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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Thursday, 4 March 2004
Razzies update.
I got the clean sweep on the Razzies. Ben, Jennifer and their film 'Gigli' all won hands down and I made a profit of #111. This is small beer compared to the swings I experience at poker but it seemed like free money, it was free money and I am glad I took it.

I really do believe that these 'special bets', as the exchanges call them, are the best value for people like me who don't spend hours analysing batting averages, football injuries or race results. There is of course money to be made in sports betting and I know several people who profit well from it, but it's a lot of work.

My next tip for a 'special bet' is to back the Republicans for the US presidential election. John Kerry can't win, despite the popular gloss he gets in the media. If the election were held in Europe, he would win but in the US, especially the southern states, he will be destroyed. I could list dozens of faults the man has but I will save that for a later date. I am not having a bet on the US election yet, as I don't want to tie up my money for so long. I just hope that the odds don't shorten in the next three months.

_ DY at 2:50 PM GMT
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Saturday, 28 February 2004
Wishing Ben and Jennifer good luck in the Razzies.
I have some bets on for the 'Razzies' tonight. In case you don't know, the Razzies are the Golden Raspberry awards, given to the worst films, actors and actresses of the year. They are always staged exactly one day before the Oscars.

This year the betting exchange Betdaq has quoted a market for them and I think I've spotted value. One film and one couple stand out in my mind as dead certs for the awards. I'm counting on the film 'Gigli' with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez to get a clean sweep.

The film has earned some of the worst reviews any film has ever had. But there's more. Many people were sickened by the overexposure of the on-off relationship of Ben and Jennifer ('Bennifer') in the media. This is their chance for revenge. I've laid out about #250 in bets at prices less than evens, but I'm confident. Wish me luck.

I should also update my final result on 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'. I only made #90 out of it from an outlay of #300. I was a little disappointed with this but earning 30 per cent on your money in less than three weeks is not to be sniffed at. You don't get that at the building society.

The amazing part is that much of what I initially forecast was completely wrong. I said that only four people could win. None of them made the last three! The winner was someone I said was too young.

I was very glad that made the decision from the start that I wouldn't play the eviction markets. Had I done so I would have continually backed Jenny Bond to be next out and lost every time. In a million years I would not have expected her to come second.

Brocket would have been a big winner for me and it looked like he was going to do the business once Johnny Rotten walked out. However he imploded because of his irritation with Jenny Bond. He made jokes about wanting to strangle her on the same day as the conviction of a man for strangling his girlfriend in what was said to be a sexually motivated crime. Brocket's timing could hardly have been worse.

Kerry confronted Brocket about something when he had been unreasonable. I've forgotten what it was. Being seen to combat someone who is 'out of order' is often the key to winning these elimination shows. It is what propelled Craig to win the first series of Big Brother.

So how did I win, given that my early forcasts were wrong? Well, that's the beauty of exchange betting. You don't have to pick the winner. You can also lay a loser, which I did with Jordan on the basis of advice from an expert on these markets. I also backed Brocket at long prices and laid some of it back when his price shortened. And I put some money on Kerry once it seemed certain that only she or Brocket could win. I nearly put a lot more on her but I was keen to lock in a profit and go 'all green' so I didn't push the boat out. I won't be so cautious next time.

The real lesson is that it's not about picking winners when there is so much betting-in-running. It's about the trading. There are a lot of people on Betfair who overreact to fresh information and they should be exploited. I feel I've got a lot better idea of what to look for next time the show is on and I can't wait for it to start.

_ DY at 3:21 PM GMT
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Friday, 27 February 2004
What do they teach them in journalism school?
This story saddens me. Click here!

It's such an opportunity wasted. A company director gets obsessed with a prostitute with a 34DD chest. He embezzles from his company until it is broke.

And the headline writer can't even come up with the obvious: "Crooked boss sees healthy firm bust." He's nearly got it, but either he's missed it or lost his nerve.

Did Benny Hill die for nothing?

_ DY at 1:16 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 27 February 2004 1:17 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 25 February 2004
Playing the villain.
Lately I've been getting really irritated at the number of posts I see on poker discussion forums that are titled `Poker in xxxxx'. I always click on them thinking that there is a tiny possibility that someone has been to play there and has written a report about it.

But it never happens. Instead such posts are merely requests for information, usually from people who haven't lifted a finger to help themselves. Yesterday I snapped after someone in Penzance named Ben wrote on Gutshot to ask about poker in Torquay, as he had heard that there were poker games in the town's only casino. I was really hoping for an update about the action there, but as usual it was just a request for information. So I angrily wrote:

"It's a shame that there aren't any telephones in your part of the world or you could call directory enquiries and contact the casino to ask them. I'm getting a little tired of clicking on posts that say 'Poker in X-ville' and finding out with 100 per cent reliability that they are lazy requests for information rather than news or information supplied.

A brief rummage through my drawer finds an old membership card with the no 01803 294901. I think it's still valid. Now call them and write here about what you learn from them."

It was a little harsh as the person asking did say that he was an internet player who hadn't ventured out to play live yet. I should perhaps have waited for another victim, but his snotty reply erased any sympathy I might later feel:

"Yo David.

Thanks for being so utterly patronising. I'm sorry that you had to read a post about a card room not based in the hamlet of London. I'm sure that if I ring the casino I can garner the relevant info as regards the games they spread etc. However I'm not sure that they'll be able to give me the background information I was looking for. E.g. general information about the experience of playing there, the quality of the opposition and what games/times are softest, and perhaps relayed in the context of this being my first time playing in a card room.

I mistakenly thought that this forum might be the perfect place to discover such things,(posts on 2+2 I assume would not be very productive) but no, I discover that I am in fact lazy for not going into the card room blind of such knowledge and then selflessly volunteering it on the forum for others. That in fact I should be an information gathering service for those that live in the real poker world and not "x-ville" as you put it. You londoncentric XXXX.

This was my first foray into this "Poker Collective" I am going to assume that not every member is as rude, patronising and ignorant as yourself and will continue to persevere here. As to you David happy suck outs and bad beats."

Perhaps I deserved some of this, but it's a lot of attitude from someone who's never even played the game! He's clearly been reading a few forum discussions in his time of playing online and has already acquired a disdain for those who tell him things he doesn't want to hear. Remarkably he attacks me for being Londoncentric when it's quite obvious that I want to read about poker outside London or I wouldn't have clicked on a post about poker somewhere else.

It should also be noted that prior to this he had had one response from the owner of the website who said: "Your nearest casino with poker would be The Aviation club in Paris!" And that's really helpful.

Still, nobody had yet given our hero any information about Poker in Torquay. I wrote back:

"I love playing outside London. I've been to Torquay many times. The last time was December last year. I was looking forward to an update on how the games were going.

As for the other things you mentioned - like most provincial places, the poker is ?10 or maybe ?20 (I was hoping you could tell me) comps. "The quality of the opposition" is abysmal; "what games/times are softest" - there is isn't much to say. There will almost certainly be only one cash game and it won't be anything like what you've experienced before. Nobody will want to play hold'em with you. Not in the provinces. You might get some great 7-card omaha hi-lo split action.

Nearly everyone in Gutshot is London-based. I'm not strictly a member of the 'collective' but I've been more helpful than any of those who are."

Next to chip in was Guy Bowles who wrote:

"Well said Ben,

David is not a member of the collective, as you will see from the absence of his name from the member profiles. In fact, he has publicly stated he does not wish to join. I for one am pleased about this as he has the wrong attitude to be a member. He plays primarily for profit rather than enjoyment and has a stated policy of not helping new (or indeed, any) players on how to play better poker.

If you are ever up in our "hamlet" come along to the Gutshot cardroom where I can assure you of a friendly welcome."

I'll have to let you into a little secret here. Guy has gone far further than I in preventing knowledge from spreading. In an infamous thread about one year ago, someone asked what one should do holding AA in the early stages of the WSOP main event when the blinds are small and someone has gone all-in in front of you. Guy wrote back to say that he would give it some thought and pass, because he would only be an 80/20 favourite and was sure of getting a better spot to stick his chips in later.

It's pure bullshit and he knows it. I think I may have written in to disagree, which shows that I am not nearly cynical enough under pressure.

Anyway, I had to write back:

"Does nobody see the irony that I've answered his question and nobody else has?

As for "I discover that I am in fact lazy for not going into the card room blind of such knowledge and then selflessly voluntering it on the forum for others."

Well, er ... yes, that pretty much covers it. It would be really nice if people were to give once in a while instead of take. On several occasions I've written about places I've visited: Southampton, Dundee etc.

I certainly don't help people to play better. I learned the hard way.

My reasons for not wanting to join a 'collective' were because I don't go in for that pseudo-socialist image. Soon Gutshot will be a business and I am really looking forward to it.

The next post to appear was from an anonymous writer. It thanked Ben for mocking me:

"May I second the big thanks. Whenever I read a posting by this 'David Young' character, I'm invariably cheered. It's a remarkable comic construct you've invented, blustering, preposterous, self-regarding without any trace of self-awareness -- Bravo! Perhaps it errs too much on the side of pomposity to be entirely believable, but I recognise that's in the service of comedy and therefore only to be applauded."

Nice attempt at humour as far as it goes, though far from original. I got support from a few people including one named `Dave Young fan' who wrote:

"I'm with you Dave. Who wants to play poker for fun with a bunch of pussies? Keep earning!"

As things stand, I am the only person who come close to answering Ben's request for information, albeit begrudgingly. But I'm the villain when all I've done is let him into one of the best kept professional gambling secrets there is: "Do your own homework!"

What odds will anyone give me that Ben ever writes back on the forum with a report about his experience of Torquay if he ever does go? I doubt it. Why should he be "an information gathering service" as he put it?

That's my job, I suppose.

_ DY at 10:49 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 25 February 2004 10:54 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 24 February 2004
Celebrities with guts.
One of my Viz favourite characters is Roger Mellie 'the man on the telly'. Roger is a crude and brainless television presenter. Every one of his stories contained the same basic elements: He is given a new show to present. He gets totally drunk. He offends everyone and gets sacked. At the end, he is always shown pitching his next disgusting idea to his long-suffering producer.

In one story that made me laugh years ago, he pitched an idea for a show called 'Celebrity arseholes' in which members of the public are shown the sphincter of a famous person and have to guess who it is.

Last night I think I saw it.

I slumped in front of the television to see a show on Channel 5 called 'Celebrity Detox'. Four D-list celebrities were sent to a spa resort in Thailand where they were made to diet and endure daily enemas. There were also courses in various spurious new age activites but the enemas were the real story.

I had assumed that they would take place behind closed doors. But no! Viewers were shown the celebs from the chest up, while they lay on their backs and filled their colon with liquid. Each set up a camcorder so we could see their facial reactions. Although I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen, I certainly had my fingers in my ears at many points.

There have been many ridiculous celebrities shows recently but this one has beaten them all. What I find fascinating is that some celebs (Tamara Beckwith, Kim Wilde, Richard Blackwood and an Irish singer from either Boyzone or Westlife) were handed this as a proposal and each thought to themselves: 'Hmm. My career needs a bit of a boost. My fans must be missing not seeing me on TV any more. What they want is the sight of me grimacing and the sound of me crapping at high velocity. Where do I sign?'

Can we sink any lower?

_ DY at 2:07 AM GMT
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Saturday, 21 February 2004
Feel God's hate.
I like to look at atheist websites, as most of you know. I discovered one a few months ago called It's based on a few verses of the bible that appear less than flattering about figs, including the peculiar story of how Jesus cursed a fig tree because it was out of season when he wanted to eat from it. The story is told in St Mark Chapter 11 between verses 12-14 & 20-23 and also St Matthew Chapter 21 verses 18-20.

Call me na?ve but it was only yesterday that I discovered that the site, though based on genuine Bible verses, is actually intended as a parody of a religious and homophobic site called, which is run by a hate-filled minister from Kansas named Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Phelps sees himself as the final saviour of a corrupted United States - mainly corrupted by homosexuals. In fact the only country that he sees as being `correct' on the issue is Zimbabwe.

He hates George Bush for appointing an openly homosexual man as US ambassador to Romania.

He says that the attack on the US on September 11th 2001 was punishment from God for tolerating gays. He describes the heroic New York Fire Department as the Fag Fire Department for having a gay chaplin who died in the atrocity. He sees this as a fitting punishment. He pickets the funerals of noted homosexuals to declare that the deceased is burning in hell.

The most disgusting thing on his site is his page devoted to a lesbian who was killed by dangerous dogs: Click here! It shows a picture of her in flames and if you have the sound switched on you can hear a woman's voice scream in pain `Arghh. For god's sake listen to Phelps'. Depending on your mood, it's either hilariously funny or utterly sick.

The scary part is that he can support his revolting view with scripture. It makes you realise how fortunate we are to live in the present day, when few people form their views according to the written word of a more savage age. Once upon a time, people used to pay money to visit the lunatic asylum at Bedlam, to laugh at the deranged. Now, thanks to the internet, they are only a click away.

_ DY at 6:11 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 21 February 2004 6:18 PM GMT
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Saturday, 14 February 2004
Memories of Club 18-30.
A few days ago, I mentioned on the Hendon Mob forum that I had gone on a Club 18-30 holiday in the mid 90s. I was asked to tell some more about the trip and so I wrote a lengthy expose of my week in Ibiza. Many people have written to me to say that they found it very funny. I'm a bit shocked by this, as I assumed that everyone would have had a similar story to tell.

For the sake of those who don't read the Hendon Mob forum, I attach the story in its entirety. I forgot to mention one other vignette of the week: the time that a girl tried to chat me up. I asked her what her hobbies and interests were. In response, she listed the drugs she was taking.

Here it is again:


I was about 25 at the time and this made me a fossil by comparison with most people in the group. Despite the name, almost everyone was in their late teens. I went with a friend whom I had met on a skiing holiday the previous year.

I didn't know a lot about how such holidays worked. In particular I had no idea that the operator block booked the whole hotel. In a previous holiday to Spain I had enjoyed myself mostly by hanging out with some Germans and I expected to do this again. I brought some textbooks on German grammar to give my mind something to work on and improve my chances of communicating. It was a great disappointment to discover the lack of variety in the social mix of the hotel guests.

The first couple of days were OK but after that, drinking and dancing got rather stale for me. I looked for some Germans to mix with in town but there didn't seem to be many at that end of San Antonio. Desperately needing to give my mind something to do, I looked around the town for a language school where I might learn some Spanish. There were lots of schools offering English to the local Spaniards to help them work in the tourist trade. I wanted the opposite. I found someone who would teach me Spanish. By a weird irony, my teacher, a woman, was German.

I mentioned this to very few people in the hotel but word somehow got around. I was asked two questions about my lessons with the teacher.

Question 1 was 'What were her tits like?'.

Question 2 was 'So what's Spanish for "Do you like it doggy-style?"'

Another notable occasion was the Club 18-30 trip to an isolated beach further round the bay. It was awkward to reach over land as the roads were poor so we went there by a chartered boat. One guy, named Dan, the same guy who asked me Question 2, got so amazingly drunk that he went into a coma and an ambulance had to be called.

He wasn't seen for a couple of days after that but when I next bumped into him in the hotel corridor, the first thing he said to me was 'You know what ... they charged me #14 for that ambulance!' Failing to share his sense of outrage, I replied 'Dan, you stopped breathing!'.

My holiday coincided with the first week of Wimbledon and I read a report of a game between Henri Lecont and Boris Becker in a copy of the Star that one of the other guests had bought. I was shocked to see the use of WW2 stereotypes in the account of the game, in particular the line 'Becker crushed the token French Resistance of Henri Lecont ....'

I pointed this out to the guy who had bought the paper and said 'Look at this. It's disgusting to read this in the 1990s. Look at that "crushing the French Resistance" with capital F and capital R'.

I got a blank look in response; number unobtainable. I slowly recalled that he had told me that he worked in MacDonald's and that I was talking to someone who washed lettuce for a living and gave up.

I had somehow expected that I might bump into a few people who had just finished university or polytechnic with whom it might be possible to have a vaguely intelligent conversation. I never did.

_ DY at 6:11 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 10 February 2004
The battle for law and order should concern our daily lives.
I'm puzzled by news that the government is creating a new agency, inevitably dubbed "the British FBI", to tackle organised crime. The agency, whose real name will be the Serious Organised Crime Agency or "SOCA" for short, will not deal with terrorism or murder cases.

You can read the story here.

I can see the merits of better co-ordination across the force and of course I want crime reduced, but the move seems based on old-fashioned concerns to me.

For a start, one of the targets of the new agency will be drug smuggling operations. I personally don't worry much about drugs for the simple reason that I don't take them. It affects my life very little whether one tonne of drugs enters Britain next week or one thousand, because I won't be taking any of them.

Of course there are knock-on effects when others around me start taking them. But much of that is due to the expense of the hit to which any local heroin user is addicted. A junky's risk of death by overdose is due to the inconsistency in the purity of the drug. His crime spree is the direct result of his need for ready cash. His decision to inject small quantities with dirty needles, rather than smoke larger amounts with no risk of catching AIDS, is due to the expense of the drug. The expense is due to the illegality.

Drug laws are killing people!

I differ in my view on how drug crime should be tackled. If you take the view that drugs should be illegal, which it so happens I don't, then it would make more sense to me to attack the people who worsen the quality of life for everyone.

That would mean arresting those who harrass young people into taking drugs, if this ever actually takes place. It means taking little notice of the "Mr Big" types who live in yachts off the south coast of France, for the simple reason that their actions are not affecting my life in a direct basis. I don't see the point in being lenient with the former in exchange for information about the latter Why bother? Preventing pushers from selling on the streets is enough for me. I don't care about the rest of the supply chain.

The zero-tolerance approach, which was so successful in New York was based on a focus on "quality of life" crimes. These included aggressive begging, petty vandalism and theft. The results have been dramatic and I can't understand why more cities haven't copied the measures.

But I would go in a different direction with respect to drug laws. I would make the government the provider of narcotics, clearly labelled and unadulterated. Before anyone shakes their head in horror, please remember that the government makes billions from duties on cigarettes and alcohol; two drugs that kill far more people than any of the illegal narcotics.

I'm not alone. North Wales police chief constable Richard Brunstrom said exactly the same thing recently. Click here! Many of us know that he is right, but few politicians have the courage to say it.

But you ask, "What message would this send the young?" I have a simple answer to that. It would send the message loud and clear that they won't be able to make a living selling drugs in the future and will have to focus harder on getting good grades at school to improve their employment prospects. The easy money that their elder brothers and sisters used to make by acting as lookouts or intermediaries will be gone. Back to class, kids.

What comes over again and again when listening to the views of the public is that most of us would like to see the rank and file police being more effective at dealing with the crimes that affect our daily lives, like burglary. I don't see how this new agency can achieve this.

Interesting footnote: The word "Heroin" is actually a trade name patented by the German drug company Bayer. The product was intended as a remedy for coughs. You can see an advert for it from 1897 if you Click here!

_ DY at 2:59 AM GMT
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Monday, 2 February 2004
Update to my last post on 'I'm a celebrity'.
After I wrote about 'I'm a celebrity' I spoke to a friend who is VERY good at making money betting on TV elimination shows. He is a professional gambler who now spends most of his day trading the markets on Betfair and has never had to work in his whole life. In the first series of Big Brother, he correctly worked out the winner after only three days! I could not go ahead without consulting him first. His view on Saturday midday was:

He could not see Jordan winning. All her best 'assets' had already been on display. She has little to say and is lazy regarding the general duties of maintaining the camp. He encouraged me to lay her at the short prices available (3.75). His forecast said: 'As the group gets smaller, I think it will emphasise how little Jordan does'.

He agreed with me that Brocket was value in the 7 region.

He disagreed with my idea of laying Kerry, but agreed that Peter could be laid, although it would involve tying up a lot of capital.

He said that Alex Best should be bet at the high prices she was fetching (high 40s), with a view that she would last longer into the show and her price would shorten. He thinks that she could outlast Jordan. In particular, she had not yet performed a task and had no profile with the viewers. But that was soon to change as he explained: ...Alex doing task tonight, so her odds will now shorten. He stressed that last year, Linda Barker did absolutely nothing for the first four days yet still made it to the final three.

As a consequence of the discussion, I put #300 into Betfair and bet Brocket at 6.8, laid Jordan to potentially lose over #250 and bet a small amount on Alex. I have no other positions.

Since then, Jordan's price has drifted in the market, exactly as I want it to. As I write this she is at 4.9/5.0 to bet/lay. Early on this morning, my advisor was worried: Watching live feed, she has apologised for being lazy in first week, said she's ready to be herself and explained that since she left school and went into modelling she has always had everything done for her, so has never been in team environment; and is now getting on OK with Johnny.'

This was potentially a disaster and I had the dilemma of whether to hold out, given that he still didn't think she could win, or to take some profits. Luckily I had done nothing before his next e-mail: 'Forget last e-mail, Just got wind of The Sun front page about Beckham, that will go against her for sure.'

I had a look at the paper's website and found to my great relief that Jordan had made remarks insinuating a scandal involving David Beckham. What a close shave that was! This will turn the public against her, especially as she seems to be using the show to promote a forthcoming book. Good old-fashioned British jealousy should ensure that enough people hate her for trying to make more money from it. It's already been reported that she got #100,000 for the show and has ordered a Bentley.

This extract from the Sun is not likely to help either: JORDAN, tipped by The Sun to win, yesterday told Peter Andre she fancied him and was ready to dump lover Scott Sullivan. Jordan, who has already shared a steamy bedtime cuddle with Peter, moaned that Scott hadn't wished her luck before her jungle stint.

Exactly as he forecasted, Alex shortened from 46 to about 30 at time of writing. Brocket is unchanged. My best case scenario would be for Jordan to be eliminated and then for Johnny Lydon to walk out. That would be the 'perfect storm' for my positions. My advisor was in profit before the show started, as the advance market offered high prices on Johnny, which he knew would fall once it was clear that he wasn't a lunatic.

I'm hoping to reach that much revered 'all green' scenario, where you win whatever the outcome because of your successful trading. Wish me luck.

_ DY at 2:50 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2004 3:21 PM GMT
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Saturday, 31 January 2004
Thoughts on 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'.
I don't watch much television these days. Since getting flat-rate home internet access three years ago, my TV viewing has dropped about 60 per cent. It doesn't help that much of what is available on screen falls into a small number of categories, all of which hold no interest to me: gardening, home-decoration/property speculation and elimination games.

But I've made an exception for one of the last category. I have somehow found time in my busy life to see bits of series three of 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'. I don't recall seeing any of the first two series and I must confess that I'm only watching this one because of the gambling aspect to it. In fact, I cannot grasp how anyone can watch elimination shows without having bet on them. It's like watching horse-racing for the sheer spectacle of observing equine movement. It never happens.

Anyway, the 'special bets' sections of both Betfair and Betdaq allow betting on the eventual winner of the series. Being betting exchanges rather than bookmakers, they permit me to 'lay' bets as well as making them. This is important, as the way I see it, there are only four people who can win.

A summary of how I categorise the ten contestants, with their proability of winning:



Alex Best - 0.5 per cent
Diane Modahl - 0.5 per cent
Jennie Bond - 0.5 per cent
Mike Read - 0.5 per cent

Slender chance:

Peter Andre - 4 per cent
Kerry McFadden - 4 per cent

Slight outsider:

Neil Ruddock - 15 per cent


Lord Brocket - 25 per cent
Johnny Lydon - 25 per cent
Jordan - 25 per cent

Using these estimates, I can calculate the prices at which I am indifferent to laying or betting. I shall express them in decimal terms, where the number shown indicates the amount that a bettor would receive on a winning bet. For example, a winning bet on an even money chance would be 2.0, as the #1 bet is returned with a #1 profit. A figure of 4.0 means a 3-1 shot in the old-fashioned bookmaking parlance.

Alex Best 200
Diane Modahl 200
Jennie Bond 200
Mike Read 200
Peter Andre 25
Kerry McFadden 25
Neil Ruddock 6.66
Lord Brocket 4
Johnny Lydon 4
Jordan 4

I can compare these prices with those available on the exchanges. I must stress the importance of ignoring the prices you see in the high street bookmakers like Ladbrokes. As I have pointed out before, the high street chains are gradually withdrawing from the business of offering bets on anything that actually exists. They now make their money from roulette machines and slots principally. If they were forced to abandon the machines, many would close overnight. I once sat in a shop in Torquay with Neil Channing for part of an afternoon. In the time we were there, I saw about two other people place bets on horses in about two hours!

Comparison with the prices available at the exchanges reveals that Lord Brocket in a good bet, as is Neil Ruddock. Many of the others can be profitably laid. I haven't done it yet as I need to learn more about the eviction system but if it's run on a popular vote like Big Brother then I should act. It's all about having a variant perception.

So where do I get my estimates? Well, I see it as a big disadvantage to be young, as it's hard to display leadership, maturity and wisdom in your 20s when surrounded by others in their 30s, 40s and 50s. While many of those voting will be young themselves, they are not likely to remember the career of Peter Andre. You would need a microscope to find it now. The Atomic Kitten girl, Kerry, is too weak to last the course.

I also think it's a disadvantage to be muscular or big, as the shortage of food will be harder to bear. The effect is that Andre and Ruddock will tire and thus become boring to the viewers. The exception is Lord Brocket who despite being quite tall seems to be chirpy. But he's not as muscular as Peter Andre.

Johnny Rotten is the most chirpy of them all and to start with showed little tendancy to moan. He has been quite sensible thus far but I think he will start to irritate some viewers as the show goes on. He recently got annoyed by Jordan and ran away from the camp.

Why do I like Brocket's chances? Well, he is polite, speaks well and comes over as rather charming. He doesn't seem at all stuck up and is the only aristocrat I am aware of who starts an anecdote with 'I was at a Hell's Angel's party when....'.

The fact that he has been to prison (and public school) and served in the armed forces means that he is used to being stuck with people in a confined space and has had to learn how to get along with them. The only drawback is that he is a convicted criminal and this might deter some voters. On the other hand, many of us like to forgive people and Brocket doesn't excuse what he did. The prices available on him offer great value in my opinion.

The beauty of betting exchanges is that you don't have to get the winner right to make money. You can earn money merely be correctly anticipating the way that the prices move. If for example I lay Peter Andre at 17.5, as I could this morning, and his price drifts out to 40 as the show wears on, I merely have to make a bet on him at the bigger price to lock in a profit.

Many people make their money on Betfair merely by being good at forecasting how the betting money moves. They don't have to have any exposure to the actual outcome if they match their positions to their advantage later!!

There is one other exchange that I haven't mentioned. It's called and offers a far better commision structure than Betfair with far greater liquidity than Betdaq. Sadly it doesn't have a market for this show, which is a shame, as I would like to give it some business. In a later post, I will get someone to explain why it has long term cost advantages over Betfair.

Wish me luck!

_ DY at 3:10 PM GMT
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Friday, 23 January 2004
Historical comparison.
A few months ago, I gave a link to a scanned-in copy of a feature from the January 1946 edition of Life magazine titled 'Americans are losing the peace in Europe'.

Germany went on to have the world's third largest economy and it's easy to assume that things must have turned around pretty quickly, but in fact this isn't the case at all. The article is overwhelmingly negative and is full of the sort of comment that we've heard from Iraq. Just exchange 'Germany' for 'Iraq' and 'Hitler' for 'Hussein' and you honestly wouldn't know that what you were reading didn't come from the Independent's Robert Fisk!

But we all know that Rome wasn't built in a day, so we shouldn't expect Iraq to be transformed in weeks or even months. In coming to a judgement about the success or otherwise of the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, we should be able to look at the German experience to give us an idea of the time-frame over which any improvements can be expected. I never see this from the mainstream media.

So once again, I'm so grateful to the internet and to the phenomenon of blogging for providing me with some sense of historical comparison. A site called 'The Counter Revolutionary' has run a series of reports called 'Ghosts of occupations past'. It consists of scanned-in articles from the early post-war years. They paint a very bleak picture. In some cases I think it's just the sort of negative nonsense that we still get today, but not all. It's easy to dig up the old newspaper cuttings. So why do I have to look at another obscure hobby website, like mine, in order to get this perspective?

You can go the the Counter Revolutionary yourself at but it is slow to download unless you have broadband. So for the sake of those using a narrowband connection, I provide a summary of the newspaper stories from the era, with a precis in italics. I have fought hard to restrain myself from sarcasm at many points.

The last item, which concerns food riots in Hamburg, shows that the post-war planning of today is far improved from that of the 1940s.

New York Times, Oct 21 1945
Reich girls want return of Nazism
German girls and young women are the most fanatical Nazis among the civilian population according to a survey by the United States Office of Military Government. Girls up to 19 and women in their 20s were reported to be yearning for a new Fuehrer, opposed de-Nazification and were ready to excuse Hitler as a good man with 'bad advisers'.

New York Times, Oct 31st 1945
Germans reveal hate of Americans
Key quotes: 'The German attitude towards the American occupation forces has swung from apathy and surface friendliness to active dislike', '...numerous anti-American organizations throughout the zone and ... a rapid increase in the number of attacks on American soldiers. There were more such attacks in the first week of October than in the preceding five months of the occupation.'

New York Times, Dec 3rd 1945
Germans declare Americans hated
An exhaustive compilation of opinions of Germans in all walks of life revealed 'bitter resentment and deep disappointment' with the Americans in the first six months of the occupation.

New York Times, Dec 27th 1945
Russians spread efficiency and Communism in Germany
It's enough to report the article's subtitle: 'US writers find zone ahead of ours in returning local rule - industry and farming revive, re-education gains'.

New York Times, Jan 13th 1946
US prestige drops after GI protests
US troops demonstrated in Berlin, Frankfurt and elsewhere demanding to be returned home.

New York Times, Jan 20th 1946
Dark German outlook encourages resistance
Quotes: 'Dissatisfaction with the occupation and with the state of Germany under occupation is growing. The German people have never had any respect for Americans as soldiers and recent demonstrations by homesick men in uniform have not increased our prestige'... 'The next ten years present a picture so sombre to the average German that it will not be surprising if young men and women turn from the exhausting sober tasks of reconstruction to the dramatic and dangerous life of the Underground'.

New York Times, Feb 15th 1946
US seen as 'fumbling' its job in Germany.
The newspaper's foreign correspondent speaks at a public gathering in New York and informs the crowd that the US has 'fumbled' its job of re-educating the Germans in democracy, while by contrast in the Soviet sector, a 'positive and explicit program' had made it 'only a matter of time' before all Germans there were Communists.

New York Times, Feb 25th 1946
Germans return to nationalism
Key quotes include 'young discontented Germans will build the resistance movement of tomorrow' and 'the German people, awakening from the trance into which they fell after May 1945, were denouncing the four-power partition and occupation', and '...former German officers and soldiers are the most active adherents of the new nationalism. They criticize but seldom support the political parties now in being and they are insolent, mischievous and bitter opponents of the Allies' occupation. German policemen say that the attacks made against Germans working for the military government in the various zones are almost invariably planned and carried out by war veterans.'

New York Times, Feb 28th 1946
Allies asked to pool food to avert crisis in Germany
In the British sector, daily rations were cut from 1,500 calories to 1,040 per day!

New York Times, March 2nd 1946
6,000 GIs in Europe are AWOL
This compared to a wartime peak of 15,000.

New York Times, March 24th 1946
British to quell Hamburg rioting
'British occupation officials announced today that they were prepared to use military armour to quell German hunger rioters in the British zone'. The British also mentioned 'sabotage groups taking advantage of the tension resulting from the general hunger'.

_ DY at 6:10 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 23 January 2004 6:34 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 20 January 2004
Right out of order.
My friend Dominic often remarks that one of the biggest mistakes that politicians and thinkers on the right ever made was to allow the term 'Far Right' to be used as a term for racists. I agree.

In conventional terms, 'Right' and 'Left' refer to different economic views. The Right believe in private property and free enterprise. The Left believe in state ownership or regulation of industry.

But somehow, the term 'Far Right' has come to mean 'racist' without it having any clear connection to an economic viewpoint. Are the parties considered to be 'Far Right' actually in agreement with right wing politics? Let's see what the British National Party has to say about economics:

Globalisation, with its export of jobs to the Third World, is bringing ruin and unemployment to British industries and the communities that depend on them. Accordingly, the BNP calls for the selective exclusion of foreign-made goods from British markets and the reduction of foreign imports. We will ensure that our manufactured goods are, wherever possible, produced in British factories, employing British workers. When this is done, unemployment in this country will be brought to an end, and secure, well-paid employment will flourish, at last getting our people back to work and ending the waste and injustice of having more than 4 million people in a hidden army of the unemployed concealed by Labour?s statistical fiddles.

We further believe that British industry, commerce, land and other economic and natural assets belong in the final analysis to the British nation and people. To that end we will restore our economy and land to British ownership. We also call for preference in the job market to be given to native Britons. We will take active steps to break up the socially, economically and politically damaging monopolies now being established by the supermarket giants. Finally we will seek to give British workers a stake in the success and prosperity of the enterprises whose profits their labour creates by encouraging worker shareholder and co-operative schemes.

That's from the BNP's own website. It's interesting to read an argument that globalisation is bad because it favours the third world at the expense of the western nations. I'm more used to hearing people arguing the opposite. Of course, both are wrong. Globalisation is good for both sides. The trouble is that there is so little of it going on.

And what of the National Front? Here are the NF's economic policies:

Restrict foreign imports so that the goods in our shops are made in Britain by British workers.

Ensure that the wealth created by British people is invested in the future of this country and not sent abroad.

Eliminate speculators and their take-over bids by giving British people direct ownership of their place of work.(!!!!!!!!!!)

Reduce VAT on all items and abolish it on some items.

Withdraw from the European Community so that British people can gain control of their own economy.

Reintroduce exchange controls(!!!!!!!!!!)

Introduce stable and low interest rates to give confidence to businesses.

I'm not suggesting that many people vote for the BNP or the NF because of their economic policies, but it's still interesting that when both had to come up with an industrial policy, they displayed the same sort of anti-globalisation and anti-private property rhetoric that one hears from the Left.

Or do I mean the 'Far Left'?

_ DY at 4:16 PM GMT
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Thursday, 15 January 2004
Indifferent strokes.
I found this article in the print version of the Independent today (can't find it online unfortunately). I shall quote it in full, as it's short. The italics at the end are mine.

"Spanish Imam jailed over women-beating text"

The imam of Fuengirola, Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, has been sentenced by a court in Barcelona, Spain, to 15 months in jail for inciting violence against women in a book that described how to beat a woman without leaving marks. His lawyer is to appeal, saying the imam merely reproduced centuries-old Islamic principles and was the victim of 'unjust' media pressure.

So I guess that makes it acceptable then?

_ DY at 7:56 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 14 January 2004
Diff'rent strokes.
Isn't it annoying when someone says something similar to what you believe, but goes too far and makes a mess of it! Just such a thing has happened to me recently with the case of Robert Kilroy-Silk. Due to a secretarial error, an article that he wrote several months ago was re-published in the Sunday Express the week before last. Whereas before, the article appeared in the context of a discussion about whether Arab states were justified in having hostility towards the US, this time the article appeared in isolation and was altered by the newspaper to refer to Arabs individually rather than Arab states.

Kilroy-Silk made some mistakes in his piece, the most shocking of which was grouping Iranians (Persians) with Arabs, but his message contained a germ of truth. Many people have supported him in his dispute with the BBC because they feel he has expressed something that needed to be said: that Arab states have failed. Their economies are poor. Their societies produce little in the way of culture that most of us in the non-Arab world buy and their main diplomatic and commercial importance comes from pure luck: the possession of oil. The lack of proper democracy means that resources are not applied to the broadening of education or infrastucture for the many. In most states, the division of wealth is far less equitable than it is in the liberal democracies of western Europe, North America and Australasia.

This matters. In particular it's important because the chasm between the West and the Arab world is the main cause of the current wave of terrorism. Not everyone has grasped this. Last week I watched the BBC's Question Time and was dismayed to see that in the middle of a discussion about the usefulness of air marshalls on hijacked flights, someone in the audience made a remark about the need to address the 'root causes of terrorism'. He then went on to talk about poverty. Sadly this got a round of applause from certain members of the audience.

How can such ignorance persist? The majority of the hijackers on September 11 2001 came from wealthy Saudi families. They were not poor. Osama bin-Laden had a personal net worth of something in the region of half a billion dollars. What poverty were they talking about?

What has happened here is that audience members projected their own values on other people and ended up sympathising with a point of view that doesn't exist. When confronted by the fact that people were prepared to kill themselves in order to attack others, many people think that they would only do this under the most terrible provocation. It therefore follows to them that some awful provocation must have happened.

But it's not like that. There is resentment in the Arab world towards the West. It has a little to do with Israel. It has a little to do with the US's close relations with the Saudi princes who have sucked the country dry. But the main cause of the resentment comes from the chasm between the Islamic world's expectations of its own international significance and the reality of its relative unimportance.

Islam is a revealed religion. Its followers believe that they have the most recent word of God from the last messenger. The result of living the Islamic way of life is supposed to be the bliss of living as God intended we should. Islam is a social code in addition to a relationship with mankind's alleged creator.

And that's all very fine and dandy in isolation. The problem occurs when certain devout Muslims notice that in diplomatic, military, economic and cultural terms their nations are miles behind the West with no sign of catching up. "How can this be?", they ask.

One answer is to believe that the West has been seduced by the devil and is being rewarded in material terms in return for the sacrifice of its citizens' souls. That was the view of the Ayatollah Khomeni who led the 1979 revolution in Iran. That is why the US was called 'The Great Satan'. There are many in the West who believe that this term was justly applied because of Western actions in Israel, Vietnam, Cuba and elsewhere. They are wrong. They are merely projecting their own values onto another society.

Muslim fanatics believe that their societies are being punished by God for not following the strict word of God. What they cannot grasp is that in most causes their societies are hindered because they have followed the word. It's no surprise to us in the West that their societies suffer when they neglect the education and equality of women, place religious teaching as the equal of scientific enquiry and dismiss democracy.

Since the revelation of the word of God to Muhammed, the West has acquired another even more recent way of life: Liberal Democracy. The new Western 'religion' includes such heresies as secular government, equality for women, democratic elections every four or five years and full freedom for banks to charge interest on loans (strictly forbidden in Islam). The results are there for all to see.

It's like swimming. There are several styles: the Breaststroke, the Backstroke, the Butterfly and the Crawl. All move you through the water, but if you want to win a freestyle event you have no choice but to use the Crawl, even if you prefer the Breaststroke.

The West has the Crawl. The Arab nations have the Breaststroke. We will always beat them and some of their people will always hate us for it. Unless change is implemented, the chasm will grow wider and wider, especially if dependence on Arab oil is reduced.

And that's the real motive for what the US did in Iraq. The Neo-con agenda is to create a liberal democracy in a region of the world where anti-US resentment was incubating attacks like those on September 11 2001.

Iraq was the most secular country in the region, thus giving the project the greatest chance of success. The exact same thing was done to Japan after the war. A nation of suicide bombers (then called Kamikazi pilots) and women oppressors who believed in their own racial superiority and right to govern neighbouring states in a "co-prosperity sphere" was transformed in less than a decade to a democratic, roughly capitalist country. Attitudes take longer to change than laws, but 60 year later Japan is a nation at peace with itself and its neighbours, making huge contributions to science and culture.

The same is required in the middle east. Either we see this though or they kill us.

Blair understands this and was never a poodle in endorsing Bush's desire for regime change. It's his own gut feeling too, as stated in a little-reported article in the Telegraph of 14th July last year:

Click here!

_ DY at 1:35 AM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2004 2:03 AM GMT
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Sunday, 11 January 2004
Where are the WMD?
I must admit to being mildly surprised that no nuclear weapons have been found in Iraq. It seems so out of character of Saddam not to have been trying hard to acquire them. I question whether he was being lied to by his scientists about the extent of their progress. Who would want to be the one to break the bad news to him that the uranium enrichment programme was't quite on track?

It's also possible that Iraq was fooled into spending money on useless technology and research by foreigners in the same way that middle-class kids get sold oregano instead of cannabis when venturing into the ghetto for their weekend fix. It's not that far fetched. In fact something similar forms part of the plot of 'Back to the Future'.

Of course the coalition attack on Iraq did locate evidence of WMD construction ... in Libya! So it can't be said to have been a total failure if measured purely in terms of removing weapons from our enemies. The fact that Colonel Gaddafy started his discussions with the west around the time that he saw that Britain and the US were serious about removing Saddam cannot be a coincidence.

One of the drawbacks to Tony Blair's attempts to get UN approval for the war was that it gave the former Iraqi regime several months to hide anything that it wanted to get rid of over the Syrian border. It wouldn't be a great shock to me if this occured. After all, Syria is also run by a Ba'ath party. Part of me believes that something was moved there in that 'rush to war' that dragged on for months and months and months.

Now comes a report that the weapons were moved there. It comes from a Syrian journalist who recently defected. He has terminal cancer and thus now has no reason to fear retribution from his government.

You can read what he has to say if you Click here!

I don't know what to make of this. However, I am sure that the world is going to be a safer place since the fall of Saddam. I noted earlier this week that the countries that have been bombed by Islamic extremists are those that opposed the US actions. I forgot to mention in the list the Chechens who stormed into the theatre in Moscow. Their cause was not connected to the situation in Iraq, but to me it's notable that the Russian decision not to support the US against a muslim nation didn't lead the Chechens to relax in their war against the Russian government. I also forgot that the shoe-bomber Richard Reid boarded a flight from Paris to Miami for his attempt at mass murder and would have killed French people along with Americans had he succeeded.

In fact I can't think of any attack on any of the countries who did give support to the US. Poland, Australia, Portugal, Britain and Spain have not been targeted. What is the lesson here? Could it be that strength is respected and weakness attacked?

_ DY at 3:20 AM GMT
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