In Praise of rugby

Posted September 20, 2011 on 2:01 am | In the category Canada, Europe, Sports, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

There is a world championship going on in New Zealand that can recall the golden days of sport when amateurs could play against professionals in team sports and have a chance, when small countries could field teams that could beat meganapoleanic big sports factory countries and where the best national teams in the world would nonetheless end up vying for a cup that promises honour more than money as a reward.

And look at the favourites: New Zealand, the all Blacks who seem likely to win it all at home; Australia, their bitter rivals who lost bitterly to Ireland in the first round games; South Africa, the Springbocks, who could be the All Blacks spoilers but were lucky to beat Wales; England, and France, which had its hands full for most of the match against mainly amateur Canada, also Wales, punching above its weight, Argentina, the Latino outsider, and any one of three small Polynesian islands, where very big men push and push and push. Russia and the US are also there, and try just as hard or harder to hold on to their middle-of-the-pack role than do the professional sports teams running for the cash. As is the case with the world’s second most popular sport, cricket, following soccer, it is mostly a Commonwealth gathering but profits greatly from the fact that it isn’t only that, as is the cricket world championships, but also a gathering of very tough guys, playing a very hard game without protection and doing it mainly for the glory. You won’t be seeing these lads at the Olympics.

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Partisanship in America: A Commitment to National Failure?

Posted September 9, 2011 on 1:01 pm | In the category Election 2008, Republican Party, U.S. Domestic Policy, Uncategorized | by Jeff

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

–Leonard Cohen

Having (barely) survived the nonsense of the Republican-generated debt ceiling fiasco we are now looking at two new opportunities for partisanship to screw the majority of Americans: the deficit reduction Congressional Committee and the attempt to produce more jobs in America. And right out of the chute we are seeing the lines drawn and the vapid sarcasm of the likes of Eric Cantor leading us again toward the edge of the cliff.

None of this should surprise anyone. From day one President Obama faced a lunatic fringe questioning his birthplace, his religion, comparing him to Hitler etc. This fringe was aided and abetted by so-called national political leaders in the Republican party while so-called “moderate” Republicans like Senators Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snow forced a reduction in the stimulus bill and refused to consider a single payer health care approach. Obama and the Democratic Senate rolled over and accepted tepid progress when radical approaches were needed.

But that was then and now is even worse as the Republicans begin their final assault on the Obama presidency regardless of its effect on the country they say they serve. We are in a leaderless world with Europe breaking down over its inability to manage the Euro zone and the US looking for rational policy development from people who are unable to agree on the simplest things, never mind the tough ones. This is looking like a very painful yearlong run for the presidency with an increasingly likely chance that the people who ruined the economy in the first place and then refused to help fix it will get the reins once again.

For a discussion of President Obama’s job plan by Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman in today’s NY Times, click here.

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Upset in British Journalism Twit of the Year Race

Posted September 4, 2011 on 2:10 am | In the category Press, Sports | by Mackenzie Brothers

In a race completely dominated for almost its entire length by Rupert Murdoch’s journalism cohort, a sudden tremendous sprint by an unexpected rival led to the most exciting finish in the traditional British twit of the year race since John Cleese edged out Michael Palin with a crazy walk stumble over the finish line to take the legendary 1977 championship. As the Murdoch crew staggered along virtually unchallenged for 364 of the 365 days of the marathon challenge, a stunning spurt by the cleverly disguised Economist crew resulted in an unprecedented  upset as the economists surged in front of the twisting and turning creatures wearing the Murdoch colours, just before the finish line .
And what an impeccable strategy the splendid British scribes employed, using their highly dubious annual ranking of the livability of cities to demonstrate the thorough research behind their performance during the year. Vancouver, rated number one for many years in a row, was deemed too have lost .07 points because of an accident on the Malahat Highway that closed the thoroughfare down for a day, thus displaying the formerly most livable city’s inability to deal with modern traffic problems, and pushing Melbourne and Vienna in front of it on the livability front. The researchers of the economist thus tumbled first over the finish  line in the 2011 twit of the year race when it was pointed out that the Malahat Highway is on Vancouver Island, not in Vancouver city, and is 4 hours away from Vancouver, including a 2-hour ferry ride. Similar logic would have led to the conclusion that a traffic jam in Budapest brought down the livability of poor Vienna. Man on the street interviews by Vancouver Sun reporters quickly found that 77.7 per cent of Vancouver residents had never been on that highway and 55.5 per cent had never heard of it. Leading the pack over the finish line, Economist editor of current affairs and such things claimed that the mistake of confusing Vancouver Island with Vancouver, not unheard of in bewildered tourists, had not been the cause of the magazine’s bizarre conclusion, but rather that it was meant to be a subtle reference to the need for better highways in Vancouver. The Murdoch crew breathed a loud sigh of relief as their bitter rival stole a win from the jaws of defeat in the annual Monty Python look-alike derby as well.

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