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May, 2010:

What were the Dragons thinking???

I coached for the Gloucester Dragons for a number of years. Eight, to be exact.

I can only say that things must have changed in the league since I left a few years ago. The Dragons used to have a committed and sensible Executive – focused on teaching kids about the beautiful game, sportsmanship and on fostering a competitive spirit.

But, as covered heavily in the national media, the league has done a very, very silly thing.

From the League Handbook:

Scoring Limit
Respect your opponent: do not run up the score.
To prevent running up the score, a five-goal differential is the maximum allowed.
If at the end of a game there is more than a 5 goal difference in the score, the team that scored over 5 goals will have the results recorded as a loss when the game is recorded at the office.
Strategies coaches can use to avoid this problem include:
• Rotating players into other than normal positions;
• Passing the ball a number of times prior to a shot on goal;
• Kicking with the weaker foot;
• Reducing the number of players on the field;
• Kick at net only from outside the penalty box.

All for the “Strategies coaches can use…” part of this. If you are matched against a much weaker opponent, a good coach will employ these strategies. Put the strong kids in the backfield and put the weaker one up front and in the midfield. It usually works to curb embarrassing scores.

But no, some parent or parents have gotten their knickers in knots cuz little Jimmy or Jenny got upset because their side was blown out 12 – zip or something.

Well, OK, the winning coach did not do their job. Fine. But kids, life is about losing badly as well as winning gloriously. Better get used to that.

But from a sports perspective, coaches should not ever teach players how NOT to win. Seriously. I was never trained to do this. Instead, I was taught to use those techniques outlined above. Ain’t rocket science, really.

Do we want the players of a stronger side to spend the second half – up 4-0, to kick the ball into touch whenever they had possession?

THIS is coaching????

C’mon Dragons – reverse this silly policy – and now!

(1262)

More rumblings about a centre/left merger… again

There is an interesting opinion piece in the Star today penned by Glenn Wheeler on how it is up to the rank and file of the Grits and Dippers to start the coalition ball rolling.

To be clear – while I have been a member of both parties in the past, I am not so currently. But one thing I am sure of is that I am a progressive.  And I would actively support any arrangement that would move the progressive agenda forward to counter the social conservatism that has been dominant on the Hill for the past several years.

But – sigh – this has been talked about again and again and again… so I am slightly less than optimistic that an effective coalition under strong and clear leadership is waiting in the wings.

To the leaderships of both parties – put the egos aside and start working toward a partnership that would provide Canada with a clear and progressive path forward!

(822)

Lost – WTF?

Unanswered questions from Lost – this is good

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Dennis Hopper

I feel like the grim reaper… first Gary Coleman, now Dennis Hopper… who was one of my all-time faves.

Loved him in Easy Rider and later in Apocalypse Now and Hoosiers… the consummate hippie. And he made me laugh.

Prostate cancer sucks, my fellow gentlemen. If you are 50+, GET CHECKED!!!!!! It is curable if caught in time. Don’t be stupid!

(378)

Jason Kenney – liar extraordinaire…

Thanks to Sister Sage’s Musings for this… hilarious example of how the Cons say one thing but but do another… yeah, yeah, (anticipating Squid and Ken) they all do this – but catching someone (especially JK) red-handed is especially satisfying!

(1300)

What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

One of my fave child stars from bygone years, Gary Coleman, has died at an oh-too-young of an age of suffering a fall at home… he was only 42…

Lots of good memories of watching Diff’rent Strokes... and it’s contemporaries like Three’s Company, M*A*S*H* and WKRP in Cincinnati

Good times, man….

(650)

Water, water, water…

News that the City of Gatineau has banned the outdoor use of water by its residents and businesses should not come as a big surprise to anyone after the fairly dry winter we just experienced in this part of the world.

City of Gatineau spokesman Alain d’Entremont said the ban covers any external use of water, including filling pools, outdoor cleaning and watering gardens or lawns.

Homeowners caught breaking the ban face fines starting at $250, while businesses face fines beginning at $500.

D’Entremont said the city is also asking residents to curb indoor usage if possible and “take a quick shower instead of a bath.”

The city said residents used over 110 million litres of water on Tuesday alone. That number is high for this time of year but low compared to peak summer levels, when Gatineau residents use from 660 to 880 litres per person, or close to 200 million litres in total.

From B.C.

Lower-than-average snowpacks across B.C. could spell low stream flows and water shortages this summer. The situation is serious enough to have prompted the Environment Ministry to develop a 2010 Drought Response Plan.

With exception of high-elevation areas on Vancouver Island and the South Coast, snow packs across B.C. are all below normal, according to a ministry release.

Basin snow water indices show the Similkameen has 37 per cent of normal snowpack while central B.C. (Fraser, Thompson and Peace) has 80 to 90 per cent of normal.

From Alberta:

Alberta faces a water shortage, along with threats to its environment and economy, unless the province adopts better water-management policies, according to a study released Thursday by the C.D. Howe Institute.

From Ontario:

It is estimated that Canada will face a “forty percent water shortage in the next 20-30 years” said (Ontario Minister of the Environment) Garretson and the implementation of laws on water saving faucets and toilets are a very real possibility.

So people are indeed beginning to realise that our water is under threat and that there may be some direct impacts on our daily lives due to shortages.

We can, of course, lessen our individual households’ impact on the water supply by watering the non-productive domestic agricultural operations (i.e. lawns) less frequently or in the evening. Using low-flow toilets and other water-saving equipment also helps. But the biggest impact on water conservation would be if the industrial sector cut back on their water usage for their production processes – I hear that the tar sands use a, uh, few litres or more for their extraction operations…

And there there is the issue of water exports. Should we export our water in a bulk fashion… millions of litres to places like the U.S. Midwest to keep those folks from getting too thirsty? I don’t have  a problem with limited exports, but I get a little craw in my throat when I hear these American states crying for water whilst wasting millions of litres keeping their lawns green and golf courses running… gimme a break.

So what have the ReformCons done? Well, they actually have moved on this issue by tightening restrictions on bulk water exports. This is a good thing, but they should go even further and close up a loophole under the NAFTA that could make water a tradable commodity and thus exempt it from domestic restrictions. As well, the legislation may not be as tight as it could be:

Joe Cressy, campaign coordinator for the Polaris Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said the bill is based on an earlier Senate bill, “which leaves some fairly striking loopholes that allow corporations to continue exporting Canada’s freshwater.”

“It appears the bill will continue a provision that allows for up to 50,000 litres of water a day to be exported in packaged form,” Cressy said in an email. “In other words, Canada will export its water resources in the form of bottled water in daily large quantities.”

But this move is a start, and I’ll (cringe) give credit where credit is due…

(1119)

JC returns! Now c’mon : you KNOW who I mean!

Good to see le petit gars back in the news. Jean Chrètien spoke on the Hill the other day on the occasion of the unveiling of his official Prime Ministerial portrait.

I liked this guy right from the time when I began to develop an interest in politics.

He was the consummate politician. He knew how to read the electorate all the while maintaining peace and order within his own party. Except for the period immediately preceding his departure, he was unifying, not divisive. He built consensus, not through intimidation and bullying – like the current PM – but through a keen sense of awareness of what everyone at the table required to be satisfied.

He came from a time where not everything had speaking notes attached or was an opportunity to discredit the other side. He picked his spots wisely and did not cast the net of cynicism over all of public discourse – like the Harperites have done.

Go ahead and diss the Shawinigan Handshake” or the policy decisions he took as the PM, but even his most vitriolic critic will concede that he knew how to relate to the electorate.

M. Chrètien laments the current state of the political culture in Canada, and rightfully so. I agree fully with him when he says:

“They work hard, these guys,” the self-described “little guy from Shawinigan” said in an interview shortly before the portrait ceremony.

“And you know, they are an honest crowd and everybody pictures them as a bunch of crooks. It’s very unfair.”

Public cynicism has mounted recently amid outrage over controversies like the Guergis-Jaffer affair and MPs’ refusal to allow the auditor general to scrutinize their expenses.

Mr. Chrétien blamed “gotcha” journalism for the cynicism.

“Trivia is what attract the attention. The debate is very rarely now on policies, it’s always on all sorts of gotcha politics because the media need gotcha politics. They need blood.”

But he conceded politicians share the blame for bringing themselves into disrepute.

“Members too, they’re stupid because they play the game. You know, they attack each other for nothing.”

And that applies to members on both sides of the house. There are many, many reasons to hate the Harperites, but the Opposition often will release the hounds on the trivial, non-policy related minutia.  And the Cons are even worse – remember the “just visiting” attack ads?

I believe that the vast majority of our political leaders are indeed hardworking, honest and with a clear sense of public purpose when choosing politics as a vocation. But many succumb to the vanity that is the disease that fells many politicos.

Max Weber was a German sociologist who delivered a lecture 1918 on “Politics as a Vocation”. This is one of those essays that I remember best from my undergrad studies in Political Studies at Trent U. in the early 1980’s.

Weber’s conceptual analysis of the politician’s ‘personality’ culminates in the observation that above all politicians ideally require a psychological facility for distancing themselves, even from their selves:

…first of all the career of politics grants a feeling of power… What kind of a man must one be if he is to be allowed to put his hand on the wheel of history? … three pre-eminent qualities are decisive for the politician: passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion… passion as devotion to a ’cause’ also makes responsibility to this cause the guiding star of action. And for this, a sense of proportion is needed. This is the decisive psychological quality of the politician: his ability to let realities work upon him with inner concentration and calmness. Hence his distance to things and men. ‘Lack of distance’ per se is one of the deadly sins of every politician.

Therefore, daily and hourly, the politician inwardly has to overcome a quite trivial and all-too-human enemy: a quite vulgar vanity, the deadly enemy of all matter of-fact devotion to a cause, and of all distance, in this case, of distance towards one’s self.

…passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion… JC understood that there were necessary traits for a successful career politician.

Félicitations M. Chrétien! If you were still the Leader of the Grits, I would, just may, take out a membership!

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Of COURSE religion is playing a role in our supposedly secular system of government!! Duh!

Good piece in The Hill Times today about religion, government and why the Harperites don’t really care if those to the left of centre take offence to their stands on such things as abortion or gay rights.

Pandering to the core supporters  has always been the ReformCon way of maintaining solid financial legging in the party. By raising the spectre of abortion, the Cons knew that they would get some flak from the Left – but that group wouldn’t vote for them in any case. Worse case scenario – those voters would stay home and the Decepticons could continue to govern even though they may garner only 30% – 35% of the popular vote.

Former MP Garth Turner, who was kicked out of Mr. Harper’s caucus and then briefly sat as an Independent and then a Liberal, detailed what he said are the deep and extensive connections between the Harper Tories and the Christian right in his 2009 book Sheeple: Caucus Confidential in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa. He said Mr. Harper knows that in a multi-party system with increasingly low voter turnout, which hit its lowest point ever at 59 per cent in the last federal election, in 2008, all a party needs is around 30 per cent of the vote to win government.

“It’s about feeding them the red meat they want to mobilize the base,” he said. “That’s what Harper knows and that’s what he does. That’s exactly what Doug Finley has been accomplishing for the last five years. So I’m not surprised at this and I’m not surprised they would do things that are dumb and broad-based social moves such as cutting off gay funding, and this whole abortion debate. It’s very divisive but it’s done in order to make sure they’ve got that narrow constituency sewn up, and in a society where you’ve got four or five parties across the country looking for support he knows this is how to win power and keep it.”

In a related article, Harris MacLeod asks the question: To the divided left: don’t you feel silly?

Today Lawrence Martin eloquently lays out the absurdity of 70 per cent of the Canadian political landscape that believes in climate change, abortion, and same sex marriage being ruled by the 30 per cent who don’t.

Says Mr. Martin:

“In combination, the centre-left and left still have the bulk of the population on their side. In a culture war, they would likely clobber the right. But because of the divisions, there can be no such victory.”

So how bout it then.

Yeah, how bout it?

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Lost – alternate endings…

I can so see Harpy in the role of Benjamin Linus… sneaky, manipulative and willing to eat his young to further his agenda.

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