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Showing posts from January, 2009

Too Big To Fail? Let's bloody well hope so.

A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money.  --Everett Dirksen
It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it. --George W. Bush

So now I've had ample time to digest the Harper/Ignatieff budget.Belch. It's crystal clear from this 360-page document, the product of endless consultation with all and sundry, that nobody in or around Ottawa has the first clue what to do. Their solution--do everything at once--would be laughable if its consequences weren't so frightening. The knee-jerk accusation of incompetence is perhaps a trifle unfair. First World economies are teetering on the brink worldwide, and nobody knows what to do to arrest the slide. 
Iceland's this coal-mine canary, and it's as dead as Monty Python's parrot. Study this tiny island nation's situation closely for a possible sign of things to come. Their currency is worthless. Unemployment--which was estimated at one percent two years ago--is expected to be eleven…

State of the Game (Third Period)

(Budget: I'll get to it. I'm famous for starting series of things, especially when it comes to writing, and not finishing them...and hockey games have three periods, so...)
Fighting. Does it belong in hockey?
It's always been there. That's neither here nor there; I'm the last person to suggest that just because something has always been one way, means it always has to be that way. The question has always been there, too. It's increasingly relevant after the death of Don Sanderson, a Whitby Dunlops (senior amateur league)  player who got into a fight, lost his helmet, hit his head on the ice, and later died. But it is a fact: NHL hockey has always had fights. The frequency and relative brutality tends to wax and wane. The 1920s and 80s were particularly violent. Fighting has decreased somewhat in recent years, though this season has seen a slight uptick.
WHY DO HOCKEY PLAYERS FIGHT?
The simplistic answer is that hockey players fight to alleviate tension. Hockey is a …

State of the Game (Second Period)

Like many Canadians, I harbour a strong dislike for Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL. I distrusted him from the first. A lawyer with an NBA background? Probably doesn't know his five-hole from his breadbasket, was my view. Almost immediately he set to work confirming my every last suspicion. The evocative names of the conferences and divisions (tributes to the founders and builders of the league) were replaced by the utterly prosaic: the "Eastern" conference, the "Northeast" division. In short order, Canada lost two teams, the Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec Nordiques. That the country would lose these teams wasn't Bettman's fault, but where they ended up certainly was. I could sort of accept a team in Denver, which at least knows what snow is, but Phoenix?  Then there was the Courtship of the American Public, which Gary set to work on with a will. He brought FOX on board, and they came up with something called FOXtrax, otherwise known as a laser-p…

State of the Game

Oh, the good ol' hockey gameIs the best game you can name And the best game you can name Is the good ol' hockey game --"Stompin'" Tom Connors 
It's a wee bit redundant, but the sentiment's there.  Longtime readers of this blog will know I've been a Toronto Maple Leafs fan forever...or maybe it just feels that way, sometimes. I'm also not your typical Leafs fan in that I don't view the team through blue-and-white goggles and I actually pay some attention to other teams in the league.
The NHL's in its All-Star break now, and puck pundits have taken the opportunity to assess things. I thought I'd do the same.
First, some notes on the All-Star Game and SuperSkills competition, before I move on to the broader conundrums confronting hockey.
Hockey purists despise the All-Star Game. Glorified shinny, they sneer. No contact, no defense, no intensity, no passion. All true. Yesterday's game finished up 12-11 for the Eastern Conference, in a shootout…

Questions, Questions...

Oh, yay, Parliament's back tomorrow. Maybe that's why I woke up with such an ear-splitting headache this morning.According to the Toronto Star today--and how it must have pained them to write this of the autocratic, dictatorial Harper--the government has consulted 46 municipalities and 602 organizations over this budget. It's held seventy formal roundtables and reviewed 5400 emails, had 102 discussions with provinical and territorial leaders, and Flaherty has met with his economic advisory council four times. So obviously Harper's trying to please everybody, which, as we all know, means he'll please no one. And Harper is leaking his own budget ahead of time, in bits and pieces, gauging reaction. Ignatieff calls this irresponsible, which isn't a shock: anything politically beneficial to the Harper government is ipso facto irresponsible, in Iggy's eyes. Layton's on record as saying he'll oppose the budget sight unseen, which is my own definition of irre…

In Mourning

No, nobody died. Except, as corny as this sounds, a little part of me.
Dan Simmons, one of my favourite authors, has closed down his forum until further notice...perhaps (probably?) permanently.  So what, you say, having likely never been there, having never spent time in that community. I'll tell you so what. So that marks the end of hands-down, bar none, the most educational, erudite, entertaining and most of all civilized places I've ever found online. Which is a right royal pisser, but what really ticks me off is that Dan has seen fit to close his place down because...well, here, let him explain it:
I'm posting this on both the General Topics and On Writing Well forums because it's come time for me to shut down the Dan Simmons Forums for a while, and I owe a deep and sincere apology to everyone here for allowing things to come to the point where that action is necessary.

As I expressed with sadness (and some inappropriate anger) on a specific forum thread last night, I fe…

On the Eve of History

There is very little I could write, at this late date, that hasn't been written a hundred thousand times already. So perhaps I can frame the whole Barack Obama festival slightly differently.
I really need to stop reading Internet comments. Most of the comments in this CBC.ca thread fall into three broad gutters:

1) Obama good, Harper evil. (It's the CBC, what did you expect?) 2) Obama's nothing but...a fraud/smoke and mirrors/a tool of Corporate America/blah blah blah 3) Fer Chrissake, CBC, when are you going to report on something Canadian, like, just for instance, how evil Mr. Harper is and how much better we are than them damn Yank bastards?
In order:
1) Oh, where to begin. Harper and Obama are actually fairly close politically on a great number of issues.  (gasp!)  Barack Obama is pro-Israel; he does not support gay marriage; his economic stimulus package will closely mirror Harper's, with broad infrastructure spending and tax cuts. Both men are against the war in Iraq (t…

How the Mighty Have Fallen...

Price of Nortel stock, per share, at its highest (reflecting a recent reverse split): $1245.00Price of Nortel stock, per share, after trading was halted today: eight cents
"You think the economy sucks now? Just wait"--heard just now on 680 News
WHAT NEXT? 
I have a subscription to The Economist. As the global economy started to sour, it seemed a good, if pricey investment: I had previously bought the odd copy off the newsstand and always found it an erudite and entertaining read. I thought that perhaps I'd be among those on the cutting edge of the wave of economic collapse. While I don't regret the subscription one iota--the magazine is chock-full of interesting articles on all manner of subjects, not just the economy--I can't help but notice how unfailingly optimistic its general tone is. Every issue catalogues all the bad things going on, more and more each week, it seems, and then concludes that soon the bottom will be hit and things will improve. I'm not so su…

The Drunk Trifecta

And at that point, I had the right to remain silent, but I didn't have the ability. The cop was like, "Mr. White, you are being charged with drunk in public-K!" I was like, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! I was drunk in a bar! They, threw me into public-K! I don't want to be drunk in public! I wanna be drunk in a bar, which is perfectly legal! Arrest them!"
--Ron White, "Drunk In Public"

He's wrong, you know. Being drunk in a bar, at least in Ontario, contravenes the Liquor License Act, section 31.4 (a), which reads
No person shall be in an intoxicated condition in a place to which the general public is invited or permitted access.
Bingo: being drunk outside your own home is against the law. Of course, so is murder, but that never seems to stop people from murdering.
Sixteen individuals are charged with various offenses in the aftermath of a horrific crash that killed three young men.
Tyler Mulcahy, 20, and three of his friends were served a total of…

Gaza, again

Surveying the Internet as the Gaza offensive goes on, I find myself increasingly apoplectic at the legions of uneducated moral-equivalence morons donning cloaks of legitimacy. Israel, we are told, is a "failed state with nuclear weapons." It's a "rogue, fascist, terrorist entity." All of this filth is neatly packaged on the CBC's comment threads, presumably because (unlike in Gaza) we have freedom of speech in this country. What scares me is that these sentiments are very widely accepted. I usually shy away from invoking Godwin's Law, but if ever there was a time to bring Hitler up, this is it. (Two and a  half million noncombatants killed in the Sudan: barely an eyebrow batted in the West. Israel kills 900, many (not all) militants...and there's widespread uproar. Hmmm.)
There's no reasoning with these people. I'm learning as I age that there's no arguing with many people on many issues that for some reason seem to define their very exist…

Different but equal

Very interesting article here about gender. (It's long and involved, but the author has helpfully bolded the salient points and you can read around them where you're interested.)
One conclusion: men are better than women--but also worse. Each gender has respective areas of specialty; a byproduct of the male sphere is male domination of our society as it's presently constituted. In short: although we're keeping women down, we're not doing it on purpose.
I tend to rail against radicalism in all its forms, and that includes radical feminism. I remember the first time I walked into the HMV flagship store in downtown Toronto: I was disgusted with the "Wimmin's Music" section. Furious, actually. On two grounds. One: are men allowed to listen to/appreciate it? Two: Damnit, every woman on earth is descended from a man. Is it really necessary to play games with language to make that fact disappear?
I'll yield the floor to the lamentably late George Carlin:
...…

Muddling on through to the other side...

Sorry for the unexpected hiatus: busy week here in the Breadbin. We've had a couple of wicked ads back-to-back at work, with a grocery inventory in the middle of them. The sheer volume of customers is nice to see from a business perspective, I suppose....except most of them are cherry-pickers, in to buy the Guelph tap water (last week) or the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (this week).  I've bitched about bottled water before and probably will again...it's the one product I'd like to see made illegal. Turn on your fucking taps, already. If your tap water is as undrinkable as ours--I doubt it, ours is God-awful--buy a filter. I've been tempted to write our city council demanding reimbursement for our water costs, but that'd get nowhere fast. This week--I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. I used to think that was a President's Choice product...it's got that kind of a name, (PC brand condoms: Memories of Whatshername.)  Anyway, it's on for a…

Music I live by (I)

My sister Sue and me were doing stunts with electric trains.
She said she'd do my dishes, so I handed her the reins.
And she engineered a collision steered by a hand-eye protegee...
Before my train set started burning I heard my sister say:

(chorus)
Look straight at the coming disaster,
Realize what you've lost.
You keep handing out horseshoes:
Horseshoes have gotta be tossed.
I dreamed I went to heaven 'cause I told my lover lies.
When I woke up I went to her and looked her in the eyes.
I said "help me cry, 'cause I can't deny this union's feeling wrong",
Then a flashback to the dream and angels singing songs  (chorus)
Don't push the river; if you love it, set it free. I said "go on and see him, you can still come home to me".
I was satisfied, God was on our side,
'
Cause we're freer than the birds.
She sent me a letter: I didn't read it,
I already knew the words (chorus)

--Moxy Fruvous, "Horseshoes"
Since I was a little kid, I've h…

Tabula Gaza

Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons. -- Associated Press, Dec. 27 


I'm absolutely disgusted by the reaction to Israel's ground offensive in the Gaza strip. Disgusted and furious. Most people are acting as if Israel just up and attacked without warning or provocation and killed a bunch of people just like you and me.Wrong on all counts. First, the provocation, in the form of over three thousand rockets and mortars fired willy-nilly into Israel last year alone. The world reaction: so what. They're just rockets, and they've only killed a few people. What's the big deal? The big deal is that Hamas doesn't care who it kills. They reap the sympathy of the world because they widely scatter their munitions; Israel earns opprobrium because it aims. Something is wrong with this picture. Israel aims, all right: precisely. They have to, b…

May the Farce Be With You....

I hope everyone had a great time New Year's Eve. What's that? You don't remember? Ah, well, it must have been a great time, then. Partly in reaction to the hell that was 7-Eleven on December 31, and partly because my 36-year-old body conceals the mind and spirit of a 72-year-old, we don't do much of much on New Year's. I can't even remember the last time I was awake to see the new year in: it's never struck me as important, really. I have faith that if I go to bed, the new year will be waiting for me in the morning. That's not to say I don't enjoy New Year's Eve. In fact, I look forward to it as much or even more than I do Christmas. Christmas for kids is fun: two weeks off school, only your parents and maybe a friend or two to buy for, and all that stuff under the tree. For adults, it's a stress-fest. It's huge family get-togethers (and let's be honest, here: do you unconditionally love everyone in your family?)...it's agonizing …