Saturday, June 26, 2010

My wife, she is a Kotoko fan

David Goldblatt, the author of the transcendent and genre-changing book The Ball Is Round, is currently marking the World Cup with a brilliant series of documentaries for the BBC World Service called The Power and the Passion.

In light of Ghana's luminescent 2-1 win over the United States today at the Mundial, the third instalment in the series becomes an absolute must-listen, even if you don't much like soccer. Part Three (download from the link) wraps itself around a visit to the Ghanaian "derby" match between Asante Kotoko from the northern city of Kumasi, and Hearts of Oak from the capital, Accra. It is much-needed background to an unfolding news story.

Now I am a longtime (though distant) supporter of Hearts of Oak, so some of the story was familiar to me, but the way Goldblatt captures a rivalry that is one of the most intense in the world, and relates it to the reality of Ghana itself, is superb.

Parts one and two, about the Milan derby (Milan vs. Inter) and the Cairo derby (Al-Ahly vs. Zamalek) were very fine. (Grab them at the series website linked above). This one was unbelievably engrossing and good (plus the music in the stands is terrific). With Ghana's quarterfinal versus Uruguay looming as a game between two enterprising teams playing great team football, it is required listening.

Well Looky Here! (No not that rock, the other one)

Looks like the campaign to restore Charles Murray to decent society by his employer the American "Enterprise" Institute (I suppose that trying to re-establish fake-scientific racism to respectability does show some enterprise) is gaining even more traction. First it was homo nafficus himself, Mark Steyn, as first noted here a scant fortnight ago to the public dismay of Steyn and his canine platoon of crotch-sniffing angerbags (thanks for the comments and e-mails, guys).

And now Ann Coulter is throwing her shoes gamely (gamily?) into the ring, invoking Murray as the (wrongly) maligned object of tohubohu and brouhaha at a liberal (-ish, we're talking about Elana Kagan here) New York dinner table.

I think Coulter (for all her apparent experience of New York liberal dinner tables) is selling her scorned target a bit short. Surely the topic of what the hell is wrong with the shvartzes has crossed the lips of a liberal New Yorker on more than an occasional basis?

But to step away from unnecessary and unfair religio-cultural mudsplattering for a moment, exactly what the hell is going on here? Two of the unshameliest flingers of red meat in the wonkosphere are bejewelling Chuckles "Galton's Bulldog" Murray with their humid attention. I sense a public (e)mission afoot!

We'll keep an eye on this, and thanks to a correspondent for the hot tip.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Reader Writes

Scorn for Macleans is pouring in from all sides but this one I couldn't resist sharing...
Okay Chief...

Maclean's recently announced the results of a Parliamentarian Of The Year poll, apparently filled out by MPs or other equally-clueless morons, and Angry John Baird was named the winner--erroneously, one hopes. Maclean's did not conduct the survey themselves, but any publication that aligns itself with something that praises that man for any kind of parliamentary goodness isn't worth any of my time anymore.

As It Happens absolutely *destroyed* Baird the day this was announced, in a Canadian way, doing the old "playing the wrong footage" trick (you can guess what kind of footage they played). It was beautiful in its savagery.

But your Steyn objection is far better, and far more deserving of scorn.
The archive, by the way, I found here, and the Baird piece is at 23:30. It might be more easily explained if it's understood that the rules of order provide that only a member of a committee may raise a point of order to the chair.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Me and My Girl

(This was the piece that motivated me to fire up this old flivver of a blog once more, I wrote it last month on my trip to Ottawa).

FH Varley, Vera, oil on canvas, 1931

I probably first saw her about 22 or 23 years ago and since that day she has always been my girl.

I think the reason I keep coming back (and I am sitting in front of her now and regarding her with that deep tenderness that comes with owning art or a woman in your heart) is that she has changes of moods. And she challenges me. She can look passionate. Bored. Questioning. Loving. Fierce. Tender.

Because she changes her mood to suit mine (or to antagonize it) I often wonder if she was a lover - I think she was a model but I know nothing about her - but as times goes wearily on away from her, I realize as I come back to her that she is Varley's Mona Lisa - a canvas full of clash and colour and strife and light and magic (so not the Mona Lisa) that remains a blank canvas (so the Mona Lisa). She is a lovely girl - or a woman - without an expressionon her face. Every expression on her face. Her mouth is closed, saying maybe out loud.

I have always suspected that I keep coming back to her, and keep her coming back to me, because I get a blank canvas on which I can project myself, and of course nothing loves me so much as myself. And there's nothing I love so much as me. OR maybe there is nothing so much I love as this painting, this sexy Euro-chick in a raincoat with a green face and blue eyebrows and an impossible neck and a lopsided face and a come-hither look full of challenge and disregard. I love her hair and lips. At least her hair is brown, I guess. Her face is green; it could easily have been orange.

IS that her raincoat? You'd think she was homeless. Are those her shoulders? She must be Russian. Ukrainian. Latvian. Belarussian. Czech. Vancouver. I love the sound of "Vancouver".

She is smiling. She is not smiling. She is smiling at me. She is smiling at Varley. She is smiling because she got fucked last night and you won't get to tonight. She's not actually smiling at all, but that's a minor detail. I do think it's morning - light green is for mornings. Dark green, leafy green, is afternoons. Morning is the tulips I saw today - the color of fake lime anything and wrinkling purple yellow.

This wicker chair is uncomfortable but it's what I can steal for the other Gallery rooms to sit and stare. She used to sit over there, in a smaller alcove room down the hall. Now she's got more traffic, and she gets to look at... (looks behind him, relieving his back from the wood bar of the chair) a Fortin picture of a hillside town and Lilias Torrance Newton's picture of herself. Lil is a pretty girl in a healthy, blonde, hiking-and-biking sort of way. She stares at my girl - positively stares right across the wide gallery floor. She doesn't like her. My girl isn't healthy, isn't blonde, has her blouse collar askew and wouldn't hike if you asked. She is unhealthy and thin and totally not my type and enchanting. Heart-lifting. So are a lot of women but because she is paint and cloth and dust and ashes and just woke up, my girl doesn't mind if you stare. I like to stare, probably always will.

Heart-lifting? Heart-eating seems more likely.

She's still the most beautiful thing have ever seen, first time. 22, 23 years and I remember her stealing the words from my windpipe. I wonder if she's had her coffee this morning. Her lipstick is fresh. I wonder if she waits for me. I wonder if it's raining. It must be raining.

Just another day for me and my girl.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

And so it begins again...

With an open-mouthed double-take at the audacity of professional poop-disturber Mark Steyn, over at the grande dame of the fussy Canadian middle class, Macleans. I'll ignore the nonsensical analysis that our famously panty-twisted American friend is providing and instead focus on one paragraph that made my jaw hit the floor and me scramble for Google...

“The Europe that protects” may, indeed, protect you from the vicissitudes of fate but it also disconnects you from the primary impulses of life. “It drains too much of the life from life,” said Charles Murray last year. “And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors—even more to the lives of janitors—as it does to the lives of CEOs.”
I realize that there's nothing so shocking in this rather tame swipe at the comforts of European life (other than the sheer audacity of a "fellow" at a think tank criticizing others for being disconnected from life). But let's look at the tape again, folks:

“The Europe that protects” may, indeed, protect you from the vicissitudes of fate but it also disconnects you from the primary impulses of life. “It drains too much of the life from life,” said Charles Murray last year. “And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors—even more to the lives of janitors—as it does to the lives of CEOs.”
Does the name ring a Bell?

If not, it should, because Charles Murray is an odious and deranged fruitcake whose only claim to fame is having co-written The Bell Curve, the foremost work of "scientific" racism of the last two decades. (He's still at it, incidentally, publishing his worthless "findings" about race and IQ tests all over the less salubrious organs of the U.S. media).

Murray wrote a book, based on "research" that was later demonstrated to be totally fraudulent, stating in bald terms that blacks and Hispanics were inferior by nature and that this was responsible for their lagging social and economic achievement. Its primary practical suggestion was that persons of disadvantaged social backgrounds be discouraged from having children. It was, as Steven Fraser memorably put it, "a chilly synthesis of the work of disreputable race theorists and eccentric eugenicists".

The work has been thoroughly and entirely debunked by a vast group of researchers, thinkers and academics from Steven Jay Gould to Thomas Sowell.

Steyn, of course, with his many friends on the racist right, would doubtlessly have no problem with this sort of work, but I'm sure most of us would feel differently.

There are many, from the Wall Street Journal to his scattershot employer the American Enterprise Institute, who have been counting on the public forgetting Murray's eternal shame, so he could be rehabilitated as a seller of political misdirection. Let's have none of it. I don't know who edits Steyn at Macleans - (s)he'd need to have a strong stomach to digest his egregious taste in show tunes alone - but overlooking the approving quotation of one of racism's best and truest academic friends is an oversight that sullies the whole publication.

For shame.

(LATE UPDATE : Received some comments to the effect that I'm unfairly crying racism and that Murray has not been debunked. I encourage readers to weigh the evidence and make up their own minds. Neither, in my considered view, is correct.)