Daily Archives: February 27, 2010

IOC recovers its senses

Celebration on ice

Canadian Girls hockey celebration is forgotten, quite rightly.

Vancouver organizing chief John Furlong said it was simply a matter of “young kids who were happy.”

“They had a great time,” Furlong said. “They let their hair down. Yes, they said they were sorry, but they’re great ambassadors for hockey, and they shouldn’t regret what they did for a moment.”

Well over an hour after the Canadians beat the Americans 2-0 on Thursday and were given their gold medals, 14 players returned to the ice still in their uniforms. Some wore wacky sunglasses and smoked cigars, while almost all were drinking beer or champagne.

As a third-string athlete growing up, I am awed by kids who have the skill and drive to reach Olympian level, regardless of whether they get a medal. They’re amazing, all of them, and if a team  scores a gold medal after years of training and hard work and wants to cut loose, God bless them.


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Our media

Matt Haughey on the tsunami:

So live news coverage in America is basically staring at webcams and reading wikipedia? Shit, I could be doing this myself.


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Nothing happening in Hawaii

I mean, I’m glad, sort of, but as a disaster buff, just a tad disappointed.

UPDATE: Okay, ain’t nothing happening. I don’t fault the authorities on this in the slightest – if Thailand had had similar notice, thousands of lives could have been saved. There was a massive earthquake, a tsunami was generated and of course  a dire warning should have been issued. But just like hurricane warnings, when they fizzle, people tend to discount the next one. Until it’s too late.

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Of course, a tsunami that washes away Hawaii wouldn’t be entirely tragic

Is anyone else following this story? I wrote about it a year or so ago, but it’s back with a vengeance: Hawaii’s about to spawn a separate state based on race, courtesy of House Democrats.

As farewell presents go, few lawmakers get to redistribute an entire state’s wealth based on race. That was the send-off for Representative Neil Abercrombie, who is retiring this week to run for Governor of Hawaii. For his campaign literature, he’ll take the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which was whooped through the House on Tuesday 245-164.

The bill would create a sovereign tribal entity made up of some 400,000 Hawaiians. Supposedly designed to mimic the legal structure created for Native Americans, the bill breaks new ground—requiring the federal government to create a tribe based on a loosely defined racial identification. Not yet scheduled for a vote in the Senate, the bill may face opposition from Republicans, including a filibuster. South Carolina’s Jim DeMint says he’ll use “all the tools possible” to prevent the bill from becoming law, and we hope he does.

This wasn’t the law’s first trip around the Hill, though it was the most outrageous. The version passed Tuesday includes last-minute changes by Mr. Abercrombie to evade normal legislative vetting. In a letter to House leaders, five members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights expressed their “profound disappointment” at a bill that was “negotiated behind closed doors” and “released less than 48 hours prior to the expected House vote.”

And no wonder. While land transfers will still need to be negotiated with the state, the bill could affect public land covering 38% of Hawaii. The new tribe would be immediately vested with such “inherent powers” as sovereign immunity, the right to regulate its members and to be released from various state taxes and regulations. That’s a departure from the original plan, which required consultation with the state government and Congress on tribal powers.

The changes are so egregious that even Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, who had been an ardent supporter, withdrew her approval. “This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution,” Governor Lingle wrote.

We’re committing national and cultural suicide and no one seems to care.


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Writers on writing

Great tips here. That’s the trouble with blogging – no time for reflection and re-writing. I’d go back to my novels, but does anyone read books anymore?


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Speaking of earthquakes

Sudden acceleration, I swear!

At 12:35 this morning, Pal Nancy heard a crash, as did our neighbors, but no one could determine its source until the paper girl knocked on our neighbor’s door at 7 and, after handing her her paper, asked whether she knew she had a car in her side yard. Oops! A Toyota SUV had joined them during the night.

No one hurt, although some shrubs and the porch were brutally assaulted and the spinning collision managed to bash in just about every body panel on the car. I’m just spekelating here, but MacKenzie’s and black ice make for a bad combination. Just saying ….


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Tsunami hits Robinson Crusoe Island

Wake up, Friday, it's Saturday, and we have to leave!

I’ll admit that until just now I didn’t know that there was a Robinson Crusoe Island but there is, 400 miles off Chile, and the tsunami has hit it with 18′ waves. No report on damage, if any – next stop, Easter Island.

Interesting to note that the Chilean earthquake was 9X more powerful than that which struck Haiti yet, so far, deaths seem to be in hundreds, rather than the hundreds of thousands. The reason? A good building code. Poor Haiti is so poor it can’t even afford laws.

UPDATE: Who knew? It really is the island that inspired Defoe.

It was here that the sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned in 1704 and lived in solitude for four years and four months. Selkirk had been gravely concerned for the seaworthiness of his ship, the Cinque Ports, and declared his wish to be left on the island during a mid-voyage restocking stop. His captain, Thomas Stradling, a colleague on the voyage of privateer and explorerWilliam Dampier, was tired of his dissent and obliged by leaving Selkirk. All he had brought with him was a musket, gunpowder, carpenter’s tools, a knife, a Bible and some clothing. The sailor inspired Daniel Defoe to write the classic novel, Robinson Crusoe.[4] To reflect the literary lore associated with the island, the Chilean government named the location Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966. In 1840, Richard Henry Dana, Jr. described the port of Juan-Fernandez in his classic Two Years Before the Mast as a young prison colony.[5]

(Two Year’s Before the Mast is a great read, by the way – if you have a 14-year-old reader interested in sailing, you might suggest it. Or read it yourself.)

UPDATE II: Ah, Kindle! I just bought, for the princely sum of 99 cents, a trilogy of Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson and Treasure island. My pal Bernie Yudain recently expressed a grudging curiosity about the Kindle and Bernie, what it lacks in the tactile pleasure of a real book, it makes up for in the speed with which one can pull books down from those Internet tube things.

UPDATE III: Just added Two Years Before the Mast, free! Next time I’m stuck in an airport, I’m set for days.


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Burying the lede

Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling has an appeal scheduled before the Supreme Court Monday and, although the WSJ devotes most of its coverage to whether Skilling was denied a fair trial because of local antipathy for Enron in Houston, I think this will be the more interesting question:

The Supreme Court also is reviewing whether one of the laws Mr. Skilling was convicted of breaking is unconstitutionally vague. The jury found that Mr. Skilling violated a federal law that required him to provide the company and its shareholders with the “intangible right of honest services.”

The government’s use of the honest-services fraud statute has been a matter of increasing debate in legal circles. The Supreme Court seems eager to weigh in on the debate. The justices accepted three cases, including Mr. Skilling’s, for review this term that involved disputes over the use of the honest-services statute.

No one would ever accuse me of being a legal scholar but I think Skilling’s best chance of leaving prison before Bernie lies here: a pretty good argument can be made that the “honest services” statute is unconstitutionally vague in that it fails to give fair warning to an individual that his activity is illegal. Or that’s what I think, anyway. We’ll learn this summer what the Supremes make of it.


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Wake up!

Folks in Hawaii are mostly still asleep and don’t know there’s a tsunami heading their way, so authorities are going to set off sirens at 6:00 am their time. Maybe you should call any friends out there and give them a heads up.


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Tidal wave heading for Hawaii?


That’s what the Tsunami folks fear.

The’re curiously precise, predicting the first waves will hit at 4:19 PM, our time. Set your watch.


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Sheesh, this could solve the Social Security mess, I suppose

NYT: New wave of anti-biotic-resistent germs invades hospitals.And they have no drug to stop it. My advice: stay out of hospitals.

The germ is one of a category of bacteria that by some estimates are already killing tens of thousands of hospital patients each year. While the organisms do not receive as much attention as the one known as MRSA — for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — some infectious-disease specialists say they could emerge as a bigger threat.

That is because there are several drugs, including some approved in the last few years, that can treat MRSA. But for a combination of business reasons and scientific challenges, the pharmaceuticals industry is pursuing very few drugs for Acinetobacter and other organisms of its type, known as Gram-negative bacteria. Meanwhile, the germs are evolving and becoming ever more immune to existing antibiotics.

“In many respects it’s far worse than MRSA,” said Dr. Louis B. Rice, an infectious-disease specialist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland V.A. Medical Center and at Case Western Reserve University. “There are strains out there, and they are becoming more and more common, that are resistant to virtually every antibiotic we have”.

Funny (ha ha) – NBC devoted 11 minutes to the Toyota throttle issue earlier this week and of course we were all treated to the spectacle of Congressional hearing on the matter, yet these buggers are killing tens of thousands of  people a year. Not sexy enough for prime time, I suppose.


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Here’s a telling sale

25 Mooreland Road

This house was purchased for $4.725 million back in 2004, extensively renovated* and placed back up for sale in 2008 for $6.250. It sold yesterday for $4.175.

* A readers corrects me and says they painted it, period.


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Yeah well, that was then

New York Times: data since 1895 fail to show warming trend. The article was printed in 1989, before the Times and its allies discovered the usefulness of global warming as a social tool. Within a decade, the science was settled.

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Getting nervous on Pennsylvania Avenue?

Shock, confusion as birth certificates are invalidated.


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