February 26, 2006
Hockey: So Are They!
How the other half lives, now.
In the East:
Got It: Scoring, scoring, scoring. They’ll have 3 80+ point men by season’s end.
Need It: A point man – de Vries shouldn’t be your leading scorer – and a more consistent Lehtonen.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy.
Second Season: They’ve been moving in the wrong direction lately, but another good run could get them in.
Upcoming: After Garnett’s baptism of fire, he developed into a reliable stopper. They’ve committed a lot of salary to next year (though they have to sign Savard), so any change will probably come from within. Most of their young talent is already up.
Got It: Lots and lots of injuries and young forwards.
Need It: An organization that knew what it was doing.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. They may try to get in with two rookie goalies, or simply decide they won’t make it and start a fire sale of soon-to-be free agent defensemen, and Zhamnov, if they can move him. Samsonov is also ina budget crunch
Second Season: Six teams are playing for the last three spots in the East. What happens between here and March 9th will go a long way to seeing if they are going to buy or sell.
Upcoming: Defenseman Milan Jurcina will be up next year, and Mark Stuart might too if they lose a couple of NHL regulars off-season.
Got It: Youthful enthusiasm and rock solid goaltending (still).
Need It: Briere to come back soon (should be another week or so).
Buy, Sell or Rent: Why touch what works? They could use another finisher, but Briere will provide that, and Drury is a stud in big games.
Second Season: A lock to be in. Hot goaltenders can make all the difference in the playoffs, and they have two.
Upcoming: Lots of youth coming up, perhaps only
Got It: Multi-talented, deep forward lines.
Need It: A point man (but who doesn’t?) Tverdovsky isn’t providing the numbers they thought he would, and Kaberle not quite there.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. The trade for Weight cost a lot, and they won’t be willing to lose more.
Second Season: They’re in. If Gerber stays solid, they can do some real damage.
Upcoming: It’s odd to see a team this young have a shot at the President’s Trophy, but there is it. Not a lot of worry for the future, as this is a very young team and they can let talent develop.
Got It: Trouble, if the can’t re-sign Jokinen.
Need It: Someone, anyone to take some ice time from Luongo.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. Luongo, Jokinen, could go if not signed (they’ve already turned down deals), and many of the veterans would appeal to a playoff-bound team, especially Gelinas or Roberts.
Second Season: No chance. Sure, they’re only eight points out with 25 games left, but that eight points includes five teams to get past.
Upcoming: A transition year,
Got It: The gift of sanity, as GM “Mad Mike” Milbury was finally fired.
Need It: A cattle prod for Yashin.
Buy, Sell or Rent: They won’t make the playoffs, but do they know that? They should be selling, but with scoring down players’ value won’t be great.
Second Season: No chance. Well, a slight chance, if DiPietro doesn’t explode.
Upcoming: You have to let any player named “Bruno” play, don’t you? Defenseman Gervais will be joining the big club next year.
Got It: Six Czechs, including Cy Young candidate Prucha (25 goals, 9 assists)
Need It: A scoring defenseman. Despite 189 team goals, the leading point getter on the blue line is Tyutin with 21.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy. With Staal at least one year away, they could use a puck moving defenseman.
Second Season: A lock. Lundqvist has certainly shown he can handle a one-game tourney, but can he stand up to the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Upcoming: Staal is a solid comer, as is goalie Al Montoya, but they will probably stay in the minors a couple of years. Immonen may get the call for a playoff run, and he should be up next year.
Got It: Goaltending, now and in the future.
Need It: Goals.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Oddly, for a team that is right on the border of making the playoffs, they are looking to sell their number one goaltender. They’d love to dump Bonk, too.
Second Season: If they can keep everyone healthy (if) then they’ll make the playoffs.
Upcoming: Ryder, Riberio and Huet all have contracts coming up, so any trades they make won’t be bringing back any salaries in return.
Got It: Brodeur in goal, Elias back and healthy, and “coach” Lamoriello. Good health has helped, too.
Need It: Another backup goalie.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. They have very little cap room this year or next.
Second Season: Tradition dictates that they make it, but they’ll have to keep improving to guarantee their place (see
Upcoming: Ahonen is as good a goalie as Clemmensen, but they didn’t want him backing up Brodeur because he’d only play ten games or so. He’ll be up next year.
Got It: Whatever “it” is, they’ve got it.
Need It: A much higher salary cap in coming years…
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent, maybe. They could use a second line centre, but they may already have one if Fisher grows into the role. Contracts may force a move.
Second Season: Oh, yes. Hasek got slightly injured in the Olympics, but not enough to keep him out of the playoffs.
Upcoming: Spezza, Chara and Redden all have contracts due this off season, and all of them will command a high price.
Got It: Strong minor league teams – the AHL Phantoms and the ECHL Titans both won league championships last year.
Need It: Enough luck to stay healthy the rest of the way.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. Their salary cap is used up, though they may want to squeeze in a veteran grinder at wing for the playoffs.
Second Season: Niittymaki has gained a huge boost of confidence by winning a silver medal as
Upcoming: Ruzicka will play left wing as soon as he’s consistent in the AHL, but the top priority for
Got It: A real shot at drafting Phil Kessel!
Need It: Stable ownership and about four years.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell.The playoffs are long gone, so there’s nothing to play for now but pride and player development. The young folks are staying put, but Recchi, Gonchar, and LeClair getting most of the attention.
Second Season: No chance. If they won every game left, they’d have 85 points, a total
Upcoming: Lots and lots, if they can just keep it together for a few more years. Thibault will have to go, but Caron has proven himself a reasonable backup to Fleury. Recchi would bring the best price if traded, but someone needs to teach the kids, and he should be made captain here.
Got It: Their health. No, really – these guys have been ridiculously healthy this year, like last season. Comes with youth, I guess.
Need It: Possibly motivation, though the chance of dropping out of the top eight seems to have scared them enough.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy, if anything. They may want stronger goaltending for the playoffs, and if they don’t think they can sign all their free agents, one may go.
Second Season: They should get in. Should (see
Upcoming: Lots of free agents next year, including Fedotenko, Richards, Kubina and Grahame, and all their top five prospects are defensemen. Andreychuk’s retirement will help with cap room, but it’s going to be tight.
Got It: Two of the top scoring defensemen in the league.
Need It: Health. No more major injuries, please.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Tough to say. They’re one of the six teams (see
Second Season: No change here – as goes Belfour, so go the Leafs.
Upcoming: Got any duct tape? If 40-year old Belfour can hold on one more season, the Leafs have drafted the two best goalies at this year’s world juniors (Pogge and Rask).
Got It: Ovechkin, who has more points than the next two
Need It: A better backup for Kolzig.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. This team is full of veterans who never quite lived up to expectations, but they could help someone short term. Witt also asked for a trade at the beginning of the year, and would get a nice return.
Second Season: Uh, no.
Upcoming: Most potential call ups have been called up, at least for a few games (Klepis, Green, Fleischmann, Willsie). The only genuine newcomer that may arrive could be Chris Bourque, who led team USA in scoring at the world juniors, and apparently has his dad’s vision, if not his size (5’7”, 175 lbs).
Some trades have already happened, and the salary cap is going to produce some hesitation right up until the deadline, but I think it’s going to be a busy day.
Hockey: They're Baaack!
With the Olympics over and the trade deadline coming up, it’s as good a time as any to review and preview the NHL.
In the West:
Got It: One of the best GMs in the game. Burke has wasted no time shaping this team to his preference.
Need It: Two more years from Scott Neidermayer for the kids to catch up.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Burke never stops looking for trades, but he’s probably had enough for this year.
Second Season: They’re close, and moving in the right direction (6-3-1 to the break). Most likely of those on the outside to bump one of the top eight off.
Upcoming: The only place this team doesn’t have big depth is in net. There’s a ridiculous amount of talent coming up, particularly at forward and especially if they can get Chistov back from Mettalurg.
Got It: An incredible defense, one through seven the best in the league; and backed by Kiprusoff.
Need It: Someone between Kiprusoff and Krahn. Young goalie Krahn has flashes of brilliance – NOT what you want in an NHL goalie, where consistency is needed, especially in a backup.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent, if anything. Huselius has played well enough to be resigned for next season, and they’ve already got most of their cap committed.
Second Season: Almost a lock for the playoffs but… Every team in their division got five wins in their past ten games, so no one’s safe until game 82 is finished.
Upcoming: Dustin Boyd is the only natural scorer in their system not with the NHL team, so they’ll be looking for finish in the off season. Again.
Got It: Some good rookies.
Need It: Some good veterans.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. Khabibulin has a ring and is due back from his sprained knee soon, though that contract ($6,750,000 nest year) is going to be a tough sale. Money could stop Lapointe from moving as well, but they’ll get phone calls about Cullimore.
Second Season: What second season? If they win every game remaining to them, they’d end the season with 94 points, good for ninth or tenth in the West.
Upcoming: Tougher if Daze retires, but there’s actually room for optimism that
Got It: Scoring. Again.
Need It: Consistent play from Aebischer. Very up-and-down season.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. With Konowalchuk down, they want some grit going into the playoffs.
Second Season: See
Upcoming: Most of their young talent is with the team, especially Cy Young challenger Marek Svatos (32 goals, 18 assists) and J-M Liles. Past them, though…
Got It: Lots of young talent, some veteran leadership, okay goaltending.
Need It: Better health and a stable coach. I liked Gallant as a player, but I don’t think he’s doing this team any favours. See if Dave King is interested, or Ted Nolan.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. The Fedorov-Zherdev experiment isn’t working, so Fedorov is available, as are defencemen Richardson, Pushor, and Hulse for net-clearing, of Delmore if a team needs a point man. Prusek and/or Denis could go, too.
Second Season: Not this year, despite GM’s pre-season prediction. Without injuries, they may well have made the playoffs.
Upcoming: Brule is on the team next year, giving them two solid lines… for as long as they last. Looking to add a veteran goalie for Leclaire to understudy, playing a 45-37 game split.
Got It: Team
Need It: A young goaltender. Turco and Hedberg have done a fantastic job, but after them the cupboard is bare.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. They’ve got the most salary committed for next year of any team, so there’s not much room to add, and it’s unlikely they’ll drop players before the playoffs.
Second Season: They’re baaaack! One of the deepest teams right now, they’re talent is all in the NHL right now, so they’re looking to win.
Upcoming: They’ll want to get some prospects, so they may trade veterans so they can sign Ott and Daley; but only after the playoffs.
Got It: Um… How long can I make this list?
Need It: A young offensive defenseman to understudy Lidstrom and Schneider when they – oh, wait, that’s Kronwall. Um. Give me a sec… Oh yes: someone to convince Yzerman it’s time to go – like his doctor, perhaps.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Who needs to?
Second Season: They’re in. The only questions are who they’re going to play and whether they can hold off
Upcoming: They could add a goalie, a defenseman, and two centres next year, all their own draft picks. Their AHL team is the best in the West, and they haven’t had a draft pick higher than 29th in six years, and the rest were 58th or later. The best scouting and development in the league, no question.
Got It: Youth, speed, and the best ice in the league.
Need It: Their own AHL team (they share with
Buy, Sell or Rent: Possibly renting for the stretch, but they won’t want to give up much.
Second Season: The kids are coming together, and if Morrison and Markkanen can stabilize the goaltending, they should get in. But they’re sitting in 8th right now in a crazy division (see
Upcoming: Centre Rob Schremp got sent back to his minor team after almost making the Oilers; in response, he’s got 32 goals and 42 assists in 27 games. My.
Got It: Scoring from a lot of different players – tough to shut that down.
Need It: Consistent goaltending and/or a shut-down defenseman.
Buy, Sell or Rent: In the off season, sure, but not yet.
Second Season: At the greatest risk of slipping out of the playoffs, but that could be the price this year to keep the youth here for seasons to come.
Upcoming: This summer they’ll need a veteran to take the place of Roenick and Robitaille, to whom they should give a thanks, a handshake, and an invitation to visit the team whenever they want.
Got It: Goaltending (of course) and a great coach.
Need It: A veteran point man. Zyuzin’s got 7 goals, which is nice, but he’s also only got 9 assists. Foster is auditioning for the role, but they need someone this year.
Buy, Sell or Rent: All the above. Roloson and Fernandez are both free agents next year, so one could go now to fill a need, but they’d need a solid backup in return, as Harding will need another year before he’s ready for the NHL.
Second Season: They’re in tough to make the playoffs, but it’s certainly possible if the predicted trades work out.
Upcoming: Centre Patrick O’Sullivan is closest to joining the big team, where the Wild are already deep. He may get pushed to wing, or a trade could involve Chouinard, White or Robitaille.
Got It: Grit, goaltending, scoring from two lines and defense.
Need It: A better record outside their own weak division.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Probably nothing – they already picked up Sillinger for depth, though he hasn’t quite fit in yet.
Second Season: They’ll make it, and they play everyone hard. Whoever ends up as their opponent will feel like they lost the series, whatever the results.
Upcoming: There could be four players from Milwaukee playing for Nashville next year, but the team’s good enough that only a couple would stick (Upshall and Finley).
Got It: Grinding, defensive forwards.
Need It: Scoring. Losing Nagy and Morris has been brutal.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. There are few players who aren’t available, and several that are playoff veterans. Doan’s not going anywhere, though.
Second Season: Outside chance, being ten points out, but I don’t think so. Their recent trades haven’t pulled them up in the standings, so they’ll pull the plug.
Upcoming: Matt Jones and LeNeveu are joining the team next year.
Got It: Injuries, sale of the team, a blown 25-year playoff run.
Need It: Patience.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Most of the moves are done, but they may put up another defenseman or two; most likely Weinrich or
Second Season: A 25-year stretch is broken; maybe now they won’t feel pressure to make the playoffs every season and can plan farther into the future than one year.
Upcoming: Perhaps Woywitka, but that’s it for a while. The thing about making the playoffs is the draft pick you get… Speaking of which, they have a shot at Kessel or Frolik. Neither should be in the league next year, though.
Got It: Stabilized goaltending, lots of young enthusiasm.
Need It: A point man. That was Stuart, but his trade helped bring
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy. They’re looking for a point man, but they need a keeper, not a rental. Either Nabokov of Toskala may go, and Nabokov has the bigger (read: harder to move) contract.
Second Season: Seven points back of LA with four games in hand, they do have a chance at getting in. However, they’ll have to crawl over three teams to do so.
Upcoming: Not a lot for next year, as much of the youth is already being served with the Sharks. Schaeffer is up next year to back up whoever is still around.
Got It: Multiple Personality Disorder. They don’t know if they’re a finesse team or grinders.
Need It: A therapist, perhaps? A new coach, certainly.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Unless Ouellet picks up a shutout (or close to it) in his next two chances,
Second Season: They should make it in (see
Upcoming: Two noticeable players at the World Juniors in
Other: Canadian Women Kick Ass
If the women competed in a seperate Olympic category from the men, their 16 medals would have placed them in second, behind the Austrian men (18 medals) and tied with the German women.
Given the number of fourth (eleven) and fifth (seven) place finishes Canadians got, I gotta say the chances in Vancouver/Whistler are looking good...
February 24, 2006
Other: When Standing By Means Standing Up
This being said, I'd like to direct your attention to Orcinus, and to an issue that is in his own back yard and in his field of expertise: the rise of neo-nazi visibility in the Pacific Northwest. I'm not going to say that it's a rise of numbers, because their numbers are difficult to gague (they ALWAYS say that their numbers are increasing), but it's the fact that they feel it is a good time to come out of their closets and into the streets that is noteable.
If any of you have a little money left after A) getting the first post-Christmas Visa bills and B) filing tax returns, may I nudge you into making him a small donation? He also has three excellent books focusing on racism and hate crime (Strawberry Fields, Death on the Fourth of July, and In God's Country) if you have a little more money and would like a tangible return.
Okay, that's it for my good deed of the year. I've got to mock someone now to get my karma back to normal...
Politics: What's New?
What I do not want to see, at all, in any way, shape or form, is a reopening of the missile defence system talks. The very inspiration for this blog (and it's first post on Jan 21st last year) was the utter stupidity of a spectacularly failed idiological boondoggle. Nothing in the year since has impressed me to change my mind.
The US could still be looking to Canada to make up for the $5 billion cut from their missile defence plan - if talks do resume on this grand delusion that was Reagan's personal wet dream, then we had best keep an awfully close eye on where the Defence Minister puts his newly acquired money.
Our forces have had more than enough friendly fire from the Boys in Blue on battlefields; to have it happen in our boardrooms would be an obscenity.
February 22, 2006
Sex: Thanks For the Invite, Steve!
Without it, I wouldn't have received a lovely invite to the wedding of two dear friends. You see, they were planning on holding off until the parents of one of them had died; the parents disapproved of their daughter being gay, but loved her partner, so they kept themselves happily deluded that she was just a friend - who travelled everywhere their daughter did and just happened to live with their daughter in a one-bedroom home.
But since the Cons have achieved power, there's a number of folks who have stepped up their dates a bit, since PM Harper has also promised that anyone who was married before the vote could stay married no matter how the vote turned out. Figure that would last, what, a week?
So anyhow, thanks where it's due!
Religion: The Same, But Different
"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people." (From Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right)
Where if he wanted to be more accurate, would have read this:
"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the crystal meth of the people."
See what a difference one little word can make? What Marx thought was accurate, that religion would dull protest of the oppressed, was in fact it's opposite - just with a different target. Religion hasn't exactly calmed people down, but given them yet another excuse to go at each other's throats. Just ask these kind souls...
It looks like the stupidest conflict in the world (North Ireland) and the second stupidest conflict in the world (Israel/Palastine) are about to have company: a group of people, disguised as policemen, bombed a 1200 year old shi'ia mosque. It is unknown who did this, but you can imagine the response: 19 (so far) sunnis have been killed by angry mobs roaming the streets, prisoners being executed by vigilantes, and shiite militia attacks on 90 (so far) sunni mosques.
Most sunni groups condemmed the original attack (and obviously aren't big fans of later ones), and have put out a call for peace, and the top shiite cleric in Iraq (al-Sistani) has forbidden any attacks on sunni mosques and has called for seven days of mourning.
But... (knew that was coming, didn't you?)
He and Vice President Abdul-Mahdi have both hinted that religious militias could be given greater roles in defending holy sites.
Don't see any problems there, then!
February 20, 2006
Other: This Helps How?
This brings up three thoughts:
1) It obviously wasn't about the DUIs: they don't have any real effect on someone doing their job... we in British Columbia hope;
2) Making a profit isn't enough - the profit has to be BIG;
3) Who the hell thought that degrees in Psychology and Theology would help someone be the CEO of a major electronics retailer?
Answer the third question, and you may have solved the question of declining productivity in the United States.
Politics: Where's the Bread?
Prime Minister Plastic Man has decreed that any new Supreme Court Justice appointees shall now be questioned by a 12-person panel composed of the four major parties. The questioning will take three hours total over two seperate sessions, and will have no bearing on whether the judge gets appointed or not.
Actually, he didn't say that last bit in quite that way: he said "I will take account of the committee hearings." But he still reserves the right to appoint whoever he likes, and shoot down any nominee he doesn't, meaning that the examination is nothing but a PR stunt.
There are claims that this makes the process "more open", though how exactly it does that isn't explained. The process that matters is still conducted in the PM's office and no where else, as he is the only person with the power to confirm the seat. Meaning that this is a little bone to toss to whatever special interest or single issue fanatics are out there who are trying to get their knickers in a twist over a particularly galling pause or insulting cough issued by the nominee during the hearing.
And this helps... how, exactly?
I'm still not sure that the massively politicised nomination process down south is one to emulate, but it is Harper's dream to add blue to our bi-chromatic flag, so I guess that this is no surprise. But you have to wonder if having nominees giving their most inoffensive answers is really what you want: the original point of the hearings was to decide whether or not the appointee would uphold the laws of the land, not how well they could avoid their own opinions. That's for lawyers, not judges.
And you do have to wonder how appropriate the questions will be. Let's face it, while most politicos have had some legal training, the appointees have been doing it as their life's work. Isn't this a bit like having people who build model planes grilling an aviation engineer about aircraft design?
Ah, well. The new boy got in with promises of sops to his supporters, so I suppose this is just one of those. I know that's how every new PM gets in, but the Conservatives have been out of power so long that they actually expect what was promised to happen.
February 17, 2006
Politics: Stop Immigrants Form Getting Menial Jobs!
Yes, the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force has stopped a truck driving school from teaching students at least temporarily because there was concern over testers helping people get licences they are unqualified for.
This is a good thing, and that's why there are tests, right? I certainly don't want unqualified drivers hauling anything that needs a semi through my neighbourhood! But what the story needs, really needs to give it more zip, zing, POW! is a heaping dollop of fear:
"Even worse, drivers who aren't citizens and haven't been passed a terror threat assessment could be hauling thousands of gallons of hazardous materials."
Ah, there we go! That will sell the story to the rubes. So long as they don't consider that immigrants, especially ones that can't instantly fit in, often find menial jobs first in a new country. Others of the same former nationality or ethnic group tend to follow where they see a familiar face.
Of course, if someone does pick up on that, then they could still panic if they're stupid enough, and that will just sell the story even more! Woo! Heck, why not? After all, if the normal folks are panicked enough, then you can arrest dark, foreign-type people and send them away to be tortured for over a year because they've met someone whose family immigrated at the same time as they did! They even came from the same place!
And if that doesn't look like terrorism to you, well, maybe you're just not trying hard enough.
Not that all the darkies are bad, of course. The really, really rich ones with political ties to the Bush family are perfectly all right and can be completely trusted with US national security.
Science: I Can Read By Concrete!
I am, however, thinking of building my house out of concrete for a few reasons: 1) it's got great insulative factor; 2) it's fantastically strong and can be molded into any shape; and 3) it's gotten really, really cool.
Seriously. Not only can you see through it (sort of), but it also glows in the dark.
February 16, 2006
Other: Winner, "Worst Day Ever" Category
And came out a quadruple amputee.
After the surgery, the hospital told her she had streptococcus and toxic shock syndrome, but if she wanted to know any details she would have to sue them.
Religion: Let's All Be Equal! (You First.)
This is, to put it mildly, insane.
People can decide whether or not to publish images of Mohammed with a camel or Christ on a bike for all I care, that's up to them. If you don't think that such images should be prduced, convince me! A word of warning, though: I am an athiest, and as such theological arguements have little to no effect on me, so just repeating a mantra of "It's wrong" isn't going to work, dig?
In other news, Ezra Levant is an ignorant cunt whose only reason for publishing was to sell issues of his rag, nothing more.
No change there, then.
Back to the topic at hand: criticism isn't just the ability to say, well, what I just wrote. It's also the ability to give an opinion and have other opinions handed back to you. Personally, I don't much care for the thought that a theology can force changes in my life; but I know that if I can convince enough people that my own view is the better one, then the world (or at least my little portion of it) will lean a bit more my way than before. I also know that if I can't change the views of those around me, well, them's the breaks. What changes occur in my society may be slow, difficult, and often comprimised, but they have to work for the society as a whole.
There is no freedom of religion without freedom from religion.
Reason has to be applied to each case, rather than having some blanket law to outright ban unpleasant or contreversal topics. This is why I rather like Canada's hate laws being really astoundingly vague: precedent can't be set very easily, making any case tried under them difficult at best. It took years to get Ernst Zundel out of the country using them, which makes them just about right to me.
There was a boycott on Danish products by many Muslims after January, and I thing this was a reasonable (if slightly misguided) response to a series of cartoons, a couple of whom may be considered blasphemous. There has also been widespread rioting, arson, and deaths. This is not a response to some doodles, here; and anyone from Ezra to the Organization of the Islamic Conference who thinks that's all it's about is either seriously mistaken or wilfully blind.
The first person to hurl a curse instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.
The OIC is pressing for anti-blasphemy laws to be the foundation of a new UN resolution to wit:
According to the text of an OIC proposal, the new UN body should state clearly that the "defamation of religions and prophets is inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression" and that states, organizations and the media have a "responsibility in promoting tolerance and respect for religious and cultural values."
Just a few minor quibbles, here. First, who defines what the difference between criticism and defamation is, because banning criticism is also "inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression" if you hadn't noticed. Second is, of course, who says what prophets are to be included? If you worship this guy (disappointed he took down the flashing lights), is he now your prophet and thence beyond reproach? Are stand-up comics to be included? Don't be silly - of course they are. Bill Maher, you used to be going to Hell, now you're going to Gitmo.
How about my own goofy skits and babblings? Am I now destined for prison unless I remove my own tongue and any five fingers (my choice, as a sop to the liberals)?
As for states' responsibilities towards religious tolerance, I'll believe that when Muslim leaders stop seeing Jewish conspiracies under every rock, and when cartoons (ironic, no?) appearing in daily papers stop depicting Jews as murderous, baby eating Nazis.
Do we have a deal?
I just noticed that the text of the story I linked to has changed from eight hours ago. The quote I have above used to be on the linked page, and is now gone.
February 15, 2006
Hockey: Different Rings
Good Times: The best line of the 2005 World Championships (Thornton, Nash, Gagne) will stay together.
Bad Times: Jovanovski and Niedermayer aren't coming.
Wins If: They get the chemistry going before the sudden-death games.
Loses If: See above.
Storyline: Odds on favorite, with Brodeur back on his game.
Good Times: Hasek and Vokun. Vokun won at the Worlds in 2005, Hasek Gold in 1998. Flip a coin.
Bad Times: Elias and Havlat aren't coming.
Wins If: Have you seen that goaltending?
Loses If: The forwards get driven to distraction - hit 'em, and keep hitting 'em.
Storyline: Which goalie starts; and if it's Vokun, does Hasek pout?
Good Times: Lots of confidence with eight medals in 12 years, including silver in 2004.
Bad Times: No Kiprusoff, no Lehtonen, no Tuomo Ruutu or Kapanen. Ouch.
Wins If: There's a shootout: Jokinen is 8-for-8 in the NHL so far.
Loses If: Niittymaki is a good goalie, but they may need more scoring than with Kiprusoff.
Storyline: There's been controversy over the firing of the last coach and the hiring of the new; that may carry onto the ice.
Good Times: After playing for Washington, Kolzig is well used to facing 45-50 shots per game.
Bad Times: They have seven NHLers, and the two best scorers (Sturm and Hecht) are injured.
Wins If: They play Italy? Sorry, I mean if Kolzig steals one.
Loses If: A clutch-and-grab team, their penalty killers could be exhausted by the second game.
Storyline: Uwe Krupp is the coach now; he may be tempted to suit up.
Good Times: They're hosting, which means they get to play.
Bad Times: They get Canada first. They're only playing nine naturalized Canadians.
Wins If: If the Pope were Italian, maybe. Former NHL goalie Muzzatti can steal one.
Loses If: Well...
Storyline: Actually, these guys aren't that bad. They won the Division 1 championships and qualified for this year's World Cup in Latvia.
Good Times: Goalie Yeremeyev led the Russian Superleague in shutouts last year, when that league was loaded with NHLers.
Bad Times: Antropov is their offensive leader, and he's got 6 goals in 36 NHL games so far.
Wins If: They keep a solid, defensive strategy and stay out of the penalty box.
Loses If: Their opponent scores two or more goals.
Storyline: They scored three goals total in the three-game Olympic qualifying tounrament.
Good Times: Ozolinsh is cleared to play after finishing a voluntary substance-abuse program.
Bad Times: Arturs Irbe is 38 now, and that's a lot of hockey in a short time for their best goalie.
Wins If: They can ride the energy their fans bring. Seriously - 3,000 came to the Worlds last year; these guys are totally nuts for their team.
Loses If: "Archie" starts to wear down. Backup Masalkis isn't up to the job.
Storyline: The fans. Torino is a lot closer than Canada was...
Good Times: Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Malkin, Yashin... Goals are not going to be a problem with this team.
Bad Times: The defence is vulnerable, and will get overmatched against the better teams.
Wins If: The forwards get their shots.
Loses If: They hit a hot goalie.
Storyline: Utter enigma. Russia has always had problems with cohesiveness and leadership since Tikhinov was fired. Pavel Bure is the new GM, but it's a coach and captain that's needed.
Good Times: They don't have to play in a qualifying round this time.
Bad Times: Nagy, Phoenix's leading scorer with 56 points in 51 games, is injured.
Wins If: Goaltending holds up. Even without Nagy, this team can score.
Loses If: Chara tries to do everything and loses his focus. He keeps it together, then the defence is strong and he plays 30 minutes a game.
Storyline: The goals will come (Bondra, Satan, Demitra, Svatos, Visnovsky, two Hossas...), but their goaltending is shaky. Marcel's and Marian's dad, Frantisek Hossa, is coach.
Good Times: Lundqvist, a goalie they trust!
Bad Times: So long as he wins the first game!
Wins If: Forsberg can stay healthy.
Loses If: Lundqvist has a bad game, or even a shaky start - it's one area where they're mentally fragile, and they may well start to panic.
Storyline: From perpetual favorites to choke artists over the past eight years. They want more.
Good Times: Aebischer and Gerber - can they play two goalies and one defenceman?
Bad Times: Frequently in the penalty box.
Wins If: See "Good Times".
Loses If: They have to kill eight penalties a game against the best in the world.
Storyline: The borderline team, I always get the feeling they're almost in the top group, but they never quite make it. The Swiss league has improve dramatically over the past decade.
Good Times: The U.S. produces fine damn defencemen, and this Olympics proves it.
Bad Times: Transition time at forward... Good, but not great.
Wins If: They don't dick around with who's in goal; pick one and go.
Loses If: They try a goalie rotation between Esche, Grahame and DiPietro. It's a short tourney, and there no time to acclimatize every game.
Storyline: The vetrans can pull this one off, and man they want to. Lots of players having their last series, Olympics or World Cup. Only question is if the goalies can keep them alive.
Winners: Canada, Czech Republic, United States
Dark Horse: Slovakia
Better Than Expected: Slovakia
Worse Than Expected: Russia
Yes, I know I've got Slovakia in there twice, but I think they'll get to the medal round, and most are choosing sixth or seventh for them. If they get to the final four, they can finish anywhere.
Let the games... er... continue!
February 11, 2006
Politics: Parody Alive!
Religion: Don't Look At Me!
But what the hell, eh?
Famously right-wing paper (the Jyllands-Posten) heard that a children's book author couldn't find an illustrator for his book about the prophet, as it is widely accepted among Muslims that images of either God or His prophets is strictly forbidden. So they asked all the Danish cartoonists to send them what they thought Mohammed looked like, and 12 replied (here they are). Perhaps four are deliberately provocative, another four are comments on the difficulty in doing the illustrations, a couple are pretty standard political humour, and a couple actually look like what Mohammed may have looked like. The cartoonists were paid 450 kroner ($82 CDN). This was in September 2005.
Twelve Muslim ambassadors protested to the Danish Prime Minister, demanding he take "immediate and harsh" steps against the paper: he declined. Danish Imam Mustapha, spokesman for a group called the "European Committee for Prophet Honouring" pushed for wide distribution of the images in the Muslim world. A political party in Pakistan offered 50,000 kroner ($9,200 CDN) for each cartoonist killed.
There were several cartoons circulated in the Muslim world that were much more in the tradition of cartooning there: astoundingly vile, crude, and vicious images were falsely attributed to the Jyllands-Posten series, inflaming emotions further. Really. They print incredibly nasty stuff as a matter of course, usually about Jews and Americans. As German Paper Die Welt pointed out, the Imams didn't seem to mind when Jews were shown to be cannibals on public television in Syria...
There are widespread protests and a general boycott of everything Danish, costing at least one company over $2,000,000 in sales, despite an advertising campaign explaining they had notheing to do with images in a newspaper. One interesting story was Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of Hamas, walking into a church in Gaza to offer them the protection of Hamas' militant wing. This came after gunman from Fatah searched hotels for forigeners to kidnap; they didn't find any.
On January 30, the Jyllands-Posten printed an apology (of sorts - more of an explanation), and the next day evacuate their building because of a bomb threat. An Indonesian newspaper printed the cartoons and put them up on their website (and since removed them), prompting an attack on the Danish embassy in that country, making news around the world. This is probably the first images of the protests that most people saw in North America.
A Jordinian newspaper prints three of the cartoons (I don't know which ones) with an editorial, reading in part:
"What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?" He is arrested.
Most of the rest of this you've probably already heard, if you're interested in following the story at all. I have to admit that I'm amused by the government of Iran running a contest for the most offensive depiction of the Holocaust - this, apparently, is in retribution for the Mohammed images. Considering the President of Iran is already a Holocaust denier, and the number of fanatically anti-semitic cartoons that are already published, I can't imagine there being much of an effect. Not that their Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is much saner...
Then, of course, there's Pakistan, a nation that America would have had no problems finding justifications to invade. The Pakistan Chemists and Drug Association universally decided to boycott European drugs being imported into the country. Hey, why limit yourself to a single suicide when you can force your entire population to do so? Senior spokesman Haji Zakir Farooq said:
“It would not affect the local supply as such, as there are several countries other than the European states which provide the same products at much better prices."
Apparently he missed the reports of counterfit drugs produced in Africa and India creating drug-resistant strains of diseases like malaria.
So what could I possibly add to this rather one-sided debate? The only aspect that hasn't been really discussed very much is why exactly the image of Mohammed is forbidden (haram) in Islam.
Well, it's widely accepted that any images of God or the prophets is haram because they might lead to the worship of the images rather that what the images represent.
From Prophets 21:52-54
|21:52 When he [Abraham] said unto his father and his folk: What are these images unto which ye pay devotion ?|
|21:53 They said: We found our fathers worshippers of them.|
|21:54 He said: Verily ye and your fathers were in plain error.|
From Counsel 42:11
42:11 The Creator of the heavens and the earth. He hath made for you pairs of yourselves, and of the cattle also pairs, whereby He multiplieth you. Naught is as His likeness; and He is the Hearer, the Seer.
This, combined with the Old Testament idea of God creating man in his image...
From Genisis 1:27
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
...led to the general banning of any human images in Muslim art, a decision that was eventually overturned by societal pressure, but was also the cause of the destruction of Afghanistan's famous Buddhas. More moderate branches of Islam were horrified at the demolition along with the rest of the world, but the Taliban has never been accused of being moderate. However, the ban on images of Allah and his prophets (isn't that a band?) still holds sway in most Muslim temples.
So two points arise out of this:
1) Why are non-Muslims not exempt?
2) Where are the protests of Jesus' depiction that are throughout the Christian world?
Muslims regard both Jesus and Moses as authentic prophets, and the depiction of such is forbidden, remember? Basically, Christianity was an updating of Judaism, and Islam is a modified Christianity; sort of a Monotheism 3.0 upgrade.
The riots and protests aren't about some doodles, of course. They are the ultimate reaction of the powerless against the powerful (see: French Revolution), and much of the Arab world believe themselves to be in a war of elimination against (you guessed it) America and their lackeys.
That would be everyone else in the world, pretty much.
Accurate or not, the invasion if Iraq pushed what was already a very tense culture into a state of psychotic paranoia, ready to see anything at all as an affront. Add to this the poverty riots in France, and what could only be considered unhelpful comments from pundits [Feb 10, Ann Coulter: "I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'" (This declaration prompted a boisterous ovation.)] in the West, and this response is no real surprise to anyone; the only surprise is what triggered the response.
I haven't seen a cartoon of a camel with a single straw yet, but it's an image I can't get out of my mind.
**Sorry, I should note that the first two citations above are from books of the Koran, and the third is from the Old Testament. Like you didn't know that.**
February 09, 2006
So for God's sake, make sure you only talk about those parts of her life that had NOTHING to do with those activities at her eulogy.
Only then will her life finally have some meaning.
Motorcycles: Cabin Fever
Side note: wonder what a Hell's Angel looks like? Third picture down on the right: he bought that bike and loves it.
So the question of what to do to get rid of this twitching throttle hand arises... Well, I did some posts about all the new models available in Canada for cheap last year, and the line-up hasn't changed that much (new models don't very often), so for a change-up I'm going to describe some madness.
There's lots of utter insanity out there, so I'm limiting it to dealer-available crazies. My opinion is what counts here, and why a bike is nuts/surprising is best left to my judgement. Deal. This entire category is in honour of the V-Max, and the astounding Vincent Black Shadow before it.
First up is an oldie but freaky -
Name: Boss Hoss BHC.
Why: Because it fits a 350ci Chevy V8 small block between two wheels. If that's not enough, you could always get a 502 that produces 500 hp. It comes with reverse. Corners? What corners?
Cost: $44,000 for the 350, $52,000 for the 502.
Name: Triumph Rocket III
Why: 2,300cc puts out 140 horsepower without a fairing. Zero-to-sixty miles per in 3.54 seconds, if you can hang on. On the other hand, it actually handles like a motorcycle.
Name: Buell Ulysses XB12X
Why: Want to take a 1200 cc bike off-roading? Big old Harley V-Twin in a dual-purpose frame, anyone who came up with that belongs here. That, pluss the Buells get on the list through sheer funkiness - I mean look at these things!
Name: BMW K1200S
Why: Oky, you've got this rich uncle, see? And he's always been "properly attired", had impeccable manners, and kept his property neat. Then he dies, and you found out that not only did he have four mistresses, he also used to host Romanesque orgies on the tenth of every month. That's a bit of what it's like to have BMW put out a 167 hp sport bike.
Name: BMW K1200R
Why: The uncle that no one talks about anymore, ever since... that time. You met him once: twitching eye, palsied hand and Tourette's Syndrome, but really neat to talk to! Same engine, way different look and none of that annoying fairing to get between you and wind blast.
Name: Ducati Paul Smart SportClassic
Why: One of the great joys of living in modern times is the vast improvement in technology that is available even to us proles. So, nothing like modern technology with 1970's ergonomics, right? Racers rode these because they were paid to, and they didn't take them home afterwards... And it's "SportClassic", so it must be "extreme" (or someone missed the space bar)!
Name: Ducati Xerox
Why: A higher-specification (!) version of the 999R racing bike, with paint to match. Despite the name, you WON'T see another copy of this where you live. The 999R is already $40,000, so one of these models is going to be stealing from the other...
Name: Kawasaki ZX-14R
Why: It's replacing the already awesome ZX-12R. I understand Team Green is a little pissed at losing the "Biggest Bad Ass Production Bike" title to Suzuki's Hayabusa, and they're out to get it back RIGHT NOW! This should be fun.
Name: Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa
Why: This is the bike that brought political pressure to bear, forcing production factories to "limit" their bikes to 295 km/h. 'Nuff said.
Name: Yamaha MT-01
Why: Yamaha actually had the balls to release this, and I didn't think they would. A 1670 cc twin engine that has maximum torque at a low, low 3,750 rpm, this is going to be a stump-puller. Not because it can pull stumps out of the ground, but because that's what you'll have for arms if you hit the throttle too quickly. Weird look (is that really Darth Vader's codpiece on the side?), and a risky release for Yamaha, especially at the price. The famous granddaddy psycho bike V-Max only costs $13,000, and they know it sells...
For my money? HA! I got a Speed Triple, remember?
February 08, 2006
Politics: It's What's Important!
When there's a senate hearing looking into steroid use in baseball, testifying current and former baseball players are put under oath to ensure they don't lie, or when they do they can be threatened with legal consequenses.
When there is a senate hearing about collusion by oil company executives regarding profits, price gouging and involvement with the Vice President's energy task force, the executives are NOT put under oath, and when it looks like they did lie, the Attorney General is asked to look into it, and nothing else happens. Speaking of which...
When the Attorney General is called to testify at a senate hearing about the NSA wiretapping scandal (and the technology that may be involved) that is well underway, he also is not sworn in. Perhaps it's just as well, as he testified that:
1) George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt all authorized electronic surveillance.
Ehh... So he's not a history major. We didn't know that?
2) That terrorists sometimes forget that they're under surveillance, especially when they're inside the continental United States, so reporting the wiretapping has damaged national security.
Future law students give their opinion of Gonzales' rationale here.
So to recap: atheletes involved with steroids get sworn in; oil company executives recording record profits in a time of national crisis do not get sworn in; Attorney Generals answering questions about national security do not get sworn in.
One word springs to mind, and that word is ASSHATS!
February 06, 2006
Politics: What Face?
Holly: What face?
So one of the new cabinet multi-ministers (the awkwardly named Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics) is elected Liberal David Emerson. In his explanation to the press heading into the swearing in, he explained that he's "always been a small-c Liberal." This brings up a couple interesting questions:
1) How will Conservative supporters react to this conversion? They howled to themselves when Stronach converted, so will they gloat now?
2) How will the Liberal supporters react? They gloated over Stronach's conversion, so will they howl now? For that matter, will they kick Emerson out of the party, or keep him?
3) Will the NDP start issuing self righteous proclomations about loyalty? After all, they've been able to keep followers when power was offered to them. *coughtrudeaucough*
4) Will the howling Liberal supporters finally stop pestering NDP voters to vote Liberal in elections? If they're so scared of the Tories, why the hell don't they vote NDP?
5) What's a "small-c Liberal"?
Amazing what a free vote costs, eh?
**Favorite comment on this so far is by Laura, commenting at Crawl Across the Ocean:
"Also, there's no (at least alleged) ideological or tactical dispute at stake here like there was with Parish and Stronach. Emerson's dispute with the Libs is that they lost the election."
February 05, 2006
Politics: Stop Blue on Blue Violence!
Police complain about police tactics.
**For those scratching their heads about the title, you might not want to look at this horribly, horribly wicked site. One of their items was an image of the crucifiction with "Stop Jew on Jew violence!" on it. Don't say I didn't warn you.**
Religion: Oh - My - God(s)!
February 02, 2006
Other: More Bananas
I've already mentioned the bit of nonsense that is the movie "What the *Bleep* Do We Know?" once (here), and now the idiocy continues: there is a sequel.
The only thing I'm going to say here is this:
To the Creators of "What the...?" (A more appropriate title, I think), I know your grasp of actual science is a little, well, delicate, but please, PLEASE stop subtitling your theory The Next Evolution!
Evolution is a constant - it's always happening, okay? You cannot have a series of evolutions, or a partial evolution, or de-evolution. You can't point at a developing creature and say "That's an evolution" because that doesn't make any sense.
**Added: I wonder if it could be as bad as this just-released sequel?**
February 01, 2006
Politics: A Bit of SOTU Housecleaning
After the State of the Union Address and the astoundingly feeble response by Tim Kaine (who?), I can't imagine anyone calling the U.S. Government a "two-party system" anymore. The Democrats are a real party like Vichy France was an independent government. If you look closely, you can see Kaine forgot to remove his kneepads from when he was under the podium during Bush's speech...
(Here's a brief visual history of Bush's SOTU addresses.)
Some people have said that when other countries critisize the United States, it's out of jealousy: partially, I think that's true, but it's a small part jealousy mixed with a healthy dose of frustration. Imagine having an older brother who's brilliant, talented and charismatic; loaded with virtues and skills and abilities who could be anything he wanted to be from a world-class athlete or brilliant scientist or revloutionary engineer or visionary leader or human rights champion.
Wouldn't you be disappointed when they ended up being a small-time thug and a loan shark?
Can it really be that this petty sociopath is in the most powerful office on Earth? Not only is it a question of how did it happen, but why is it still happening?
One famous quote is this: "The price of freedom is eternal viligance." This is occasionally used to imply that the army needs to be bigger, or that the political will must be there to use it (as was it's original intent), but it's now used to justify spying on civillians to the tune of overwhelming the FBI with so many recordings that it they will never actually be able to hear them all. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that democracy - the idea itself - also needs it's defenders.
The administration lies about needing quicker access to wiretaps, and that's apparently okay.
They plant stories with reporters (or create fake stories themselves), and that's okay, too.
They plant fake reporters in White House Press briefings, and it gets a chuckle.
They apply pressure on scientists to report what they want to hear, not what's happening, and there's nary a shrug.
When female American soldiers die of dehydration because they're afraid to go to the bathroom at night due to sexual assaults, no one really cares.
There is clear evidence of election fraud, which is treason of the highest order by any definition of the word, and it's shied away from.
Several people retire/are retired from the White House and write books on just how disfunctional the new government is; must be a coincidence.
The former Homeland Security Chief openly admits that scare tactics were used as a politcal weapon, but that doesn't count.
A massively underqualified political appointee actually has to do his job and not only fails spectacularly but is congratulated for doing so, but that's just one of those things.
In other news from the same folks:
Iraq was going to pay for itself.
The U.S. Army would be greeted as liberators.
Gas and oil prices are only going up so much because of the war and Katrina's damage to rigs in the Gulf Coast.
And from the Leader himself, on just one subject:
"I want justice [...] [Osama bin Laden is] Wanted, dead or alive."
-September 17, 2001
"We're going to get him."
December 12, 2001
"I am truly not that concerned about him."
-March 13, 2002
"We're at war [...] Osama bin Laden made that clear the other day, and I take his words very seriously."
Any of these, all on their own, should be enough to cause a major scandal. They didn't.
Must be that liberal media.