Friday, May 26, 2006

I'm 31 flavours and then some

Thirty-one today, though it's a bit overshadowed by this whole moving to Finland thing, natch. [The missus and I will be doing a joint blog of our travels, but will also keep our own personal blogs (though she almost never updates hers). So, watch for that.]

Here are some interesting facts from Wikipedia about the number 31:

The code for international direct dial phone calls to the Netherlands.
A type of game played on a backgammon board.
The number of flavors of Baskin Robbins.
In Star Trek, the name of Section 31, a secret police shadow organization of the Federation.
In Family Guy, the Griffin house number on Spooner Street
The jersey number of famed NHL goaltender Curtis "CuJo" Joseph, who currently plays for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Turkish slang for masturbation ("otuzbir").


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More Laziness from ME

Yep, too lazy to enter my own entry, so today's guest bloggers are Dave Zirin and John Cox, who provide us with some interesting insight to those cooky politicians in the UK and the USA:

Using Soccer to Kick Iran

This article is available at

The World Cup--the month long competition taking placethroughout Germany beginning June 9--is by sheernumbers the most important sporting event on earth.

Football--or soccer, as Americans insist on calling it--is by far the world's most popular sport, and theWorld Cup creates a near-united global audience. Approximately one in four human beings will view thisyear's final game. That means basically anyone who hasaccess to a television will be watching--thoughprobably fewer in the United States, where "soccer" isstill viewed in some quarters as a plot to create aone-world government. Politics cannot be separated from the World Cup anymore than it can be from the Olympics. Sometimes thisis for the best: For example, Africans throughout thecontinent exulted in Senegal's shocking upset of itsformer colonizer, France, in the first game of the2002 Cup. This year, however, German and US politicians haveseized on the tournament to intensify the saberrattling aimed at Tehran. Citing Iran's efforts todevelop a nuclear program and the anti-Israelpronouncements of Iranian president MahmoudAhmadinejad, several leading politicians in bothcountries have called for the Iranian team to be banned from the World Cup. In this spirit of tolerance and peace, Berlin's liberal daily Der Tagesspiegel rana cartoon in February that depicted Iranian soccerplayers as suicide bombers. Now Germany's conservative Chancellor Angela Merkelhas further stoked this sentiment by likening Iran'snuclear plans to the threat posed by the Nazis.Italian reform minister Roberto Calderoli of theanti-immigrant Northern League called on theinternational soccer federation (FIFA) to exclude Iranand other "rogue states," and in recent weeks BritishConservatives--perhaps distraught over their ownteam's dwindling prospects, after an injury to theirbest player--have gotten in on the act.

Back in Germany, some Christian Democrats havefurther upped the ante by invoking the specter ofIranian terrorism at the games, asserting that Tehranwill slip some suicide bombers disguised as regularfans into a game. Calls for a ban, or at least for atravel ban against the Iranian president, haveintensified in Germany as the games approach. LeadingConservative and Social Democratic officials are nowquoted almost daily decrying a possible visit byAhmadinejad. And in early May, a German newspaperreported that officials of Germany, France and Britainare hoping to orchestrate a travel-ban scheme throughthe European Union that would prevent high-rankingIranian officials from attending any of the games. In the most recent gambit, on May 12 a group ofEuropean Union representatives presented a letter toFIFA demanding that Iran be evicted from the games.

The hypocrisy of this quasi-extortion is overwhelming:Iran should be banned because its leaders indulge inbelligerent rhetoric and attempt to develop a nuclearprogram, yet no one advocates the exclusion of theUnited States, even though it is engaged in twomilitary occupations, in Iraq and Afghanistan, andPresident Bush has refused to rule out a nuclearstrike on Iran. Despite its drive to demonize and isolate Iran, theUnited States has been slower than its Germancounterparts to use soccer in this campaign, given thesport's relative obscurity here. But a few politicianshave craftily picked up on it. On April 6, SenatorJohn McCain, Mr. Maverick, introduced a resolution tothe Senate Foreign Relations Committee advocating aWorld Cup ban on Iran--a resolution that is sure to gonowhere. To its credit, FIFA has rejected all of thesedemands, and seems unlikely to budge. But much of thisanti-Iran campaign has less to do with the unrealisticgoal of banning the top-level Middle Eastern team thanwith grooming public opinion for aggression. Iran's blustery president seems less of a threat toIsrael or to anyone else than to the rights andwelfare of his own people.

Middle East expert JuanCole pointed out in a May 3 post on his blog thatAhmadinejad's overheated oratory is hardly the gravestthreat to world peace. Cole argues, "Ahmadinejad is a non-entity. TheIranian 'president' is mostly powerless. The commanderof the armed forces is the Supreme Jurisprudent, AliKhamenei [who, by the way, just reinstated a ban onwomen's attendance at soccer games that Ahmadinejadhad reversed in April]. Worrying about Ahmadinejad'santics is like worrying that the US military will acton the orders of the secretary of the interior.Ahmadinejad cannot declare war on anyone, or mobilizea military. So it doesn't matter what speeches hegives. Moreover, Iran cannot fight Israel. It would bedefeated in 72 hours, even if the US didn't come in,which it would.... What is really going on here is anold trick of the warmongers. Which is that you equatehurtful statements of your enemy with an actualmilitary threat, and make a weak and vulnerable enemylook like a strong, menacing foe. Then no one cancomplain when you pounce on the enemy and reduce hiscountry to flames and rubble." The Iranian people are even more enthusiastic aboutsoccer than most of the rest of the world. Iran evenheld a national day of celebration when its teamqualified for the Cup, and Iranian soccer fans lookforward to cheering their team on as it attempts tosurvive a difficult first round against Portugal andMexico. Perhaps the Iranian team will have anopportunity to repeat the squad's upset of the UnitedStates in 1998. But this would be little consolation if the Cup is used as a platform to further threatentheir nation with invasion or occupation.

"I would rather people built a clear wall betweensport and politics," Iran's Croatian-born coach BrankoIvankovic has said. But the Iranian people are beingreminded that, while soccer may be a beautiful gamefor them, it's little more than a political weapon forothers.

[JOHN COX is an assistant professor of History atFlorida Gulf Coast University and a supporter of FCBarcelona. DAVE ZIRIN is the author of "What's My NameFool? Sports and Resistance in the United States" andwants to fight for a world where soccer players canuse their hands.]

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Floetry Game

Here's how it works:

I write an email (from my work) to my wife (at her work) with a line like:

just contemplating the things that think

And she writes back with something like:

skating around on the hockey rink

And I write back and she writes back and before you know, blammo! cheesy poetry from a work-flow, floetry (yes, like the R&Bhiphop group). Here's the results. Cheesy, but funcheesy:

just contemplating the things that think
skating around on the hockey rink
all those intellectual jocks
pushing me into the penalty box

where I vent intellectual rage
breaking every pressure gauge
boxcar smoke from ears
salty hot frustrated tears

tossed beer on hair
and politics of laissez faire
i'm tired of this right wing bunk
lefties sometimes twice the skunk

i want to play for neither team
i want to swing both ways
i'm done with every world regime
taking up non-competitive play

i like families and value them too
i like animals free not in zoos
tradition isn't always sour
the old ways not so dour

but new is also often fun
trips kids into new realms
myopia can come undone
the system overwhelmed

these skates hurt my feet
they're made of deceit
the laces are too tight
their colour is too white


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Business Cliche #29

FYI = I had to get this out of my inbox, you take it, feel free to do nothing about it or just pass it on to the next sucker.

So sucker, what's your favourite business cliche?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sleeping Disturbed in Our Bed

Sleeping disturbed in our bed
princess of knowledge in our bed
What dreams have you so beholden?

you with knowledge filling your head
you who've seen from every angle
a tilting world inside your head

you who've seen through skilled deceit
of professional liars primed
for great political power
lay beholden to fantasy

Darkness and evil intention
assault your darkened slumber

What wound has slain your time of peace?
gave passage to nightmare demons

Who kidnapped your sweet good night?
you born a pastor's daughter
your mother a hunter too
a survivor of ditch-side snowstorms

You slayer of ignorance
challenger of assumption

you holder of rolled up sleeves
stockpiled productive muscles

brain-brawn master of high class
who thinks that slack is body sleep
who breaks only from exhaustion
who shares her energy with sun
vulnerable only in dark

The superhero's weakness
the antidote to her power
the wound left by some villain
the hole through which light escapes
the hole through which nightmares invade

slay your great knowledge and wit
left helpless gazing at victims
impaled by supposed saviours

Oh my sweet girl from the north
my Suomi princess divine

with the strength of thirteen others
with the knowledge of history
with the understanding of time
with the connection to youngness
with the addiction to newness
with the respect for agedness
with the visits to distant shores
with the ardent ears of a scribe

the original servant queen
ruler of the academy
ruler of kitchen things
student of male trivia

Hailed by the aristocracy
hailed by the ones who would be kings
were prejudiced exclusion
not a factor in all such things

Sleeping disturbed in our bed
princess of knowledge in our bed

pride is not what drives me to you
pride neither the reason I stay

though honoured by your listless arms
though honoured by idea flow
though honoured by inclusion

in your body-mind diversions
sleeping disturbed in our bed
princess of knowledge in our bed

Heart of good intentioned strength
shares energy with the sun
loves and is easily broken
letting in the darkness of night
demon nightmares of world gone wrong

your heart your single greatest strength
your heart your vulnerable part
your heart what drives me to you
your heart the reason I stay

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