How Does Gustav Affect The Race?

I know this is grim especially if this is Katrina II, but is it possible that the response to Gustav that may hit New Orleans this week could be a defining moment in the Presidential election? Apparently George Bush has canceled his trip to the Republican convention. At what point does the convention get canceled? Here are a few scenarios:

  • Gustav misses a major center or fails to, say, cause major damage even with a direct NOLA strike: no issue and everyone sighs in relief.
  • Gustav causes levee breach, flooding but no huge losses and convention continues: response has to be perfect but that may only mean reduction in presence of convention which, given the Palin announcement, may be fine with McCain – the opportunity to avoid association with the party may help.
  • Gustav causes levee breach, flooding but no huge losses and convention canceled mid-week: this is a tricky one as there could be over reaction. Tension over the idea that there was nothing the convention attendees could do anyway.
  • Gustav causes levee breach, flooding and things get really serious: Can the convention continue? And any peep by anyone including the Democrats becomes a huge negative. The balance of the election campaign is entirely taken up with the response. Confusion as the three leader situation – Bush, McCain, Obama – leads to an expectation that each of the three lead…somehow.

Any other possibilities? It is easy to imagine how to botch things but what is the response that a candidate can make to a crisis that honestly elevates their esteem in the public mind? Ever since Hurricane Juan hit Halifax I have been conscious of that late summer warm shore water pop a storm can get. Usually, the worst of consequences means that nothing else really matters – except maybe a Presidential election.


Massachusetts: St. Hubbins Abbey, High and Mighty Beer, Holyoke

sha1Excellent. A Spinal Tap reference in a well-priced Belgian-style ale, named for the patron saint of quality footwear. The brewery’s website is but a page – refreshingly Tap-tastic as well. The brewery apparently uses the equipment at fellow Holyokarians at Paper City, whose mixed 12 packI reviewed three summers ago…when I was but a pup.

This ale pours an attractive orange amber with a cream head that resolves to frothy rim and foam. A light citrus scent is followed by a orange peel nutmeg and black pepper spiced wash of soft water fruited maltiness. Perhaps nutty but that’s mixed up with some black tea astringency right in the middle of all the $6.75 for a bomber at Tully’s of Wells. Great value and, at 6.2%, not a skull crusher. I envy myself having one in hand, I really do. BAers give respect…but not to eleven or anything.

Johnny On Coco

Last night was another Red Sox victory over the Yankees and something of a hint how they may actually play into October. The nibling grinding pitcher Byrd held them at bay with his masterful 88 mph “fast”ball. The guy who never could replace Manny got 4 RBIs. This quote is from the game before but it stands, too:

“Coco Crisp’s single really led to three runs,” an admiring Damon said. “He was able to steal second and score on an infield single. That’s pretty amazing, how a string of three runs happened when Coco Crisp came to bat.”

I don’t know if that all beats ry’s Angels – can anyone truly beat the team that has Vladimir Guerrero? I still don’t know what to think about the Ray o’ Satan. I understand there are still lines on their stadium’s roof which designate which ball is a home run or a triple when it gets up there hitting the low roof. Do you really want a World Series won with a home run whacked into a ceiling?


Did Franklin Know That Much About Beer Goggles?

I doubt not that moderate Drinking has been improv’d for the Diffusion of Knowledge among the ingenious Part of Mankind…drinking does not improve our Faculties, but it enables us to use them.

Benjamin Franklin, Silence Dogood, No. 12, 1722.

Franklin was 16 or 17 when he wrote that under a pseudonym. Smart kid. You know, quoting Franklin on beer can be dangerous stuff but, in this case, you know that is it true because you can read it for yourself on the internet. When I read that passage above in the introduction of Salinger’s book, I thought not about Franklin or his sayings but beer goggles. They were in the news lately, as this piece from CTV reminds us:

Anyone looking for a mate in a bar, take note: Beer goggles really do make people appear more attractive, British researchers say. Scientists at the University of Bristol found that study subjects who consumed alcohol considered people to be about 10 per cent more attractive than did people who did not consume alcohol…Both the male and female subjects not only found members of the opposite sex more attractive, they also found members of the same gender more attractive, too…The researchers also found that men deemed women to be more attractive for up to 24 hours after they consumed alcohol.

See, it’s that last bit that Franklin’s words mirrored – the continuing effect of the alcohol upon the faculty of the mind, an effect that lasted long after the alcohol ceased to exist in the body. Does the moderate drinker see the world through sunnier lenses generally? I wonder. I have had occasion by times to abstain for days on end – hard as it is to imagine – and it is in those times when find my imagination a little less vital, the roses passed sometimes unnoticed. Those are sad times. Pete Brown wrote the other day, by contrast, about how an introduction to craft beer opening the doors of perception to a whole new way of thinking about drink…but maybe it goes further than that, as Pete himself may be implying in his nod to good old Billy Blake, Franklin’s junior by half a century, who wrote:

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.

Isn’t that what the wee dram (or whatever the scientists of Bristol gave their human guinea pigs) did? Did it not cleanse the mind and reveal beauty? Is that no what Franklin saw when he was but a lad?

Norman Was By

Other than a friend’s parent when I was a kid and the Undertone’s song “There Goes Norman”, I have little contact with Normans. Norman, the internet service provider tech, however expanded the Normy part of my world by 50% yesterday when he was over to check the issues with our high speed. He showed me all the weird wiring in our house installed by the last owners, he rigged us up to a more powerful line in the next street over…he gave me his work cell phone number. Later today – on Norman’s direction – a switch should be thrown that allows us the most powerful access to the information super highway that has been known to mankind. Or at least the level of serivce I have been paying for for two years.

I didn’t tell him we had been checking out the competition but if he pulls this off I am sticking with Bell because that means sticking with Norman.


Maine Update #1: Poor Hans – Nothing To Read

I feel badly for Hans. I even drove near Heuvleton, NY on the way here so the whole family could wave at the ancestral home of Hans. But I have to get to the South Portland library to post this week, it was closed yesterday and, frankly, there is sea life to consume instead of blogging. Notes so far:

  • Hotels with no free breakfast are not good. I had to hunt for groceries at 10 pm on Friday instead of waking up to someone else’s work of making me faux scrabled eggs and “breakfast links.” Oddly, Double Tree with no breakfast is part of the same hotel group as the much preferred, feast o’breakfasting (yet cheaper) Homestead Suites.
  • The smoked chowder at 3 Dollar Dooies is still great.
  • Get to the South Portland Library early as there is already only one computer free. People do not whisper here, either, which is good. No library nazis.
  • Gas is not as expensive here as in NY state. We went from 4.09 a gallon upstate to 3.69 here.
  • Renting a cottage in a normal neighbourhood is a great thing. My neighbour came over to help with the garbage. My kids are among families with kids. I walk to ice cream.
  • I am going to kick the second annual 35 yard field goal in America as part of my continuing “Glory Years” project – this time with a 19.99 NFL sized Wilson. Last year was celebrated in Ithaca NY with a CFL ball. When I kick my 35 yard kick, my kids will shout “you still got it, Dad” because I am going to give them ice cream if they do.

That is it for now. The Olympics are on the radar but not too much. Nice to see Canada got some medals so far – nice to see we kick ass at trampoline and female wrestling. I hope Ottawa is now being praised for its support.


The Sort Of Pub I Wish I Lived Near

278I have to admit that I am not exactly a guy with a regular pub. Frankly, when I head to the States on holiday with our pals like I will tomorrow for ten days, I am more likely to have a favorite bar I go to regularly than I would have here. But none are like the pub mentioned at the BBC today, “The Pigs” at Edgefield:

Locals at a village pub in Norfolk are beating the credit crunch by bartering home-grown produce for pints. The Pigs public house, in Edgefield, near Holt, encourages drinkers to contribute to its traditional food menu in return for free alcohol. A sign placed inside the pub reads: “If you grow, breed, shoot or steal anything that may look at home on our menu, bring it in and let’s do a deal.”

Who wouldn’t want to go to a pub where this could happen: “someone will say ‘that rabbit tasted great’ and we say ‘here, meet the person who shot it’.” But it’s not the food that particularly attracted me when I checked out the pub’s website, it’s the games. Sure there are quizzes, darts, billiards, dominoes and even shove ha’penny but right there to the lower left of the page so generously titled simply “drinking” it says you can play “I Spy“. What better indication of a genial spirit than the invitation to spy with one’s little eye something that begins with “J”.

A New Olympic Record! Blaming Ottawa On Day 4!!!

You knew it was coming. Usually it doesn’t start up until the second week. But accusations are now flying, claiming that the reason Canada has no medals in the Olympics yet is due to the fact that our “sport spending” falls short:

“Why are they so good?” Diving Canada technical director Mitch Geller said Tuesday after the Chinese synchronized diving team easily won a gold medal in the women’s competition and the Canadians finished seventh. “They screen tons of kids. They put them all through some very, very good fundamental training. And then the cream rises to the top.” In Canada, governments and business are offering more money than ever, but the country’s sport spending lags behind that of China, Russia and other modern countries.

Wow. Did anyone tell Mitch that China, that most modern of countries, is a totalitarian dictatorship which may go some way to explain how they get to “screen tons of kids”? That the Chinese even measure kids by the ton may have been a hint.

But setting aside of those dreams of Nicolae Ceausescu’s 1970’s gymnastics teams – though he apparently hated sport – have to explain how it is that those who are well funded, got to China and have the best chances have failed. Yesterday, Brent Hayden, Canada’s fastest man in the pool, the reigning world champion failed to make the Olympic men’s 100-metre freestyle final. Ottawa’s fault? Did you know we had the fifth best fencer? She lost in her first match. She gone. Stephen Harper made it so. Personally. So unmodern of him.

There are reasons our entertainments are not as entertaining as others – and Olympic sport is just that, entertainment. First, we are a middling nation with middling resources which are actually allocated by Federal and Provincial governments ranging from socialists to neo-cons with a great measure of prudence. Second, we lack a pervasive national joy in achievement that drives the competitive spirit. Third, we simply like winter sports better. Fourth, the CFL gets all the real cash from Ottawa and you might as well get used to it.

Do you care? I don’t. I am happy to see some Canadians play an excellent game of softball and even was interested to see we have a men’s field hockey team even if the Ozzies smoked them. That’s what the Olympics mean to me – learning that we have citizens who love weird sports, having a slight interest in that oddly placed passion rise to my mind’s eye for about seven minutes and then moving on, forgetting them for another four years.


Friday Bullets For The Week Your Life Changed Forever!

OK, it didn’t change. It’s pretty much the same as last week – but it is really like that week twenty-seven weeks back if you think about it. It’s kinda eerie when you think about it like that. Or mid-May 2005. It’s like that, too. Weird:

  • Georgian military update: Castle Aaarrgh knows all.
  • Best Job Title Update:Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Belarus Alexander Surikov said…” Wow. What a handle. I don’t care what he had to say but what a handle.
  • The Olympics are apparently on. I would like to maybe see the shot put. Not much else. Why not just have two weeks of shot putting on TV, you know, when the Red Sox aren’t playing. That would be better.
  • Olympic Update: is this pair of images to the right, including one created today, one of those separated-at-birth things? Click for more detail.
  • Even this link it so a .pdf, it is to a .pdf of a new map explaining international claims to the Arctic…and guess what: we are losing Santa.
  • Baywatch: it’s working out just fine.
  • Oh dear. This is the first real bit of bad economic news for Canada in yoinks. Pray for the return of the eighty cent dollar.
  • You know I like NCPR and you know I like “The Beat Authority” on Friday afternoons. Well, there is a Beat Authority Blog now, too. It’s the future and it’s all about that 1998 convergence thing. And throbbing dancing beats.
  • Australian monachists hate puns. Buns? No, puns.
  • Would a McCain Presidency with the Democrats running both houses be so bad?

So that is it for now. A late beginning to the day and an internet connection that fails makes for short bullets even when I write most of this through the week. I’d get a new internet service but I fear change.


Group Project: Should There Be Different Grades Of Sorry?

I have to admit I know so little about the background that I am somewhat unsure what tho think about the recent incident of the Prime Minister’s apology. But perhaps you have an opinion on what happened:

…Mr. Harper ignored their advice. He offered the apology and left the stage immediately afterward, without waiting to see if his host would deliver the pre-arranged thank you speech. Jaswinder Singh Toor, the grandson of a passenger on the Komagata Maru who was sent back to India, said he was shocked to hear Mr. Harper’s comments “It was unbelievable,” he said, adding that he did not understand why the Indo-Canadian community was not treated in the same fashion as Chinese and Japanese communities that have received apologies for historic wrongs. “Only the Indo-Canadians are being treated differently,” he said. “This is not right.”

It is often said that Mr. Harper does not suffer fools greatly but that I think is a bit of a euphemism. It certainly does not mean he has a license to be unkind and ungracious as he represents my nation as opposed to his personal opinion. Leaving abruptly would seem to be unkind and ungracious.

But has he been placed in an unfair spiral of expectation? The one man cannot be expected to wear the entire mantle of representation of the national government. He may have played a big part in creating the expectation that he is his own PR representative, the figurehead as well as the leader of the administration. For a person who wants to weaken and decentralize the land, he sure likes the strength of centralization of authority. Ought this outreach to communities and history be the job of the Governor General or even the next Royal visit? If it is left to a politician – any politician – is there not a risk of the consideration of an important historic matter becoming politicized?