Sunday, March 27, 2011


Joseph Casciaro at the increasingly sycophantic RaptorBlog makes a great suggestion ("Parting with Andrea") but writes:
As for Bargnani, those who have read any of my posts will know that I don’t think his “potential” is an issue. He has the natural talent, size and versatility to be a 25 and eight type of player, with a block per game in there too....
My opinion on Bargnani remains that if he is a power forward playing beside a true, defensive centre (like the aforementioned Chandler), then he is an NBA All Star
Sorry, the idea that Bargnani would somehow be an All Star in the right situation is ludicrous. Even ignoring his horrid on-ball defense, once his rebounding woes are factored in he struggles to keep himself above an average player (average player, not average starter) - and that's ignoring the worst part of his game, D.

Moving him to the 4, where he could show off his matadoring skills against more athletic players, would be to invite disaster.

Bargnani, for all that I'm sure he's a nice guy, is a pillow-soft Euro with some silky skills. He's the basketball equivalent of Alexandre Daigle and the Raps got stuck with him - and yet he finds defenders of his play, by the busload. Heart, determination and the willingness to work on one's game are also part and parcel of talent, and Andrea hasn't got it. I wish him well; let's please cut bait.

As for the half-hearted defence of Colangelo, yuck.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Before I go

Just before I go (before this thing pupates, anyway) I thought I should note the passing of Nate Dogg.

Sound on this isn't perfect, but who cares.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Changes imminent

There are imminent changes to Tiny Chunks of Empire. I will make a full post, redirecting you, when the hour is nigh.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Absolute Nadir

An exploration of the truly dire today by Paul Hayward at the Guardian/Observer.

He starts off with this thumbsucker to end all thumbsuckers:
Respect for referees was always going to be a hard sell in a culture where civility has broken down, vituperation plagues the blogosphere and the streets seethe with random fury.
Then goes on to suck a little harder...
"Allow me a personal reflection. I have always felt it right to defend the referee against a lynch mob, especially when attacks became a softening-up tool for clubs to protect their interests..."
Just when you think he can't possibly suck any harder, he decides to switch tactics, and blow as loud and wet as he can:

"So far, so obvious. But over the past two weeks it has felt impossible to justify the performances of Martin Atkinson in the Chelsea-Manchester United Premier League match or Massimo Busacca in this week's Barcelona-Arsenal Champions League second leg. Atkinson's failure to send off Chelsea's David Luiz for a glaring second bookable offence and the dismissal of Arsenal's Robin van Persie for going through with a shot after the whistle had blown for offside were too grievous to dismiss with platitudes."
Indeed! "Let me tell you about my rock-ribbed principles, then watch me throw them to the winds as soon as Manchester United and Arsenal are the ones under the slightest threat!"

Craven displays of submission before power (or even fashion) are not rare in sports journalism. I understand this. But it's rare to see someone whine so hard on both sides of an issue as Hayward has done here. Remarkable.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

20 shibboleths

Interesting development over at Primer, where folks are reviewing how they align with twenty "conservative" shibboleths. These are in the US context, but fun to adapt nonetheless.

1: anti-union

Pro-union. Capital combines through corporations in order to negotiate with labour; it is appropriate for labour to combine through unions to negotiate with capital. I am strongly in favor of solidarity (not just class solidarity, but class solidarity at least) and am vehemently pro-union from this point of view as well.

2: anti-immigration

This is Canada. Only fools and nuts are anti-immigration here. I am, though, what you might call a staunchly pro-Canadian multiculturalist. Although internationalist in outlook, I believe strongly in distinctly Canadian values.

3: pro-life

In my personal life, yes. As a public policy, no. I believe in a woman's right to choose, on broadly libertarian grounds (no one should be compelled to give up bodily autonomy to allow another to live - I would feel the same way about forced blood or tissue donations).

4: pro-death penalty

Although I believe that a state has no right to kill, to decide life or death, I can be persuaded of the wisdom of the death penalty in certain cases. This makes me all the more against it as a policy matter and a matter of right, because the penalty is irreversible.

5: pro-military spending

Generally in favour, at reasonable levels. I am strongly in favour of defense spending in the Canadian context.

6: anti-taxes

Meaningless. Not anti-spending, so not I suppose anti-taxes. I am strongly in favour of changing the tax mix.

7: anti-gay rights

Pro-gay rights on all fronts.

8: pro-school prayer

Not really relevant in the Canadian context, although I support the ability of students in public schools to pray (although reasonable accomodations not to disrupt school discipline should be made - no prayer meetings in the hallways during class time, etc.)

In the Canadian context, especially Ontario, more of an issue is government funding for religious education. I am generally against this, while recognizing the constitutional right of Catholics. I would prefer a constitutional amendment that ended public funding for separate schools, but this is neither practical nor a political priority.

9: anti-welfare state

Social welfare is one of the great achievements of humankind in an otherwise bleakish 20th century. However, in our country in particular I am dismayed at the distortionary effects of the welfare state. I much prefer a guaranteed income system, while respecting the paid-in entitlements of existing systems. Anyway, pro.

10: pro guns/ anti-gun control

The debate here takes place at a different level, like the gun registry. I dislike the long gun registry as an inefficient use of resources, but ending it is a low priority. I am strongly in favour of tight regulation of handguns and semi-autos, but strongly in favour of the right of competitive shooters, strongly in favour of the rights of hunters outside areas of human population, strongly in favour of extremely tight regulation of hunters in areas of human population.

11: state's rights/ 10th amendment fetishism,/federalism

In the US context, this is largely inside baseball. The fact is that the commerce clause is designed to be of wide application.

In the Canadian context, there are similar federalism issues, like the "spending power" and so forth. There is a left/right dimension to it, with provincial rights having a sort of states' rights component, but it's not nearly as clear-cut. I am pro-"spending power" in general but not a big fan of mission creep in that field; I think from a legal point of view the Canada Health Act has problems and frankly, I think it's a political overreach as well. Provided access to medical services in all provinces remains unimpeded, I think the federal government should be satisfied.

This is really an inside baseball thing. Long story short, government is government, and these days in most places the province is no more local than the feds.

12: Thomas Jefferson worship (except for that unfortunate "wall of separation" comment which must have been taken out of context since he could not have meant that...

Pro TJ except for his farcical views on black slavery and ethnic cleansing of aboriginal peoples.

13: The US is a "Christian nation"

Is that a descriptor? It's not a very good one. (For Canada, the same applies). If it's some sort of statement of political or cultural principles, it fails worse.

I think, though, that the way this phrase is used is actually aspirational, because clearly it fails badly in any descriptive sense. Whether I like the aspiration depends entirely on whose Christ you mean; whether it's a good idea, I definitely think not, theistic states are problematic from the point of view of liberty.

14: Reagan is teh best

A scoundrel with a corrupt, stupid and venal royal court who tried to bankrupt the country while engaging their morbid and violent id. Mulroney, writ large.

Mulroney is his Canadian equivalent. I despise Mulroney.

15: Clinton was a scoundrel

The guy who actually accomplished much of what Reagan is, curiously, given credit for. I don't like him. Jean Chretien, but shiftier.

Chretien is his Canadian equivalent. I'm lukewarm on Chretien and his government from a policy point of view - they gutted the welfare state and yet failed to put intelligent checks in place to tame the monster - yet wholly admiring from the point of view of politics. Chretien is the finest politicial leader we've had in Canada in a long time.

16: Balancing the Federal budget is a moral imperative

Looked at over history, budgets are always balanced. Unless there is a default. I remain opposed to a default (although fascinated, since high school, with Solon's "shaking off of burdens" and the birth of Athenian glory), and consider no general default on federal debt to be, essentially, a moral imperative. So yes. From a practical perspective, the question is more about shifting responsibility for spending. I am generally very much against this, but it is not a moral imperative.

17: Pro- "teach the controversy" ("Intelligent Design" vs. Evolution a/k/a Reality)

I don't think this is a conservative position, it's a nut position. I think ID has a role to play in teaching about the philosophy of science, and would happily see it taught in high schools on that basis. However, it is not science and doesn't belong in science classrooms.

18: Pro-law and order

Pro-rule of law, more, which is a different thing. I am generally eager to see people's rights respected by the police, but I am strongly in favor of a substantial and well-trained police force, although I would to a considerable extent reorient priorities if I had my druthers.

Policing is something we largely get right; we actually more often get the law wrong. This is pretty shameful... the law end should be easy and the policing hard.

19: pro-business

Very much so. Not particularly pro-capital, and usually anti-managerialist, but business, sure. Unless this is unpacked, it's hard to know where to go here. I don't like handouts to business, I believe in regulation to cope with informational and market inefficiencies (safety and labeling standards, consumer protection laws, competition law, some government regulation of scarce but public goods like water, air, spectrum) but I really do believe in giving business a key seat in the table in these.

I don't like rent-seekers, monopolists, and handout specialists.

20: Anti-Government healthcare

See my comments on federalism and the Canada Health Act above. I believe strongly in public single-payer as efficient, fair and just. I believe, though, in "2-tier" care - that individuals should have the right to buy health care services in Canada. I also believe in an extremely strong and robust public system, even at high expense, but in reducing cost as much as possible through public health and efficiency measures (which we don't really do now).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More P.K.

With 2:00 to go in tonight's game against Carolina (Montreal looked shaky but a very satisfying win), P.K. Subban picked the puck up as Mtl were clearing the zone. Everyone on both teams went to change, and so Subban didn't just dump it out. He ragged the puck, for about 25 seconds he ragged it around his own defensive zone as the Hurricanes chased after him in ones and twos like Keystone Kops. And you could hear everyone sort of not breathing, as he turned around and around, behind the net, faking a breakout, turning back, in, out, behind the net again, and finally pinged a perfect pass to a wide open forward at the red line. And the crowd just roared, a deep and satisfied and delighted release of pent-up breath.

L'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Charlie Keller to Charlemagne

Charlie Keller coached for Casey Stengel with the Yankees.

Stengel played with Fred Merkle. (Brooklyn Robins, 1917)

Merkle played with Babe Ruth. (Yankees, 1925)

Ruth was portrayed by William Bendix. (The Babe Ruth Story)

Bendix was descended from Felix Mendelssohn.

Mendelssohn was a friend of Goethe’s and set some of Goethe’s poetry to music. (e.g. Die erste Walpurgisnacht)

Goethe was descended on his mother’s side from Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, was a patron of Cranach.

Frederick the Wise was linked through prophecies of the Sibylline Oracles (including by Luther) with the “Last Emperor”; that he was the “Third Frederick” who would succeed to the throne of Frederick Barbarossa and reform the Holy Roman Empire and the Church before the Apocalypse.

Frederick Barbarossa was a patron and protector of the antipope Paschal III.

Paschal III canonized Charlemagne.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good Luck, You're Gonna Need It

Buck Showalter had some red meat for the base at the Baltimore Orioles' FanFest:
"I chuckle a little when I hear a football coach say, 'We weren't ready to play this week,'" Showalter said. "My God, you play once a week and you've got an off week? Baseball is the most mentally, emotionally and physically challenging game in sports. It's 200 games a year counting spring training, seven days a week. We don't apologize checking into a guy's heart a little bit and into his makeup. Because ability only carries you so far."
Wonderful stuff.

Buck, all I can say is, best of luck this year. You might be the right guy for this franchise, but pretty much every year for the last decade, the Orioles have taken at least two whole months and sat on their behinds and had sand kicked in their faces. I suppose at least it's healthy that the manager has identified a culture of defeat within the Orioles organization. Let's see if he can successfully identify the principal reason: a lack of accountability in the front office, and a lack of talent on the field; and let's see if he can convince the people around him.

P.S. Buck, I did really enjoy it, but: spring training!?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Sian Massey Nonsense

Much ado about nothing in English football this week as two idiot studio hosts, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, were rightly dismissed over a longstanding practice of hostile sexism in the studio. Keys and Gray are legendarily cheerful morons who don't deserve a moment's further thought (but if you're interested, Keys's hour-plus shambles of a non-apology apology on national radio is a quite brilliant example of a man unable to know when to stop digging the hole he's in).

Spare a thought, though, for the 25-year-old asssitant referee (what used to be called a lineswoman) at the heart of the latest piece of nonsense. Her name is Sian Massey, and she has done quite brilliantly to make it so high in the game so fast. It was her appearance in the Premier League Wolves-Liverpool match (only her second PL game) that led to Keys and Gray acting like dorks.

The predictable result of this has been screams from all corners about "PC GONE MAD" and so forth, and worse screams about Massey being unqualified, and boosted forward based on her sex. (Not to mention a horrific invasion of her privacy as the odious Daily Mail went and published half a dozen of her Myspace photos. Yuck.)

This harrumphing Blimpism has been coming in from all sides, but I found a comment on the blog EPL Talk that, I think, goes some way to showing how a 25-year-old woman could make it so far so fast in a highly competitive industry like football officiating.

I last refereed with Sian about 5 years ago in a “local” game, Sian and I qualified around the same time about 12-13 years ago and I don’t know of another referee out there that has committed the time or dedication that she has. Male or Female she is there because she has passed the assesments and the fitness tests that are allocated equally no matter of race or sex.

Despite what people may think about her being fasttracked because of her sex I can assure you that is nonsence, if anything Sian will have had a harder time from many in what is still an “old boy” establishment.

Sian first appeared on major TV three years ago officiating the Womans FA Cup Final and she did a fantastic job, she will go very far and I have no doubt that she will be our first female Level 1 or most probably Fifa official on the Mens List.

I thought it was great, is all, and wanted to share it. Well-known referee Graham Poll had further good things to say about Massey (and about the TV asshats) in another article (in the Mail, heh) which is worth reading if this interests you.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Finally, someone had the stones to stand up and say the obvious about Habs rookie (and former Hamilton Bulldogs idol) P.K. Subban. I am not referring to this interesting if sometimes troubling article from Charlie Gillis of Macleans, which rightly tells NHL players (and especially talking heads) to man up and shut up.

I am referring to a comment by "Silver24" below the article, which nails with devastating accuracy the problem that I, too, am seeing. Subban is being targeted by the media and his fellow players in a way that I cannot recall any other player having been targeted in my time following the NHL - I have seen him attacked by TV talking heads for not fighting after delivering a devastating and completely legal mid-ice hipcheck. I have seen him called every name in the book twice by Don Cherry for having the audacity to talk to other players on the ice. I have seen national reporters tell outright and blatant lies about his conduct while playing in Hamilton.

Silver24 sees the same thing. And like me, he thinks it's perfectly obvious where it comes from. The criticisms of Subban for being a rookie without "respect", for being flamboyant, for not "knowing his place" don't get echoed around the league because he is young, promising and audacious. They don't get echoed because he is passionate, aggressive but inexperienced. They get echoed around the league because Subban is flamboyant, talented and black.

Especially black.

Silver24 says it well...

At first I never bought the racism card either. There's even a great sound bite of Subban himself completely discounting that possibility. But the longer this goes the less I like the taste it leaves, and the more I think about it the harder it gets to find another decent explanation... I can't ever remember any one player being on the receiving end of this much public criticism from his fellow players.

I almost choked when I heard Mike Richards spouting off about 'respect' that night. Maybe someone should put a microphone in front of David Booth (season over -, David Krejci (season over - or Ron Petrovicky (NHL career over - and see what they think of his brand of 'respect'...

...And by the way, I find your comparison of Subban and Avery to be pretty distasteful. The only thing Subban has ever done in the NHL is play a hard, aggressive style with a little more flair than most of the other guys in the league.
Gillis in the article is more skeptical:
you can forget the idea that Subban’s race is playing a part. Other black players, including Evander Kane and Wayne Simmonds, endure no such criticism. Those guys gladly play to type.
But the skepticism is obviously misplaced, isn't it? If you "play to type" as a modest and unassuming young man, sure, no one is going to hassle you. We've gone beyond that. Probably not until guys finally left Jarome Iginla alone after he proved he could whup any middleweight in the league and still smile his million-dollar smile afterward. But hockey is beyond that. OK, except for minor hockey. And obviously, Europe. But hockey is beyond that. Really!

Anyway, it's when a Subban plays his natural, effervescent, hard-hitting, fan-pleasing game (and Montreal fans have seen nothing yet - the Subban we had in Hamilton was an absolute folk hero to the regulars like few others have ever been, he's been playing within himself) - that is the line that I guess a black player can't cross in the NHL without being given the kibosh by his self-declared white betters.

Let me be clear. I am not talking about ribbing from the fans for being the "Pressbox King" or the like. That shit is funny, and entirely appropriate. I am not talking about Pang contrasting Mike Pietrangelo with Subban saying Pietrangeloi plays the "white way". That is an embarrassing slip of the tongue. I am talking about the whining and the veiled threats from opposition players and the hockey talking heads. I wouldn't expect opposing fans to like Subban - and many clearly don't, often for good reasons. Michael Farber's Sports Illustrated article shows a guy who is unquestionably cocky. Indeed, I would not necessarily object if you said that the kid quoted in that article is pretty douchey.

The article also says that Richards says P.K. stands for "punk kid" and that "mostly Subban harangues opponents with a playground you-can't-beat-me braggadocio, which has prompted one NHL assistant to observe, "It's almost like he's an athlete in a different sport.""

A different sport, eh? Subtle. Can I suggest 'hoopity-hoop'? Maybe 'negroball'? At least the coach had the sense to remain anonymous, or maybe Farber is taking pity on him. Clearly North American hockey, which has reacted with considerable ill grace these last two decades to the European invasion, is still finding its feet in terms of merging hockey culture with the wider culture. (Unsurprisingly, the other guys who get it in the ear on the "respect" nonsense are still, 35 years after Anders Hedberg, Europeans like Linus Omark, who was accused of "disrespect" by the pathetic Dan Ellis after he scored a wonder goal on his sorry ass to win a shootout in December).

For God's sake, look at the aforementioned Richards, who can't stop levelling guys with dirty head hits (see the links above from Silver24), and compare his work to Subban's preferred brand of legit, testicle-rattling destruction. Yet, after this clean hip check, noted daddy's boy Lil' Greggory Peggory Campbell does the "ooh, hold me back, you better hold me back, hold me back, I wanna get him, DUDE HOLD ME BACK" routine; and talking turnips Mike Milbury and P.J. Stock spent the rest of the game berating Subban for not fighting every Bruin on the ice. The words they used? "Respect" and "knowing your place".

NHL players ought to get their heads out of their butts on this. We see right through the "respect" nonsense. If you don't want to get embarrassed, don't embarrass yourself on the ice, and like Gillis says, keep the prissy stuff at home. Grow up and treat your fellow players like men. If you don't like him, say so. Don't pretend he has some deficit of character after he whups your butt and tells you about it. Because THAT, folks, is the real time-honored Canadian tradition.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best Shape Watch 2

Stephen Strasburg:

Stephen Strasburg appeared during halftime of CBS College Sports Network's San Diego State basketball broadcast on Wednesday night...

"I'm definitely in the best shape of my life," Strasburg told Ted Robinson. " Once you start throwing, it's gonna be a long process just getting your strength back, but I feel great about it and I have a really good feeling that I'm gonna come back at 100 percent....The surgery's down to a science, and you've just got to do what the doctors tell you."

Best Shape Watch

"I'll be ready to go for spring training," Berken said. "My arm feels phenomenal. It's stronger than it's ever been, pain free. It feels great. I anticipate and expect to be 100 percent ready to go for spring training and 100 percent ready to go this year. I'm just looking forward to getting after it."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interesting Record

Looks like we had a record warm year during a deep solar minimum last year. A very unusual occurrence.

Looks like we're going to get warmer.

Friday, January 14, 2011

This is the greatest column in American history

Richard Cohen, who for the last decade has been infallibly the last person to get the joke, writes the most jaw-droppingly inconceivable column in American history. I am so, so sorry I missed this at the time.

Cohen actually begins his column with what should be immortal lines...

"First, let me state my credentials: I am a funny guy."

As if that isn't tremendous enough, he later comments on one of the funniest lines in the history of American political comedy.

He referred to the recent staff changes at the White House, chiding the media for supposedly repeating the cliche "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" when he would have put it differently: "This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg." A mixed metaphor, and lame as can be.

I can't say enough about this column. Go read it. It's tremendous stuff.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

If this is football, let it die

Scottish Premier League in bold move to win backing for 10-team league...

This awful, awful nonsense has gone from bad to worse to worst. I am officially sick and tired of all of this, and have decided that I am quite pleased to announce that I am beginning a campaign to reduce the SPL to a 10-team league.

By booting Celtic and Rangers. To save Scottish football.

Are we not tired of the nonsense? I refer not only to the uncompetitive league season after season. I refer to the ridiculous, pro-wrestling like officiating displays in any game involving the Old Firm sides. To the constant low-level (or worse) warfare against press, officials and executives unless the Old Firm are given everything their way - a condition that usually occurs on the field regardless thanks to a spineless group of officials. I refer to a neverending torrent of sectarian *garbage* from both clubs and both sets of fans.

The ills of Scottish football lie squarely in the laps of the Old Firm.

Scottish football will never regain its past glory unless the Old Firm are thrown out of Scottish football. Perhaps we should let them remain to compete for the Cup.



For God's sake. If this is football, let it die.