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Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.

2Jul/11Off

David Haye is no mug

David Haye vs Ismail Abdoul, EBU (European) Cr...

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I've just read an interesting article by Paul Hayward of the Guardian on David Haye about tonight's fight against Wladimir Klitscko; and predictably a few well spoken people lamented the usual.

  • Klitschko looks in far better shape than Haye.
  • Haye is too small to be considered a legitimate threat
  • Haye has shown nothing at heavyweigtht and is about to be exposed as a decent cruiserweight and little more.

I wrote a comment to reply and thought it comprehensive enough to reblog here.

I don't normally agree with Mr Hayward, but I think several commenters are missing the key points he is making.

Like Lennox Lewis, Hayward is saying that the comparisons between David Haye and Muhammad Ali are not about boxing records, but are based on the fact that both are very brash even though they can articulate their thoughts very well. It's true that since Ali there have been LOTS of brash boxers, however many of them are just not articulate when they need to be. Whether you admit it or not Haye is.

In addition Haye is an athelete in the true sense of the word, he is agile, fast and has stamina. Athletic. (Ironically this is the probable reason for the decline in American heavyweight boxing, West Indies cricket and soon the Australian cricket team) This guy is no Tyson (who is still the most destructive fighter to have entered the ring despite his lack of staying power. People confuse being fit with being an athlete. There is no doubt, that Klitschko is a very very fit boxer, Tyson was too. But there is a huge difference between being fit and being athletic. Both have their pros and cons when it comes to boxing.

Lastly, all those denigrating Haye's size need to ask yourselves one thing. What would he have done if he was still a Cruiserweight? In the grand scheme of things, the answer is nothing. The man on the street would have a hard time naming 3 heavyweights let alone, 3 cruiserweights. There was nothing left for Haye in that division legacy-wise. Let the man try to earn his stripes as a heavy. There is nothing wrong with that.

Whilst I'm talking about the men on the street, I might as well mention that it is them who are likely to pay £15 for a pay-per-view fight. Not the average 45 year old with 3 kids, a wife and 1 friend. Yes, that guy might go to the fight, (lets face it these guys also go to the Grand Prix which is as close as your can get to affording just about any other sporting event,) however, mega-fights all make their money on PPV sells. The man on the street would be very likely at home with his mates, a few beers watching a couple of blokes trading punches in the ring. Coincidentally (if we exclude Apple) all your middle of the road brands happen to be the absolute biggest companies in the world. They make their money by peddling stuff to.....the man on the street. If Haye wins his fights, the money will follow in every way possible.

Tonight Haye will be in his toughest fight to date. I personally think the fight is 50/50, because in this division ANY heavy can knock ANY OTHER spark out with one punch and in addition Wlad is clearly a more than decent boxer. You wouldn't expect Haye to say it's 50/50 though would you? He has to be confident and I am loving it that he is. Otherwise he might have been too scared to fight. However win or lose, Haye is no mug. Take off those blinkers now.

Kudos to Paul Hayward for writing a well-balanced article that takes everything that has been said before, but puts in one coherent piece for those of us prepared to look at things in perspective. Here's to reality.

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1Feb/11Off

Obama to seek Bush advice for Egypt crisis

There once was a time when we all thought that Barack Obama was the luckiest man alive, however nowadays you'd have to say that not even the turn-meister Nick Clegg would swap places with Mr Obama.

Such is his luck that barely had he got a bounce in approval ratings following his handling of the Tucson shooting and his delivery in the State of The Union, than the Egyptian citizens came and spoiled it all. Obama and the US' policy towards Egypt and their autocratic President of 30 years has been a case of "better the devil you know". Like all such relationships it has only been comfortable when both parties have a weapon at hand.

However that strategy has been coming in for much criticism over the past few days, with Mr Obama and Hilary Clinton not quite calling for Hosni Mubarak to stand down  but to deliver more freedom, refrain from violence and other ambigious statements somewhat supporting the Egyptian Man On The Street.

The funny thing is that people are lining up to criticize Obama for not using stronger words and action meanwhile forgetting that only 2 years ago there was such a forthright American President who most of them absolutely detested by the end of his tenure. Make no mistake George W. Bush always liked to call a spade a spade, even going so far as to call a diamond a spade; just to uphold his straight-talking reputation. Had he been in power now, it's fair to conclude based on past outrage that we would all be in uproar at Bush's means and methods of exporting democracy.

It's a tough job being a leader, but one thing I think is better in this situation is for those in power to be realistic and wait to see which way the chips are going to fall. At this moment though severely weakened and discredited Mubarak may well hang-on. On the other hand the people could manage to overthrow Mubarak and where would a President who has been in support of him stand then?

It's totally understandable Mr Obama being cagey on this one. Or as it was called before Wikileaks, appearing to be diplomatic. Even a guy on the prowl for loose pickings in a pub at closing time knows not to put all his chips on one lass. Things are never as black and white as George W. Bush always had us believe. Remember the good vs evil BS he spouted for so long he was beginning to sound more like an arch-angel than a President?

In my book it's better to be a realist than an idealist; especially when the stakes are so high.

Karl Rove's biggest challenge was to present Mr Bush as a 'realistic idealist'.

16Aug/09Off

let the bankers get their money

Cut the bankers some slack. Greed is good.

Cut the bankers some slack. Greed is good.

I’ve just been reading about George Osborne (the opposition Conservative's Shadow Chancellor) statements about how bankers' large pay awards were "unacceptable" for any bank backed by state guarantees. I was stumped once again because I’ve heard this before from him, the press and the Man On The Street.

The Conservatives are making some mistakes on their journey to government. They'll get there despite themselves and because of Labour's ineptitude. However, this banker's pay issue is not going to be responsible for the Conservatives attracting voters and as such they should just stop taking vote-buying stances like these. The public is disillusioned by the banking sector, amongst other things, but thems the times we live in. All of a sudden the Man On The Street is not talking about Osama Bin-Laden, Kandahar and the Tora-Bora mountains, but about quantitative easing and the stimulus package. This doesn’t mean the Man On The Street is adequately informed as I’m about to point out.

For me to believe that the self-appointed party of business is sincere in not wanting the banks to issue big bonuses is quite hard. Why? Because we have to look at what a bonus is in the first instance for us to think about whether or not the practise is a good idea.  By definition a bonus is a reward for greater than expected performance. Success, in other words. Anyone who owns a business should be glad if they have to pay out a bonus. Simply put it means that things are going well and that the people responsible are being rewarded for helping to bring about that success. By extension large bonuses are probably a result of big success. I hear that HSBC delivered almost £200,000 in net earnings per head in their investment banking arm the other week. That was just for one quarter by the way. Stunning.

The only issue we should be arguing about is how bonuses are structured. Fred Wilson on AVC.com touched on it some time ago, though I didn't agree with all his points. Among the contentious issues I'm against that he pointed out are;

  • Guaranteed bonuses - This, I believe, was a big part of banking remuneration practise prior to the crisis. Guaranteed bonuses are not in anyone's interest other than the person receiving them. No company has any business guaranteeing a bonus, though I understand the thinking behind it.
  • Contractual obligations - "all bonuses should, at the end of the day, be subject to board and compensation committee approval (even if the goals that trigger the bonuses have been met). The board has a fiduciary responsibility to look after the stockholders first and foremost. If paying the bonuses (even if they have been earned) puts the company in trouble, then there needs to be a mechanism for the board to avoid paying them. Compensation committee and board approval does that." Where the compensation committee has approved remuneration they should not however, backtrack as happened with RBS and their former CEO.

Having taken into account the above two scenarios I believe bankers (and any other worker) must be given whatever bonuses their success dictates. If that bonus is large and based on a percentage of the business they've brought in, so be it. The bonus just has to be measurable and the business they've bought in, traceable.

Mr Osborne thinking that large bonuses are a bad thing is just something I can’t buy into. Maybe his, the Man On The Street and the press’ sentiments are driven by the prevailing economic crisis, but I think that it’s misguided and an over-reaction. On the contrary, some of these troubled banks like Northern Rock and Lloyds could do with attracting as much top talent as they can to get them out of the messes they’re in. How do you think they can do that?

Of course the Man On The Street is also a voter (probably a former Labour one at that) and thus Mr Osborne wants to be on his side. But hey, I believe voters are a stupid bunch anyway. Mr Osborne doesn’t need to placate them by giving them the bankers’ heads when he may just need those same bankers if he gets to government.