The Gambling Problem

When I first started this blog I mentioned that I would write about my ‘hopes and fears’ for my son. The biggest fears most parents have are the well documented addictions. Smoking is one for sure but it is alcohol and drugs that most parents worry about.

But there is a fourth threat. One that is not only still socially acceptable but actively encouraged on TV and other forms of media. Gambling!

The Advertising Scandal

While alcohol is socially acceptable it is closely monitored when it comes to advertising. At least it used to be.

When I was growing up adverts for cigarettes and alcohol partially filled the TV screens. Then tobacco advertising was phased out – rapidly becoming non-existent. I don’t recall any for gambling.

Nowadays? Wow! It is so different.

My young son is growing up in a world where gambling is the new sexy. Apart from all the national, state and regional lotteries the airwaves are full of it. And these gambling airwaves are everywhere now due to mobile phones and the internet.

In Spain many of the gambling ads on TV are fronted by top footballers (mostly south American). Other gambling adverts are performed by famous and trusted TV personalities and actors.

In UK I noticed an ad with a very well-known sports star; none other than the global super star himself, Usain Bolt. That advert was for online poker.

These sportsmen – and they are always men – are not only (supposed) role models. They are heroes to young boys. And the not so young too. Many adults, who admittedly should know better, are suckered into the world of gambling by these sports icons.

The obvious question…

How can the politicians ban cigarette advertising and regulate the hell out of beer ads while allowing such hero-worshipped “stars” to advertise gambling?

Gambling like alcoholism, drugs and smoking is a serious addiction. While not directly affecting one’s health in the same way as the other three it can lead to serious problems devastating the lives of the gambler and his/her family. If gets out of hand It can rapidly destroy lives more quickly than booze and cigarettes combined.

Finally they are expressing concern

Recently there have been calls to regulate gambling advertising more strictly. The problem is now being discussed at least.

While I do not (yet) worry about Dani becoming addicted to gambling I do think things are getting out of hand. In further posts I will look more closely at the regulations on all these addictive habits. Comparing the rules then and now.

Meanwhile, ask yourself this question: Do you think there is too much gambling advertising?

Radio Ga-Ga-Garden

It’s amazing what you find on the internet these days. It still surprises even me.

Every now and again you come across a website that just impresses you. This one is great. It was introduced to me by a good friend of mine who clearly has too much time on his retired hands. Only joking Neil. Thanks for this one mate…

World of Radio

This internet site shows you all the radio stations operating in any country, any area, anywhere on the planet. Move the globe with your mouse to a country and region and zoom in. The website picks up the radio channels showing them as green dots.

By moving over the green dots you select the radio station. It’s one of those internet sites that you can play with all day. You are quite likely to find a radio station near where you live that you never knew existed.

Pass it on….

The website is www.radio.garden

Please forward this blog post to anyone you know who may be interested in this radio website. Spread the word…

2022 Football World Cup in Spain?

Here’s a bold prediction: Spain will host the next world cup. Football world cup that is. The Mundial.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar some years ago you may recall. So, you may be wondering, what on earth is this old dad going on about?

Qatar and Sport

Qatar recently stage the Athletics World Championships. Despite attempts by certain sectors of the mainstream media to put a brave face on it, the championships were widely considered to be a disaster. A virtually empty stadium for most of the events and high temperatures were the two biggest criticisms. Some athletes collapsed during some of the longer events.

So, imagine a game of football lasting a minimum of 90 minutes. Never mind a game going to extra time – another 30 minutes – and then a penalty shoot-out! Maybe some people would quite enjoy seeing some of these over-paid footballers collapsing due to heat exhaustion. I could see the irony in that. But let’s not be cruel.

Get the drinks in…?

Forget the weather for a moment. What about the lack of alcohol?

As we all know football fans around the world love a party. And that generally involves drinking alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

Really though. What footie fan would want to go? I have been to Qatar. You can only drink in the hotels. But only in the hotels. This means that football fans will be restricted to partying in their hotels. Which I am sure they will do quite well. But surely that is not the point.

They may allow drinking in “fan zones” – time will tell but if it is only in hotels then fans will be stuck there all day, every day… There is very little else to see and do.

Then there will be the inevitable rule changes. Quarters no doubt, instead of two halves. Allowing the players time to recover and rehydrate. It will not be good for old fashioned supporters of the beautiful game.

If Qatar still hosts the tournament I am tempted to say that I hope nobody goes. Many will still go however; no matter what.

The Claim for Spain

And as we all know, Spain is one of the world’s biggest and best loved tourist/holiday destinations. Rightly so. This means that all the infrastructure is all there. Hotels, public beaches and tourist attractions aplenty. Spain also has an excellent public transport system on top of the well-known (tourist industry driven) airport network.

Oh! And plenty of places for fans to have a drink Before, during and after the games.

The stadiums are also ready to go with some of the worlds biggest and best football teams playing in Spain.

Track record

Now, there may be several countries that could stake similar claims to Spain. But Spain now has a track record of stepping up to the mark. Madrid successfully hosted the south American cup final between Boca and River. To successfully stage that event on such short notice speaks volumes. And, as far as I know still, there was no reported violence. (For more on this please see previous posts here…and here.)

Personally, I don’t think the world cup should have been given to such a small, desert country, for all the obvious reasons. I am sure that this is a topic which will be talked about a lot in the coming months. But if any country needs to step in and correct that mistake then Spain is surely it.

Naturally I also have selfish reasons for that. I would love Dani to see it in his own country.

Holidays in the Sun

The more you think about it the more it seems logical. Why on earth would football fans want to visit Qatar for a tournament? There is no obvious reason. I can see even the most ardent fans staying at home to watch the matches. Or, more likely, watching football on TV while sitting in a Spanish bar on holiday.

That is more or less what I did myself back in 1982. The last and only time Spain hosted the football spectacular. That was the first time I ever visited Spain. I remember quite vividly the games I watched including the final in which Italy beat Germany. Or West Germany, as they were then known – that’s how long ago it was.

Apologies to the many football fans in Qatar for starting this rumour (or should I say, ‘prediction’?). But really? Was it ever the right place to host the world’s biggest sports tournament?

I am not a betting man, but I might just try and get some bookmakers odds on this prediction…

Clowns and Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching and Dani is getting excited already. He calls it his favourite fiesta. What he really loves about it is dressing up as a vampire, mummy or zombie. This year he is planning a mixed bag costume. It involves a vampires cape, skeleton suit and a frightening mask of some deranged clown.

What is it with clowns and Halloween?

Send in the clowns
Dani asked a very good question the other day. We were out walking to the shops. Looking for Halloween costumes actually.
“Dad, why are there more scary clowns in films than funny ones?” he said.

It was a good question. And the answer was certainly not immediately obvious. In fact it still isn’t. He came up with the question because this past week saw the premieres of two big movies. One called “It (Chapter 2)” and the other is “Joker”. On almost every main road junction there are posters advertising one or both of these films. Every now and again he would ask about the two clown characters on those posters.

One (It 2) is definitely of the horror/terror genre. The other is a DC Comics character. But we are not talking about Cesar Romero in the 1960s Batman TV series here – my particular favourite by the way.

While Cesar Romero’s Joker was obviously a nut job, that TV series was pure comic book this latest Joker movie is definitely a darker, deeper look at the DC comic villain. I had to tell Dani right away that he will not be watching either movie any time soon. When his old dad goes to see it is another story.

But back to the question.
I could not really answer it. Why are there more scary clowns than funny clowns in the movies? In general even? I made up some pathetic answer. Basically because I do not know the real answer – if there even is one. Clown costumes have come to be associated with Halloween more than making people laugh. 

Does anyone know the answer?

Meanwhile…

Here is that mask….

yeah. Not exactly nice or funny is it? Well, he certainly thinks so. He just thinks this mask is funny. This year we have planned to be over at his nana’s house for Halloween. Dani can have a fright night party with some of his cousins. More on that to come….

A Chinese Puzzle

I have said it before and will say it again; this blog is for Dani to read when he is older. Plus, anyone else who may find it interesting, funny or just weird!

Very few read it; normally. But all that has just changed. At least this past week… Sort of…

The Dad (or Mum) Bloggers…

Regular readers (and there are not that many) will know that I have said on several occasions that this blog was never intended to generate a mass following. Well that part has certainly worked. The only people who read it are those I send the links to such as family and friends Again, that is OK with me.

Some people write these mum or dad blogs with the intention of enticing thousands of followers. This can lead to a site that generates income if there are enough readers. There is no chance of that happening with my blog. And again, that’s fine by me.

Hit rate…

The Word Press blog site I use gives you statistics on many things. One such tool is the site traffic stats. Normally my weekly number of ‘hits’ hovers around the one hundred mark. So, imagine my surprise when I checked how many ‘hits’ I had received over the past week…

Thousands! Yes, thousands! As if that was not odd enough; they were almost all from China.

What on earth is going on?

A Chinese ‘Google’?

A little investigation revealed that my blog site had popped up on thousands of searches in China on a search engine called ‘baidu.com’. It looks a bit like any Google search page but this company is very definitely Chinese. It has been going since the year 2000.

Naturally, I tried it. I typed a few things – in English obviously – and low and behold my blog popped up near the top of the search list. The very top in one search. That is something that does not happen in our search engines. Unless you pay for it!

What exactly were all those Chinese people searching for I wonder?

Is it because of the ‘one child rule’? Or could it be because that rule has recently been relaxed so many Chinese are now having children much later in life?

If anyone knows please let me know.

Or could it be something else altogether? Read on…

Other search results….

A few links to some medical sites revealed some odd results. Like do older dads have smarter/brainy sons? Another site was about older dads having ‘geekier’ sons. I think Dani fits well into both of those categories at the moment. He is both clever and geeky.

There were even a lot of (how shall I say) more inappropriate sites that popped up in some of the lists. I was beginning to think that searching for anything like ‘old dad’ was just as likely to produce a list of porn related sites. The whole thing may now be less of a mystery. Well at least you have to see the funny side eh?

I wonder if they are typing their search in Chinese or English? All very curious…

15 minutes of fame…

I believe it was that 1960s artist Andy Warhol who said: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. Well I think this old dad just had his 15 minutes of fame. Albeit on a Chinese search engine. Soon it will be ‘back to reality’.

I just put it all down to a temporary blip in a new Chinese search engine. Pretty soon my blog will drop off the page. Along with any chance of (more than 15 minutes) fame and fortune on the Chinese media.

One last thought:

I wonder how many of you will now go and type “old dad” into the search engine on your phone or PC? Hahaha…

Settled in School (plus a kids’ books review)

Everything seems to be going well with school.

Dani has been back for almost a month now and this week they have restarted the judo classes. He also has basketball lessons this year. Although he definitely needs to grow a lot more if he intends to take that sport seriously. That said there are one or two players in the Spanish national team who are not that tall – by basketball player standards. One of whom plays in the famous NBA in the USA.

This past month has been a bit hectic. I finished the work in Italy, returned to site and handed in my notice. The new job started just over a week ago but as the security needed to get on the site is still not approved I fond myself driving an hour and a half each way just to sit in the office. More or less with nothing to do. So, I decided to take this week off.

Homework…

I managed to get a flight over to Madrid and have just returned from taking Dani into school. He certainly seems to have settled into the routine. In fact he couldn’t wait to get into the building, thinking he was late – which we weren’t.

In his first year of primary school following three years of full-time nursery school he has homework. Pretty much every night he is supposed to read for 10 minutes and note down in his agenda the book title, how much he has read and which page he is on.

Each Monday he receives weekly homework sheets where the tasks are broken down into days of the week. He tends to do them all in one sitting and then hands them in the following Monday. Smart arse kid!

Isadora Moon

He is reading one of the Isadora Moon series of books. Quite advanced I thought for a kid who is not yet 6 years old. Not my idea of a good book but they are certainly popular. Written by an English author – Harriet Muncaster – these books have really taken the kids market by storm. The author is also the illustrator so top marks to Harriet. And top dollar too I dare say.

While Isadora Moon may be aimed more at girls it really doesn’t matter at that age. The current read is in Spanish while he has two others on the go.

Geronimo and Greg

There are two other series of books that Dani is currently into. One is the Geronimo Stilton stories and the other is the Wimpy Kid diaries. The latter he is reading with me in English.

For those who do not know here is a quick overview…

Geronimo Stilton is a mouse who lives in New Mouse City and works as a journalist. I have to admit I haven’t read them myself (yet) but it seems that this mild-mannered mouse just seems to get caught up in wild adventures. What a surprise eh? Cleverly the author – some Italian woman – has written the stories as if Stilton himself is the author. So even at book signings anybody can don the moue suit and pretend to be Geronimo Stilton – which is apparently what happens. Anonymity while being incredibly rich and mildly famous. A great idea by the writer. Whatever the reason these books are amongst the best-selling book series ever written.

The other book is in English. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a well-known series in the English-speaking world. Written by American author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney the books are the journals of Greg Heffley. Greg really is a wimpy kid about to hit his teenage years.

I like these books as they seem to be as much for adults as for kids. Not unlike the animated (kids) films being made these days. A few of the books in this series have been made into films.

There you have it folks. A look at what books young children are into these days. Or at least Dani…

The gift of reading…

Being able to read is a great thing which is often taken for granted by most people. It is easy to forget that there are adults out there who cannot read. Whose fault is that? The individual? Their schools? Their parents (if they have any)? Probably a combination. Another story for the old dad treatment in a future blog post maybe…

Big Week In Spanish Sport

Big Week in Spanish Sport

It has been a big week (or so) for sport in Spain. Just over a week ago Rafa Nadal won the US Open tennis tournament. Last Sunday Spain won basketball’s World Cup by convincingly beating Argentina in the final.

Last weekend also saw Dani start his swimming classes again.

Really more of a social event where he can chat with his swimming teacher. When she is trying to shout instructions from the poolside he has also taken to floating with his face out of the water but his ears submerged. Almost daring her to jump in and slap him. Well she has my permission. Despite all this messing about he is getting there, slowly but surely, and I cannot complain. He is way ahead of where I was in the swimming pool at his age.

We watched the basketball final and it was a good win for Spain. The team you would have expected to win the world cup – USA – were eliminated in the quarter finals. Apparently the top 25 players in the USA refused to go. Were not interested. Work that one out! Although I suspect it has as much to do with that NFL (American Football) national anthem nonsense as anything else. Look it up online.

As for the tennis…

I don’t like Nadal. I really can’t put my finger on it. I just don’t like him. But I do quite like tennis as a sport. It must have something to do with it being a lot like boxing…. Yes, really.

On that subject: Dani has recently expressed a slight interest in boxing so I may find him some gloves so he can try out a little bag work. It is probably just a passing interest. A very short-term thing. I do believe that at this age he should try any and every sport that they want to. Then hopefully he will find where their real interests lie. Then it will be the right time for parental encouragement.

Fireman Sam – Update…

If you read the previous post you will know about this one… Over the weekend I read a newspaper article which discussed this madness.

Some years ago in an effort to increase the number of females enlisting in the fire service, the government greatly reduced the requirements for height and strength. Still it did not work. Not only did that idea fail spectacularly but it had an unforeseen yet natural knock-on effect. It has reduced the number of big and burly men who manage to get in. In other words it has increased the number of weaker, more feeble men now fighting fires. Who thinks that is a good idea?

Poor Sam – the Fall Guy

“When I grow up I want to be a fireman.”

Not the worst thing a dad could hear his son say, right? Not that Dani has even hinted at any future career.

But if he ever did want to become a fireman my son’s chances of being one are actually getting slimmer by the day. Welcome to another day in the crazy world of political correctness.

An old Kid’s TV Show

The kids’ TV hero, Fireman Sam, is being attacked for being to ‘sexist’. Apparently, the show (which is over 30 years old) is not inclusive enough. I first read about this the other day. Now it is out there in the mainstream media.

The story broke when some county fire service made the ridiculous claim that the show is ‘not inclusive’ enough. Fireman Sam must be ‘sexist’ as he is putting women off joining the service. Or so they say…  So guess what? They have stopped using Sam as their mascot; in the warped belief that it may be putting women off joining the fire service.

OK. Let me set the record straight. I know from fairly recent experience (watching with Dani) that Fireman Sam is just about the most over the top, bending over backwards to be PC, children’s programme out there.

Allow me to explain…

It is set in the tiny fictional village of Pontypandy. There will be similar places all over the UK and believe me they are no metropolitan multi-cultural melting pots. Why would they be? But when did reality ever have any relevance?

Firstly, there is and always has been a female firewoman/fighter/person in the ranks. Her name is Penny and wouldn’t you know it; she is portrayed as the most sensible and most efficient in the team. The team comprises Sam, Penny, Elvis and the station officer Basil Steele. So the fire crew is 25% female. In fact you could say one third female if you take the station officer out of the equation. Current only 5% of firefighters are female in England. So far from not being ‘inclusive enough’, Fireman Sam is some 28% above the national average.

And more…

Forget the female firefighter numbers for a moment. Even back in the early (stop motion) episodes Pontypandy already had an Indian family and an Italian Café owner with the incredible name of Bella Lasagne Yes, you read that correctly; but you don’t hear Italians crying about it do you?

In later (CGI) episodes they even had an Australian helicopter pilot – flying a helicopter called “Wallaby 1”. So, no stereotyping there then. Perhaps they should have made the pilot an Aborigine?

All this in a tiny backwater village remember. You really couldn’t make this nonsense up. I just laugh at it.

Back to the real world…

Imagine for one moment if your son really does want to be a fireman. If you live in one of these places then his chances would be severely limited right? Wrong gender and all that. It’s not good is it?

This particular county (don’t know, don’t care), it seems, won’t be happy until there is a 50:50 gender split in their service. Despite the fact that nowhere near that many women want to apply. Still, never let the facts and figures get in the way of deranged idea eh?

And let Fireman Sam take the hit for that… Poor Sam.

More on Trees

Following on nicely from the recent post about Dani’s insightful view on trees I received a couple of things from friends.

It seems these recent fires in the Amazon are nothing new. Nor indeed anything to panic about. No: This news item has been manipulated especially by certain politicians for their own ends. Nothing new there then.

A Couple of Articles

The first article talks about the French president attacking Brazil’s leader. A good article showing that the French leader probably has another agenda. … Read it here.

The second is from a different source. It discusses the (apparent) increasing amount of greenery on our planet. If true then things are not nearly as bad as we are told by our honest politicians eh? Even if it’s not true you still have to wonder why such arguments are not being countered by the ‘green’ lobby and media. That alone is suspicious at least eh? You can read that article here…

This second article appears to come from an impartial source whose only aim is to inform people from all walks of life, on both the positive things as well as the potentially harmful..

Who to believe?

Now admittedly some such articles come from sources which do not agree with the usual mainstream media (and hence our illustrious leaders). But when all we see on TV is one side of the story it must be time to look elsewhere for another angle. Otherwise we are just sheep believing everything we are told on TV. The truth (as they say) must at least lie somewhere in between. Unfortunately our kids are bombarded with a single view.

Personally I choose to believe my own son and what he said the other week. Certainly above anything the mainstream media or politicians tell me.

Thankfully not another Greta…

Although Dani’s comment was quite perceptive it was just a passing comment. Not a constant preaching. It really makes me wonder what is going on with that scary Greta girl. If you don’t know who I am talking about just google that name and you will find it. I can’t quite work it out. On the one hand it seems as if she suffers from autism or something similar. My first thoughts were that she is being exploited. Surely a form of child abuse right? Whichever side of the argument you believe it is clear that she is being used by adults for their own agendas.

I will gladly take my boy’s passing comments if that is all they remain. In fact I look forward to having more in depth and scientific conversations on the subject.

But for now I am happy, that he is happy, playing with his games. Like the one we just played. That old classic ‘Twister’. Played out on a so called “single use” plastic mat shipped all the way from China. Very  eco-friendly eh? Maybe I will buy Greta one for Christmas…

A Little History

As so often happens with these posts I thought I would check something before publishing. So I decided to find out more about the history of that Twister game. I would have said it was a 1970s game. Probably because that’s just how far my memory goes back. In fact it was invented in 1966. Far tougher to play than I recall too. I have just been playing it with Dani and it was like a bloody gym workout.

From School to Retirement?

It was back to school today for the little fella. His fourth year of full time 9 to 5 school. His first in the proper primary section. Naturally I took the day off work to take him. Just as I have for the previous three years.

It has also been a landmark week for two of his cousins. Little Stan has now started school. Uniform and all. While Emily has made that biggest of leaps into high school (or senior school as we used to call it).

All of them oblivious to the fact that school could well be a complete waste of time. The world continues to become more crazy as each day passes. At least that is what you would believe if you took the media at its word. But here’s the thing: Whenever I think about such things I come to the same conclusion. It was always the same. It always reminds me of that Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire“.

For Example…

Something in today’s news immediately caught my eye. Robert Mugabe the former president of Zimbabwe has died at the age of 95. Back in February 2017 I wrote about a “Dinner List”. A sort of bucket list/wish list of famous people I would like to chat with over dinner. Mugabwe was on that list.

While Dani is starting real primary school I can recall very well the year I left school; 1980. Mugabe became president of what was then called Rhodesia in that year. It is not that I ever thought he was a great person but he always fascinated me. How does a man take charge of a thriving economy – supposedly one of the richest countries in the world at the time – and turn it into a complete basket case. Its a bit like one of those huge lottery winners who end up spending (or losing) all their winnings in a short space of time. Only to end up back where they started. In Mugabe’s case he held on to power for a very long time and certainly did not end up destitute. I am well aware of his shortcomings (many would say ‘crimes’) but I have always thought that he would have made for an interesting conversation.

School, Work and Retirement….

When I started writing this blog I mentioned that I wanted to be able to express my hopes and fears for my son’s future. The way things are going these kids will have to leave school and work till they drop. There will be no pensions by the time Dani leaves school – let alone tries to retire. Of course they will be expected to pay into the pension pot as we all do now. But there will be no return on their ‘investments’. It is just one big Ponzi scheme (see below).

That said of course the kids need to get a good education. At least to a standard where they can make informed decisions and choices later in life. They don’t have to all strive to be doctors, lawyers or even engineers (oops). I am not one for pushing kids to follow particular career paths. It should be their choice. But having a decent grounding – which really has to include a good standard of education – is still a big part of all that.

Hopefully they will all continue to enjoy school and make the most of it. Trust me kids; all that work stuff can wait.

Ponzi scheme: For those who have never heard that term or those who have but may not know what it means; here is a quick explanation:

A Ponzi scheme is a basically a form of fraud that attracts investors and pays out some profits to the early investors (but generally only in order to attract more investors). The scheme leads people to believe that profits are coming from genuine product sales or other means, but in reality it is the other investors who are the real source of funds. A Ponzi scheme can maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as new investors continue to contribute to the pot of money. As long as most of the investors do not demand full repayment and still believe in the non-existent assets they supposedly own a Ponzi scheme could run for some time.

The scheme is named after a real person. A certain Charles Ponzi who actually became infamous for starting and running such schemes way back in the 1920s. Wow! That’s almost 100 years ago!