The Endtimes Are Here!!!

Convergence is finally upon us!

  • Chinese overheating meet the West borrowing too much from China;
  • The Web 2.0 bubble is bursting and may well have entirely flopped by 2:37 pm this afternoon;
  • Tenuous consumer certainty in the stock market is evaporating again!

These are the sorts of days vacuous fear mongers like me love. I have been warning you all since the last day of collapse, through all the good times, the wealth generation, the happy years of saving, durable product purchasing and madcap luxury consumption. Now where are those days of plenty – those happy happy days?

Stock markets around the world plummeted yesterday in a wave of selling set off by a plunge in China that was reinforced by worries of weakening economies…

The NYT says it is like someone just snapped their fingers. Who snapped their fingers? Who was it? Was it you? Perhaps YOU!!! We will know better today if this is a blip, correction or the beginning of the endtimes which will see us all drinking tea and putting out but not eating maple leaf cookies at parties as we did back in the 1980s recession.

In other new, Castro’s getting better. Kind of a kick in the goolies day for capitalism all around.

Close…But Finding A Church Is Not Playing Horseshoes

at truth everyday. I was after a bit of history the other day on my way back from Hamilton Friday when I thought I would see if I could find Britannia United, my father’s first church after he got his collar when I was six or so, the year before we headed to live in the Maritimes when history itself changed. It was there that I either choked on my letter of the word “C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s” or told Santa that in fact I had been bad – something that I later learned was right out of a movie of the week script. We have a picture of me there on the last Sunday School of the year in the back sticking my tongue out, wee bastard that I was

I got off the highway in Mississauga heading back from Hamilton at the bit where the road names are familiar in that way things that you only knew for the twelve months when you are six are familiar. I drove up Britannia and got lost and jumped back on the 401. Little did I know what Lord Goog now tells me – all too late – that I missed it by a couple hundred yards as the church was not actually on Britannia. Anyway, here are the Google Maps of it all.

Note that it no longer sits in the middle of miles of sugar beet fields as it did in 1969. The owner of the farm shown in the upper left of the top photo learned that the selling highway cloverleafs was much more profitable than the selling sugar beets.


It’s All Your Fault!

You never called to remind me. You didn’t email or knock on my door. And as a result I missed watching Syracuse and Georgetown, leaving me to referee a massive meltdowny tantrum. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

The Syracuse players sprinted off the court just as the fans rushed on. The players didn’t want to avoid the court-rush from 26,287 fans at the Carrier Dome on Monday. They wanted to embrace the support. Some stood up on the scorer’s table and slapped high-fives. Others went on the floor, showing they’re not claustrophobic. Syracuse’s 72-58 upset over No. 9 Georgetown denied the Hoyas a chance to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season title. More importantly for the Orange, it secured a victory it would like to point to on its resume for the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Wow – they smoked them. It must have been great. I wouldn’t know.

The Intensity Principle

How can I adopt the intensity principle into my life so that I, too, can be a better Canadian in the new way:

  • At work, I will not promise to be more productive but when I do work, I promise to really really work, focusing on the really.
  • When losing weight, I will not eat less or exercise more but when I do I will really eat little – perhaps even nothing – and I will exercise in a meaningful way.
  • When retirement planning, I will not fall in to that trap of beginning to save now and making sure I put away a sensible amount every month but when I do get around to savings I am going to borrow a hell of a lot and stick it away…for sure…definitely.

There you have it. It is easy to attain intensity. Intensify yourself. Get intensed. Come to think of it, I am quite intensed about the whole thing right now.


Here is a rare thing – Fernando Martinez, an 18 year old baseball player already established as one to watch out for:

Martinez grew up in Rio San Juan, a fishing village on the Dominican’s north-central coast, where his father, Odalio Fernando Martinez, was a cattle farmer. He has three stepsisters and a stepbrother, and lives near his mother, Ana Luisa Alvarez. From the time he was 13 or so, Martinez said, he took 400 to 500 swings every day. To increase his bat speed, Martinez swung a weighted bat and tried to hit kernels of corn tossed to him by a trainer.

Now I know what to blame my lack of success in life on – my parents failure to toss hundreds of corn kernels at me every day of my young life.

Do We Love The Beer Or Brewer?

Lew has written another segment of his unfolding manifesto on his relationship to craft beer and the craft beer industry and triggered a long discussion. I take this as his key point:

I have to tell you, this kind of “let’s treat craft beer with kid gloves” stuff has been bugging me for years. It’s one of the main reasons I started this blog and my website. I don’t have a lot of patience with people who blast beers from positions of ignorance — “This IPA sucks! I hate hoppy beers!” — but when a beer is not good — poorly packaged, poorly formulated, or just plain insipid — I don’t want to be told by some brewer that it wouldn’t be nice to say so, or that if I felt I had to say so, I should say so nicely.

Hey, we’ve all heard it from mothers and grandmothers (and editors): if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. Well, how am I going to talk about light beer, then? Seriously, if a critic can’t say negative things, he’s gagged. And if I can’t say those negative things in an entertaining, creative way…what the hell am I getting paid for?

He is right but in being right also begs the question of the importance of his rightness. Don’t get me wrong. I like Lew lots. I even make a point of paying for his books and not hitting him up for review copies largely because he was an early adopter or at least supporter of my blogging about beer, what, for the best part of four years now. All I mean is like any voice with audience you have to remember that the subject matter itself is the important thing. Last month I thought out a bit of my mini-manifesto around being a fan. But while I am a fan of the great brewer I am really a fan of the brew more than anything. And I am really only a fan of what the brew does for me…not Lew… not the brewer… and not you out there (however nice you all are – and you are.) As a result, I am quite content not to get Cantillon and other Belgian sour beers, quite content to describe Rodenbach Grand Cru thusly…

That is all there but you have to appreciate that the acidity is that of a sub-puckeringly sharp wine. Vinous does not cover how sharp. Tart but only in the sense of King Tart of the Tartonians. Within the tart the is some reflection of spice and certainly a gooseberry-rhubarb custard trifle would go well with this.

…or to say of another of its general ilk: “I cannot hate it. Yet I am sure it hates me.”

If someone does not agree with me I do not understand how that changes the experience I have when those thing-like-fluids are in my mouth. For me, it is only about the fluid just as a pub is only about the actual experience you have or I have – not the hype or the good time a pal’s sister’s friend had 15 months ago. That may mean you have to take yourself seriously, too, and pay attention to what is in the glass and not rely on others anymore, even me, than you would rely on advertising or if the brewer is friendly, starting out or your cousin.

There. Another bit of the manifesto.

Web 2.0 Valuations – Or Maybe I Don’t Get Something Again

I haven’t written something about not getting something internet related for a while…days at least. And, of all the things I do not get, I really do not get the Web 2.0 bubble:

Deep-pocketed companies are now angling for a piece of the Web 2.0 action – a quest that already has yielded a couple big jackpots, helping to propel the sales prices of startups to their highest levels since the dot-com boom…News Corp. paid $580 million in 2005 to buy MySpace, the largest social-networking site, and Google Inc. snapped up video-sharing pioneer YouTube Inc. for $1.76 billion late last year…In 2006, the average price paid for a startup funded by venture capitalists rose 19 percent to $114 million. That was the highest amount since the dot-com frenzy of 2000 when the average price of venture-backed startups peaked at $337 million, according to data from Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association.

Having lived tangentially though Y2K and the dot-com boom and fortunate, prior to those points in time, to have advised the webby people I knew that they should recession proof themselves (always good generic Maritimer advice), I can only scratch my head. Not so much at the boom – as these things happen – as history repeating itself so closely.

Once upon a time, the internet promised to replace commerce. The dot-com boom busted when it became apparent that people were just not going to buy dog food and sofas on-line and B2B still was going to require sales reps in 17 year old Ford rust buckets or flying in economy class roving the landscape to meet the people to make the deals. In large part the success of the internet on a retail basis is that it serves as the greatest flier insert ever. No one is really claiming now that the internet has in itself created a retail boom but I do get to find things to get – yet they only replace other things I would have gotten otherwise. And it only works for a few goods. I am still dependent on my grocer, for example, for my access to the most excellent of coffees at a reasonable price…not to mention all my other food. I could ship that coffee in via e-commerce (i-buying?) but that would cost too much. So I use e-commerce really only to buy that which is unattainable (very good homebrew supplies, unpopular books, quirky gifts). E-commerce works great for the unnecessary.

If we get right down to it, the internet now really only promises to replace your social life. I was reminded of this when actually I met up with some bloggers this week and went over all the things that never panned out: video blogging, podcasting, pervasive citizen journalism. Like early TV and its promise to bring education and two-way video communication into every home, lofty goals and intimate technologies get traded in for just more bulk entertainment. This is fine, I suppose, if you like bulk entertainment – and if watching cable TV or being a fiend for movies won’t do it for you. We game, we chat in text, we make connections and discuss ideas with people whose lives would not otherwise touch ours. There is nothing wrong with this but, like the dot-com boom, how is it not just replacement of the inessentials? There is the eternal question of the Internet: would I not be better off if I held a dinner party for people I work with, joined a service club or rec sports team and actually talked with actual people, making real relationships upon which I can depend (rather than creating a dependency)…not to mention doing all that in the context of actually doing something? I would have to give up certain levels of real or illusionary control of the discussion as I would have to deal with people as people and put away the small pulpit and the accompanying pulpitism that the internet gives people. Could you imagine in 1985 the idea that social life could occur in something called MySpace as opposed to an “our”-space? A “my-space” then was where you were alone. I suspect in a very real way it still is except the trinkets and baubles as well as bells and whistles distract you from that.

I look forward to the collapse of social networking sites. The web-0.0-era hobbyists sorts will remain as always but I still plan a party for that great day. It will be interesting again to watch today’s gurus become tomorrow’s apologists, then accusers, then naysayers, then advocates for the next big thing – whatever the venture capitalists will believe that is in 2016. Whatever it will be…will they call it Web 3.0? Not likely. That would be like the guy who, early in 2000, I comforted with the knowledge that he was well suited for consultancy in Y3K.

A New Year With Barry

It is odd these days to witness ethics and sport and perhaps crime collide when you are not talking about the NFL or Italian soccer. But that is why we
have Barry Bonds

“Let them investigate,” he said. “Let ’em.”

So began the San Francisco Giants’ 2007 baseball season. This could be the year that Bonds breaks the career home-run record, or the year that he is indicted by a federal
grand jury, or both. For the past three seasons, Bonds has pursued some of baseball’s most hallowed milestones at the same time grand juries have investigated his connection to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroid distribution case.

Asked Tuesday how the
investigation weighed on him, Bonds said, “It doesn’t.” Asked about his level of concern about the outcome, he said, “None.” Asked for an explanation, he told reporters: “It’s just you guys talking. It’s a media conversation.”

Again, I say, I say: is there any sport that makes for better reading than baseball? This article in the New York Times about Barry Bonds moving towards the sullied home run record is great in its focus on his relationship with newly
acquired (and also Barry) Zito. Not so much with the hockey quote of “working hard for the team” or the NBA prima donna quote about being all fun and one big family and the ball sucks / does not suck. The
batter like the pitcher plays an individual sport within a team sport in a way. They do not need us. They need that moment.

All of a sudden, a batting-practice session in February turned into a midseason confrontation. Cain unleashed another fastball. Bonds met it over the middle of the plate. The ball landed on a grass-covered hill beyond the right-center-field fence.

“I’m ready,” Bonds proclaimed.

Just March Madness to get
through and then it’s all lawn for months.