31 August 2008

An Open Letter to God, from Michael Moore

Dear God,

The other night, the Rev. James Dobson's ministry asked all believers to pray for a storm on Thursday night so that the Obama acceptance speech outdoors in Denver would have to be cancelled.

I see that You have answered Rev. Dobson's prayers -- except the storm You have sent to earth is not over Denver, but on its way to New Orleans! In fact, You have scheduled it to hit Louisiana at exactly the moment that George W. Bush is to deliver his speech at the Republican National Convention.

Now, heavenly Father, we all know You have a great sense of humor and impeccable timing. To send a hurricane on the third anniversary of the Katrina disaster AND right at the beginning of the Republican Convention was, at first blush, a stroke of divine irony. I don't blame You, I know You're angry that the Republicans tried to blame YOU for Katrina by calling it an "Act of God" -- when the truth was that the hurricane itself caused few casualties in New Orleans. Over a thousand people died because of the mistakes and neglect caused by humans, not You.

Some of us tried to help after Katrina hit, while Bush ate cake with McCain and twiddled his thumbs. I closed my office in New York and sent my entire staff down to New Orleans to help. I asked people on my website to contribute to the relief effort I organized -- and I ended up sending over two million dollars in donations, food, water, and supplies (collected from thousands of fans) to New Orleans while Bush's FEMA ice trucks were still driving around Maine three weeks later.

But this past Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that the Republicans had begun making plans to possibly postpone the convention. The AP had reported that there were no shelters set up in New Orleans for this storm, and that the levee repairs have not been adequate. In other words, as the great Ronald Reagan would say, "There you go again!"

So the last thing John McCain and the Republicans needed was to have a split-screen on TVs across America: one side with Bush and McCain partying in St. Paul, and on the other side of the screen, live footage of their Republican administration screwing up once again while New Orleans drowns.

So, yes, You have scared the Jesus, Mary and Joseph out of them, and more than a few million of your followers tip their hats to You.

But now it appears that You haven't been having just a little fun with Bush & Co. It appears that Hurricane Gustav is truly heading to New Orleans and the Gulf coast. We hear You, O Lord, loud and clear, just as we did when Rev. Falwell said You made 9/11 happen because of all those gays and abortions. We beseech You, O Merciful One, not to punish us again as Pat Robertson said You did by giving us Katrina because of America's "wholesale slaughter of unborn children." His sentiments were echoed by other Republicans in 2005.

So this is my plea to you: Don't do this to Louisiana again. The Republicans got your message. They are scrambling and doing the best they can to get planes, trains and buses to New Orleans so that everyone can get out. They haven't sent the entire Louisiana National Guard to Iraq this time -- they are already patrolling the city streets. And, in a nod to I don't know what, Bush's head of FEMA has named a man to help manage the federal government's response. His name is W. Michael Moore. I kid you not, heavenly Father. They have sent a man with both my name AND W's to help save the Gulf Coast.

So please God, let the storm die out at sea. It's done enough damage already. If you do this one favor for me, I promise not to invoke your name again. I'll leave that to the followers of Rev. Dobson and to those gathering this week in St. Paul.

Your faithful servant and former seminarian,

Michael Moore

P.S. To all of God's fellow children who are reading this, the city New Orleans has not yet recovered from Katrina. Please click here for a list of things you can do to help our brothers and sisters on the Gulf Coast. And, if you do live along the Gulf Coast, please take all necessary safety precautions immediately.

24 August 2008

Amazingly Simple Home Remedies

If you’re choking on an ice cube, simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat. presto! the blockage will instantly remove itself.

Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.

Avoid arguments about the toilet seat - use the sink.

For high blood pressure sufferers ~ simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins. remember to use a timer.

A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives. then you’ll be afraid to cough.

You only need two tools in life - wd-40 and duct tape. if it doesn’t move and should, use the wd-40. if it shouldn’t move and does, use the duct tape.

Remember - everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.

Daily thought: some people are like slinkies - not really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

From Carson's blog. So hilarious I had to steal it, like all the stuff I own!

14 August 2008

Who and Where Are They?

Whenever I see discussions in conjunction with hand-wringing about the plight of our underachieving athletes in world competitions, I have not seen much attention paid to questions of the following type:

*How do we identify young athletes who seem to have the potential to compete with the best in the world?

*Do we have a dedicated team which travels the country and scours the local athletic facilities and programs to try to glean glimpses of those who have such potential?

*Do we rely on interested athletes, competing in relative obscurity, because the mainstream media is only interested iin the likes of A-Rod, Bret Favre, Matts Sundin and similar multi-millionaires, and then those ignored athletes, competing almost in anonymity, somehow drift into the sights of someone out there who has an "Aha!" moment and then finds a way to call this young person to the attention of someone who may or may not take an interest in the recommendation of that casual identifier of the talent identified?

*Do you have to be part of the "In Crowd" to be picked out from the masses and to then come under the skilled tutelage of, and part of the system, which purports to know what it is doing in terms of training world class athletes?

*Does the athlete have to continue to be part of the "In Crowd" so that, regardless of his or her talent, or lack of same, that athlete continues to receive promotion through the ranks which eventually gets that person to a world event of athletic competition?

*Do we have a system of merit in this regard?

*So, just how does our identification, selection and nurturing system work in Canada when it comes to finding people with athletic talent?

13 August 2008

The True Spirit of the Olympics

Scott Russell's Blog - CBC.ca
The tyranny of medal totals
Posted by Scott Russell | Aug 12, 08 11:51 AM

At times the Olympics can be a numbers game. But do they have to be? Our obsession with counting medals might cause us to miss the point entirely.

Every day we continue to tally and each of us has a different reason. I admit to being fascinated by the Michael Phelps story. At the time of writing the remarkable American swimmer had accumulated nine gold medals in his burgeoning aquatics career. That’s an all-time high for a single athlete at the Olympic games. It equals the record set by swimmer Mark Spitz, track star Carl Lewis, Finnish running legend Paavo Nurmi and the exquisite Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina.

These are amazing medal totals and they are reflective of phenomenal talent.

Sinister plot?
What I don’t understand is the recurring theme of these Olympics in China. It seems to me this sinister plot driving us to the overall medal standings at the end of each day is a bastardization of what the Games are supposed to be about.

“Who is winning the Olympics?” This is a question we come back to like moths to a flame. It’s the wrong question. Our continuing search for the answer is going a long way to diluting the power of the original intent of the Olympics.

“It’s an Olympic committee thing. It’s a media thing. It’s not an athlete thing,” Clara Hughes explained.

Hughes, who is working with us at CBC analyzing cycling in Beijing, speaks with perspective. She is the only Canadian to have won Olympic medals at both the summer and winter Games and has stepped onto the podium five times in her career. The possibility is that she’ll add to her total in Vancouver 2010 when she takes to the speed skating oval at what will presumably be her final Olympics.

Spirit of the Games
“As an athlete, overall medal counts are immaterial to me. I’m focused on what I have to do, not on any running total,” she continued. “It seems to me it goes against the original spirit of the Games where countries were to lay down their arms and compete in a peaceful way on fields of play.”

That makes a lot of sense to me. So why is it then, that we all want to know whether or not China can win more prizes at these Games than the Americans? The host country of the Beijing 2008 gathering claims its athletes will be able to capture up to 122 medals and presumably declare that their system of sport is better than any one else’s.

The record books show that the Americans have taken most of the medals at most summer Olympics with a couple of glaring exceptions. In 1936 at the Nazi Olympics, the Germans prevailed. During interludes in the 1970s and 1980s it was the Soviets who won with greater frequency.

As history tells us, the aforementioned sport systems were built with propaganda in mind. The architects of those factories that cranked out athlete/soldiers are not to be applauded for their adherence to the Olympic ideal.

Anna Rice’s perspective
I was about to check the running total on my laptop last night when Canadian badminton player Anna Rice came into our studio. She had just lost to Chinese star Lu Lan before a wildly enthusiastic audience. Badminton is very popular in China and as it turns out, so is Anna Rice.

Therefore, as she sat in the studio, she talked not about winning and losing and the fact that her exit from the tournament meant that Canada had one less medal to count on for the country’s total. No, instead she talked about what an eye-opener it must have been for Canadian kids to see how popular her sport can be in a place like China.

Rice spoke to a much more powerful message surrounding Olympics. It is apparently her understanding that sport and peaceful competition should continue to be universal.

If you go back to the Olympic Charter you will find the following words. “Olympism is meant to be a way of life and no one country can claim to own it exclusively.”

Recalling that, I moved the cursor on my laptop and clicked away from the standings board. I realized that which country wins the greatest number of medals really doesn’t matter much to me.

The sum total of what I’m saying is this. Counting medals can be for someone else. I’m much more interested in the individual athletes themselves, people like Michael Phelps and Anna Rice.

They and not the numbers are able to captivate and inspire me.

Inspiring Canadian results at the Olympics can provide extrinsic benefits for years to come. A generation can be moved to participate in sport and athletics based on how their heroes perform at the international level.

Australia....a country with two-thirds of the Canadian population, took the initiative to invest in their developmental programs years ago and are reaping the results now. This movement has resulted in impressive increases in sports at the community level as the federal programs developed focused on the long-term benefits of doing so.

No other facet of our culture has the capacity to bring together so many different streams of life in mutual joy and celebration than sport.

We should embrace and recognise the vital interconnections between elite sport and community sport programs. The reality is that our elite sport system only prospers when we have a strong talent base on which to draw. Equally, having successful and high performing role models in sport is integral to encouraging children to take up sport and aspire to reach their own dreams.

In recent times funding and developmental programs at junior and community sport levels has been approached with a focus on increasing the pool from which our elite athletes can be drawn. This focus must be dramatically expanded. We must recognise that everyone’s involvement in sport and physical activity brings its own rewards.

Whereas early federal sports policy in the past had a clear focus on community physical activity and ‘Participaction’ style programs, this has declined over time to become virtually non-existent.

Community participation in sport spans a number of central objectives: developing basic skills and healthy disciplines in young children; contributing directly and significantly to better health and prevention of chronic disease across all segments of the community; and promoting a more inclusive and engaged community.

Yet at a community level, participation in sport and local activities is declining. Federal sports policy must fill this void and play a central role in a preventative health agenda. From this will naturally emerge a talent pool from which to develop future Olympians.

We will never have the size of talent pool to pick from as the Chinese or Americans (or Indians in the near future), but we will have a healthier population and a respectable representation in international competition.

06 August 2008

Sunrise, Sunset

I was looking forward to having a relaxing long weekend and finally catch up on some desparately needed sleep when I got the news on Saturday afternoon that my cousin Robert died sometime over the weekend. His wife called me Saturday afternoon saying that they found his body in his apartment Saturday morning and it was possible he had had a heart attack sometime in the previous day or two.

I'm still shocked. The funeral is this Saturday in Lethbridge.

Monday was the 15th Anniversary of when my brother Warren was killed. It doesn't seem that long ago, and I find he's in my thoughts daily to today.

RIP, my brothers.

On lighter notes, the wedding of my good friends Hugh and Brent on Monday was a joyous occasion. I'm very glad I went.

My brother Owen turns the big 3-0 today. I'll call him tonight and give him a few jibs about joining the old fogies.

He's the last of the cousins on my dad's side of the family to leave the 20s, so we're officially a bunch of old farts as of today...

Next year marks my mom and dad's 40th wedding anniversary as well as my 20th year high school reunion. Yeesh.

The events of the past few weeks have made me feel like I've added another five years of aging onto the total....

But being at Trezlie's birthday party a few weekends ago, seeing all the little kids having a blast and my sister-in-law rounded out with arrival number two was certainly enough to lift my spirits about getting old.