The CFL at 99 and counting, what Canadian football could teach the Yanks

Posted November 28, 2011 on 1:14 am | In the category Canada, Sports | by Mackenzie Brothers

So the big game is over, the Grey Cup has been  presented in its ninety-ninth year to aVancouver team that lost its first five games and won nine of its next ten, including today’s down to the wire victory at home against Winnipeg.  56, ooo people sold out its new half billion dollar upgraded stadium, to watch he best young quarterback in football (think Doug Flutie, Warren Moon, Joe Theisman if you want to recall the kind of players who preceded Travis Lulay in the CFL) lead the Lions to a deserved narrow victory .  It’s true that for Canadian sports fans this can’t replace the loss by the Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup championship  to Boston, but virtually the whole country watched it and it was a reminder, if one was needed, of how much more exciting  Canadian 3-down  football games are compared to US 4-down ones.  With  4 minutes to go and the team with the ball leading by a touchdown in the US, the game is basically considered over as you can run out the clock with a steady diet of four-yard runs.  Paint dries faster.

In Canada that game is just beginning at that point.  Winnipeg scored two touchdown in the last three minutes to come within 8 points of Vancouver and were driving again as the game ended.  Even more exciting was the Canadian university championship game played two days before the pro championship in the same stadium, during which the favoured rouge et or of Laval came back from 23-0 half-time deficit to pull ahead of McMaster by one point with  a couple of minutes to go only to see themselves go ahead by a single, get tied by a rouge and apparently lose by one point when McMaster missed a field goal with  no time left, but any ball that is kicked into or out of the end zone without it being returned or kicked back out results in  one  point in Canada, enough  to win the game in this case.  But the ball didn’t go over the end zone line as a Laval player caught it before it passed the  line and made it back out to the one–yard line after faking a drop kick as a return.  Eventually the winner was decided by an overtime that   had everyone standing and defies explanation.  These are rugby rules, and the NFL should send someone up to see how they add excitement in places where the NF L offers nothing but  dead air – fair catches, no reward for kicking balls into or out of the end zone, no possibility of returning kicks with kicks, ridiculous ways ways of breaking ties, etc.

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The Media’s Election Narrative

Posted November 13, 2011 on 6:17 pm | In the category Obama, Politics, Press, Uncategorized | by Jeff

There is one year to go before the 2012 presidential election and the American press continues to focus on the political process over the substance of issues. Early on the press determined that while Mitt Romney held a slight – and decidedly soft – lead in most national polls, a changing series of candidates must be anointed by the press to the role of “anyone but Romney” challenger for the Republican nomination. This has happened with little or no substantive exploration of issues, but has maintained a horserace kind of press coverage..

Initially former Governor Tim Pawlenty was promoted by much of the press for his “seriousness” which the voters then determined was a kind of insipid, tediousness. The press then jumped to Michelle Bachmann who presented a feminine face backed by a religious nuttiness that always seems to show up in Republican primary races in Iowa. She tanked early after voters began to actually listen to the strange things coming out of her mouth.

The press then decided that Governor Rick Perry was the one to take on Flipper Romney, not out of any particular policy differences but rather because he was from Texas, had a lot of campaign funds and talked a big – or at least loud – game. Perry lasted about two weeks as he fumbled in debates for words that might be translated into actual thoughts. The press then ignited his downfall because of a slip in a debate when he lost track of his thoughts – some would argue, not all that unusual an occurrence. Then the press moved to pizza company CEO Herman Cain as a new frontrunner with the innovative campaign strategy of joking about how little he knows about the world while defending himself against numerous (5 and counting) accusations of sexual harassment.

Now the press has identified Newt Gingrich as the next likely antidote to Romney. This, some months after the press dumped him as a tired old hack who couldn’t manage his campaign staff or his wife’s Tiffany account. Meanwhile Ron Paul maintains credible numbers, has an identifiable set of policies and is mostly ignored by the press. Jon Huntsman makes the most sense – especially on foreign affairs – and is mostly ignored by the press as irrelevant. Romney continues to waffle his way toward some weird kind of consistency – that is, the consistency of having no apparent core beliefs that he would not jettison for a few more votes, and the search for an alternative continues, but not based on any particular policy issues.

We have another year of this and perhaps as the process moves along the press will begin to focus on actual issues but for now, the focus remains on the way the game is played rather than on the probable consequences of candidates’ actual policy differences.

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Iceland, Greece, Whatever

Posted November 9, 2011 on 3:18 am | In the category Economy, Europe, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

The economic crisis send out its ripples, knocks down its first dominoes, and the rich fat cats who thought they were too far away to be threatened, are starting to raise their heads and start smelling something rotten heading their way. First it was Iceland, now it’s Greece, and soon it may be bigger fish in much bigger lakes like Italy and Spain. The problem is always the same: whole countries live beyond their means, run up big debts on credit and fall apart when the sleazy chaps who convinced them to take out cheap loans, ask for a payback.   Iceland lived in a fantasy world of fake wealth in this bizarre ritual and the streets of Reykjavik rumbled with the weight of oversized  cars bought on non-existent money. The average Reykjavik household had 3 cars, and more than 20,000 cars were imported in the year before the banking system collapsed in 3 days only 4 years ago. This year 2,000 cars are coming in. But Icelanders have learned to live with catastrophes: hunger winters, volcanic eruptions, whatever. When asked how he was doing in the midst of the debacle, my brother Doug’s Icelandic pal had a quick reply: “Don’t worry about us, we know how to fish and raise potatoes”. And lo and behold it is the Icelandic fishery that has actually prospered in terrible economic times, as the fishing fleet never stopped going out into dangerous waters, still under Icelandic control after the cod war of the 1970s after the fleet turned away invading British warships, and provided a solid economic base for an economic recovery, even for the gamblers who had  lost in the economic games of the mid-2000s.

Now it is Greece’s turn to pay the price of spending too liberally on the basis of phoney money. Just as in Iceland (and in all the countries that will be hit next) it is the fat cats who will be able to find an escape hatch and the poor suckers who have tried to make an honest hard-earned wage who will find that their savings have disappeared along with their jobs. Like Iceland Greece has tremendous resources in its saplendid setting and matchless history. Come on guys, get it together, start planting those potatoes or whatever grows best, send out the fleet, and get those workers who are ready to roll up their sleeves back on the job.

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