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Letters Our piece earlier this week about the possible health risks of cheerleading (death being the most noteworthy, hence the shamelessly sensationalist headline), provoked the following immediate response:

I just finished reading your article 'Cheerleading can kill: official'. It is growing leaps and bounds in your country and does so many wonderful things for children of all ages from 5 years old through university level for some. If you are going to write a story with that title, you owe it to your readers to make sure you report completely and accurately as well as with ways of making the sport safe. Contact the biggest and most renown cheerleading official in your own country at the British Cheerleading Association, Bob Kiralfy (bob@cheerleading.org.uk), to better understand the sport and the training that helps in minimizing risk and preventing injuries. Are you interested in the greater good of Educating your readers on where they can go for safety training in cheerleading stunting, tumbling, and coaching in order to make cheerleading safer for all?

Please help to encourage Cheerleaders and Coaches alike to attain training and become more skilled in their sport. Contact Bob Kiralfy at the British Cheerleading Association to be able to provide the best information to your readers.

The website is: http://www.cheerleading.org.uk/

Thanks.

James Conner www.cheerleadingsafety.com - owner and founder


Funnily enough, we didn't have to contact the aforementioned Mr Kiralfy, since he was kind enough to dispatch the following:

Dear Lester, I was alarmed by your UK based article, especially after having contacted by BBC Radio about it. Safety statistics in Britain are regularly reported by us to the CCPR and Sport England, statistics that clearly show the excellent safety record of the sport here. With 303 clubs comprising 10,830 cheerleaders, reported injuries treated have reduced by 30% despite an almost 30% growth in participation. Our Internationals in July saw 3,122 entrants from Malaysia to San Diego compete over 3 days. A vigorous athletic discipline, there were 17 incidents treated, six of which were spectators falling on stairs etc, and only one required a precautionary hospital visit. Almost all of the other 11 were bumps and spains. Compare that with soccer or basketball with similar numbers taking part, how many can say only two recorded breaks over two years? Cheerleading can. We have the best safety record in Europe, by far, because of our comprehensive risk management systems plus training and education program. ie NCSSE, Coaches Conference, training clinics etc. Also we evaluate injury reports to determine trends to further improve systems and education. You have to remember that in America there are 4 million active cheerleaders, the largest school sport for girls, and take into account an almost doubling of participation there in the wide time period quoted, and that medics will take people to A&E to make sure they are OK to a much larger degree than fifteen years ago. That is being sensible and safe, not neccessarily indicating that all were significant injuries. Technical skills have advanced greatly, as have safety training systems, and paramedic carefulness in sending people for further assessment where any doubt exists. Don't say 'Cheerleading Kills' in Britain when quite clearly it does not. Even in the USA fatalities have been so rare as to be headline items, not so in other sports.

Bob Kiralfy, Chairman, British Cheerleading assn.

Fair enough. For the record, UK cheerleading does not kill, or even maim. Spectators are, however, warned to take special care on stairs, since a fall can result in a nasty case of spains.


While we're on the subject of athletic pursuits involving women, Morgan Stanley has fired four employees for visiting a strip club while attending a technology conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Stuff that, readers cry:

Morgan Stanley should be sued off the face of the planet. What these people do in their downtime is their damn business. Furthermore, I've never been to a strip club that prevented women from attending and watching the shows.

JWR


Hey last time I was taken to a strip club in Pheonix, there were quite a few women in the audience, not just the performers. Mostly they appeared to be with male partners, and I didn't detect any long suffering faces being pulled. In fact I'm not sure that watching some of the reactions of the female customers wasn't as much fun as watching the performers.

I think this time I'd rather my name was witheld.

Cheers

Name duly witheld


One might wonder why the fired employees would need an attorney? They are almost certainly employed in an 'at-will' status. Many Europeans and some US people seem to live under the illusion they are entitled to employment.

It has been demonstrated over and over that US companies may terminate, even without cause. There are some exceptions, such as union contracts, etc.

Seems to me an attorney's value proposition is they could hope they employer would be embarrassed at potential damage to image and reputation, and not necessarily that there is a legal case here.

Greg Askew


Thinking of outsourcing your software development? Our handy guide to the "tips, tricks and pitfalls" of offshoring prompted a few thoughts:

Geoffrey, how do you go about convincing a client that they should not be trying the offshoring deal? Our current client started pulling in offshore guys for a few projects recently. (We maintain the systems in place.) Three out of the three projects came in late and without all the features agreed upon.

This is directly related to our client's inability to manage these companies. Now they have decided to take our maintenance role and hand it over to one of these companies. We, and the people we work with directly, can see clearly that they are heading for a disaster because they don't realise (and refuse to ask for assistance) what they are letting themselves in for. It's a simple lemming-like mentality driving them to offshore because everybody else is doing it. However, the higher up you go in the client's management chain the happier everybody gets about the offshoring deals.

Did I mention that they already offshored our accounts payable department which is now so far behind processing the purchase orders that it is beginning to affect production? Somehow they think this is still saving them money.

I am at a loss.

Mark


Great article - with respect to your point #7 another useful source is DeMarco and Lister's book "Peopleware" - they pose the question "If you were hiring a juggler, what is the first thing you would ask them to do?" to which the answer can only be "show me your juggling". The same applies to anyone other hire!

regards, Phil Stubbington

For the record, point seven is: "The quality of developers is improving all the time. But remember the old Dennis Miller quote: 'All-you-can-eat shit is still shit.' Do not be afraid to request CVs from the developers who work on your projects. It's your money, after all."


I joined the outsourcing bandwagon, and spent 18months in Mauritius setting up an outsourcing destination. Everything you said rings true. I can really relate to your article. I think outsourcing destinations dont always succeed in the 3 key elements. Visibility, manageability and cultural differences. There is only one thing I think you left out. "Beware the hidden costs". I.e, data and telecommunication costs were almost 10x our initial costs, holidays, sick leave, 13th cheques, staff transport costs, etc all added another 25% to our operating costs and hence the project. Great article, I really enjoyed it.

Cuan Brown

Our pleasure, as ever.


Headphones can kill: official. Well, they might make you deaf-ish. Possibly, says the Who's Pete Townshend:

Weird is all I can say. I have been using AKG professional studio headphones for hours if not every day then every other day as loud as they can go before distorting, for about 20 years... and I can still hear a pin drop... no whistling ears ever.

Mark you, as a guitarist, I have never thought it a terribly good idea to stand in front of a stack of amps. I remember trying it years back, and yes, I did get whistling ears afterwards. In point of fact, your stage amp (monitor) only needs to be loud enough to be heard over the top of an unamplified drum kit.... It was a fashion thing and Hendrix was the first.

Jerry Dawson


[Pete Townshend] himself says: "Studio headphones caused my hearing problems, rather than playing loudly on stage."

Hmm.... This isn't always the story that Pete Townshend tells about the loss of his hearing. Sure - sometimes it's studio headphones. Other times, it is this story:

"Pete Townshend may have started the instrument abuse, but Moon took it to another level, hitting on the idea of using fireworks to blow up his drums. When The Who made their debut American network TV appearance on 15 September 1967, Moon decided to take no chances with the quantities, and the resulting explosion put the network off air briefly and partially deafened Pete Townshend. Moon was injured by a flying cymbal."

I'd suggest putting this one to a poll: Which of the following is most likely to cause permanent hearing damage?

a] An iPod b] Studio Headphones c] A large explosion in close proximity.

I know which one gets my vote. I've been desprartely searching for a video of the aforementioned explosion somewhere online. It really is a quite beautiful moment in TV history.

Matt Bradley


maybe he's saying that "the kids might be alright"

sorry

john durrant

I should think so too. Two hours in the corner of the room with the pointy hat on, if you'd be so kind.


The recent remake of King King got the boffins all excited about giant animals evolving on distant islands. It's true-ish, as your letters show:

There is a potential real giant ape, from prehistoric times.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1208_051208_giant_ape.html

There might also be a large gorilla-type ape in the Congo, as yet unnamed.

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18424684.300

Not quite King Kong, but big...

Andrew Neill


Interesting article. It kinda goes in the face of what I remember about evolution on islands before. Of course the main example I was thinking of was with the dwarf woolly mammoths of Wrangel Island.

I did a quick google search and you might find the following article on nova's website of interest:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/eden/giants.html

It goes over an idea that proposed certain types of critters are more apt to grow larger in island environs while others tend towards smaller sizes.

Cheers,

Shawn Johnston


Actually, the rule is seem to be closer to be that on an island (which, quite often, means in the absence of predators and/or competition), species tend to converge to some "average" size, which is only dictated by the food resources. For small animals (rodents...), it means bigger, but for large ones, it usually means smaller (there are many instances of fossil dwarf elephants on Mediterranean isles).

You can also have a look at Gigantopithecus, a 10-foot, 1000-pounds, fossil ape (believed to eat fruits and bamboo, which doesn't make it look very fierce).

Bertrand Denoix


Hmmm... methinks these boffins are using selective evidence. In all the main examples of giant subspecies on islands (dodos, komodo dragons, Gough Island mice and the like) the original species is a small animal. If we look at larger animals, the trend is to shrink: homo floresiensis is smaller than homo erectus and the mastodon fossils found alongside homo floresiensis were similarly smaller than mastodon fossils found elsewhere.

So rather than saying that "animals on islands often evolve into gigantic versions of their mainland kin" we should be saying that *small* animals on islands often evolve into gigantic versions of their mainland kin, and we must remember that while these may be gigantic in relation to other members of their family, they are hardly gigantic in relative terms -- no island creature is significantly larger than a human being.

Prof Plum, Tudor Close.


Funny that... and when the H. Floresiensis fossils were found the scientists all pitched up to tell us about island dwarfing and and how rabbits are the most energy efficient mammals*.... I suppose that just saying "animals often evolve differently in isolation, such as on an island" doesn't get your name in the Sun...

*Possibly it was rabbit *sized* mammals, but my way's much more fun. :)

Matt \"You may have my IP address but you'll never take me alive\" Javes


And in a decade or so, when "Dumbo" gets re-made into a gloriously detailed, 3D rendered epic, "boffins" will be quick to point out that while flying elephants "of course absurd, pygmy elephant populations are quite common on forested southeast asian islands".

Dan Primack


Finally, the eBay photo of a 42in plasma TV auction scandal. The general consensus was that the seller in this case was a very naughty boy indeed. Not everyone agreed, though:

I think the only thing wrong with that particular auction was that some idiot wasn't ripped off. I mean, if you're going to pay more than a few quid for something you would surely read the description wouldn't you? They say a fool and his money are easily parted, Ebay is just faciliating this :)

Alex


You missed out the last bit:

"So, to summarize, a brand new boxed Panasonic TH42PA50 42” plasma television worth over £3,000. And this listing comes with free postage and packaging. "

Now I am not a lawyer, but when you summarize, I take that to be a reitiration of the main points of the auction. As his summary doesn't mention the word "pic", "picture" or "photograph", I'd say he's shot himself in the foot.

Níall.


What I don't understand is when it becomes apparent that the item you were bidding on is in fact just a picture of that item, why you would feel any obligation to part with your money.

I know that under the terms and conditions of using ebay, you are supposed to honour any bid, and that you could face sanctions from ebay if you refuse to pay for something - but surely if you are faced with an obvious attempt to deceive, not only should you not pay, but the seller should be ratted out by eBay to the authorities.

The whole process is deliberately misleading, the people involved are fully aware that anyone who bids on the item believe they are purchasing the actual product, not a photograph.

The fact they place a piece of text revealing the deception somewhere in the product description does nothing more than prove they are trying to con people out of their money.

Why eBay doesn't take legal action against such individuals is beyond me, especially considering these people are actually damaging eBay's business.

Obviously there are those that send off their money before they realise they've been conned, but there still exists a window of opportunity to prosecute the con artist - as address the payment is being sent to is valid? If not, how does the con artist collect money orders or cheques?

Also if paying by credit card, rather than paypal or cheque, then you would easily be able to get the credit card company to void the transaction - in fact I believe credit card companies can do this up to six months after a transaction has taken place - which is one of the reasons retailers are being ripped off by people claiming they didn't received the goods they've bought online.

Andy Bright


i emailed the bloke about it to confirm it was a picture not the real thing (obviously i knew it was but wanted to act dumb to get some details from him!). he said it was definately a picture and bid on it himself to end it early - it finished at £500,000!! he said he ended it early cos he thought £1,500 was too much for a picture.

me being cheeky i then asked him how much he would have accepted and got this reply:

"I would have accepted a maximum of about £400. That is plenty for a picture. I cant beleive someone would bid so much, its listed under decorative items for gods sake. It also says further down in the listing 'note: you are bidding on a picture of a plasma screen that is being described and not the actualy plasma screen itself'.

Ive now had my account suspended becasuse ebay thought I was bidding on it myself to increase the bid, when infact i was bidding on it myself to end the listing because ebay wouldnt let me do it the normal way.

james."

what a muppet...

MaFt


Did you see the items that the seller (davidsaregreay -- no longer a member, strangely enough) had bought, to gain a dizzying eBay feedback rating of 12, before dipping into the enterprising world of flogging photographs?

It started with a baseball cap.

http://feedback.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback&userid=davidsaregreay

Alan W


So, the guy decided to hook the price up to 500k and sell it to himself? He does I assume realise that Ebay will charge him 1.75% of £500,000? Theres one born every minute I guess.

David Webb


Justice?

This guy just earned himself over £8,500 of ebay fees!

Woohoo! Justice truly has been served :)

Marcus Deglos


Reg vigilantes! Brilliant! More Power to the Reg! Maybe you guys can sort out the spammers too...?

Alex McLarty

Ah, we wish. And with that, the Vulture Central Letters Soviet wishes all of you, our beloved readers, a very happy and productive new year. Keep those letters coming. ®

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