2012-03-31

Man Sings In Cop Car

Man sings Bohemian Rhapsody while drunk in a police car.

This is Canada drunk.

Would have loved to see the officers.

"Come on you got get it out."

"I can't."

Do you people trust me? Watch the video.

2012-03-29

LOL Sports Writing

Know what I hate? I hate when ESPN copy/pastes bloody articles from other sites.

Simply because they should have, I guess in theory, access to the "best and brightest" sportswriters in the country.

It's irrelevant if the dude has a point or not, the point is ESPN is becoming a caricature of itself by pulling stunts like this.

I see enough of these guys with my local paper that happens to have a sports section. The truth is, while mainstream journalists wail against blogs, it's there you'll find the real hardcore sports junkies.

And some of them make helluva lot more sense too.

***

Watching the recap of Milan-Barcelona last night, the hosts were talking about Milan defender Alessandro Nesta's beastly performance in containing Barca's Lionel Messi.

Fox Sports came up with this line as they spoke:

Nesta is Besta.

*Face palm*

Now we're just being lazy.

T.C.'s Perfect Match

Bumming around the internet last night I ended up in the nether-world of psychics.

Now. T.C. understands it's possible there's a universe beyond our fingertips but some of those sites and claims are so outrageous it makes you wonder who the hell actually pays for it.

Then again, I had a friend who thought he had those scammers on NYC street corners figured out. He was out $100 before he could say "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis."

Meh.

Some of those sites had "love calculators" and compatibility charts and stuff. I did some exploring and found out the following.

When I punched in my name and another person we had a "love match" of 94.5%.

Not bad.

Then I got smart.

For my companion this time I typed, "Horny Wildebeest."

76.5%

What do you know?

2012-03-27

Those Were Different Times





Includes an awesome rendition of 'Maybe I'm Amazed' and introduces 'Miss Judy's Farm.' I like Miss Judy.

You'll also see 'Stay with me.'

No Truth, No Justice

The thing is, like most stories like of this sort, public opinion is already set before the facts come in.

It's a crying shame a rush to judgment took place before the evidence. Sounds as though no matter what comes out minds are made up.

As for Sharpton, Duke lacrosse didn't ruin what was left of his credibility?

What's a 'White-Hispanic?"

Is She A Communist?

Find out if your girlfriend (or wife) is a commie.

Of Easy Times And Black Russians. Snippets Of T.C.

A little long these stories but I figure get them out since these are just (unedited) glimpses into the whole picture.

***

Maybe it was the lazy haziness of the atmosphere that compelled my friend to call me the other day leading into a walk down night hawk memory lane. Shabadee, shabedah it was a ride and a bit back then.

"Hey, T.C. remember that time when Pat Cash beat Ivan Lendl at Wimbledon?"

"Was it Wimbledon? Your dad fell asleep half way through and woke up at the end at lost his mind when he saw a person with a sign saying "Cash is better than a Czech."

"See, pa? I told you! What did he say, T.C. was he swearing like a sick bastard?"

"Fuck you, Pat Cash!"

Laughs in the background. "I think he was more upset at the sign than anything because he really did like Cash."

"Yeah but Lendl was the demon. Awesome power."

And so went on the conversation better suited for pretend adults.

The Jello Bar we frequented back in the early to mid 1990s housed one of those nights we got pummeled on Black Russians. A night we came out with so many telephone numbers we couldn't match the faces to the names.

I think we may have tried to solve the puzzle over souvlaki well into the wee morning.

INT. DINER. 4AM. T.C. reaches into pocket and pulls out a piece of paper with a telelphone number written on it.

T.C.: Helen? Who the fuck is Helen?
FIFTER: Not sure.
T.C.: Where were we last night?
FIFTER: We started at the Moot from Quito's party at his apartment.
T.C.: Right. The doob party.
FIFTER: Then we heaed to K.O.X.
T.C.: Right. Why in the world did we go there?
FIFTER: To meet Spacegirl. Remember? "Hostie, c'est quoi sont probleme T.C.? J'suis pret pour lui! Bang, bang, bang!"
T.C.: Right. Fricken Lorusso got me in a jam on that one.
FIFTER: Lorusso is legend. Man, seeing Ginner from poli sci class was funny.
T.C.: I think he was stunned to see us in a gay bar. Where else did we go?
FIFTER: Well. There was (lists several places).
T.C.: Oh, wait a second! Helen! Helen the Greek. Met her last week in Little Italy!
FIFTER: The heavy smoker. Elena's friend. Got it.
T.C.: Hm, she slipped through the cracks. Maybe I should give her a call. Should I now?
FIFTER: That would be funny. Especially if her mother answers.
T.C.: Yeah. Maybe we should wash up and get ready for class later...

***

There were some days we'd walk in when our fathers, real men, were leaving for work. One such time we had spent the night playing billardino (fuzz ball) in a friend's basement. There was no internet back then.

We're talking 8am to 7am straight. We took an hour or so in between  to make some spaghetti with olive oil and garlic (a classic Sicilian dish) while praising Jesus and Dario's magic-dusted rust-colored god damn Malibu.

No seriously. In the kitchen there was room for one picture: Jesus. My buddy, now in foreign affairs, set the meal and proposed a toast. "To these little pear juices in a bottle! And Jesus!"

We'd resume soon after. Our marathon so intense the Jewish chicks hanging with us only stuck because they were fascinated by our behavior. We were, after all, choosing a table soccer game over them. One of them said, "I don't get what the obsession is!"

Nick replied, "Hey, when you die you become one of these men, girl!"

Never saw them again. Damn.

But we were the kings of the night club circuit when it came to that game.

That morning I waltzed into the kitchen. There sat my parents starting their day. "Where were you?" my mother asked. "At Pat's playing billardino." "Oh" she replied satisfied as she continued her domisticated duties. My father on the other hand was hearning none of it. In Italian he scolded me for taking him a fool. "Erano cazzo tutta la notte!" "They were fucking all night!"

"No, pa. Really..."

"Ma va...!"

"Ma, where are the Froot Loops?"

He then took his coat and went to earn some coin just as my brother slobbered in.

"Where's the Froot Loops?"

***

My friend ended up calling one of the numbers we culled . She was a Chinese girl who could barely speak English yet he persevered and managed to get a date. When she called to confirm the date his bombastic father answered. "Che? Che cazzo...Fifter!" He came down and threw the phone at him. "You guys now hitting the UN?"

The next day she took him to a Chinese hall where he swore it was filled with gangsters. He called me only to say, "I don't understand a fucking word she's saying. Help me. I may be getting married soon and shipped to China!"

"Hey, you're the one that said 'bang everything in plain sight.'

"Her friend thinks your cute. Hello...? Hello?"

Good times.

***

Which in turn reminded me of another moment this time the place was Sofa. Three of us decided to buy a couple of bottles of port each about $100 and proceeded to down both in about 1 1/2 hours. Let me tell you, port can hit you hard. We saw dead people that night.

My friend kept saying "love me 212.2 times" as the real song from The Doors played. We still don't know who those chicks were in the back seat.

***

Fifter, I should add, is pretty good looking and an even better talker. His background hails from the kick ass Renaissance town of Lucca. We'd back each other up once in a while where a girl insisted on bringing a friend. That was such the case one cool September evening, man. He had met a really hot girl and she claimed her friend would have been perfect for me.

We took the bus to the east end of Montreal and met them up. I noticed them from afar and was hoping my first glance of the girl wasn't true. As we approached it became more and more apparent I was being set up with "the other" friend.

The night was a major drag. Of course, Fifter was oblivious to it. The next day he had the balls to say, "Hey, great night, eh? How about Chloe! What do you think about her friend?"

"Are you serious? She could open a bottle cap with her teeth!"

"So, what are you saying?"

"You disgust me at this moment."

"Why? "in plain sight" remember?"

"No. That's your mantra. Not mine! I never thought I'd see Joe Dalessandro in the flesh but I got a pretty good idea with you and Lorusso!"

***

My father owned a building the market and decided to open a fruit store one year. We then proceeded, of course, to turn it into a meeting place. "The Little Whore Stand on the Corner that happened to sell bananas" was open for business. Fifter began banging the cashier, a half descent looking Brazilian-Italian, in no time and we soon began hanging with her gang.

EXT: Fruit stand. Day. T.C. talking to a girl in love with him as he serves customers.

T.C.: It's not you, Lynne. It's me.
Customer: Sont combien les citrons?
T.C.: 4 pour $1
Customer: C'est cher.
T.C.: Look, it's a kind gesture to offer to pay for the room but really..."
Customer: 5 pour .99?
T.C.: Non, madame.
Customer: C'est trop cher.
T.C.: As I was saying...Lynn? Lynn? Ok, madame. Donne moi .99...

***

Along our merry moments, we ended up at, of all places, an Indian wedding. Up until that time Fifter had been courting the bride (who was of Irish heritage) managing to get us into a Halloween party months before at her home in fancy Westmount.  She invited him, for some reason, to the wedding after party. I don't know why she did that since his only goal was to get in her pants and she had to have known that. He got ready for it as if he was going to hump the bride on the table in front of the guests. Bright red jacket and all...

Nothing came of it of course.

***

Just a note on Industrial and Piglette. At one point, the two biggest whores in town decided we were entertaining enough to host them. One of them passed through eight of our pals  - on the other side of the language divide - at a party in the forest.

Right in Nick's basement lay two girls who exuded so much horniness the father got worried for us.

"You guys ok?"

"Yeah, pa. We're watching Corky. Buzz off."

One time the phone rang and Nick asked Industrial to pick up the phone. She anwered him in total construction gutter talk, "Mon do'm fais mal, tabernak!" (Excuse the spelling). We all staired at each other in dead silence at the marvel before us.

A few months after they took their carni act elsewhere it was brought to our attention that although we had two ready and willing girls (one of them read my palm more on that in a minute) among us, not one of the nine guys among us took advantage.

There were limits to our willingness after all!

Back to the girl who read my palm. My parents were away on vacation and I have no idea where my siblings were because there were a lot of girls in the house. One gang was a group of local French-Canadians mostly well-to-do and of course, Industrial and Piglette who hailed from the side of the tracks we're sure got bulldozed by the health department, and the other group composed of cool alternative Italian girls from East-end Montreal.

Piglette was the one who read my palm.

End of story.

***

INT: Restaurant. North Vancouver. T.C., Fifter and buddy sitting at the table with two girls. One is getting married that week.

Girl: What's with you?
Fifter: Man, those mushrooms are amazing!
Girl: You took some and didn't tell us!
Fifter: Er...
Girl: We want in!

Naturally, Fifter mamaged to make out with the budding bride. We later ended up in a bar frequented by B.C. Natives. I still get chills.

Non-Sequitur Moments With T.C.

INT: The Oscars. T.C. standing around room combing his eyebrows as celebrities walk about ignoring him. He goes to the ladies room by accident. Julia Roberts walks out. The stench hits him like a brick and is forced to hold his breath. He walks out looking for Roberts but a waiter gets in his way.

Waiter: Champagne sir?

T.C.: Not now, Frenchie.

Continues to look around and finally spots her talking to Brad Pitt.

 T.C.: Hey, Roberts. Try flushing next time!

Fin.

2012-03-26

Boxing Icon Dies

Writer and historian Bert Sugar.

Fall Of Western Civilization Reason #20494944677888

You say Americans are censor happy?

Think again.

Italy, so deep with glorious achievements, has some lurking about its ranks arguing to ban Dante's The Inferno. Read about it at Wind Rose Hotel blog.

Here's the thing. To me, the real threat, the real abomination, the real disease is the mindset of people making this claims.

Imagine publishing Dante in today's climate! Or Hegel. They'd commit him straight to the loony bin. "What's he talking about?" "I don't know, man." "I reckon we'll have to tie him up."

Hiding From The Tax Man...Or Woman

Apparently, 1,785 Canadians are hiding their money abroad to avoid paying income taxes according to the news last night.

And?

What's the problem?

Tax Or Penalty? Either Way Take Out The Led

Obamacare in the hands of the Supreme Court. So...

Monday Night Comic

You often hear how so and so went into such and such a business because of some other so and so.

For example, radio guys are fond of fawning over guys they admired. "He's the reason I went into radio!" Blah, blah.

Me? Never really attached myself to any person or thing. Yeah, I had some nationalist moments and kinda liked some people enough to actually merit a thought or two but as a whole I was pretty much my own island.

But. If Doug Stanhope was around. Hey, who knows? Maybe I'd be a stand up comic or some shit.



2012-03-25

Classic Song 'Sugar, Sugar' Banned

As part of the on-going war on obesity, officials have determined classic hit song 'Sugar, Sugar' by The Archies (Andy Kim, Jeff Barry) to be a health hazard. "It's a nice song and all, but we have to protect our children. We feel the title of the song encourages kids to go out and get all sugared up," explained spokesperson for "Less Sugar, More Bitter" Robert Twittziggy. The organization is said to be 14 strong and its reach double that. "We're making our voice heard that's for sure," Mr. Twittziggy added.

According to the health department, organizations like LSMB are key to the success in creating fat-free children according to Minister of Health Elizabath Fury. "Sugar and salt are fair game in an effort to maintain diet standards. Look, no one is saying you can't have some of both, we're just making it illegal is all. The decision to ban the song wasn't unilateral as our detractors claim. It was one that was given much thought with the involvement of community activists and celebrities alike."

She added. "We also have to watch out for diabetes which is on the rise. It just makes sense."

Not everyone agrees. J.B. Forrester, who hails from Noweheresvillenoonegivesashitabout, had this to say about the ban. "It doesn't make sense. Where's the bathroom?"

When asked if the name "Less Sugar, More Bitter" was appropriate given it could make people more sour and cynical, Mr. Twittziggy could only muster a confused stare. "Well, it's not meant to be literal. Sheesh."

Advice From T.C.

Uncertain about something?

Put it in a pie chart.

Somehow things will make sense. Especially if it's apple.

2012-03-23

Not Quite 1000 Ways To Die. Still...

Strange deaths in history.

Rasputin, of course, was legend.

And what about Tycho? Brahe was quite the feller:

"...He kept a dwarf as a court jester who sat under the table during dinner. He even had a tame pet moose...."

Tycho would have fit right into a Will Ferrell scripted movie.

Introducing Vampire Rodents And Other Forgotten Canadian Artifacts

How they slipped by me is beyond belief. This is the sort of stuff that actually makes a difference in music.





Moving along...



Comments Problems

Been getting some feedback about my comments box. Yes, because I am overwhelmed with comments. Anyway, Nikk Rabbit J Skeptical Ear (who knows his name anymore) was kind of enough to walk T.C. through on how to resolve the issue.

Should be ok now.

2012-03-22

Theater, Theater. All Theatrical Nonsense

It never ceases to amaze me how the government gets involved in pro sports.

Like them boobs who acted with faux-outrage over Limbaugh's 'slut' comment. Bunch of baloney.

The NFL shouldn't have to explain itself to the government.

In fact, if anything, the government has waaaayyyy more explaining to do. The irony is that the NFL manages to police itself better than the government does.

You Know When...

...You're a serious kick ass sport when you're able to make people forget about March Madness.

That's exactly what the NFL pulled off this week. Holy crap, between the Manning signing in Denver, Tebow and the Jets (now there's an Elton John song waiting to be remade), and the incredible sanctions handed down on the Saints for their headhunting program (and by that I don't mean helping people find employment), all the talk has funneled through pro football in the off season.

You hear more about the one year suspension without pay for Saints coach Sean Payton than you do, say, about how powerful Kentucky is in the NCAA tournament.

As a friend put it, there's just no time to follow four sports teams anymore. There's room for one and that sport is football in America. As insane mad hockey is up here, the NFL gets its fair share of attention. People simply love the whole football culture; or cult. You choose.

As much as I enjoyed Tebow, Denver had to make that move. For Manning, it's a smart move as my same friend suggested, since he goes into a weak division where he gets a real chance at the playoffs. Would have been a similar situation with San Francisco. Real contender in a weak division. But the NFC is stronger as a whole so thr 49ers face stiffer competition.

In the AFC, there are only three legitimate contenders (Patriots,Steelers, Ravens), so the odds are good that the Broncos reach the Super Bowl inside five years. Barring injury and freaky things of course.

2012-03-21

Pitoyable Et Tragique En Meme Temps

Al-Queda? Nah. It was "supposed" to be a Neo-nazi doing the killing.

There are major, major problems in Europe. I've noticed more and more French immigrants here. Things are not going so well. I hear things.

But this stuff is old news to France. I was in Paris when the hostage crisis on board an Air France plane (if I remember right) took place during the Christmas holidays in 1994. I watched it unfold live on my cousin's TV as French commandos stormed the plane and expertly knocked the terrorists one by one. It was impressive I must say.

Wednesday Night Music

Those crazy Dutch bastards.

Great song.

2012-03-17

NCAA Pool Rough

I've been part of a March Madness pool for five years now. Won once, finish second another and third another.

I averaged 25-27 wins (28 happened once) in the first round. It usually puts me in the top percentile I've notice when I look at CBS Sportsline and ESPN, but nothing like some of the freakish records I've seen some people pull off - like, 30-2 for example. Lehigh? Really? I don't know what compels someone to go against the probabilities of taking a 16 seed - even to spite "evil" Duke. I picked Baylor to knock out Duke - Kentucky overall - in the Sweet Sixteen.

For example, this year I'm 24-8. It could have been 26-6 if not for two major upsets where two 15 seeds top a couple of two seeds. Already ONE is a rare occurence in NCAA history, but two? Anyway, according to ESPN, a 24-8 record puts you in the 97 percentile.

Not only that, a 13 and and two 12 seeds survived the first round. Of those, I agonized over VCU-Witchita St. Alas, I went with the seed over experience and lost.

I'm already losing in the East. Syracuse burned me in the past and with a major injury, I figured, meh, might be a chance for others to shine. Yeah. Right. Vanderbilt and Kansas St. did me in while Syracuse has looked very good. Another team that's looking solid is NC State; I picked them in the second round but chose Georgetown to knock them off. Not confident in that one in light of what I'm seeing.

The other risk I took was with St. Louis. I have them beating Michigan State.

I like teams that grind you to death. If I'm going to take a risk, may as well be with hard-nosed teams.

My Elite Eight: Kentucky, Baylor, Louisville, Marquette, Vanderbilt, Ohio St. UNC, Kansas.
Final Four: Kentucky, Marquette, Ohio St, UNC.
Final: Kentucky over UNC (although I strongly considered Kansas). I wasn't crazy about traditional powers UNC and Duke to begin with this year.

Carrot Risotto Recipe

Like carrot cake, carrot risotto doesn't sound to exciting, but like the cake, it can be rather delicious.

4 to 6 cups of vegetable stock
2 (to 4) tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion
4-6 carrots
2 cups of aborio rice
1/4 cup of butter
2 tablespoons of light cream (optional)
Add shaved parmiggiano or emmenthal (optional)

Buy, erm, some rice. Gonna need rice. Also some carrots. Four nice orange ones should do. Cut them up and throw in the blender with 3/4 cup of white wine. If too dry for the blend add a little bit of water. The recipe doesn't call for it, but I added a handful of basil - six to 10 leaves. Leave the puree aside.

Next, heat the olive oil up at low heat into a nice pot, add the butter. It should take seconds for it to melt. Grab your onion, in a knuckleball grip, chop the bitch up and toss it in. Stir it around for, say five minutes or so. Remember the puree? Increase the heat to medium and dump it in. Stir for a few seconds and you can add the rice. Once in, you begin the process of adding the stock one ladel at a time. It takes some patience (can take up to 25-35 minutes depending on the technique) so have your favorite drink next to you.

A little before the end, season with salt and pepper. I tend to put some fine sea salt  (and sometimes tumac) with the onion. Here's another sweet secret, right after you add the rice, put in a dash of balsamic.

After the seasoning, you can add the rest of the cream and cheese if you desire.

American Armed Forces Articles

A couple of pieces in Armed Forces Journal.

One discusses the "new principles of war."

Some excerpts:

"...The post-Cold War era has generated new vulnerabilities and new forms of adversaries and combat applications. A decade of combat and complex operations has pulled up the roots of strategic thought and operational habits framed in response to a monolithic threat. That threat no longer exists, but it is imprinted into the U.S. military culture. The challenge is adapting to new demands, new threats and an evolving character of conflict. We must discard what is no longer relevant and reinforce everything that is immutable or enduring..."

True. But as most observers of history will note, the nature of war is always in flux. The problem with the American defense posture is it feels a good defense needs a good offense.

"...We need to gain a deep and nuanced understanding of any conflict we are about to embark on and acquire as thorough a grasp of the nature of the adversary as possible. This includes becoming well-informed about the culture of the adversarial social and political systems..."

This should be self-evident. Sun Tzu, Macchiavelli, and I believe even Clausewitz spoke about this. 

Buying loyalty only goes so far as the Americans have learned in their Asian adventures.

"...It is impossible for either policymakers or the military to succeed without an intimate appreciation of the local culture, and one can see this in America’s past interventions. Our lack of understanding of both the nature of the Vietnamese civil war and the weaknesses of the South Vietnamese government was instrumental to our debacle there. Likewise, our misunderstanding of the ethnic divisions in Lebanon, where our support for the Christian-dominated government risked our Marines and sailors in Beirut. Likewise, the American intervention in Somalia in 1992-93 was undermined by a limited understanding of the clan framework in that impoverished country.

The same problems worked against our efforts in Iraq for a long time. We have made progress at the operational and tactical levels over the past decade, and need to assess and institutionalize the frameworks, educational base and organizational improvements to preserve and increase the ability of American forces to think in terms of culture and see things from the perspective of others.

"..It should be clear by this point that understanding stands primus inter pares when it comes to the principles of war. Without a deep understanding of the nature of war and the societies involved, defining an achievable objective or end state is an exercise in delusion. Without a deep grasp of history and war, it is impossible to design a campaign for an offensive or to retain the initiative after the first clash of arms. Good planning requires branches and alternatives, not a fixed path..."

Yet, for all the talk of Obama's "cultural sensitivities" and "intellectual abilities" there's tough talk on Iran. A nation the U.S. knows even less about than Iraq I argue.

The second article is a sober account of American (indeed, international) success in Afghanistan.

"How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding and behind an array of more than seven years of optimistic statements by U.S. senior leaders in Afghanistan? No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan. But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on."

A perfect reminder of what the first article cautioned against. Hilariously, Obama and Cameron (and presumably Harper) still claim the contrary.

Liberals and libertarians asked at the time: How can you invade a nation with Afghanistan's history; international aggreement notwithstanding? There have been successes - if you consider disrupting Al-Queda and killing Bin Laden as successes - but overall, in the long-run the author isn't so sure.

'Influential' Canadians In Politics


A list of powerful Canadians from The Hill Times (by way of IRPP).

Some strange lines in there. For example, it opens:

"Hands down, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the most powerful person in government and politics. He’s been described as disciplined, ruthless, and a control freak by some, including by Lawrence Martin, author of the runaway bestseller..."

Here's the thing. It's learned early in one's political education that power in Canada is tightly concentrated into the Prime Minister. The PM is the Pope of Canada. So I don't get the opening paragraph at all. It's the rule; not exception.

It goes on to describe how smart Stephen Harper is and how he maintains an impressive, even intimidating grip on power.

I don't doubt Harper is smart. Gifted even. I remember seeing him speak when he was in the Reform Party fold when it was ruled by Preston Manning. He struck me as one smooth, articulate speaker. I even mentioned to a friend at the time (who happens to be in foreign affairs now) that he was definitely leadership bound in some capacity.

Anyway. I should hope our leaders "know the issues" as the introduction in the link discusses.

You know, because you don't want this guy making decisions.

Hm. Or do we?


.

Non-Sequitur Sketches

INT: INS. The Commentator and a Mexican in line.

Mexican (to T.C.): Hey, gringo, you gonna finish that taco?
T.C.: It's a shish-taouk, chooch.

Thank you.

2012-03-16

Chile's 1970s Command Center

Looks like Otter's room.

"Dave, what are you doing, Dave?"

***

I took a couple of Latin American history courses in university (actually, not to brag or anything, but aced one of them) and one thing that was clear was how much of a mess economic theory was on the continent - dictatorships, liberalism, socialism, Chicago School economics - all played their respective roles.

Anti-Business Rhetoric In The Lorax?

The selected female partner went to see The Lorax with my biological extension last week. A former colleague of hers at school had also took his daughters to watch the film during the same spring break.

While my clan had no problem with the film (according to my kid the moral of the story is to not break promises. So young), the father complained it was anti-business environmental propaganda. Sounds like the kid was a Montgomery Burns in the making. Stealing air, blocking the sun...it takes balls.

My wife didn't think it was at all and engaged in philosophical debate with him. Her point, basically, is it wasn't anti-business in as much as it was anti-bad business.

I didn't see the film but if the plot was handled anything like Avatar...ugh.

***

Wife: T.C., I'm so aggravated!
T.C.: Philosophy isn't for you, babe. Not everyone likes to think.
Wife: How dare you!
T.C: Listen, itsokay. Just go get me my slippers.
Wife (shoves napping T.C.): T.C! Wake up! Go take out the garbage you worthless sack of s....

2012-03-15

Leaving Goldman Sachs

About this Goldman Sachs article, one thing that turned me away from the bank was that ostensibly they spoke (passionately and poetically sometimes) about client needs but it all boiled down to nickle and diming them when push came to shove. Only a few, smart, courageous brokers and managers would either ignore it or work around it. Alas, if the sales objectives aren't met...

You do the math.

This stuff with Goldman and the government. It's not good.

Mandated To Cover Entitlements

If you're liberal, you may not like this satire from a conservative perspective.

The 'Yeah But' Generation

To those of use who read ancient texts, commentary and history, one thing is apparent: Each generation believes the succeeding one to be in decline.

Soooo. I'm gonna do the same here.

I think I'm going to ordain this generation the "yeah but" generation. Beeeecause, they always have an answer and an excuse ready.

Remember kids: Having an opinion is not the same as knowledge.

Movie Sequels

Sequel to Kramer v. Kramer?

How about Hammoud v Hammoud?

It's demographically perfect.

Invention Obsession

Just my impression but as I read this it reminded me of the scene in Trading Places when Mortimer Duke went into "Turn those machines back on; we founded this exchange" rant at the end.

Gosh, it's reminiscent of how Canadians obnoxiously remind us in beer commercials how we invented hockey. The basketball bit goes into government history propaganda.

Enough already. The sports belong to the world now. Get over it.

PS: I think this article was edited since I first read it yesterday or the day before.

2012-03-14

Is Government Too Big?

Two perspectives. One from The World of Psychology and the other from an Evangelical Catholic.

From the first link:

“Cigarettes are bad, they’re harmful to people, there’s a need for us to change the social norms around cigarettes,” said commission member Harold Cox, an associate dean at the Boston University School of Public Health. “Our responsibility as governmental officials is to protect people.”

That last sentence pretty much summarizes the pathology of some bureaucrats.

Government is generally good, when kept to common-sensical regulations and sound public policy. But when government takes a good cause, and then pushes that cause into every nook and cranny of everyday society, it has the potential of simply going too far for no logical reason. So while Massachusetts recently decriminalized marijuana possession, it will make criminals of these eleven small businesses for no particular public health justification."

I would love to do a study examining regulations and the empirical evidence used, if any, to support them.

But I'm busy at the moment.

2012-03-13

Social Media And Politics

Social Networking Sites and politics survey from Pew.

This caught my eye:

"Liberals are the most likely to have taken each of these steps to block, unfriend, or hide. In all, 28% of liberals have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on SNS because of one of these reasons, compared with 16% of conservatives and 14% of moderates."

Liberals? No way, man. Not listening. Na-ah. La, la, la, la!

One word for this "survey": Pee-yew!

***

On a more serious note, I'd like to know who would likely "troll" more.

Hello India

Interesting take on the West's (apparent) decline courtesy of India..

Not that there's anything in it we haven't heard before.

Let's look deeper into the author's assertions.

"It is important to recognise that the dominance of the West has been there only for last 200-and-odd years. According to Angus Maddison’s pioneering OECD study, India and China had nearly 50 percent of global GDP as late as the 1820s. Hence India and China are not emerging or rising powers. They are retrieving their original position."

Way to dismiss, you know, all the major innovations that took place before 1812.

While it is true and important to know China and India are older civilizations and were right up until the period we label The Renaissance, cultural and economic powers, the 200 year figure is rather low.

As an olive branch I suggest it was an overlpap and transtionary phase, 500 years (Asia and The Ottoman empire duly noted). And it's good quality olives.

The fact remains most of humanity's major scientific, medical, technological and artistic breakthroughs happened in Europe between, call it, 1304 and 1950. Never mind the massive contributions of Ancient Greece and Rome which further makes the 200 year figure somewhat preposterous.

"Similarly, the crisis. It is a US-Europe crisis and not a global one. The two wars – which were essentially European wars – were made out to be world wars with one English leader commenting that ‘we will fight the Germans to the last Indian’.

In this economic scenario, countries like India are made to feel as if they are in a crisis. Since the West says there’s a crisis, we swallow it hook, line and sinker."

Well, it did include Imperial Japan who in turn invaded China. So it kinda was a World War.

Nonetheless, let us concede, it was for the most part European. Fair enough. Europe lost its mind not once but twice.

"... At no point of time in the last 20 years has foreign investment – direct and portfolio – exceeded 10 percent of our domestic investment. Our growth is due to our domestic savings which is again predominately household savings. Our housewives require awards for our growth not any western fund manager.

The crisis faced by the West is primarily because it has forgotten a six-letter word called ‘saving’ which, again, is the result of forgetting another six letter word called “family”. The West has nationalised families over the last 60 years. Old age, ill health, single motherhood – everything is the responsibility of the state."

I don't know if it's primarily but negative savings doesn't help. He's conveniently overlooking the fact that in the post-war era, a country like Italy (along with Japan) were net savers. The bottom line is the biggest one on the block - America - is not.

Still, it's a point worth bringing up. Just observe around you. No one talks about saving money. They talk about how to redistrbute somebody else's coin. How to manage debt.

Hello. Cues.

Work ethic, family, a moral compass, respect for community, common sense, duty to one another where necessary and possible,  rational, critical thought, and yes, saving money to protect yourself and to perhaps fund a dream, are just some things that reveal the true measure of a healthy civilization. Not to mention comedy movies starring Will Ferrell.

We do rely on the state for the issues he mentions - to what degree I'm still uncertain. 

In fact, some people feel the government doesn't do enough

Question: These are notions that go beyond right or left. Are they concepts we're fast losing?

"...The demographic crisis impacts the West in other ways. Social security goes for a toss since people are living longer and not many from below contribute to their pensions through taxes. So the nationalisation of families becomes a burden on the state."

Before we go further, demographics in the United States, I maintain, actually look good. China has waayyyy too many problems and so does India. Bet on Passenger 57.

Western Europe on the other hand...not so good.

He may be right about the taxes. Taxes are a (an inefficient) means to an end these days. Our taxes go up because, in part, the programs we ask for in helping society also have to pay for itself.

The author points to something deeper and it's hard to ignore it.

"European work culture has become worse with even our own Tata complaining about the work ethic of British managers. In France and Italy, the weekend starts on Friday morning itself. The population has become lazy and state-dependent.

In the UK, the situation is worse with drunkenness becoming a common problem. Parents do not have control over children and the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation in London said: “There are all signs of arteriosclerosis of a culture and a civilisation grown old. Me has taken precedence over We and pleasure today over viability tomorrow.” (The Times: 8 September )."

We tend to move as a civilization with differences among the parts that make up that civilization: i.e. nations of the West. I just thought of a reality TV show: Drunk Englishmen on Vacation!

Where is Manning heading anyway?

"We need to recognise that Big Government and Big Business are twin dangers for average citizens. India faces both and they are two asuras we need to guard against. The Leftists in the National Advisory Council want all families to be nationalised and governed by a Big State and reform marketers of the CII variety want Big Business to flourish under crony capitalism. Beware of the twin evils since both look upon India as a charity house or as a market and not as an ancient civilisation."

Amen.

In many ways, just to say, Italy and Greece very much maintain their ancient heritage too.

We're All Sluts Now

I don't feel like giving the stupid Limbaugh-Fluke issue more than it deserves. Let's just say Fluke isn't exactly "wholesome" as Dowd insipidly asserted (whatever the shit she meant by that) or "brave" as someone wrote at the WAPO.

Get real. Cut the bull.

Nor was Limbaugh exactly conveying the facts of the testimony properly. To do so, and launch an ad hominen attack, well, he deserves criticism for that.

 For the life of me, I don't know why he chose that route because, I suppose, there was enough material for him to dissect and argue against her testimony.

Still. It's not like this kind of shock punditry never happens. Nah.

*Faints*

At this point I defer to First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza.

Interesting arguments. Here are some exceprts from the link to Citizen Media Law Project:

"...When you purposely inject yourself into public debate, you lose your status as a "just minding my own business" private citizen.

When a plaintiff alleging defamation is a public figure, he or she must show that the allegedly false statements were made with actual malice – that is, knowing falsity, or a reckless disregard for the truth. N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 279-80 (1964); Town of Massena v. Healthcare Underwriters Mut. Ins. Co., 779 N.E.2d 167, 171 (N.Y. 2002). "

"...Fluke was testifying before Congress, on national TV, in a debate that she willingly ran toward. She purposely dove into the spotlight, and if the spotlight burned her, that's her problem – not my beloved Constitution's problem..."

"Yes, literally, Rush Limbaugh said that Sandra Fluke was a "prostitute." However, it should not take too high of a degree of sophistication to understand the difference between actually accusing someone of being a harlot of the night, who takes money for sex, and calling someone a prostitute in the exercise of rhetorical hyperbole."

"...This incident is unfortunate for those on the Left who have, at least since 2000, considered their side of the aisle to be the place where free speech can feel safe and secure. It has exposed the liberal and academic Left to be as hypocritical and as bad as the dirty Right wing when it comes to free speech. Sandra Fluke's statements were worthy of some criticism, and I lobbed some of my own. Rush Limbaugh could have done a much better job of criticizing Ms. Fluke. But, the fact is that those on the left, defamation lawyers trolling for clients, and Rush Limbaugh haters alike have set aside their desire to understand or support free expression in a hysterical pile-on of the prick from Palm Beach.

They are all wrong. They are not only wrong on the law, but they are also morally wrong because someone, somewhere out there is listening to them – and will believe that when someone gets butthurt, that they are a victim, and that someone has to pay for their thin-skinned indignation in court.
And then we all lose...."

The discussion continues on his blog.

As for the freedom of speech stuff. Personally, as I weigh all the arguments from both sides, it still points to limiting free speech (and in some cases depending how you structure your argument "tyranny of the majority") if you're apt to believe so.

I can't stand a lot of junk that's said on both sides but for me to actually pick one over the other in an effort to censor them? THAT would be intellectually dishonest of me. Not to say, immoral.

In these times, even Juvenal would have been threatened with a law suit.

You're Fired!

I never did quite accept the "it's easier to fire the coach than a team" adage in sports. Why not? Sometimes your stuck with a bunch of over paid, twittering obsessed sadsack hamballs. Am I right?

No?

The owner of the AFL's Pittsburgh Power dismissed his team...at the Olive Garden. Please refrain from the "you're family here" and "it's not you, it's me" jokes. No news on whether the bat scene in The Untouchables was reenacted.

Can't make this stuff up.

13 000 fans? That's pretty good! Better than the NHL in some markets!

2012-03-11

Plus/Minus Statistic

Plus/Minus is an easy statistic to misread. It can be rendered useless if not handled with care.

Not enough investigating has been done on this though this is a good start. I find and I'm not mathematically clever enough to do it. However, even I feel the plus/minus stat is insufficient. That a player is assinged a +12 is somehow proof that he's better defensively or is more responsible than someone with a -5 is incomple.

It  can only provide a glimpse into a bigger picture at best.

It's insufficient because too much depends on too many factors out our one player's control. There are ten players on the ice at any given time thus 10 more actors on your stage that can either help you or not. Not to mention the strategy or directives of the coach, the abilities of team mates and of course, the efficiency, or lack thereof in some cases, of the opposition. Heck, the referee can impact the plus/mius if they're having a good or bad game.

Is it a player's fault if he's surrounded by players who lack the focus he may possess? If a team has woeful winning percentage a player's plus/minus will move in consequence of this fact; usually downwards.

Same with clubs. If a team is in last place but has a superiour plus/minus than a team in front of them does it point to the fact their record is not as bad as it seems?

Maybe. It can be a "leading indicator" of sorts but the bottom line is misinterpreting +/- is about as useful as Ashlee Simpson in the London Philharmonic.

Two Views On Universal Health Care






Which view is closer to the truth? Dr. Doom (aka Dr. Day) or defenders of the public system?

I'm gonna go ahead and focus on the second video because it made some glaring claims that can be verified with facts from Stats Canada.

First off, let's get the philosophical mumbo-jumbo out of the way, the overall point seems to focus that "profit seeking" will equal to "not caring." You don't need to be "profit seeking" to lack compassion. The public system provides plenty of it on its own. Ironically, the system tends to view patients as cost -centric as opposed to patient-centric. On the private side, it's the opposite.

Moving along.

Next, the woman in this here clip talks about democratic principles, or lack thereof, in the medical system. I think the operative word here is "transparency." As in do you think I can see through you, please?

She's right. One problem are the layers and layers and layers of bureaucracy preventing efficient use of resources. A substantial amount of the funds (if memory serves me right up to 73%) goes into labour costs.

From the Conference Board of Canada: 

"Canada’s middle-of-the-road ranking overall—a solid “B”—would surprise most Canadians who are immensely proud of their health care system. Canadians have universal access to health care services, highly skilled and committed health care professionals, and internationally recognized health care and research institutions. But the Canadian health care system also has challenges. These include limited availability of comprehensive health information systems, wait times for some health care diagnostics and treatments, and management systems that don’t focus enough on the quality of health outcomes."\

Health care spending, for countries in the OECD, continues to outpace economic growth.

She's underplaying the severity of access and wait times to major surgeries a little. In fact, let's challenge Congressman Dennis Kucinic's obscene and obtuse that the average wait time in Canada is "three weeks."

Wait times vary from province to province depending on the surgery. It's hard, if impossible to determine any real figure. In order to make sense of things, the Canadian came up with this initiative.

I invite you yo check out each province. See if the facts measure up to "three weeks."

I did a bit of poking around and began with my home province:

"...The Qu├ębec government is committed to ensuring that all total hip and knee replacement operations and cataract operations take place within six months for patients whose data have been entered into SIMASS since June 1, 2007.."

By all accounts, they don't seem to have hit their objections.

If you can make sense of this table be my guest.

I then waltzed into neighboring Ontario. Looks like you can't even get information on wait times in Ontario because, well, it doesn't seem you can get any type of surgery. I punched in postal codes for Guelph and Toronto and couldn't get any meaningful information. And this is a site linked by Statistics Canada.

How about big, beautiful British Columbia? Check these beauties out. The average wait for ACL surgery for 90% of patients is...36 weeks. According to the table, the best case scenario is 10.6 weeks for 50% of the population. Ok, that's the knee. What about major issues like open heart? Wait times here are better, thankfully. 90% wait about 10 weeks (still a long wait times) and 4 weeks for 50%. It's even better for cranial surgery but things get worse again for back surgery - up to 28 weeks - and hip replacement - 31 weeks.

MRI scans in Manitboa? See for yourself. Far from three weeks.

This trend  table for urgent heart valve surgery in Alberta shows how difficult it is to get a firm handle on wait times. Still, it's pretty clear, again, you're more likely to wait well over three weeks. Wait times for non-urgent procedures, however, rise substantially - averaging well over 20 weeks.

In fact, if you were to add up all the surgeries and services offered across the land they're closer to what them inept dude from the Manhattan Institute was asserting in the clip to which Kucinic proceeded to rip apart with his own pathetic statistics that were far more off the mark.

It's one thing, speaking of the "reporter" in the clip, to try and freeze out a neo-conservative think tanker and quite another to lead people into believing a politician's interpretation of the facts as accurate and valid. It's also one thing to brag about a health care system while remaining oblivious to the actual quality of the services provided.

At roughly the 8:33 minute mark, she speaks of how family doctors will work with patients in helping them guide to see a specialist. This is true. However, and this is something I've said over and over, it's been well documented over the years that millions of Canadians don't have a family physician.

These here are the bloody facts. Excuse the pun.

Everyone (from public representatives, citizens all the way to private practioners) are in agreement reform is necessary. Where and how do we go from here? I don't have answers but I'm pragmatic enough to understand we must accept the reality of private services being part of the solution moving forward. Demonizing it makes little sense.

Managing Iran

At this point, Obama is right against banging the war drums regarding Iran.

As for those Breitbart 'bombshell' videos about Obama, yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask for more. Hard evidence please.

ACL Injury Watch

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio is the latest NBA player to sustain an ACL tear. It happened Friday night against the L.A Lakers.

Before I go on, when I took a few writing (and even one journalism) course over the years. one thing that was hammered into students was the importance of the Five W's (what, where, when, why, who and how. I added another W: Whatever). The facts of the story had to be explained as early as possible in the article. So I was told.

That left an impression. So much so that I noticed sports articles rarely get the facts out in a timely manner. Just my observation. For example, I looked for, in this ESPN article, when and where Rubio was injured. It made mention of the injury and then when off into a "aw, man what a bad break" tangent.

I located it at SI.

This happens a lot at ESPN. I mention this because those who break the rules are the ones that do the hiring. Little hirelings trying to catch their break in sports writing will be held to basic standards even though the preachers often become lazy and sloppy writers.

All those resources and so many fragmented W's. P-shaw, p-shaw. Just my take. I can't comment further.

Anyway, this caught my eye from the ESPN link about Rubio's injury:

"...A date for surgery has not yet been set, but team president David Kahn said he fully expected Rubio to be back for the start of next season..."

The NBA season begins in October. Meaning Rubio's rehab will last a mere seven months? For ACL?

It used to be, and from what I still understand, rehab demanded a full 12 month cycle. Where is this seven month rehab coming from? I haven't come across medical journals explaining new techniques in ACL surgery can reduce rehab.

I'll be watching this out of curiosity.

2012-03-10

Soccer Made In Germany Retro

This was part of the soccer viewing routine back in the day:



In the 1970s and 1980s, after two decades of Latin/Mediterranean dominance (particularly Italy and Spain), it was Northern soccer turn from Germany, England and Holland to ruled the continent. So much so I was well aware of the likes of teams like Hamburg, Cologne, Queens Park Rangers, and Liverpool. After the demise of the NASL, Soccer Made in Germany was pretty much the only soccer on TV - unless you had RAI and caught Italian soccer on Sunday mornings.

Dominance passed, for the record back into the hands of the Latins (Italy and Spain - along with England - presently) starting in the 1990s right until today. As for the Bundesliga, it's still a strong league but (despite Serie A's recent struggles) the major trophies remain a battle between the three leagues mentioned above in this paragraph.

Capitalism And Morals With Hobbes And Locke

"For Locke, the State’s primary purpose is to protect the citizen’s rights to life, liberty, and property of all those that agreed to the social contract."

Here's the thing.  Who are " all those that agreed?" We talk about this "social contract" but I've seen one. It's basically a an imaginary contract signed by some other dude on my behalf. If there was a social contract, one should be presented to every individual at the end of a specified term; like a lease. For example, if a political part or individual have ideas, they must directly sign a contract with its constituents. That's a contract enforceable by law.

 Of course, just/injustice laws are neutral in The Republic to the extent that man doesn't want to face the latter and too little of the former so it writes laws. Laws in themselves aren't philosophical or meant to be moral, they're just laws. But that's for another time.

The thing about Hobbes, and I suppose for any ideology or political system that relies on coerced action, (for man's good), then how can we let others direct us if we're all inherently and completely bad? Passing "the buck" over to incompetent people is no answer.

It follows, to be fair, that we're not completely good either so a system free of some type of governance.

2012-03-08

International Women's Day

I was informed that today is International Women's Day.

I'd like to thank the blessed gender for all the good times they've provided me over the years.

*Sly smirk.*

Music Post Thursday



I think I've already posted this song before but this clip is entertaining.

A big thank you to Australia for exporting AC/DC.

Student Strikers Need Haircuts

For the record, if the government is measuring public sentiment, I don't side with the student strikes.

It's not like they'll ever strike to improve the quality and standards of their education.


Monopolizing Wine

"Does the SAQ, Quebec’s state liquor monopoly, fulfill its role? Are consumers better served by this model? Does the SAQ offer Quebecers as many choices of wines as it claims, or do we have an illusion of diversity?"
Er, to anyone who has travelled this is a big "duh." Quebec's SAQ monopoly is pure bull shit. And if you see nothing wrong with it then you're an idiot.

Thank you. God bless.

Seriously. The breadth of choice in the USA can't be compared to what we have here. Not only that, the access to original, creative, small-estate wines too. Not only that, private Quebec wine producers get screwed over royally thanks to the expensive, time-consuming bureaucratic process.

For the life of me, I don't understand how we can accept or even tolerate the government monopolizing wine. Nothing gets in or out without their consent. We don't accept the mafia running rackets so why should the government? What's the god dang benefit, anyway? Is it for the children? The greater good?

C'man. Wake up.

The Teddy Awards Announce Winners!

Teddy Awards have come!

Remember kids, we're all extremists now.

2012-03-07

Just A Post About Historical Literature

I'm posting about Raphael Hythloday because I feel like it.

Hythloday was a Portuguese explorer in Utopia by Sir Thomas More.

You know, you can go through an entire University History degree without being asked to read a single classic or masterpiece. I myself read great literature on my own time; History degree notwithstanding.

Can More's Utopia be seen as part of the same overall beliefs found in  Plato's Republic (aka Plat's Hippie Commune), Dante's De Monarchia or perhaps even Marx's Communist Manifesto on the idea of man rallying (and in Plato's and Marx's cases forced into. Aristotle brought some balance to Plato's elimination of the sovereign being I reckon) before a single state or empire for the good of mankind?

Movie Ideas

Porn stars vs. Aliens.

Jihadists vs. Apes on coke.

Porn stars vs. Virgins.

Nazis vs. Bailed out bank execs.

Or an Inter-galactic world war pitting each against each other.

Just a thought.

Of Free Choice And Jesuits

One small question about Sandra Fluke.

Why did she knowingly (presumingly) choose out of her own free will a Jesuit college to attend?

But let's all get worked up about what a radio announcer had to say about her. Never mind there are far greater problems in the USA.

I think.

Bunch of sluts.

2012-03-06

Quantifying Human Achievement

As far as I know author Charles Murray is the only author who has to attempted to quantify human accomplishment and genius in the arts and sciences between 800 B.C. and 1950.

Given the incalculable amount of lost texts throughout the ages from civilizations like Sumeria,  the Minoans, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Greece, Rome etc., it makes the exercise seem almost futile.

Meh. Someone has to do it.

Murray took on the monumental analytical task in Bill James-esque fashion of explaining in about 500 pages his method and process as to how he arrived at a list of about (according to my count) 3391 significant figures in history.

How did the West become the titan among all civilizations? Specifically, how did it come to be dominated by but a mere four to seven nations?

It's a thoroughly invigorating journey, if one is predisposed to believe that all accomplishments are subjective and relative, it may be an eye popper indeed.

Based on his index of significant rosters, I simply broke down (much of which is already done in the book) the statistics by percentages. I was especially curious to see how countries did against each other. See it as "winning percentage" or "OPS" type of thing.

Just a small note, while Murray separates Rome and Italy (after all, though it's one civilization they can be viewed as two different entities. Some great Romans, like Seneca for instance, were from Spain),  I grouped them together. Similarly, one I suppose, can keep Scotland and England separate but for our sake here they fall under Britain.

Let's begin.

In total numbers these are the nations that contributed the most significant figures:

1) Britain 549
2) France 548
3) Germany 538
4) Italy/Rome 453
5) United States 304
6) Austria-Hungary 118
7) Russia 116
8) Netherlands 101
9) Spain 83
10) Belgium 82
11) Switzerland 68
12) Sweden 43
13) Denmark 37

The rest is followed by Bohemia/Czech/Slovakia, the Balkans Norway, Portugal, Finland, Iceland. Note: If we tally up Bohemia/Czech/Slo. it would put them in 12th but it was considered independent in the book. Also, the Low Countries include both Belgium and the Netherlands. If we add the two, it places them as high as 6th. For most of the centuries, Italy and Germany weren't unified states marked by powerful kingdoms, city-states and principalities.

That all being accounted for, 72% of all European major figures come from the "Big Four." It shoots to 80% when you include the Austrian-Hungarian empire, the Netherlands and Russia.

In this light, now is a good time to mention the book does consider two other things: The first is the country in which major events took place (dominated again by the big four) and also plots where the origins (not where they worked or grew up) of significant figures come from. The major European regions are Ile de France, Southeast England, Tuscany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bavaria, Venetia, Southwest England, Switzerland, Lowland Scotland, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Baden-Wurttemberg, Norteast Austria, the Italian Papal States, and Brandenburg. The major region for the United States, not surprisingly, is New England. America is still a work in progress.

Now each figure was assigned a number (anywhere from 1 to 100 depending how often they had been cited by sources and importance). For example.Newton was assigned 100 while Rutherford 89 who came in second.

I was interested to see was the average score per nation in the 12 categories: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Physics, Technology, Art, Music, Literature, Philosophy.

Here they are:

Poland 21
Ancient Greece 21
Italy 15
Switzerland 15
Germany 14
France 14
Hungary 14
Netherlands 14
Britain 13 (Scotland 14)
Croatia 13
Denmark 12
Canada 11
USA 10
Sweden 10
Russia 10
Ireland 10
Austria 10

Surprised to see Poland top the list? So much for all those Pollack jokes. Impressive this may be, it's worth keeping in mind Poles were represented in just eight of the 12 categories. Ancient Greece made 10 of the 12.

Another example of a country cracking a decent score - Croatia - came from a sample of just three categories as they weren't represented in the others. Canada was represented in seven of the 12 and the USA 10. So while Canada scored slightly higher, the United States did produce more spread across more disciplines.

Only five countries scored in all categories: Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy - who outscored the previous four.

Next I looked at were Top 20 (240 figures) in each category.

In total numbers:

Germany 46
Britain 42
France 34
Italy/Rome 32
Ancient Greece 13
United States 10
Scotland 10
Netherlands 9
Sweden 7
Switzerland 7
Russia 4
Poland 4

Notice the significant drop off after the big four. Poland in particular seems to have taken a hit from the previous list. Percentage wise Germany led at 19% followed by Britain 18%, France 14%, Italy 13%.

Finally, which country had the most figures scoring 100?

Britain 4
Italy 2
Germany 2
France 2
Ancient Greece, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria 1

There you go.

***

Quick word on the concentration of where Western achievement took place. Notice it pretty much happened in five countries including Britain. Makes sense since information tends to spread about best in tight spaces. There didn't seem to be too much of an issue when it came to the sharing of knowledge between Continental Europe and Britain.

Which brought me back to a point made in Soccernomics. In attempting to explain why England seemingly under performed as compared to other big soccer nations, the authors concluded that in fact, England was performing well given its resources and circumstances. One of those circumstances said to handicap them was geography. Notably they were cut off from all the major tactical and philosophical (and dietary) advamcents stemming from Continental Europe.

Different story from what was discovered in our exercise above right? How could it have not been an issue in 12 major categories but was so in soccer? When one reads about soccer history it becomes clear geography is not the only reason. It was less of an obstacle to success and more of an issue Britain's parochialism as it willingly closed itself off to the rest of Europe. They just didn't believe they could learn from the likes of the Continentals.

It took Britain a long time to catch up if it did at all. It didn't seem to be the case when they were clobbered by Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

Site Of Interest

Center for Iquiry might be useful to readers.

Rise In Outbreaks Has A Root

One thing I've noticed in North America is the outbreaks in measles (Quebec), meningitis, whooping cough (California), influenza virus B to epidemic levels.

The reason is simple: More and more people (irrationaly) are choosing to not be vaccinated hence the rise of break outs.

Cumulative History

If you're a believe in "cumulative knowledge" and "common experiences" then...

What do you get when you add up Ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome, Christendom (of which I will add the Magna Carta to), the Renaissance, and The Enlightenment?

The American Constitution and its framers.

That is not to say they incorporated everything from those cultures and events (Jefferson and Plato were pretty much polar opposites. But they all shared dedication in the pursuit of truth), they took and rejected what they needed and didn't find useful.

Of course, one can merely add the Constitution to the aforementioned and look for the "next big thing."

Libertarian's Inner Intellectual War On The Civil War

Very interesting discussion at Volokh Conspitacy about Libertarianism and the Civil war.

Well, I'll Be Damned

Heard on ESPN radio re the N.O. Saints headhunting story.

Specifically, a discussion with a baseball player who said player self-governance was part of his 18 year professional career. That pitchers would throw at a hitter, for example, for "showing them up" after hitting a home run:

"So, it really happens, huh?"

I hate it when a sports host plays the role of the completely clueless tool.

Like it's a revelation. "Oh, wow. You...mean...players try to hurt...you?" Insert Bambi eyes here.

Again, nothing was said that wasn't already known. It's a sub-plot within sports that always was and will always be a part of pro sports. Waste of air space.

Anyone who read about or just plain watched and/or played baseball knows the game within the game includes some nasty inside pitches and some form of intimidation. Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson are just two examples of revered pitchers who had a nasty edge to their game.

Jesus me.

2012-03-05

Taking Charondas' Law Literally

"The manner of this legislator's death is deserving of mention. He had made a law that no man should be allowed to come armed into the assembly of the people. The penalty for infringement was death. He became the victim of his own law; for, having returned from pursuing some robbers, he entered the city, and presented himself before the assembly of the people without reflecting that he carried a sword by his side. Some one thereupon remarked to him, “You are violating your own law.” His reply was, “On the contrary, by Zeus, I will establish it”; and he slew himself on the spot."
Now I know why Sicilians talk so much of honor! Well, back then, in those zany Ancient times, law and philosophy were taken mighty seriously.

Charondas as a legislator in Sicily. Such philosophical richness.

Except for those screwy Sophist scoundrels. Bleh.

Quote Corner With Goethe

"All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try to think them again."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Have we "maxed" out intellectually?

Is everything, so to speak, repackaged?

Of course, Goethe is one of the giants of German and world literature:

This year marks the 250th birthday of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Most Europeans know that he was the greatest of all German writers and poets and one of the giants of world literature. Less well known is that he was also a thorough-going classical liberal, arguing that free trade and free cultural exchange are the keys to authentic national welfare and peaceful international integration. He also argued and fought against the expansion, centralization, and unification of government on grounds that these trends can only hinder prosperity and true cultural development. Because of his relevance to the ongoing construction of Europe, I'd like to nominate Goethe as the European of the millennium...

A Couple Of Notable Deaths

Ralph McQuarrie - the artist who made Star Wars one of the quintessential sc-fi flicks in cinema history - died.

So did Steve Kirman. The man behind Steve's Music in Montreal

Gregg The Bounty

Fine. Ok. It happens. We all know it does. Gregg Williams was doing this everywhere he went.

What I don't get is how it can can get by an army of sports journalists?

Of Redshirting And Birthdates

"Redshirting" may show positive results in the short term but there is no evidence it works over the long-term.

Just my impression here, but whatever "advantages" it may have in the near term may prove to be negligible over the long haul. Too many factors and variables come into play in life. There's no conclusive way to prove that because a parent redshirted their child it led to success later on in their lives - however you may choose to describe success.

One area parents are obsessed with is the notion of constructing "leaders" rather than letting them evolve naturally. But I'm not going to get into that now.

I can just see it now, people calculating to have kids in the winter. Imagine a world where no one was born in June!

***

Which made me think about sports and the book Outliers (which I didn't read. I read Tipping Point) by Malcolm Gladwell. It touches on the concept or idea of "cumulative advantages" of which "redshirting" is a part of.

First, another "True Story" installment.

My experience playing soccer began at five years-old. My "career" can be summarized this way: In the early stages, I was pretty much an average player. It was only when I turned nine or 10 did I begin to separate myself from my peers. By the time I was, 11 or 12 I was an elite player - often put in teams one year my senior - right until I tore my ACL at 15. I was just getting into my peak years before I even had a chance but even by 15 or 16  (I played competitively until I was 18) I observed a subtle reality. Namely, that while my skills were above average, physically I was below average.

I started to detect certain plays I got away with earlier were no longer plausible against guys equal or greater to my abilities. I started realizing my kicks didn't have the same power and that speed became a critical component of a soccer player. My running abilities were above average but not enough to overcome physical and height disadvantages. Where I managed was being able to outwit opponents with sleek passes and good mental judgment.

I remember distinctly when this happen. We were playing an elite squad from the South Shore and one of the players on their team was, loathe as I was to admit then, superior to me. No matter what I tried he was simply bigger, better and badder than I was. The team as well. Funny how that works. It was one of those "I guess it's over for me" epiphanies.

After 18 years old, I continued to play in various leagues but by the time I was in my 20s I was better prepared and conditioned to handle the opposition; including women. Cough.

I quickly figured out the players (like in a dance club. Cough) I knew were intelligent and gifted athletically and adjusted my in-game technique accordingly. For example, if I was coming down the left-wing and knew the right back was bigger and faster, I would look to draw him close and dish the ball off. Or, where I felt confident, I would attempt to deke him with a solid timing play. If I came up the middle and noticed the center back was average then my options to take advantage were greater.

The success of the play, of course, hinged on my strikers understanding how it was unfolding. More often than not, they didn't. You can go over plays but vision is subjective and very much in the eye of the beholder.  I can count on one hand how many guys I played with where we were in sync. It doesn't happen often.

I was born in February.

Why mention all this especially my date of birth? Well, in Outliers, Gladwell alleges that being born early in the year (in the first quarter. In Canada, the cut off date for player eligibility in youth hockey is January 1) gives you an advantage early in life and those advantages accumulate over time possibly giving one a competitive edge to success. Based on this, he continues, it may explain why so many NHL players are born in the first quarter of a year.

Aside from my gaining zero benefit of being born in February (in the end, life gives you a reality check no matter what), I looked at the birth dates for each NHL team.

237 players out of the 734 active on NHL rosters were born in the first quarter of the year - or 32%.

I didn't check the rest of the months but already Gladwell's assertion is off to a good start. Only 68% is left for the rest of the months so the likelihood (and I will check this out eventually) of another quarter surpassing 32% is low.

Still, there are problems. Does quantity mean quality?

For instance, the Carolina Hurricanes have the greatest number of players with 15 out of 23 players born in the first quarter. And they ain't exactly a hockey powerhouse. But you know who are? The Vancouver Canucks. They have just five players born in the same months. Wo, what about the Detroit Red Wings? Don't they have 14 out of 24 born in those months? Yes they do! However, this brings up another problem with Gladwell's argument. The superstars. Specifically, the best players on each team. The majority of Detroit's top players (Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for instance) were not born in the first quarter.

What about other stars? Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are summer babies. Same with Alexander Ovechkin.

For all I know, one of these years the reverse will be true. Maybe a team with 50% of its roster will have been born inside March. It still won't prove squat though.


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2012-03-04

Edge Canada

When it comes to maintaining some semblance of sensible governance, I must side with Canada over the United States. The Conservatives and their new "tough on crime" mentality is proving to be utter bull shit. I agree with everything the judge had to say in the article.

Basically, she said, chill.

There is a difference between being an idiot and being a criminal. Throwing this guy in jail would have indeed been incredibly ignorant on our part.

I don't want Canada turning into a nation thumping its chest declaring "wars" on everything like in the USA - a nation, as you all know, I respect and admire.

But this DEA kicking down doors killing innocents for drug possession is immoral garbage that only makes America less free and hardly does much to make Americans safer.

The Americans have been bitchslapping their Constitution for years; right up until Obama too. Canada at least is still respecting its own Charter.