no justification for their incredibly high wages, and the Russian oligarchs were taking over at Chelsea, starting the trend of millionaire buy-outs.I switched over to rugby. I'm incredibly proud of Gareth Thomas for being the world's first openly gay team professional sportsman; and for the rugby industry being so supportive.

I really hope that the visibility this issue is gaining will lead to more people showing their support, so that gay sports people do not have to fear the consequences of coming out.

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Global Carbon Footprint

This is an interesting graphic I re-posted on my tumblr site a couple of weeks ago. Admittedly it is limited in that it doesn't show emissions against population, but just a quick glance shows that the USA emits about as much as China, and the UK about as much as Brazil. While I don't know the populations of each of those countries off hand, I know that they are vastly different.

The graphic is originally from here.

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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Tanker Drivers' Dispute

The panic-buying fiasco the politicians have created has overshadowed what the dispute and potential strike is actually about. From Unite's website:
This is not about pay, it is about ensuring that high safety and training standards are maintained. It is about bringing fairness and stability back to an industry that is controlled by faceless global giants.
I would expect that the £45,000 earnings of the drivers was also released in some way to divert attention from their actual issues and discredit their dispute.

Don't get me wrong: I would be very happy to earn that much money in a year. It's far more than what I currently earn. But if I had poor training and health and safety conditions, and pay-rises frozen due to the financial crisis; while oil companies continue to rake in overwhelming profits, I'd probably be a bit pissed off too.

And for the politicians on each side to continue to use this whole event for PR is despicable. Labour using it to call for Francis Maude's resignation and a general bashing of the coalition. Tories using it to divert attention away from the bad PR of kitchen dinners and a regressive budget.

And it all boils down to one thing. They are fighting so hard and shouting so loud to drown out the other, that no one is listening to what the people - you know, the ones they're there to represent - need and want.

Listening to David Cameron blame the drivers for causing panic and chaos for the population around the Easter holidays was yet another chance to prove that. The tanker drivers' dispute is not about pay. At no point did they call a strike or even threaten to call a strike on Easter weekend. They did not tell people to keep topping up their fuel or store fuel in jerry cans. In fact, the whole think had very little publicity until the budget.

I do not resent the drivers for their dispute, but I do resent the price I pay for putting fuel in my car.
Living in a rural area with few public transport options, I rely on my car. If the government really want some good publicity, perhaps they should look into reducing the duty we pay on fuel, or making public transport a more viable option.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Birthdays of the Departed

Emma Griffin's birthday has appeared on my Facebook news feed today. 25 years old today. Except she died last week. Took her own life.

We weren't close: I'd only met her a couple of times. More a friend of a friend than anything else. We were chalk and cheese really, but the one thing we had in common was that we were opinionated.

I don't really know what to say about her except that I couldn't imagine anyone less likely to take their own life. Maybe that just shows how little I knew her. Or maybe it shows how well she covered up her feelings. She was always so bubbly and fun and outgoing and outspoken.

Despite the fact that we were very different and I had no intention of letting her change my mind, I was envious of how outgoing and outspoken she was. I have opinions about a lot of things, but I'm shy and generally only let my close family and friends see the real me. I tend to avoid rocking the boat with people I don't know well. Keep a lid on things.

Emma wasn't like that.

The first time we met she mistook my shyness for snobbery. I thought the fact that we had nothing in common meant we would have nothing to talk about. The second time we met she told me her first impressions and I was much less reserved. And we both changed our opinions.

About 5 days had passed before our mutual friend texted me to say what had happened. I immediately went on her Facebook page and read through hundreds of messages. Everyone who knew her - close friends and others like me - in an equal state of shock, wondering why and how they couldn't have known her state of mind.

Emma G (sounds like energy!!).

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This weekend was so good. Zac Efron (and his 'team') finally officially joined Facebook and Twitter. Gone are the days of spending my time constructively. Now is the time for spending hours on end watching videos, looking at pictures, and generally being as non-contributing to society as possible.

Of course the not-so-fun part of adding Zac to my Facebook and Twitter feeds is that I get One Direction, Harry Styles, Justin Bieber and suchlike recommended to me.

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