January 31, 2007

Science + Religion + Politics = Freak Show

Here’s the story so far:

The science: Multiple births are the result of fertility drugs, administered to couples who have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive. They are, in fact, a common result of the treatment, and most parents are advised to abort some of the fetuses if several are fertilized successfully. This is because premature births (which have a lower survival rate) are far more likely to occur where there are multiple births. On January 5th and 6th, a couple from British Columbia gave birth to sextuplets. There are currently six sets of sextuplets in the United States, all living, and all the result of both fertility treatments before and extensive medical attention after their conception and births.

The religion: This couple decided to keep all the fetuses alive, as they are two of the faithful; in this case Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have also decided, in accordance with their religion, not to allow blood transfusions for their children. There is a schism in the Temple on this issue, including a statement allowing compounds from blood (such as hemoglobin) being allowed, but that does not seem to be the case here. This is a problem, as premature births often need transfusions to stay alive in the first months after birth. That was the case with these infants, born at just 25 weeks. Normal term is between 36 and 40 weeks.

The politics: Two of the six infants died soon after they were born; then on Friday, January 26, the provincial government took out a court order for temporary custody of one of the surviving children, followed by two more, one on Saturday, one on Monday, as those children were deemed at risk. (Transfusions to infants are uncommon in B.C., subject to greater restrictions due to the risk of HIV/AIDS, and have been decreasing over the past 15 years.) At least two of the seized children had transfusions before all three were returned to the parents.

The freak show: The parents are now suing the government to ensure no further seizures could occur. Their lawyer has claimed that “the government was obligated to give parents a fair hearing, and they did not give [my clients] a fair hearing”. The parents have also said that the people performing the transfusion “were violating our little girl,” rather than saving her life.

The government counters that they have an obligation to step in where “children are in need of protection”. This government specifically had been under fire for its treatment of children, and is sure to be still stinging under past failures.

Question(s) of the Day: If your religion is opposed to abortion, as it believes that a blastocyst is a person, and in doing so reduced the chance of survival of ALL the embryos dramatically, then aren’t you sitting at a null set? Can you really excuse it as "Gods Will" when you needed the help of technology to becoam pregnant in the first place?

To deny blood transfusions to the premature infants is to increase the risk of their death dramatically; if four of the embryos were aborted, then the chance of the other two being dangerously premature becomes very slim, and they would not have needed any transfusions.
The third option, and the one that the parents wanted to take, was to take the fertility treatments; allow all the embryos to become infants; and deny those infants the medical attention they needed.

A simple request, then: Many couples who are having difficulty conceiving, and who eventually decide to adopt one of thousands of children that desperately need parents, find that after they have adopted, they become pregnant naturally. So whatever your faith; whatever your beliefs; whatever your desire for a “natural” child: could I beg that you consider adoption for your family?


United States

United Kingdom

Labels: , ,

posted by Thursday at 8:52 pm 2 comments

January 27, 2007

Pardon Me, But Your Gap is Showing

I know I'm old.

How do I know? Because I listen to the Significant Other's iPod at work. While that in itself isn't specifically a precursor to senility and osteoporosis, the reaction I got recently is a sure sign of aging.

Here's what I mean: I've got quite a mix of music, and I wanted to bring in a playlist that had some variety on it, but was all stuff that kept me up for the shift. I've got speakers for the pod, so while I try to keep it at a reasonable, others will hear what I'm playing. One of the coworkers is a young guy, 17 or 18 or so, an when he heard Eminem playing, he smiled and said "Dude". Then he heard the Black Eyed Peas, and Lou Bega, and Nickelback, and Marilyn Manson. His jaw dropped and let out this gem:

"I can't believe you're playing that!"

Now this may have simply been a matter of taste, but he assured me that he liked what I was playing. I was bemused at his excalmation, until I realised that when Elvis, Warren Zevon, Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly played, his total response was bupkus. Nothing.

Conclusion? That was the music he expected me to be playing, so no surprise there. After all, I am old...

Then there's the other side of the equation. My dad is a relatively new arrival to the world of computers, so he's still in the "sending along helpful information" stage, meaning we've had a few exchanges about politics to go with a side of spam.

Of the latest exchange, he sent along a piece of "Outrageous Lawsuits!!!" drivel. It's a bit of spam that's been around since at least 2001 (according to Snopes), and I told him as much, sending along a link to Snopes and an explanation. He sent back:

"The others are real as reported in the media with the exception of the winner in the Winnebago. That is a real event which happened years ago[...]"

Grk. I replied that no, it's not: the entire list is mentioned specifically by the group that this email supposedly issued from as false. They are, first and formost, concerned with strange and stupid lawsuits, and this didn't exist anywhere, in the records of any court in America. I provided links there, and explained that the date of the email (2005) was far newer than the email itself, so it looks mighty fishy, doesn't it? His answer:

"I did read about the Winnebago one years ago in the media. I think it was in Washington state. The idjits didn't try to sue, who could they sue? besides it was real and they were too embarrased to sue."

At this point, I'm not even going to bother pointing out that the whole point of the email was to rail against excesses in the courts, so if this didn't go to court, why was it included; and that the reason urban legends existis because poeple "heard about them", but always in vague details; and that our most recent exchange was all about his complaining that the media was in the hands of too few people, and my counter that the internet provides a whole new source of information that cannot be isolated because of its location, so long as people use it. Irony alert!

The local daily newspapers aren't bad, though they are all owned by a single person (Hi, Izzy!); my point is that if I find a story, editorial, or even advertisement that interests me there, I can still go on line and find other sources for differing perspectives of the same story. I decide who I trust (Snopes is one of them; The Straight Dope is another), and I can even check them if I'd like.

Some of this comes from just being a suspicious bastard, but some grows out of experience; my list of Favorites is in a constant state of flux, depending on the resources I find, the research I want to do, stories that interest me, and frankly whatever amuses me at the moment.

The point being that the technology is there to be used by anyone who can access it. What matters is being able to discern what it is you want from what you are using.


posted by Thursday at 6:54 pm 0 comments

No News is Typical

Here's a definition of a logical fallacy:

"No True Scotsman": When someone is described as not being a "real" member of a social grouping by someone in that grouping because of a perceived weakness. In the example from Anthony Flew's book "Thinking About Thinking":
Argument: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
Reply: "But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge."
Rebuttal: "Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
What brings this to mind is the latest defence of proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne, this time by another proclaimed psychic Rosemary Altea on Larry King Live (transcript in the second half). Sylvia had predicted the discovery of the body of a family's kidnapped child in 2003. Said child (Shawn Hornbeck) recently showed up, and very much alive. But this is after they had spent a tremendous amount of time and money searching areas that matched the descriptions that were doled out by her.

So how does someone explain this mistaken declaration away? Well, according to Sylvia herself,

"I cannot possibly be 100% correct in each and every one of my predictions".

As for Rosemary, she gets a dig in at Browne's expense by declaring her No True Psychic:

"Most of us in fact have some psychic ability, we have some instinct, some understanding of a connection beyond this world. But so many people now are so irresponsible with this gift. [...] Basically what I'm saying is people do make mistakes."

Good enough cover? She's either just occasionally wrong (quoth Sylvia) or she's inept (Rosemary says). That's got the bases covered, right? Not in this case, I think.

There are reasons why I don't think a shug of the shoulders and "oops!" is acceptable or excusable: First off, Browne continually claims she is given knowledge that non-psychics do not have. She says this ability comes from God or from spirit guides (almost invariably related to the questioner) so unless God is frequently wrong, or people get weird senses of humour when they die...

She also doles out medical advice, describing prescriptions and amounts; so I hope she thinks she's right those times! Plus, she regualrly petitions God to assign angels to her customers, and God does. These are not the acts of someone who lacks confidence in their abilities.

But then, as Ms. Altea notes:

"[...]we all know also that there are in every profession, there are people who state that they are much more qualified than in fact they are. We get a quack doctor. That doesn't mean that the whole medical profession should be condemned for one quack doctor."

Of course, she doesn't bother to mention that there are a plethora of ways to verify whether a doctor is legitimate or not. Plus, if they get it wrong, they can be punished for it. As anyone who's tried to sue a psychic has found out, the onus is entirely on them to prove the psychic misled them. Frankly, the odds aren't good, because you have to convince people you are both 1) stupid enough to go to a psychic for advice; and 2) smart enough to realise you've been duped.

Secondly, this happens over and over again: when a psychic is "right", it's in the most trivial of ways, such as hair colour of the kidnapper, or a body being dumped "beside a road"; and when they're wrong, well, engineering terminology puts it best. So no, I don't think "Oh, your kid's alive? Oops" is a reasonable response.

Occasionally I hear the argument of "What's the harm?" If someone wants to piss their money away to make themselves feel less guilty, what's wrong with that? Well, let me put it this way: if you have no problem with psychics duping people out of their cash (not even going to bother with the whole "health advice" idiocy), then you clearly have no concerns about this man, either. After all, the people Salim Damji defrauded didn't do any research into his claims, and it made them feel better to think they were getting something for their cash. His (and others like him) mistake was that he could be found out - if he stuck to the metaphysical, there'd have been no problems with lawsuits at all.


posted by Thursday at 4:57 pm 2 comments

January 26, 2007

Oh, Was That Yours...?

So having read over the letter that U.S. Attorney General VO5 and Homeland Security Chief Michael "Chip" Chertoff sent, and after hearing what each side had to say (VO5: "We have new info!" Stockwell "Doris" Day: "We heard. It blows.") may I add that I'm utterly unimpressed with not only the act, but the attitude by our neighbours down south?

Here's the letter in short:

Yes, yes; we know you're concerned, but the grown ups have had a look, and that's all there is to it. If you really insist, we'll explain just why we did what we did when we did it, but only because mom is making us. You'll understand when you have "a full understanding of the facts", okay? Jeeze.

The confrontation between Senator Leahy and VO5 has been earning the senator a whole lot of fans on both sides of the border. No surprise, after he denied that habeas corpus actually exists.

Now, to be fair, there is a difference between what is considered a security threat in the U.S. and in Canada, so that could be what the reason is for this disagreement. If that is the case, then Prime Minister Plastic Man can use the case to score points domestically by being hard on what would otherwise be his allies, and opposing the U.S. is something that always sells to a certain segment in pretty much any nation not actually the United States. And it's not like Arar isn't used to being used anyways, right? If you want to thank him for keeping the fight up, and forcing this story into the spotlight, here's his site.


posted by Thursday at 10:12 pm 0 comments

January 25, 2007

Stretch It Out

Did I say “tomorrow” for the rest of the league? Ah. Well, what I actually meant was “when I get to it”, so here (late) it is:


What Works: Pronger and Niedermayer are having no problems splitting time.
What Doesn’t: Bryzgalov hasn’t been as steady as they want (.888 SV%).
What Else: Only two wins in their last nine games before the break might worry some folk who called for them to win the Cup. It shouldn’t.
What’s Coming: Pronger, eventually. Foot problems are not ones that should be rushed back from, and there’s no fear that the Ducks will miss the playoffs while he’s gone.
Now What: There may be a slight tweak, but nothing really needs doing here. Beauchemin is coming back in ten days or so, so the team is healthy and ready for the playoff stretch.


What Works: Some young call-ups (Giordano, Boyd, Moss) filling in just fine for injured veterans.
What Doesn’t: Special teams. Both PP and PK are at 25th in the league.
What Else: Perfect timing for the All Star break, with Iginla coming back during the lay off.
What’s Coming: There are a few extra pieces that could be moved, but the question is how much depth do you risk, and for what return?
Now What: The Northwest division is stupidly tight, so the folks who think they can make the playoffs aren’t going to move much at all, and that includes Calgary.


What Works: Lighting candles to Our Lady of Perpetual Injury for Havlat.
What Doesn’t: Forgetting to light them for Bondra, Handzus, Aucoin, Cullimore…
What Else: This is a team in the first half of a bounceback – this is the bit that hurts.
What’s Coming: With health (thank you, Havlat!) comes the skill. Well out of the playoff reach, but rebuilding, so the continued development of youth is to be looked for.
Now What: Just hoping for steady improvement through the season, but now with the newly stable Khabibulin.


What Works: Saying “Sakic” again is getting predictable; I’ll say that an actual youth movement is going on impresses me.
What Doesn’t: Losing Turgeon for 30 games would have hurt more if Stastny wasn’t this stable.
What Else: Theodore is officially the second goaltender, despite Budaj’s inconsistency. But if he can string three strong games together, that can change.
What’s Coming: A trade. They’ve surprised themselves with their forward depth, and can make a move to scratch a little higher in the standings.
Now What: With the closeness of the division, teams have to decide if they have enough to make the playoffs. Colorado doesn’t quite, but that can change with a phone call.


What Works: Having Nash around for most of the season (so far); Carter picking up his offensive game considerably over the first quarter.
What Doesn’t: Having him score 13 goals in 41 games. Not good.
What Else: Berard should have been back before now, and his absence killed them.
What’s Coming: Trade. No playoffs this year, damn it. So much for that prediction.
Now What: These guys are selling, and it’s only a question of what assets they can afford to ship. Is it time to send Klesla elsewhere? Should Foote be shipped to a contender who will pay heavily for the workhorse? Will anyone, anywhere, take Fedorov?


What Works: Defenseman Boucher continuing (13 goals, 33 points) where he left off last season (16 goals, 43 points) and improving it.
What Doesn’t: Long-term injuries to their best forwards, Modano and Morrow.
What Else: The goaltending has been solid, and best are pretty good Turco is treating his back up (Smith) a lot better than he was treated when he backed up Belfour.
What’s Coming: Ott should come back from recuperating in the AHL, taking ice time from Ribero and Stefan. This is a good thing, but none are true #1 centers, and Lindros is fragile.
Now What: A trade is possible, but there have been repeated injury problems this year, and they may not be able to afford the depth. They need scoring up front, and Klemm could be someone else’s insurance package; or Sydor could man a power play.


What Works: Being in the improved but still weak Central division.
What Doesn’t: A slow start to the season.
What Else: It took until January 17th, but someone finally caught Cleary for the team scoring lead.
What’s Coming: The team’s pretty much rebounded from trying to follow the new, more defensive playbook and the absence of Steve Yzerman.
Now What: Probably not a lot of movement. The biggest concern is getting to the playoffs with a healthy Hasek. *nod to Ottawa*


What Works: The term “Balls Out” is apparently used in Finland to mean “a great deal of exertion”. Ryan Smyth needs a cup outside his jersey.
What Doesn’t: Horcoff and Torres need to help a lot more than 8 goals each.
What Else: Markkanen is a serviceable back up to Roloson, which is pretty much where he should be.
What’s Coming: The Oilers are still stinging a little from the forced Pronger trade, and may hesitate before pulling the trigger again.
Now What: Vancouver, with 8-1-1 stretch, and Calgary, going 7-3 at the same time, managed to open up the largest lead the division has seen this year between first and last: 6 points. Edmonton is going to wait until much closer to the deadline before moving.


What Works: Young guns. Frolov, Cammeleri and the shockingly good Kopitar are an optimistic development.
What Doesn’t: Using five goalies, with 32 games to go.
What Else: In picking up Burke, the team has a stable netminder who can go through hot streaks and is an excellent presence in the room.
What’s Coming: Burke is too little, much too late for a team with the worst goals against outside Philadelphia.
Now What: Have to wait and see what GM Lombardi wants to do. As a new GM, the temptation is to start from scratch as much as possible, so there may me an explosion in LA soon…


What Works: Rolston just loves playing for the Wild – he’s on pace for another 35 goal season.
What Doesn’t: Backstrom is falling under the Curse of the Back Up: he’s got better numbers than Fernandez, but the goal support isn’t there for him.
What Else: Despite coach Lamaire hinting that he was going to loosen the reins a bit, the Wild will finish this year with fewer goals that last season.
What’s Coming: Another almost-team. They’ll wait until much closer to the deadline before making a move (if they are still out of a playoff spot).
Now What: A cautious team in play and in the GM office, they’re going to hope Gaborik jump starts the offence before thinking trade or call up.


What Works: Having an 18-3-3 home record.
What Doesn’t: Hamhuis’ numbers are down after signing a 4-year, $8 million deal.
What Else: A solid team top to bottom. Tootoo needs to pick his spots better, though.
What’s Coming: Don’t see the need for a lot of change here.
Now What: Set it on cruise control and start thinking about the playoffs.


What Works: Picking up cast offs. Comrie, Tellqvist in trades and Perrault off waivers have worked out perfectly.
What Doesn’t: Roenick as a healthy scratch. Time to go, JR.
What Else: Joseph and Tellqvist will tandem the rest of the season, with Tellqvist getting the bulk of starts.
What’s Coming: Odds are against the playoffs because of lack of depth, but they knew that going in. No one happy with their team was going to take a flyer on Nolan, Saprykin and Roenick.
Now What: If they can dump off vets for youth/picks, they’ll do it. Except perhaps for Joseph, as the Coyotes still aren’t sure about LeNeveu.


What Works: Going 7-2-1 into the break.
What Doesn’t: Still not enough points coming from the defense.
What Else: It’s a year for auditions, and Legace and Sanford are pitching for long term contracts. They deserve them, too.
What’s Coming: St. Louis is a fantastic hockey town, and the fans will come back if they can see progress. But the fire sale wounds are still fresh, and while it might make sense to trade Guerin or Tkachuk, there may be a revolt if it happened.
Now What: The playoffs aren’t happening this year, but that’s not what the fans are looking for. The team is restocking, and they know it.


What Works: A fantastic goaltending duel between Toskala and Nabokov.
What Doesn’t: Ryane Clowe spelling is first name with an “e”. The hell’s with that?
What Else: Far and away the best power play in the league.
What’s Coming: A lock for the playoffs, they may be looking for someone with more of a hammer from the point, but not at the expense of any rostered players.
Now What: Mostly a waiting game until the second season starts. They may try playing rookie Vlasic 50 minutes one game, just to see if he’ll ever break.


What Works: Learning how to pronounce Bieksa’s name.
What Doesn’t: Henrik Sedin’s 40 assists is great, but more than 5 goals would be nice, too.
What Else: Both Morrison and Naslund are headed for their worst statistical seasons since 1999-2000. That was Bertuzzi’s first full season with the Canucks.
What’s Coming: Lord knows. I didn’t expect them to get this far!
Now What: They’re up hard against the cap, so movement is going to involve salaries as much as it is players. With Luongo getting into the swing of things, the playoffs are a real possibility. He might be a desiccated husk by then, though, without goaltending help.

A note to anyone who argues that goals are what make hockey exciting: you didn’t watch that atrocious “Young Stars” game, didn’t you?


posted by Thursday at 1:07 am 0 comments

January 22, 2007

Oh My

This is a horrible, horrible idea. Damn funny, though.


posted by Thursday at 9:36 pm 0 comments

January 21, 2007

Broken and Otherwise

Going into the All-Star Game is as good a time as any to do a quick review of teams. After all, you just know NHL GMs are doing a lot of the same!

Strangely, only six teams from the East are going into the break playing better than .500 in their last ten games.


What Works: Having Lehtonen for a full season. He’s already played more games than he managed last season, when the Thrashers missed the playoffs by two points.
What Doesn’t: Scoring depth. There’s a 25 point gap between the third and fourth scorers.
What Else: Offence is needed from the defense, too. Havelid’s 13 points aren’t enough.
What’s Coming: They’re shopping for a scoring centre, but who can spare one? Perhaps the Senators when they’re finally healthy.
Now What: There’s very little they can trade away without damage. There are a few veteran grinders, and there’s a little depth on the farm, but they won’t risk a drastic change this close to their first playoffs.


What Works: Savard is on pace to beat last year’s point total (97).
What Doesn’t: Running the risk of two inexperienced goaltenders has come back to bite them with the third-worst goals against in the league.
What Else: Only 2 points back of a playoff spot, but there are five teams in the same position.
What’s Coming: Maybe a goaltender. There are going to be a few for sale soon, and the thinking may be to give Toivonen more experience in the lower-pressure AHL.
Now What: This is a team with talented defensemen, but they have little faith in their goalies and play scared. An upgrade there can put them on a charge.


What Works: Briere on last year’s pace without last year’s injuries (yet); balanced scoring; Miller maturing into possibly the best goaltender America has ever produced, including Mike Richter.
What Doesn’t: Um… A 4-5-1 record going into the All Star break?
What Else: Tough to picture much movement here. Anyone coming to them for a trade is going to have to pay.
What’s Coming: Briere, Numminen and Biron are on one-year deals, but they’re still unlikely to move. If any go, it’ll be Biron signing elsewhere to be a #1 in the off season.
Now What: Coach Ruff isn’t prone to panic, and remembers last year when injuries killed his team in the playoffs. The standings mean little to him until, so long as the Sabres make the post-season healthy.


What Works: A solid set of forwards that have been surprisingly healthy (Walker STILL hasn’t missed a game!).
What Doesn’t: A solid set of defensemen that have been hammered by injuries.
What Else: Ward’s been doing fine as a first-time number one. Grahame may not be pleased being a back-up, but his play hasn’t warranted promotion.
What’s Coming: Like most of the teams close to the make/not make playoff line they’re going to trade carefully, perhaps picking up a depth defenseman.
Now What: The most important consideration in Carolina is how strong public support for this team is – will it fade if they don’t make the playoffs or are bumped early?


What Works: Overtime loss points. They have 10 of these “free” points so far this season, the most in the league.
What Doesn’t: Having the anchor of a blockbuster trade only play 7 games, possibly for the season.
What Else: The weirdest composition of any team in the league: there are at least seven natural centres playing for the Panthers on any given night.
What’s Coming: You’d think four points out of a playoff spot with 32 games left is too early to blow it up. You’d be wrong.
Now What: This is an unhappy team, and needs serious wholesale change. Jokinen stays, as do Auld, Bertuzzi, and anyone with three years or less NHL experience. Anyone else is up for sale.


What Works: DiPietro is reaping the benefits of another year of experience plus a coach that whose strongest point is unifying teams.
What Doesn’t: Disappointing production from the blue line. No player has taken the lead there, despite having three who could (Poti, Hill and Campoli).
What Else: Nolan was a fantastic choice as coach for a tremendously dysfunctional team. His biggest test will be how he handles Yashin’s current slump after he had been playing so well earlier this year.
What’s Coming: Tough to tell. Rookie GM Snow will want to play it safe for his first season, but interfering owner Wang is always looking over his shoulder and offering “advice”.
Now What: There’s another ten games or so before the deadline, so that’s probably how long to wait before there’s a move.


What Works: My favorite singing last year, with Shanahan on pace for another 40 goal season.
What Doesn’t: Ozolinsh getting 3 assists, $2.75 million, and a broken leg after 21 games.
What Else: A victim of high expectations, perhaps. People seem to expect a team that finally made the playoffs again for the first time in eight seasons last year to have another 100 point season this time, too.
What’s Coming: The Rangers get mentioned a lot in trade talks, and they’ve got some goods to trade. They may be looking to upgrade their back up goalie (Weekes) or get a shut-down man for the defense.
Now What: Another of the teams in the dogfight for spot eight right now, it’ll be easier to add a defenseman than goals.


What Works: Being fourth in the East at this point, much to everyone’s surprise.
What Doesn’t: Having Plekanec as your second line centre.
What Else: Aebischer is pushing hard for the number one spot (.910 SP), but Huet has been better (.923 SP, 2 SO).
What’s Coming: Scoring depth at centre is a must, especially with the fragile Koivu being on the first line. A trade’s on the way, and soon while the team’s strong.
Now What: The Canadiens will probably slip a little in the standings, but Gainey is a solid GM. Any sizable trade is going to one of his big two defensemen (if to a challenger) or Aebischer (if to a low-ranked team). He knows better than to trade youth just now.


What Works: Brodeur is on pace for a personal record number of shutouts in a season. He has 8 so far, his record is 11, and he’ll probably play another 30 games.
What Doesn’t: Brodeur’s back up, Clemmensen, has started two games so far.
What Else: While Elias, Gomez and Gionta have slipped slightly off last year’s pace, Parise is looking to double his first year’s 32 points.
What’s Coming: They lead their division by 13 points, anyone who tries to throw Brodeur off his game by hitting him just make him angry, and they’re pleased as punch to win every game 1-0. Why change?
Now What: Shouldn’t these guys be considered “America’s Team”? Most of their top scorers are, after all, American.


What Works: Emery demanding the #1 job by his fantastic play. Plus, these guys score so many points that the team’s stay-at-home defenseman (Phillips) has 16 points so far.
What Doesn’t: Long-term injuries to their top two centres, including Spezza (again).
What Else: Big comeback after a shaky start and rain of doubts. People are wondering why Gerber was signed, but he is a solid goaltender.
What’s Coming: When Spezza and Fisher are back, Comrie could be moved to wing or traded away. He’s likely to stay as playoff insurance.
Now What: If there’s a trade involving Gerber, another goalie will have to come back or be lifted off waivers as Guard isn’t quite ready yet.


What Works: Gagne and Knuble are doing what they can.
What Doesn’t: I’m guessing the medical staff.
What Else: There have been a near-endless supply of injuries to this team for the past several years, and this season’s no different. Add that to ex-GM Clarke’s strange drama at the start of the season, and what was optimism has vanished.
What’s Coming: After using 41 skaters in less than 50 games, who knows?
Now What: There’s only two ways to go, here, with either massive change all through the line up or calling up a lot of youth and letting them audition for roles next year. Forsberg should probably take the rest of the year off.


What Works: Putting Malkin on the same line as Crosby.
What Doesn’t: Having to wait three years for these New Oilers to mature together.
What Else: Fleury has gotten through the fire a stronger player, and well deserves the accolades he’s now getting.
What’s Coming: Staal’s 15 goals have eased pressure to get another finisher, and otherwise there’s not much more to add to this team but time.
Now What: If you eliminated everyone on this team born before 1980, you’d miss three players: Recchi, Gonchar and Ruutu.


What Works: Going 8-2 in the ten games leading up to the break.
What Doesn’t: Dan Boyle not getting an invite to the all star game. The guy’s tied for 2nd in league scoring for defensemen, he’s a +3, and he’s been solid for a few years running now. Give him a break, already.
What Else: Neither Holmquist nor Denis have really picked up their games and taken a wide-open starter’s slot. They need someone who can shut the door for a team that plays a wide-open game.
What’s Coming: There isn’t much room for maneuvering with this team, so a blockbuster is unlikely even with the Kings taking Burke’s contract/
Now What: So, when St. Louis signed a big contract, his next season was fairly weak; when Lecavalier did, ditto. Any surprise that Richards is having an off year, then?


What Works: Sundin (of course)
What Doesn’t: Anyone who’s injured. And do they look at Telqvist’s .905 SP and 2.93 GAA and regret…?
What Else: Tucker may be psychotic and whiny, but he’s also their leading goal scorer, and having him missing isn’t going to help, especially on the power play.
What’s Coming: Scoring hasn’t been a problem, but goals against has been nasty. McCabe and Kaberle have been fantastic on offense, but a shut-down blue liner is needed, and neither Belak nor Gill is doing that job.
Now What: Not much financial room to move, but if they can swing a deal, they will.


What Works: Getting Semin back from Russia was a huge relief; now Ovechkin won’t outscore his next two teammates combined, like he did last year.
What Doesn’t: Johnson must be a really nice guy, because he keeps getting work. Actually, given the support his teammates give him, an .889 SV% isn’t that bad.
What Else: Goalies are not allowed to be team captains any more (since Bill Durnan for the Habs in 1948); but Kolzig is the captain of this team.
What’s Coming: Not much. However, they can absorb salary, so if someone is eager to shift a player to free cap space, the Capitals can accommodate them for a price…
Now What: They aren’t looking to add a player just now, looking to see if the fans will follow the close playoff race, and that will buy them another season to improve.

Had to mention this odd detail I found when punching this out: currently, seven of the Lightning’s top 11 scorers were either drafted 6th round or later (Ranger 183rd; Kuba, 192nd; Craig, 255th), or entered the league undrafted (Perrin, Fedotenko, Boyle, and St. Louis). The other four? Lecavalier (1st), Alexeev (8th), Richards (64th), and Prospal (71st).

File that under the category of “Never Quit”.

Off to the West tomorrow!


posted by Thursday at 6:38 pm 0 comments

White Rabbit Time!

Not a drug reference, but a note that

1) I'm late!


2) Time to drop into a circle that has madness on the other side!

It's Skeptics' Circle time once again, hosted this time by an atheist with money, go figure. And go read.


posted by Thursday at 10:19 am 0 comments

January 20, 2007

Randomizer, on!

Fighting through a nasty, nasty cold right now, so I've been a little distracted. But here are some things that caught my attention:


Someone who can finally and clearly explain the creationists opposition to evolution.


With the next Clinton announcing she's running for president, and the Golden Boy Obama "considering" running (he shouldn't), it is going to be an interesting time in the US over the next year. Add the first Hispanic to run, if Bill Richardson does the expected, and you've got quite the rainbow. And Edwards is still a solid contender, if he can shed enough of the blame for last election's loss onto Kerry's shoulders, who's ground meat this time around at best. Howard Dean may well become the actual front runner, as compared to the favorite media darling, by the time Iowa happens, given his phenominal grassroots work and his successes last election.

I have long believed that the first minority or woman to reach the highest office in the States would be on the conservative side (an established pattern in democracies, as liberals generally don't need the added support that that minority member would give them), is Rice going to be jumping in for the Republicans, and how soon?

I don't think she (Rice) will get the nomination for President, at least not until one more generation has passed, but Vice is certainly a possibility.


When in Michigan, do not, repeat DO NOT live with your ex-spouse, or jaywalk to your lover's house if you're having an affair! Because that, legally speaking, is exactly the same as committing a violent rape.


Harnessing people power just makes sense. Use what's there, like a tidal generator in a houseboat (the waves cause a float to move, generating a small but useable amount of electricity), knowing where human traffic moves has got to be useable in some way, right? Right!


Spring is coming, spring is coming...


Speaking of jaywalking, you probably shouldn't do it at all in Atlanta. You could be met with "excessive amounts of discretion".

Now, I like glasses. Call it a kink (it is), but the implied intelligence of the wearer is a real turn on for me. It doesn't have to be real intelligence, because I'm judging on appearance here, but it's what I like. I've worn them myself almost all my life, so I do know that glasses don't actually up your I.Q., but you can make some very interesting statements with them. Take some time to check these guys out.


posted by Thursday at 12:06 pm 2 comments

January 15, 2007

The More He's There, The Less There Is

As one fellow (Glenn Greenwald) points out, the more frequently Boy George appears on television, the less people like him. Why is that? Because the man is, by any accounts, a sociopath:

"The disorder involves a history of chronic antisocial behavior that begins before the age of 15 and continues into adulthood. The disorder is manifested by a pattern of irresponsible and antisocial behavior as indicated by academic failure, poor job performance, illegal activities, recklessness, and impulsive behavior. Symptoms may include dysphoria, an inability to tolerate boredom, feeling victimized, and a diminished capacity for intimacy."

Sound familiar?


posted by Thursday at 8:35 pm 0 comments

January 13, 2007

Dah da-dah dah DAAAAAHHH

Well, today is Hockey Day in Canada, a creation of CBC in the same way Valentine's Day was birthed by Hallmark.

Don't care. Still watching.

But in it's honour, I tried to find a video clip of one of my favorite commercials ever. I couldn't, but if anyone could, you'd have a devotee for life. In recompense, I present the transcript (to the best of my memory):

Scene: Hockey rink, mid-game. Obviously an intense game going on: camera's low, following the reactions on the bench as players whizz past. Sound of a hit on the ice, and a hard-breathing player comes to the bench as another flies off in his place. He winces as he sits down, bleeding from a cut. The trainer is quickly on him, sewing the cut shut right there on the bench.

Trainer: How you feeling?
Player: Good, good.
Trainer: (Holding up three fingers) How many fingers? (Player's watching the game) Hey! How many?
Player: (Answers quickly) Three.
Trainer: (Examines player's eyes) Okay.

The coach looks down the bench; the trainer nods, and the coach signals the player off the bench and back onto the ice. The player leaps over the boards and off camera - a second later, there's the sound of a hit on the ice.

Audience: Oooh...

There is an admiring silence for the impact. Then the coach leaps onto the bench.


End shot: The trainer is threading another needle as the sounds of the game continue...

Beautiful commercial that captures the feel of a hockey game better than most movies manage to do. You get a real sense of the immediacy, the speed, and frankly the madness of the game. Seriously, sitting where you are now, would you go back into the game? No. But if you are on the bench? Oh, yeah, the instant you could.


posted by Thursday at 12:58 pm 2 comments

January 10, 2007

In the Land of the Small

There are days when I am, simply put, petty. I am perfectly willing to admit it. Best way to tell? I actually write Letters to the Editor of one the local weekly papers. Yep, I'm one of THEM.

In any case, I exchanged opinions recently with a columnist who wrote a bit of blather about how if we didn't win in Afghanistan (and the Americans likewise in Iraq) that our nations would instantly succumb to Sharia law. I countered that this was blatant fearmongering out of ignorance and little else. His opinion was that any critics of his had their "heads where the sun does not shine". So I replied again. This time, I didn't get published. As Mr. Seibring only writes a column every two weeks, it was a very distant argument.


There's this amazing little thing called "the internet", and a little something else called "a blog", and a reminder that on occasion I am a petty, petty man.

As I couldn't find the offending column on said internet, you'll just have to infer what I'm responding to; but I'm sure you'll recognise the arguments that he made...

Dear Editor:
I'd like to publicly apologize to Mr. Siebring: I did not realize he was actually writing a parody on November 19th, which I then responded to. Clearly, he was using his forum to encourage questions about people of other faiths and in other parts of the world, but I was simply too stupid and naive to understand that, so he makes his point more clearly in today's (Dec. 31) column.
First, he updates his earlier (Nov. 19) column by changing what it was about: it didn't claim that if we pull out of Afghanistan (and the U.S. from Iraq) then our daughters would somehow all be wearing shadors and Canada would come under Sharia law after all! No, what he was really doing was gently reminding us in a calm, logical, and very funny way that there are terrorists out there, and they are connected to an extremist branch of Islam. He didn't deliberately overstate the possible results of failed nation building as a scare tactic to cow opposition to his view, just like he's not doing this time. That would be wrong, as well as a logical fallacy and poor debating strategy to boot; hence, it must have been humour.
After all, with his clear understanding of Islam, he can explain how terrorism has a unified religious approval despite the enormous variety in it's worshippers around the globe. The 700,000 Muslims who signed the "Not in the Name of Islam" petition were clearly lying; as was Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (the spiritual leader of Hezbollah) who accused Osama bin Laden of perverting Islam; likewise the Grand Ayatollah Sistani Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi when he published a statement with many other Muslim spiritual leaders in July 2005 condemning everything bin Laden stands for. And obviously al-Jazeera commentator and former preacher to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt proclaiming a fatwa that the duty of Muslims was to fight alongside the allies in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda was some kind of joke, something Mr. Siebring understands far better than I.
And Mr. Siebring's call for "objective evidence of any other faith or worldview where adherents are told they'll get into heaven if they kill people specifically for holding to beliefs that are different than theirs" is simply his way of getting people to read up on their history. I mean, you don't think he actually meant that there were no other people who made such statements, do you? That, and his no doubt deliberate misunderstanding of istisyhad, or martyr's death, is just going to encourage people to actually try learning a bit about Islam. Like where Allah condemns suicide, or killing people for any reason outside legal retaliation, i.e. the death penalty (al-Maidah 5:32).
And when they find out that it comes from a single story about a supposed companion of the prophet Muhammad asking if he dies in battle would he go to heaven ("Yep!"), and they compare that to the Pope's exhortations to the Crusaders that any who die defending the holy land from heathens will go to heaven; and the Irish Republican Army killing civilians to drive the Brits away; and both the Aztecs and Mayans building vast holy empires based on the elimination of those who didn't hold to their beliefs,;the Sikhs using terrorism to try creating a holy homeland (like the Jews did, according to Golda Maier's biography; and the Palestinians are doing now); and the (hate to use it, but...) Nazis creating their own "Christian" church to justify their own acts; and the Communists who had a "convert or kill" attitude towards expansion; and the countless other smaller squabbles that have used faith in their own beliefs as justification to kill people; then perhaps people will realize that this is not perhaps a question of Islam, but a question of fanaticism. Using such a subtle humour to raise a very earnest point is a difficult thing to pull off, and I'm filled with admiration for Mr. Siebring's abilities.
His quiet, near-hidden mocking of President Bush's overly-simplified "wit' us or again' us" stance is another masterpiece. That anyone could have the ability to differentiate Afghanistan, Iraq, Islam, terrorism, and immigration should be obvious; except of course to the strange, binary world view that the more strident of war's supporters can manage. By emphasizing that people must be for or against all of these immensely complicated problems, he really underscores what kind of damage to debate and understanding can occur. The common attack that anyone who opposed terrorism was blindly racist is just as foolish as saying someone opposed war didn't know what terrorism was, and he's quite right to point that out to us: his foolish, foolish audience.
Clearly, my own New Year's resolution should be to read his words with more care, and with the proper sense of humour.

So why wasn't this published in the paper? Too many words, or too many long words that Al Seibring just didn't understand?


posted by Thursday at 8:14 pm 0 comments

Ice the Guy, Already!

Two thoughts on hockey before the half-way reviews:

1) The Vote for Rory campaign was designed by a fan, and votes for him all came from fans. The All-Star game is, supposedly, all about the fans getting what they want. So if he gets half a million votes when his name isn't even on the ballot, why shouldn't he be in the game? Just because he's a borderline NHLer? Pah!

2) According to the Hockey News, Vancouver broadcaster Jim Hughson is being groomed for a spot with CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. If this is the case, could someone please, PLEASE get the man a copy of the NHL Guide and Record Book? I swear, this man would pronounce Mario's name "Lum-YUCKS". I was sorely tempted to hit the mute while listening to the Canucks-Oilers game and hearing Pouliot (pooh-YOH) mangled into POOH-lee-ott. A pedantic complaint? Sure. But the guy is supposed to be a professional broadcaster: he pronounces names for a living. When that's your only job I really, really expect you to do it correctly.

End of rant. For now.


posted by Thursday at 8:04 pm 0 comments

January 06, 2007

Feeling (Up) God's Love

Part the First:

I've wandered around this interthing quite a ways, and being very relaxed about sexually in general has led me to some fascinating, confusing, and occasionally alarming places. One site, for instance, was devoted to polyamory. Now this in itself isn't particularly odd, but one aspect of the profiles of the devotees was: most of them listed their religion as "Christian".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding was that the whole "no sex outside of marriage" thing was a big aspect of Christian belief. In fact, that very idea is a huge part of opposition to homosexuality and teaching abstinence-only sex education.

But, lo and behold, someone has now started a Christian-only swinger site! And they attempt to justify it, too, blaming most of the sexual repression on the Grand Master of such things, St. Augustine. While noting Augustine's influence on Christian morality is correct, I'm not convinced their own perspective of it is terribly accurate. There be a little bit of justifyin' goin' on!

Speaking of which...

You'd think this would be a clear-cut case of "not guilty by reason of insanity", but you'd be wrong:

"On October 18, 2004, Arthur Shelton, a self described Christian and Eagle Scout, murdered his friend and roommate, Larry Hooper, because Hooper didn't believe in God."

Why wrong? Because Mr. Shelton knew exactly what the difference between right and wrong was, and shot Mr. Hooper in the head anyways. He repeatedly states that he knew it was murder:

"In the eyes of the law I was wrong and will probably spend the rest of my life in prison [...]"

but thinks it was the right thing to do:

"[...] in the eyes of God I have killed an evil person -- the devil himself."

He didn't actually believe that he'd spend time in prison, though. He was, in the words of one witness, shocked at being sentenced to 25-45 years in prison for the murder. The behaviour of his family during the trial was hideous, but unsurprising: anyone who's familiar with the psychotic rantings of Fred Phelps and his gaggle of merry pranksters knows these folks are cut of the same cloth (he was even an Eagle scout - go figure), with a monomania that cuts through any of societies' rules of conduct.

I don't know where else these people would channel their enegries if they weren't into God. Couldn't someone just buy them a copy of the Left Behind video game and let them play with pixles instead of people?

Labels: ,

posted by Thursday at 7:26 pm 2 comments

January 03, 2007

Beware! For That Way Lies... SANITY!

Good news for those of us on the "Yes, you CAN choose your family" side of society: a judge in Ontario has ruled that a child can have three legal guardians that can be called parents.

Here's what happened:

A lesbian couple, both white collar professionals (if that matters to you) who have been in a committed relationship since 1996 had a child using sperm donated by a long time friend of theirs a few years back (2001). The biological father sees his child twice a week, and had legal standing as a parent and legal guardian along with the mother.

The female partner, supported by the biological parents, applied to become a parent of the child she had been helping raise over the past five years. Under current law, if she had succeeded, the father would then no longer have been considered a legal guardian; this was something none of the adults wanted.

Hence Justice David Aston's decision to have three parents on the child's birth certificate.

He expressed concern that this ruling could "open the floodgates" to other legal actions by step-parents and extended families, but could not see justifying the exclusion of one parent from legal rights to what was, in his words, "a bright, healthy, happy individual who is obviously thriving in a loving family thatmeets his every need."

Now here's the self-interest:

My brother is married. The woman he is married to has two daughters by a previous marriage. I won't go into details, but the biological father is not exactly a world-class individual; but he hasn't actually done anything illegal. Now, while this helps my brother look great in comparison, he still cannot actually become the legal guardian to the girls who call him dad because that role is supposedly filled by the biological parents.

Meaning if anything happens to his wife, the kids go back to a support-skipping couch surfer.

Oops! Did I say that out loud?

With this ruling, there's a chance my brother could keep the kids with him, or at the very least retain visitation rights, should the children lose their mother.

Can anyone tell me why that would be a bad thing?


posted by Thursday at 8:28 pm 2 comments

January 01, 2007


We're all time travellers - we're getting to the future at a constant rate of 1 second per second. Things are procceding apace.

Figure it's the first post of the new year; so, just like arriving at work, I'm not going to work too hard for the first little while. But I do have some cleaning to do, with all these bookmarks lying around here...

Like this piece, which is a text by two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner Smedley Darlington Butler (sorry, that's just his name) called War is a Racket. You have to think that anyone nicknamed "Old Duckboard" is going to be one tough guy.

Or this amazing Woo Self Treater I found. Need help deciding which non-functional medicine is right for you? We have your placebo!

Then there's this depressing bit of stupidity, specially produced for anyone who thinks that the religious right don't have enough influence in the United States just yet: guess how old the Grand Canyon is? Go ahead, guess! No, really; you have to guess, because the park guide isn't going to tell you for fear of offending young earth creationists.

For those who live by lists, here's fifty things that have been discovered or confirmed in just the past year (that's 365 days of scientific discovery). Two favorites: sharks that "walk" on their fins; and a meteroite in South Africa that has a chemical composition unlike any other known meteorite. C'est weird, eh?

A quick trip into American politics (Canucks are getting a post of their own coming up), as it seems that God approves of the Democrats winning the House and Senate in the States, as last year NO (zero) hurricanes made landfall on the continental US for the first time in five years. What went wrong, Pat? Sorry, no extra funds this year.

Then there's the inherently cruel irony of a man who advocates torture forcing a kangaroo court on a clearly guilty man using charges from a crime 25 years old, then bragging about how fair it was. Ironically, the speedy death was against the wishes of American diplomats... They didn't want the trial to continue, and they certainly didn't want to bring up anything more recent (that could get embarassing), but they also didn't want him killed on a Muslim holy day associated with Abraham's willingness to kill his son for God...

Then there's this idiot (Rep. Virgil Goode) who apparently had no idea that blogs existed. He's shocked! Shocked, I tell you! To discover that when you lip off about Muslims destroying America by being elected (and swearing on a Koran), someone might consider you racist. Do the math: by his own words, he wants to cancel all immigration from "non-Europeans" from the middle east that numbers 5,000 people a year. Total immigration into the U.S. is about 950,000/year. Listen to the interview by a friendly interviewer (FOX News), and tell me anyone else couldn't have taken him apart!

He did badly enough as it was, though. Dig this quote:

"I am for restricting immigration so that we, uh, don't have a majority of Muslims elected to the United States House of Representatives."

Yes, that's real. I think I've changed my mind about the Congress being forced to work five day weeks if it means Goode is actually trying to do something in those five days...

That's enough for now. Besides, we're almost half way through the NHL season, and that's the REAL important stuff!

Labels: , , ,

posted by Thursday at 10:20 pm 0 comments