Blogs

Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.


  • One for Sudoku Fans

    Candice Krieger
    Jul 2, 2009

    Earlier this year, I wrote about Israeli architect Eyal Amitzur who created a three-dimensional version of the popular puzzle Sudoku.
    His version, called Tredoku, uses the same rules as Sudoku but comes as a 3D image on the page. The game has since taken off appearing in syndication in newspapers around the world, including The Times. The game even has its own Facebook group with more than 4,500 fans.
    A freelance architect working in Tel Aviv, Mr Amitzur, 33, runs games design company Mindome. He was introduced to Sudoku two years ago but says he found it monotonous. Genius. My new line: "I don't do Sudoku because it's monotonous. Nothing to do with it being too hard." Anyway, he created a harder version that uses an infinite number of possible 3D shapes. I predict it will soon become a household to rival Sudoku. Watch this space (if, like me, you are unable to fill it in).

  • Press TV and censorship

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 2, 2009

    It's heartening that Press TV is, at last, getting the scrutiny it deserves. The propaganda arm of the Iranian government is being invesigated by OFCOM, Newsnight had a discussion last night with its MD and Martin Bright (which was, one has to say, embarassing given how awful the MD was) and presenters and commentators such as Nick Ferrari are leaving the station after it's reprehensible coverage of the Iranian elections.

    (BTW, here's my JC column last week on how TfL is happy to take Press TV's money despite knowing where it comes from and what it funds.)

    But I have to say that whilst I think the station should, as Martin put it on Newsnight, be left to wither and die in the mire of its own absurdity, I don't think it should be banned. I do not think it the business of the state, in the guise of OFCOM, to deternine who can voice their opinions and what they should be allowed to say.

  • A judge who speaks for the rest of us

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 1, 2009

    Can I suggest, please, that we appoint a new Lord Chief Justice? Her name is Angela Morris, and she is currently a recorder.

    Have a read of this and you'll see why:

    A knife-wielding burglar had a shock when he attacked a pensioner in his home - and discovered his victim was a retired boxer.

  • Fatah more popular than Hamas

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 1, 2009

    Haaretz published an interesting poll this week, which found that public support for Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has fallen to 18.8
    percent, compared with 27.7 percent in its previous poll in January:

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction is now more
    popular than Hamas with a 34.9 percent rating, up from 26 percent in
    January, according to the poll of 1,199 people.

    Khader Khader, head of the media unit at the East
    Jerusalem-based JMCC, said Hamas' popularity was hit by discontent in
    the Gaza Strip, where the group rules, over a lack of movement in
    Egyptian-sponsored unity talks with Fatah and in reopening the
    territory's borders.

  • Lies and more lies

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 30, 2009

    Ed Balls' lies - the word is now regularly used to describe the deliberately false statements of Gordon Brown and his acolytes - are begining to backfire.

    Daniel Finkelstein rightly refers to the Schools Secretary's performance this morning on Today as a "shameless...piece of political nonsense", and goes on to draw a fascinating conclusion:

    Ed Balls's desire to be Chancellor may have been personal, but Gordon Brown's desire to accede to this request wasn't.

  • "Best country on earth!"

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jun 29, 2009

     

    For more than sixty years, Jewish and Gentile supporters of Israel organised in the Anglo-Israel Association have been working away quietly in the parliamentary, academic and educational fields to create a better understanding of Israel in the UK and vice versa. On a shoestring budget and relying on a headquarters' staff of one, director Ruth Saunders, backed up by volunteers, the AIA has created a reputation for preferring fact to propaganda and private discussion to public argument. This is what probably helped it to pull off a major coup last week when, in the palatial Locarno Suite in the Foreign Office, former ambassadors of Israel to the Court of St James's and British ambassadors to Israel sat down together for a day-long "Ambassadors' Roundtable" sponsored by the Association.

    The more than 10 hours' of discussions were conducted under "Chatham House" rules  which means participants are free to use information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. Having said which, it is no secret that, the ambassadors apart, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Professors Martin Gilbert and Shlomo Avineri took a prominent part in the proceedings which were not without their heat - hardly surprising since the theme for the roundtable was "to address concerns about signs of mounting anti-Israeli sentiment in the UK."
     
    Reports circulating later suggested that a leading Jewish Tory parliamentarian set a snarling cat among the pigeons with a blistering attack on Israeli policies and her foreign minister. But for the rest things seem to have been much more measured. The kind of diplomatic approach adopted by participants was reflected in a brochure produced for the occasion in which former envoys in either country spoke for publication to Katy Ostro. Here, the ambassadors looked back, mainly with warmth, on their time in Britain and Israel. Sir Patrick Moberly (1981-1984} is still in touch with Israeli friends. What he admired most about Israelis was "their constant liveliness, their energy and determination It is these warm-hearted people that make Israel the country it is."
     
    Perhaps the warmest of all is Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles (2001-2003) who went on from Israel to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia and then Afghanistan and who is now the Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, a hot seat if ever there was one. Cowper-Coles told Katy Ostro: "Israel is the most wonderful country on earth. If it could attain peace with the wider region this would be an invaluable asset in every sense. I believe that one of the tragedies for the region is that many Arabs have happy memories of Jewish populations in their midst, such as in Baghdad and Cairo, and that the separation of their communities has distanced the many good things that were held in common. For Israel to survive, this common destiny between Arabs and Jews must be embraced."

  • Michael Jackson's Jewish children

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 29, 2009

    As we report,

    Michael Jackson's two elder children could be returned to the custody of their Jewish mother, Debbie Rowe.

    The children are Prince Michael I, who is 12, and Paris Michael
    Katherine, 11, who — according to halacha — would also be considered
    Jewish.

  • C'est la vie

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 29, 2009

    Another reason to groan at the unending Wacko Jacko drivel: it led to the Mail running out of space for my book serialisation.