Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Well, Blow! Blow! Blow Me Down!

In a previous blog I had remarked on how well the sports psychologists had prepped Canada's athletes for the upcoming contest. I'd also noted how many of the athletes were bumming and blowing about owning stuff - the sport, the slopes, the gold.

One of those cracked-up to be a real contender was a chap called Osborne-Paradis who claimed to know the slopes at Whistler better than anybody else on earth. All he had to do he claimed was pick out his course within the boundaries and down the slope and 'by gar' them Postes Canada better have that new stamp about Canadian gold rolling of the presses with his champion's grin front and centre.


Well it seems that fate or bad manners or something,  put a "bump" in this wunderkind's progress, and being as he hadn't noticed it before, it almost knocked him out of the race completely. So we should all be eating maple leafs to-day rejoicing in the fact that his 17th place finish should line him up good for the 2014 games.

Like, I know I shouldn't be cracking-off about those who do while I don't,  but  there's a certain amount of shit blowing around these days telling you you're less of a Canadian if you're not supporting our athletics or chipping in a donation to help 'sports'  at  Zellers. Just like I don't support General Rick, or any of the other troops  who think that they're in Afghanistan to kill a 'scumbag' for me, I don't support the fatuous 'aces' who talk a great game and then fail to place. Unlike me, they're afforded a lot of  free time, facilities and public support to represent themselves and, vicariously, the rest of us, doing something they at least claim to love doing. But spare us the hot air. Be humble and do your best. If you ain't bragging you've got my support. If you show yourself to be a good sport, you've got it in spades - even if you don't win anything.

Osborne-Paradis has one more event in this Olympics. Maybe this embarrassment will help him shut-up, focus and, maybe, do better. But I doubt it. Blaming a bump for not being able to handle a bump says something about character that tends describe the 'loser'.

PS  Can you spell hubris - he blew his last chance, too. Maybe he'll be a better man for it, but I'd watch the drinking.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lessons from Camp

On Sunday, February 7, a full-page ad ran in the New York Times. It was paid for by the Eli Weisel  Foundation for Humanity and subscribed by a number of Nobel Laureates.  In the ad these great minds called for rigorous sanctions against Iran, which country they described as  a nuclear threat to the world  and a nation waging a "shameless war against its own people". Such were the threats made against Saddam Hussein's regime that led to the  destruction  and eventual invasion of that country.

On the face of it, this appeal is given as the voices of reason calling out for the preservation of world peace, mankind or some other lofty goal. But in the absence of any provable truth to the two basic charges, and aside from political rhetoric there is absolutely no physical proof that Iran is either of its descriptors. In fact there is much to indicate the opposite.

So why, then, would such great human minds lend themselves to such an appeal? They must really believe what they are saying is true, and the sanctions they call for effective. The advertisement leaves both points unexamined.

As to the first point Iran's 'nuclear ambitions'. Iran is, for that part of the world, a unique signatory to the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This instrument was signed by the government of the Shah no doubt with the understanding that his government would operate under the shelter of America's nuclear deterrent. Even as the neighboring Israelis, Pakistani's and Indians developed their nuclear arsenal in spite of the UN and American protection, or when the Iraqis started down the same road, no protest was uttered by Teheran about threats to themselves or anybody else. Indeed America saw no inherent dangers there. In all this the Iranis stayed strictly within the bounds of the conventions they had signed. Even after the theocracy came to power, and even after a protracted and bloody war with Iraq, Iran stayed well within UN constrictions regarding development of nuclear power sources.

So why are the laureates concerned? Well, for one thing, Iran has not been amenable to American influence for some time. What little influence remained after the Islamic Revolution diminished in the light of Iraq's US-supported attack on the Islamic Republic. A second reason is the little-disguised abhorrence of the Zionist polity in the Middle East. Iran is far from alone in decrying the actions of  Zionists and their effects on the people who were inhabitant of the former Palestine. But Iran is unique in being open and honest about this - to the point of stating that the Zionist regime is in need of a change. Laureates like other 'good jews' - who are normally very humane, peaceful and long suffering - can put their gentle angels aside to thwart a threat (real or imagined) to the Jewish 'promised' land. The laureates, like many Americans and Israelis, see Iran as a regional  adversary at best and a loose nuclear cannon at worst.  Very few of the countries which might suffer most from a nuclear Iran - Iraq, the Gulf States, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or a number of central Asian Republics are as concerned about Iran's actions, or objectives. Europe is split on the issue, Russia and China remain moderately supportive of Iran. Laureates and humanists in few other countries have taken this 'threat' to heart.

The Laureates also charge the government with warring on its own people. Would to God they would raise their voices about some nations who shamelessly war on other nations' people. There is a body of law supportive of internal restraint to riotous, rebellious or even revolutionary populations - just look at what's happening on behalf of the 'legitimate authorities' in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no laureates are griping about that.  The Iranians have at least put the 'people' they are at war with on a trial of sorts. They have their day in court and the trials are covered by the media. But there are a dearth of private security prisons, few black ops, prolonged detentions without trial, renditions, disappearances or any of the 'civilized methods' for dealing with 'enemies' that have become so much a part of Israel and America 'under siege'. And yet the Laureates have been otherwise engaged for the past decade, and took no notice, nor any time to comment, nor any paid advertisements?

Eli Wiesel is an eloquent voice of the Holocaust. To him is ascribed the notion that indifference can lead to another Holocaust.  But his times should have demonstrated to him that the Shoah may have been the Jewish experience, but the holocaust belongs to all humanity. Whether one dies in some demented racially-driven killing industry, or falls victim to a war of aggression,  makes little difference to the innocent. Wiesel's experience since  1945 should have shown him that 'holocausts' are subjective, and very easily repeated. The only solution for them is not the kind of  'difference' that imposes more suffering, but the kind of love and unity, tolerance or humility that never seem to be part of the repertoire of the powerful. If Elie Wiesel and his laureate friends wanted to really do something to engender world peace, and not assist in providing a philosophical base for new aggression, they should have castigated all sides and volunteered to act as honest brokers in resolving the differences politicians seem unable to approach, let alone solve.

That such eminent thinkers might consider that sanctions will effectively bring the Iranian hound to heel is little more surprising than the current 'Democrathink' that another stiff, little 'shock and awe' surge will force the Afghan Taliban to cease trying to liberate their homeland, take Uncle Sam's dollar and, possibly, join with their Iraqi brothers to 'spread democracy' into Iran. The latter may be slightly extrapolated, but should Afghanistan come 'onside' why not as the spearpoint of the free market in Asia? Problem is, both notions are patently incorrect. Iraq won't be invading anywhere for a while and with the majority Shiite population in control, it won't be east. Afghanistan is still another decade from any solution. And sanctions where they have been, or still are (as in Gaza and the west bank) being  practised, have proven to be politically ineffective while alienating to the 'ordinary people' democrats or peace groups might want to approach.

Wiesel and company's myopia serves the cause of humanity not a whit. Sometimes the learning of the concentration camp can be far too narrow a field.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Olympic Dream

The 2010 Winter Olympics opened the other night in Vancouver. For all the hoopla, it was, really, quite unremarkable. The light show was very good - Canadians seem to have a knack for the 'magic' of lighting - unless they were all imported from Disney World.  That the first nations would be featured was understandable too. I didn't think all the reverence for our pseudo royalty, the Governess Generale, was necessary - God Save the Queen and O Canada fanfare? It was almost embarrassing to have the two twenty somethings behind her waving home to mom from the 'vice-regal box', it was embarrassing to have the bozos there yakking through the national anthem and it was a hoot to have the native chiefs show up 'fashionably' late. From there, however, - the Canadian thing went weird.

There were Canada's entertainers - mostly those who had international (viz American) appeal. Brian Addams was himself, Nelly in her latest resurrection as a hooker with a heart o'gold was suitably slinky. The wildings of Canadian east coast druids was something only a Charlie Daniels fan could appreciate. Leather-clad and paratroop booted plaided 'scots'  - laced and bodiced, net-stockinged daughters of the dawn, providing some sort of coven to enchant the gods. Mr KD Lang - Canada's officially first 'closet leaver' - reprised Orson Welles in a rendition of , what was described in the media as a 'religious song', Lenny Bernstein's 'Alleluia' - it ain't religious. But maybe her/his white suit was meant to tie into the white suits of those who bore the Olympic flag into the stadium - a melange of notables from stage, screen and sporting rink. The torch was also run into the venue by a series of Canadian sportsters - some pro and most ex-Olympians. The planned indoor torch - which must have been designed to look like a log campfire malfunctioned; and poor old Wayne Gretzky got to ride capless in the back of a pick-up truck, for a seven or eight minute trip through rainy streets to a harbour-side 'campfire' that was to burn for the Olympic period. There were times when I'm sure he thought some of the free-stylers running alongside the pick-up truck were coming over the side to say 'howdy'. Or maybe , even worse,  they would be protesters out to create an truck-bed incident! Dopers and winos don't run that fast, for that long and the ladies of the evening just don't run at all.

The City of Vancouver has gone out of its way to hide the lady's warts and pimples. They've blocked off the thriving demi-monde that city has developed - the gritty underbelly common in so many world-class places. The bozos and bums aren't getting anywhere near the venues trod by those in search of Olympic Spirit. But those seekers are free to explore some of the city's seamier delights. The high class gals - from Calgary, Toronto and Montreal will be resident up in the upscale mountain 'digs' for the relief of Olympic 'stress'. The Toronto Star was remarking on how even the video backdrops and shooting points have been vectored off to show the only the city's 'good side'.

Speaking of the Star,  they've decided to 'blow the  budget' on the Olympics providing the 'deepest' coverage in Canada with nine or a dozen top staffers on-site - the Star delegation was bigger than the Olympic team from a number of countries. After the first day, the most remarkable stories they could come up with are two 'love stories' about participants, and a paean to how the reigning Canadian 'World Ladies Moguls Champ'  did really well, placing second to an American with a 'blown knee'. We should feel good about that; "So near, and yet so far", as Rosie DiManno put it. At least that's better than one of those 'Olympic boyfriends' getting himself eliminated from a speed skating event he was supposed to contending for a medal in. The women's hockey team trounced the first-time-out Slovaks 13 - zip. Unless there is some competition (like from the Canadians on the US team) they might be our best chance for a gold.

What gets me is all the hooting about the 'golds we're going to get this time'. Now it may be part of the sport 'psychology' done to 'prep' heroes to do their best, but it strikes me that a notable lack of humility might just be calling down something Freud knew about but denied, 'hubris'. Even if there aren't any gods and goddesses up on Olympus to mess up the big-headed, losing after you've been bumming and blowing how 'you own' something, couldn't be too good for the ego. But  it seems that some of our 'big hopes' might be willing to settle for just that, and a two week holiday in the Athlete's village with all them free prophylactics. We'll be seeing.

I would like to see more of the athletes who just say they're going to do their best. That's my Olympic Dream.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Justis gets served. Would ya like some Gravy?

Toronto remains under the watch of the best paid pl'eece service in Canada, but it's still the 'city of the gun'. There has been no slow-down in the weekly roster of gunshots and subsequent ambulance runs. By the same token, there seems to be no real social desire to do much about it.

Cases in point, the current round of court cases arising from some of the more notable episodes.

Jane Creba was a 15 year-old Christmas shopper got one in the back as she tried crossing the road during a Main St. Toronto gun-battle 2 years ago. She won't be Christmas shopping any more, but the Wyatt Earps and Clanton boys are in court now pleading their cases. Most of those present have been dealt with (lots of dismissed charges) a couple have received jail time but none get to pay anything like Jane Creba. For it was a 'accident' don't ya see, peeps?

 The current two on trial now are accused of firing a 9 mm ruger down the busiest street in Toronto 9 times that night. It's the only one of what are 'estimated' (that fine p'leece service stuff again) to be the five guns fired that night . It was taken from a 15 year-old arrested on his way home after the shooting. He was, of course only holding for somebody he didn't know. Colour him innocent. The other guy, whose prints were found on the gun will have story about that and since his fingerprints haven't been found on the ejected cartridge cases colour him not guilty as well. We'll see.

The second case is a 'gun tale' tangentially. It involves a 'wilding' in a public housing community a year and a half back that saw a 15 year-old beaten and chased and beaten again over a period of three hours or so by 15-20 'youths'. When his body was found the next day he had also been stabbed some 23 times. The immediate story was that he'd been on the,'wrong turf' and has been stealin' . The neighbours of course hadn't seen anything and had nothing to tell the police. But eventually somebody did roll over and the police arrested 12 or thirteen of those present, they were charged with serious offenses and most held under house arrest. Until to-day that is, when one of them a dread-locked wonder copped a plea to first-degree murder. That left the 'mob' facing charges not much more serious than making too much noise. We'll see what the defense has planned for the confessor, but the word is now that the dead kid was offed for taking $1,500 for a gun he failed to deliver.  Nobody's thinking to ask where a bunch of 'student youths' in a poor neighbourhood are getting $1 500 bucks and why they'd need a gun?

If I was the judge every one of those 'onlookers' in court would be asked to produce the income tax return they filed last year. If they weren't working then , they'd be going to jail now. If you're at a murder, even if you didn't do it, if you don't call the police - or tell your mom, you're guilty.

The third case involves the sad case of a guy who went to the store for milk and got his head  blown off when he walked between a couple of drunks and the bouncer who had kicked them out of a Yonge St. (geez that's a shooting gallery) boozer. The interesting part of this 'doozie' is that the two boneheads in question are charged with second degree murder - I guess because shooting the guy they did was some sort of 'accident'. They had no intent to shoot him, they only wanted to shoot a bouncer. Even if one of those clowns was licensed to carry a concealed firearm - and there are very few Canadians licensed to do that. I'd say that taking it with you for a night on the town is definitely outside any reason for you being licensed. That, in my estimation, shows intent of some kind. Pulling it out, pointing it and pulling the trigger on a public street shows another  intent, even if you  are pissed up, or pissed off. The  guy that stuck that gun in his jacket, and his buddy who knew he had it,  caused that man's death, the only accident was him, and it was fatal. They deserve life and first degree charges.

Last but not least is the trial of two 'gangsta teens' (of course they're not, they're just misguided 'stoodentz' who accidentally brought a gun to school because they were scared, and victims of whitey's pride)  accused of shooting their friend at a Toronto school two years ago.  This case caused a massive shake-up in Toronto schools - more security and 'black-o-centric' education to stop the killin'. The two were seen with the victim moments before the shooting. And one of the accused returned to watch what happened next. He even managed to pass a comment about modesty when somebody tried to find the dying boy's wound. The other fellow, who had been suspended and shouldn't have been in the school,  left after one of the pair rifled their dying friend's pockets. Needless to say the murder weapon is still in somebody's sock drawer.

 The black community 'rose up' to blame whitey's pride for sending their children off down the wrong path of anglo-centric education. The black principal of that high school, who was accused by staff of taking a very 'hands-off' approach to discipline, was moved to another position, probably a promotion, the next year. The mothers of all three are sufferin' - all three kids are victims, you see? But they're not looking for that gun.

Toronto will remain a city under the gun until the courts start to treat gun crimes as something more than ordinary and excusable.  Either that or declare hunting season and let everyone go armed.

Let 'Er Snow. Let 'Er Rain. Let 'Er Rip!

What’s going on with that crazy climate eh? The great White north isn’t it’s usual old blizzard-stricken self. It’s more like one of those Arctic Deserts the Arctic used to be, cold, with very little snow. That normal old clashing of warm and cold fronts that turns so much of Canada into a winter wonderland is doing the trick for folk who would be shopping for new Topsiders right about now.

America the beautiful will be adding a new chorus about snowbanks and winter tires if this keeps up.

 But there’s a kind of poetic justice in the land that bought into the ‘myth’ of climate change. Even to-day the Fox newsies are calling it a winter storm comparable to the one George Washington and company went through at Valley Forge. So, if the Continentals could freeze their way though it in log sheds, well to-day’s minutemen can tough it out in multimillion dollar properties, even in the heat is off.

That’s another thing, no signs of hardship when tens of thousands are without electricity. Just crank up the new generator and figure someway to get the TV going. The gas fireplace will look after the rest and the feather duvets from L.L.Bean would make you think your living with Abe Linkum.

(All right so those first two pictures were of a little disaster in Afghanistan, not the big snow stateside. Bet those Afghan could have used some shovels. Napalm melts snow doesn't it?)

It’s really OK if this winter stuff  lasts another week,  Spring is on the way and another three weeks will see cherry blossoms bursting on the Mall. In the meanwhile there’s an Olympics to root for.

The Winter Olympics have been hit by the reverse-winter phenom. In an area chosen for its winter snows,  the Olympic venues are bearing all the hallmarks of a dry hump. Snow is being brought in by helicopter to augment the base being laid down every night by the snow-making machinery. Mother Nature has been generous with the precipitation, but for the most part it has been the wet kind. It’s looking like anybody peddling Olympic umbrellas and waterproof duds might be a winner this time round.

Many of the events are indoors but it will be interesting to see what effect warmer temperatures might have in the skiing and sledding events. As it is, the super-advanced MASH tent designed for the Canadian Government is supposed to be 'striking' when you get up close or inside. That means there must be  free lunch for the pols.

There are only 6 more weeks of real winter left, so looking forward to a warm-up in the north land is all good. But perhaps the winter highs, from the old north pole, that protected us from the snowfall, will stick around and protect us from summer. That would be an altogether different story.

Especially if the climate got ‘stuck’ in that mode. But we'll stick our heads under our arms and hope that it ain’t true. Even if it is, maybe the automobile recalls will turn the tide.