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Archive for August, 2012

I love playing the Scrabble-like game Words With Friends, even though I rarely win.

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I’ve been fascinated by cyclist Lance Armstrong for the last nine years. As I stated in the interview for my Normblog profile: ‘I read the memoir of cancer-beating cyclist Lance Armstrong, called It’s Not About The Bike, when I had lost my way a bit in life. When I look back at the wonderful things that have happened to me – both personally and professionally – in the years since, I can trace a lot of them back to that book.’

I’m fairly sure, for instance I’d never have run two marathons had I not been aware of Lance’s story. Beating cancer, winning the Tour de France seven times and raising fortunes for his cancer charity: he’s an inspiration to all, not least millions of cancer sufferers.

Allegations of doping have followed him for years. He has always fiercely denied them. Some of his millions of fans had their faith shaken yesterday, when he announced he would not contest charges from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). He explained that he is tired of fighting the allegations, but on the face of it, this seemed a damning development. Why would someone, particularly a born fighter like Lance, decide not to fight to the bitter end if they are innocent?

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Regular readers may recall my admiration of the NaNachs, the fun-filled followers of the teachings of Rabbi Nachman who dance to techno music on the streets of Israel and elsewhere.  Their uplifting energy is so inspiring, as is the wisdom of Nachman himself.

I only learnt this week that Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston is also a NaNach fan. She is often seen wearing the NaNach Kumaya amulet and even once paid for a NaNach Hasid’s plane ticket so he could join the group’s customary Rosh Hashanah visit to Nachman’s resting place in Uman.

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Filmmaker Matthew Brown made this stunning video, which captures the sights, sounds, people and animals of Israel.

There is so much life packed in to these four minutes. Even the Rebbe and the NaNachs pop up. Beautiful.

Sometimes people ask how it is that Tom Daley is the subject of not just one, but two books when he is only 18 years old. As the author of one of those books, here’s my reply.

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As the Nasa rover landed on Mars this morning it was greeted by the planet’s Chabad shliach.


Team GB won six gold medals yesterday, our greatest day of Olympic action since 1908. The victory is sweetly significant. Despite months of swipes from sour cynics, London 2012 is doing what many always believed it would: it is propelling the public mood to new heights.

A year ago this week, London was hit by riots. Now it basks in joyous unity. How wondrous it is to be alive as British patriotism is reclaimed from the scoundrels. Let’s keep hold of it.

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© Copyright Chas Newkey-Burden. All Rights Reserved. Thanks to Chris Morris.