Friday, February 27, 2004

Mmmm, Solid Food...

And I am, for the first time since Tuesday evening, consuming such gastronomic delights right at this very moment! You see, I have spent the last couple of days laid out with a very nasty flu, one of those ones which leaves you with a sulphur taste in your mouth every time you burp. I'm still not feeling really on top of things, but at least I'm upright and mobile. I'll write more on the weekend!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Scumbag Alert!

What is wrong with U.S. college coaches these days? The latest to fall into disgrace is Gary Barnett, football guy at the University of Colorado, which has been suffering under a glut of rape cases related to its football program. "So?" you say. "There are a lot of testosterone-fueled young men on your average college football team, and not all of them are going to be saints. So why the dig at the coach?" Well, apparently you've been living under a rock on Mars for the past month, because if you hadn't been, you'd have known that the coach's response to this scandal has been nothing sort of disgraceful. The worst bit of the whole thing has revolved around Barnett's comments about Katie Hnida, one of the alleged rape victims. She, of course, was a backup placekicker on on the U. of Colorado football team for a year or so, and, astonishingly, Barnett used this to justify (justify!) her getting sexually assaulted by one of her team-mates. His entire horrific quote was as follows:

"It's a guy's sport. (Players) felt like Katie was forced on them. It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful. You know what guys do? They respect your ability. I mean, you could be 90 years old, but if you could go out and play, they would respect you. Well Katie was a girl, and not only was she a girl, she was terrible."

One website I read described Barnett as a "reprehensible scumbag", and I can't put it any better than that. But the scary thing is Barnett is not alone in then pantheon of complete and utter coaching assholes. Take Dave Bliss, who urged his players to smear a dead team-mate's reputation to investigators. Or Rick Neuheisel, who seemed to share with Pete Rose an attitude towards gambling. Or any one of about half-a-dozen others who have been found in compromising positions with students, strippers, player agents, etc. etc. And don't even get my started on the waste of space that is Bobby Knight... And it all begs the question: What the Hell is wrong with these people?

Well, in large part I blame the rise of the "cult of the coach" in the college ranks. I remember thinking, just before he joined the Washington Redskins, that I knew who Steve Spurrier was, but couldn't quite remember which University he coached at. Shouldn't it be the other way around? I mean, if you watch a college football game, you'll see that about 90% of the time the cameras switch directly to one of the coaches the moment the game is over. There he'll be, stalking across the field to greet his opposite number, surrounded by a veritable posse of state troopers, like Caesar after a battle. Coaches are paid amazing sums of money and are given virtual free reign by press, students, boosters, alumni, etc. to behave as they like (witness the outrage at Indiana after Knight was fired for being a violent, tempermental, thug). It's really reached the point of insanity, and it has, inevitable, spawned aberations of nature like Gary Barnett and his ilk. And in closing, I must say thank god for coaches like Joe Paterno (and shame on the people who want to see him resign) and a few others, who at least reassure me that there is hope for the breed.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Death at the Courthouse Update

Police bring in engineers to look at elevator door

Edmonton - Police have hired an independent engineering company to examine the elevator door through which a teen fell to his death last month.

This was the first I'd heard of the investigation since a couple of days after the incident actually happened. Unfortunately, according to the article, it was also the first the victim's family had heard in about the same time. Now, I know this kid was no saint, but for crying out loud, he was 16 years old! And, while handcuffed and shackled in the company of two presumably trained corrections officials, he contrived to throw himself down an elevator shaft. Now, forgive me my forthrightness, but it is not the elevator door that needs investigating! What needs to be investigated is how the poor kid came to hit the door hard enough that the resulting damage to it allowed him to fall through (elevator doors don't open unless the elevator's there, folks, - they can't. If they could, people would be at risk of falling into elevator shafts). And, while not a trained police detective myself, I would humbly suggest that perhaps about a day's worth of chatting with the two guards who were escorting the boy might go some way towards clearing this whole mess up (unless they've lawyered up, which would be indicative in and of itself)? Anyway, what began as merely a very tragic story, albeit a suspicious one, has now mutated into an angering one as well. Further bulletins on this as events warrant.
So, uh, one of my co-workers strolls through my workspace this morning and exclaims "My God, look at all these books!!!" We work at a bookstore, by the way...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

New Guy Gavriel Kay Book!!

I like GGK, I really do. I confess, though, that I enjoyed his earlier stuff, particularly Tigana more than some his less fantasy-ish later books. That's not to say that his later writing is weak or unenjoyable, because the opposite is definitely true. In any case, his new one is called The Last Light of the Sun, and it seems to be set in a sort of Celtic/Viking fantasy world. Based on his earlier stuff, I would expect it to be lavishly researched and filled with interesting characters. It's just out in hardcover right now, which means that we're probably several months from the paperback release, at which point I will actually be able to buy and read it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Minor Chuckles at the Record Store

So, I'm in one of our excellent used record stores the other day, and I come across the aboved, which I didn't have, but wanted (mmmmm, commmas). I trotted up to the checkout counter, and the rotund bearded 60-ish fellow who owns the place took it from me to ring through. As he did so he peered at it and said, somewhat archly "Well, I see mother's birthday has rolled 'round again." Anyway, maybe I need to get out more, but it did make me laugh.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Sorry for the absence. We won our soccer game Thursday night, despite having to come from behind three times. Awesome performances from our 'keeper, My Friend From PG, and our 'keeper's daughter.

And, I see that Tunisia are Champions of Africa, beating Morocco 2-1. Congratulations to them!

See you all on Tuesday, when normal service shall be resumed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Computer Death Happening Soon!!!!

Virus Warning for Windows Users - Very Serious

Message added by Marc Perkel

Microsoft has yet another very serious security flaw that gives anyone with the right know how total access to your computer. I
don't know all the details - but it might be the biggest one yet. If you remember the SoBig and Code Red viruses last fall - this one
will similar in that it doesn't require you to get email for you to be attacked or hacked. Your computer can be hacked into and
viruses installed without you doing anything to cause it to happen.

I say "will be" because right now there is no virus - yet. But the flaw is there and it will be a matter of days before someone writes
a virus to take advantage of the flaw. And - your anti-virus software will have no effect. Microsoft has posted a patch and that is
how you protect yourself - download and install that patch.

Here's the link to Microsoft's Windows Update:

You must use Microsort Explorer to install it.

I am also asking that those of you who have blogs and newsletters and high traffic web sites post this warning on your front page
and include it in your newsletters. The best defense to this virus is to stop it before it begins. As you all know - this virus will affect
non-windows users in that the new viruses turn windows computer into spam robots and we are still getting the bounce messages
from the last virus. Let's see if we can stop this before it starts by first - patch your computer now - then - tell everyone to patch
theirs. You can cut and paste this warning into your blog or newsletter.

And there I was thinking I wasn't going to be able to come up with anything for Oi! Thump! today. I nicked the above, by the way, from Anyway, I did my Windows update this afternoon, so I should be relatively virus resistant for a few days at least.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

NHL Rings the Changes

NHL GMs suggest five changes
WebPosted Tue Feb 10 18:03:17 2004

CBC SPORTS ONLINE - The NHL is on the verge of drastic change.

NHL general managers agreed Tuesday to suggest five significant on-ice improvements to a panel comprised of coaches, players, executives and members of the media.

And, here they are, with my insightful and inciteful commentary on each one.

1. No longer allowing goaltenders to handle the puck behind the net.

Interesting - will stop the goalies acting as an extra defencemen, and will certainly help out forecheckers. I don't know that this is the most significant of the changes, though. As a side-thought, it will quite possibly lead to fewer goalies being injured, but that remains to be seen.

2. Reducing the width of goalie pads from 12 inches to 10.

Hooray! Compare these pictures to see why I'm enthusiastic about this...

Those pictures span about 20 years, so you can see the way things are moving. New materials available now should be able to shrink the goalies' pads without compromising their safety, and it will be nice to get back to an age when goaltenders actually had to move to make saves.

3. Rather than increasing the size of the nets, pushing the nets three feet closer to the end boards from the current 13 feet to 10.

I don't actually understand this one, although that's not meant to be a criticism. Perhaps they're just trying to make it easier for a lone forward to cut out a cross-ice, behind-the-net, pass? Anyone who wants to enlighten me on this one is welcome to have a go!

4. Resuming tag-up offsides, which allow offside skaters to clear the zone and let play continue.

Ironically, they originally removed tag-up offsides in order to try to increase flowing play through the neutral zone, which was anticipated to lead to more goals. However, it didn't work, and the NHL has wisely gone back to the way it was. This is a smart move.

5. Awarding three points for a regulation win in the AHL and two points for overtime and shootout wins, with the NHL adopting a similar format come 2005-06.

The best bit about this one is that they're going to try it out on the farm first. I don't know how much of an impact it will have, since I don't think playing for ties is as big a problem in ice hockey as it was in soccer when that sport adopted the 3-point win. That said, it probably won't hurt anything, and will certainly make a win something to really celebrate.

I think these are all good changes (even the one I don't understand). They left out a couple that I would have liked to see, in particular the institution of no-touch icing (does someone have to get killed before they go that route?). In addition, I think it may be time to look at reinstituting the full 2-minute power-play with unlimited goals, and maybe even reducing the number of players on the ice. This is a good start, however. That said, I must point out one thing - it's all going to be moot if there's no NHL next year, so perhaps now would be a good time to start working on a new CBA, hmm?

Monday, February 09, 2004


Well, yesterday turned out quite well from a soccer standpoint. The Disciplinary Board accepted our explanation for the incident, and that, combined with the fact that we had obviously obtained no benefit from it, let us off scot-free. We then got to sit and watch some of the major-league boys get it on, and saw one unbelievable match. Edmonton Scottish defeated Edmonton Victoria 4-3 on very literally the last kick of the game - so close that the referees had to confer on it before the goal was given. The result warmed my heart, as I had a rib broken by a cheap shot from a Victoria player a few years ago.

On the down side, my friend about whom I complained a week ago is still not doing well, although she's pretending to. God, I hope things turn upward for her. Fortunately, her parents are coming for a visit in a few days, and she'll more visitors later in the month, so maybe that will pick her up. In the meantime I can really only watch and hope.

Anyway, D&D tonight. There will be more interesting content soon.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Our little soccer team is nothing if not consistent. We started the first half of the season by losing twice, winning once, and then drawing. Given that the second half had begun with two losses followed by a win, a draw seemed to be on the cards. Anyway, for the first time this year we had a full bench, and a result set to play like shit. Like, we had maybe two players (including one of my all-star defenders, the one who got 'lost' last week) who were performing well, and thus it was no surprise at all when the oppo took the lead. A shot came back off the boards, the rebound was converted well, and it was 1-0. Gradually we started to get back into the game, although things were still pretty shambolic, and their 'keeper was compounding our difficulties by playing out of her skin. However, we equalized before the half was over, as a ball fell to one of our strikers (a woman we talk out of retirement every year) and she banked it in off the post. Into halftime all even, then, and I was confident that we'd come out and dominate the second. Instead, we were behind after mere moments. My other all-star defender made perhaps the first bad error she's made all year, and sprang one of their players on a breakaway. Our 'keeper had no chance, and once again we found ourselves behind. At that point, we did turn in and dominate. Chance after chance after chance started coming our way, but we couldn't seem to bury it. The Calgarian went down hurt, which caused heart flutters on the bench, but she recovered and returned to the game. Finally, in the end, one of their wingers clattered My Friend From PG, and down she went. She was a bit slow getting up, and the blue card came out for their winger. And, finally, on the power play, we got it done. The Calgarian, seconds after mashing one off the crossbar, got free again, and she was never going to miss two in a row. We promptly regressed, and spent the rest of the game clinging on, except for a couple of bright moments in the last minute. However, the final buzzer duly went, and the inevitable draw had occurred. In the end, I'll take it. We've got to play better next time out though.

Next on the soccer cards, unfortunately, is an appearance before a disciplinary board. Apparently, there was some 'irregularity' with a registration that we put in earlier this season. At best, this is going to be embarrassing, and at worst it's going to trash the team. If the latter, I'm going to be a bit pissed, since it comes as a result of The Coach playing fast and loose with the rules. However, I'll be mostly miffed with myself, since I knew he was capable of it, and did nothing to keep him on the straight and narrow. Anyway, I don't have to go to this hearing, since I'm only a lowly assistant, but The Coach has asked me to, and I think I will, not that I'll enjoy it (particularly since Sunday is usually a vegetate at home day). Hopefully the EDSA chooses to show mercy.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Young Man "Falling" Down Elevator Shaft Update

Not much to report right now on this, certainly one of the saddest stories in recent memory. The last thing I heard was that the police and the firefighters were disagreeing on whether the elevator doors had, in fact, been damaged, and somebody from the elevator company had noted that it's impossible for the doors to simply open on their own without the car being there. That rat ain't smellin' any better, fellas.
Youth Shall Have Its After-Hours Club Update!!

Not really too much to report on this one. Jim Taylor got roundly pounded in the press (on both sides of the political spectrum, to be fair), to the point where he felt moved to write a defensive letter to the Journal claiming that he never said kids should be kicked out of downtown, no sirree, the very thought, ridiculous, taken out of context, harrumph, harrumph. If I might take this opportunity to remind people of this snippet from an interview with Mr. Taylor:

"I'm not trying to get rid of entertainment for youth," Taylor insists. Just keep it out of downtown, right? "That's right."

Anyway, it's rather nice to see people ganging up on the arrogant, greedy little prick. I suspect and devoutly hope that he regrets ever opening his mouth on the issue.
Johnny Rotten Update!!

Yup, it's update day at Oi! Thump! - the day on which we (Ok, I) pull together any loose threads that may be hanging around out there, and bring people up to date. Well (Ok, I'll) begin with Johnny Rotten's appearance on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!!, and I'm saddened to report that Mr. Rotten has removed himself from the competition. The dream is over, people.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Chief Bob Speaks!!

Chief says he was cleared of misconduct allegations

Edmonton - An angry Chief Bob Wasylyshen fired back Wednesday at allegations that officers had demanded sexual favours from prostitutes, saying his name had wrongly been associated with the 20-year-old file and he was cleared.

"I was told I was wrongfully identified," Wasylyshen said. "The thing I want to emphasize is the allegations, as they pertain to me, are false. They were false in 1983 and they are false today."

Another hilarious article! The CBC has been gold today... Anyway, so Bob Wasylyshen rounded up a posse of yes-men (they did, actually and in fact, applaud him when he said that he had not raped prostitutes in the 1980s) and held a wee press conference this afternoon, during which he responded in typical Edmonton police fashion. Which is to say, he was blustery and indignant, and tried avoid taking any kind of responsibility. However, my 'favourite' bit of the speech was the following:

As well, he questioned why anyone with concerns wouldn't come to the police or the law enforcement review board.

"Why won't they bring the information forward to people who can do something about it?" he said.

That was when I got angry. You see, the straight-up answer to that question is "Because the people who can do something about it won't." Two decades ago more than 20 women went to the police (that would be "people who can do something about it") with the information that they were raped by policemen (i.e., "concerns"), and the police response was to bury the investigation. That incident, Chief Bob, and about a squintillion like it, are the reasons people despair of getting any kind of justice in this city when they have complaints against the police. They're the reasons we need independent people investigating the police, as if that wasn't blindingly obvious to anyone with even a halfway reliable moral compass. And they're why, more and more now, when Edmontonians ask "Quis custodiat ipsos custodies," the answer comes back "Nobody."
Mayor, councillor back police

Edmonton - The mayor and a city councillor are defending their police service and its chief, after allegations arose that a 20-year-old investigation into officers demanding sexual favours from prostitutes was shelved.

Mayor Bill Smith says he doesn't believe the allegations of misconduct, and that there is no evidence to back them up. Coun. Ron Hayter agrees, saying the Edmonton Police Service "has performed admirably over the years and provided exceptionally strong policing."

Uh, Mayor Smith, you lying little weasel, there is evidence. This whole situation has occurred because there is evidence, and the police force has performed admirably in covering it up. 23 different women complained that policemen were demanding sexual favours from them - that is evidence of misconduct, right there. And, Mr. Mayor, you do the long-suffering citizens of you city a great disservice when you do not aggressively investigate allegations that the fucking Chief of Police, for fuck's sake, used his position as cop to essentially commit rape (sorry, demanding sex from prostitutes because you're a policeman is rape in my book).
Allegations of police misconduct resurface

Edmonton - A retired police officer says he was ordered to shelve his investigation into allegations that police officers were demanding sexual favours from prostitutes 20 years ago.

The resurfacing of those allegations has led Martin Ignasiak, head of the Edmonton police commission, to call for an independent agency to investigate complaints against police officers. But he says if a system of third-party investigation is developed, he wouldn't ask it to look into these two-decade-old allegations.

Vern Colley, the officer who looked into complaints from 23 women, says in an affidavit he was ordered to shelve his investigation, which came up with nine names, soon after it started in 1983.

One of the names Colley had on his list was now Chief Bob Wasylyshen, who says he was "wrongly identified while Mr. Colley was using improper and unreliable methods to identify possible suspects. The allegation that I engaged in any misconduct is false."

The underlining is mine. I actually laughed out loud when I read this article this morning. I've been a non-fan of Bob Wasylyshen for some time, and it appears that I may have actually been on to something (No smoke without fire, after all). Now, I'm not saying for certain that Chief Bob was getting his wick dipped by hookers for free 20 years ago, but from what I've read of the man and his attitude towards the general public (an attitude that has unfortunately spread throughout the police force), I sure as hell wouldn't be surprised if that turned out to be the case. I will be surprised if anything is actually done about these allegations, however...

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Ok, so it turned out to be a very good D&D session last night, and lifted some (some, but not all) of the darkness that I was lurking under yesterday. I tossed a gnome wizard vampire (16th level!) at my players, and their beating it occupied most of the evening. They eventually succeeded by dispelling its ability to fly when it was about 300 feet off the ground. Kersplat.

I still feel bothered and annoyed, though. For some reason I spent about half an hour today tracking down old friends on the Internet (it's a miracle I'm still employed, really it is), and actually managed to find some of them, which was bittersweet. More on this later, if I feel like it. For now, enough with the angst crap. Next thing you know, I'll be writing really shitty poetry... Instead, I will share with you all this rather interesting story:

This is not either one of the actual bison skulls referred to in the story below.

Crews unearth ancient bison skulls

Calgary - Two bison skulls, believed to be about 5,000 years old, have been uncovered by construction workers digging a new parkade in Banff.

The discovery will help archeologists determine exactly where in the area the animals once roamed. Bill Perry, assistant archeologist with Parks Canada, says the skulls likely washed down the Bow River during a long-ago flood.

Monday, February 02, 2004

I suppose congratulations are in order to the New England Patriots, who, in case you hadn't noticed the smoke and flame rising from the Boston area, won the Super Bowl last night. I watched the game in a sort of "I-don't-give-a-shit" haze (see earlier posts from today), and even given my state of mind I have to ask why people are referring to it as a "classic" Super Bowl. I mean, it was exciting compared to about 85% of the preceding Super Bowls, but still and all. 15 minutes of vaguely exciting football doth not a "classic" make. Still congrats to the winners, commiserations to the losers, etc.
Well, it's February, and I've got a friend who's found herself in difficulties. She's one of the best people I know, and I'd do just about anything to protect and/or comfort her, but I know that her problem is chemical, and there's not one fucking thing I can do about it. It's this kind of stuff that drives me to distraction, and snarliness, and general malaise with the world. Rather pathetic, really, when all you can do to help someone out is e-mail them a funny picture and hope it lifts their spirits a bit, even if a only a bit. Anyway, back to work. I've got tons of stuff to do here, and a D&D game to run tonight, and I'm not really that 'up' for any of it. Hopefully things will improve.

Well, I came into try to do some writing and some actual work on Saturday, and discovered that my account had been locked out for the weekend despite the fact that I come in pretty much every single bloody Saturday. Then I get in this morning and discover that I have to register as a "member" to get local CBC coverage, for some bizarre reason (watch out, possible impact from that on this very blog). It was a bad weekend in other regards as well, which I may or may not get into here, depending on how I feel. Anyway, nothing for it but to crank up the music and try to get something done. Hmmm, what do we have, lemme see, ah yes... This...

Good for what ails you, particularly when that's general sadness. More later.