Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frank Loesser

Let me outsource the tribute to the estimable Scott at Power Line.
But let me also include an embed of this utter piece of fuguic genius:

P.S. Scott's post is worth reading - you realize that the stunted mental midget Sayid Qutb who inspired other similar mental midgets like Osama bin Laden freaked out in his stay in the US to people dancing to a Frank Loesser song.
I consider that a tribute to Loesser.
As for the mental midgets who have an enthusiasm for the bin Laden types, well welcome to the modern 'left'.

FOI Laws are Great - Allan Rock is a Pathetic Ass

Great work! h/t Kathy again.

Un Coeur Simple

This is an utterly great essay on one of my favorite short stories (is it greater than 'The Dead'? likely).
Every time in the last couple of months I have been in my office I have been eyeing 'Trois Contes' on the shelf nearby. Maybe it is time to take action and re-read this piece, which I recall making me cry at the end. Thanks, Gustave!
h/t Kathy (and I am sure there are lots of people who simply cannot understand that you have a heart)

Too Many Police?

It's nice to see someone try to take the problem of security last weekend seriously.
And it is nice to have someone speak who vaguely understands the nature of the problems faced:
When the police car was stopped and attacked at King and Bay streets there was a cordon of police just in the south side of the interesection. The complaint was that they did nothing. Of course they did nothing. If they had moved even 5 feet forward to confront the Black Bloc attacking and defacing the cruiser, the crowd would have overwhelmed them and raced down to the security fence. The same could be true for the incident at Spadina and Queen.
I have zero respect for the whiners who have not got past the first visceral reactions to Saturday.

Running of the Sophomore Poli-Sci Majors

The Daily Show is just excellent on the G20 protests (and other aspects).
(That's the link for Canada).

World Cup Road to Serfdom

Arnold Kling reflects on the lack of scoring in high-level soccer.
I have my doubts about the case for giving the better team a high probability of losing due to bad luck just for the sake of making the games more interesting. That seems to me like wanting to tax rich people because you don't like people to be too successful. It sounds to me like soccer is the road to serfdom.
Meanwhile Steve Sailer suspects the lack of scoring is no bug, but rather a feature. I had not realized how feckless the teams really are at scoring and his analysis is interesting. I rather like his conclusion.
Finally, low-scoring games are easy for fans to talk about because there isn’t much to recollect: a couple of goals and your favorite coulda woulda shoulda moment. In contrast, NFL games average eight scores, and, honestly, who can remember all that?
As for me the problem is not the amount of scoring, but its dependence on bad refereeing. And that is not the result of the referees being bad, but rather that the task they are charged with is impossible,

Monday, June 28, 2010

End of the G20 in Toronto

And there were torrents of rain, setting new daily records and new monthly records.
This is the kind of thing that makes morons get really excited about climate change!

Millerbabble Returns

I had started to have some respect on the weekend for David Miller.
Now on the CBC News I see him telling the businesses trashed on the weekend and telling them they should complain to the Feds.
Well NO! I was always a process guy and fact of the matter is that the protection of their businesses was fundamentally the responsibility of the City and its police.
Now I have made it clear in a previous post that I think the police made a sensible call to sacrifice their businesses in the short run, but that hardly means that today we dump on the businesses that got screwed the responsibility to negotiate directly with the Feds.
Obviously the City should be advocating and negotiating.
If the City denies this, well that is typical Miller. It is always somebody else's fault.

Soccer Update - No Crucial Officiating Failures?

Looks as if we had a day today where any obvious officiating failures were not crucial.
The sport is getting more and more ridiculous though.
For example, I do not think either of the England-Germany or Argentina-Mexico games SHOULD have had a different outcome, but the obvious and egregious officiating failures played profound roles in the outcome of the games. The second half of England-Germany would have been utterly different, and maybe have given the old coots a chance, had the calls been correct.
How in the end can one really take the sport seriously with this knowledge?
All this would have been OK when there was no way to refute on-the-field mistakes.
We are well past that.

Toronto is Back to Serious Business

Now that the out-of-town losers have no further reason to try to disrupt our normal lives, the CBC can report on local communities celebrating World Cup outcomes. Our Dutch community is perhaps too integrated for that to be a lot of fun but the Brazilians can still put on a great show.

G20 - 'The Current' Provides the Liberal Party Version

'The Current' is an appalling piece of work in the best of times but this morning it took on new levels of wonderfulness.
The second segment did something I think worth doing - it claimed to try to assess the value of the recent G8 and G20 meetings. To get a hint of how the CBC wanted the discussion to go, take a look at the participants - this is Part 2 of this show.
Who did they have discussing this?
Alan Alexandroff from the Munk Centre for International Studies, Andrew Cooper, an expert in governance from U of Waterloo, Daniel Price, who worked in the Bush administration, and WTF???!!!! Ralph Goodale, a political flunky form the Liberal party of Canada? What the H^*& do they think he will contribute? (My guess - the CBCThought on this.)
Well, just listen. Everybody except Goodale is reasonable and makes good points and they make for an interesting discussion.
Every Goodale 'contribution' is a mindless rant against Harper, or, even more wonderfully, a stupid piece of innumeracy from a former Liberal Finance Minister.
Wait for the special moment where he compares what Western governments are committing to maternal health against what the Gates Foundation is.
It is pathetic and revealing. He cites their contributions versus their national GDP. So that seems to assume that as the governments make commitments they have at their disposition the whole GDP of their countries. This makes me never want to see Goodale as a finance minister again.
He also elides the fact that whatever they have at their disposal to spend, they might have things other than aid, whereas the Gates Foundation is there purely to dispense aid.
So Goodale's contributions consist of his innumerate rant (BTW repeated as part of the CBC news for the rest of the day), and several episodes of just dumping on Stephen Harper, almost every time resulting in the other participants whacking him for what he has said.
The CBC went through a recent mini-scandal regarding using a Liberal party consultant as their 'objective' poller, and have been sensitive lately about their not just being an offshoot of the Liberal party. This episode seems to be ill-judged in that context, though maybe the plan was for Goodale to look like a clown and a hack. If so it worked.

The Loser and the Doomer

Serendipity is real! It has often played an entertaining role in my life.
So now it plays one again - I just posted on the losers who came to Toronto last weekend and now, in an utterly different context, a blogger describes a slightly different concept, that of the 'doomer'. But actually they are clearly VERY close.
The Doomer confuses his personal collapse with the "inevitable" collapse of society. ("Inevitable" is the keystone of the Doomer vocabulary and, as such, should be avoided whenever possible.) He suffers from a severe case of tunnel vision. Like a horse with blinders on, he can only see what's immediately in front of him. Anything indicating that other people's experience contradicts his world-view is dismissed as false or a lie propagated by the corrupt elite. He doesn't want his dogma tested, because then it might be refuted, and the emotional consequences of that would be too much to bear. He would have to accept that he has failed due to his lack of merit and not by his refusal to make some moral compromise.
And more, and understand that the author thinks he has a streak of the Doomer in him (though I doubt this weekend's losers have any self-awareness):
The Doomer is motivated by much more than a perverse sense of altruism. He mainly desires to see everyone brought down to his level. His fondest wish is for everyone to be as emotionally crippled as he is, and, if they could also be paralyzed fiscally, that would be great too. The argument for the necessity of disaster is merely an excuse for his vindictive fantasies. This is the Doomer's Curse: to wallow in despair, to sneer at the happiness of others, to revel in schadenfreude and to believe that he has humanity's best interests at heart. The Doomer honestly thinks that a universal depression (in the emotional sense) would lay the foundation for a better world, but this belief is rooted in his own selfishness, not in a rational socioeconomic analysis.
I think that is about right; they will be happy when we are all pathetic losers like them!

G20 - Wasn`t that a Party?

Well, I would say it went just about as I expected in most ways, though there were surprises.
First, some terminology. Various media have called the troublemakers 'thugs' and 'goons'. The problem with these words is they suggest the wrong physical type. When they took off their black outfits (sort of reverse Superman behavior) they, in the cases I could see in the coverage, were weedy pathetic little guys, who would not intimidate anyone, most young males, accompanied by a small group of equally pathetic-looking female misfits, likely the only kind of woman they could get to pay any attention to them. So rather than thug I will just call them the 'losers'.
It's pretty clear they had no particular political or moral views, other than that the rest of the world owed them attention and that it was their right to create mayhem to prove what big shots they were.
In any case, they came to town and joined with local losers with two obvious objectives: 1) to get to the security fence at least, and make a media splash (proving what big shots they are), and 2) failing that, to get the police to inflict enough damage so there would be blood available for lots of worldwide media, maybe even some good shots of police beating on one of the little wimps, or even better, his pathetic girlfriend (to prove what victims they are of 'The Man').
So losers they remain. For all the media attention, despite the cat-and-mouse game they played Saturday afternoon with the police, despite the attempts to build a large coherent group to break police lines, they came nowhere near the security fence, and so headed off to destroy property in the downtown. Here they surely hoped to draw police into a street battle in the midst of the civilian population, but even that failed for them. And apparently they did not do all that much damage.
At that point they tried to commandeer a crowd to hide in and to get to help challenge the fence, and this failed totally as well.
So by the end of Saturday they had achieved none of their goals.
What they had done was produce a ton of media and amateur photographic coverage of their activities, fodder I am sure the police were chewing on overnight.
What about the police? I was puzzled and somewhat annoyed when I saw some of the breaking of windows unchallenged by police but as the afternoon went on I reflected. Given a loser count of anything over a hundred, there really could not be much to prevent the breaking of windows by sending out police. I do wonder what would have happened had there been attacks on innocent people, or the torching of buildings; the losers did not go that far, maybe because they have a shred of morality somewhere in them, more likely because they are scared of the police and what would happen if they did anything with serious criminal consequences - it is surely a careful calculation for such scaredy-cats. They seemed to get close to the latter bolder behavior late in the day as people on the roof of a building housing a Starbucks called on them to get out of Toronto and told them they were not welcome. Some half-hearted attempts to torch the Starbucks followed, but they were truly half-hearted or incompetent. Of course by then it was late in the day and they were thoroughly beaten.
Back to the police. Toronto chief Bill Blair spoke in the evening and I thought acquitted the force very well. He made clear the utter priority was protecting the site of the meetings (and I think the fence, as a symbol, and a point of humiliation for the losers).
What Blair did not say, but I am sure was part of the orders, was that there should be no scenes of wild encounters with the protesters. It was fascinating to watch - police mostly obstructed, occasionally breaking out from the lines to grab individuals; so they did not give the losers the violence they so craved but rather just snapped them up and carted them off to the temporary hoosegow. Another strategy of humiliation, not badly implemented.
By Saturday evening the losers had no rational friends; sure, they had the local loonies who have been supporting them, but there was NO sympathetic reference to them in the media and only a few complaints about the police.
Sunday it is clear the police devoted themselves to another project.
Mindful of the continuing threat to the G20 security area, they were also focused on grabbing various among the losers, again by observing forming protests and making opportunistic grabs most of the early part of the day. They clearly had some intelligence as they raided a University of Toronto residence, and one of the headquarters of the week's protests. They were also thankfully less tolerant of protests closing streets; one I am conscious of is Eastern Avenue, where the temporary hoosegow was located. It is not far from my home and is on a route I use a lot. The first protest there was cleared with a use of some symbolic force; the second one was a wonder to watch as the police officer in charge got the clowns off the street with sugar alone.
The police made very extensive use of the 'breach of the peace' law; this allowed them to lump the losers together with their various fellow travelers in any gathering after a reasonable request for the non-losers to disperse. They engaged in some group arrests where they knew a good part of the group was some dumb almost bystander.
Sunday ended with a whole bunch of people surrounded by police for a long time in the rain, unable to leave a cordon. It will be interesting to see who in the end was trapped here.
Anyway the losers turned out to be utter losers in the real sense - they achieved not one of their goals, and look like criminal fools.
The police are getting a fair bit of criticism, but entertainingly from those who think they not zealous enough and those who think they were too zealous. So maybe they did the Goldilocks thing.
But I think Blair and team made sure there would be no bloody images all over the world press, and the overall cost in terms of building damage would be likely less than after what would happen if the Toronto Maple Leafs won a Stanley Cup in the ACC.
The losers cannot even perform better than sports fans.
One of the sad things here is that on Saturday there was a large successful traditional protest held at Queen's Park after a long march through downtown (the losers had chosen the tail of the procession to begin their grief and the lead of the parade likely had no idea what assholes had attached themselves to the procession, though I admit I think that is wilful ignorance). It shocks me to link to rabble.ca but I agree with what they say here.
On the other hand two of the voices the media did represent were Sid Ryan and Maude Barlow!? Good God. Is this how the left has progressed? - two retreads with no new ideas in forty years other than an enthusiasm for jihadi death-cults (and the left always has had a death-cult thing; witness Mr. Guevara's 'Viva la Muerte' approach). So there may be other reasons nobody listens.
There were great moments caught on camera. From Saturday, I believe, I saw someone in one of the protest groups witness his neighbor in the pack pull a bandanna up over her mouth and nose and tell her that if she was doing that she had to leave the group. She walked off.
On Sunday morning the cameras caught a 'protester' carrying a sign reading on one side a 'Thank You Police' and on the other an invitation for the losers to get the hell out of Toronto.
Well it is almost over.
Sorting out the truth will take weeks; there will be sessions in court. I hope the police have caught a few really bad people. There will be claims against the police too, and some will surely prevail; there were 20,000 police in town, and they were asked for superhuman response. I don't think I can manage that.
Was the meeting worth it?
First, worth what? I can understand journamalists not understanding the distinction between budget and expenses, but many people I know have worked with budgets seem to speak with the same confusion. We will not know for a month or more what this really cost, and we won't know even then, given the accounting oddities. The only thing I am sure of is that Stephen Harper has continued the stimulus in some parts of Ontario with an enormous injection of police overtime. And may I say, they were amazing - they have been working for a lot longer than last weekend and have not yet been freed from the exception schedule.
Thanks Bill Blair and your team, and the OPP, and the RCMP.
UPDATE: One thing I forgot to mention above was how funny several shots of the little losers trying to break windows were. They would whack and whack and whack and the windows would not give; then in a childish rage they would kick and kick, to little avail. Finally the pathetic little jerks went wandering off waving their arms and shaking their bodies in a chimpanzee rage reflecting their failure to be the big ape they had planned to be on tape. Unfortunately for each of these pathetic little clowns, it is forever on tape - I hope in You Tube.

Let`s Have a G20 Every Weekend!

I drove out of Toronto westbound Saturday morning, returning this morning. Never have the drives been so smooth and fast; for some reason there was little other traffic on the roads.
Please, more!

Heather Mallick is Still Equally Intelligent

Maybe they don't notice it at the Guardian.
She bemoans the fact that the Ontario teachers' Pension Plan is considering investing in a British high-speed rail line.
We'd love it if our teachers bought a high-speed rail line from us [Canada, she may mean. ed.]. If we had one to sell, which we don't.
There may not be a nation in the world that needs high-speed trains more than Canada does
Nor is there a nation in the world where it is less economical a proposition. Or to quote Tim Worstall (to whom a h/t is owed):
Large, sparesly populated, places are probably the last place you would want to build high speed railways.
If I wanted investment advice you can be sure I would go to the managers of the Ontario Teachers`Pension Plan long before I`d consider the amusement of asking Heather Mallick, though I am sure I would get some good laughs.

G20 Humor (Unintentional, I assume)

It was pretty hard to keep a straight face during this performance (which was the usual fumbling and bombast in the absence of TOTUS' help). Don;t you love those problems that "aren't workin'"?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Before and After Visiting the Fermilab

A seventh-grade class visits Fermilab and this page summarizes their conceptions of scientists before and after the visit, with sketches, and short descriptions.
My favorite change is Marisa's. In her 'before' drawing the scientist is a somewhat geeky-looking guy; in the 'after' it is a fairly normal looking woman with green hair.
Her descriptions:
A scientist is hard working, studious, detail-oriented, observant, intelligent, exacting, and patient.
Exacting? Grade 7?
Most people think of a scientist as a person who is nerdy, studious, scholarly, and a person who is devoted to her job and doesn¹t have much of a personality or isn¹t very interesting. This is a stereotype and today just proves that scientists have lives, interests, hobbies, families and friends. I find that scientists are very, very interesting
I suspect the "most people think" is introducing what was a projection on her part.
I do not understand the apparent quotation from Marisa on the home page for theproject.
BTW she is not typical. It pleased me to see how many of the girls pictured women as their 'before' scientist.

What a great little project!

h/t BoingBoing

Benefits of the G20

My drive this morning to the fitness club, which normally joins morning rush hour traffic into downtown Toronto, was amazingly smooth and fast,with no serious lineups at lights, almost as when I do it on the weekend. I concluded that people were not going to work.
When I got to the fitness club the parking lot was uncharacterisitcally empty. Ahh - they`ve all gone out of town!
What other tasks might I do today which are normally badly affected by the presence of other people?

James Moore and C-32

James Moore rants against any complaints about Bill C-32, the government's proposed copyright 'reform', which includes very strong restrictions on what can be done with content protected by a digital lock.

Cory Doctorow explains why Moore is wrong about these parts of C-32 (parts I understandwere pushed into the bill over the good sense opposition of Tony Clement).
Note that Docotorw is a content producer and thus one of those people Moore claims to be trying to help. Nope, I think not. Go read the post for teh explanations; I`ll quote the bottom lines.
digital locks don't stop piracy. All they do is weaken the case for buying music, movies and books instead of ripping them off -- after all, no one woke up this morning wishing there was a way to do less with her music. So how could adding a digital lock make a paid product more attractive than the free version?
That's the "creativity" that the new Canadian copyright law rewards: writing an ebook reader, designing a tablet, building a phone. Those "creators" get more say in the destiny of Canadian artists' copyrights than the artists themselves.
Doctorow again:
If Minister Moore is serious about protecting actual creators -- the Canadians who write books, who design games, who perform music, who produce films and TV shows -- then all he has to do is insert a simple exception to his digital locks rule:
A copyright proprietor may authorize the public to remove a digital lock in order to gain access and to use of his copyrighted works.
Get that? People who create stuff should have the right to let their audiences move copyrighted works to other platforms.
I challenge Minister Moore to climb down from his nasty smears about copyright reformers and address this and other legitimate concerns over digital locks rules. Thousands and thousands of Canadians spoke out against this kind of rule in the Canadian copyright proceedings. James Moore has tabled a bill that ignores the results of his own consultation, and then had the bad grace to smear the creators and audiences who, in good faith, came forward to participate in the debate over the future of Canadian copyright.
He owes us an apology. And an explanation.
The smears from Moore above make me embarrassed to have him as part of my government.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vienna is Sadly Not so Different

h/t Harry's Place. Karl Pfeifer reports:
The city of Vienna launched a promotion campaign with the slogan “Wien ist anders”: Vienna is different. And Vienna after the Second World War was different as it did not invite back its former Jewish citizens and tolerated anti-Semitism in politics and media for several decades.
After the publication of Carl Schorske’s book “Fin de siècle in Vienna” the city of Vienna discovered that the world wants to know more about the blooming of culture in Vienna and about those Jews who contributed to it. Since then the city of Vienna has opened a Jewish Museum, and Michael Häupl, the Social Democratic mayor, condemned the anti-Semitic election campaign in 2001 by the FPÖ of Jörg Haider.
Though he now document's hte community's surprise, I confess I have none:
Therefore it was a surprise to the Jewish community when the Vienna City Council (Wiener Gemeinderat) voted unanimously for an anti-Israeli resolution initiated by Omar al Rawi, a Social Democratic member of city council.
Anti-Zionism you will say and a concern for huan rights! Don't you dare suggest anti-Semitism.
So the evidence-gathering begins.
Three letter sent to request that the City Council comdemn three utterly egregious violations of human rights. And of course nary a peep.
Pfeifer concludes:
Foreigners should consider the slogan “Vienna is different” as a dangerous threat. And you can inform the president of Vienna City Council G. Schuster (godwin.schuster@spw.at) that anti-Semitism manifests itself by applying one standard to the State of Israel and another to the behaviour of any other nation.

Call a G20, and all the Loonies ...

... head for it!
Police have arrested a man near the G20 security zone who had an arsenal of weapons, including a crossbow and chainsaw, in a makeshift storage container on top of his car.
'Arsenal' seems a bit generous.
The car has Ontario license plates, and a bumper tied on with string. On top of the car sat a homemade storage container fashioned from sheet metal.
From it, police removed a crossbow, five arrows, a sledgehammer, a pick-axe, a chainsaw, a baseball bat, a gasoline canister and a cola bottle. A hazardous materials team took samples from the bottle, canister and water containers on site, and a K9 unit was also brought to the scene
Sounds like a do-it-yourself hunter, who likes to carry emergency supplies in case he runs out of gas or gets thirsty in an isolated location.
Still I am pleased he is not driving around my neighborhood!

Congratulations to the First Female Prime Minister of Australia

Interesting how she got there. Apparently Rudd, with whom The One has a "meeting of the minds", sank in the polls after hiss proposed carbon trading scheme went south.
I hope she lasts longer than ours did. At least long enough to meet The One's mind.

Quote of the Day

At 63-62 in the 5th set Isner's coach is interviewed and says, "I don't think anyone trains for this".

Omens for the G20

And the earth will shake, and there will be torrents of rain, and great whirling winds will come from the sky, ....
Central Ontario had an earthquake yesterday, and last night a tornado hit Midland (not far from the G8 site), and now I sit under a torrential rain.
We may have fun ahead.
I rather wish the torrential rain had waited for the tent city to be filled.

Are the Professionl Violent Protestors the Useful Idiots?

I had not thought of it this way, but Marcus Gee makes some very good points in this column.
John Thompson, who studies security issues at Toronto’s Mackenzie Institute, says that defending the G20 leaders against terrorism is consuming only about a quarter of the more than $900-million budgeted for security. The rest goes to fending off the rag-tag crew of street fighters who will honour our city with their presence in the next few days.
They are pretty clear about their intentions. In one Web video, kerchiefed rappers urge listeners to “leave Bay Street blazing.” A group called the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance will march on the downtown security fence in aid of its struggle against the “capitalist, colonial, racist, patriarchal, homophobic, transphobic Canadian state.” Its aim: to “humiliate the security apparatus” through “militant and confrontational” action.
It would be simple enough for other protest groups to distance themselves from this lawless fringe and commit themselves to purely peaceful protest. But they won’t.
None of this is news to me, but it seems to escape the standard CBC Worldview, and even more shockingly to me, it appeared to be missed by everyone on TVO's The Agenda last inght, when the focus was on balancing the billion versus the safety of the leaders, not protection of the city from those determined to get attention by causing destruction of various sorts. Shockingly, that show even allowed the canard about police provocation in Quebec pass without a demand for evidence; that canard has become a standard piece of leftist knowledge. (Yes there were police in the crowd dressed up in the standard protestor uniforms, as I would hope the police do this weekend as well, but no evidence I have seen that there was provocation).
But this had not really crossed my mind.
The fact is that activists find the violent fringe useful. Violence draws television cameras – if it bleeds, it leads – and cameras draw attention to the struggle. Activist leaders may not throw bricks themselves, but many will be quite content if others do.
And when it happens, you can be sure they will blame the violence entirely on the police.
Yes he is right and I had missed this; the CBC and the other rather feeble media will interview these guys who will truthfully say they did nothing, and then rather duplicitously, that they are shocked by the police actions (hiding the fact that they KNOW full well about the real cause of those actions.
To quote him making a good analogy:
When King Arthur accosts an annoying peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the peasant yelps, “Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system. Did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn’t you?” Expect lots of that kind of stagy complaint this weekend. But if real trouble does break out, remember that the groups who refused to commit themselves to non-violence are complicit in the result.

White Flight in Short Pants

In the middle of FIFA's World Cup, Steve Sailer has a little fun looking at team compositions.
I’ve been following the World Cup since Pelé went out with a bang in 1970. Over the decades, the rhetoric that quadrennially accompanies the soccer championship has grown ever more strident in its insistence that the reason most Americans find soccer less than galvanizing as a spectator sport is that they … fear diversity!
Personally, I am enjoying this World Cup (to a degree of near fanaticism), but the game itself leaves much to be desired: not so much the amount of scoring, but the arbitrariness of much of it, largely a result of the impossibility of actually enforcing the written rules consistently, with the relatively small squad of officials left to themselves on the field; today this makes the sport unique.
In reality, soccer, both at the international superstar level and at the park league level in America, is whiter than football, basketball, or baseball.
Superficially, I'd have guessed it was similar to baseball, but don't really watch baseball until the last couple of games of the World Series, if that.
For example, the last World Cup was won by Italy’s all white team. In America, this would be considered scandalous.
Wait until the various human rights commissions here discover the work they could do in hockey and lacrosse!!
Let’s look at ESPN’s list from earlier this year of the “Top 50 players of the World Cup.” The five best players in the world -- Lionel Messi of Argentina (who is of Italian descent), Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal (a Tim Tebow-lookalike), Wayne Rooney of England, Kaka of Brazil (who is from an upper middle-class family), and Xavi of Spain --are white.
Out of the top 10, eight are white and two from West Africa. Out of the top 50, the proportions look similar. Judging from their pictures, I would say 10 are black, one is mostly white but clearly part black, and the other 39 look more or less white. None of the top 50 are East Asian or South Asian, and I don’t see any that are as mestizo-looking as, say, Diego Maradona, the star of the 1986 World Cup.
In contrast, only one American-born white guy has been selected to the NBA All Star game in the last half dozen years. Most of the prestige positions in the NFL other than quarterback are dominated by blacks.
On to American impacts:
Whiteness is even more predominant in American soccer participation rates. From the late 1960s onward, white middle-class parents started to notice that soccer was a fine sport for their children to play, especially now that football and basketball were coming to be dominated at the highest levels by, well, by … uh, you know … And at this point countless conversations I’ve had over the years with very nice liberal white soccer parents typically break down into uncomfortable gesticulations as they try to not quite come out and say that soccer in America has been, to a large degree, White Flight in Short Pants.
There follows a very nice analysis of this by proxy, using the place of placekickers in the NFL. And then a nice one tying the rules (not any of the ones that bother me) to the discouragement of West African talent.
And a nice summary:
So, FIFA could change the rules to make the game more appealing to American spectators, which would benefit black athletes. But it doesn’t want to. It thinks soccer is fine the way it is, as a white-dominated sport.
The rest of the world seems to agree.
I've heard the wonderful doubly racist 'analysis' during this year's coverage that the reason the African teams are doing relatively poorly is that they are coached by Europeans, who impose discipline and suppress the happy-go-lucky African style of play inherent in their culture. I think Steve's analysis explains the limitations of the African teams rather better.

Petraeus vs. McChrystal

At Power Line John reminds us of this pathetic performance by The One:

and Paul then asks something I wondered about:
After that exchange in 2007, it's difficult to believe that Petraeus holds Obama in higher regard than McChrystal and his staff do. Petraeus is far more savvy, and will almost certainly keep these views to himself. But it's a measure of the General's patriotism that he would accept this assignment from Obama -- not because of the way Obama treated him in 2007, but because he surely understands the odds against succeeding in a difficult war that requires great patience, under a president like this one.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thiemo De Bakker is Surely Smiling

He is slated at Wimbledon to play the winner of the Nicholas Mahut-John Isner match.
When I switched over from a World Cup match to Wimbledon, this was the match on screen and there was a clear misprint in the score as it said they were tied at 2-set each, and 58-58 in the fifth set. I switched back in annoyance to some talking heads.
And now I learn that the current score in the match, when play was suspended for darkness, was 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9-7), 6-7(3-7), 59-59.
Read all about it here.
Isner has 98 aces, a record in the history of the sport. (Mahut has 95 which is also far beyond the old record.)
By the time the contest was halted, the two protagonists could barely stand, let alone make it back to the locker room. But they will have to make the return journey on Thursday, when the match resumes as the third match on the same court.
To quickly sum up the key records: 10 hours is a new record for the longest tennis match played at Wimbledon, at any Grand Slam, in fact anywhere since someone first picked up a racket and decided to thwack a ball with it. And for those who measure length by the number of games in a match, it set a new record by that measure as well. And there's at least two more games to come.
At the start of the afternoon, everyone was wondering whether Isner could finish up where he had left off and set a new record for aces struck in a Wimbledon match, the 78 held by Ivo Karlovic. By the end of the day, he had knocked the particular record into next weekend by setting a new mark of 98. But by the end of play tomorrow, it could be even higher or he could himself be eclipsed by a certain Mr N Mahut, who has smashed down 95 so far and counting.
Those poor guys.
UPDATE: I had not realized but discovered from another blog (sorry, forgot which), but these poor guys started late on Tuesday!

A Happy Birthday to Alan Turing

... whom I recently mentioned , from Stephen Wolfram.
It's a nice essay, showing easily the breadth of Turing's contributions (this was new to me, as I had only ever learned about his work in my area of specialty). A nice summary from the essay:
He was in some respects a quintessential British amateur, dipping his intellect into different areas. He achieved a high level of competence in pure mathematics, and used that as his professional base. His contributions in traditional mathematics were certainly perfectly respectable, though not spectacular. But in every area he touched, there was a certain crispness to the ideas he developed—even if their technical implementation was sometimes shrouded in arcane notation and masses of detail.

In some ways he was fortunate to live when he did. For he was at the right time to be able take the formalism of mathematics as it had been developed, and to combine it with the emerging engineering of his day, to see for the first time the general concept of computation.

Some of the Protestors are Very Brave

And can withstand the power of an earthquake.
Protesters covered in fake blood and oil “walked right through the earthquake” that hit downtown Toronto on Wednesday afternoon, carrying on with their march against global mining, said Sgt. Tim Burrows.
I do wonder how far the Sergeant's tongue is stuck into his cheek. The earthquake shook me, on my couch, very mildly in the course of maybe 5 seconds. I imagine people walking on the street could fail to notice it at all. We are 300 kilometres away from the epicenter of a mere 5.0 quake.
I am impressed by the creativity of the protestors:
The Toronto Community Mobilization Network Facebook page also provided ideas for protest costumes, which included “executives with blood on their hands, corporate zombies, and people covered in Tar Sands bitumen.”
Man are those original ideas! Why not Mao with blood on his hands? - he actually had a pile. Or a float with Che personally executing children?
And how do you identify 'executives' and 'corporate people'?
It reminds of a great line from I think Monday's Metro Morning as Matt Galloway was discussing the suggestion that people in suits avoid the security areas - "Don't want to look like the Man!"
It caught the mentality (if there a brain involved) of this crew. Though I suspect these were mostly pretty sweet people. Not enough media here yet to bring out the creeps.

OK To Destroy Buildings, Cars, ...

... say the protest leaders at the G8/G20!
And these are the useful idiots put at the head of the organization, not the perverts who glom onto them.
In a moment of startling candour yesterday, organizers of this week’s G8 and G20 protests refused to condemn the use of violence during demonstrations, saying participants will “resist in ways that make sense for them.”
Syed Hussan, a spokesman for the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, told reporters gathered at the group’s Queen Street West headquarters that summit security personnel can expect “different people taking different actions in the ways that they see fit.”
When asked if the group, a collection of grassroots organizations and activists, condemns violent protest at the two summits, Mr. Hussan replied: “No.”
Meanwhile the chimps on the rage are getting ready, it seems:
The refusal to discourage extreme tactics — which security experts fear could include the torching of banks and vehicles in the downtown core — comes a day after Toronto police discovered a cache of “homemade weapons” hidden in some bushes near Allan Gardens, the picturesque park near Yonge and College Streets where protesters are expected to hunker down and establish a tent city.
Sergeant Tim Burrows would not describe the exact nature of the devices discovered by police, but said they could be wielded or thrown “in an offensive manner.” He added that officers on general patrol in an undisclosed area also discovered broken concrete and bricks that could be used as projectiles. They were found in a back alley where there was no evidence of construction, he said.
The main threat is of course to small businessmen, who cannot move their buildings into a safe zone, nor can they hire expensive security forces the way the owners of more expensive businesses can.
“If the protesters are looking to drive home a message, we certainly hope it’s not going to be on the backs of small businesses,” said Mr. Kiru, noting that he believes if protesters were promising peaceful demonstrations, there wouldn’t be a need for the massive security measures we’ve seen to date.
“Quite frankly, don’t blame the government. It is the protesters who are causing this with their approach. Their intent is to get as much publicity and attention as possible.”
Look it is not about messages. It is more primal - it is the ache to feel like a big shot. And these people are so morally puny they think this is the way to do it.
I must say I'd rather spend time near the security zone than that planned tent city, which should be a cesspool by Sunday.
BTW - security measures have finally touched life slightly in my part of Toronto! I twice heard helicopters flying overhead, something I never hear normally.

Prescience Regarding NATO Leaders

For some time Michael Yon has been calling for the dismissals of Canada's head of Afghan forces, Daniel Menard, and the US counterpart Stanley McChrystal.
He got his wish a while ago with respect to Menard, who simply violated some rules of engagement (internally to the forces) and was removed.
Now he has his wish with regard to McChrstal.
Seems to me either McChrystal was a damned fool to let a reporter from Rolling Stone, of all outfits, get close contact to him, his aides, and their internal workings, or that McChrystal contrived this so as to be fired. In either case he should have been fired.
So Yon's wishes come true, though maybe for reasons not directly connected to his call from arms (though bad judgment is at the core of all of it).

Earthquake in Toronto?

I just got shaken very slightly twice in a row, separated by the time I was able to start thinking "What the h...?".
More news later....
I should not have been so surprised; the only other time in the last 40 years I have felt an eartquake was also in Toronto, and this despite having lived six years in California.

On the Other Hand Some Hope

Again from Terry Glavin.
I especially like the first comment.

Sorry Afghan Women - We Were Just Joking

While these developments reflect looming threats for the women of Afghanistan, the argument of sacrificing their rights has been created for purposes of the peace programme. But Afghanistan has the second largest maternal mortality rate in the world. More than half of school-age girls are not able to go school and those who dare to go are too often threatened by insecurity and school attacks.
Women in politics are taking risks with their lives (those who threaten or kill them rarely go punished), while the new election law gives their seats to a man if they don't run for office due to security reasons. The media rarely covers the conditions for women in the central and northern provinces who are plagued with hunger and poverty because they do not relate to the counterinsurgency initiatives.
It is in these circumstances that we are being asked to sacrifice. As one activists from the Afghan Women's Networks said: "We have sacrificed for the past 30 years with our lives and rights and the men were the ones who killed and ruined. We are also not so privileged that our government will fight for us – therefore it is time for them to sacrifice their powers and give up creating more violence and injustices for women."
h/t Terry Glavin

Amazing Animal Story

Over at KPC.
I have a lot of respect for Canada Geese, certainly more than they have for me.

Live Theatre in Toronto

The rehearsals are ongoing in earnest now.
The G20 is coming to Toronto and with it much world media. Along with all the world leaders and their various flacks, the international community of professional disruptors, agitators, and other similar idiots (basically a band of over-excited chimps looking for a fight and finding a guaranteed opponent, with the added frisson of doing it in the name of purportedly worthy causes, and in front of an enraptured audience) will be lurking amidst the far greater numbers of sincere people wishing to also use the media to expose their concerns and difficulties with existing policies. As most such past meetings have shown, that small number of pros is capable of wreaking a lot of havoc, as they seem to lack much in the way of respect for people's property or safety.
So the first round of rehearsals, done in public to communicate, has been the preparation of the various security forces, ramping up step by step, from a security fence and a concentration of police, announcement of tools to be used, and a substantially reduced free public access to key areas that will be used in the conference.
This has generated much hand-wringing among CBC types - witness the first appalling half-hour of The Current Monday; this show is the ultimate expression of CBCthought; in fact the host rarely serves as a moderator but wades in as a partisan with the right thoughts if someone strays - here the producers set this host in company with security experts architectural critic Christoper Hume and some junior geography prof from a typically lefty Toronto unversity, against newspaper columnist Lorrie Goldstein, whose expertise was questioned indeed. You'd think from the experts that all of Toronto was being ruined permanently, when for only a few days is a very tiny part of Toronto affected at all. I live in Toronto and there will be no protests or riots in my neighborhood because there will be no media here; there is probably even a reduced police presence here because local police are likely working the small area affected. And in a few days all will be as before, unless people like the loons who firebombed a bank in Ottawa and threatened this meeting with a similar fate have their way and destroy a building or two. If there were none of them we would not even have this burp in added security.
Personally if I new in advance that, say 3%, of the spectators at a baseball game were bent on destruction and violence during the game I'd be disinclined to be involved without some pretty public assurance of a commitment to prevent it all.
Protests have already begun, the official meetings begin tomorrow, and with it the play we have been rehearsing for.
I rather hope it will be a very boring play, with very poor reviews from the media.
Then we can all get back with our more normal squabbling and disagreement.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lamest Wikipedia Entry Today

Obviously we can engage in competition about this question using timestamps for edits, etc.
So I looked up fist-pump and got this; this is as of June 21, 2010 about 5:30 Eastern Time.
I was wondering what tennis player first started using this annoying gesture first? My first recollection is Jimmy Connors, who clearly felt really good when he could waggle his arm.
Did he get this from some predecessor? Wikipedia is currently mute on this. As it is on the entry for Connors.

World Cup Post #6 : Alan Awaits Coke Ads

Among the various kinds of music I expected to hear during the World Cup I did not include the vuvuzela (and it is a nice reminder of spending summer afternoons near my in-laws`beehives), and particularly not Waka-Waka, which I am glad to say I never hear.
As it turns out the CBC has a lot of Coke (capitalized!) ads so I do get the relative pleasure of hearing K`Naan`s `Waving Flags`.

Inane but an actual anthem!

Amanda Bynes Retires

Really? At 24?
I am retired and I am not sure that is quite true. In fact some recent behavior bespeaks the opposite!
And I loved her in "She's the Man", one of the great re-dos of Twelfth Night (thanks SCHS, and I am delighted to see you have a Wikipedia entry!).
So Amanda please re-think. But if you really do not like the job, don't stick in it for me. I know I felt the need to change careers. I am sure you will pick something else good. Your IMDB entry suggests to me you have some options, and that your mother lives in Toronto, like me!
Her mother's family lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
And if you visit your Mom, I'd be happy to meet at a Tim Horton's and talk about changing careers. :-)

Good News About the Ashbridge's Bay Swans

The little devils decided to nest much farther from the normal view of us morning joggers, walkers, and dog-walkers, and it has been much harder to know what the state of this year's reproduction has been.
This I know from pictures not worth putting up that I took on Sunday morning - there are at least two cygnets, fairly sizeable, so this is not far off the three they have brought to survival in the last couple of years. I see no evidence in the fuzzy pictures that there are three so I hope that next year they reconsider and go back to nesting to where they used to!
Meanwhile I confirmed we still have a beaver in the Ashbridge's Bay beaver lodge as well. This was easier to confirm - when you are on the right part of my walking path you are likely at most 10 feet from a beaver paddling near the lodge, and the beaver seems perfectly happy to stare you down! Whether there are kits (beaverlets) this year I do not know - there were at least two last year, as I learned from the morning walking community (and their dogs), but the male of the couple was also killed last summer, so I may have been having a staring contest with a spinster beaver.
I plan to continue more studious research on both these fronts this year.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup Post #5 : Shuggy Is Discontented

My guess, given that he is a Scot, he really does not care that England looks so feckless at the World Cup.
But I understand his other point. But he appears to have missed this.

World Cup Post #4 - The Beautiful Game?

I am coming to think the Stupid Game!
What other sport:
a) has rules that encourage two guys to smack their skulls together hard at any given moment?
b) has rules to encourage people to kick one another in various body parts and step on one another using sharp cleats?
c) has some rules so complicated even the referees cannot explain their decisions?
d) still has not figured out the use of instant replays?

Cosmology Talk of great Interest

Steve Paikin hosts it here.
It is described as related to Stephen Hawking's Perimeter Institute visit but strays fairly quiuckly from that, it seems to me.
It feature Janna Levin!
Though I think in the end Lee Smolin's disciplinary comments (in two senses) about evidence and data were the best contribution.
And in the end I wondered if anyone other than the utterly estimable Steve Paikin could have done such a great job of such an interesting piece of television.
I must thank the robin who woke me in the middle of the night and sent me channel-hopping.

Friday, June 18, 2010

CBC Expert Testimony on the Oil Spill

Gloria Reuben?! Cute as a button.
And dumb as a button.
What is in the mind (if they have one) of CBC producers?
This is the CBC's idea of expert testimony?!
I am embarrassed by my country. (Though Gloria is REALLY cute.)
UPDATE: REALLY REALLY cute. Bright, well, that is another question, but she is impressed by Obama's speech.
UPDATE #2: Gloria has the answer! We can conserve energy. Now Gloria is a media figure - my guess is if she commits to bicycling for all her future travel this would be a big help. I have a haunting suspicion she will not make that commitment.
Now I confess I flew to Portland, Oregon last week and flew back and I am bad too but I am not getting holier than Gloria about this stuff.
Will Gloria commit to stop driving and flying the rest of her life?
I think I know the answer!
Why does the CBC give her ten minutes! I could use the ten minutes.
UPDATE: Hmm by the way - should not the CBC document the cost to us of remote electronic interviews like that with Gloria Reuben? Maybe the standard assumption should be that all interviewees walk down to the CBC studios for a chat! If they ask me I commit to that. I am coming to despise these people.

The Society and Its Elected Leaders

SillyWife rightly poked me in the ribs a bit about my negativity about the current US President and the documented fact that I teared up over his election.
Yes I did. His election was a great credit to the country he now leads, however uselessly.
It proved that a ton of the most stupid criticisms of that society were utterly false.
OTOH it does not mean he is a good leader.
And they have elected some really bad ones in the past.
In fact Obama is in a close race with Jimmy Carter, who allowed the incredibly awful and costly change in Iran to occur, presided over some of the stupidest economic policies ever, and fumbled it totally, and continues to infect discussions of the Middle East with his stupidity. God forbid we have Obama engaged in similar crap in forty years.
I am as yet unsure who of the two was the worst President of my lifetime - but these two are way ahead of the competition.
Many of my generation would insist I should pick Richard Nixon - nope! The trip to China was redeeming and we and China are still benefiting from it. The guy was a visionary, and my hatred of him got stuff wrong back then.
Now sure, could be that Obama's bowing and scraping to totalitarians will mean that in 30 years the Muslim world will be modernized, productive, and at peace with Obama's new West. As will North Korea.
Well, I see little signs of any progress in that direction (and would say Nixon's reaching out started to have effect very fast). If anything I would say that the Turkish involvement in the fauxtilla charade shows that Obama is losing anything we in the West could call allies (Obama might still think them so).
I may not live to see how this comes out but this joke of a leader gives me no solace.

The Jones Act

Obama really is a failure.
Keith Hennessey documents it. This is just sad.
I miss you GWB!

Leadership Season

A couple of weeks ago we should have noted Eisenhower's brave decision in 1944.
Here is a fascinating Telegraph article on some of the deep pains Churchill dealt with in June 1940.
Even this draft he would revise and correct right up to the last minute in red and blue ink – even insert completely new phrases.
The best example of this is on the penultimate page of these final speaking notes.
Just before the phrase "The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin", he added in his own red pen, at the last moment, "all shall be restored".
The article points out that the speech did not get generally rave reviews.
However, if you think I am suggesting Obama's oil spill speech will get great reviews 70 years later, I must disappoint you. The point is of course the contrast.
I am pretty sure if we have existential crises in my lifetime two things are true:
a) Canada will not be the last defender, and this is independent of who is running the country;
b) the current US Administration, without some shocking enormous replacement of personnel, will not be the last defender.
Maybe Russia or China will.
I sure hope someone will!
UPDATE: On deGaulle's parallel speech see Rondi's blog.
Again, deGaulle was, whatever else, a leader.

Giuliani Dissects

I've got mixed feelings about him, but what he says about executive responsibility he lived up to and it makes a ton of sense.

How can an executive accept information from only one source? Be an executive who has NO experience.

He Admits he is Flat-Out Stupid?

I missed this in all the reports I had heard about Obama's oil-drilling speech (I can no longer experience his speeches directly), but Byron York rightly fastens on it.
About midway through his talk, Obama acknowledged that he had approved new offshore drilling a few weeks before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20. But Obama said he had done so only "under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe."
York describes a hunt for someone who would make such an assurance, and, needless to say, he cannot find one. That is because most people are reasonably intelligent and know that even walking to the corner store has risks.
That leaves York, and me, with a simple reflection:
That would be troubling, but not as troubling as the possibility that Obama actually believed his own claim. What would that say about the president many commentators have described as brilliant?
And what does it say about those who continue to struggle to believe he is brilliant, or even marginally competent?

Faster Please

After 'Heh', the standard phrase from Instapundit, who enthusiastically welcomes medical innovation and discovery (having a beloved wife who has so benefited from it).
But what I am on about is this - the idea that maybe people are noticing the cancer in the left. THe more people, especially with good left-wing instincts, who figure this out, the sooner we can not have to deal with people like Libby Davies as party deputy leaders.
It can hardly hurt to cite how Terry Glavin describes the evil:
Whatever name you want to give the thing, its noticeable features include a betrayal of progressive internationalism, a pathetic weakness for conspiracy theories, and a routine apologetics for antisemitism and terror. Its outlook is generally parochial, but its global engagements tend to align with fascism’s contemporary Islamist variants, even to the point of objective support for the Taliban.
It's an evil that has to my astonishment infected my family, and even some very few people who once were friends (I get to pick the latter, not the former, so the quality can be higher).
My heart sinks contemplating what a sewer my home city is likely to become during the G20 starting next week, an open invitation for these perfectly awful sad people to come and try to destroy civil life as part of their partying. Maybe if we are lucky some more MSM folk will notice how charming these morally ugly people are.

Scoundrels AND Liars Too

The Wall Street Journal eviscerates the rhetoric behind the Obama administration's six-month drilling moratorium. This guy is becoming an embarassment.
All of this matters because it offers proof the moratorium was driven by politics, not safety. The drilling ban was not reviewed by experts, and was not necessary to satisfy most of the safety recommendations in Mr. Salazar's report. It was authored by political actors so Mr. Obama could look tough. A cynic might argue the ban was only added after review precisely because the Administration knew experts would refuse to endorse it.
The deepest irony is that the stated goal of safety is not served by the proposed 'solution' (this is usually the case with lefty 'solutions').
A big reason why those experts would have balked is because they recognize that the moratorium is indeed a threat to safety. Mr. Arnold offers at least four reasons why.
The ban requires oil companies to abandon uncompleted wells. The process of discontinuing a well, and then later re-entering it, introduces unnecessary risk. He notes BP was in the process of abandoning its well when the blowout happened.
OK great - first increase basic risks!
The ban is going to push drilling rigs to take jobs in other countries. "The ones that go first will be the newest, biggest, safest rigs, because they are most in demand. The ones that go last and come back first are the ones that aren't as modern," says Mr. Arnold.
Excellent - drive the safest rigs to Brazil.
The indeterminate nature of this ban will encourage experienced crew members to seek other lines of work—perhaps permanently. Restarting after a ban will bring with it a "greater mix of new people who will need to be trained." The BP event is already pointing, in part, to human error, and the risk of that will increase with a less experienced crew base. Finally, a ban will result in more oil being imported on tankers, which are "more likely" to spill oil than local production.
Nice - deskill the workforce - that way maybe the government might end up with more expertise in this area than BP.
All this is even before raising ban's economic consequences, which already threaten tens of thousands of jobs. This is why Louisiana politicians are now pleading with the Administration to back off a ban that is sending the Gulf's biggest industry to its grave.
"Mr. President, you were looking for someone's butt to kick," said Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, recently. "You're kicking ours." The sooner the Administration climbs down from this pointless exercise, the better for a Gulf that needs real help.
The problem is that the vindictive pathetic little fool behind all this posturing can hardly back down now, so will remain the foolish martinet he is proving himself so consistently to be.
THe oil spill has been a great leadership test and he is failing, but not even with dignity.

Sometimes the Small Things are Just Great

Nice post from Mike Munger, which I will quote almost all of!
Oh what the heck, all of it!
From the LMM:
So much less humidity. Sunny, slight cool breeze. Sitting on the porch drinking tea, listening to birds, watching hummingbird.
Last night a firetruck stopped by to drop something of to the subdivision president. Little boy (5) next to our house runs out yelling, fire truck, fire truck! The young volunteer firemen see this, pull down the street with the sirens on, lights flashing, stop in front of the little boys house, one gets out and hands the kid a (plastic) fireman's hat. SOOO cute.

Think sweet thoughts today. You'll feel better.
Reminds me of the opening of Blue Velvet a bit, though that is perhaps a perverse association to make, given the intended message, which I heartily endorse.

Excellent Elton John

h/t Harry's Place, where Gavin Gross reports:
I was at Elton John’s sold-out concert last night at Israel’s Ramat Gan stadium, and thought this greeting he delivered was spot-on and deserves wide distribution.
Elton ... proudly proclaimed “ain’t nobody gonna stop us from coming here.” He said that as a musician his job was to spread love and peace, and that “we don’t cherry-pick our conscience,” a line for which he received extended applause.
I took this to be a sharp dig at the hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness of figures in the West who focus their ire almost exclusively on Israel, and particularly at his fellow musicians who have recently cancelled their shows here, such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Gil Scott-Heron and others.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Awful Truth

Sis pointed out that TCM was running this movie tonight. Man - the Lakers-Celtics, a couple of episodes of The Mentalist, and now this!
This is not necessarily the best segment of the movie, as it is mostly GREAT segments but it IS pretty good.

Last Night's 'The Daily Show'

Jon Stewart effectively reviews Obama's Oil Spill Speech and it is scarily good. This is the June 16 episode - if you're in Canada you can see it here (after some navigation).
My favorite moment was the "What the f%^& was that?"
But wow! That Jon Stewart could be so brilliantly savage says a lot about how quickly people are now seeing what a failure this presidency is proving to be and how tired we are of listening to this clown drone on.
Stewart also has some well-justified fun with FOX News and the request for divine intervention against the oil spill.
(Actually the whole episode rightly savages several presidents.)
"We are an unstoppable oil-dependency-breaking machine! Unfortunately the machine runs on oil." Brilliant.

How to Watch the Bachelorette

Two steps:
1) Watch the show.
2) Watch RealitySteve's synopsis.
There is little question which is more fun.
One great thing he does is explain the feeling I get several times per show, roughly "Who would really do that?". The answer - roughly, someone helped by the ABC producers.
Just last week I recently spoke to a former female contestant on the show. Not going to mention who it is or what season. Not important. However, my main question to her was kinda talking about how did they get them to do stuff that normal people wouldn’t necessarily do on a first/second date. Why do so many people do/say stupid things on this show? Why don’t you just tell these producers, “No, I’m not doing/saying that” when they poke and prod you to say stuff you normally wouldn’t say. Like Shooter telling that story the first night. C’mon, like any guy would ever admit that to a woman the first time he gets alone with her. So what power do these producers yield? I thought she gave a really good, detailed answer. Here’s what she said about her experience:
“”They manipulated the crap out of me. I like to follow rules, so I did everything they told me to. That was a big mistake. When you are in the moment, however, you don’t stop and think, “hmmm…how will this look on tv? How will they edit this?” So later, when it aired, I had plenty of “oh crap” moments!
For example, on one of my group dates, I said something I would NEVER say in real life. However, beforehand, a producer pulled me aside and asked if I would say it. When I refused, their response was, “well, if you don’t do it, then I will no longer give you one-on-one time with him, so he’ll probably end up sending you home since he won’t know you”. So…I did it.
They are VERY good at finding ways to get people to do things. Are you absolutely forced to do anything? No, but they have all of the power to harm you because of that (i.e. Not giving you one-on-one time, editing something to look a different way, etc).
There is NO handbook or “what to expect” class before going on this show. I had NO idea what I was walking in to. I just thought I was going on a tv show for the fun of it. In the moment, your mindset is very warped. You are living in a bubble, so it’s easy to get wrapped up in things.”
I think that’s pretty self explanatory and gave great insight. I guess it’s easy for us as viewers to sit back and say, “I’d never say something like that to someone”, or “My God, I’d never bust out and sing some crappy song like that”, but, at least you see now there’s a reason why this stuff happens. Promised roses, or that you’ll be in good standing, or if you choose not to, the threat of “Hey, well if you don’t do it, you might be going home.” This is just one former contestants example. And no, it’s not Rozlyn. I’ve heard stuff like this all the time for the last three years from contestants. The producers are very good at what they do, and it’s why there’s drama every season – they have a way of creating it. So yeah, Kasey embarrassed himself last night, but I guarantee they were putting stuff in his head making him think he almost HAD to do that to save himself. His fault for falling for it, he comes off as a complete weirdo, but I gotta think there was pressure on him to do that. Because lets face it, no one does what he did last night thinking, “Yeah, this is gonna make me look real good.” It’s a TV show people. Lets remember that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Has Anyone Ever Written Better Lyrics?

C'est paye, balaye, oublie, je me fous du passe.
Yeah there are a bunch of missing accents, but Je repars a zero (also missing lot of funny accents).
Short answer - nope, nobody ever beat this and nor did anyone beat this singer:

This Idea Seems Insane to Me

But you know that is what is so great about the Wainwrights!
And I certainly enjoyed this.

But Piaf was way better. OTOH Martha is alive.
Just so you know:

Or with way more exclamations:

I think it is great the Wainwrights want that heritage to survive. But Holy cow! What we lost!

Bradley Cooper? French?!

I am astonished! Bradley Cooper does not simply speak French, he REALLY speaks French!
Nice to see. I think I have to notch up my admiration a couple of levels.

Here is Where Obama is Taking Us

h/t Bob

And by 'us' I mean the whole world.
Thanks, Barry!
This poor guy is desperately unable to say his business is being screwed by Obama but cannot quite hide it in the end.

I Do Not Find This Pretty

And I find it weird.
Evan Solomon is talking to Vic Toews, and citing videotapes of Ignatieff, and everyone seems proud that they have changed the rules for Karla Homolka's parole.
Well, I am not proud. I think it is a stupid idea. Seems all the parties agree. Well, if I commit a crime I won't co-operate - these bastards will just change the rules on any deal I cut.
This is not funny.

CBC Struggles with Sun TV Application

Quebecor seems to be applying to introduce a 24-hour news station that is not infused with left-wing bullshit ideology.
So I was astonished to find Don Newman fighting Kory Teynecke (this should be a close approxiamtion to his name) on Newsworld today, as I suspected Don, as one of the few people who ever seemed to have an independent thought at the CBC, might be interested in the new effort.
But no - Don is all umbrage!
Beats me. What is the silly bint thinking?
Maybe it's his pension.
I know that when this station hits the air I am going to subscribe!

Let's Just Change the Rules When We Feel Like It!

Look I am no fan of Karla Homolka. But she cut a deal with the state and I think the state should honor it.
I am ashamed to watch my government scrambling to use the legislative process to undermine the deal that thankfully put Paul Bernardo in jail.
This is a 'feature' of the current US administration I find truly unpleasant - let's just change all the rules when we don't like some outcomes! It is no prettier from my government.

World Cup Post #3

We have now seen all 32 teams in this final.
Of them all ONE appears to try to play a sport that is attractive and entertaining.
And who would have thunk who it would be?

Tim Kane on Tom Kane

A truly loving and lovely post about a 'failed' entrepreneur. That is, someone whose enterprise, hard work, and investment in life gave others jobs, supplied products, and of course allowed him to build a family.
His life was evidently full of serendipity:
He found success as a consultant for Price Waterhouse, and really enjoyed advising companies, especially one in Marshall, Michigan that made glass backboards for the NBA and NCAA. It was such a neat company, Ronan & Kunzl. A glass company. Six months after his consulting report, the CEO shrugged his shoulders and said R&K had been a family firm, not his, and he’d implemented none of Pop’s ideas. He sighed, then asked Pop if he would be interested in taking over. Opportunity knocks!
He finishes:
One day, I think it was in 1980, my father was in his backyard garden digging away, while Troy and I were passing a football nearby. He was upset about something at the company, but after a while asked us to come over for a lecture/pep talk. He said, "You boys are going to grow up and have people tell you can't do things. It's impossible. Well, don't listen to them. Anything is possible if you dream it." Only later did we appreciate the meaning of his words. But at that age, words like "anything" and "dream" are more potent than he realized. So he scooted us away and we ran up the hill to the side of the house (where the big tree is), and I said to Troy, "You know what this means, don't you?"
My brother shook his head vigorously, eyes wide. "It means we can fly!" he said.
"Exactly," I said. So we climbed the tree and jumped out and crashed into the grass. We kept trying for the next 20 minutes, but we never took off like Superman. By the time we went in for supper, bruised and dirty, we were ashamed that we just didn't have enough faith in our own dreams.
Looking back, I think I learned this from Pop: Flying high is heroic, but crashing isn’t a tragedy. We should save our tears for the people who never try to fly.
So here’s a toast to Pop.
Thanks, Tim. I'll raise a glass.

A Positive Ignatieff Surprise

Our opposition leader gave a foreign policy speech yesterday and part of it seemed positive to me; and apparently to Terry Glavin, who serves as our national conscience-watcher on Afghanistan.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is finally taking the brave lead of Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae ( "We have an obligation to see this thing through . . . . The door is open to serious discussion in Canada and between Canada and NATO about what the future looks like"), for which Rae has been so churlishly traduced. Ignatieff is calling for a "frank national conversation" about Canada in Afghanistan post-2011.
This is good. This is also the view of many Conservative MPs, although it is not the view from the Prime Minister's office, where Stephen Harper sits glumly, wanting no debate about it, and wanting shut of the entire business, content to allow his ministers to look like idiots whenever the subject comes up. So, good for Ignatieff.
Glavin is not naive and recognizes several qualifications in the discussion and is able to challenge Ignatieff to engage fully.
But I agree that raising this question, and not simply allowing a draw-down of forces we have there without a discussion of post-2011 roles, is a great step. Maybe it would allow the Conservatives to do what they likely naturally want to do but fear politically. Ignatieff seems to be giving them space. Is he perhaps a good person?

I'm With the Defence!

I wonder how this will come out!
On Monday, Crown witness Katherine Young, a professor of religion at McGill University, said she had concluded the church, which has about 4,000 members in Canada, does not qualify as a religion.
However, during cross-examination yesterday, defence lawyer George Filipovic fired back: “No respectable scholar would make a conclusion without speaking to a single member of the group [being assessed]. Yet you determined the Church of the Universe is not a religion by only reading their website. Academics would laugh at you.”
Errrr, while I sympathize with the defence's point, I think he has an ill-placed faith in 'academics', who seem to me in my life experience to be far more credulous than the average stranger sitting next to me at a bar. After all, they have spent years mostly reading what other people wrote as a source of information, which it can, of course, be, at times.
Moreover, let us recognize - this 'expert' was a 'professor of religion'; so there are no facts on the ground, only some written stuff!
Moreover, I want one day to start a religion of my own, like Scientology, so I can cash in on the various benefits. I can barely dream of ever getting 4,000 members.


Norm uses the word twice in this post, and accurately, and targeted at someone who utterly deserves it, Terry Eagleton.
The passage he cites from Eagleton, which would make anyone familiar with dumb lefty writing groan immediately (and I know Norm is familiar with many varieties of dumb lefty writing, and I consider myself familiar with some varieties as well):
If every rightwing thinktank came up with a scheme to distract the populace from political injustice and compensate them for lives of hard labour, the solution in each case would be the same: football. No finer way of resolving the problems of capitalism has been dreamed up, bar socialism. And in the tussle between them, football is several light years ahead.
Aha! The World Cup is the opium of the masses!
I will say it is serving as not a bad substitute for me, especially having just finished seeing Switzerland amazingly defeat European Cup champion Spain. No doubt if I knew how miserable my life is, undistracted by football, I'd be standing on the front lines with Terry Eagleton! Actually, probably not, as he has always seemed a very silly man.
Of course as Norm points out, Eagleton cannot write total blather and in the end:
It sounds from Eagleton's account, all his qualifying asides notwithstanding, that along with other sports football may be something that for those who love it improves the world and their lives; rather than their enjoyment of it standing in the way of utopia. You know, rather like Mozart, or Austen, or Chekhov, or Hitchcock.
And I agree with Norm that:
In any case, football and the other great sports loved by so many will be seeing off cultural criticism of this kind for a good long time to come, and that is something to be celebrated.
For after all, we will always have puritanical fools among us who know what is better for me than I do.
Norm has some fun in his post as he implicitly points out that this lefty trope rarely involves criticizing people for reading Chekhov. It's an observation I recall first reading in one of Christopher Lasch's book, but I think it is quite accurate; in general, sports audiences have a much deeper appreciation of what they are seeing on the field than those who are at a play, opera, or movie.
So philistine lefties! Go after the arts, not sports!


Very nice Michael Shermer talk. Our great success came initially from injecting patterns into our world, but the roaring success of parts of the world has come from our ability to share and closely examine our initial 'observations'.

An Inversion of Values

This guy seems to have been sensible and sensitive in so many ways! And all he gets is grief. Should the state be involved in this?
A bullfighter was arrested, apparently for breach of contract, after he turned and ran from the ring at the beginning of a fight.
Cristian Hernandez later re-entered the ring but soon left again and was taken to a police station.
Several months ago, another bull had gored Hernandez in the leg. After his latest ordeal the matador has said he will retire from bullfighting.
At least he seems able to learn from experience.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Reason I Can Tolerate the CBC Funding

OK their business show features the utterly babelicious Amanda Lang.
Amd when Amanda is unavailable, like today, we get the totally babelicious Dianne Buckner.
And when we need a weather report there is more babeliciousness.
I wonder if CTV tries to compete on this basis.
Surely the nedw SunNews station will!

Yup a Glorious Resistance

These people are scum.
You people who have sent me notes defending these slime please try to explain it to me again.

For want of an O

So I read the title of this report slightly wrongly, as 'Cameroon Sorry Over Killings'.
I was a bit baffled - I had not heard about new battles in Cameroon. Well, except for the World Cup.
Of course in the end it was David Cameron's 'Bloody Sunday' apology, and it struck me as extraordinary that a modern society does this; Cameron himself would have been a kid at the time of the event, and this could have been delivered by Thatcher, Major, Blair, or Brown. Cameron did it and he sounded good doing it. We are SO civilized as to apologize for mistakes in warfare.
Meanwhile we in Canada have our truth and reconciliation going on over residential schools. I wonder if anyone has the guts to suggest that the residential schools might have been a better bet for some of the kids than some of the parents. Even today we seem to have problems with kids on reserves. But one can be only so honest.

Matt Ridley Honors another Rational Optimist

In a very nice post.
When I joined The Economist in 1949 it seemed unlikely that the world would last long. But here we stand, 40 memory-sodden years on, and what have we done? What we have done - largely because the poorest two-thirds of people are living much longer - is approximately to octuple real gross world product. During the brief civilian working lives of us returning soldiers from the second world war, we have added seven times as much to the world's producing power as was added during all the previous millennia of homo sapien's existence. That may help to explain why some of us sound and write rather tired. It does not explain why anybody in the next generation, to whom we gladly vacate our posts, can dare to sound pessimistic.
Amen. You young folks - get out there and keep making the species look pretty good! Most of you in my family's next generation seem to be on the way!

No wonder Laurie David has been so Hot about Global Warming

She has been being warmed up!
"it couldn't be helped". My God they are both so irresistible.

Veils and the Like

My neighborhood has had quite the influx of Somali immigrants in the last few years, so women wandering about in what strike me as at best bizarre outfits in the summer heat have been moderately common during this time.
There are many intermediate states in this domain, but one thing I find consistent is that there seems little proscription against foot decoration and exposure, making me wonder about foot fetishism in parts of the world.
In the face of a growing variety of legal restrictions on wearing burqas and the like in the Western world, there is some lively debate going on. Norm pointed me to this mini-essay by Kenan Malik.
I agree I think pretty much entirely - blanket rulings on how people dress are unwelcome in any society I live in. I also do not believe anyone has an obligation to show me her or his face - good God there are still people in Toronto who avert their eyes from my friendly greetings on the street (which may be terrifying).
And I agree with the summary:
The idea that the entire weight of the Enlightenment tradition should rest on banning a piece of cloth worn by a few hundred women shows how absurd has become the debate about the burqa. Certainly, it is important to defend liberal social values, the secular society and the heritage of the Enlightenment. But we cannot do so by promoting illiberal policies, stigmatizing immigrants, or banning symbols of ‘otherness’. The very values that Lévy believes are undermined by the burqa demand that we oppose any attempt by the state to ban it.
But there is certainly more to be said. As I agree that clothes do not make the man, I do think barbaric practices do make the man, and that we have a responsibility not to change how immigrant families dress, but that they behave like what I would like to consider normal Canadian adults.
If you want to become depressed just let Phyllis Chesler help you.
Or for that matter this story very close to my home.
What will our courts choose to do? Slam the guilty with tough sentences and a clear statement that we expect these barbarisms to stop in Canada? Or to have some expert testify that the poor little guys cannot help it because of their 'culture' (culture is hardly a word to use for behavior like this) and therefore should be treated leniently? And in the latter case, which is what I rather expect to see, what are we telling the daughters of the future? Forget it girls - you are not worth our protection because you were born into a family of monsters! And we think those monsters have a valid 'culture'.
Let's finally get serious and get public about it.
UPDATE: CBC says the Parvez murdering family boys get what Canada laughably calls a life sentence. That is, they are eligible for parole in ten years; I suspect it would behoove some of us to be at that parole hearing, since Aqsa's family all seemed to want her murdered and are thus unlikely to speak up for the victim when the parole board meets.
UPDATE: Parole in 18 years - a somewhat intermediate position. Means the father won't likely cause more trouble, the brother will be released just in time to cause more trouble.
Meanwhile of course the mother pleaded for mercy for the murderous pair who killed her daughter. Who are these people?

The Oil Spill Blogs on Wonderfully

One really ought to simply go read it but I will quote:
I'm getting really scared. BO had the Coast Guard send my employer a nasty letter over the weekend, telling BP they had 48 hours to pick up the pace of collecting my sludge ... OR ELSE! They didn't say what else is, of course, but I suspect it means BO is going to kick some ass. That's the BO Regime, always specific with the rhetoric.
I still don't know why the letter didn't begin with the words "let me be clear." After all, even more so than BP, the BO Regime is probably the world's most qualified group of experts ... in making a bad situation worse.
Then BO got really tough ... He compared me to September 11th, 2001. I felt so down after that one, I doubled production and worked on fracturing the Gulf sea bed beyond repair.
For the coup de grace, yesterday BO went golfing for 4 hours, continuing His incredibly unwavering display of steadfast leadership in this time of crisis for the communities around the Gulf.
When BO stops by to see me today, and has His great photo op for the week, I'll have to ask Him if He understands that I'm a hell of an albatross around His neck.
Here's a photo a pelican showed me of BO posing Monday for a great photo op with SEIU workers, imported from Noo Yawk, on this otherwise deserted beach. Notice their pasty white skin. Also notice that BO's sleeves are rolled up for the work ahead -- devouring that biggie-size snowcone in his hand.
Later in the day, BO stopped in Gulfport, Mississipi, to reassure America that everything is just fine in the Gulf states, by gorging on shrimp and crawfish and crab. Everyone else in His entourage had to settle for McDonald's, but, in a twist of irony, their food actually may have been safer.
Through his ministry of propaganda, the press, BO then told Americans they had 48 hours to go to the nearest Gulf beach for a vacation ... OR ELSE! Then he retired to his hotel room so that TOTUS could upload tonight's speech about me into His brain. I'm sure his words will really kick my ass.
The worst President of my lifetime? A hard call still, close to a tie with Carter.