Thursday, July 28, 2005

Because it is not done enough...

I remember reading JBow's blog back when we were first middling with the concept of founding one of our own. At the time, I remember remembering that "Rosemary and Time" was quite the inspired title, if (judging by the author's lack of enthusiasm) it might be heading nowhere fast.

So here we go. The book will be published next year, to surely wide acclaim throughout the blogosphere. It better be good, b/c my friends' kids are going to be swimming in copies.

Well done, Sir, especially given the recent circumstances. As Dave Chappelle might say: "It's a celebration, bitch." Can't wait to read 'er.

Like a Question Mark

"A hush fell over the crowd. As Nicklaus lined up his birdie putt with help from his son Steve, an occasional male voice punctuated the stillness ("One more time, Jack! You can do it, Jack!") The old golfer bent over the ball the way he always has - like a question mark, his right shoulder lower than his left, his left foot turned out. That's when my eyes got blurry and my chin trembled again.

Suddenly it was very important to me, to all of us, that Nicklaus make his putt, that he end his career with a birdie and a round of par at St. Andrews. He took his putter back, brought it forward, the ball ambled down the slope... and dropped into the hole to one last roar from the crowd.

Jack lifted his putter, some startled seagulls wheeled in flight, and a couple of big tears arrived to anoint my smile." -John Garrity, SI

"That Flighty Temptress"

Back at it in Halifax at the old firm, and happy to report that all is well. Hopefully blogging by your three humble correspondents will soon return to its semi-respectable pace. In the mean time, a smattering of thoughts.

(1) Loved the new Harry Potter book - far superior to Phoenix and up there with the best parts of Goblet. Has J.K. ever written a classier sentence than this Dumbledore beauty: "And now Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."

(2) Nice to see Peter Crouch sign for Liverpool as they continue slow progression through the Champions League qualifiers. Will they now finish higher up than the Gunners in next year's Premiership table? Bet on it. Looking forward to the Champions League draw tomorrow.

(3) The Pogues' Rainy Night in Soho joins U2's One and Cash's version of Bridge Over Troubled Water as a contender in the "most beautiful song of all time" contest. Pure poetry.

(4) Parrish and Grewal are easily the two most embarrassing MPs of this session. The real question is whether they are the most ridiculous of all time... My faith in democracy would be greatly enhanced if voters rewarded their absurdity and incompetence by summarily turfing them from office. Here's hoping.

(5) The Harvey Wallbanger has emerged as my official drink of summer. Looking forward to a few free ones on the boss this evening, on a patio overlooking the Ocean. The return to Halifax is not all punches and blood.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Haste Ye Back, Jack

A little bit of bragging. Here's my view of Nicklaus teeing it up at the final hole of his professional career at the Olde Course.

A marvelous day and one for the ages. Well done to Tiger. Will we be returning in 2041 for his 65th year Open? If we are still alive...

Fight Club

Your assignment: pick a fight with a stranger and lose.

So inevitably, it happened.

Ask enough guys to wail on your face when you are drunk over the years, act as I am wont to do around eejits that I obviously hate, and inevitably, finally, it will happen.

So MacDuff returns to Halifax. On opening night, after majestic beginnings at 4:30PM at the Lower Deck where I walk into a sturring rendition of "Farewell to NS" for the cruise shippers, we sit out on the glorious patio for ages and Keith pitchers galore, then to move inside to listen to McGuinty, and I unsurprisingly outlast all others who would party with me, closing the place with randoms from Yarmouth.

Cue the walk home. A happy meander along the waterfront, broken up sadly by a terrible guy holding his supposed girlfriend by the throat and otherwise acting like a preening fool. Enter your hero, with his favorite line - you want to hit somebody, hit me tough guy. Go ahead.

My arms are behind my back and I am goading the lad. After a good 7 hour session. At no point do I think he might actually hit me - they never do - until the fist hits (and ultimately breaks) my nose. Picture a fight between Gandhi and Rocky Balboa and you have an idea about how it went down... Passed my first night in the old city at QEII emergency room [blood pressure perfect, tetanus shot delivered], and am told to expect two black eyes by day one at the firm next Monday. Excellent service, though the wait time of 8 hours did verge on the annoying.

Honestly, can life get any more hilarious?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Farewell to Oxford

[or how Oxford was won]

I imagined writing an epic ode to this fair city and my time here. Expression beyond the cliche, directed more squarely at the magic inherent in an individual experience of dreams realized: of how it feels to actually finish your exams at the "Examination Schools" in full tuxedo dress, your buddy meeting you at the conclusion to dump Champagne on you, and then to hit the glory of the Turf. And a virtual infinite number of other such classics snapshots of the year abroad.

I imagined a fine dedication to Pimm's No. 1 cup, and to fine friends and to sweeter sweethearts.

But I find myself drunk, my Kiwi mate passed out nearby after puking for the first time in the Northern Hemisphere, and needing to do laundry and pack in order to get to London in time for the Les Mis matinee. In 7 hours. Ack. May not get much sleep. But worth it - especially my genius move of filling this flower vase with Hoegaarden.

[True connoisseurs will note that glass of Pimm's in my other hand... 'twas a good send-off.]

"Many times I gazed along the open road... Many dreams come true. I live for my dreams, and a pocket full of gold." Listen to that classic Zepplin tune - one of my favorites of the Domus basement and one that ages well. "Take what you have gathered from coincidence." And may you too someday feel these emotions.

Long live the dreamers of Oxon and its fabulous spires. I now find myself in a transition phase with no big overarching dreams. I will be seeking them anew in a cubicle in Halifax soon.

But until then, I have a quick tour through London, Friday at St. Andrews [let's see you make the cut, Jack!], maybe old Ben Nevis, and otherwise before Mush-a-Mush lake outside Lunenburg in time to celebrate the 63rd wedding anniversary of the most magical couple the world has seen. Two weeks of movement, so no blogging from your man MacDuff 'til the 25th of July.

Cooper and McNair, Ahab's task now falls to you... Keep the updates flowing. I will only remind the old Dream co-founder of his New Year's TO airport pledge of four posts a week to roll that proverbial ball onward...

Oh - I will miss this Theatre of Dreams. I am a part of all that I have met, says Tennyson. And as we come full circle, I am comforted by the image and thoughts of worldly folk succeeding me in the pilgrimage here, of the contined journey, that this powerful play goes on.

The opening photo is from the entry gate to Christ Church, the most famous of colleges, engraved for those who perished in WWII. Well: I hereby pass on my Oxford torch to those who would succeed me in this ever successful pilgrimage. I held it for only a brief flicker, and probably didn't take proper advantage. But I treasured it all the same. To whoever remains, bloggers Dilettante and Lindsay and the rest, run with it boys. And to those who are to come, my very best.

Who was it that said the most beautiful words in the English language were: "To Be Continued". That person was right. We roll on. My bags will soon be packed and soon I'll be leaving on that jet plane. But how deep did Kerouac understand it all when he wrote, so simply, that: "Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life." That is it.

Because Yes, the road is life at its purest. No matter. But every now and then, you must look over your shoulder and recognize magic: Fare thee well, my friend. May you live another 1000 years. No one in their right mind would bet against it.

Not-So-Wild Housekeeping

As you'll see on the sidebar, Ahab's has officially joined the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians. Justly so. Because as MacDuff mentions, in a given Canadian election, it would not be out of the question for the three of us to vote for three different parties. Can Blogging Tories and Liblogs membership be far off?

(Montecristos on the south bank of the Thames? How can I say no.)

Wild Libertarian Sex

Okay, so by posting this, I invalidate the usage of "penultimate" in the last post. Well, bollocks, it's just too funny. Ianisms presents "A Trackback". The comments actually raise some valid philosophical points [of course I side with Ian], but the randomness and cheek is to be celebrated. This is the entirety of the post:

You want to meet sometime, and have some wild libertarian sex? I’m an old guy.. but.. my tongue still works well.

This is NOT a proposition for marriage!

Update: I might have fun with this one. You know, projection and all that. Princess Monkey, what do you think? Have any views you’d like to share about sex, or projection, or whatever? :) I’m still so fixated upon you, you know. Can I get your phone number? I know you’re curious. You still visit my blog more often than I change my underwear. Which is AT LEAST once per day.

On a side-yet-somewhat related note, have we joined this Non-Alliance yet, boys? I think Coop and I might adequately compensate for the capital L of our man McNair. And if this possibly specious [a word I love not b/c it has many legal connotations, but b/c I first heard it used by Spock] reasoning means that we would also qualify for Liblogs, well why not? Let's do it. Collage is the greatest of all the arts, after all. And Rachmaninoff is always in my head [prizes to those who spot that reference].

And Cooper - Doggett's on the Southbank tomorrow (Weds.) circa 6PM? Monte Cristos will be provided. Any other Londoners welcome to crash, especially our beautiful Archie comic devotees.

The Queen's English

A penultimate [I love correct usage of this word, especially after the Czech's continued dominance of its use, as in all things to do with his English vocabulary] post from this side of the Atlantic.

I am soon to write about the eminent departure tomorrow from Oxford/London. For now a separate entry on one of the aspects of life "abroad" that I will miss above many. Not just the international aspect of an evening like last night, where the girl at the opposite table you sit down to talk to on a dare is as likely to be from Moscow or Mexico as she is from Montreal or Moncton.

It's the language.

Not the accent [which I do also love] but the expressions. From the journalism, to the sports commentary, to the janitor in the library who addresses you as "govn'er" or "professor" - without fail - as it closes.

So: if, upon my return to Canada, I continue to inexplicably accent the second syllable of weekend, forgive me. Forgive me also for referring to Ricky Gervais as THE genius comedian, even if you haven't heard of him. When I criticize American Football, come September, [yes, I have to use the preface now] for its pace [a word that also is inexplicably linked with Lampard or Gerrard] or for its innane commentators, like Dan Dierdorf, for his rank obviousness, and claim to long for an English bloke/chap like John Motson to control the game with language to open a match such as "plenty of capacity for inspiration today", forgive me.

And a game is now a match. Did you know that about 3 times as many people watched the shoot-out defeat to Germany in the 1990 World Cup in this country than watched Live8? Oh, I love this country.

If I am anything, I am a punter. [and that isn't just a reference to the summer relaxation at Oxford, I bet religiously]

Forgive my use of terms such as fancying a girl, snogging, pulling, boffing, and shagging. Minging is a reference to something brutal, though could describe some evening antics at places like Tiger Tiger or Motion.

When I say "that's pants", it just means it's shit. Though the dog's bollocks is actually something of top quality. Ace, if you will. And if a guy dressed as a clown or chicken were to win the London Marathon, he would have to run a blinder.

What else do you want, me to peel you a grape? and then the world on a stick?

If I call you a tosser, wanker, or slapper, I'm sorry for the insult. If you find me making fun of you, I'm likely just taking the piss, or on the piss, or at a piss up. So relax, plonker. Have some super Strongbow and get right knackered.

You study maths, not math. I now queue, I don't line up, and I don't mind doing so. And the off-license, or offy, is where I will buy my booze next year, even if it happens to be licensed by the N.S. government.

When things go pear-shaped, they have gone wrong, even if delightfully so. When I say "come here to me", I just want your direct or proper attention. And "your man" might actually just be an Irish reference to you, or the guy beside you.

Vacuuming is Hoovering from now on, though you would think we could let that man rest in peace. A cracker is an excellent anything, especially a football or rugby match, like "Super Bowl XXV was a cracker!"

A clanger is when your favorite hockey player rings it off the post of a wide-open net, or when the keeper gives up a terrible rebound that results in a goal [see: Roy Carroll, or before the genius of the final, Jerzy Dudek]. The best goals are cheeky ones [see: audacious or attempts by Wayne Rooney] or those scored by Ronaldhino the magician. Or, for that matter, any that bring the home crowd to its feet.

I am gutted by infidelity, by favorite players who leave their home clubs for more money, or by the terrible tragedies that result in untimely death. The word "Bloody" should only be used as an expletive denoting extreme: ie. that's bloody marvellous.

What are you on about?

A player's kit is just what he wears, his uniform. And trash is now rubbish, as is your hated football player, or most conservative ideas. When I splash out for pints, I intend to drink them, not throw them about [though this too might be a result]. Slagging you off is just the proper term for delivering insults. Bugger off [get out of here] if you can't take it.

Oh, merry England. Craig and I were in a hostel bar in Munich before this year began, and I happened across a guy who studied at Cambridge. Of course there is an innate rivalry between my university and his - Kill McGill doesn't capture it, McNair, so you'll have to refer to Cooper and his Yalie obsession with the "crapness" of Harvard. Anyway - sorry about your shit school, I say as we part ways.

Without missing a beat - "if by shit, you mean better than Oxford, then you are right." It is the cunning, the dexterity, the speed, the magic of the rebuttal that I will miss. I will miss the magic. But that's for the next post. Between hangovers, as you like it. Gotta go reclaim my damage deposit. It is really ending.

Snake Eyes

In what is surely to be one of the most underreported stories of the year, despite its possible immaculate completion, Greg Raymer is basically 1st at the World Series of Poker after Day 3.

To all those who say poker is about luck, or to Phil Hellmuth Jr. who delights in whining about his bad beats in the big event, fuhgetaboutit. The Cream rises. Sadly, Sammy busted out at 316th, so we are now to cheer other favorites. Lederer and Ivey are still lurking, and both deserve the big crown. Let's see if they can reach it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Crimes, not War, of Terror

Two recent columns post-London that resonate with me, even if they raise more questions than I know yet how to answer. John Tierney [Safire's impressive replacement at the NYT] and Simon Jenkins [now of the Sunday Times] - neither of whom could be characterized as overly left-wing - weigh in on the fallacy of referring to the terrorist attacks as part of a larger "War". It's a different paradigm altogether.

"But I think that we'd be better off reconsidering our definition of victory in the war on terror. Calling it a war makes it sound like a national fight against a mighty enemy threatening our society.

But right now the terrorists look more like a small group of loosely organized killers who are less like an army than like lightning bolts - scary but rarely fatal. Except that the risk of being struck by lightning is much higher than the risk of being killed by a terrorist.

It may seem coldblooded to think in probabilities after a tragedy, but contemplating those odds made my walks home a lot easier during the snipers' spree."


"Thursday’s bombs invite the same inflation, that they are part of a global war on terror and therefore somehow beyond our control. They must not be given that importance. They are a crime, a failure of domestic policing yet one from which no city can be immune.

They are not politically significant. They do not impoverish millions or alter the balance of world power. They are not an act of war between states, actual or virtual. They in no way diminish Britain’s national security or way of life. We are too robust for that. Therefore the bombs do not justify some new illiberalism from Blair, Charles Clarke and the security lobby.

The cause of democracy is not damaged by terrorism. Bombs will always get through. But the menace of terror lies in the poison it can inject into the community, tugging at its freedoms and taunting its tolerance. To that menace, democracy must be immune."

C'mon Sammy Boy!

On a much more pleasant note, the World Series of Poker has begun in Vegas. The official numbers are as staggering as expected: 5,619 players for a total prize pool of $52,818,600. "Day 1" had to be divided three ways in order to whittle the entrants down to a manageable number, and thus far plenty of big names have been knocked off. Hellmuth, Chan, both Brunsons, Ferguson, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Negreanu, and on. Into Day 2, Moneymaker and American Pie's Shannon Elizabeth have just been eliminated, but pros such as Phil Ivey, Mike Matusow, and Dan Harrington are alive and kicking, so the fight is well on.

Now attentive readers may remember my compulsive gambling habits persuaded me to take a few long shot flyers to reach the final table. The odds of selecting 1 of the 5,619 to make the final 9, though the odds of doing so is just over 0.16%. Hilariously though, one of my boys - Sammy Farha - emerged from the first day in 2nd place.

Yes that is 2nd out of 5,619! But, my $3 bet at odds of 41 to 1 is still far from home... and no sign of Scotty or Pescatori. As Cardplayer.com reports [THE place for live updates], still plenty of work to be done, but let's see if Farha can pull out the miracle for me!

Day Two: A New Beginning
In many ways, Day Two marks the beginning of the tournament. With separate heats for Day One, it might be easier to think of those three days as qualifying rounds to get the field down so everyone can play together on one day.

Nearly 1,900 players have survived their Day Ones to return for Day Two. Here are the top ten chip leaders:

1. Haakon Waerstad - $169,200
2. Sam Farha - $156,600

Ironically, even though we have meaningful chip counts for the first time (representing the entire field), history tells us it's doubtful that any of these chip leaders will even make it to the final table. It's a reminder that there are no guarantees in poker; even 7-2 offsuit cracks aces 11% of the time, and nobody has won a dime in the Main Event yet.

UPDATE: 4 hours later. Do you believe in the power of the Jinx? I thought I was too far away, but Farha has fallen down to $32,000 since this original post. Argh. Should have known better.

Friday, July 08, 2005

and I Can Show You Why You Will Fail.

Tim quoted Tony Blair below, so here's Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, in a poetic and powerful statement. "Just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder". Yes. But the broader theme is the crucial one: The bastards will lose.
"I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a
terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at
Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class
Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old.
It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any
considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn’t an ideology, it isn’t even a perverted faith - it is just an
indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They
seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said
yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the
greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony.
Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together
in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been
bereaved and that is why I’m proud to be the mayor of that city.

Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to
take life.

I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to
take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may
fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you
why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and
look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see
that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive
in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they
come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to
be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They
don’t want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that
flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony
with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”

Last night in Oxford, there was dancing and pizza and music and beer as friends from around the world, from New Zealand to Macedonia, celebrated the end of their finals. Such frivolity will continue tonight. Bastards.

UPDATE: Fox News has video of Livingstone's speech, all the more remarkable because it is pretty well extemporaneous. Blair's reaction is there as well. Leadership worthy of a great people.

The Way of Bastards

Because there is no other way to describe the cowardice. Simon Barnes says it exactly, in an article on sport and seriousness this morning, one that reduced me to tears for the first time since a favorite Uncle's funeral. Just go read it:

AND so at a stroke the city of joy became the city of horror.

That is the way of bastards: they hit us when we are most vulnerable and they rejoice in doing so. On Wednesday, we were celebrating the fact that in London in seven years’ time, thousands of people will do thousands of silly things to get a bit of tin hung round their necks and we were all relishing the way we would cheer ourselves silly in response.


The sort of people who spoil sport in that terrible way seemed at that moment more vividly wicked than any other kind.

Sport is, above all, a celebration of being alive. Those people who willingly and frivolously turn it into a festival of being dead are bastards. Their eagerness to spoil the world’s innocent frivolities spells out the eternal truth about terrorism. It is this: terrorism is not about achieving things; terrorism is an end in itself.


I'm okay as well.

Had left London after a magically wonderful evening of Softball and cheap beer/wine the night before, circa 4AM, to wake up to greet my buddy's end of exams and hear this news.

A few thoughts.

(1) This is unsurprising, and could/will happen again. Anyone reading this blog could have pulled this off with little difficulty if they were so inclined. I don't mean that in the flippant sense, just in the "consequence of a free society" that Tim mentioned earlier. No one patted me down on the Tube or buses to check for bombs yesterday, and I don't anticipate that they will tomorrow. That's a good thing, as tremendously saddening as this was...

(2) How dare they.

London is THE multicultural city, the world's capital if you will. It's an overused expression, but Johnson's "If you are tired of London, you are tired of life" remains tellingly apt. Walking from Marble Arch down to the softball match last night through Hyde Park, I overheard at least 10 separate languages in the 20 minute stroll. To coordinate and excute such an assault, you have to be depraved/demented beyond compare. Tim's observation on the fact that they hit predominantly Muslim areas services the point - those organizing this don't really have a clue what they are doing, their only weapon the fact that they value other people's lives as little as their own.

(3) Bringing them to justice? Humpf. How do you fight an enemy that willingly dies in the attempt on "innocents"? The answer has to be, on some level anyway, that you seek out the reasons why ANY citizens of the world might feel compelled to do something like this, and attempt to consolidate/overthrow/rebut them. Let's not descend into partisanship re: Bush's tactics/rhetoric. But somewhere there are 5 year olds who are cheering these bombings and burning American flags. They need to be reached.

(4) I don't know the city of New York like I know London town. It's my defining city, where I feel absolutely at home abroad. An attack on it is a visceral stab that cuts deep. Maddening, and it puts the true magnitude of 9/11 into a deeper, absolutely depressing, framework.

(5) London remains dominant. It obviously transcends this, and will overcome. And I love it and its people all the more for it.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

7/7 (Or, Black Thursday III)

As I write this, the bells of St Paul's are pealing, without end. It's quite appropriate; the Cathedral's great dome survived the Luftwaffe's blitz, and Londoners will get through today's carnage. The City is eerily quiet for a rush hour, even though most rail services out of town have been restored. Anyhow, some questions floating around in my head, ranging from the mundane to the inane:

1) Why today? Aside from the eerily symmetrical 7-7 date, it appears to have been timed to coincide with the G8 meetings in Scotland, when all of Britain's top cops are patrolling Gleneagles. Other theories floating around on the timing: the trial in London of radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, the Olympic announcement (although I don't buy this).

2) How did they do it? At first glance, the attacks appeared to be a rerun of the Madrid bombings -- here's one description: 'This is clearly an al-Qaida style attack. It was well-coordinated, it was timed for a political event and it was a multiple attack on a transportation system at rush hour," said Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies at King's College in London.' True, but one interesting discrepancy. The Madrid bombers used mobile phones to set off the explosive charges. Mobiles don't work in the Tube, however. Perhaps the London terrorists set the bombs on timers, but that doesn't quite jibe with me, given the vigilance paid to unattended packages on the Tube. (Full disclosure: I left a bag on the tube five years ago, resulting in a rush-hour shutdown of the Bakerloo line. People notice these things.) Could that mean today's carnage was the result of some well-coordinated suicide bombers? Or has Al Qaeda infiltrated Transport For London? (According to this story, it may have.) Let the investigation, and the conspiracy theories, begin.

3) Speaking of conspiracy theories, why did they only attack the northern edge of central London? The more I think about it, the more it puzzles me. Take a look at a map of the bombings (courtesy, BBC):

Granted, if you want to kill a lot of people and sow chaos in London, you bomb the Underground during rush hour. But if you had your choice, why the Circle and Piccadilly lines? Why not the more heavily trafficked District or Central lines? And why two separate bombs on the same line (Circle)? It makes me wonder if this was just a first wave in a larger campaign. The geography also puzzles because Aldgate East and Edgware Road are major Muslim population centres. If this does turn out to be Al Qaeda-affiliated, I don't see why they would target predominantly Muslim areas.

As an aside, the masterstroke of the operation, if you will, was bombing the Route 30 bus, an hour after the first Tube explosion. The terrorists must have known it would be packed with commuters looking for alternative services from King's Cross. Sick, but well thought out.

4) Are Paris and Moscow next? Fun fact: Al Qaeda's now hit the other three Olympic finalists hard in the past four years.

5) Are people going to ride the Tube tomorrow (sans Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Piccadilly lines)?

6) Was there any photo op from 9/11 as poignant as today's snap of Tony Blair, flanked in solidarity by the leaders of the developed and the developing world? It's enough to restore your faith in humanity. And if you look really really hard, I think that's the side of Paul Martin's face on the left.

More tomorrow. I'm going to try and brave the train. Be safe.

Black Thursday II

It's a dark day in London, made all the more somber by the contrast with yesterday's Olympic jubilation in Trafalgar Square. Looking out my window, at Blackfriars in the southwest end of the City financial district, the chaos is just now subsiding. You've read all of the headlines**, and you may think it's surreal, but being here, I can tell you it's even weirder -- there is definitely something in the air. The rumours are flying fast and furious; everything from reports that marines at Canary Wharf have shot somebody who is alleged to be a suicide bomber. The British Army has apparently taken control of the Tube, and the death toll is mounting. Who knows what's happening out there. Tony Blair was on message in his address to the nation. First thought was, thank God I don't take the Tube to work. Second, incredibly, there's no panic, possibly because the IRA campaigns of old have innoculated Londoners. People here are more pissed off about the inability to get home than freaked out about the blasts. How much more do I love this city now. Third, I can't shake the thought that this was inevitable, in a society as free as this, with a metropolitan transport network so complex, and with the burning hatred of those who despise our way of life.

As this unfolds, the question is, how do we react? I'll need some time to think about that. But right now, all I can say is, I'm coming to work tomorrow morning. Al Qaeda be damned. For now, Tony Blair says it best, as he almost always does:

It is important however that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world.

**(If you're looking for info on today's events, check out this unbelievable Wikipedia page.)

Black Thursday

It's an exciting day in London, for all the wrong reasons. Just writing to let everybody know I'm okay. More later.

Full Many a Promise

For the Romantics out there. Because it bears repeating:

"A year to go around the world! A whole twelve months of scenes and curious happenings in far-off foreign lands! You have thought of doing this, almost promised yourself that when you got old enough, and rich enough, and could "spare the time," you too would go around the world. Most of us get old enough; some of us get rich enough; but the time! the time! - to spare the time, to cut loose from goods and lands, from stocks and dreary desks, quit clients, patients, readers, home and friends - ay, and our enemies whom we so dearly love! Full many a promise must be broken and few the voyagers round the world."

- D.N.Richardson, "A Girdle Round the Earth"

Dear Former Friend...

Do I need to tell you to keep checking Rick Mercer's new blog religiously...
Of course not.

And how great is the satirical Wells on the Equality Party? The quality of journalism in Britain is miles ahead of anything we can hope for back in Canada. But with Wells and others at the helm of le blogosphere, maybe we can fantasize about making a proper (necessary) dent in quality?

6 final days in this fair city... yet how fitting to spend this olympic evening traveling into London's Hyde Park to spank some of the city dwellers in a friendly game of softball.

And how we love the name Claire!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Frere Jacques

I can tell you first-hand that Trafalgar Square was brilliant today. I've never seen it more crowded, more alive. You could have heard a pin drop before the announcement, followed swiftly thereafter by deafening noise and abundant confetti. And what more appropriate a result, beneath Nelson's column, following the British celebration of victory over the French at Trafalgar 200 years ago? Goosebumps.

But if you really want to know why Paris lost:

Officials from the Paris bid committee had defended their decision to have [Jacques] Chirac play a leading role in presenting the bid to IOC delegates in Singapore. ``He is a kind of symbol for our bid,'' said Philippe Baudillon, president of the Paris bid committee in a July 1 interview.

And what a symbol he is, these days; a symbol of abject failure. First the regional and European parliamentary defeats last year. Then the EU referendum debacle, where he repeatedly made an ass of himself on television before having his pleas for a 'yes' verdict buried mercilessly by the voting public. And on top of these political failures, let the record reflect that as mayor of Paris, he was around for the 1992 and 2008 bids, as well.

Think Tony Blair was smiley before? Oh, to be at Gleneagles, where I hope Mr. Chirac gets a healthy helping of black pud'.

It's London Baby!!

Outstanding. And this morning, Gerrard's had a "dramatic change of heart" and is staying in Liverpool.

Glorious day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Sporting News

(1) By now, you've heard that Roger Federer has won Wimbledon for the third time in a row. What you may not have seen is this masterclass bit of prose by Simon Barnes for the Times on the victory, that compares the world #1 to Hamlet and Van Gogh. I am truly going to miss the quality of British journalism.

(2) The quest for #7 has begun. It seemed a bad omen when the Livestrong bracelet I picked up on the Champs last year, mere hours before Lance cruised into the city, snapped in half at the end of Canada Day. But Armstrong dominated the rivals in the first time trial, and our old friend Tom Boonen has already captured two stages! With the help of some tape, Livestrong is firmly reattached.

(3) Loyalty in the Premiership may be dead, though perhaps there is still hope. Truly a sad state of affairs. Why Steven Gerrard would want to leave Liverpool to join Chelsea or Real is simply beyond me. Has he not learned anything from Michael Owen's departure last year?

(4) Jack Nicklaus looks to be in fine form leading up to St. Andrews. I hope we'll be able to get our hands on some of these fivers.

(5) Just over 24 hours until the decision on London's 2012 bid for the Olympics. Aaronovitch has an excellent article in the Times today with a title that says it all: "If the IOC voters are tired of vibrant London, they must be tired of life". My $15 at 3.25 odds pays about $50 from sportsinteraction. C'mon London!

Monday, July 04, 2005

O'Connor v. Bush?

Frum's criticism of Justice O'Connor generally has merit, but check out this howler of a paragraph:
And the harm she did extended far beyond the law. Even in what could have been her finest hour, the Bush v Gore case, her unwillingness to enunciate general and binding principles pushed the final judgment away from the clear and simple grounds preferred by the court's more conservative three justices to a muddy, confusing, ad hoc solution whose flimsy and unconvincing reasoning crippled Bush's first term and continues to poison American politics to this day.

Say huh? Maybe it takes a British Conservative journalist to provide the principled right-wing critique behind the majority decision in Bush/Gore. By what standard could Bush's first term possibly be viewed as "crippled" exactly? And how in the hell could such a sentiment be blamed on O'Connor's decision to agree with the majority, just not for the exact reasons of Scalia et co.?

How ridiculously weak.

Happy 229th Yanks!

ONE song, America, before I go,
I’d sing, o’er all the rest, with trumpet sound,
For thee—the Future.

I’d sow a seed for thee of endless Nationality;
I’d fashion thy Ensemble, including Body and Soul;
I’d show, away ahead, thy real Union, and how it may be accomplish’d.

(The paths to the House I seek to make,
But leave to those to come, the House itself.)

Belief I sing—and Preparation;
As Life and Nature are not great with reference to the Present only,
But greater still from what is yet to come,
Out of that formula for Thee I sing.

-Walt Whitman, 1872.

"For AIDS in Afghanistan, is it?"

Seems not everyone got the Live 8 memo. Keep on rocking, Marty Gladwell of Whitby, Ontario. Oh my. Further evidence that Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times probably has the definitive word on the event:

But if Geldof and his friends want to play politics, showing demagogic muscle means nothing. His revellers must join in the democratic debate and engage with a complex argument. The exploitation of “just in time” protest is no alternative to formal democracy. A Live 8 ticket is not a vote. Make poverty history is a cliché, not a programme...

What we see is another chapter in an old story, glibness triumphing over thought and the rich yearning for excuses to impose their values on the poor. We know we cannot “make poverty history”. This week we are trying to make it geography. Perhaps, just for once, we should make it economics.

Read the whole thing. When we saw Mandela at Trafalgar Square back in February, I quoted Sir Bob's call for the "politics of responsibility". Awareness is only the first step - let's hope this campaign is not seen in 20 years as a mere flash in the pan. To the difficult task of sustained commitment to the cause...

10 of 12 credits down...

One more exam (and one more week) 'til the end of this BCL. Sing it, Belle and Sebastian:
"If I could do just one near perfect thing I’d be happy
They’d write it on my grave, or when they scattered my ashes
On second thoughts I’d rather hang about and be there with my best friend
If she wants me.

If you think to yourself “What should I do now?”
Then take the baton, girl, you better run with it
There is no point in standing in the past cause it’s over and done with "

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Importance of Being Optimistic

Last week, conservative Mike Brock posted an insightful message aimed at the CPC and its supporters, urging the adoption of a positive vision. Money quote:
We also need to stop seeming like we hate Canada. We need to stop looking at Canada as something to be conquered, but rather something to be embraced and improved.

I love this country. It is my home. I intend to spend my life here, and by whatever means I can, contribute to the betterment of it. But how can I do that, when so many of my ideological allies are locked in a state of vindictiveness and negativity?
One of the more maddening political "arguments" to rebut is that your candidate or position is "too angry", but such perception counts. Especially where it's legitimately grounded.

Cue the Canada day celebrations - surely, at least, a universal day to celebrate the love of country across the political spectrum? Not for too many Conservatives, sadly. Monte Soldberg seemed to set the groundwork with a shockingly disgruntled post on the passage of same-sex marriage ("the New Canada. You can have it.") and POGG, eh? has a revealing constrast of posts from the Blogging Tories and Progressive Bloggers that captures the various approaches to the day of celebration.

But the "over-the-top" award goes to the Western Standard's Ezra Levant, in an all too typical and ridiculous comment that waxes nostalgic for Dominion day and the old Red Ensign, laughably equating the celebrations in Ottawa to Adscam, of all things:
"Did it not strike anyone sitting in a government-funded, government-orchestrated, government stage-managed, government-themed celebration of government -- flying a Liberal flag -- that they were merely participants in the latest and biggest and annualized sponsorship program? "
Such excessive negativity is a sure fire loser. The Tories would do well to remember that a summer "charm offensive" requires not only a degree of charm, but also an actual sense optimism/hope about the future direction of the nation. A determined happiness.

Harper may have struck a chord in last year's election campaign with the line: "You don't have to be Liberal to be Canadian", but Conservatives must also emember not to mistake hatred of the Liberals with a hatred of Canada. It's their surest path to another electoral defeat.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

To the Maple Leaf and Back Again

Well, if the turnout and enthusiasm of C-day festivites in London is any indicator, the state of the country remains strong. Canada House provided the complimentary Moosehead - how happy was I that Molson Canadian was not the High Commissioner's beer of choice! - and also a glorious flag that I intend to wave behind Mike Weir at St. Andrews on day two of the Open championship. Marvelous revelry all around: the good cheer and host of refreshingly sexy Canadian ladies proved to be the perfect counterpoint to a morning spent struggling over an examination of Global Comparative Financial Law. The Maple Leaf (or rather Maiden Lane in general) never disappoints on July One. From the inexplicable clowning of 2004 to the sub fusc (with Flames shirt beneath) in 2005 - what a wild and wonderful year it has been.

Woke up dazed and confused this morning with the most bizarre of thoughts - a strange longing to watch this old made-for-tv movie after discussion of the comics. As an experiment on the powers of capitalism, I vowed (hungover) to purchase it online if I could find a copy for sale on the Internet. Verdict? $12.48 including shipping, yet another in the long line of classic acquisitions. Anything you want, you got it.