Monday, September 01, 2014

Secret to New Zealand All Black Success: Passion and an incredible feeder system

There is no more dominant teams perhaps in all of international sports than the New Zealand All-Blacks. Not only do the Kiwis have winning records against all competitors, their win percentage across all games is a colossal seventy-five percent (or so). This of course is no reflection on the quality of opposition. Each of the Australian Wallabies, South African Springboks as well as England and France, to name a few, play high intense rugby and boast admirable records on their own but it is the All-Blacks who steal the show. While the New Zealanders boast a proud history of great players - Jonah Lomu, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Colin Meads – it is the level of teamwork, all round commitment, position play and the pride of following in a tradition that borders on the excellent that have elevated the All-Blacks to legendary status. They never seem to field a weak team and are always a force to be reckoned with. In fact it would not be out of line to say that the All Blacks are rugby union’s default champions. So what is the basis for this success? I believe that it is a consequence of the various tiers of competition that colour the panorama of the kiwi rugby world. Take the Canterbury Rugby Union, who are 11 time winners of the ITM Cup (New Zealand’s premier national competition). Amazingly, 48 Club teams feed into this particular union from three sub-unions, yet Canterbury is only one of 26 unions. The elite from Canterbury then play at the next level in the Super 15 Competition tier together with top players from the various other regional unions in an odyssey of rugby that pits the best of New Zealand against their counterparts in South Africa and Australia. The best of the best from these rarefied Super 15 teams are then selected to represent the All-Blacks on the international front. No other nation boasts such a multi-levelled structure that guarantees consistent competition on a yearlong basis (South Africa comes closest), but clearly it does the trick and is a key component in All Black success.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Selective Condemnation

The actions of terror groups as ISIS/ISIL, Hamas and others make it easier to deride Islam as a religion. However one must be aware of the tendency to stigmatize. Yes, the Sunni and Shi’ite worlds have been contaminated by the extremist views of Wahhabism and the Mullah driven Twelver belief respectively, but this does not mean that all Muslims are radicals. The reality is that there are many muslims who are opposed to these Islamo-fascists but unfortunately live in a world where freedom of speech does not enjoy the sanctity that it traditionally does in the West (albeit that these freedoms are now under threat in the West as well due to the politics of political correctness). While we should continue to be vigilant against the actions of all evil we should refrain from painting innocents with the same brush stroke that we reserve for the guilty.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jumping to Conclusions

I am always troubled by the logic of unnecessary extrapolation based on single phenomena. Take the Ferguson shooting. I don’t know whether the police officer, Darren Wilson was a racist. Many thought George Zimmerman was, but there was no evidence for that (in fact if anything Zimmerman had openly opposed racism in his personal life history). What I do know is that Wilson had no prior record of racist activity, he did feel threatened, was injured in the confrontation, shot Brown four times in the right arm and twice in the head. We also know that Brown was not ‘just visiting his grandmother’ but had robbed a convenience store. What we also know is that a 292lb man charging towards you with the intention of attacking you is a fearsome sight. Unarmed attackers can kill especially if they carry with them the full punch of such a weight. Wilson does owe the public and the family an explanation. He is an officer of the law. What he doesn’t deserve is to be convicted and sentenced without a trial and due process consideration of the facts. The great Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said ‘You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts’. Unfortunately too many have forgotten the central theme of common law that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and have condemned Wilson with a visceral response bordering on a modern day lynching.There may or may not be racism involved in this altercation but poisoning the well from the get go does nobody any favours, least of all the necessity for fair and colour blind justice.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Remember what you stand for

It is my experience that if you wish to live a life of meaning that you also have beliefs that are well thought out, clear, non-intentionally hurtful and are based as best as possible on sound reasoning and logic. Now I can’t say that you should divorce emotion from your beliefs, as we are human after all, but this emotion should not override the judgement that is formed along rational lines. In the day-to-day chaos of life, we often sideline our conscious realization of these beliefs, even if we act sub-consciously with the same ideals in mind. This promotes somewhat of a sleepwalking approach to life that we should eschew. To escape such a pathology (and on one level it is such a phenomenon) I would suggest a daily cataloguing and listing of both one’s primary and secondary beliefs. This does not have to span volumes, but should be both succinct and encompassing in such a manner that it brings to mind the core of what we are as agents of free will (one of my key beliefs). I have followed such a course of action for sometime now and find it to be both refreshing and re-affirming of my role as an active player in life.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Getting to the Crux of the Matter

The problem with Islam is that it sees itself as the final revelation that replaces and thereby supersedes the monotheistic understandings of earlier theologies (Judaism and Christianity). While Christianity went through a similar phase during the dark, medieval and early renaissance periods this initiative lost steam with the passage of the reformation, enlightenment and nationalistic phases that characterized western history. The Religious Wars, the French Revolution and Germany’s Kulturkampf negated clerical zeal replacing it temporarily with excessive nationalism and destructive socialisms that culminated in the two world wars. However it also allowed as well in the long term for the necessary growth of liberal democracy and free markets that have guaranteed the standard of living and openness to debate that we enjoy today. Islam in a sense remained frozen in time, wedded to an ideology grounded in medieval simplicity, it essentially escaped the age of reason and now struggles as an unwanted anachronism in the modern world. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, which have opened themselves up to critical intellectual interpretation, Islam continues to resist this trend. While there are a select few who have tried with an honesty to breach this barrier, the bulk of the discourse and certainly its mainstream voice is dominated by an orthodoxy not far removed from the expansionist belief that characterized Islam’s rapid ascendancy in the latter part of the first millennium. However as a belief system, Islam does bring in some positive attributes from Judaism and Christianity. It incorporated into its ethos charity and prayer both of which have origins in the Torah and it does champion equality before God. Where I think Islam deviates most from the other two religions is in its central core teaching of submission. In fact the word Islam means submission. This is a dangerous tenant, in that it discourages questioning of God, the necessary wrestling with the higher power that Abraham, Jacob and Moses exemplified. It is in this wrestling that we most exercise our free will, the philosophical notion that makes us human. The first great initiative in a real Islamic revolution would be to reject the submission notion, a necessary step towards clear thought and enlightenment.

Oil Dependency spurs on the Islamist Threat

The spread of Islamofascism will not abate so long as the world keeps pandering to the duplicitous oil regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Iran. Arabists and their ilk in the US state department have seen to it that this trend will continue and certainly have allies on Capitol Hill and the White House.The Keystone pipeline and some of the Fracking initiatives will reduce foreign oil dependency, that seem to be at the root of this overt blind spot but it is imperative that energy alternatives are looked at more comprehensively. Both Democrats and Republicans have let America down by their partisan politics in this regard. What is needed is urgent investment in super capacitors, a return to the hard science and a de-emphasis on the global warming hysteria that has poisoned debate and detracted from the here and now of practical solutions.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Support for Israel

One must be cautioned into believing that support for Israel is strictly a right/left issue. In the US it is convenient to break down into such a dichotomy that is expressed in the Republican/Democrat divide and there is a risk that support for Israel should be split along such a meridian. The survival of Israel as the only true democratic country in the middle east transcends such classification and hinges on a moral clarity that is expressed by members of each party and opposed by others. Those eager to champion the Republicans as bearers of the positive torch should note that many in the GOP fold viz. Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush Sr had mixed records with respect to Israel while Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton stood out from the crowd. Granted Obama appears to be lukewarm on the issue but then Dubya was quicker to criticize Israel on the Jenin raids than Obama has been in Gaza. While there are Democrat congressmen who have been stood out with their rhetoric against Israel, Dennis Kucinich and Keith Ellinson come to mind, the Republicans have the equally vile Darrel Issa and Walter Jones to bring to this context.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Philip Weiss - Useful Idiot Supreme

The internet is awash with a cacophony of Jews who feel that they need to add to the anti-semitism of the world by spewing venom against Israel. One of the top offenders has to be the loathsome Philip Weiss, who never has a kind word to say about Israel but is full of cheer for Israel's enemies. At his cesspool of a site, Mondoweiss, Weiss trumps his bile to the approval of rabid israel haters who can barely contain their enthusiasm when Jews are killed. While Weiss likes to portray himself as an independent voice on the Middle East (something the 'critical thinkers' at Salon Ragazine have fallen for), the reality is that the only phenomenon that Weiss' one sided analysis is not dependent on is REASON. He presents an orgy of misconceptions and skewed analysis that does nothing to promote understanding and must take credit like other useful idiots such as Max Blumenthal, Richard Silverstein and Noam Chomsky for making anti-semitism acceptable again. Well done Philip...You have truely earned your spurs as a modern day Kapo.