Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lack of Knowledge of Local History! It Burns!

There are days when I don't know why I read the "Venting" column in the Journal. Generally, it serves as a forum for the city's knuckle-draggers to display their ignorance, passive-aggressive tendencies, and horror at the existence of people with interests different from theirs. And every so often the dumbassery gets taken to new and impressive lows.

Last weekend saw the annual dragon boat races on the river here in town. In the wake (hah!) of that, one Venter revealed its displeasure at the entire concept:

Instead of dragon boat races, why don't Edmontonians celebrate our own history and culture and use voyageur canoes?*

To be fair, the Venter has, like the proverbial blind pig, found a truffle; a voyageur canoe race on the river is an awesome idea. That said...

For those of you who do not know this, in the late 19th century something like 17,000 Chinese labourers came to Canada to work on the Western expansion of the railway. Sir John A. MacDonald is reported to have said that without them there would have been no railway, and as the writer of that link notes, without the railway there might not have been a country. Early Chinese Canadians were not treated well (just google "head tax"), especially in economically tough times.

The first Chinese Edmontonian seems to have been a fellow named Chung Gee, who arrived in 1892, the very year that Edmonton officially became a town. His reasons for coming here are not known for certain, but there had been anti-Chinese rioting in Calgary, and it is possibly that he was fleeing from that. Whatever, the case, the Chinese population of Edmonton increased steadily from that beginning. The city's Chinatown, in roughly its current location, was firmly established by 1911, when the Chinese population of the city numbered in the hundreds.

So, just in case anyone is still missing the point, the dragon boat races in Edmonton do in fact have a very strong historical and cultural basis. And some people need to do a little bit of research before beaking off to the newspaper.

*The link will probably die in a couple of days, since the Journal does not seem to archive the Vents. Here is the hard-copy citation:

Anonymous. "Venting." Edmonton Journal. August 25, 2009, p. A14.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In Which Chunklets Previews A Sporting Event Before It Actually Begins...

Ah yes, on to Serie A, which gets going this weekend! Here are some questions to ponder for the upcoming season, along with possibly true answers:

So, who's going to win it?

Inter Milan


Um, you need to say a little bit more, I think.

Oh. Well, as the offseason transfer market got going, I not only had Inter down as champions, but thought they would probably have the title in the bag by about Christmas. Unlike, well, every other team in Serie A, they had actually succeeded in bringing in some major talent, in the person of Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o. Now... I still think they'll win it, but they may find themselves pushed by Juventus, who've very quietly made some good acquisitions this summer.

Ok, what about the other Champions' League spots?

This is where it gets exciting! Much though I don't want to, I've got to put AC Milan down for third place. Yes, they've lost their best player, as Kaka betook himself off to Real Madrid. Yes, Philippe Senderos went back to Arsenal. Yes, their owner is a lunatic who's prone to public criticism of his coaches. However, they've got too much talent, and too much money for reinforcements.

After that, though, things get really interesting, as a large handful of clubs will have their eyes on the last Champions' spot. Fiorentina, Roma, and Napoli probably have the best shot at it, but if those three stumble then Udinese, Sampdoria, Lazio, and maybe even Genoa and Palermo will all be looking to take advantage. I think, in the end, that it could be Roma's turn this season. They're still relying too much on Francesco Totti, but Fiorentina didn't do much in the transfer market, and Napoli, who did make some useful pickups, are involved in acrimonious wrangling with their top striker.

Passing lightly over the middle of the table then, who's going down?

Bari, for starters. The newly-promoted Puglians did nothing to strengthen their side, and just plain look over-matched. As for the other two... well, it saddens me, but I'm once again looking at Siena as relegation fodder (Note that I was wrong about them last time, though). And I've got a bad feeling about Bologna, who are experiencing some chaos behind the scenes, and who's centenary season may turn out to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

And here's the prospective final table:

1Inter Milan
3AC Milan
17Chievo Verona

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I am rather glad at this moment that Nefertiti is an indoor cat.

Many posts ago, I referred to my occasional habit of grabbing on-the-bus coffee at the local Quik-E-Mart, and I have in fact been doing that this week. Now, it is not at all unusual to find the odd "Missing Cat" poster taped up at the bus-stop outside the little convenience store, but I was a bit depressed to discover two of them yesterday. And then there was a third one up this morning.

There are, of course, all kinds of possible explanations for this sudden eruption of MIA cats. It could be simply coincidence. All three of the missing cats are young toms, so another possibility is that they simply chose the same week to head off on their travels. Or, on a grimmer note, it's possible that somebody in the neighbourhood is up to no good; they are out there, after all. However, I have my own suspicions, and they revolve around this fellow:

Canis Latrans

Apparently there several hundred of the critters dwelling in the city, which is one of very cool results (and I do mean that sincerely) of having an undeveloped river valley which serves as a wildlife corridor all the way to the Rocky Mountains, not to mention a significant rabbit population. Furthermore, the neighbourhood wherein these cats have gone missing is very close to the river valley, as well as to several wooded ravines. So I do rather wonder if there isn't a new den somewhere down there.

In any case, if I were the owner of an outdoors cat, I would think very hard about keeping it under supervision while it was out there!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Yes, it is that time again! Or rather, it was that time again last weekend, when the 2009-2010 Premiership season actually began. However, it's not too late to take a look at what's likely to happen over the coming months!

The top of the Premiership table is likely to look a lot like it did last year. In fact, I think it's probably Manchester United's title to lose again, despite the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo et al. They're too well-managed, and none of Liverpool, Chelsea, or Arsenal significantly strengthened their teams over the summer.

As always, one big question revolves around whether anybody is going to be able to catch one of the big four, and this year's prime candidate is Manchester City, who are now the richest soccer team on the planet (yes, seriously) and have been throwing the money around in a meaningful sort of way. I have heard some speculation that Arsenal are vulnerable, but I just don't think that Manchester City are quite ready to make the jump just yet. It's pretty much a given that they will qualify for the Champions' League one of these seasons, but it's probably not going to be this one. Other teams with European aspirations will, as always, include Aston Villa, Everton, and Tottenham.

At the other end of the table, the general consensus is that Hull City and Portsmouth are dooooomed, and I tend to concur. Hull City were dismal towards the end of last year, and Portsmouth are in deep financial trouble. The third relegation spot is far less certain. It's always tempting here to include one of the newly promoted sides, and I'm afraid that this time the finger of Fate points at Burnley. It's their first season in the top flight since 1976, and it's likely that they'll need a couple of tries to establish themselves among the big teams. The other two teams who came up, Birmingham City and Wolves, have recently experienced Premiership soccer, and should be better prepared.

And what of Millwall this year? Well, it's going to be very tough. There are about five clubs in League 1 this season who really should not be there on the basis of their resources and fanbase, and it's tough to see Millwall getting by enough of them to earn promotion. That said, nobody thought we'd come within 20 minutes of going up last season, either...

Anyway, here's your predicted Premiership table:

1Manchester United
5Manchester City
6Aston Villa
8Tottenham Hotspur
10West Ham United
12Birmingham City
13Bolton Wanderers
14Wigan Athletic
15Blackburn Rovers
16Stoke City
17Wolverhampton Wanderers
18Hull City

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Newses & Noteses

I have been reacquainting myself with the Benny cat this week, and I am pleased to say that he is in fine form, despite the presence of workers doing renovations on the house. Benny's general comfort level is steeply and inversely proportional to the number of people around him at any given moment. And, as we discovered the other night while cooking dinner, he's not a huge fan of the smoke detector; its triggering resulted in him betaking himself to the back of the closet for a couple of hours.

I also managed to get together for dinner last night with some old friends, some of whom I had not seen for a decade or more (Facebook is a nifty thing!). Cue much reminiscing about archaeology-related adventures abroad! One of the people at the gathering is involved in museum work, so, in light of recent decisions, I was happy to be able to bend her ear a little bit about the field. To make a long story short, it appears that I am on the right track at least in identifying which programs are worthwhile! I'm trying to find programs that concentrate on the conservation/preservation side of things (I'm particularly interested in doing that sort of work on-site, basically as soon as the artifacts come out of the ground), rather than those whose emphasis is on museum management and the like. Anyway, the food and company were both excellent, and I imagine that there will be more get-togethers like last night's when we can manage it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pitch Invasion

In which a last season's tense Ligue 1 match between Bordeaux and Nancy is watched, and participated in, with apparent enjoyment: