Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

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Sunday, October 31, 2010
Halloween stuff

1. Dawn of the Ted

2. I can't wait for 10 pm tonight when AMC debuts The Walking Dead. Underwire has "Making The Walking Dead’s Gruesome Zombies." IGN is "on the set" with TWD.

3. Costumes: National Geographic has spooky costumes from a century ago. has pictures of twins and multiples in costume. And for something completely different, a "sexy" Freddy Krueger costume. And here are a number of "pro-choice costume ideas."

4. Bloddy Disgusting has "100 Years of Horror: 'The Good, the Fad, and the Ugly'," which is quite good. Notice there is no fad in horror in the 2000s. And Esquire has "The 10 Least Horrifying Horror Movies Ever." FearNet has "The Top 15 Greatest Horror Films Of All Time."

5. Newsweek has "TV’s Best Halloween Episodes." IGN has another list of top TV Halloween episodes. Seems to me outside The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror series, that Halloween-themed shows are lame, although this past week's Modern Family was hilarious.

6. Adding green to Halloween: oldies from Slate and the Candy Blog -- the latter is ridiculously comprehensive.

7. From Cracked: "7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly)." This would be at the top of the list: flies. As Cracked explains: "Zombies in any part of the world with a fly problem are going to be swarming with maggots in short order, meaning that most of their soft tissues will be infested, and their eyes will be very quickly useless."

8. From Mental Floss: "It Was a Graveyard Smash: The Story of The Monster Mash."

9. Seasonally themed international relations: Stephen Sestanovich writes about Daniel Drezner's Theories of International Relations and Zombies in a Halloween-themed IR article The New Republic.

10. A fun mashup: A Hard Day’s Night of the Living Dead

Saturday, October 30, 2010
It's the politics stupid

As everyone already knows Islamic terrorists from Yemen were foiled in a planned attack on American soil. Both Andrew C. McCarthy and John Podhoretz say terrorism will once again be a major issue in American domestic politics. I'm tempted to say that terrorism is so Bush era, but my friends on the right don't like when people joke about terrorism. What should be noted is that it is unclear who this benefits politically. Republicans have owned the issue, but the fact is the administration gets credit for thwarting the alleged attack* and it doesn't help the GOP to take the discussion off of popular resentment of liberal Democratic over-reach

* I say alleged because I'm always skeptical about these stories because government must justify the huge national security state.

Sounds like the back story on a bad movie

NPR reports on a gruesome story from Russia:

Residents of the Arctic Circle region of Komi are mounting patrols to protect people and livestock from brown bears. The mushrooms and berries the bears usually eat are scarce after this summer's drought.

And there's been at least one report of a bear gaining access to a coffin.

Citing the Moskovskij Komsomolets newspaper, the AP says that "one body was devoured in the village of Verkhnyaya Chova over the weekend. Two visitors to the cemetery shrieked at the shocking sight of the animal tearing into half-decomposed flesh, scaring the bear away, the paper reported."
(HT: Marginal Revolution)

Friday, October 29, 2010
Three and out

3. The World Series is not shaping up like the experts thought. The presumptive underdog, the San Francisco Giants, leads the Texas Rangers 2-0, outscoring the AL champs 20-7 (9-0 and 11-7). Cliff Lee was bounced from game one early and Giants are hitting and scoring. Anything can happen over a game or two. It seems unlikely that the series will go to seven games, but then again it is not impossible for the Rangers to sweep at home their bandbox of a stadium.

2. San Jose Mercury columnist Mark Purdy says that the Rangers should blame the architecture at AT&T Park for their devastating losses. Maybe. To the degree that playing right field is tricky in that stadium, I blame Ron Washington for trotting out the obviously inferior fielder Vlad Guerrero over David Murphy in game one. But it also has to do with hitting: the Rangers seems like a better hitting team because (as noted above) they play in a hitter-friendly park. San Fran's stadium, however, has a deep centerfield where line drives and deep pop outs that would clear the fences in Arlington are being caught or at least staying in the ballpark for singles and doubles.

1. It's About the Money, a great blog that covers the New York Yankees, notes that World Series TV viewership is down, but that we don't need to worry about that fact. Agreed.

The way elections are covered is changing

The National Journal reports that the networks will no longer report on the number of precincts that reported results but rather the percentage of expected voters. So the networks will report guesswork rather than facts because, they say, advanced voting renders precinct results meaningless.

NFL Week 8 predictions

Winners in italics but after the strange weekend last Sunday who the heck knows.

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs have a good defense and great running game. The Bills might have taken the Baltimore Ravens to overtime last week, but occasionally bad teams challenge good teams and it doesn't mean anything about the quality of the team beyond the single game.

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals: The Fins are 0-3 at home, 3-0 on the road. Cincy rallied back from a 21-point deficit last week against the Atlanta Falcons only to lose the game; it was the the third time they came back from a double digit deficit only to go on and lose the game. According to Football Outsiders advanced DVOA metrics, the Bengals have the third worst offense at home and Miami has the third best defense on the road. Miami gets ahead, relinquishes the lead and comes back to win.

Green Bay Packers at New York Jets: The Packers have too many injuries and an awful O-line to compete with one of the most complete teams. Jets defense will pressure Aaron Rodgers and prevent Green Bay from scoring and Mark Sanchez has the offensive weapons to put points on the board. Jets control the game and win comfortably.

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers: This game is not really a home game for the 49ers because it is being played in London, England where British fans will get to enjoy two teams with a combined 3-13 record. It is hard to favour Denver after their humiliating defeat against the Oakland Raiders last week but the Niners are starting Troy Smith who leap-frogged David Carr from clipboard carrier to starter to replace the injured Alex Smith. Perhaps coach Mike Singletary didn't want to learn a new quarterback's surname. Broncs win in a game that might be pretty ugly to watch.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys: The 'Boys actually moved forward a lot with Tony Romo under center (fifth best offense at 375.7 ypg, fourth best aerial offense at 289.7 ypg), so they could lose a lot with John Kitna starting at QB for the rest of the season. But Jax is a terrible team: they have been blown out by at least 22 points in four of their past six games and haven't allowed less than 26 points after opening day. Kitna gets an easy start and Dallas briefly rekindles hope among their fans with a victory.

Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams: Matt Moore had a good game at home last week to get Carolina's first win of the season, but with running back DeAngelo Williams out with a sprained foot, the Panthers last place offense (12.5 ppg) the Rams should be able to ride their improving defense and RB Steven Jackson to a victory.

Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions: This contest is Week 8's coin-flip contest. I could make a pretty good case for either team, but I'll bet on the Lions potent offense (which gets Matthew Stafford back) and rested defense (coming off a bye week) beating out a 'Skins offense that will exploit a weak Detroit D.

Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers: The Bolts are first in both total offense (422.7 ypg) and total defense (244.3 ypg); they have the best passing offense (317.4 ypg) and best passing defense (158.6 ypg). At some point a team that is out-gaining opponents by nearly 200 ypg and out-passing opponents by a two-to-one margin will win games. Tennessee plays well on both sides of the ball, but San Diego begins its turnaround by defeating the visiting Titans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals: Bucs are not the best team in the NFC as coach Raheem Morris boasted last week, but they are good enough to beat non-elite teams. The Cards, who are 3-3 but have the third worst point differential (behind the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars) is definitely not an elite team. Cards QB Max Hall completed just four of 16 passes before being concussed in last week's loss. Tampa Bay scores the victory on the road.

Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots: With a healthy Brett Favre, the Pats would be favoured, but the Vikes will probably start an unhealthy Favre to maintain his consecutive game streak and replace him with perpetual underachiever Tarvaris Jackson. Minny's defense has not been as disruptive as it has been in the past. Tom Brady won't be pressured by the Vikes defense and New England wins.

Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders: There is a nice match-up in the running game: Oakland has the third-best running offense and Seattle has the second-best defense against the run. But the difference could be Michael Williams who has emerged as a useful wide receiver for the 'Hawks with 21 catches and 210 yards since Seattle traded Deion Branch to the New England Patriots. Seattle wins a close one on the road.

Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints: Pittsburgh has the best defense in the NFL which is allowing just 13.7 points per game -- almost three points better than the next best scoring defense (Chicago Bears). But delve deeper and the Saints have the fifth best passing offense which goes up against a middling defense against the aerial attack (24th-ranked 235.7 ypg). However, Pittsburgh will be without
defensive end Aaron Smith, without whom the Steeler defense was less than itself last season. All that said, the Steelers are just able to find ways to win games.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: Payback for Peyton Manning for their opening day loss, even if they are missing TE Dallas Clark and WR Austin Colle. Texans defense has been shaky of late.

The book that changed America

Bet you can't guess what it is. Reason's Greg Beato reviews Ammon Shea's new release.

Not so fast there, Frank Graves and Nik Nanos

The Ekos release from October 22 on the Toronto mayoral race was titled, "Advantage for Ford in still tight Toronto mayoralty race." Ekos said that Rob Ford was "considerably more likely" than George Smitherman to win, but the fact is that the polling firm called it "tight."

In an "addendum," Ekos found that Ford had opened up a 15-point lead. But just to be safe, the release says it was based on a small sample size. Therefore, if they were right the polling firm could trumpet their correct prediction but if they are wrong they can say that the data was insufficient. It's called hedging your bets.

And the day after the election, Ekos bragged that they called the mayor's race correctly.

All pollsters do this, but Ekos and Nanos seem to be the worst. Early election night, Nik Nanos was asked why the pollsters didn't capture the then nearly 20-point lead Ford had over Smitherman -- which was later narrowed to about a dozen points -- and Nanos replied that the polls got it right because the Ford voters came out in full force and perhaps Smitherman's voters didn't. That's a ridiculous answer and he should have been called on it.

Revolt against the elites

These things change -- Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II changed the world, but it changed back -- is John Robson's point. But it sure is enjoyable watching a Rob Ford victory or the Republicans temporarily regain control of Congress.

Help BCF

Blazing Cat Fur is being sued by Richard Warman for linking to a Mark Steyn article. Read about here and here. Donate (details in this post) and help pushback against bullies like Warman -- a friend of Warren Kinsella's -- who have used the Canadian Human Rights Commission as their personal fiefdom and the law to punish those with whom they disagree.

Halloween is not dangerous for your kids

Lenore Skenazy writes in the Wall Street Journal how your child is not going to be poisoned by evil neighbours handing out tampered candy or molested by a wicked mask-wearing stranger. Take care but don't be paranoid.

Thursday, October 28, 2010
This is pretty trashy

The Gawker has a story about a guy who had a one night stand with Delaware Republican senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell. The trashiness is The Gawker's and the anonymous author of the first-person account.

We'd probably knocked back five Heinekens when Christine leaned over and whispered in my ear that she wanted to go back to my place. Before we could go, though, she told me to ask her friend if she'd mind if I drove Christine home later that evening. That was odd. I guess Christine didn't want to come across as a slut in her friend's eyes for going home with me, so she wanted me to bring it up her friend first.

I did what I was told and asked her friend if she had any objection to me hanging out with Christine a little longer provided I took her home later on in the evening. She didn't, and a few minutes after that, we were all headed back to my apartment. Christine's friend got in her car and went home. My roommate went to his bedroom and went to sleep. And Christine and I got cozy on the couch and popped open another beer.

Things got physical on the couch pretty quickly. It wasn't long before we'd moved from the living room to my bed.
There are photos, but they are hardly incriminating. The hypocrisy charge is pretty serious in politics so this might hurt O'Donnell, especially when added to the non-stop nasty "news" coverage and her own not-ready-for-prime-time politics persona. Still, no responsible journalistic enterprise should have accepted an anonymous source for such a story.

Midweek stuff

1. I found this website strangely addicting:, which bills itself "The industry's ground-breaking news provider."

2. I generally avoid NBA stories on this blog, but I found a link to this story in a football column and thought that it was interesting (if a little dated): In July, after announcing the signing of LeBron James, the Miami Heat sold out their season tickets for 2010/2011 and fired their ticket sales staff.

3. The Boston Globe's Big Picture blog has some amazing photographs from Thailand. I really like #6, #17, and #20 and am not sure what my reaction is to #30.

4. The Wall Street Journal reports that dolls are getting bigger because manufacturers think girls will play with them longer.

5. From BoingBoing: "New "snub-nosed" monkey species discovered, killed, eaten." It occurred in Burma.

6. From Fortune: "When they were young: 10 business leaders under 40 way back when."

7. "Two Barmaids, Five Alligators, and the Butcher of Elmendorf," is an article from the July 2002 Texas Monthly about Joe Ball, the inspiration for the movie Eaten Alive. Here's Trailers from Hell on Eaten Alive.

The Interim is now on Twitter

Follow the paper here.

Graphic images in pro-life activism

I have a lengthy post on the topic at Soconvivium, the blog of The Interim.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I guess Cliff Lee is not invincible

Cliff Lee leaves the game having pitched 4.2 innings, giving up five runs and leaving two on base. They come into score off reliever Darren O'Day. Going into the sixth, the Giants lead the Rangers 8-2.

World Series predictions

As I've explained before, it is folly to base a prediction for a best-of-seven on analysis regardless of how thorough it is because ... everyone join me ... sample size. But here are the considerations upon which I base my best guess.

The Texas Rangers facing the San Francisco Giants is not a World Series anyone would have predicted on Opening Day. They defeated the two teams many pundits predicted would go to the World Series -- the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies respectively. The reason the Yankees are golfing instead of playing baseball this week is that they hit under 100 with runners in scoring position in the ALCS, but pundits say it was all Cliff Lee, the post-season wonder who took the Phillies to the World Series last year and who took the Ranger there this October.

Reading the pundits you would think that Lee is an automatic victory. Indeed, in eight post-season starts, Lee's teams are 8-0 and his personal record is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA. That is probably unsustainable although Tom Verducci, a writer for Sports Illustrated, asks "Is Cliff Lee beatable?" and answers no. (Although Verducci's second question is "So do the Giants have a chance in games started by Lee?" and he answers yes.) FoxSports says he is a "lock" to win game one, so you don't need to watch the game (on Fox, by the way). Lee is very good, but at some point he is going to have a bad game or even a merely good game. And against Tim Lincecum, it is possible that Lee has a quality start and gives up three runs over seven or eight innings and loses.

Joe Sheehan says that the Rangers have a 6-2 advantage when you consider the teams position-by-position with the Giants having the better first baseman (Aubrey Huff) and catcher (rookie Buster Posey). You could make a pretty good case that the Texas Rangers have beaten the two best teams in baseball thus far in the post-season (Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Yankees). The Rangers don't have huge holes in the lineup, play pretty decent defense, and have a solid bullpen. The rotation after Lee is okay but not great. Outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are dangerous bats to face that can change the game with a swing of the bat -- Joe Girardi intentionally walked Hamilton three times in game six of the ALCS. And yes, they have Cliff Lee who is about as automatic a win as there is in October/November baseball. ESPN surveyed 28 in-house experts and only six of them predicted the Giants would win it all and of those six, five thought it would go to seven games.

And if you look at the lineup of the Giants -- other team's discarded players, plus rookie of the year candidate Posey -- they have no right to be playing this late in the year:

Andres Torres CF
Pat Burrell LF
Cody Ross RF
Aubrey Huff 1B
Freddy Sanchez 2B
Juan Uribe 3B
Edgar Renteria SS
Buster Posey C
The bench has its uses, especially as late-inning defensive replacements, but outside games 3-5 in Texas where Giants skipper Bruce Bochy might have Travis Ishikawa push Huff to DH no one is likely to get starting time, the starting roster is mostly in place. Outside Torres, no one steals (with Huff finishing second on the team in base thefts with a mere seven). I have my concerns about the ability of the Giants to score enough runs -- the Rangers won each of their four games against the Yanks by at least five runs -- but San Fran's pitching is good enough to keep this series interesting. Neither team will start a pitcher who had an ERA over 3.73 over the regular season so superficially both rotations are very good. But advanced metrics (Baseball Prospectus measures like SIERA, SNLVAR and SNWP) all show that the Giants have a strong edge in starting pitching. Using the advanced measures, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter just don't measure up to Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner. If Lincecum can take one of two against Lee, the Giants are in good shape. The bullpens are both excellent -- both ranking in the top four depending on your preferred metrics -- but the Giants have a slight edge; Bochy shouldn't be afraid to have either of his top southpaws, Jeremy Affeldt or Javier Lopez, pitch to the left-handed Hamilton.

Lastly, in close games, Bochy is a genius who can leverage players and pitchers. He isn't afraid to bring closer Brian Wilson in for more than three outs or use Lincecum in the bullpen. He is aggressive with defensive replacements. He maximizes his players ability in the situation to increase the odds of winning. Rangers manager Ron Washington is a paint-by-numbers guy who manages by the tested formula of the day. He bunts a lot and strictly limits closer Neftali Feliz to one inning which is odd considering he is a former closer. Washington has his virtues but they tend to be as mentor and teacher will bode him well over the long regular season, while his tactical decisions could cost the Rangers in a short series. He has already announced his first blunder which is to play DH Vladimir Guerrero in rightfield over everyday outfielder David Murphy -- a baffling decision considering they are about equal hitters (both sport a True Average of 288) but Guerrero is a terrible outfielder and will be asked to man the quirkiest rightfield in all of baseball -- AT&T Stadium. Playing Guerrero in the field could quite possibly cost Lee a victory on the road.

The last time a World Series went to seven games was 2003, when the then Anaheim Angels beat the San Francisco Giants to be crowned baseball's best. The in-house experts at favour the Rangers over the Giants 6-5, which more accurately reflects the competitiveness of the series. I'm taking the Giants in seven although I think they will be outscored by the Rangers. It should be a good series with some close games and some not so-close games. But the Rangers will remain World Series-less and the Giants will win their first since moving west. But to do that, Lincecum will have to beat Lee at least once in their game one and five contests. That is doable.

Adventures in juxtaposition

From FailBlog (HT: RightGirl):

Best sentence I've read all month

From Steven Landsburg:

I just had an extremely pleasant walk around the Beale Street area in Memphis, which strikes me, roughly, as Bourbon Street without the urine.

Obama to black: save the Dems

National Journal reports on Barack Obama's "outreach" to black voters. A radio ad says, "We cannot sit this one out." I wish by we he meant Americans.

Waste of time

Waste of time, Part I: According to the Ottawa Citizen Stephen Harper is trying to woo voters with foreign policy. Outside Thornhill and York-Center, does anybody vote on foreign policy? I don't see massive numbers of Ukrainian, French and Haitian voters climbing on board the Tory train because of a few speeches on foreign soil by the prime minister.

Waste of time, Part II: Michael Valpy and Daniel LeBlanc write in the Globe and Mail that the federal parties trying to learn their lessons from the Rob Ford victory in Toronto -- to which I would add there aren't any. In provincial and federal politics, party label trumps personal values for much of Toronto, especially immigrants. If the candidates wore their party labels, the results would have been much closer and Smitherman might even have been mayor. But aside from the politics, it is the Ford brand that won the election. He has credibility because he really shares the aspirational values of middle class suburban Toronto. If he isn't authentic, he fakes it better than anyone I've ever seen. The Harper Tories and Iggy Liberals cannot become populist outsiders through a re-branding exercise.

Who cares?

The New York Times and American Spectator make fatuous political comments on the San Francisco Giants versus Texas Rangers World Series. The whole Red State vs. Blue State thing, San Francisco liberals vs. Texas conservatives, Big Oil vs. anti-oil. This is lameness squared, although Aaron Goldstein eventually gets it right in his TAS piece: should be great baseball. Politics has nothing to do with it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
One last thing about Ford. For now.

From the Toronto Sun:

"Nobody in the history of Canada has ever gotten as many votes in any election as Rob Ford," said University of Toronto Professor Nelson Wiseman.
Of course, previous to Ford, David Miller received more votes than anybody else in Canadian history. It helps that voter turnout jumped to 53.2%, from 39% in 2006 and 38% in 2003. The broader point is that turnout increases when voters have a real choice and the outcome will truly make a difference.

The conservative case for ...

Earlier this year Newsweek ran an article making the conservative case for gay-marriage. Now they have the conservative case for legalizing marijuana. Fine, you can probably muster up a conservative case for either of those, although in both cases they are making more libertarian arguments than conservative ones. (It says much about the publication that it doesn't know the difference.) But I'm wondering, why doesn't the magazine ever run articles entitled, "The liberal case for lower taxes" or "The liberal argument for school choice"? Just wondering.

Get ready for Ford derangement syndrome

The Toronto Star has conceded the whole city to Rob Ford: "Rob Ford's Toronto." But that's the way we talk in politics. The fact is Toronto hasn't veered right-wing. Suburban and immigrant voters were allowed to vote their centre-right values because party labels weren't attached. But that won't stop the Heather Mallicks of the world from thinking that there is no difference between Toronto and Texas now that Ford is sitting in the mayor's chair.

Royson James, a columnist for the Star writes:

Sophisticated Toronto has elected as its chief magistrate a penny-pinching councillor who promises to rip out downtown streetcar lines, chop the size of council in half, privatize garbage collection and squeeze as much as $2.7 billion out of the city’s budget.
Sophisticated Toronto voted for George Smitherman but the plebs in the suburbs, the dolts, they were angry and they voted for the angry guy. What the pundits call anger, I call disconnect. Either way, there will be as James suggests a "tumultuous" four years. We are guaranteed that because the Left in Toronto will be particularly ... oh, I don't know ... what's the word ... angry about this election result because the ingrates in the suburbs and many entrepreneurial immigrants didn't vote the way their superiors wanted them to. If there were exit polls in Canada, there would be a lot of implicit racism in the commentary of leftist pundits this week.

But Ford and his Toronto can make it back up to those entitled to rule us. He just needs to share power with them. The Star editorializes that Ford should now "reach out." By reach out, they really mean break his promises and be more like George Smitherman, if not more like Joe Pantalone and David Miller. For example, the paper suggests:

He needs to extend a hand beyond the right-wing councillors who backed his campaign to the more progressive ones who opposed him. It would make sense for Ford to put at least one progressive councillor on the executive committee, lest they all line up in implacable opposition to him.
Would that be the same progressive councillors that indicated they would vote their own mayor if Ford won?

The same editorial says of Ford:

He needs to extend an olive branch to the city’s minority communities. Rightly or wrongly, Ford conveyed an impression of intolerance during the campaign when he said Toronto cannot accommodate any more newcomers. He has to repair the damage.
Again, they voted for him, but that doesn't fit with the now official narrative of this election: angry suburban white voters elected Rob Ford. Never mind that there aren't enough angry, suburban white voters to give anyone 47% of the vote.

I think much of Warren Kinsella's commentary is worse than nonsense -- nonsense can at least be entertaining -- but he is right about this:

if the new conservative mayor in Toronto means bad tidings for Liberals, does the new liberal mayor in Calgary mean that Stephen Harper is going to lose his seat?

Not quite.
It's way to early to tell if Dalton McGuinty is going down in 2011; I know that four years ago -- eleven months before McGuinty was re-elected, losing just one seat in the process -- every Progressive Conservative in the province thought that McGuinty was going to lose in 2007 to John Tory. All that said, expect Kinsella to say some really stupid things about Ford over the next few years. If anyone knows derangement, it's Kinsella.

The next four years will be pretty entertaining and on the plus side, we in Toronto won't have to pay extra for it. I'm happy.

Monday, October 25, 2010
Mayor Ford

When I said that Rob Ford would win 6-10% apparently I was under-estimating how much his message was resonating. I'm told that internal polling shows that Ford's margin of support was larger among visible minorities and immigrants than whites and Canadian-born voters.

I wish I was I fly on the wall at the Toronto Star tomorrow morning. I can't wait to watch the fit so many Torontonians are going to have -- they don't understand what's going on. They'll hate this city the same way American liberals turned on their country during the George W. Bush years.

If every single person who voted for Joe Pantalone voted for George Smitherman, Smitherman would have barely snuck through. But he wouldn't have won every single Pantalone vote. People are liking Smitherman's concession speech, calling it magnanimous and the high road; I found it narcissistic even by political standards.

Now off to Monday Night Football.

Sunday, October 24, 2010
A final thought on the mayoral election in Toronto

My prediction: Rob Ford by 6-10%. Here's the Coles Notes version of why: other than downtown Toronto voters who are, frankly, weird, a majority of every area of the city and almost every group, thinks Toronto is terribly mismanaged. The views and prejudices of the average voter are nicely aligned with Rob Ford's views: that taxes are too high, city hall wastes money, crime is too high, unions have too much power, transportation policy reflects the prejudices of planners rather than needs of commuters, and that generally politicians' priorities reflect the downtown elite and pander to the welfare poor at the expense of middle class families, especially those in the suburbs. These issues cross cultural lines, which is why "liberal" Toronto is about to vote for a right-wing populist politician. To many pundits this is anger and fear. It might more accurately be described as disconnect between the rulers and the ruled. Well, the ruled want to take their government back, as is their right.

No one quite represents that disconnect as well as Richard Florida. He pretends to analyse this "cleavage" but in fact he personifies the problem. He talks about the creative class, by which he means the superior class of educated people who read Richard Florida books (or at least buy his books). But his prejudices are those of the urban elite who disdain normal people. Not everyone is an educated artistic or scientific creator with lots of education and high income -- although Florida would like them to be.* Those who are not part of the creative class should aspire to it, and he simply cannot fathom why anyone wouldn't. The problem with pundits like Florida is that they don't understand why the middle class just doesn't follow their obviously superior lead and thank them for making the world a better place. And when normal people don't follow, these elites resent them for it. The reason they think others are angry is that the emotion is what is dominating their thought process. They think anger is clouding the judgement of the unclean masses, but in fact it is clouding their own view.

* To be fair most people would like everyone to be more like themselves, so I don't mean to single out Florida.

Saturday, October 23, 2010
World Series -- experts were dead wrong

The overwhelming favourites to win the NL and AL championship series were the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Of the 11 experts at, only one picked the Texas Rangers to beat the Yankees and no one picked the San Francisco Giants to beat the Phillies. Both Texas and San Fran won their series in six games.

I am deeply disappointed that the Yanks aren't in the World Series -- they look like a team ready to decline -- but the Rangers and Giants should be a good series. Giants should win. Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum would be a great contest although who knows if they will match up, especially after Lincecum pitched some relief in tonight's game six.

Great campaign literature

Check out the photo in this story in the Winnipeg Free Press about a virtual town hall meeting. Yeah to more virtual meetings. Yeah to campaign lit with the phrase "Enough crap!"

Tweet of the day

RegulusdeLeo: "@VoteRF Liberalism is all about divide and rule, then tax and spend. Ethnic and class war is basis of their power."

Steyn banished from city-owned venue after Muslim pressure

Mark Steyn's talk in London, Ont., on November 1 was forced to re-locate. Details of the story here.

NFL Week 7 predictions

Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs can control possession. Jax are horrid at all elements of the game and Trent Edwards is under center for the Jags. Playing in Arrowhead Stadium, KC will beat the 9-point spread.

Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans: Kerry Collins will start in Vince Young's absence, but Philly has more injuries than a MASH unit. Eagles middling run defense won't stop Chris Johnson. Tenny at home.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins: First Miami home game under the afternoon sun which may explain why the Fins are 0-2 at home (compared to 3-0 on the road). Heat won't bother the Steel Curtain or Big Ben. Pittsburgh's defense can shut down Miami's running game while the Fins defense won't do enough to stop Ben Roethlisberger.

Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons: Cincy is 'underachieving' but that's probably because Carson Palmer just isn't a very good quarterback. Falcons have the offensive weapons to beat mouthy Bengals team at home even if Chad Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens can exploit Atlanta's suspect secondary (and it was suspect before Dunta Robinson got hurt). Should be a tightly contested game.

Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears: Expect the intelligently opportunistic blitzing Skins to go after Jay Cutler more often than usual considering Da Bears porous O-line. Chicago is favoured by three at home, but Washington will score the upset.

Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints: Last week New Orleans looked like the Saints of 2009. Cleveland looked like the Cleveland Browns of most of the 2000s. Saints by double digits.

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers: If the Niners didn't win last week, it would have been a battle of winless teams. San Fran is probably better than it's 1-5 record indicates although it is capable of long periods of ineptitude. The Panthers are long periods of ineptitude. Jimmy Clausen returns to the bench and Matt Moore has his starter's job back. Won't help against ILB Patrick Willis and company. Niners eke out an unimpressive victory.

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens: Bills fans are seriously asking if their team will go winless in 2010. Ravens fans are seriously considering getting tickets to the Super Bowl in New York in February. Hard to see how Buffalo can keep this game close.

St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa-don't-forget-the-Bay isn't very good but can beat lesser opponents, with their only losses coming against the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints. Rams are getting better but are still a mediocre team at best. Should be close and not always pretty. I'd take St. Louis at home with Steven Jackson -- especially against a Tampa Bay ground defense that allows 5.3 yards per rush -- but Bucs will somehow eke out a home victory.

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos: Not all 2-4 teams are created equal. Broncs are no great shakes but they are probably better at every position than the Raiders. And Oakland is starting third string quarterback Kyle Boller. When was the last time both teams started QBs named Kyle? Broncos QB Kyle Orton is on pace to pass for more than 5,000 yards and it is hard to see how despite the presence of underachieving CB Nnamdi Asomugha, they'll stop his aerial assault. Denver wins but doesn't beat the 8-point spread.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks: The Cards are probably the better team, but I wouldn't bet against the 'Hawks at home. Especially with undrafted rookie Max Hall under center for Arizona.

New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers: The 2-4 Chargers have won their pair of home games by a combined score of 79-23, inflating their seasonal offensive and defensive stats which are actually among the leaders in the NFL. Pats are traveling from one corner of the United States to the other. TE Antonio Gates' toe injury is a setback for San Diego. Pats can win, but will probably lose.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: Before the season started, this was a marquee game. Both teams have struggled and the Packers have numerous injuries to key offensive weapons (at running back, wide receiver and tight end) as well as several defensive players. Green Bay's O-line hasn't been fixed and still shows last season's porous quarterback protection. But despite all that, Minny has disappointed with a rush defense that isn't putting a lot of pressure on opposing QBs. I've watched two Vikes games and don't recall DE Jared Allen's name mentioned all that much. Aaron Rodgers will beat Brett Favre for the first time.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: I think you can make a pretty good case for Dallas being the better team. Tony Romo is hands down better than Eli Manning and has more targets. As good as the G-Men's defense is, the 'Boys defense has some very good parts and flashes brilliance at times. But it seems that the Cowboys problems should be counted on to sink Dallas until they prove otherwise: a defense that is pedestrian too often, the complete lack of running game, and undisciplined play by too many players on both sides of the ball. Dallas might be better but they will find a way to lose.

Friday, October 22, 2010
Tweet of the day

John Podhoretz: "Attention @fivethirtyeight: You talk about your model the way the guy in the Star Trek episode 'The Ultimate Computer' talked about the M5."

Four and down

4. A poll of NFL players finds the most over-rated players to be Cincinnati Bengals WR Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo, New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, Washington Redskins NT Albert Haynesworth and New York Giants QB Eli Manning. I'd like to point out that both Big Apple starting quarterbacks are in the top five most over-rated. Doesn't this tell you something about the media's priorities and coverage? I was surprised that Donovan McNabb didn't make the list, but perhaps the players didn't want to be labeled Rush Limbaughs. I'm not a fan of Romo, but he is second in passing percentage this year.

3. Terrible news for the Indianapolis Colts: TE Dallas Clark is out for the season. Peyton Manning has lost a lot of his top targets in recent years, but this will test him more than other losses. Not a lot of depth at tight end for Indy.

2. Matt Mosely, the NFC East blogger for ESPN, says of MNF's contest between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys: "On paper and on film, the Giants are the superior team. I would argue they have the best quarterback, running back and wide receiver (Hakeem Nicks) in the NFC East right now." Not even close. Eli Manning is no better than the third best QB in the NFC East -- see item #4 about over-rated players -- and I might even put a healthy Michael Vick ahead of Manning. Nicks is doing well, but I'd rather have DeSean Jackson or Austin Miles receiving for my team. I'll grant RB Ahmad Bradshaw is better than anyone else in the division. I'd give the G-Men defense the edge and although Tom Coughlin is nothing special on the sidelines, it is difficult to think of a coach who does so little for his team as Wade Phillips.

1. Mark Wald of ColdHardFootballFacts looks at the history of the point spread and there are some great facts there. Check for yourself how far off the mark bookies were in a pair of games that had a spread of 28 points (from '66 and '67) and the 24-point spread between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in 1978. Hint: you would have won money and done so comfortably if you didn't take the favourite.

The banality of evil (Canadian version)

John Robson on Russell Williams.

Three and out

3. Game theory and pitch selection.

2. Writing in Slate, Tim Marchman notes that a team composed of Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Freddy Sanchez, Mark DeRosa, and Edgar Renteria should not be in the NLCS. But the San Francisco Giants roster is full of "exactly the kinds of players Bill James and his disciples have been warning executives to avoid since ballplayers were wearing Afros and polyester double-knits." The Giants are the anti-sabermetric team and yet they are doing well. Of course, they are doing well despite Burrell, Sanchez, DeRosa, and Renteria, not because of them. Huff is having a comeback year -- as Alex Remington noted, Huff was the second worst position player according to wins above replacement in 2009 and the 17th best position player in 2010. The Giants success has more to do with young pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, and rookie catcher Buster Posey.

1. This is a great idea: MLB is considering a new seven-day disabled list for concussed players. Nice to see Organized Baseball take head injuries seriously.

Replacement level punditry

Tim Marchman is a fantastic baseball writer -- his columns in the New York Sun were worth the price of a subscription all on their lonesome -- and despite his liberal leanings, his musings on politics are often worth reading. He is the Albert Pujols of baseball punditry and the Tino Martinez of political punditry. Loved this 'graph on Juan Williams being canned from NPR:

I'll freely grant that as someone offering poorly informed commentary on the issues of the day, Williams seems pretty close to, if not below, the level of a freely available talent. Offering poorly informed commentary on the issues of the day doesn't seem to be his job description, though. My impression has always been that his job is to agree, in a hedged fashion, with conservative pundits so that they can then point out that 'even the liberal Juan Williams agrees that Michelle Obama resembles Stokely Carmichael in a dress' or what have you. (David Frum seems to have a similar job.) In this role, his background as a Panamanian-American who grew up Episcopalian in a bad neighborhood in Brooklyn before going on to success at the Washington Post would seem to be helpful, as it lends him more credibility with viewers than a random jackass I dragged out of Jimmy's would have.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tweet of the day

RightGirl: "RT @andylevy: RIP Bob Guccione. In lieu of flowers, family requests that u look back fondly on the days when u got ur porn from magazines."

Conservatives will be disappointed by Republican victory in November

Tim Carney and, via Kathy Shaidle, Rush Limbaugh.

Four and down

4. Rating the games I watched for entertainment:

A-: New England Patriots 23, Baltimore Ravens 20 (OT): Statistically this game was close and it was just that it went to overtime. WR Deion Branch enjoyed his return to the Pats with a great game: 9 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown, while running some really nice routes. A touchdown was scored in every quarter and New England engineered a 10-point comeback in the final six minutes to force OT. The game lacked big plays, but there were sustained drives (21 first downs for the Ravens, 23 for the Patriots). Expected a good game and these two probable playoff-bound squads delivered.

C+: Minnesota Vikings 24, Dallas Cowboys 21: This game didn't do much for me. Brett Favre threw for just 118 yards, Tony Romo for 220. Romo passed for three TDs but also two picks. The typically high-pressure D of the Vikes didn't sack Romo once. Dallas is so undisciplined, they are difficult to watch: had 11 penalties, some of which costly -- negating their own big offensive plays or helping Minny's struggling offense. Despite having both Felix Jones and Marion Barber, Dallas has practically no running game.

A: Indianapolis Colts 27, Washington Redskins 24: This game was perhaps the best game of the year. Peyton Manning keeps the game moving. There was one 12-play, 3:38 drive that took an average of 18 seconds between snaps. Quick pace keeps the action coming, the defense off balance and its all sheer joy to watch. Game's closeness helped maintain drama.

C: Tennessee Titans 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 3: Jax doesn't do anything well and it got worse for the Jags when QB David Garrard went down to injury and Trent Edwards had to come in. Tenny also lost their QB (Vince Young) but Kerry Collins was a decent replacement. Solid defense and efficient offense for the Titans combined by an unbelievable level of ineptitude by the Jags -- they are Buffalo Bills bad at this point -- didn't make for much excitement.

3. When Kerry Collins made a pass coming off the bench for the injured Vince Young during the Monday Night Football game between the Titans and Jags, I was surprised to hear that he tied Dan Fouts for 10th in career completions, with 3,297. If anything tells you about the changing nature of the game -- what Gregg Easterbrook calls "pass wacky" -- its that a journeyman who has taken a backup role more than once in the past few seasons has, in his 15-year, five-team career, racked up the 10th most completions in NFL history -- more than Troy Aikman (2,898), Jim Kelly (2,874), Johnny Unitas (2,830), Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham (2,429), Phil Simms (2,576), Len Dawson (2,136), Terry Bradshaw (2,025), George Blanda (1,911), Joe Namath (1,886) or Roger Staubach (1685), to name a few of the greats.

2. The Baltimore Ravens have a bye-week after this weekend's game. The Ravens don't like taking a week off of hurting opponents. Love this quote from linebacker Ray Lewis that I found in the Baltimore Sun: "We are going home and then we are going to the bye week. It's going to be rough on Buffalo." They have to get two weeks worth of hits in.

1. I'm totally in favour of getting serious about head-to-head collisions in the NFL. However, I'm not sure how to go about doing that. Not every head-to-head is flagrant disregard for the well-being of a fellow player. Nor do I like rule changes in middle of a season. Furthermore, I don't relish the idea of one of the best defensive players in the league considering retirement because he can't play the game the way he was taught.

(Don't) stop the presses!

The New York Times reports that the NAACP finds the Tea Party movement is "permeated with concerns about race." Of course the NAACP would find this because the NAACP finds racism in any organization that is not neatly aligned with the Democratic Party. Now we can no look forward to another round of CNN counting coloured people at rallies and what naught to point out the supposed racism of a movement that has nothing to do with race. And yet somehow counting blacks and browns is in the service of being colour-blind.

The Williams case and capital punishment

The Ottawa Sun reports:

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has said there is no need to re-open a debate on capital punishment in light of the Russel Williams case.
I don't want to re-open the capital punishment debate because of the horrific case of Russel Williams. I want to re-open the capital punishment debate because murderers deserve to be put to death -- or as David Gelernter said, wicked men who kill no longer deserve to walk among the living. Williams is one such person, but don't re-open an issue because of one case. Re-open it because our system of punishments is unjust and lets people like Williams live.

People expect too much

Tyler Cowen has a post on the theme that some people "expect too much" and he uses examples of Germany (expectations for the rest of Europe), Americans (solve problem X without raising taxes), and economists (can't find a job then move or take a pay cut). This presents tremendous challenges to creating good public policy and leads to a disconnect between voters and policy-makers. Another name for expecting too much is often wanting one's cake and eating it too, which is a perfectly legitimate desire for people who have cake, which Cowen sort of admits.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Tweet of the day

Josh Somer: "Smitherman isn't gonna get Pantalone supporters to switch by being such a rude dick to Joe all night."

Mayoral debate

When Joe Pantalone says that George Smitherman "likes to play in the backrooms." Is that a comment about his political history or a thinly veiled allusion to Smitherman's homosexuality.

Sloppy -- i.e. illogical -- thinking

A pullquote in a Peter Goodspeed column ("The German right moves to the centre") in today's National Post says: "These views are being expressed more frequently." How extreme are anti-immigration, anti-multiculturalism views if they are part of the political center and being expressed more frequently (read: broadly)? Sounds like such views are, in fact, mainstream, not extreme.

Overpopulationists are wrong

"The Eternal Return of Overpopulation: Getting the cause of high fertility backwards," is a fact-filled must-read by Ronald Bailey at A must-read.

Bork on Red China

Mary Ellen Bork in the Weekly Standard following Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize:

Liu has written that he believes China will become democratic. This is what Chinese Communist leaders fear. This is why Liu Xiaobo sits in jail. Although he is not the leading force behind Charter 08, Liu was among its most prominent signatories. Arresting him was a signal to others that the Communist authorities, while allowing greater latitude in many areas of life, cannot abide any challenge to the party’s monopoly on power...

It’s self-evident that a democratic China would be infinitely preferable to the status quo, for China’s people and for the world. Democracy is not inevitable. But Charter 08 shows that democracy is possible—so long as patriots like Liu Xiaobo are free to work for the cause of human liberty, and so long as they find support from free people and democratic governments around the world.

Could this happen here?

Gawker reports that a Swedish professor had his computer stolen but the thief mailed him a USB drive with a backup of his files. The Local reports:

The professor was shocked to discover the thief had copied all the documents and personal files from his laptop to the memory storage device, a process which likely took hours.
(HT: Michael Clemens)

Monday, October 18, 2010
Tweet of the day

Craig Calcaterra: "It doesn't bother me that football is more popular than baseball. The top movie this weekend was "Jackass 3D." Popularity is overrated."

More on Kinsella

Warren Kinsella blogs about the reaction from both the Left and Right against his new gig with the Sun newspaper and possibly SunTV: "The right-wingers, committed free-speechers all, were enraged that a dissenting voice was being permitted a platform in a conservative paper." The right-wingers are not against having a dissenting voice in the paper; they are against having someone like Kinsella write for the Sun newspapers. Kinsella is a political participant who masquerades as an observer. But even if he an observer, he wouldn't be one that I'd want in my paper because he has terrible judgement, credibility problems, and a proclivity for snapping photos in bathrooms. He is notoriously thin-skinned and he uses the law to bully people with whom he has normal political disagreements.

And, by the way, I call bullshit.

Scully on Sobran

Matthew Scully on the late Joseph Sobran in National Review. A sample 'graph:

His Shakespeare “obsession” gave critics one more pretext to write him off as a crank, and that didn’t trouble Joe either. He was just happy in the knowledge that the case had been made and the work completed — as he told me at the time, “It exists.”
And another paragraph:

If there is ever a Sobran authorship controversy, we will know just what to look for. All we have to do is search the text for a single false note, a self-consciously literary touch, a forced sentiment or piece of flattery, a loss of calm or fairness, an insult standing in place of wit, or an attitude in place of an argument, and finding any one of these, we could rule out Joe. If, on the other hand, we detect a lightness and charm in the tone, a modesty in literary manner, an original use of common words, arguments that are devastating but never aggressive, and a sense of fun that has us dissolving in laughter before we can even complete the analysis, that would be our man.

Shaidle: '8 Things I Wish I’d Known (or Remembered) When I Was a Leftist'

Kathy Shaidle has a must-read list at NewsReal, but the most important lesson is this:

The world doesn’t need me to “save” it

On the Tea Party

Ross Douthat has a good column on the Tea Party movement and its critics. The critics are mostly wrong except about perhaps the most important point: that Tea Partiers are hypocrites for wanting small government although they also want Medicare and Social Security untouched. As Douthat says, "But for the sake of the country’s finances, liberals should hope that the Tea Party proves their most convincing story wrong."

Yesterday I opened my Toronto Sun ...

And almost cancelled the paper. Warren Kinsella is now a columnist. Let's start a pool: how long until QMI gets ready to fire him, Kinsella quits in a hissy fit (to maintain that he didn't get fired) and he complains about the loony editorial policy, the exploitation of women (Sunshine Girl), and the overall lack of ethics at the paper and SunTV? I'll take May 2011.

Four and down

4. Going into the weekend, there were three 0-5 teams. The one that played, the San Francisco 49ers, beat an Oakland Raiders team that managed just 179 total net yards. Now the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills are the only winless teams.

3. The New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in OT. The Ravens were 4-1 going into the game, so the now 4-1 Pats did well to fend off a tough opponent. Don Banks says that New England may not be an elite team nor is it the glitzy team that went 16-0, but it is doing what it takes to win. Indeed, New England has a good enough defense, just enough of a running game and an extremely dangerous aerial game to beat most opponents on most days, even if it is close. Banks says they are resilient. That's applying morality to a game in which skill matters more than character and what people don't understand about the Pats is that despite the constant churn, they've got a lot of talented players on this team. They might not be Pro Bowlers, but they are good. Having a diverse set of non-elite targets can be itself a huge advantage. Bill Belichick has them running and executing good routes and the normally great Baltimore defense wasn't able to contain them. Based on what I've seen in the first six weeks worth of football, the Pats have as much chance as any other team in the NFL to go to the Super Bowl.

2. ColdHardFootballFacts says of tonight's battle of between AFC South rivals Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars that not all 3-2 teams are equal. CHFF says that Tenny has more impressive victories (road wins against the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys), and is fifth in scoring offense (26.4 ppg) and tenth in scoring defense (19 ppg). Jax is thirteenth in scoring offense (21.4 ppg) and 30th in scoring defense (27.4 ppg). In CHFF's Passer Rating Differential, the Titans are +10.9, the Jags -20.23. Both tonight and at the end of the season, expect the Titans to be on top.

1. You are probably wondering from where did the St. Louis Rams come. There are certainly better answers, but Bernie Miklasz's St. Louis Post-Dispatch column is worth reading because it focuses on the most obvious reason: Steven Jackson, who was last year an elite running back -- it was that he wasn't getting the attention. This year he's just as good but he also has a quarterback who can make some plays, wideouts to catch rookie QB Sam Bradford's passes, and a much-improved defense. The Rams are good because their great RB has a better team around him, but that team wouldn't matter much if Steven Jackson was Marshawn Lynch.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm not going to tell you to go out and vote in municipal elections. Truth is that often I don't in provincial or federal elections. It makes me feel a little dirty taking part in the political process and lending any legitimacy to a system that incentivizes theft -- most egregiously by encouraging politicians to steal from the productive members of society and redistributing wealth to those engaged in deadly sins (sloth, envy, etc&).

This year, however, was a little different. It felt good to vote in the advanced polls on Saturday. For mayor of Toronto, I voted for Rob Ford (the politician who respects taxpayers and is most likely to shake up the cozy club of city politics). For city councillor in Ward 23, I voted for the person most likely to defeat incumbent John Filion (the man responsible for Toronto's indoor smoking ban and severe restrictions on the use of pesticides).

Rob Ford has a chance to win, but I hold no illusions that my vote will make the difference. The odds are astronomically against the possibility. But every vote for Ford makes a Toronto Star editorialist or unionized city worker cry.

And Filion is so detestable, it just feels good to vote for someone who cared to run against him.

These may not be noble reasons. But they are my reasons and they make as much sense as "making a difference" or "effecting the outcome" or even "voting for something." And they are the reasons that got me to a voting booth without feeling like a complete schmo for wasting time doing so. I like Rob Ford because I hate 90% of Toronto politicians and the unions they suck up to. I hate Filion because he is one of that 90%. And tonight I can go to bed with a clear conscience.

Bringing Bastiat to Africa

ReasonTV interviews Nigerian libertarian activist Adedayo Thomas.

Messed up priorities

This retweet from Planned Parenthood is frightening:

#bcmatters RT @dreadPirateReed: @PPact When I was in my late teens/early 20s I regularly went w/o meals so I could afford my BCPs
Read that closely: a female went without meals so she could continue to have sex. I don't even care if she was in a monogamous relationship or married or whatever -- this person prioritized having sex over having food.

Saturday, October 16, 2010
NFL Week 6 predictions

Winners in italics.

Miami Dolphins at Green Bay Packers: Injuries can take their toll, but a guaranteed loss if Aaron Rodgers doesn't start. Coin flip if Rodgers is playing (at less than 100%).

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots: The Pats have been shaky and the Ravens pass defense has been good, but New England is trying new things on offense that Baltimore might not be quite ready for. And Bill Belichick must avenge last year`s playoff ouster.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers: The best defense in the NFL combined with an offense that gets a jolt of Ben Roethlisberger and this is an easy pick. Add in rookie QB under center for the Browns and it should be Pittsburgh's biggest margin of victory this year.

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans: If both these teams play like they are capable of doing, the Texans win, especially at home. The Chiefs have a stout defense and should be able to score just enough against a Houston D that has been terrible at times and a Texans offense that could be lacking WR Andre Johnson.

Detroit Lions at New York Giants: Lions are getting better and their offense can produce, but they face the G-Men when their defense is doing a pretty good imitation of the Giants 2007 D. Giants eke out a victory.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles: In a battle of the birds of prey, the key story here is whether Michael Vick will be ready to face his old team. I'm not sure if the Falcons defense is that much better or that much luckier than it was last year. Either way it is opportunistic and they should prevent Kevin Kolb from racking up yardage, although it might be a different story if Vick is under center. But the Eagles defense is strong and more than anyone else the Falcons have faced since their week one contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they should stop Matt Ryan and his embarrassment of offensive riches. Eagles by a field goal, but only because they are at home.

San Diego Chargers at St. Louis Rams: The Rams are a better team this year than they have been in a long time, but the Bolts are a great team that has had unlucky breaks.

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears: I don't have any faith in the 'Hawks on the road. Jay Cutler returns at quarterback which means Todd Collins and his five picks in four quarters of football isn`t an issue for Da Bears. Matt Forte's running game and a Chicago defense that gets the job done will be the difference in this contest. Bears in a low-scoring affair.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The pundits say this is a close call. Saints have under-performed, but I'm not sold on Josh Freeman and the Bucs, who have vastly over-performed; victories over the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns inflate the Bucs 3-1 record. Hate to pick the visitors in a game that appears close on paper, but the game is not played on paper. Saints by at least a score despite having no running game whatsoever.

New York Jets at Denver Broncos: Kyle Orton is going for his fifth consecutive 300-yard game. The Jets don't travel West very well and if he plays, CB Darrelle Revis is still bothered by a hamstring injury. Mark Sanchez is due to be picked. I'm going against the grain on this one -- Broncs in a close one. If the Jets win in the Rockies, I will be convinced they are the best team in the NFL right now.

Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers: Al Davis takes his team across the bay to face the winless Niners. Alex Smith is capable of brilliant moments and lengthy periods of what-the-hell-is-he-doing-on-the-field? But the Raiders are the Raiders and after a lucky win against the San Diego Chargers, I just don't see them winning back-to-back. Smith will lead one drive that makes the difference especially against Oakland`s terrible pass defense. San Fran wins on the legs of Frank Gore who'll run for more than 150 yards against the second-worst rush defense (147.8 ypg allowed).

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings: They are calling this the Desperation Bowl, with the loser falling to 1-4 and facing a nearly insurmountable climb back into playoff contention. Brett Favre has distractions and tendinitis in his elbow. Dallas has undisciplined players along both lines. Favre has Tavaris Jackson to back him up or Adrian Peterson to hand the ball off to. Dallas has Wade Phillips on the sideline. Minny at home because their defense will pressure Tony Romo all game. Minny in a nail-biter.

Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins: I really like what defensive co-ordinator Jim Haslett has done with the Skins D, but it is hard to go against Peyton Manning. I wouldn't be surprised to see either team winning a close, low-scoring affair, but I've got to predict Indy on top.

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars: I think the Titans are better in all elements of the game when things are clicking. David Garrard struggles too often to be counted on. Tenny on top.

Friday, October 15, 2010
Ford leads Smitherman, and other Toronto political news

In the Toronto mayoral race, Rob Ford leads George Smitherman by a significant but diminishing margin according to a Forum Research poll (44%-38%). Ignore the Ipsos Reid polls -- they are mostly conducted over the weekends and are at odds with other polls, so they are probably systemically unrepresentative.

The lead is probably larger among people who will actually vote considering that Ford has 49% support among those over 50 years of age. Problematically, Smitherman is strong in North York (42%).

FiveFeetofFury notes that a radical Muslim, Canada Arab Federation vice president Ali Mallah, has endorsed Smitherman. Take a moment to think about that: a radical Muslim has endorsed an openly homosexual politician.

Sure to be the must-miss event of the year

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives turns 30 and is having a conference and gala dinner in November. It's a very big deal in left-wing circles and if you attend you can answer the age-old question of whether erstwhile hippies and the children of hippies shower for gala events.

'Asian' is newspaper-speak for Muslim

The Daily Mail reports:

An Asian woman aged 23 believed to be pregnant has died after being found on fire behind a house.

West Yorkshire Police and fire crews were called to a property in Bradford at 7.15pm yesterday.

A police spokesman said the woman, who was found 'alight' and with serious burns, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Neighbours in the story have names like Khan, but I wouldn't want to rush to judgement. The paper reports that "police are treating the death as suspicious." Ya think?

(HT: Kathy Shaidle)

Four and down

4. Looking at the "expert picks" at ESPN for Week 6, you see a lot of group think. There are 14 games and 10 experts and six picks are unanimous (although Ron Jaworski doesn't predict Monday Night Football games). Two others are split 9-1 and two more are split 8-2. This week's Minnesota Vikings-Dallas Cowboys match is evenly split 5-5. My problem with this sense of consensus is that there are lot of games that are very close; why are the experts so neatly aligned? It isn't that they are are similarly brilliant. Looking at last week's picks there were four unanimous choices and the experts were unanimously wrong in two of those games. There were five split 9-1, and in those cases the lone dissenter was right four times.

3. Mark Wald of Cold Hard Football Facts says that parity has never been a fact of the NFL. Using, well, cold, hard, football facts, he demonstrates that each decade has had dominant teams and that in any given season that are breakaway teams and historically bad teams. There is almost always a large gap between the best and the worst. Parity, it might be argued, is something the NFL has achieved over time, not from week to week.

2. No one in the Washington Post symposium actually addresses this question: "Parity or poor play?" Put another way, is the competitiveness of Pete Rozelle's "any given Sunday" good for the NFL if it is the result of some very good teams not doing well? I am inclined to say it might spark interest, but why is it a good thing that good teams do poorly?

1. Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson was flapping his mouth in the off-season about running for 2500 yards -- which no one has ever done. (Johnson ran for 2006 yards in 2009 and had 2509 all-purpose yards). To achieve 2500 yards, he would need to rush for 156.25 yards per game. In his amazing season last year, he only twice broke that mark (and twice came close). Through five games in 2010, Johnson has 485 yards or 97 ypg. To reach his goal, Johnson would now need to average 183.18 ypg for the rest of the season.

Baseball predictions

I don't have it in me to write a serious, thought-out, lengthy analysis of the league championships. So here is the Coles Notes version.

Philadelphia Phillies over the San Francisco Giants: The starting pitching is pretty even, although the Giants have the superior bullpen. However, the Phillies have an amazing starting lineup and the complexion of the game can change suddenly almost anywhere in the batting order 1-8. If it were true that good pitching beats good hitting, this series would be a coin flip. But the reverse -- good hitting beats good pitching -- is also true. Phillies have a huge edge in ability to get on base and knock in runners. Philly in six.

New York Yankees over the Texas Rangers: While the Tampa Bay Rays are the better team, the Rangers scare me a bit. Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz can change a game quickly with one swing of the bat. Cliff Lee seems almost impossible to beat in October. Ron Washington's squad has speed on the basepaths and the Yanks rein in the running game. But the Yanks caught a break with the Rays and Rangers going to five games and Lee is not available to start the ALCS. Joe Girardi is starting Phil Hughes in game two in Arlington, saving southpaw Andy Pettitte for Yankee Stadium, both good ideas considering that 1) Hughes gave up four times as many round-trippers at home than on the road and 2) Pettitte might convince Washington to bat more righties, taking away the short right field as a target for homerun hitters. The Yankees are the most dynamic hitting team in the Majors and are dangerous from the top to the bottom of the order. They have the better bench and the bullpen has been an asset for the past two-and-a-half months. Their starting three are vastly better than Texas' front three even with Lee in the mix. Yankees in six.

Obama can admit failure and success at the same time

Jonah Goldberg on the President:

In the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, Obama admits that there’s “no such thing as shovel-ready” when it comes to public works.

It’s not that Obama was lying when he said all that stuff. It’s just that he didn’t know what he was talking about. All it took was nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus money and 20-plus months of on-the-job training for him to discover that he was talking nonsense.

It seems to me that, if I were president, and I not only staked vast swaths of my credibility but gambled the prosperity of the country generally on this concept of “shovel-ready jobs,” I might be a bit miffed with the staffers who swore that shovel-ready jobs were, like, you know, a real thing.

And yet, if you read Peter Baker’s Obama profile, it’s clear that Obama isn’t mad about that. In fact, he still thinks he got all the policies right. Baker writes that Obama is “supremely sure that he is right,” it’s just that the president feels he didn’t market himself well.
We all hate when politicians blame the messaging, not the messager. The funny thing about Obama's admission, however, is that "shovel-ready" was entirely PR. It wasn't the policy, it was a justification for massive federal spending.

Robson on the decline of the British navy

And the decline of the Canadian military. The problem is political neglect, born of budget considerations. Here's John Robson:

Mostly it's budgetary. The welfare state is unaffordable but, because of its political dynamics, it takes everything else down with it as it goes. The first duty of the state may be defence but it's the last thing most democratic governments are going to fund today...

Sounds like Bobby Jindal might run

I think it's a tease -- can't a politician ever visit New Hampshire without having his motivations questioned? (Answer: no. A no with an exclamation mark.) Andrew Cline thinks the visit to Portsmouth's 100 Club went well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010
Three and out

3. Jack Moore at FanGraphs thinks the Tampa Bay Rays might have trouble maintaining their competitiveness with the AL East Big Boys considering that their payroll is going to decrease and some stars (Carl Crawford) are leaving. While the talent pipe is full, it is not full of Carl Crawfords.

2. Emma Span: "Simulated games are the dry-humping of baseball."

1. This past week's Simpsons was about baseball and statistics. Lisa was managing the team and benches Bart: "He thought he was better than the laws of probability. Anyone else here think he’s better than the laws of probability?" Joe Posnanski watched the episode with Bill James and his reported impressions are worth reading. Bart's homerun trot from the show has been analyzed by Wezen-ball.

Toronto municipal politics

City councillor John Parker has endorsed mayoral candidate Rob Ford. Ford accepts the endorsement.

Those in Ward 26 (Don Valley West) should support Parker. For four years he has stood up for Toronto taxpayers.

And a classy tweet from Ford regarding Rocco Rossi.


Steve Maich: "WSJ says capitalism saved the miners. @naomiaklein says it was capitalism that nearly killed them. I say BS to both of them."

Taking the phobia out where it wasn't in the first place

From Brian Micklethwait at Samizdata:

The point being that the Islamophobes are clearly not those who publicly defy Islam's threats and attacks and who just go ahead and publicly criticise it anyway and publicly mock it anyway.

Where's the "phobia" in that?
(HT: Kathy Shaidle)

Reaping what they sow

George F. Will on the turning tide of American politics from Democrat to Republican, at least for the time being:

Regarding House races, Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard notes that the Democratic Party has "an inefficiently distributed base of voters." It "consists mostly of union workers, upscale urban liberals, and minority voters, many of whom are clustered in highly Democratic districts." In many other districts, Democratic candidates depend on "independents and soft partisans," the very voters who have defected from the Obama coalition of 2008.

If Democrats lose control of the House by a small number of seats, this might be condign punishment for a practice they favor and that Republicans have cynically encouraged -- racial gerrymandering. It concentrates African American voters in majority-minority districts to guarantee the election of minority candidates.
A friend of mine says his political model has the Democrats holding onto the Senate 51-49, but the Republicans gaining six governor's mansions and winning 75-90 seats in the House. He cites the same stat Will notes, which is that 40% of ballots will be cast before election day as well as a two-to-one enthusiasm advantage for the GOP. Why this all matters is that so many Democratic seats are disproportionately Democrat, making generic ballot numbers even worse for the party in power. I am still skeptical of anything but a bare majority. I still think a last minute defensive surge against the Republicans is possible.

Two must-read pieces

Gods of the Copybook Headings on Canada not getting a seat on the UN's Security Council (on losing to Portugal: "Irrelevant nation wins irrelevant position at irrelevant organization") and on government of men, not laws (it's about Caledonia and the G20).

Four and down

4. In the middle of this video on the rookies of Week 5, there is Ndumakong Suh of the Detroit Lions returning a deflection/pick for score. As Peter King says, it is a "rolling-ball-of-butcher-knives 20-yard interception return." I predicted Suh would be the Defensive Rookie of the Year; he doesn't play like a first-year player and he's a lot of fun to watch. He needs to be double covered because of his size and explosiveness. Exciting things are happening in Detroit and he makes their defense much better than it would be otherwise. They can't defend against the pass, but their D-line is looking better.

3. Really bad news for the Green Bay Packers: TE Jermichael Finley could be out for the year.

2. Cleveland Browns rookie QB Colt McCoy will start against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. ESPN's James Walker says the Steelers aren't taking McCoy lightly. There are two schools of thought on how a rookie quarterback might do: he will get trounced by the dominating defense of the Steel Curtain or Pittsburgh could have a tough time preparing for a quarterback for whom there is no NFL tape to study. Usually quarterbacks taking their first professional snaps hand the ball to the running back a lot. That isn't much of a strategy against the top-ranked rush defense: 62.2 ypg, more than ten yards better than the second best rush defense.

1. The Wall Street Journal reports that an NFL official says teams will lose $1 billion in revenue if there is a lockout. That includes lost renewals in season tickets, pre-season games and up to $8 million per regular season game, although that might be double counting once you include season ticket losses. Nice try. Read further into the story and find out that the teams will still split their $4 billion in shared broadcast revenue that is paid by the networks whether or not regular season games are played. Plus teams will save on the unpaid salaries. The headline billion-dollar loss is very misleading. Poor journalism being the dupe of Offical NFLdom.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tweet of the day

Michelle Malkin: "1stLady: Ask not what ur prayer circle can do 4 u. Ask what ur prayer circle can do 4 my husband -"

Midweek stuff

1. Gliese 581 g is questioned.

2. A great graph.

3. The Huffington Post has "13 Halloween Costumes That Have No Business Being 'Sexy'." A sexy medical marijuana dispenser?

4. Tuesdays suck.

5. How big is Africa, really? An interesting map of the continent.

6. From Listeverse: "10 Unusual and Amazing Snakes."

7. Seven cities that are sinking.

8. A version of this was the first video I watched on YouTube and it's still one of my faves: RC Car Jumping Over House:

Advanced voting doesn't increase turnout

CTV reported last week: York University political science professor Robert MacDermid says, "Ultimately, it's not about the availability of the polls but the lack of interest, the lack of involvement of voters, the inability of candidates to engage people -- that's the problem."

He has to go

The latest: Christian Paradis -- which is French for "wouldn't be qualified for a cabinet post if I was from Saskatchewan" -- admits he discussed business with a contractor during a party fundraiser. I don't know if this alone rises to the level of requiring resignation from cabinet, but clearly the embattled Natural Resources Minister is a problem for the government.

Feminists. Yawn.

There is a new collection of Canadian feminist writing entitled Speaking Truth to Power, with contributions from women who are, as Andrea Mrozek pointed out, in power -- senators and former MPs, academics and government-funded activists. Read the table of contents and introduction and see if this anthology piques your interest. And, as Mrozek also says, the title is too cliched. So too, I'd bet, are the complaints and proposed solutions contained within its pages.