March 31, 2006

Sex: Off to a Good Start?

First things first: I'm going to pimp out a site as essential viewing if you, the reader, either have children who are ten or older or ARE ten or older yourself. It is frank, sound, practical advice about sexuality of all sorts and should be mandatory reading by the time someone hits junior high.

If you think you might be uncomfortable with the subject, read the site through first, then either: A) walk through the basics with your kid before leaving them to explore; or B) sneak it on to their "Bookmarks", then check again in a couple of weeks to see if it's still there.

The site is Scarleteen, and hopefully your kid has already been there.


I've never been big on what seems to be a common male fantasy: sex with a virgin. Sexually speaking, I wasn't attracted to eighteen year olds even when I was eighteen; a moot point at best, of course, since I'm a geek and practiced reproduction mostly by accident. Recently, though, I've had reason to reconsider my view.

Wooderson: That's what I love about these high school girls, man: I get older, they stay the same age!

So I've definitely got the "Creepy Old Man" image playing in my head right now despite the young woman approaching me instead of the other way around. I've talked it over with my wife (of course), and she wasn't as surprised as I expected her to be, which surprised me. The attention is tremendously flattering, of course, especially given my insufficiently-excersised physique, but it is rather jarring.

The reasons:

1) See Wooderson quote above (except she's well out of high school, thank you);
2) I'm a geek. Having an attractive young woman find me sexually appealing is... odd;
3) I think I could do a good job of it.

That third reason is what's thrown me the most. It's not just the physical aspect of sex; I'm very confident in my ability there. But would I be a better choice than someone her own age socially, ethically, or intellectually? The biggest trick here is to try seperating my inherent bias (we all have one) to see what could result.

I'm going to leave aside the social aspect, because that would provide too many clues to who the woman is. The internet is not a place to keep secrets.

Ethically, I'm a firm supporter of Dan Savage's old/young maxim: spread no diseases, make no babies, break no hearts. The first two are the easy bits, as playing safe is not an option so much as it is the option. The last is far more complex, as I can only take responsibility for most of it, not all of it. Looking back over my history, I can't say I've always made the right choices in relationships; in some cases I've made terrible ones, but I would like to think I'm well past that time now. I examine my life fairly regularly, and consider my actions in much greater depth than I did, say, fifteen years ago. Being married nine years to the coolest person I've ever met helps with that, I suppose.

Intellectually speaking, there are certain ground rules that would have to be in force; lots to talk about here. For instance, the undersatnding that I won't be leaving my wife. That if either one of us feels any doubt about having sex, it isn't going to happen. That she's thought about what having sex could mean in her future, ie. does she think she might want to "save herself" for her husband? (A ridiculous thought from my point of view: sexual compatability is essential for a healthy marriage. Try before you buy!) Mostly, what does she want or expect from this?

Now, I've always liked the idea of teaching; I'd like to be a motorcycle riding instructor, for instance. But as far as sex goes, I've always preferred to show someone who has at least the basic mechanics already down some interesting variants on the theme, so to speak. Would I have the patience for starting with someone who is a tabla rasa? Would that be a bad thing? What would I want from such an encounter?

I'll quickly go through the obvious: she is very attractive physically, as well as being smart enough, sassy enough, and silly enough to be a lot of fun to talk to. She would, I think, be a sexual delight, and I am confident she would find any time we had together to be tremendously entertaining and fulfilling. Now, that's out of the way, right? Good.

What I'd like to see her come away with is a little sexual knowledge, some physical understanding, and a lot of confidence. A problem arises: what can you compare a person to without sounding crass? e.e. cummings suggested a car, Robert Burns a rose; but what comes to my mind here is a phrase I associate (horribly enough) with rental halls: leave it in better condition than you found it. The image is atrocious, but the idea is accurate to my desires. I would like anyone who has sex with me to leave feeling good about their decision. Partly, this comes from being a geek: I have always relied on repeat business, so if I was ever lucky enough for someone to want to have sex with me, I made damn sure I did as good for them as possible!

Wandering slightly off track, here...

So that's the bar I set for myself. Is it too high? Too low? Impossible to say until it happens, I suppose. If it happens at all: one other rule I've decided upon: whatever happens, it is entirely the young woman's decision.

As it should be.


posted by Thursday at 11:06 pm 0 comments

March 30, 2006

Science: Circle the Skeptics!

I'm in this edition (the 31st) of the Skeptic's Circle again, this time hosted at Terra Sigillata. Lots of good reading there, and it's all work safe, unless you happen to work in a New Age bookstore or some such rot. I'll even forgive him for getting my sex wrong - just don't tell my Significant Other.


posted by Thursday at 10:52 am 1 comments

March 28, 2006

Other: Mixed Feelings

Okay, I need help with this one.

I have No Fucking Clue whether these are some of the coolest toys I've seen on a car or the dorkiest things EVER!

Picture Rims.


posted by Thursday at 9:12 pm 0 comments

March 26, 2006

Science: Making Money the Easy Way Pt. 3

I've already mentioned cold reading and how that works on an audience in Part 1, but I'll give another runthrough:

Cold reading is when the "psychic" performer has no foreknowledge of the members of their audience (I'll talk about "hot reading" in a bit). As such, the performer will want at least one of two things: an audience that is primed and ready to accept the psychic as being the real McCoy; and an audience that has a desperate need to believe in the psychic's supposed ability. A live audience is wonderful, and ideal for building a mob mentality, but not entirely necessary, as the many radio- and televangelists can attest.

That distance can help in many ways, such as failure having no immediate negative ramifications for the performer. Then there is the impression the performer wants to leave being influenced by effects other than the performance, ie lighting, camera angles, dramatic music, editing, etc. John Edwards, for instance, took three to four hours to perform his "readings" that were then trimmed down to 42 minutes. This editing, when appropriate music was added, made him look pretty darned good to his television audience.

Which brings me to the audience.

How would you like to have an audience who not only believed in your ability to talk to dead folks, but had already paid their money whether you succeeded or not? And, here's the kicker, they wouldn't be able to get their money back when you failed! They would all be back at home, watching on their televisions. Heck, who wouldn't want to get in on this?

It's already happened: the Princess Diana Seance occured in 2003, cost each viewer $14.95, and was tuned in to by 500,000 television sets in America alone. For those with shaky math skills, that's $7.5 million, all for a mediocre documentary in weepy blue tones ending with two con artists telling people who loved her what they wanted to hear. The show was a hideous piece of ghoulish exploitation at it's very worst.

But the $7.5 million was so successful that they are doing it again, but this time mutilating the memory of John Lennon for a mere $9.95 per viewer. So, after two more seances the price will finally start closing in on their actual value, if the discounts continue apace...

In other supernatural (or just unreal) news, a "world famous" psychic (her words, not mine) is coming to our town all the way from Scotland, giving me an opportunity to talk about what "hot reading" is. Hot readings are, obviously enough, the opposite of cold readings: that is to say they are far more accurate, specific, and impressive. They are also achieved by cheating, rather than just by playing the odds as cold readers do. There are several methods to do this, most of which the people attending the show don't think about:

1) Poppin' Off: Former televangelist Peter Popoff often performed faith healing in his shows, walking through the audience then stopping seemingly at random beside someone, saying their name, address and what their ailment was, then getting them pumped up on adrenaline and telling them it was God's Word that gave him the information. Well, after a miracle like that, who would deny that God healed them right then and there, with thousands of witnesses all roaring approval? Except that "God" in this case was Popoff's wife and the wife of his number two man Refford Shirrell, and almost all the audience members who came to him specifically to be healed filled out so-called "prayer request cards" which included a space for addresses! There were also agents in the waiting crowd before the show listening to people talk about what their reasons for coming were, which were subsequently broadcast from "God" to the waiting Popoff at 39.17 megahertz. And you wouldn't believe what passes for healed!

Popoff, by the way, is still very active. He's stopped listening to the voice of God, and is now miraculously giving people money! That is, God's giving them money, if they send some to Popoff first...

2) Limited Tickets = Select Audience: Though most theatrical performers make a big effort to get their tickets available to as many people as possible, that would mean just anyone could show up, and if you're not sure of your audience, the greater risk that the reading will be rather, well, basic and not that interesting: a danger inherent when cold reading is combined with an unresponsive or skeptical audience. How to avoid this? Choose your audience ahead of time! Advertise only in New Age, religious or otherwise spiritualist magazines, and better yet have an advance person control all the ticket sales. When someone calls for tickets, your advance person can get a name and phone number at the very least; they can also be asked why they wish to attend such a show. If it is a matter of grief, most people want to talk about it, and they provide a fount of information to the performer they don't even remember giving away. Even if reticent, how much could you find out about someone with a name, a number, and the obituary pages of a local paper (among other things)?

3) A Personal Visit From Our Saviour: This again relies on advance ticket sales, but includes addresses - or just phone numbers and a simple reverse directory. A representative of the performer will call on the potential attendee and ask to talk with them, if they wouldn't mind too much? Well, why not if they are feeling a bit lonely, and maybe they'll have a bit of tea and discuss, oh, whatever the attendee wants to talk about... In the meantime, the home itself is a wealth of information (family and/or vacation pictures, taste in reading, decor, approximate income level, interests) without anyone saying a word, or even getting past the front door.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: if I were just a little more dishonest, I'd be a much richer man. But the Significant Other says she'd leave me, so there goes that plan. *sigh*


The Easy Way, Part 1
The Easy Way, Part 2


posted by Thursday at 8:34 pm 0 comments

March 23, 2006

Other: How Old is This Book?

I just found a work of science fiction that caught my eye. Not because of the sherman tank with a Star of David on it that shares the cover with several feather-bedecked Indians on horseback, and not because of the title: "The Texas-Israeli War: 1999". No, it was the blurb on the back that really got me...

On August 12, 1992, England's tiny nuclear arsenal fell on Ireland, on South Africa, and finally on China. Instantly, the planet went up in flames. In the first half year of what was to be called the War of '92, half of the Earth's population perished. The United States was reduced to a vast underpeopled land - and, to make matters worse, Texas had seceded and taken her precious oil reserves. But Israel, virtually untouched in a world ravaged by war, was painfully overpopulated.

Hokay, can anyone in the class tell me when this was printed, and just what the authors were smoking at the time? England dropping nukes on Ireland, China and South Africa? Israel untoushed by war? What the...?

In more rational news, I am completely smitten with the magazine mental_floss. Subscribe if you can, buy it if you must. But only if you're ot embarassed by knowing shit.


posted by Thursday at 12:04 am 2 comments

March 19, 2006

Other: The Dish-Pig Manifesto

Now, don’t get me wrong: I do like working where I do. The hours are reasonable, it’s not particularly difficult, and the boss keeps hiring these total hotties, so I get to hang out with several women for most of the day.

It’s just that it’s, well, work.

As a result, I’ll be quitting when the Significant Other and I bugger off to Scotland for May. I’ve already given notice, and the boss has already found someone that will be able to take my place. Not that I expected her to have a difficult time of it – I wash dishes, not exactly a post-doctorate position.

If you’re wondering why someone my age (old) and questionable ethics (but not so questionable as to be rich yet) is washing dishes, ask me about the sit-com I’m writing. The material never ends!

The new kid is just that – a kid. So the boss has asked me to write a list of what the heck it is that I do around the place, other than talk to all the hotties. (Lovely women, by the way, but I get more understanding nods if I just say “hotties”.) So I’m compiling said list, though it occurred to me that there is an underlying philosophy behind what I do and when I do it. Maybe I’m trying to justify what many consider a “shit job” to myself, maybe it’s just a way to alleviate boredom, but what happened when I started writing that list ended up a little different from its original intent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…

The Dish-Pig Manifesto

Consider the pig.

Many stop at appearance: filthy, smelly, nasty creatures grunting at the world with squinty eyes and mean dispositions. Who would want to emulate such an odious beast? Me.

Consider the pig.

Pigs are industrious – you want a stump dug up? Put a few acorns under it and let your pig loose.
Pigs are clean – if given clean water to wash in.
Pigs are fiercely protective of their turf and of their friends, and are widely hailed for their intelligence.
Pigs can make people laugh.

What a dish-pig does, what is most important that a dish-pig does, is make everyone else’s job easier for them. This means many things.

First: Front of house (what the customers see) is the top priority: everyone’s job is easier when the customers keep coming back. The quicker that they can be served, the better they feel, and the less pressure on front-of-house staff. But never sacrifice skill for speed!

Imagine: A customer gets a dirty fork. If they are reasonable (and most people are) they will say, “Excuse me, this fork is dirty” and ask for another. If they get a second dirty fork, they will say “I was at this restaurant the other day…”

Customers know they are using dishes that complete strangers used before them; they do not wish to be rminded of this.

Second: Learn the language. If the sous chef tells you she’s running out of blue plates, discover what “running out” means to them. Does it mean they will run out in thirty seconds or five minutes? When the cook “needs” a food processor cleaned, must they stop working until they get it? Or can they wait for a few minutes? Training the staff may be difficult at first, but it will make everyone’s job easier if they speak the same tongue – yours.

Third: Remember that you are in a hot, enclosed space with others. You’re going to sweat, so make it clean sweat. Shower before heading in to work. It’s just polite.

Fourth: You probably have the least pressure of all the staff or owners. Whatever you can do to keep the atmosphere light in the kitchen is a good thing. Sing in invented languages; make horrible, horrible puns; shower employees with odd compliments; mock the customers who need it (but only to other staff!). Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself, but measure it out over time: funny and slightly odd is good, hysterical and possibly dangerous is not.

Practical matters:

Never put wood through a dishwasher.
Never put edged knives through a dishwasher.
Never put knives in soapy water without knowing EXACTLY where they are; likewise with glasses.
Never let anything out of the pit without being clean: even if someone “needs it right now!” clean it quickly by hand.
Don’t let anyone drop things – anything – into your sink. They don’t know what’s in there; you do.
Drop a towel on the ground to soak up water. Keep it flat and leave it there until the day is done.
Try not to date co-workers, especially if you’re married to one.
If you can’t bring your own music, get into whatever groove is going.
Listen to advice, then figure out your own way to do the job.
If the Health Inspector says something, listen. He’s the law, not an opinion.
Be cool.


posted by Thursday at 1:14 pm 4 comments

March 16, 2006

Sex: Don't Worry, Toots, You'll Thank Us Later

Generally speaking, I like to wait a little while before commenting on something on-line; after all, there is a big difference between arguing a point with a single person and committing the same argument to writing.

In my case, it's mostly the differnece between slander and libel, but we'll leave that go for now.

There are exceptions to this rule, especially when I've spent quite a bit of time already thinking about a subject, like abortion. "But" you may note, "the South Dakota ruling to ban almost all abortions was ten days ago!" That is, of course, true; but the Missouri ban on funding birth control in state clinics happened yesterday. A little side note about South Dakota: there is one state clinic that provides abortions. One. I'm reminded of Sen. Lieberman's comment that a woman who is rejected at one hospital or clinic could always go to another...

So what kind of special insanity would cause people to prevent the poorest and most vulnerable from having kids? Why, because it would "promote a promiscuous lifestyle", of course! Gee, where have we heard this before? Oh, right! Every time people try talking about sex education in schools (or anywhere else), trying to come to grips with prostitution, dealing with sexual harassment, setting up crisis lines in case of sexual assault, proposing non-traditional roles like women in the military, discussing homosexuality... You'd almost think there's a group of people out there who are so terrified of sexuality in any form that the only response they can muster is "If we don't talk about it, it can't happen!"


South Dakota's ban on abortion is a direct challenge on Roe v. Wade, of course, and comes from the state that already has the strictest abortion laws in the country. Remember the so-called "Morning After Pill"? Scares the hell out of these folk. The (public) rallying cry is, as you might expect, "Save the Children!" The real phrase should read "Screw the Children, Save the Zygotes!" The zygote is what is formed after the sperm and ovum meet; this stage lasts about 30 hours. Just over half of these never actually get to the uterine stage, and are expelled during the woman's next menstruation. As a further side note, about 15% of embryos are miscarried 4 to 12 weeks in. Miscarriages: God's Little Abortions!

Oh, and anyone who may be offended at the phrase "Screw the Children!" can please fuck off now. I'm not the one interested in banning abotrions for twelve year olds who have been raped by their fathers. Okay? Okay. Just getting that out of my system now.

Proposed moral dilemma: if you were in a fertility clinic and a fire broke out, and you could save only one of the following, who would it be: a 16 year old girl, a 40 year old woman, or a petri dish containing five blastocysts? The answer is, of course, "the one with the biggest -"

Wait, wrong joke. Back to the subject at hand. How about a little wander through some myths about abortion?

First off, anyone who thinks this isn't a woman's issue is simply out of their minds. Count the number of woman who have been killed by their boyfriends or husbands (common law or official) who were pregnant at the time. According to the Journal of the Americain Medical Association (March 21, 2001), that was the leading cause of death in pregnant and recently pregnant women, followed by cancer. Way to go, guys.

Second, the vast majority of women who have abortions are, wait for it, relieved to have had them done. You were expecting guilt, perhaps? Emotional trauma? Well, no: those come before the abortions. You see, every clinic I've ever heard of requires at least one counselling session before hand, and most seem to average three sessions before an abortion is performed. Some women change their minds, some don't, but every opportunity is given for that change to happen.

Third, all sorts of women get abortions. Rich, poor, every race and, yes, religion. Yes, some pro-life women do have the abortions that they would deny others, and count on them not telling any of their family members, be they parents, children or husbands.

The question of whether you are a supproter of abortion or not really comes down to one thing, and one thing only: which is more important to you, the woman or the embryo? And if you doubt that the availability of abortions actually helps women, may I suggest reading Keith Simpson's "Forty Years of Murder". Professor Simpson was England's first criminal pathologist, and his reasons are very, very clear: he was sick of finding dead young women who had soapy water in their vaginas dumped in back alleys. That was the most common method of abortion at the time, which occasionally led to a "bubble embolism", or a bubble of air entering the bloodstream and disrupting the continuous motion of the heart. Infection was another common cause of death among abortion patients, especially when scraping (the classic "wire hanger" method) was used. The men who caused these pregnancies were frequently unknown, and when they were known went unpunished, naturally.

For those who think anti-abortion laws will stop abortions from happening, may I suggest this link to Molly Saves the Day, where you will find a bit of history of the Jane group in Chicago, plus how abortions are performed safely. And I suggest reading all her later posts on the subject, too, should you find yourself curious or angry or both. The comments section is mostly trolls, as expected, but she enforces a strict "actual dialogue ONLY" rule for later comments, and those are of far more value.


Sorry, had to add this little piece from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Democrats have been buzzing about comments made by state Sen. Nancy Schaefer (R-Turnerville) at a recent eggs-and-issues breakfast in Hart County. We quote from the Hartwell Sun newspaper: "Commenting on illegal immigration, Schaefer said 50 million abortions have been performed in this country, causing a shortage of cheap American labor. 'We could have used those people,' she said."


Doubt their veracity? Here she is in her own words.


posted by Thursday at 10:42 pm 2 comments

March 15, 2006

Other: Rock & Roll!

Rock and Roll's about
Cheap electrical guitars
And maps to secret places
That let underage kids in bars
(not this)
Rock and Roll Hall of Shame...

-Mojo Nixon, Rock n' Roll Hall of Lame

With the induction this year of Miles Davis into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, some have been asking what exactly qualifies as "Rock and Roll"? Can it be defined by anyone, inside of the nebulous genre or outside of it? Mr. Davis obviously believes he should be there, whereas Mr. Nixon's unwavering hatred of The Eagles led him to pen "Don Henley Must Die!", may be of a differing opinion.

In a simplified way, humbly allow me to use this year's inductees as a guide for what is and what is not to be considered Rock and Roll:

Black Sabbath

Named Ozzy, Tony, Bill and Geezer; the music features Satanism, insanity, armageddon and death; massive, Hunter S. Thompson-level drug use (Ozzy has said he used acid every single day for one a two-year stretch); recorded their first album in a single session, another in a "haunted" castle in Wales.
Verdict: Thought they lose points for all still being alive and for once having toured with Yes, they are still Rock and Roll.


What's not to love about a lead singer named Debbie Harry? A very ambiguous band, using everything from 60's pop through disco into early rap; first band to give big time exposure to new wave in North America; first gig was at the legendary CBGBs.
Verdict: Can you qualify a bit of a band? They deliberately refused categorization, so other than a few songs, no they aren't Rock and Roll. HOWEVER, when, during the induction ceremony, former Blondie member Frank Infante begged (with the two other former members) if they could play together with the newly reformed Blondie ("Debbie, are we allowed?"), Harry replied with "Can't you see my band is up there?" Brutal, and very Rock and Roll. In by default.

Miles Davis

You must be joking. The man is Jazz, pure and simple. Let me rephrase that: the jazz he played was rarely pure, and never simple, though sometimes he played a very bare and tremendously evocative sound. Brilliant stuff, but if this is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then this is one genius who doesn't belong.
Verdict: Sorry.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Three guitars in a seven-man band, producing one hell of a powerful sound; especially when one of the guitarists is Ronnie VanZant; dropped out of high school after getting grief for having long hair; mockingly named thier band after their old gym teacher; opened for The Who; had three members die in a plane crash. Was thought to have a hate on for Neil Young (apparently untrue, but Warren Zevon wrote a hammer response anyways).
Verdict: Hoo, yeah!

Sex Pistols

Featuring Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious; Guitarist Steve Jones said "Actually, we're not into music, we're into chaos"; signed and dropped immediately by two major labels, who they made fun of by recording "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle"; one member fired for "liking the Beatles"; perhaps the most violently psychotic and self-destructive band ever; recorded one album before breaking up; re-formed twenty years later for the "Filthy Lucre Tour"; least talented member was so fucked up a movie was made about his heroin overdose death.
Verdict: Heh. If they did nothing else, the spiteful, semi-literate letter they sent after hearing they were being inducted is reason enough to consider these guys Rock and Roll.

A&M Founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss

Okay, so they signed Peter Frampton, the Police, Captain Beefheart, Joe Cocker and Cheech and Chong: what the Sam Hill is a "founder" category doing in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

That's enough for this lot. The only link I'd bother following is the one to Moj up top there. Just hit the links you find at his site, and be ready for him when you do.


posted by Thursday at 8:51 pm 0 comments

March 14, 2006

Politics: Talking (And Talking And Talking...) Heads

When I saw this clip from a talking-head political show (broadcast on Al-Jazeera) a couple things occurred to me when I contrasted it to political talk shows over here:

1) That Ms. Wafa Sultan could speak (mostly) without interruption for more than 20 seconds at a time, meaning she speaks in sentences, not sound bites;

2) That she voices direct criticism of the show's host and is still allowed to finish her sentence.

Now, I wish that I could have seen the opponents views as well (the clip is edited to show Ms. Sultan's opinion only), and I don't agree with everything she has to say (Jews may not be blowing themselves up, but they certainly have killed people), butI cannot imagine someone from, say, Hamas getting the same treatment on Hannity & Colmes or The O'Reilly Factor. The Al-Jazeera host is apparently fairly contriversial in his conservative views, too.


posted by Thursday at 9:52 pm 0 comments

March 11, 2006

Hockey: Shake It Up

Lots of trades, not a lot of players traded, relatively speaking. Lots of draft picks got moved around as GMs tried to figure out the new cap-limited world. After a slow start on deadline day, they seemed to get the hang of it: 16 of 25 trades happened with only one hour left. So what the heck happened? Why, by sheer coincidence every single team won their trades this year! No, really; just ask them!

So what really happened? A quick run-down:


Net Gains: Anaheim got F Jeff Friesen again at the trade deadline. They also got the shockingly tough D Sean O’Donnell from Phoenix for unused F Joel Perreault.
Net Losses: Last time they got Friesen, it cost Teemu Selanne; this time it’s a more reasonable price of a 2nd round pick in 2006, though that may have been over paying. Sandis Ozolinsh has also been moved out to the Rangers for a (San Jose) 3rd round pick, and veteran D Keith Carney was bundled with Finnish League D Juha Alen off to Vancouver for prospect D Brent Skinner and a 2006 2nd round pick.
Sum Total: Ozolinsh had already been replaced by Niedermayer, Friesen has been having an awful year (but he plays for Washington, so…), and O’Donnell is tougher, though not quite as skilled as Carney. They’re up a draft pick, too. The prospects will dictate how this trade went, but for now a slight gain.
Arbitrary Rating: +1


Net Gains: Minor moves for a team pushing for a playoff spot. D Steve McCarthy came over from Vancouver for a fourth round 2006 pick, who had been traded to Vancouver for a third round pick, and had originally been drafted in the first round of 1999.
Net Losses: Rarely used F Rico Fata was taken off waivers by Washington.
Sum Total: Strictly a depth move. They’re three points out of a playoff spot, six points away from sixth place, and have won seven of their last ten games, so why mess?
Arbitrary Rating: 0


Net gains: The sound you heard was GM Mike O’Connell saying “Oh, fuck it” to this season. They picked up seldom used F Mariusz Czerkzwski (Spell Check’s favorite name) off waivers from Toronto.
Net Losses: Having already said goodbye to their best player, they promptly sent the second best away, trading oft-injured F Sergei Samsonov to Edmonton for C Marty Reasoner, C Yan Stastny and a second round pick.
Sum Total: O’Connell explained that part of the trade was doubts about re-signing Samsonov; then he admitted that he didn’t bother trying to. Kind of says it all.
Arbitrary Rating: -2


Net Gains: A quieter phone (temporarily).
Net Losses: The most troublesome three-headed monster since Cerberus, one (Mika Noronen) of three solid goalies has been traded to Vancouver for a second round pick.
Sum Total: A little cheap, perhaps, given that Edmonton got 36 year old G Dwayne Roloson for a cost of a first round pick plus futures. Then again, Noronen has only played in four games this year and has a career NHL record of 22-31-6.
Arbitrary Rating: 0


Net Gains: Not a whole lot. Not a thing, in fact.
Net Losses: C Jason Wiemer went to New Jersey for a fourth round pick in 2006.
Sum Total: Calgary loses a grinding forward. Better be careful, as they only have 15 more. They get a little something for someone they won’t miss.
Arbitrary Rating: +0.5


Net Gains: Hoo, boy! Veteran F Mark Recchi now knows how C Doug Weight felt, going from the worst team (Pittsburgh) in the league to the best. The exchange was for F Niklas Nordgren, C Krys Kolanos and a second round pick in 2007.
Net Losses: Nada. Zip. Can you believe this?
Sum Total: Could we just give GM Jim Rutherford the “Executive of the Year” award now and save some time? They get a scoring, battle-hardened, playoff-tested veteran for two fourth-liners and a second round pick.
Arbitrary Rating: +3 (+5 if they can sign him for next year, too).


Net Gains: Prospect F Brandon Bochenski and a second round 2006 pick from Ottawa.
Net Losses: Inconsistent F Tyler Arnason was the cost for Bochenski, D Todd Simpson brought a sixth round pick from Montreal, C Jim Dowd brought a fourth round pick from Colorado, and C Andy Hilbert was lost off waivers to Pittsburgh.
Sum Total: The trade might come back to bite them, as Arnason is young and should be a thirty-goal man in the near future, if he ever gets it together for a full year. Bochenski is a rookie, though a good looking one, and may or may not pan out. Not great value for Simpson.
Arbitrary Rating: -1


Net gains: Injured and distracted Vezina and Hart winner Jose Theodore. Veteran C Jim Dowd (from, no kidding, Brick, New Jersey) came in from Chicago for a fourth round pick to add depth to an injured line up (Konowalchuk, Vaananen, Svatos).
Net Losses: The cost for Theodore was pretty steep, as in G David Aebischer.
Sum Total: Theodore is a much better goaltender than Aebischer, or would be in a normal (read: not drama-filled) year. The only question is whether Theodore will have another normal year.
Arbitrary Rating: +2


Net Gains: Trading away a “captain” who resigned his C.
Net Losses: That would be D Luke Richardson, traded for a conditional pick.
Sum Total: Richardson is big, tough, and experienced; he’s also old, slow and has never had more than 4 goals or 21 points in a season.
Arbitrary Rating: +1 Addition by subtraction, this.


Net Gains: Tough shut-down D Willie Mitchell and 2nd round 2007 pick from Minnesota.
Net Losses: D Martin Skoula, D Shawn Belle, and a 2nd round pick in 2006.
Sum Total: Mitchell is a free agent after this year, so he’s a rental, but he provides more of what Dallas was missing than Skoula or Belle could have provided.
Arbitrary Rating: +2


Net Gains: Big (6’5”) D Cory Cross arrives from Pittsburgh for a 4th round pick in 2007.
Net Losses: Seventh D Jamie Rivers got sent to Phoenix for a 2006 7th round pick.
Sum Total: An oddly quiet year for what’s usually one of the big deadline teams, the cap has put a damper on that. Cross is a good player, but he plays smaller than his size. Rivers was an asset they just weren’t going to use.
Arbitrary Rating: 0


Net Gains: Veteran G Dwayne Roloson came from Minnesota for Edmonton’s first round pick in 2006 plus “futures”, whatever they may be. Oh yeah, some Russian forward named Sergei Samsonov, too.
Net Losses: The 29 year old C Marty Reasoner was clearly too old for the Oilers, so he and C Yan Stastny were sent to the Bruins with a 2nd round pick. G Mike Morrison was claimed off waivers by Ottawa.
Sum Total: Rock solid Roloson is an upgrade in net, though how Markkanen will feel about being pushed back to second place is debatable. Samsonov is a brilliant offensive force… when he can stay healthy. His speed will fit in well with Edmonton, but so did Reasoner. Samsonov’s impending free agency makes this a risk.
Arbitrary Rating: +2


Net Gains: Second-pair D Ric Jackman came in from Pittsburgh for former 2002 first round pick C Petr Taticek.
Net Losses: It’s who they didn’t lose, really.
Sum Total: Re-signing C Chris Gratton and C Olli Jokinen will help Florida keep G Roberto Luongo around.
Arbitrary Rating: +1


Net Gains: Experience for youth, bringing in F Mark Parrish and D Brent Sopel.
Net Losses: Going back were D Denis Grebeshkov, F Jeff Tambellini (yes, son of Steve) and a 3rd round pick in 2006.
Sum Total: The kids leaving have loads of talent, but LA can spare a little future depth for current production as they work to keep their playoff spot.
Arbitrary Rating: +1


Net Gains: Defensemen Skoula and Belle came with a 2nd round pick in 2007 from Dallas, and F Mattias Weinhandl came off waivers from the Islanders.
Net Losses: The Dallas trade cost one big D in Willie Mitchell. Everyone knew G Roloson would move once G Fernandez was signed, but it was surprising that he went to the team the Wild are chasing for a playoff spot, as Edmonton paid a 1st rounder for him.
Sum Total: Great price for Roloson, not so good for the best defenseman on a defensive team.
Arbitrary Rating: -1


Net Gains: Streaky G David Aebischer came from Colorado, and veteran tough guy D Todd Simpson came from Chicago for a 6th round pick.
Net Losses: Often brilliant G Jose Theodore was sent packing, with all his associated distractions.
Sum Total: Aebischer may be coming in to be the number two guy, behind a surprisingly capable G Cristobal Huet, who will hold the fort until G Carey Price matures in three or four (or five) years. Simpson adds some honest toughness to help young D Mike Komisarek.
Arbitrary Rating: -1


Net Gains: An aggressive team gets tougher, picking up D Brendan Witt from Washington for F Kris Beech and a first round pick this year.
Net Losses: Beech – that’s it.
Sum Total: Fantastic pick up for a young team. Witt doesn’t score, but they don’t need him to. He does block shots and hit like an avalanche, and Washington G Olaf Kolzig is crying in his beer right now.
Arbitrary Rating: +2


Net Gains: Veteran D Ken Klee from Toronto for minor leaguer F Aleksander Suglobov, and another experienced D in Brad Lukowich from the Islanders for a 3rd round pick. Center Jason Weimer was bought from Calgary for a 4th round pick.
Net losses: Former first round pick D Sean Brown went to Vancouver for a 4th round pick in 2006.
Sum Total: New Jersey has been bitten hard by the injury bug on defense this year, so I can’t blame them for overreacting, but Klee and Lukowich are strictly depth players.
Arbitrary Rating: 0 (+1 for every D missing a game in the playoffs.)


Net Gains: Prospects in D Grebeshkov and F Tambellini.
Net Losses: Cy Young candidate F Parrish (24G, 17A), giant (6’5”) C Oleg Kvasha, minute-eating D Sopel, Veteran D Lukowich.
Sum Total: Now that’s how you clean house! Apparently, outgoing GM Mike Milbury couldn’t get anyone to take C Alexi Yashin and his rather foolish contract, but he’s left the team younger and cheaper for the new GM, whoever that will be (my guess: Steve Tambellini).
Arbitrary Rating: +2


Net Gains: Scoring D Sandis Ozolinsh from Anaheim for a 3rd round pick.
Net Losses: Gritty (and much-traded) F Ville Nieminen to San Jose for said 3rd round pick.
Sum Total: This ended up being Nieminen for Ozolinsh, and the Rangers needed a point man more than a grinding forward.
Arbitrary Rating: +1


Net Gains: Back up G Mike Morrison came off waivers from Edmonton, and the skilled (if enigmatic) F Tyler Arnason came from Chicago for prospect F Brandon Bochenski and a 2nd round pick.
Net Losses: Nothing else.
Sum Total: Can’t see how Arnason improves the team much, but Morrison will give Emery a bit of breathing room until Hasek returns.
Arbitrary Rating: -1


Net Gains: Bruising D Denis Gautier came from Phoenix for two 2006 second round picks and AHL grinder F Josh Gratton, F Niko Dimitrakos came from San Jose for a 3rd round pick.
Net Losses: None.
Sum Total: With only five players making it to 60 games so far, depth is necessary and they got some. Gautier is a shut-down player and Dimitrakos brings some speed to the third line and power play.
Arbitrary Rating: +2


Net Gains: F Oleg Kvasha is now a Coyote in return for a 3rd round pick being sent to the Islanders. Depth D Jamie Rivers came from Detroit for a 7th round pick.
Net Losses: Tough Defensemen Denis Gautier and Sean O’Donnell were sent to Philadelphia and Anaheim respectively, and young C Jamie Lundmark went to Calgary for a 4th round pick.
Sum Total: A young team gets a bit younger and lot softer. After a massive number of trades this year, these guys have got to be looking forward to the stability of the off season!
Arbitrary Rating: -2


Net Gains: Waiver pick up C Andy Hilbert is a scorer in the AHL, but has yet to do so much in the bigs. F Niklas Nordgren and C Krys Kolanos came with a second round 2007 pick from Carolina.
Net Losses: Carolina got F Mark Recchi in return. Ouch. D Ric Jackman went to Detroit for minor leaguer C Petr Taticek, and D Cory Cross went to Detroit for a 4th round pick.
Sum Total: Recchi scores, hits, is fantastically durable, and wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. Can’t keep him around, then. *snark*
Arbitrary Rating: -3


Net Gains: None.
Net Losses: Venerable (ancient?) D Eric Weinrich went to Vancouver for a 3rd round pick and AHL D Tomas Mojzis.
Sum Total: The big trades already happened, with Weight, Pronger and Sillinger leaving earlier. Shame they didn’t do it sooner in the season: they’re 7-1-2 in their last ten. A lack of pressure, perhaps?
Arbitrary Rating: +1 Whatever they’re doing, it seems to be working so far.


Net gains: Super pest F Ville Nieminen from the Rangers for a 3rd round pick.
Net Losses: The smooth Niko Dimitrakos (from Sommersville, Mass.) is now a Flyer for another 3rd round pick.
Sum Total: Adding a dimension the Sharks have often lacked this year, they hope Nieminen can toughen them up for a playoff push.
Arbitrary Rating: +1


Net Gains: None.
Net Losses: None.
Sum Total: Young, enthusiastic team that’s up against the salary cap. They could have used some defensive help, but if the deal’s not there, don’t make it.
Arbitrary Rating: 0


Net Gains: Old, slow D Luke Richardson joins old, brittle Leafs for a conditional (5th or 6th round) pick.
Net Losses: D Ken Klee went to New Jersey for talented AHL F Aleksander Suglobov, and rarely used F Mariusz Czerkawski was picked up by Boston off waivers.
Sum Total: Kind of cool that two players went back to the teams that drafted them, but other than that…? Suglobov could be a gem if he ever becomes consistent, and he’ll get his chances with Toronto.
Arbitrary Rating: 0


Net Gains: Lots. Iron horse D Keith Carney and Finnish League D Juha Alen came from Anaheim, with prospect D Brett Skinner and a 2006 2nd round pick going back; veteran D Eric Weinrich was added from St. Louis for the very fast AHL D Tomas Mojzis and a 3rd round pick this year; depth D Sean Brown was claimed for a fourth round pick; and in the biggest deal third-string Buffalo G Mika Noronen was brought in for a second round pick.
Net Losses: Young D Steve McCarthy was traded to Atlanta for a 4th round pick.
Sum Total: The price for the two veteran defensemen may have been a bit steep, especially if they end up being rentals, with Vancouver’s injured top three D coming back for the playoffs, but without the rentals there may be no playoffs! And depth never hurts in the second season.
Arbitrary Rating: +2 (+3 if Noronen plays more than fifteen games, including playoffs)


Net Gains: The curious case of F Rico Fata comes to Washington off waivers. It’s his third team this year, and he’s one of those players who does great in the AHL, losing all his talent when promoted to the NHL.
Net Losses: Disappointing F Jeff Friesen was sent to Anaheim for a 2006 2nd round pick, and rock-solid D Brendan Witt went to Nashville for a 1st round pick and 25 year old C Kris Beech.
Sum Total: Well, what can you say? It would have been nice to get a young goalie for G Olaf Kolzig to tutor, but the Capitals really didn’t have that much to trade as almost everyone either underperformed or was simply tossed in over their heads this year. Four years from now, we may have quite a different story…
Arbitrary Rating: +1 A first round pick for someone every team knew wanted to leave is pretty good, and a 2nd rounder for Friesen is great, though no other team would have paid that.

Now let’s see how the new folks handle themselves, eh? The march to the playoffs continues!


posted by Thursday at 3:05 am 0 comments

March 10, 2006

Politics: This is NOT a Parody!

And yet, I so wish it was. For anyone who still wonders just how far to the right politics in the United States has drifted, and just how wide the gap in that divided nation is, here's one answer.

Vernon Robinson is running for Congress in North Carolina.

And this, believe it or not, is his commercial.


posted by Thursday at 1:31 am 0 comments

March 07, 2006

Politics: Red Flag Time

Few things have infuriated me more than watching politicos down south give sound bites instead of answers when it comes to debate. Specifically, the concept that somehow questioning things is "wrong in a time of war", as if there would ever be a more appropriate time to examine choices not only already made but being made currently. Is there a more important time than when lives are at stake? Possibly, but I would take one hell of a lot of convincing. The very idea that certain questions, whatever those questions may be, must not be asked is an affront to the very concept of democracy. The only thing that could make it worse would be if those opposed to such questions could somehow at the same time give us a patronizing pat on the head with a "It's for your own good" speech.

For those following Canadian politics, you probably know where I'm going with this.

"A debate on whether Canadian troops should be in Afghanistan would put the troops in danger, and any attempt to pull them back would be a betrayal, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper."

-CBC, March 07 2006

Just in case you've been under a rock for the past five years, this is the exact same tactic used by the politicos and pundicrats in the US who are in favour of the Iraq war, without wanting to justify said war in any way. It's a simple ad hominem attack, in much the same vein as "Why do you hate America?" and "Critics love the terrorists!".

If that wasn't bad enough, see if you can remember where have you heard this little gem before:

"I'm saying that Canadians don't cut and run at the first sign of trouble," he told reporters.

"Cut and Run"? Cut and run?? Are you KIDDING me? Does Republican National Committee leader Ken Mehlman's fax machine run a line to Ottawa now?

In any case, I simply do not see where debating our military commitment "hurts the troops" in any way, shape or form. Perhaps if, after the debate, it was decided that the troops should stay, but their equipment would be brought home; or maybe they'd have to go blindfolded every second Sunday or something. Frankly, I don't actually think our military forces are such pussies that they'd stop doing their job because we're making sure that what that job is stays in focus! Now, my personal opinion? I'm in favour of the troops being in Afghanistan. Whether Afghanistan can be considered a single country, or even should be a country, may well be a point of debate.

But to try to prevent any debate at all shouldn't have even be considered.


posted by Thursday at 8:50 pm 0 comments

March 03, 2006

Other: Lift

Hokay, more fun with computers lately, so I'm keeping it short. I'm going to an Oscar party again this year, again with some lovely companions, and I'd like to go on a high note.

As such, check this out.

Now, since I have a skeptical streak that runs deep, I know that the opposing team wasn't guarding young Mr. McElwain to tightly, but still...


posted by Thursday at 11:22 am 0 comments