Monday, December 31, 2007

Bhutto's son, husband to be co-leaders of party: NAUDERO, Pakistan — Benazir Bhutto's 19-year-old son was chosen Sunday to succeed her as chairman of her opposition party, while her husband will serve as co-chairman, extending Pakistan's most famous political dynasty to another generation.

The party also decided to contest upcoming elections, apparently ending the threat of a wholesale boycott by Pakistan's political opposition as the key U.S.-ally struggles to transition to full democracy after years of military rule.

The decision was made at a closed meeting of the Pakistan Peoples Party central executive committee, three days after the two-time prime minister was assassinated in a suicide attack.

It catapults Bilawal Zardari, an Oxford University student with no political experience, to the centre of Pakistan's tumultuous public life.


Every time Pakistan has a chance to do something right, it manages to do the complete opposite. Keeping power within the Bhutto dynasty is befitting of a monarchy, not a political party. Maybe the PPP has no other viable candidate, I don't know enough to say, but to the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis who don't belong to the Bhutto quasi-cult, this is a great step forward for the country's civilian aristocracy, not democracy. It is not true, as one analyst said in yesterday's Globe, that Pakistan can't be governed, but that no one seems to bother trying.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A day late but not a buck short are this week's buzzwords: Jamie-Lynn Spears and holiday season. Here's my entry:

This holiday season, get the most from Jamie Lynn Spears, Canada's clearest, most reliable network with the fewest dropped calls. Give reliability, give Jamie Lynn Spears.

Monday, December 24, 2007

This is most likely the greatest running blog ever. Mike Morgan, 23rd in the marathon at the sweltering World Championships earlier this year, writes of a hamburger-eating contest between four world-class runners in the latest entry. Fan-favourite Brian Sell won by eating 10.5 McDonald's cheeseburgers in a half hour, Morgan was 4th with 8.25 burgers. Chad Johnson, who I met at the Detroit Marathon, chewed his way through 8.5. You think they're just average guys by looking at them, but then you find out that they've run a 2:15 marathon or eaten 8 burgers in a half hour.

All four, by the way, consumed between 2,500 and 3,000 calories in a half hour. That's not as much as you might expect considering that Sell, the winner, averages about 20 miles of running every day.

Anyway, is anyone willing to indulge me in a similar contest? Andre challenged me to a Ruffles-eating contest once, I know. I like to think my accomplishments are something: I've eaten 11 slices of pizza in about a half hour, and a bag of Ruffles and a tub of sour cream in one hour. I think I have good speed as well, I pounded back a Big Mac Meal in a little over 3 minutes today.
Every time the racists in Quebec speak up about the need for the Muslim, the Jewish and the coloured to conform, I'm reminded that Canada has been English for almost 250 years. If a minority group somewhere needs to conform, surely its the whiny minority which begs the rest of this country for money, maintains an insular way of life and imposes itself on others through ludicrous laws about signage and language. Not to mention, of course, that their seditious desire to break up this country is a far greater threat to Canada than any queerly-dressed immigrant.

Every time people like Pauline Marois, leader of the provincial PQ, open their mouth, they embarrass themselves and their province, but more importantly, they embarrass this country. Take, for example, Marois' Bill 195, according to which "immigrants must learn French in order to obtain rights, including a putative Quebec citizenship and the right to run in elections at all levels". Going further, the bill "proposed the fundamental values of Quebec should be taken into account in a future constitution, including equality between sexes and the predominance of French". Ordinarily, this sort of latent racism would be from Republicans in Texas or California at which we guffaw with righteous indignation.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Heideggerian phenomenology has, as many of you are aware, earned something of a bad rap in recent years with the advent of post-structuralist phenomenological approaches to the hypertrophic anti-Degaussian question with its firm rooting in the Milesian school. Contemporary deontologists and ontologists have struggled, ever since, to reconcile Degaussian Heideggerianism with incipient but recipient post-structuralist approaches to the neurophenomenological correlates of indelible trepidation found in Hellenistic-era works such as those of Chrysippus. The thesis which I will seek to attempt to further, advance and present is that post-structural neurophenomenology is not inimical to the endemic epidemic of pan-optic frugality we see in those such as Mill and Korsgaard, but rather it is a neo-Charlestonian conception of time and liberty as having a post-ontological existence within the realm of supposition.

Now, you might be thinking: what does neo-Charlestonianism have to do with post-structural approaches to neurophenomenology, particularly as it pertains to the pertinent portions of Cartesian intuitionism? Cartesian intuitionism, as you'll recall, is committed to the view that Gladstonian democracy as adopted by Mitterrand is not occidental, but is oriental in its orientation towards the Orient. The answer is that recidivism, particularly as practised in antebellum homogenous corrigibility, is astonishingly adept in its explanatory propositional validity. With this Heideggerian recidivism, we are now endowed with an explanatory propositionality with which to thematize and problematize the operationalizability of time and liberty. Time and liberty, after all, are what allow for a consideration of Reaganonian economics as the infrared structural adjustment of regionalizing within non-central Africa, mutatis mutandis.

So far, so good, and we are left with just one last problem which stands as an obstacle obstructing our way towards securing the achievement of a neo-Charlestonian pedagogy as paradigmatic of our spatio-temporal rejoinder towards artistic mendaciousness. Adorno wrote that the art of freedom consists not in the possibility of hope, but in the hope of possibility. In other words, he says, crucial to the project of reviving an autonomous inception of Degaussian historicism is the task of upending existing notions of crude and validity. Therefore, it is valid to conclude that percipient views on the recidivism of anti-industrial neo-Charlestonians are not, in fact, pivotal to our earth-science model. Rather, implementization of neo-adjustment basing for the model suggested by Koskei, Korsgaard and Skokie will be an empirical inevitability.
"I am disappointed that my 25 years in public life have apparently not earned me the benefit of the doubt," says Roger Clemens.

Are you kidding? It's Clemens' 25 years in public life which raise doubts. I remember reading an interview after the 1995 or 1996 season where a scout said that Clemens was losing velocity and, consequently, his performance was declining. Clemens rebounded from being an average pitcher in 1995 to a 21-7, 2.05 ERA season with the Jays in 1997, the 1997 ERA being less than half the league average of 4.53. After leaving Toronto, Clemens struggled again, but rebounded with an amazing 2005 season at the age of 42: a 1.87 ERA in 211 innings and his 7th Cy Young award.

In fact, his 1.87 ERA was his lowest ever. What sort of player plays his best past the age of 40? Barry Bonds is another example.
It's already buzzword Tuesday again. Buzzing like an apartment buzzer today is Karlheinz Schreiber. I'll start: Karlheinz Schreiber had two goals and pro-actively added an assist as the Leafs beat the Blue Jackets 4-3 on Saturday.

Update: how about a sentence that involves Schreiber and one of Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Greetings from the South Side of Chicago. Well, it is the South Side, but I'm just down the street from a Hilton and this hotel ferries people the Cumbersome Mile to the Magnificent Mile, and we know that an aversion to walking or public transit is the true mark of aristocracy. I was pinned down and tied down by a fierce blizzard blowing off of Lake Michigan, which is conveniently located about two blocks away, but the sun is shining today and I'm off to throw Bud Light bottles at a big screen somewhere.

Friday, December 14, 2007

It doesn't get more asinine than this. How many more symbols and awareness-raising gestures do we need, and do we need to wait almost four months to make engage in this meaningless exercise?

If Miller was serious about climate change, he'd start by at least trying to ban cars from the downtown core.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Would you rather live in Kitchener or Montreal? Saskatoon or Montreal? Oshawa or Montreal? In all three cases, the Conference Board of Canada believes that the first city is "the city that is the most attractive to people", not Montreal. The most desirable city in all of Canada? Calgary. The most desirable in the United States? Washington, D.C.

The only thing that could possibly explain this are hockey standings, but the Capitals suck, the Flames are so-so and the Habs are over .500. What's more, the Generals don't even play in the NHL.
This holiday season, I would like to introduce a recurring theme on AWYHIGTC. Run DMZ has Wordless Wednesday and the less erudite I've Made a Huge Tiny Mistake has Saved by the Bell Sundays. To these two I would like to add Buzzword Tuesday.

Every Tuesday, give or take seven days, I will choose a buzzword or a buzz-phrase and ask you to use it in an obtuse, turgid sentence, ideally combining it with another buzzword or buzz-phrase.

This week's buzz-phrase is 'sub-prime mortgage'. I'll start off: the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, the dog having been adversely affected by the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Offensive linemen sometimes wear short sleeves in cold weather to try and get inside the heads of their opponents. Steelers great Mike Webster was well-known for this, and it fits Webster's mentality: he played 17 NFL seasons and the estimated 250,000 blows to the head he endured caused brain damage, which in turn caused him to commit suicide five years ago. Brain damage wasn't my desired outcome in wearing shorts for today's hilly, snowy 10.8-kilometre race. I just wanted to get inside Riyaad's head and make him think I was tougher than I actually was.

It's hard to speak with certainty, but I think the ploy worked, at least on myself. I beat Riyaad, who gamely finished with a pulled calf, and I even ran better than I'd hoped for, finishing 8th overall in 41:22 (3:50/km). I love running in snowy weather and I love running hills, and the Egg Nog Jog combines both. It's run on unplowed country roads that ascend and descend massive hills. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this race all year.

After I broke free of the pack after 8k and was running by myself in blowing snow, I wondered whether the shorts had anything to do with it. I think they did. You can't hide out from the cold in wimpy tights if you want to run well, you need to embrace the cold by wearing shorts and getting snow in your stubble.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This is a clear case of life imitating art.
Digging deeper still, we get to the root of the problem. Here is the result of a poll of Toronto Star readers:

Should the army be called in to help curb gang violence in Toronto?

Yes 1662 38%
No 2684 61%

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A lot of cities in the world produce ridiculous ideas, but Toronto's city council and mayor seem to excel at coming up ideas that make no sense whatsoever, and that's true even if you ignore the time our mayor implored Ginger Spice to rejoin the Spice Girls. Therefore, councillor Giorgio Mammoliti's suggestion to use the army to combat gang violence finds firm rooting in a tradition of absurdity. This tradition itself seems to be so deep-rooted that it's hard to believe Mammoliti is a professional politician: the man is actually very well-paid to come up with ideas such as this one.

Unsurprisingly, a spokeswoman from the Canadian Forces declined comment.

Mammoliti, by the way, really is a professional politician. He has served as an MPP and now a city councillor for almost twenty years. In the 2003 city election, he was unopposed but still had one of the most expensive campaigns in the city.

Friday, December 07, 2007

No Country for Old Men proves that it's really not that hard to make a good movie. This is not to say that it's at all easy, but it does in comparison with absurd tripe like The Darjeeling Limited with its reliance on non-sequitur, probabilistic humour. I say the humour is probabilistic because it really wasn't that funny, but humour is the only thing which could justify the tedious, hours-long journey through northern India. The Darjeeling and others like it expend tremendous energy, all of which seems to be spent struggling in vain to produce a bearable film.

I went to see this movie through a hazily-remembered trailer and the praise of our resident poet, and I was surprised that it was exactly as good as he said. No Country for Old Men blows the doors off its peers in this department, blowing doors off being something that I was going to say before I realized how appropriate it is here. It doesn't rely on linear story-telling, but it doesn't fall into the absurdist trap of mistaking a focus on small details with profundity, as many a teenage micro-photographer does. There's nothing at all new or novel about what happens in No Country: there are some bad guys, a morally questionable man, a sheriff and lots of open country in Texas. The merits of the movie are not that oddities about the characters which pass for character development. Rather, No Country draws the viewer into an ostensibly unremarkable story with an intensity of experience which gets to be unbearable at times. As an added bonus, shots are fired. Lots of them.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I've been redeemed. LSU will play and cream Ohio State in the national title game. LSU is as good as any team, but with respect to Ohio State, it would be nice if favourable voters and a computer model could decide other desirable outcomes in my life.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

What would life be without a pair of college football upsets on Saturday?

Top-ranked Missouri is losing to 9th-ranked Oklahoma. This comes after beating second-ranked Kansas last week. Second-ranked West Virginia is losing to unranked Pittsburgh late in the game.

This is getting so predictable that you can't even call them upsets anymore.
So, to the best of my understanding, a "major winter storm" will come here all the way from Colorado and give us 10 cm of snow and then some rain.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SIU probes Peel police shooting: Two Peel police officers shot a man inside a Malton variety store after he swung a stick at them, the province's Special Investigations Unit says.

The incident was sparked after officers responded to a domestic violence call at a home on Delmonte Cres., in a Finch Ave.-Highway 427 neighbourhood of northeast Mississauga, around 5 p.m. Saturday.

A man had fled the home and was confronted by police outside the Varimart variety store, just around the corner on Brandon Gate Dr.

"He was standing outside the store swinging a stick," the SIU's Rose Bliss said yesterday.

"Four officers approached. They were involved in a confrontation with him outside the store, which then continued on inside the store," she said. "They made their way to the back of the store where the confrontation escalated and two officers fired their guns."


The article mentions that he Edmonson was swinging a two-by-four. I'm not sure that they had to shoot him, though that does seem to be a reasonable last resort in this situation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If I was a betting man, I would never bet that one professional football team was going to beat another by at least three touchdowns. The Patriots were favoured by something like 26 points over the Eagles last night. Even though the Patriots had won ten games by an average of 25 points including 45 and 46-point wins over comparable teams in Washington and Buffalo, and even though the Eagles' starting quarterback was out, 26 points is a lot. Anecdotally, at least, being heavily favoured to this absurd extent is seldom justified. The Patriots beat the Rams in a Super Bowl as 14-point underdogs, and the Broncos did the same to the Packers as 13-point underdogs. Even under normal conditions, a three-touchdown win is a lot to ask for. The 49ers were, for some reason, 23-point favourites against the Bengals in a 1993 game and only won 21-8.

In the event, the Eagles made the Cheaters from Close to Cape Cod earn their 11th win, doing so as many have suggested, by making the Cheaters earn it. Most teams have played the Patriots with a very soft defense that rarely challenges Tom Brady or his receivers. Granted, the Eagles have the personnel to make an aggressive defense pay off or at least they played like it, but if anyone is going to beat New England this year, they will have to knock down Tom Brady over and over.

On the other hand, at least part of the reason that a back-up quarterback was almost able to lead a so-so team to victory over the best team of this decade was that the latter, like any imperial power, had simply gone soft. New England was as much confounded by Jim Johnson's defenses as it was sloppy and half-awake, having become somewhat accustomed to five-touchdown wins.

As I wrote this, Pittsburgh is on the verge of clinching a 3-0 win over winless Miami. I cringe at reproducing this fact, but Pittsburgh hasn't lost a home game on a Monday night in 15 years. Needless to say, the Steelers were 15.5-point favourites tonight.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If I was a betting man, my last pick to be a shooter in Malton would be a police officer. I was walking down the street tonight when I saw the strip mall two blocks from my house blocked off by about a dozen police cars and about a hundred metres of police tape.

I figured that either a drug deal had gone wrong in the parking lot or a robbery in one of the two convenience stores there. The pay phone in the corner of the parking lot attracts dealers at all hours of the day and night, long after the stores there have closed. One of the stores there locks its doors at night and allows in customers on a case-by-case basis. The police officers there were terse but exceedingly nice, which now makes sense. The complete lack of information about why they shot a man inside a convenience store in response to a domestic dispute makes me guess that the shooting was probably not justified.

I can't say I was surprised by the shooting, but I was surprised that it was the police who pulled the trigger. I've always been amazed at how safe Malton is for an area so poor and rundown. In a weird way, the initial reaction is to feel safer because this was done by the police. Along the same lines, I saw what was almost certainly a fatal crash nearby two days ago. That, for some reason, doesn't inspire the same fear in anyone. You might not want to walk past this plaza late at night lest the police shoot you, but it's fine to speed recklessly through the intersection of Derry and Goreway.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

As if to confirm this recent entry, top-ranked LSU had to go and lose today to unranked Arkansas in triple-secret overtime. I can't decide whether it's better to be a winner or a loser in the NCAA.

Elsewhere, Gregg Easterbrook points out that if college football players shared in the revenue produced by their sport in the same way as professionals, each and every Division I player would be paid $114,000.

Much, much closer to home, in yet another display of how Canada manages to do quietly what America mucks up with an astonishing proficiency, the Canadian university football championships were played tonight. The University of Manitoba Bisons (for my American readers, this is all real) beat the Saint Mary's Huskies (for my Canadian readers, I had no idea St. Mary's existed until I wrote this) 28-14 in virtual anonymity. In the CIS, conference champions play in semi-final games that culminate in a national championship. For some reason, this just won't work for American football.

Working in a third brand of football in an already crowded entry, the Grey Cup will be played in my city on Sunday, where Winnipeg will have a chance to win its second national title in 48 hours. The Grey Cup, though it predates the Super Bowl by about 60 years, is notable only as a novelty. There are myriad reasons why Canadians have virtually no interest in a Canadian championship, at least part of which is playing the game in arguably the most sterile stadium in all of North America. It is somewhat unfortunate when thought about, though I would otherwise have no interest myself in seeing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Dave Perkins makes a case for CIS and CFL football over the NCAA and NFL variants, though I personally don't buy it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

As Somali Crisis Swells, Experts See a Void in Aid: “The situation in Somalia is the worst on the continent,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the top United Nations official for Somalia.

That situation has included floods, droughts, locusts, suicide bombers, roadside bombs and near-daily assassinations.

United Nations officials said the recent round of plagues, natural and man-made, coupled with the residual chaos that has consumed Somalia for more than a decade, have put the country on the brink of famine. In the worst-hit areas, like Afgooye, recent surveys indicate the malnutrition rate is 19 percent, compared with about 13 percent in Darfur; 15 percent is considered the emergency threshold.


Somalia is one of the strangest, most fascinating places on the planet. It has been without a government now for almost two decades and really exists as a state in name only. I recall reading an article in the New York Times grudgingly admiring the anarcho-capitalism that prevailed in Mogadishu, which has to be something of a fantasy for many hardcore capitalists within the US and elsewhere.

All fascination aside, Somalia is an explosive, perpetual tragedy. More coverage might result in more aid, but the heart of the problem in Somalia is as bafflingly simple as it is intractable: why can't people get along?
It might be an "an irresponsible misuse" of data, it might be that "crime experts across the country routinely denouncing the findings", and it might be that "the rankings 'do groundless harm to many communities'", but who cares?

Detroit Declared Most Dangerous US City

It's time to celebrate.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Watching NCAA football these days is a bit like watching the fabled 100 metre dash for people scared of breaking tape. Anyone who knows anything about track and field would know that they stopped using tape to judge sprints a long time ago, but I digress. Every time a team winds up in first place this season, they go and find a way to lose. Michigan got it started by losing to the mighty Appalachian State Mountaineers, plunging the Wolverines from 5th-ranked to unranked and prompting me to inquire about the state of App State's grad apps, perhaps.

It came quickly from there: never-ranked South Florida beat 5th-ranked West Virginia, unranked Colorado beat 3rd-ranked Oklahoma, the Fighting Illini of Illinois knocked off 5th-ranked Wisconsin, unranked Auburn beat 4th-ranked Florida, Stanford beat #2 USC, Kentucky beat top-ranked LSU in triple-secret overtime and #2 Cal lost to unranked Oregon State on the same day.

The result of all this is that we had Ohio State and Boston College ranked 1-2, turning college football into as much of a sport as movie reviewing. Fortunately, Florida State finally beat Boston College and then Ohio State lost to the Fighting Illini, which left LSU and Oregon 1-2 at the start of this week. Oregon, of course, went and lost to unranked Arizona on Thursday. LSU plays 3-7 Ole Miss this afternoon, so it's safe to say that Mississippi will win this one.

Now part of this reflects the absurdity of a sport that decides who wins and who loses championships by getting people to vote. Democracy, whatever its merits elsewhere, clearly doesn't work as a method of awarding championships. An unranked team is an unpopular team as much as it is a bad team, just like a top-ranked team is a popular team as much as it is a good one. Ohio State and Boston College rose to the top of the rankings on the strength of being undefeated, but 10-0 Kansas is ranked just 4th, 10-0 Hawaii 13th.

Finally, for all those who don't really know what I'm talking about, the futility of college football is articulated here. It's worth noting that, despite this year's wins, the US military hasn't had a victory over a ranked opponent since a pair of 1945 wins over second-ranked Germany and fifth-ranked Japan. Worse still, the US hasn't won a intra-conference game since 1865.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Man, 18, Is Fatally Shot by Police in Brooklyn: A young man was fatally shot last night in a hail of 20 bullets fired by five police officers who responded to his mother’s 911 call for help in a domestic dispute in Brooklyn, the authorities said.

The police said they believed that the man, Khiel Coppin, 18, had a gun. But when the gunfire stopped, it turned out that he had been holding a hairbrush.


What is it about American police officers that leads them to make such absurd judgments? You would think that the first five or six shots which were not responded to by the hair brush would prompt officers to reconsider their course of action. Twenty shots betrays an alarming lack of restraint, much like the unfortunate case of Amadou Diallo, who was shot forty-one times by New York police who mistook his wallet for a gun. The reckless use of a taser, which remain something of an unknown quantity, by the RCMP in Vancouver is still more evidence against the belief that police officers are more trained to handle dangerous situations than you and I.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's probably not easy being a teacher in Rexdale, one of Toronto's poorest, roughest areas. I saw a teacher with his volleyball team at the bus stop: it's never easy traveling with a dozen kids to begin with, but I'm sure it's much harder to travel with them on the TTC. And sometimes things just don't go your way. I heard the teacher-coach note that Kenya "wasn't really" in East Africa, but was "more in the central part of Africa". I almost blurted out that Kenya bordered the Indian Ocean, which makes it hard to be any further east in Africa, but I didn't. I was rewarded soon enough anyway.

The kids then saw a bus coming, but the teacher replied "no, our bus comes from over there," pointing south. Just then, the bus pulled up and it was the right one. It actually can't come from the north like it did, because we were standing at the end of the route. I think that means he was wrong on both counts, seemingly right but actually wrong the first time and probably right but actually wrong the second. He also missed their stop later on. At least it wasn't raining.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I know a thing or two about having a chance to succeed despite a string of monumental failures. Maybe I get it from the football teams I cheer for. Consider the Denver Broncos, who were 3-5 before yesterday's game and had lost their last game by 37 points to the Detroit Lions. Still, they actually had a chance to end the day in first place, albeit tied with two other teams. The team had received some bad news: quarterback Jay Cutler's leg was merely bruised, not broken, and he would start. Nevertheless, Cutler and mysterious rookie running back Selvin Young led the Broncos to a 27-11 win.

So far, so good: now the Indianapolis Colts, still smarting from being outsmarted by New England last week, just had to beat the 4-4 San Diego Chargers. The Colts, who some once said were the best team in the league, played a bizarre game, doing their best to hand San Diego the game. San Diego returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and also returned a punt for a touchdown late in the first quarter. In that same first quarter, Peyton Manning threw four interceptions against eight completions.

San Diego was eventually staked to a 23-0 lead and, despite the Colts' best efforts to let the game become a blowout, they nevertheless stayed competitive. Indianapolis was down by 16 late in the third quarter before cutting the lead to 23-15, and then Philip Rivers was so kind as to fumble the ball in the end zone, allowing the Colts to cut the lead to 23-21. Manning drove down the field yet again, making it inside the Chargers' 10. An apparent first-and-goal became a fourth-and-short play, and then it become a fourth-and-five after a penalty.

The radio announcer made a point to describe the coming kick in detail, including the name, age and cholesterol levels of the long-snapper. In a play reminiscent of a playoff game last season decided on a missed 21-yard field goal, Adam Vinatieri, who was signed especially for his ability to make high-pressure field goals, missd the field goal. And that's how the Colts displayed a steely resolve to lose last night, and why the Broncos aren't in first place.

By the way, at the risk of sounding like a blowhard, is anyone noticing the season that Antonio Cromartie is having? Two weeks ago, he had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. Last week, he returned a missed field goal for a touchdown from about a mile away without being touched. Last night, he had three interceptions, which means he caught as many balls as anyone else on his team.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A town on death row: A community based on cod was left reeling by the federal moratorium on the fishery. Its population has plunged by 95 per cent and residents now fear that the place is dying before their eyes. Those who remain look old beyond their years, eking out an existence foreign to most Canadians.

...money is so scarce that many people use “honey buckets” instead of installing septic systems and empty their waste at the town dump or in the harbour.

The island has no water distribution system and the treatment plant is several kilometres from town. There are also no trees, so residents must travel 50 to 80 kilometres to fetch firewood. There is no fixed link to the mainland and the coastal ferry can't run year-round.

It's too expensive to “eat from the shops,” so people fish and hunt for food, although nerves become frayed when the stores run out of cigarettes.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

In news sure to please gazetteer enthusiasts everywhere, the state of Georgia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Georgia, the state, which has also declared a state of emergency.
R.L. Stine Reveals Slappy From Night Of The Living Dummy Was Gay: NEW YORK—Children's author R.L. Stine broke his long-held media silence Monday to announce that Slappy, the evil ventriloquist's dummy from the Goosebumps Night Of The Living Dummy trilogy, was a homosexual.

Finally, there's some asinine news about an asinine children's book that I've actually read.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The madness continues in Detroit. Now, teams have capably squandered strong starts before, such as last year's Broncos, who deftly turned a 7-2 start into a humiliating 9-7 finish. Still, the Lions, cringe-inducing team song and all, continue to march down the field and gain a Laaaa-yun vic-ta-reeee! This past Sunday, they demolished Denver 44-7 to move to 6-2. The schedule is tough over the second half of the season with games against the Giants, Cowboys, Chargers and two against the Packers. Still, the Lions might stumble into the playoffs for the first time in eight years. It's a safe bet, however, that their 16-year playoff win drought will continue.

As for the rest of the league, I will eschew an elegaic opprobrium in the wake of Indianapolis' 24-20 loss at home to the New England Patriots. It's just not worth it. My therapist Gregg Easterbrook observes that "Indianapolis' blown late lead seems to prove the maxim, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."" I'm inclined to agree. A missed field goal early on, along with two made field goals that should have been touchdowns, are hardly the cologne of perfection. Standing idly by on defense late in the game as Tom Brady made perfect throw after perfect throw here seems enough for the entire Colts defense to be indicted under the Good Samaritan Act.

More heartening was Pittsburgh's 38-7 victory over Baltimore, in which a certain brash quarterback threw five first-half touchdowns before injuring himself on a deep throw with a 31-point lead. I considered the Steelers Super Bowl contenders at the start of the season for the way in which they devoured the Browns like so much hot fudge, and after a couple of blips, it's fair to do so again. I now live again for the Steelers-Patriots game on December 9.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Continuing with the theme of fantastical ruin, this ranking of failed states places my homeland, the Islamic Bizzaroworld of Pakistan, in an alarming 12th position. That made Pakistan, a nuclear-armed, tyrannosaurus-shaped country of 170 million a greater failure than North Korea, Sierra Leone (at least one of my readers ought to be dead if born in Sierra Leone, where the life expectancy is 40 years), and East Timor (established one year before this blog). All this, of course, was before the current state of emergency, which just rolled into its 61st hour, as breathlessly announced by the Dubai-based Geo TV. Judges, opposing politicians, activists and generally anyone with a clue has been clubbed, drubbed and dragged into prison. All private television stations have been shut down and phone service has been cut in parts of the capital Islamabad, where barbed wire barricades have been erected. Altogether, thousands of people have been arrested, including prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

The news isn't all bad for the country that gave the world 7-Eleven employees and taxi drivers. After all, politicians haven't been much better at managing or mismanaging Pakistan. I'm inclined to adopt my dad's bemused response to the situation: after two wars, the secession of what is now Bangladesh, three mostly continuous decades of dictatorship, and the repeated threat of nuclear war, how much worse can it really get? All conspiracy theories of American designs on Pakistani oil, rugs or soccer balls (that Pakistan manufactured sporting goods was a genuine source of national pride as a child) aside, not much substantial change is likely in Pakistan's short-term future.

Democracy in Pakistan would be nice, and it may come yet as Pervez Musharraf continues to embarrass himself and those who consider a dictator a suitable guest on a comedy talk show. However, at least right now, free elections would be a shuffling of Titanic deck chairs. The country's civilian political leadership mainly consists in two seasoned politicians who have considerable experience in bungling the country's affairs.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fantastical ruin is the result of fantastical thinking. Pierre Berton wrote in Klondike that at the start of the twentieth century, some velo-optimists were so bold as to think that the wars of the future would be fought on bicycles. The fantastical thinking of the early twentieth century, now absurdly comical, can provide a wonderful insight into how the world in which we live might have been. The military industrial complex, for example, might have developed fighter bicycles instead of fighter jets.

Consider, as another example, Michigan Central Station in Detroit. It is an extravagant, ornate, 18-storey building that cost $15 million in 1913 (roughly $300 million today). By way of comparison, consider that the great baseball stadiums of that era, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, cost less than a million dollars combined. Tiger Stadium, just a few blocks away, cost $250,000.

It is not at all unreasonable to ask just why anyone anywhere would construct an 18-storey train station. Such, however, was the grandeur of Michigan Central Station. Louis Van Winkle writes: "The top five floors never had the interiors completed. The reasons for [having a] building so large are unclear." The space was only ever used by Michigan Central Railroad.

Reality might have been compromised in the construction of Michigan Central, which in retrospect was dependent on three factors, none of which materialized. Beauty, however, was not. The interior of the train station has "76-foot high ceilings, huge arches, carved plaster decoration and marble columns." The viability of the train station depended on: the prevalence of train travel over the automobile, a spread of prosperity westwards as Michigan Central was not downtown, of course, the use of the tower for any meaningful purpose. In the event, Detroit became as dominated by the automobile as any city in the world while Michigan Central did not even have a parking lot, no westward expansion ever happened and the city eventually crumbled and, of course, the tower was barely used.

Today, Michigan Central stands as an ominous hulk over the rest of Detroit, far from the other decrepit towers downtown. It is arguably the first sight greeting visitors to the United States from the Ambassador Bridge. There may be no more appropriate ambassador for Detroit: every single one of its windows seems to be gone and Michigan Central stands in a mournful, filthy beauty as a monument to the folly of the past.

Photos, courtesy of Metropolis Magazine:

Pillars and graffiti, once the ticketing area
The barren lobby
There technically is some glass left

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My first-year history professor once told us that Napoleon was the most written-about person in all of history. That seemed like an odd choice to me, but a few Saturday nights spent roaming the stacks at Robarts Library (aka The Big Turkey) strongly supported this claim. Personally, I think I've written more about the Indianapolis Colts than anything else. It's hard to believe that I've written more about Peyton than Plato, but fully 20 posts on this blog mention the former compared with two about the latter. I haven't written that many essays about Plato either, and the Colts aren't even my favourite team.

At any rate, let me add one more to the pile:

The defending Super Bowl champions are playing at home and undefeated in seven games, winning each game by an average of 17 points. Still, they opened as 4-point underdogs.

That’s just how good the New England Patriots have been this year, winning eight games by an average score of 41-16. Tom Brady has thrown 30 touchdowns in half a season against just two interceptions, and rolled up a quarterback rating of 136.2.


FanHome » Battling for History: Colts host Patriots
What follows is like an absurd case of sleep paralysis. It makes you want to reach into the screen and knock someone, anyone. Trinity University is down 24-22 against Millsaps College.

Watch.





Friday, October 26, 2007

To return to an alarming issue I discussed last week, by the time I get home this evening, Stephen Colbert's campaign might have one million supporters in its ninth day of operations. The total stands at roughly 917,000 right now, with approximately 30 people having joined every time the page is refreshed. By way of illustration, in the time it took me to write this entry, 339 people joined. In the time it took me to write that sentence, 84 people joined.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So John Tory has indicated that he will stay on as leader of the Ontario Conservatives. I'm not sure by what premises he reached this conclusion. Tory, sadly, has pretty much failed at everything he has ever done, at least going back for the last 15 years.

  • In 1993, Tory approved the heinous ad making fun of Jean Chretien's palsy, which played a large part in reducing the governing Conservatives to a pair of seats in Parliament.

  • After that, he became the CEO of Rogers Media and then Rogers Cable. The company grew significantly during this period, I will admit, but it grew into the inhuman behemoth that it is today.

  • Tory was commissioner of the CFL from 1996 to 2000, which was a time spent mostly worrying about whether the Ottawa Roughriders would play on the coming Friday night.

  • He then ran for mayor of Toronto in 2003 and lost. He did, however, win a by-election and became an MPP.

  • He then lost the recent provincial election and lost his own seat.

    At least he didn't own the Texas Rangers at any point.
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Parity between the Canadian and American dollars has led to all sorts of demands from consumers who want a chicken in every pot and want both for the same price as in Buffalo. Everything, it seems, can be tied to the sharp increase in value of the Canadian dollar. Consumers have had their say, lambasting retailers for maintaining high prices for trinkets, widgets and doodads in spite of the dollar's strength. In response, some retailers, Zellers most prominent so far, have lowered prices on some 250 items. That most pernicious purveyor of all ominously boasted of its "best-ever year of price reductions".

    Of course, is it really possible to explain something as complex as the pricing of goods on an open market by appeal to the exchange rate? John Williamson from the Canadian Taxpayer Federation says as much in his griping about our labour laws and regulations. In an open letter to federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, he writes: "you and I both know the strong loonie is only one factor that determines price. Others include taxes, government regulations, minimum wages, and labour laws." These things, apparently, are bad.

    Williamson goes on to advocate a reduction in the Employment Insurance payroll tax, because it is "without doubt passed on to, and paid, by consumers." Clearly, if you're able to buy a DVD player with small change, there is still a hidden price to pay. I hope we aren't willing to pay that cost, which comes in the form of taking away some of the niceties of life in Canada.

    The logical next step in this train wreck of a debate, I think, ought to be a rejoinder on the part of retailers that the minimum wage in all provinces need to be rolled back to reflect the loonie's strength. If the Wal-Mart in Cheyenne, Wyoming or Savannah, Georgia is only required to pay employees $5.15/hour, why does the Wal-Mart in Bracebridge, Dryden or Scarborough have to pay its employees $8 per hour? After all, if we're going to let the exchange rate determine how we do business in Ontario, there's no reason to leave the minimum wage as unfairly high as it is.
    Colts-Patriots tilt shaping as battle of Good vs. Evil: Patriots at Colts on Nov. 4 is shaping up to be one of the most attractive and exciting NFL regular-season games ever staged. The pairing is fabulous; the teams are the league's best; and there is a chance both will take the field undefeated. Plus, Patriots at Colts has a powerful, compelling narrative. Namely -- Good vs. Evil.

    The fact that I don't even need to tell you which team represents Good and which stands for Evil says a lot about how low New England has sunk. You knew instantly which was which, didn't you?

    ...

    In the Good vs. Evil narrative of the Colts and Pats, running up the score is a telling factor: It reveals a team's sportsmanship or lack of same, and whether a team shows sportsmanship in public might offer insights into its character in private. New England is scoring so many points the Patriots offense looks like cherries and oranges spinning on a slot machine. The Flying Elvii stand plus-159 in net points, by far the best scoring margin in the NFL. This is supposed to be impressive. But I think it's creepy, and New England's creepy on-field behavior is only underscoring the seediness of the Beli-Cheat scandal.


    Easterbrook says what I've been feeling all along. Having only seen two Patriots game all season but having stopped well before the end, I didn't know that they were throwing right to the final whistle. I know that Tom Brady throws a lot, but I didn't know he threw from the shotgun with a five-touchdown lead on Thursday. Calling a play with just 23 seconds left in the game and a big lead, as Bill Belichick did against the Cowboys, is pathetic.

    All this, of course, doesn't change the fact that the Patriots are very, very, very good. The average score in seven wins has been 40-17. Tom Brady has numbers that many people struggle to put up in Madden: 73% completion rate, 27 touchdowns against 2 interceptions. We may never see anything like it. Unfortunately, Belichick's visceral disregard for sportsmanship inflates an excellent team into a superhuman team. When most teams jump out to a huge lead, they stop trying as hard. Belichick's players play hard until the final whistle. Normally that would be a virtue, but here, as Easterbrook says, it's just creepy.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Death is a popular activity in Detroit, so maybe I can chalk up my own in yesterday's half marathon to the benevolence of the city's tourism department. I hit 8 miles in 50:57, about two minutes faster than last year, but then, like so many others before me, I died a painful death under the Detroit River. My shoes sounded like they were stuck in mud and I feebly emerged from the tunnel.

    I'd been averaging around 6:20 per mile, with the last three liberally run in 6 minutes flat. I think that was probably the culprit in the end, but why ruin a good story? The ninth mile was 6:37, the tenth 6:50 (64:24 total). Course markers being as unpredictable as mortality is predictable in Detroit, I was still, somehow, two minutes ahead of last year's pace.

    I really did come unglued in the 11th mile, badly enough to stop looking at splits. This mile was in the 7-minute range and the 12th mile took 8 minutes. I was now around Tiger Stadium and the brick-paved roads of Michigan Avenue. I'll never cease to be amazed by Detroit's penchant for bundling pain with nineteenth-century ornamentation. All the people I had passed in the middle of the race now flooded past me and I swerved all over the broad street trying to get out of their way.

    I reached the 12-mile mark in 79 minutes and realized that it was going to take something special to avoid the humiliation of running even slower than last year. I'm not sure why, but I hurt more than I've ever hurt before in a race and dug deeper than I ever have before, without qualification. I launched a powerful kick down Woodward Avenue. All this gave me a 7:20 final mile and a 1:27:02 finish, 26th overall. My last four half marathon times are 1:26:51, 1:27:17, 1:27:12 and 1:27:02. At least I'm consistent. I then took my unrequited bloodlust, with a gap in between to stagger around on Detroit's cold, empty streets in short yellow shorts, to see the Lions take on the Buccaneers.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Internet smears target Obama: WASHINGTON–She was a Republican backing Mitt Romney, but her frustration that late summer day in Iowa was spawned by that Muslim running for the Democrats, Barack Obama.

    Why, she wondered, was there such fuss over Romney's Mormon faith when the media was not writing about Obama's Muslim faith?


    It's not a good time to be Barack Obama right now, the man who has enjoyed Secret Service since about 18 months before the 2008 US presidential election. Elsewhere on the Internet, a Facebook group in support of Stephen Colbert's presidential bid has signed up over 116,000 members (I am one) in about two days.

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    As Joseph enjoys Alabama's 27-24 victory over Mississippi yesterday, my own University of Toronto Blues lost their 48th consecutive football game yesterday, setting a new Canadian university mark for football futility. Now, none of this really matters, of course. You only need to consider that this latest defeat was a 44-1 drubbing at the hands of the bacchanalian, pot-bellied University of Western Ontario. Still, it is baffling how a school with more than 50,000 students can't manage to find 24 males capable of winning a single football game.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    To borrow from Jean-Paul Sartre, six in the morning is both way too early and way too late to be in Detroit. Still, the bus entered an eerily dark city at the crack of dawn and deposited us in its downtown. I can't think of another city with a million people that was so black, except perhaps for London in World War II. I was a little excited to be coming to Detroit, but it was plain eerie to enter a place without a single light.

    The broad streets were completely empty and passing under the vast John C. Lodge Freeway, named after the younger brother of the senator so vociferously opposed to Woodrow Wilson's internationalism, was like hiding out in a bomb shelter. If the Chicago Marathon was an exodus of war-weary refugees along Michigan Avenue, downtown Detroit is the perpetual blackout.

    I don't know why I expected breakfast from a city that had a single open restaurant on the Saturday night I was there. It was best to stay in the Greyhound station anyway, with its barbed wire fences, sentries, barking dogs and machine gun-toting guards. Well, at least the first one is true. The inside of this maximum-security compound was a bewildering mixture of 28 Days Later and an NWA music video. If I never go to prison, this was probably the closest I'll ever come. There were probably 200 people in there, almost all black and poor, with the exception of an old Amish couple. Playing on the television was something called Homicide in Hollenbeck.

    Riyaad, doing what he does best when we arrive at a Greyhound station of questionable hygiene in a city of unquestionable skeeze, headed for the washroom. "How bad is it?" I asked, "this place is nuts". "It was about what I expected," he replied, "there's blood in there." Doing what I do best in any Greyhound station, I headed for the coffee machine.

    (Sidebar: The Economist uses the price of a Big Mac in a locale as a measure of purchasing power. I use the price of a cup of coffee at the Greyhound station. A cup of coffee at the Toronto station is $1.56, just $65 cents in Detroit and $1.40 in Chicago.)

    I'm not sure why I headed for the coffee machine in the corner. I thought I was going to get stabbed for my running shoes and copy of Augustine's Confessions. An old black man came up to me while I was there, claiming to be selling pins for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Furrowing my brow in a vain attempt to understand the situation, I gave him a dollar for a tiny American flag. "Errybody bin givin' fies and tens," he said with a sleazy grin. He then turned to the girl next to me and repeated, "ERRYBODY bin gi'in fies and tens, even twenties." He then helped himself to the other two American dollar bills in my wallet, though it would take until the end of the cup of coffee for me to realize what had happened.

    I don't know much about the VFW, but I suspect that they don't hire drug dealers to solicit on their behalf at the downtown Detroit Greyhound station at 6 in the morning.

    A mountain of a security guard then came over and repeatedly pounded his fist, speaking as black as anyone, telling the man to go "take yo hustlin' elsewhere, this is our turf." The dealer and his friends snickered at the man, called him an Uncle Tom and boasted that they made more money in two hours than he made in two weeks.

    Maybe it's not polite to notice that just about everyone in there was black and pathetic, but it's certainly idiotic not to notice. It seems inhuman to allow a place like that to exist in the richest country in the world, certainly in comparison with places like Ann Arbor, less than an hour away. The crime (254 murders last year), poverty (the per capita income is half of Ann Arbor) and unemployment (14% in Detroit, triple the national average) produce a parallel world. It's a bizarre, bizarre experience to spend two hours anywhere in the First World and be unsure of whether anyone will care if anything happens to you. To have that happen in the heart of a major city is entirely something else.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    In the event, the election was decided within an hour of polls closing, but the real victor is the first-past-the-post system, which flexed its muscle tonight. With roughly 40 percent of the popular vote, the Liberals earned 71 of 107 seats. A referendum on proportional representation is a resounding failure, with just 36% of respondents in favour out of votes currently tallied.

    The most gratifying part of the evening, however, is the defeat of Progressive Conservative leader John Tory in his own riding. Tory rooted his campaign in leadership, relying on his slogan "leadership matters", a curious choice given that his campaign consisted in petty criticisms of Premier Dalton McGuinty. This torrid criticism in the absence of any leadership whatsoever instead justifies the slogan "criticism matters". The slogan is an apt one, given that the Tories have an unelected leader and enjoy the role of critic as the Official Opposition in Parliament.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Today is election day in Ontario, a territory of 1 million square kilometres roughly three times the size of Germany. I've been fairly busy the last little while, so I'm not sure who to vote for. However, I will be home all day, so I will be taking your calls. Call in and tell me who to vote for. The more ignorant and baseless your opinion, the better.
    With my apologies to the good people at Chasing Kimbia:

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    It would be grotesquely inefficient to try and reproduce the report and pictures I posted about yesterday's Chicago Marathon.

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    The bus ride from Ann Arbor to Chicago took longer than I realized, but they got there around 2:30 PM CDT. Here are some more texts I received during that portion of the trip, along with some from Chicago:

    (10:42 AM CDT)
    Adeel: I'm in Kalamazoo.
    Jennifer: I love that name.
    Adeel: Yeah, me too. It's home to Western Michigan University. They have a bigger stadium than we do and a separate track. Then again, we get an education.

    Later: (1:12 PM CDT)

    Adeel: We're coming up to Gary...
    Jennifer: I always think of that camp song.
    Adeel: ??
    Jennifer: A song about Gary, Indiana.
    Adeel: I've never heard of of, it's safe to say. Way to date yourself.

    (Adeel loves to tease me about my age. The song is actually from the musical "The Music Man". And despite what Adeel may tell you, I'm not actually quite as old as the song.)

    And a bit later: (2:53 PM CDT)
    Adeel: We're in Chitown. Black people really do talk like that and the food is great.
    Jennifer: Great! What did you eat?
    Adeel: Chili dog. I was talking to Riyaad about how I'm 21 years old and I've never had one.

    The rest of the day seemed to be devoted to seeing the city and the sights. It's very hot in Chicago, which will make for a very difficult marathon tomorrow. I look forward to hearing more about it and seeing the pictures.

    Saturday, October 06, 2007

    Jennifer posting again. It doesn't seem like Adeel got much sleep on the bus. Maybe a couple hours, but he already had to be awake for the border crossing. Here are the texts I received while I was sleeping:

    Adeel (5:37 AM EDT):
    Dear Jennifer,
    Am currently under Detroit River. Will go through customs. More to come.

    Adeel (6:16 AM EDT):
    Hello Jennifer Wolf, I am now free to move about your country and do all of the things you can do. I can ride at the front of the bus and drink from the same water fountains.

    [I am thinking: Yeah, but you can't vote.]

    Adeel (8:00 AM CDT):
    I'm in Ann Arbor. Detroit was scary. There's nothing funny about the Detroit Greyhound terminal at 6 am. Scary.

    Me (9:09 AM CDT):
    Good morning. I guess you didn't sleep much. Did you have breakfast in Detroit?

    Adeel (9:12 AM CDT):
    Good morning. I slept quite a bit, actually, after Detroit. I had black coffee and a granola ba in Detroit. There was nowhere to go eat. It was dark and the place is filled with drug dealers. It was terrifying. The station is one of the worst places I've been.



    Even with Adeel's hyperboles, that does sound pretty bad. At least they did get more sleep than I originally figured. Ann Arbor is only about three hours from Chicago, so they should be there soon. I'm still jealous. At least the Red Sox won last night.
    This is Jennifer posting now. Here is a conversation I had with Adeel today at 4:45 PM Eastern today (by text message):

    Adeel: So guess where I'm going tonight?
    Me: Red Sox game? Sorry, I give up. Am I going to be jealous?
    Adeel: Yes. Guess.
    Me: WHERE?
    Adeel: Gary, Indiana, murder capital of the USA. But that's really en route to Chicago.
    Me: COOL! You'll have a great time. I'm so excited for you. You must be leaving soon.
    Adeel: Yeah, at 1:30.
    Me: 1:30 AM? By car or bus?
    Adeel: AM, yes. By bus. You're an American; how does one not get killed in many of these places?
    Me: Um, you've been to Detroit; I haven't.

    So in the end, Adeel and Riyaad decided to go Greyhound, and didn't need a white person with them afterall. They are probably en route to the bus station now. Another Greyhound trek, and another opportunity for me to post Adeel's colourful text message descriptions of his and Riyaad's experiences, as I did back in February during the Whitehorse trip.
    Maybe it was my fate to tour the murder capitals of the United States. I decided at 9 this morning to be there for the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and the elimination of the Cubs on either Saturday or Sunday.

    It won't come easy. I will be having breakfast in Detroit. If I make it that far, I will be in Gary, Indiana sometime in the afternoon. Detroit is a four-time winner of the prestigious Moran Quitno Most Dangerous City in America (1999-2001, 2003). Gary is a two-time winner of this, achieving this distinction in 1997-98. In the previous year's rankings, Detroit was the runner-up, while Gary placed a respectable 10th.

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Riyaad Says:

    I'm posting for Adeel, who is at work. Adeel has jumped on to my weekend trip idea. We're heading out either tonight (late) or tomorrow morning, thinking of going to Chicago to see the marathon. Need white members, as we are two brown guys heading into States. Riyaad will have car. Interested? Comment!
    World's worst goalie spins amazing tale

    Admit it, you thought it was going to be about this Vesa Toskala character.

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Speaking of stunning reversals, do you remember the Greatest Show on Turf? There was a time when the St. Louis Rams made opposing defenses look like house plants. So good were the Rams, in fact, that they were what I hated before I started hating the Patriots. The Rams averaged at least 30 points a game for three consecutive years, and have been in the top 10 offenses in the NFL for the last eight seasons.

    This year, the Rams have scored 39 points in four games, all losses. In 2000, the Rams began the season by scoring 41, 37, 41, 41 57 and 45 points. All six were wins, and in five of the six games, they scored more points than they have in all of 2007.

    Just as stunning but with a greater immediacy are the reversals in fortune of the Chargers, Bears and Saints. These three teams lost 11 games all of last year, but they're already 2-9 this year. I had to look it up because it didn't seem right, but the Bears and Saints actually met in the NFC Championship game.

    On the other hand, I bought tickets to the October 21 game between the Buccaneers and Lions. I was so grateful to be going to my first NFL game that I was willing to overlook the fact that both teams last over 10 games last year. As it stands now, I have tickets to see a division leader take on a playoff contender.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    The last four days have bore witness to the meaning that can be contained within nine innings and change of baseball.

    On Friday night, while I watched my Blue Jays play out the string against the still-more-moribund Tampa Bay Devil Rays, fully half of the National League remained in contention for the playoffs. More amazing than this was that on the third-last day of the season, not a single team was guaranteed one of the four spots. The Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Padres were all in the mix at the start of play Friday.

    On Saturday night, with his Mets facing elimination, John Maine pitched 7.2 near-perfect innings. Maine took a no-hitter into the 8th inning, struck out 14 batters and led the Mets to a seemingly cathartic 13-0 win over the Marlins.

    On Sunday, the Mets wasted no time the next day in securing their stunning collapse. Future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine allowed 5 runs to score while earning one out. The Marlins had a 7-0 lead before a single Met came to the plate, and the collapse was complete. An airtight 7-game lead had disintegrated in 18 days. The Phillies, somehow, had become division champions. The season still wasn't over, however.

    On Monday, the Rockies and Padres are playing to settle an improbable tie after 162 games and a further nine innings of single-game playoff. A bizarre 13-1 finish, including an 11-game winning streak, have vaulted the Rockies to the precipice of the playoffs.

    As Greg Cote of the Miami Herald wrote yesterday, "somebody like me whose hobby is making fun of how boring baseball is should never have to work this hard!" This is baseball at its very best. Enjoy.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    "This is 40k," the voice boomed, with all the gravity of James Earl Jones informing viewers that this, indeed, is CNN. I was, as you may have guessed, at the 40-kilometre marker of today's Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The race was won by the sprightly and slightly John Kelai, who ran the fastest marathon ever run in Canada. Kelai, however, was long gone by this point. I was standing in that eerie twilight zone watching the sort-of-rans go by: men and women in superb but decidedly amateur shape. The best had already passed by and the festively plump middle of the pack was baking somewhere in the Beaches.

    One by one, separated by large gaps and gasps, the also-rans staggered, lurched and powered by, the toll of the previous 39 kilometres visible and audible, if not a fully-fledged olfactory experience. I thought back to the 40-kilometre point of my one and only marathon. I was somewhere on the Mississauga Waterfront, noticing my chance and my desire for a sub-3 finish galloping away. The 40-kilometre marker was in front of someone's house, and this family had decided to bring out an impressive stereo system and treat runners-by to the best of ACDC. I remember thinking that this was great if I already hadn't been Thunderstruck.

    Here we were, however, on Toronto's barren eastern lakeshore. Runners had passed by the mercurial soil at the old Tent City, passed underneath the mighty Gardiner expressway and now the 40th kilometre began on a barren stretch of Lake Shore Boulevard around Sherbourne. It really couldn't get much worse than this, I thought.

    I generally tend to agree with most of my non-running friends and family who can't comprehend just why it is that someone would pay $135 to run 42-some-odd kilometres on pavement. Long-distance running, even at the best of times, is painful. When a marathon goes badly, it gets ugly. It can even turn lethal, as was the case of a woman I saw walking erratically one minute and in the arms of a paramedic 15 minutes later.

    The answer, I think, is that absolutely nothing can compare to the ecstasy of success in the marathon, absolutely nothing. Marathons hurt to run and the training is sometimes worse and failure worse still, but a dozen failures are dwarfed by a single success. That's why, like sheep, runners cheerfully line up by the the thousands and the tens of thousands and finish petrified and ruined.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    UAW strikes General Motors: Assembly-line workers make $28 an hour in base wages, but GM says benefits, including those for retirees, overtime and night-shift differentials raise the total hourly compensation to $73. The Center for Automotive Research estimates that Toyota pays U.S. workers $45 an hour in wages and benefits.

    Workers at GM's plant in Janesville, Wis., started picketing outside the massive facility a few minutes after 10, halting work on assembly lines that build large sport-utility vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban.

    "If they think I'm going to take a wage cut and pay more for health care, they're dreaming," said Dave Van Fossen, a 48-year-old worker at the plant. "My utilities just went up 14 percent and everything else is going up. Why would I accept a pay cut?"


    Someone might want to say that unskilled workers making $28 per hour along with benefits really aren't in a position to strike. They might be right, but does General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner really deserve the millions of dollars a year that he makes?

    No one, not Wagoner nor Van Fossen, truly deserves the money they make, of course. Value is determined subjectively by the party that pays and the party that is paid. Nothing and no one is objectively worth a particular amount. Wagoner, like Paris Hilton or Rex Grossman, makes as much money as someone is willing to pay him. It may be myopic and it may be socially irresponsible of them to do so, they do so out of self-interest.

    Workers at General Motors, in trying to extract as much money as possible from modest skills, are really no different than anyone else in a free market. They are playing the same game as those in upper classes by the same rules. They do not deserve anything but what General Motors is willing to pay, and whatever General Motors is willing to pay is what they deserve.

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    100 isn't Steelers' defense's favorite number: The last 100-yard game against Pittsburgh was James' 124-yard effort for Indianapolis in a Monday night game on Nov. 28, 2005, or 27 games ago counting the playoffs. The regular-season streak is 23 games.

    Dating from Johnson's 123-yard game for Cincinnati in the Steelers' 28-17 victory in Game 4 of the 2004 season, Pittsburgh has allowed only one 100-yard runner in 52 games -- or the equivalent of more than three NFL regular seasons.


    Pittsburgh has a very stingy defense this year, having allowed 10 points all year (fewest in the league) and 222 yards per game (3rd-fewest). Now, the Steelers have always had an absurdly good run defense, but this doesn't always translate into defensive success. The 2002 Steelers allowed just 85 rushing yards per game, which was the best in the league.

    The pass defense, by contrast, was as effective and as mobile as the Maginot Line. So bad was that pass defense that teams couldn't believe their luck: the Browns went down to defeat in the playoffs that year because they refused to throw the ball at the end of the game despite gaining over 400 passing yards. Last year's 21st-ranked secondary may again be the weakest link on a team that won a Super Bowl just two years ago and has outscored opponents 60-10 so far this year.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Clinton unveils health plan, rivals attack: "She takes her inspiration from European bureaucracies ... it's a European-style socialized medicine plan," Romney said in New York City.

    Elsewhere, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki categorically denounced the prospect of peace in Iraq as a sign of "Canadian-style stability". Paraphrasing Michele Mekel from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, the sort of low-level civil war in which Iraq is currently mired is "more palatable to [Iraqis] based on our values system, rather than socialist plan such as Canada's, for example."

    Simply saying that something is European, Canadian or socialist does not mean it is a bad thing. In fact it's actually a good thing. Besides, America already has a socialized military, education system, justice system, highway system, and so on. All this, presumably, was the result of adopting cowardly European ways. More seriously, limited state-provided health care has been around for over four decades in America, though it might comfort Romney and others to know that poor people still suffer in America.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    It's still early (seven quarters don't even get you a toonie), but last year's best team on paper is now playing as though made of paper. After escaping with a 14-3 win over the hapless Bears last week, the San Diego Chargers are playing arguably the worst game played by any team this week. The Patriots may have been disciplined for using a camera to steal plays, but the Chargers can use a camera for a number of purposes, such as finding their way to the line of scrimmage or finding Patriots tight end Ben Watson. Watson scored the first touchdown when the Chargers mistook him for the herculean Ed Hochuli and allowed him to leisurely stroll unmolested while putting the referee in man coverage.

    Rivers is making the game into an ordinary rout through garbage time gains, having just cut the Patriots lead to 31-14, but it is difficult to comprehend how a team that went 14-2 last year found itself down 24-0 in the last minute of the half, on the verge of falling behind by 31. It was here that I realized that San Diego had replaced the anemic Marty Schottenheimer with the still-feebler Norv Turner. If Schottenheimer never saw a big game he couldn't lose, Turner has never seen a big game. Turner has a career record of 59-82 and presided over such powerhouse teams as the 1995 Redskins (6-10) and the 2004 Oakland Raiders (5-11). It takes a lot to overcome the immense talent found in San Diego, but Norv Turner is the right man for the job.

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    It's unfortunate, at times, to live in a democracy. All sorts of asinine, inchoate views are accepted and encouraged, such as those of Toronto Star readers. In response to the rape of two female students at York University, Andrea Hannen of St. Catherines suggests that "a practical, cost-effective solution is to expand the current legal provisions that allow Canadian citizens with no criminal record and who undergo the same training as the police to own and use firearms for self-defence purposes." Apparently, Ms. Hannen thinks, giving handguns to as many Canadians as possible will make our country a safer place. She goes on to claim that this putative "solution" has been highly effective everywhere it has been tried, the United States of America notwithstanding. Currently, of course, crime in Canada is out of control, in particular non-homeless on non-homeless crime.

    Perhaps more troublesome is Mike Duynhoven's recommendation that Canadians need to "stop denying that violent crime is on the rise." It's almost as though Mr. Duynhoven has never opened a newspaper in his life. Or, alternatively, he has only opened newspapers in his life, and ones like the Toronto Sun at that. Statistics canada reports that violent crime declined by nearly 10 percent between 1994 and 2004 and has stable since, with the exception of robbery.

    Sometimes in a democracy, it's not who's right that wins, but whoever can hysterically shout the loudest.

    Friday, September 07, 2007

    Gatorade Pledges $240 Million In Thirst Aid To Underquenched Nations

    "Subsistence-level peasant populations need to drink at least 16 ounces of fluid prior to, 8 ounces during, and 24 ounces immediately after engaging in heavy menial labor," a multilingual wall chart included in the thirst-aid package read in part. "Why? Because the more you slave away for your cruel overlords, the more vital minerals and fluids your body loses. These have to be replaced quickly, with a rehydrating agent that contains glucose and sodium, so you can keep your edge–and keep from being beaten."

    Of course, here we are seven years later and chronic glycogen depletion still plagues much of the Third World. In fact, 25,000 people die each and every day from having absolutely nothing to eat. Unfortunately, this isn't the sort of danger that governments like to deal with.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    Patriots' Rodney Harrison to be suspended 4 games, reportedly for HGH use: FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Rodney Harrison, the frequently fined strong safety who solidified the New England Patriots' defense through back-to-back Super Bowl victories, will miss the first four games of the NFL season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

    This is softer than the Patriots' defense in last season's AFC championship game. There are no words to describe how feeble of a penalty this is, and how feeble and corrupt the NFL is when it comes to dealing with cheating. If Harrison was a sprinter or competed in an Olympic sport, he would have been banned for two years. In the NFL, the same offense earns you a one-month ban, a comical non-response.

    Sunday, September 02, 2007



    I don't think blindly approving of military action against Kyrgyzstan, a country the size of Nebraska, is entirely an American problem. I have quite a few teachers and students from my high school on record in supporting the American invasion of Elbonia but opposing UN aid to the Bulungian government in combating an insurrection. I earnestly discussed with many residents of Brampton the prospect of the Boli and the Desh, the two founding nations of Bolividesh, living side-by-side in harmony.

    Even if hyper-trendy presidential hopeful Barack Obama will bypass our Prime Minister in his dealings with our country, I have a hard time attributing much weight to particular facts. The language spoken in Rwanda is Kinyarwanda and it is located in that other Great Lakes region of the world. Kampala is the capital of Uganda and located at approximately 3500 feet elevation, roughly the same as Calgary. There are two countries by the name of Congo, and a war in one of them killed a thousand times as many people as 9/11. Burkina Faso was once called Upper Volta and Idaho is a made-up name. The highest point in flat-as-a-pancake Saskatchewan is higher than the highest point in Ontario.

    I thoroughly relish, with an admitted undercurrent of morbid curiosity, discussions such as the one in the video. I am constantly and always amazed at the fact that people can not know where Fredericton is, the year in which Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas or that Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Papua New Guinea are all different countries.

    Nevertheless, such meticulous knowledge of a gazetteer hardly translates to meaningful political knowledge if we are to talk about Obama. Obama, if he were to ever call our head of state, would no doubt be informed at some point in the process that her or his title is Prime Minister. Similarly, if you were to be quizzed as to the names of all the countries in the world with the word 'Guinea' in their names, you could do a handy job of coming up with the four such states. Whether or not your country ought to go to war with another country actually has very little to do with where exactly the second country is located on the globe.

    There is not much utility in knowing particular facts, which is why we no longer bother in teaching them to children or adults. The answer to the plaintive "when are we ever going to need to know this?" is, of course, never, at least not until 'this' attains a certain geopolitical significance. Only once we acknowledge a value to knowledge for the sake of knowledge do we become entitled to guffaw at the laughable ignorance of those who don't know who Kofi Annan is, that North Korea and Australia are located on the same island, or that Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein are the only doubly-landlocked countries in the world.

    Saturday, September 01, 2007

    Marketing Sprint Begins When the Race for the Gold Ends: Gay, the polite, soft-spoken sprinter from Kentucky, won the 200 meters Thursday, to add to the gold he won in the 100 earlier this week. He ran it in 19.76 seconds, breaking Michael Johnson’s meet record of 19.79, to become only the third man to win both the 100 and the 200 at the world championships. He also has a chance for a third gold, in Saturday’s 4x100 relay.

    But Gay did not celebrate his feat as he crossed the finish line Thursday ahead of Usain Bolt of Jamaica. After eight races in six days and an unrelenting news media spotlight for the first time in his career, he was too exhausted to even hold up his arms.

    “It has been extremely hard, but it’s fun at the same time,” Gay, 25, said. “When I go to McDonald’s and kids and fans want my autograph, it’s great. I don’t get that at home.”


    It's good to see such an amazing athlete confess his fondness for McDonald's. Before my last race, which was one of the best I've ever run, the last thing I ate was a small bag of Lay's barbecue chips. I celebrated afterwards with three cans of Pepsi.

    Friday, August 31, 2007


    Whenever I've boarded a bus at Wilson station, I've seen a sign informing me that the stairs to my right only take me to the upper and lower levels of its bus terminal. There is, as I now know, a third, unused bus terminal at Wilson station that was rendered useless in 1996. Thanks to construction, this north terminal is now under use. A surprisingly long, sterile tunnel connects passengers to the north terminal, which is as ugly, sprawling and cumbersome as every other part of Wilson station. Odds are that just about no one notices this, because no one notices anything about Wilson station or about that part of town.

    Traveling on the 96 Wilson bus is as depressing and soul-sucking an experience as anything in the city. The bus travels through some of the poorest, most dangerous and ugliest parts of Toronto. There is an inordinately high concentration of auto body repair shops, massage parlours and dilapidated apartment buildings along Wilson Avenue. An inordinately high number of single black mothers and day labourers board the heavily crowded Wilson bus, which is only marginally better for comfort than a Lahore rickshaw. My intent is not to denigrate the mostly decent people who live along the route, but it is impossible to ignore the sharp disparity between the quasi-shantytown along Wilson Avenue and the gleaming world that is minutes away via an equally gleaming T-1 subway train.

    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    ESPN - 59-year-old makes Div. III college football team - College Football

    ESPN - 59-year-old makes Div. III college football team - College Football: "Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1. Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he's a grandfather and a card-carrying member of AARP. He's eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates."

    On the other hand, there's the story of the spurned punter at the University of Northern Colorado, who most likely tried to kill his replacement, all for the privilege of punting for a team that won a single game last season.

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    Five kilometres really isn't that far. It's 12.5 laps of a track, or about a 5-minute drive. Assuming you're fit enough to do so, running 5 kilometres as hard as you can is to spend five kilometres on the very edge of your body's limits. From almost the very beginning, you will huff and puff, gasp and rasp and generally feel as though you've been running for your life for as long as you can remember. When done perfectly, you engage in a pleasure as visceral as any.

    Really, in this state, five kilometres is a very long way to go. The pace is fast, but really not that fast, meaning that your margin of error is small. This is the pace at which your body uses as much oxygen as it can. A beginning or a middle that's too fast will reduce you to a feeble, quivering mass that shuffles to the finish in humiliation. A beginning or middle that's paced just right, however, primes you for discovering just how long a kilometre, a half kilometre, 200 metres, 100 metres and 50 metres can be.

    Grimacing and wildly flailing through the agonizing last kilometre, far more painful than the last kilometre of a marathon, is worth it as long as you don't get passed or pass on. Running five kilometres to the best of your ability neither teaches you life lessons nor does it make you a better person. That said, my seventeen minutes and forty-four seconds today on the cusp of collapse were as dramatic and as triumphant as any physical experience, and that's the reason I paid for the privilege.

    Friday, August 17, 2007

    It's hard to believe that once upon a time, I would have been willing to risk my life to go and see lower Bay station. I was at Bay station Sunday night when I saw that a door leading down to the disused station below was slightly ajar. The door was locked, but there was enough of a gap to look down the stairs and onto the platform with one eye. Lower Bay is remarkably like Upper Bay, except much dirtier and emptier. I have to admit that it still holds a haunting appeal for me, but it's harder to admit that I would have risked my life to go see it by walking through the subway tunnels.

    Regardless, there exists in all of us to various extents a fascination with the unusual and the quirky. It is perhaps a response to the perfection in our lives through automation and technological developments. We get what we want when we want and how we want it. I would argue that part of the appeal of camping, for example, is similar to the appeal of Lower Bay: we want to escape the smooth, uneventful precision of daily life for something inconvenient, unpredictable and eventful.

    The late Jeff Chapman, creator of the website and zine that got me interested in anomalous spaces, wrote that "humans are naturally curious creatures. We can't help but want to see the world around us; we're designed to explore and to play, and these instincts haven't disappeared just because most of us now live in large cities where parking lots have replaced common areas, malls have replaced city squares and the only public spaces that remain are a few grudgingly conceded parkettes." Chapman's interest lay predominantly in urban exploration, and in exploring the inner workings of our cities. I don't entirely share his interest, but he does help to explain my interest in speed bumps and potholes like Lower Bay.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Chinatown is wasted on the Chinese. I stood at the northwest corner of Dundas and Spadina, the heart of Chinatown, waiting to meet Siqi, who by all measures is nowhere near as lethargic as his blog may indicate. Chinatown on a sweltering, humid night is as much a part of life in Toronto as anything. The streetcars trundle up and down on Spadina day and night, and cars squeeze by in between the streetcar right-of-way and the towers of rotting garbage on the sidewalk. People squeeze by in between towers of rotting fruit and those of fresh fruit, mysterious herbs and unidentifiable trinkets.

    The reason Chinatown is wasted on the Chinese is that those of the Chinese persuasion can, presumably, make sense out of the literal fish market that is Spadina between Sullivan and College. The rest of us, however, are treated to a bewildering neighbourhood in the heart of Toronto. Tiny peasant women sell bras and impossibly cheap mangoes, smoking children sell knockoff movies and generally whatever else they can get their hands on. Meanwhile, strung-out junkies stagger past in coveralls, making their way to that mysterious place where Chinatown's crazies congregate. Their crazies have to be crazier than our crazies, I imagine, our crazies being the garden-variety crazies you see all over town. For that reason alone in Chinatown, it's worse to be in the know than out of it.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    A superb left-handed batter recently achieved something that many predict will never be done again. Tom Glavine, who is batting .244 this year, won his 300th game last night in his 21st big-league season. Roughly ten years ago, it was said that no one might win 300 games again. Now, after Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and Glavine have reached 300 wins, the claim is being repeated once more.

    However, it's puzzling to say that no one will win 300 games ever again. Virtually nothing has changed about pitching since Maddux, Clemens and Glavine began their careers over 20 years ago. The five-man rotation makes victories harder to come by for pitchers, and we may never see another 30-game winner, but the trio of Clemens, Maddux and Glavine all pitched in 3-man rotations. As long as excellent pitchers keep coming about, we will see 300-game winners.

    The most likely candidate is Randy Johnson and while he is from the crop of great '80s pitchers (just look at his hair), the 43-year old Johnson didn't become a succesful starter until the age of 26. By the age of 26, Clemens had 78 wins, Maddux 75, Glavine 53 and Johnson 10. The aging Johnson is hardly a lock to reach 300, given his age (43), distance from 300 (16) and injuries (back).

    After Johnson, the durable Andy Pettitte is a good candidate, having started at least 30 games in 10 of his 12 seasons, and won 10 games in 11 of them. He's 35 years old and has just 193 wins, but if he pitches for another 7-8 years, he could reach 300.

    The best prospects are the crop of great pitchers from the turn of the century. Tim Hudson has 131 wins at 31, Barry Zito 110 at 29 and the burly Mark Buehrle has 106 and 28. My heart also wants me to mention Roy Halladay, who has an unimpressive 106 wins at the age of 30, but it's worth noting that his first decent season came at the age of 25. In the four full seasons that Halladay has played, he has averaged 17 wins. Halladay is not only as durable as any pitcher, he's also a winner: his winning percentage of .669 ranks 13th all-time.

    On the other hand, the best pitchers, the ones that are most likely to win, aren't always the winningest. The most dominant pitcher that I have ever seen is Pedro Martinez, whose career sits in jeopardy at the age of 35. The three-time Cy Young winner has a career ERA of 2.81, easily the best among active pitchers (next is Maddux's 3.10).

    Saturday, July 28, 2007

    Nike suspends Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick's contract
    FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Nike suspended its lucrative contract with Michael Vick on Friday, while Reebok took the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his No. 7 jersey.

    In another dose of bad news for the indicted quarterback, a top trading card company announced it was pulling Vick's likeness from any new packs.

    Facing protests from animal-rights groups, Nike announced it was suspending Vick's endorsement deal without pay, as well as halting sales of Vick-related shoes and other products at its retail stores.

    "Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick, and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent," Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer said in a statement.

    Reebok, the official uniform supplier of the NFL, said it would stop selling Vick's replica jersey at retail stores and through its Web site.


    The news isn't all bad for Falcons fans. Assuming that Vick doesn't play this season, and he has been banned from the Falcons training camp, they might be able to make it back to the playoffs.

    The news from Nike, Reebok and little old Donruss is heartening, indicative of at least a shred of scruples in the sports industry.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    We know how to do many things, but not what to do, E.F. Schumacher wrote over thirty years ago. I say that Schumacher wrote this in 1973 because the proliferation of useless, gratuitous technology of the order found today was not even on the horizon at the time. Consider, for example, Facebook: you can now pwn your best friends, along with disclose your stripper name to them, not to mention invite them to use the Zombie Application or the Genocide Application.

    Someone at Facebook apparently thinks that information displayed haphazardly on a page is a good thing. The problem of adding and adding information and superfluous, non-sensical features is hardly unique to Facebook, but gradually, the website will lose its point. A non sequitur aggregate of facts about everyone you know even loosely is already stored in your mind or in the minds of others. As well, everyone you know is already on a system connected by wires, though it only offers voice-based communication.

    Like cell phones with cameras, MP3 players and remote detonation capabilities, Facebook has added features to the point of becoming incoherent. Is there anything at all meaningful about the ability to write on a Facebook wall using your phone or to upload grainy, inebriated pictures from your phone? To the contrary, the result is communication as meaningless and infinite as writing out the dictionary.

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Late July is usually the time around which I give up on the Jays and focus on enjoying the last month of summer break. For eleven years now, I've given up on a Jays team going nowhere, the last nine of them being years in which the team had an outside chance at making the playoffs. I was all set to do this on Saturday, but then Josh Towers combined with three relievers on a two-hour, 1-0 shutout. Four days and four wins later, by a combined score of 34-5, the Jays are 51-50.

    The Jays were 50-50 in the first 100 games of the season, effectively leaving a 62-game season to be played. The playoffs may be an impossibility, but good baseball is good baseball. If the team keeps winning, at least I'll be following, though, of course, third-place teams generally don't attract much attention at the end of a six-month season. In the end, Blue Jay fans may have confirmation of what they hoped for in April, that theirs is a playoff-quality team when healthy and performing.

    On the other hand, this is one kernel of good news in what is otherwise a terrible time for professional sports.