Wednesday 26 Oct 2016

2013 Awards
Bob Stark

"There is no reason for anyone to have a computer in his home."
Ted Olson, Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977.

Considered one of the great 'false' predictions of any era, you might well agree with him after reading the following article!

Recent elections have a recurring theme: highly inaccurate predictions offered by pollsters. I doubt the high priests of politics, the sorcerers of sludge, changed their methodology. I suspect it is more that people polled are no longer to be trusted. They have decided to be like the politicians they vote for,  say one thing, then do the complete opposite.

Possibly, it is the modern world yo-yo effect of never being sure what one believes at any given moment. One day ya think one thing, the next day, based on a few simple opinions expressed by a few simple hucksters out on the hustings, the hundredth monkey phenomenon takes over and mule-kicks out any common sense a feller held a scant 24-hours earlier.

It is certainly true in any field that the manure can get quite thick and smelly as it sticks to your boots. We live in a world of 'facts' and the information highway. One new 'fact' suddenly exposed like grandma's knickers, and your whole concept of life and politics, let alone grandma, can change in an instant.

Add a new 'fact' or 'counter-attack-fact" and, wham-o, your little endorphin-rattled electro-engine in the noggin' shape-shifts to an entirely different conception.

Many hurtin' Albertans were heading for Wild Rose country when one or two of their rodeo kings fell-off their broncos and started saying the damnedest things, and got to scaring folks and adding to the manure piles so much, that Presto Manning, they were re-herding the cows and heading back to the devil they knew. Within 24-to-48 hours, the pollsters were begging for jobs as scarecrows.

Well, I suspect that, at the federal level, the political parties use Election Day Robo-calls. The Parties also use but invisible electronic bots, with extraterrestrial powers, that invade the inner workings of our home computers. These bots hypnotize us with continuous mantras about lowering taxes, while keeping the gravy trains running on time, even as they de-rail in the real world, one train after another.

"Vote for 'Big Bother'." Turned slowly into zombies, we trot off down the yellow brick road and cast our pearls before swine. After the fact, Big Bother, with his majority government, got strangely obsessed with inner circle adorers who were nickel and diming him to death of embarrassment. Yet, he turned a blind-eye to Tony the Treasury Tiger mishandling $3.1 billion of taxpayer money.

With all the crap evacuated by our elected officials as well as the confusion going around, is it any wonder the pollsters can no longer read the entrails with any degree of certainty?

With Monday's by-elections set in four federal ridings, who among us, including the pollsters, is jumping on the prediction bandwagon? While we may get a clearer indication of at least some of the country's current mood about the whole Duffy Duck affair, the Tories are out there singing "Stand by Your Man", although the chosen few picked to stand behind the BM on his photo-op speeches don't look all that enthused when the topic turns to the Senate Scandal.

Predicting of course is not restricted to elections, weather or sports. It is after-all the very fabric of physics and all the sciences. You observe something, seeking a pattern, searching for the basic elements of matter, trying to figure out what is going on and has been going on, then try to predict what will happen next.

Well, even the mighty Einstein predicted, in 1932, that "there is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be attainable, the atom would have to be shattered at will." The people living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki sighed in great relief.

We know or think we know that within the first second of the Big Bang four forces were created - gravity, the thing that made the apple fall on Sir Isaac's head; electromagnetism; as well as 'the strong force', and 'the weak force'. What is still unaccounted for, at least for the moment, is the answer to the question: how was Mass formed? This is where Mr. Higgs came into the equation, and predicted that there was a, surprisingly aptly named, Higgs Field, a kind of cosmic sludge, or mud, that slowed all the little quarks and electrons, protons down and thus gave them their weight. Kind of like the adult beverage fluid and culinary indulgences that slowed down and gave weight to Rob Ford, who apparently has more than enough to eat at home, in his own real life version of the Hunger Games. Whoa momma, that's much better than Sugar Pops!

The slower these first-born particles were able to move, the more weight they carried. The world went Lady Gaga over Mr. Higgs' conceptualization and thousands of physicists and engineers, all over the world, got together and built the Long Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. They started firing electrons and protons at each other so that they'd collide and recreate, simulate, the first nano-seconds of the Big Bang. The physicists then study the entrails in the hope of finding the so-called "God Particle," the Higgs Boson.

All that money, time and effort put into proving a prediction, using a truly human engineering marvel, the Long Hadron Collider, or LHC.

For those who might be interested in discovering the Higgs Boson, there is also THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Those who wish to recreate or simulate the Big Bang, get to the cosmic roots of things, can use a different 'underground' method, which is infinitely much cheaper, less time consuming, and one can even experiment in the safety of Justin Trudeau's home.

Just roll a huge reefer of BC Gold, light it up, take a few tokes, and wait a few nano-seconds for the particles in your Brain to collide and ka-Bong, ya got yourself a first-rate intergalactic trip to investigate the potential of the Higgs Field at the beginning of the universe. In addition, to quarks and quantum mechanics - the guys who work on your cosmic car - there are the predictions of the pseudo-scientists, or some might say "quacks".

Any time someone wants to get a read on whether the little girl next door is going to let them come over to play doctor and nurse, I'm sure they’ll roll the I Ching, read Tarot Cards, visit the fat gypsy lady in a tent at the circus, she reads palms, or pulling out their monthly astrology scrolls or maybe checking the entrails of the family dog.

In that, the idea, in all such pontification, is not just to predict the future, but also to make the world spin and turn towards the sunshine, that is, to confirm you're right and thus allow one to gain a higher status in life than his or her current employment as a Walmart greeter.

The world is one big gambling casino. Place your bets. I reflect on all this of course in reviewing my pre-season predictions for the NHL.

Ahem, let's just say I'm no Nostradamus!

In the East, I have Columbus and Ottawa finishing second in their respective divisions. Out West, I have Anaheim and Colorado at, or near, the bottom of theirs and Vancouver in third in the Pacific.

There's no point crying over spilt milk. It’s to the future that we must boldly go! Warp speed Mr. Sulu.

At this point in the hockey season, I'm beginning to have grave doubts that Lord Stanley's mug will return to its native soil. Only two of the seven Canadian-based teams are currently in a play-off spot: Leaf Nation and the Habs. Based on that, I conclude that Montreal seems better built to make a run.

The Leafs still have too many questions on defence and, as an illustration of that, are constantly giving up way too many shots on goal. Reimer and Bernier have been very good most nights, but play-offs are a different ball of wax. The Canadians have a stronger defence. Carey Price may be sporting Sochi Gold by April and Budaj has been marvelous as his back up.

Ottawa, sad to say, is struggling like the Leafs to keep the shot count down. Anderson, as predicted, has not looked sharp at all. The Sens take too many penalties; too many stupid penalties. Too many short-handed goals against when they do have the Power Play.

Last year Andy, et al were able to cover those limitations or weaknesses. Da magic is gone this campaign. Some guys in up front, Milan Michalek, say,  are not carrying their weight, or have been inconsistent at best. Spezza has yet to fill the big skate boots of Alfie. Too soon to write them off but if things don't change in a hurry, they're done.

If ya think that is too premature an ejaculation, one of the newspaper scribes, in Vancouver, is an in-between period guest on the Canucks' Sportsnet broadcasts. Last night, he mentioned that, going into the game, the C's were 6 points behind the 8th place team. A review of modern history indicated that no team that far out at this point in the season makes up that seemingly less than arduous ground! The only team to come from the back of the pack was five points out at the same point in the season. I bet you're all rushing off to check the standings, right.

Well, speaking of the Canucks, with the win against Columbus, they have moved, temporarily, four points back of 8th place Kings. On the proverbial bubble, the game of thrones then becomes which teams above them are vulnerable. Two I guess, Colorado or Minnesota. Don't throw in those white towels yet Cancukleheads.

Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton make it a prairie sweep. This is a drought of Biblical proportions! It’s tough slogging thru the winter boys. They'll need more than anti-freeze and winter tires in order to survive til Spring.

Okay. a few First Quarter of the season awards.

Best Goalie in the East: Tuukka Rask, Boston; in the West: Josh Harding of Minnesota. Lack of international experience drops him down Stevie's List for Sochi but good on the kid as he continues his battle with MS and his first or second in most goalie stats.

Randy Newman "I Love LA" Award goes to Ben Scrivens, L.A. (duh!). Destined to park his butt on the bench and watch Jonathan Quick rule for the Kings, Forced into active duty, as de numero uno is injured, Ben has a chance at greatness. Scrivens, in his ten appearances over-all, has a 5-2-1 record and three shutouts!

For Coach-of-the First Quarter of the Year, I'd love to pick Nigel Wright or whoever did the choreography for Miley Cyrus, but it has to go to Patreek Roy of the Avalanche. Dude blew up and caught fire early, first game, and the team mimicked him.

For "All's Quiet On the Western Front" Award, I recommend Teemu Selanne. Only three goals after 20 games, the Finnish Flash, sad to say, is at the end of his career.

"You're a Dud, Dude" Award: David Booth, Vancouver. Never seems healthy, an accident waiting to happen, and a healthy scratch when he is good to go, alleged top six 'sniper' Booth has 1 goal in 13 games and that one was into an empty net. Up for The Tony Clement Award: Wasting 4.5 million a year, he’ll Senate Seat. Can, as necessary, afford to pay for Nigel Wright's legal fees.

"Ouch! That Smarts!" Award: Steve Stamkos, TB. How tough a loss is that broken tibia for the Bolts, let alone Team Canada.

"Smarten-Up!" Award: P.K. Subban. Gifted but too hot to handle for me re making Team Canada. A potential liability that could cost Canada a medal, or worse.

Best Name Award - East: Frans Neilson, NYI. One shot and World War 3 may begin!

Best Name Award - West: Nikita Nikitin, Columbus. Sounds like a mix between a potential candidate for Rooskie president or something to take for a cold before going to bed at night.

Desperate Measures Award: The Oilers take on 'Breezy' to try and fill the holes in their net. This guy has holes in his head! He's fascinated by the Big Bang Theory and multi-universes. Somewhere in a galaxy far far away his quirky quarky Quantum Replicant has won nine Vezina trophies in a row.

Cringe Image Maker Award - East: Ray Emery, Phi. His fight with Caps goalie Holtby was nothing short of brutal. Dude should be in jail.

Cringe Image Maker Award - West: Semyon Varlamov, Col. What's with goalies! Assaults his wife. Likely will go to jail.

"We're in the Money" Award: Phoenix Coyotes. Finally they could concentrate on the games on the ice. Good team. Good coach. Good to go a long way.

"I Said What!!!?" Award. - Ted Nolan agrees to coach in Buffalo. Wins his first game and then the Sabres showed up.

"Hold That Fork; I'm Not Done Yet" Award: Marty Brodeur, NJ. Is this the year of the goalie, for better or for worse? Everyone... everyone... thought Cory Schneider would rescue Marty from an embarrassing year. Looks a bit like the reverse.... and two shut-outs to boot. Love dem old dudes! Might have to re-lace'em myself. And while we're on New Jersey and old farts, how'bout JJ - their leading scorer and a plus 10. Like being in the Higgs Field, he slowed down and gained weight!

"Marlena Dietrich" Award: Nail Yakupov, Oilers. Nail just wants to be left alone and continue to float around aimlessly. Dude's young. Alas, someone should 'nail' him with a little tough love. Maybe newly acquired, fellow Rooskie, Breezy will take him under his... okay, forget that idea!

"I Told Him, Julie Don't Go" Award: Fifty-years ago yesterday, JFK had a bad hair day in Dallas. Was he his own predictor of what would unfold that day. "We're going into Nut land". There is a thin line between 'predictions' and 'premonitions' at times. Hockey players are notedly superstitious, and in ways dabble in their own future predictions when they become 'free agent's' - an oxymoron if ever there was one! Looking into his crystal ball, or throwing a dart at a map on the wall, Brad Ference decided he'd leave Boston and move to Edmonton and the Oil. Dare I say not a very slick move on his part. (C'mon! I always have a few puns in the oven.)

Oh well, what the heck.... be fearless Clobber.

Nostradamus Stanley Cup Finalists: Boston vs St. Louis

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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