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Never before have I strung two cold together like this, almost back-to-back (I had a two-day reprieve last weekend). This is a completely different cold than the last one…sore throat, chest congestion and coughing this time, unlike the exploding sinuses of the last cold. In both cases, though, I felt like chicken-fried ass.

At some point in the next couple of days I won’t be able to talk…it’s that kind of cold. My wife and co-workers believe rare occasions such as this to be tiny miracles, brief instances of peaceful zen in their universe. I view them as a personal attack from mother nature.

Final thoughts on the Oscars

Sunday night’s Oscars were the best I can remember watching. Not in terms of technical execution, but just in that they cut out the annoying parts from years past, and moved the boring categories along quickly.

I’m glad Slumdog Millionaire won. It was fun to pick a movie without knowing much about it, get blown away by it, see it become this huge sensation and then watch it win the big prize.

Not everyone liked it though. NOW magazine’s Susan B. Cole had this to say last week:

Should Slumdog take the best picture Oscar, it will be the most violent film to do so ever. And I include the two Godfather movies and The French Connection when I write that.

Laughable commentary like that (and trust me, it doesn’t stop at movie reviews) is what made me stop reading NOW. Commenters on NOW’s site (including David Topping, the firstie who called Cole out on Torontoist) have suggested that films where the bad guy kills women to make suits out of their skin, where the best supporting actor kills several people with a bolt driver or where several cops shoot each other in the head might retain the title.

"There will be howling anguish, all kinds of pain…"

If you have a chance, skip over to this Globe and Mail interview with Niall Ferguson.

Heather Scoffield: Is a violent resolution to this crisis inevitable?

Niall Ferguson: “There will be blood, in the sense that a crisis of this magnitude is bound to increase political as well as economic [conflict]. It is bound to destabilize some countries. It will cause civil wars to break out, that have been dormant. It will topple governments that were moderate and bring in governments that are extreme. These things are pretty predictable. The question is whether the general destabilization, the return of, if you like, political risk, ultimately leads to something really big in the realm of geopolitics. That seems a less certain outcome.

OK, so he’s not exactly three rays of sunshine or a lollipop explosion, but it’s still good to be informed.

Insatiable?

I picked up three new albums yesterday when my eMusic subscription reset:

  • And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead . The Century Of Self
  • Heartless Bastards . The Mountain
  • LCD Soundsystem . 45:33

I already know the Heartless Bastards album is awesome, and the LCD Soundsystem was a no-brainer (eMusic allows a certain number of downloaded songs, and that single LCDSS song that clocks in at 45 minutes…one download). The big question is the …Trail Of Dead album. Despite their last few not-great releases, they still have enough cred built up from Madonna and Source Tags And Codes that I’ll check them out. It’s running a 72 on Metacritic right now, so I gave it a shot. One or two songs in as I write this, it seems ok so far.

I also watched some movies lately — Quantum of Solace, I’m Not There and Poor Boy’s Game — but I don’t feel like writing about them. Not sure what that means…this blog is basically 50% me writing about movies and 50% me bloviating about politics or hockey or some such. Could it be that I’m all movie-d out? For your sake, I hope not; I don’t imagine you can take much more hockeytics.

Except 'S'. 'S' needed two towers.

Life is hard in CD city
Life is hard in CD city

Four years ago* I ripped all 487 of my CDs to MP3 files, loaded them on to my player and never bought another physical disc. Since then my music has been exclusively electronic: either in my pocket or streamed wirelessly out to the living room. I was reluctant to part with my CDs though. Because of storage constraints on players I had to rip everything at 128 bitrate, and wanted to keep the CDs around for the time when devices would allow me to store everything at 320, or better yet, lossless FLAC.

However, even boxed they’re taking up a ton of room in the closet, so I bought a couple of CD wallets the size of New York phone books and stripped all forty dozen from their jewel cases. I spent hours sorting them alphabetically (you can see the early stages of that above…each tower is a letter) and jamming them into the wallets. The jewel cases, and all the ‘album art’ therein, will soon go to be with jesus. The CDs will go back in to the closet, waiting for portable media storage Ragnarok.

* Exactly four years ago, actually. I didn’t realize this until I searched my blog for the post where I described taking the plunge, and noticed the date. Weird how that happened.

A Leafs nation, that is.

My Maple Leafs fan friends are misinformed. They all seem to think that Montreal Canadiens fans are brutal turncoats who will turn on players at the drop of a hat. I think they cling to this notion in the hopes of convincing themselves that they, Leafs fans, are the only true devotees, following their team no matter how bad.

Today’s game was a good example of how ridiculous that notion is. With the losses piling up the pressure was on Alex Kovalev, the Canadiens most talented player, to perform today after he was left home by the GM for the Canadiens’ recent road trip. Some media outlets were reporting that Kovalev wanted out, that he’d played his last game for the Habs. Legendary player Guy Lafleur claimed the Canadiens had embarrassed Kovalev by leaving him home. Turmoil surrounded the Canadiens all week as they drifted closer to falling out of a playoff spot. The Montreal fans described by Leafs devotees would focus their anger on Kovalev, running hit out of town on a rail. Surely today’s game against the Senators would be ugly for him.

Except it wasn’t.

When Kovalev’s face appeared on the scoreboard during the pre-game lineup announcements, the Montreal crowd cheered. They cheered louder than they did for any other player. When the game started and Montreal went to work on an early power play, Kovalev took a pass in the high slot, pulled two players to him and then fed a beautiful pass to Tomas Plekanec who scored. The crowd gave Kovalev a standing ovation. A few minutes later Kovalev stole the puck just inside the Ottawa blueline, swept in and scored. Another standing o. The crowd roared when, on the penalty kill, Kovalev dove to knock a puck out of the Canadiens’ zone. Later in the game, when he drew an assist on another goal, his name drew the loudest cheer during the scoring announcement. It was his night.

Kovalev had an all-star quality game, but the fans were cheering him even before the puck dropped. Those don’t sound like the usual description of Habs fans I hear living here in Toronto.

“A nation is a society united by delusions about its ancestry and by a common hatred of its neighbors.” –Dean Inge

Speaking of Toronto, Mats Sundin — the Leafs’ all-time leader in goals and points scored, long-time captain and almost certainly one of the best players in their history — made his first return visit to Toronto tonight after decamping for Vancouver. While most cheered him when he took the ice, a few Toronto fans actually booed him. That’s shameful. Apparently the Toronto fans’ delusion extends beyond the skill level of their team, and keeps them from seeing the kind of fans they really are.

Decongested

Good start to the day: went out on a beautiful winter morning to pick up bagels at St-Urbain, pretzels from the north market and a nice warm drink from Hank’s. The cold and the early hour made for a pretty pleasant Front Street too: not many impromptu cocktail parties or aggressive stroller-pushers to contend with on the sidewalks this morning.

I’m really happy to be out from under this cold, so it feels good to have an active, productive day planned. I didn’t even mind staying late(ish) at work last night…it felt good to be functional and not hell ass balls congested. Nellie finally seems to have turned the corner on her cold as well. She’s taking advantage of a lazy Saturday to sleep it out.

Right, I’m off. More errands to run and lovely February day to enjoy.

In which Dan realizes his true calling: TSN statistician

So after yesterday’s sampling of NHL rosters, I decided to do a little more digging. And to be truer to the group of players that Gladwell used in Outliers I pulled the list of the top 211 draft picks in the 2008 NHL entry draft, courtesy of NHL.com. Of those, 33% were born between January and March. 66% were born between January and June.

More interesting, though, is when I cut that list down to the top 3 rounds of the draft (in other words, the top 91 players drafted): of that group, 43% were born in January, February or March. Under an even distribution you’d expect 25%, so that’s a significant difference.

The more I think about it, the more I think I was looking in the wrong place yesterday. I’d be surprised if NHL rosters were good representations of Gladwell’s hypotheses since developmental factors would be dampened over time by skill, resistance to injury, coaching systems, etc. It’s going to be hard not to waste my next few nights analyzing the last ten draft classes…