Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hump Day Thoughts

1) I will start off with some poetry (no, it's NOT good poetry, so you're forewarned) about my gutless weasel Habs. Without further ado, some Habs Haikus:

The Habs are a joke
Kovy quit quite long ago
No parade this year.

Plekanec floats by
Nowhere near the boards he goes
He has zero heart.

Price can be sieve-like
Halak is not much better
They let in long shots.

Carbo seems confused
Outcoached, he is constantly
Losing continues.

Schneider is so old
A high price for him they paid
They still will not win.

Habs wasted my time
Bitter about them, I still am
The team lacks courage.

2) These days there are any number of stories that transcend the sports world and cross over into what is generally considered to be "mainstream news". One of those stories involves A-Rod and the use of steroids (more about that below). Another is the barring by Dubai from its WTA-sanctioned tournament of Israeli tennis star (she is in the Top 20, amazingly enough) Shahar Peer from the tournament for no other reason other than the fact that she is Israeli. I am gratified by the reaction of the WTA and ATP, both of which have said that they will review Dubai's right to host WTA- and ATP-sanctioned events, and by the Tennis Channel's decision to not broadcast the tournament (as well as by the Wall Street Journal Europe's decision to pull out as a tournament sponsor), but I am more than a little disappointed by the fact that not one of her fellow pros, as far as I know, have said a word in her defense. Not one has said "If she doesn't play, I'm not playing". Tennis players in general have a reputation for being spoiled, self-indulgent and myopic. Of course, there are always exceptions, but the lack of response by any other tennis pro to this action on the part of Dubai certainly feeds into that stereotype.

3) I can't bring myself to look at the stock market today, which is rapidly closing in on a 50% loss in value since it peaked in October of 2007. That's my retirement, your retirement, and everyone's future income being washed away in a sea of bad business news, earnings reports, government red ink and general financial malaise. It took the stock market close to 6 1/2 years to recover from its losses after it peaked in April of 2000, but I think that the road back this time will be much longer.....if we even manage to get all the way back. The fundamentals of our economy are so weak at this point, and we are so heavily indebted as a society that we won't be out of debt for generations.

4) It's a story that has finally crossed over from the so-called "right wing blogosphere" and into the main media. Muzzammil Hassan, who founded a television station in his home of Buffalo which sought to show Americans that Muslims aren't different from them, beheaded his estranged wife, Aasiya, and though police seem to be suggesting that this is "just a case of domestic violence gone bad", it certainly appears to me that it is yet another "Honour Killing". What has struck me, however, has been the reaction of Women's rights groups, or should I say, the complete non-reaction. The head of the local chapter of NOW made it clear how abhorrent she thought that this act was, and more power to her for doing so. However, where is the national chapter? Is it too busy commenting on the activities of rappers? You never hear a thing out of NOW whenever one of these horrific killings takes place. Nothing. If NOW truly is the advocate of Women's rights that it claims to be, it will not ignore this ongoing story.

5) So, Iran has now launched a drone which can reach Israel. At the same time, the Iranian nuclear program is steaming ahead. The Iranian regime continues to propagate Holocaust denial and threats of Israeli's extinction. think that maybe, JUST MAYBE, there might be a small link between these three things? Only those in the West seem to not think so.

6) As I mentioned above, one of the sports stories that has become a news story is Alex Rodriguez "confessing" to using steroids while he was with the Texas Rangers. As far as I'm concerned, his numbers are now as bogus as those of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, etc., etc. There is another factor at play here, too, which is that 103 other players tested positive. Why was only A-Rod's name leaked? In the interests of "fairness", we really should see who the other 103 players are. Admit it, any Baseball fan is curious, regardless of whether or not they believe that steroid use taints the numbers of the player who used them or not.

7) I've already expressed my disgust with the Habs above. There is another team that is following a similar pattern, and that is the New York Rangers. New York got off to an incredible start, but over the last month or so, it has been awful. Really, when you think about it, the Canadiens and Rangers are mirror images of each other. They're both a collection of tin men, devoid of any heart.

8) One of the strangest stories to cross my radar over the last week is that of the transgender woman in Ohio who exercised her 73-year old husband to death. I'm not exaggerating here. A jury convicted this "woman" of Reckless Homicide and she will serve at least one year in jail. Frankly, if the reports I have heard are true (he died of a heart attack in the swimming pool and had attempted on numerous occasions to either grab the side of the pool and to get out, but she kept kicking his hands off the side of the ledges), then one year is way too little time in jail.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's been a while

Blogging has been light of late as I take care of issues at work and at home. Sorry about that. Here are some random thoughts about what has been rattling through my pea-sized brain over the last few weeks.

1) That "cease fire" in Gaza has really worked out well for Israel, hasn't it? Only one side has ceased firing (that would be Israel), while rockets and mortars still get launched regularly from Israel. Gilad Shalit is still a hostage, and the public opprobrium against the Jewish state has if anything increased--we now have the spectacle of possible "war crimes" trials starting in Spain against Israeli leaders and officials. Funny how no one on the left seems very concerned about what Hamas did (and is continuing to do). Well, something will change in the next few days, if only because Israel is about to hold an election. Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party currently holds a slim lead, but Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party is rapidly closing the gap. Given Olmert's miserable leadership over the last 3+ years, I have to wonder what Israelis are thinking, but maybe this is more a commentary on the opposition that he is facing.

And we thought that it was bad over here?

2) It's old news now, but the Pittsburgh Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl title eight days ago with a 27-23 come-from-behind win over the Arizona Cardinals. After a fairly dull first three quarters of the game (with the notable exception of James Harrison's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to end the first half), the fourth quarter featured 23 points, two lead changes and Ben Roethlisberger stamping his name among the great Super Bowl quarterbacks with a defining 88-yard touchdown drive that rivaled any done by Montana, Elway or the other NFL greats.

Here are some interesting Super Bowl Facts: The Cowboys and 49ers have five apiece. The Patriots, Raiders, Packers, Giants and Redskins each have three. That means that a total of eight franchises have won 31 of the 43 Super Bowls played, leaving the other 24 franchises to share the other 12 titles. When you add in Miami's two titles and Denver's pair, that means that the other 22 franchises have combined to win eight titles.

3) The Montreal Canadiens of 2008-2009 are officially the "Hab-Nots". As readers of this blog, I am a die-hard Montreal Canadiens fan. I grew up in Montreal, and being a Habs fan is in my blood. But, this year's team is as dislikeable as any team in recent memory, because it is wildly inconsistent and, more importantly, the players as a group seem to not even care if they win or lose. Right now, the Canadiens are lollygagging in fifth place in the conference, playing well below their potential, and not even within shouting distance of the first place Boston Bruins. In fact, even making the playoffs is lock for this collection of underachieving stiffs. In a year which had so much in the way of expectation, compounded with it being the 100th anniversary of the team, that is simply unacceptable. There will be blood in the streets of Montreal (figuratively speaking, of course) if that happens.........

4) The Iranians have for the first time launched a satellite into orbit. Yes, yes, I know that this is no ICBM, and that the technology used to launch is closer to that which the Russians used to launch Sputnik into space 52 years ago, but the fact that they did it is worrisome to say the least. I know that it won't make a bit of difference to the Obama Administration in its rush to "engage" with the Mullahs who run the Islamic theocracy, but this is a warning shot across our bow, and it is especially troubling--or, it should be, anyway--to Israeli leaders. Iran is not launching satellites and pursuing nuclear technology because it has nothing else to do. There is an end-game for the Iranians, and that end game will, if the Iranians have their way, involve a direct military confrontation with Israel and then the United States. Like it or not, Israel is the canary in the coal mine here, and the Iranians are going to gauge how we will react to its actions by how we respond to what it does vis-a-vis Israel.

5) There are reports out that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids (A-Roid?) in 2003, when he was still with the Texas Rangers, leading a friend to e-mail this to me:


It goes from the position to the player and how they are linked to steroid use:

Gary Matthews Jr.
Mitchell Report
Pudge Rodriguez
Teammate allegation
Alex Rodriguez
Media report
Juan Gonzalez
Teammate allegation
Rafael Palmeiro
Tested positive
Ken Caminiti
David Segui
Randy Velarde
Mitchell Report
Chad Allen
Mitchell Report

A-Rod of course is the biggest "fish" to be linked to steroid use since Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. He is also the most prominent player on the most prominent franchise in the sport. I guess that if you needed another reason to cheer against the Yankees, here it is.

6) Being an Obama government appointee doesn't mean never having to say you're sorry. What it does apparently mean is that you don't have to pay your taxes (those same taxes that Vice-President Biden told us it is patriotic for us to pay--I guess that Tim Geithner, Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer aren't very patriotic). The MSM has reported on the story, which has led Daschle and Killefer to withdraw their names from consideration. However, the inevitable tone of the reports has been to complain about Republican opposition to confirming these individuals. You can be sure that if this had been a Republican President seeking to name his/her government officials, this would have been Page One, above-the-fold headlines in virtually every newspaper in the country for days on end. MSNBC would probably have devoted at least one specific show to the story every day...........

7) On Saturday, January 31, I took the oldest BHG child to his first ever Hockey game in Montreal for his tenth birthday. I have to say, even as ticked off as I am at the team this season, there is no sporting environment--none whatsoever--which equals watching a Montreal Canadiens game live in Montreal. The Canadiens won the game 4-3 over the Los Angeles Kings by scoring two goals in the final two minutes of the game. He now has a memory that will hopefully last him a lifetime, and the best thing about it is, so do I................

8) The Australian Open tends to be the least regarded of Tennis' four "Majors", but I always try to watch at least some of it. On the men's side, Rafael Nadal stamped himself as the clear #1 in the world with an impressive five-set victory over Roger Federer. Last year, we witnessed Nadal take two of the four Majors, including the monumental five-set win over Federer at Wimbledon in what many are already calling the greatest tennis match ever. Down Under, they went five sets again, and Nadal emerged victorious one more time. He now has a 5-2 record against Federer in the Majors, and he has proven to be Federer's superior on clay (where he never loses. Period.), grass and hardcourt. He also has six Major titles, and even assuming that Federer does as expected break Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles (he's only one away), one has to wonder how long that record will last anyway. Nadal is still in his early twenties, and his best tennis may still be ahead of him.

On the women's side, we saw what happens when Serena Williams is serious about playing tennis. When she is, she wins Majors. Nobody else on the women's side can play with her when she is focused. She now has 10 Major titles, and while I don't think that she'll catch Steffie Graf's record of 19, she may come close.