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Category Archives: General Musings

Not that I have much time to write lately, but thought I should post that I have decided to blog over at instead of on here. Hope to see you there as a reader or commenter!

Picture from Mashable

The riots of 2011 may go down as one of the most embarrassing and disgraceful acts by a group of fans in sports history. Regardless of what happened in ’94, or how much worse any other riot has been in the past, this riot is happening in real time on our Twitter feeds, in Google News, and YouTube videos. The digital age has fully arrived, and it’s part of the problem in Vancouver tonight.

Picture from Mashable

If you watch the footage, you’ll see countless people in the background, smartphones and digital cameras in hand, filming what’s going on around them. In the ’94 riots, nobody had a digital camera. The only footage we have came from professional newscasters. In 2011, with our iPhones, streaming video, and Twitter feeds – we’ve all become newscasters. When you put a cameras in the hands of the vast majority of a crowd, the nature of the crowd changes. When that 1% of the crowd starts to act stupid, the other 99% are there to record it on their smartphones. As the amateur newscasters record videos and take pictures, the rioters are encouraged to continue, whether they realize it or not. As half of the 99% sticks around to take pictures and videos of what’s happening, the rioters are encouraged to continue, or at least not discouraged. It would be a lot easier for police to move in and arrest those who are causing the problems if there weren’t thousands of others standing around watching. It’s kind of like kids at school who agree to fight after school, and only end up fighting because there’s a crowd there to watch them. If no crowd shows up, the kids don’t fight. Okay, maybe controlling a riot isn’t quite that simple, but you get the idea.

Why are people doing this? Because the Vancouver Canucks lost a hockey game? I question how much you really care about the game of hockey if you’re downtown right now breaking windows. Yeah, the game was frustrating, and the Canucks were probably capable of winning the hockey game, but they didn’t. Tim Thomas was an absolute beast in this series, allowing only 8 goals in 7 games. No matter how bad the goaltending may or may not be in your own end, if you only score about 1.15 goals per game, you’re going to have a tough time winning a seven game series. There are a ton of other things that went wrong for the Canucks (Rome being a guinea pig for a new league disciplinarian, a powerplay that went dead, inconsistent officiating, injuries to Hamhuis, Samuelsson, and Raymond, an unwillingness or inability to stand up for star players, and as mentioned before, goaltending), but those can be left for another day.

The Bruins hacked and slashed their way through the series, pulling the Canucks into a style of game they aren’t capable of playing, and before the Canucks realized it, they were out of it. The momentum had shifted entirely. By that time Marchand has shown what kind of skill he has, Recchi found another gear, and Bergeron regained his scoring touch. Everyone talked about the Canucks’ depth (myself included), but the Bruins are pretty deep up front as well. Their second and fourth lines were the difference tonight.

At least the fans in Rogers Arena showed some class, giving Tim Thomas a huge ovation as he raised the Cup. They recognized what had just happened. Tim Thomas came into their house and stole the show, completing outplaying his Canadian counterpart. It’s too bad that there were so many people downtown who are not fans of the sport, and simply came downtown either with the intention of starting something, or because they wanted to see what would happen. Like I alluded to earlier, if you’re down there recording videos and taking pictures, you’re contributing to the problem.

This night may go down as one of the most disgusting events in sports history as far as fans go, if nothing else due to the age we live in. There is a lot of footage out there, and in the next few days, more and more people will see it. The story has already been posted on Mashable and The New York Times, which I found out from Roger Ebert’s Twitter feed. The nature of news has changed, and this riot in an affluent, Canadian city, which broke out because of a hockey game, is already spreading quickly, becoming global news. This is a gigantic black mark on the city and the franchise. I just saw footage of seven guys fighting each other on the corner of Robson and Howe, and most were wearing Canucks T-shirt jerseys. I saw a D. Sedin (22) fighting a H. Sedin (33), and a Bieksa (3) was backing him up. It’s so sad. You’re fans of the same team, people. They lost and it sucks, but get over it and go home. You’re just encouraging the idiotic 1% of the crowd to keep doing what they’re doing.

Spring is by far my favourite season when it comes to watching sports on TV, for not only do we have hockey playoffs taking over the city, but baseball is getting into full swing, and hey – even the basketball playoffs have some exciting matchups this year.

Tonight, I had to decide between watching the Jays battle the Yankees in New York and the Lightning in Boston for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final (ECF). The Lightning and Bruins have had some exciting games, and the stakes are certainly high being the conference finals and all, but I actually found myself watching the baseball game over the hockey game for most of the night, or at least until the Jays broke it open with their big inning. Note that I might have made some different decisions if the Canucks were playing, however.

I find it challenging to get anything productive done during this time. Every year of my undergrad in university, the opening round of hockey playoffs coincided with my final exams. This of course meant that I had no classes to go to – just exams to study for. Needless to say, there were a lot of students watching hockey games in our residence lounges during the exam period.

I’ve heard others (who I will keep anonymous) express similar complaints about their love-hate relationship with playoff hockey:

“It’s awesome that we keep winning, but I’m looking forward to not having 3 hours of my night devoted to the game every second day.”
“Man, watching the hockey playoffs is expensive!”
“I’ve cancelled work three times for the Canucks!”

… and so on.

I’ll have to keep up with the multi-tasking, at least for another couple of weeks (or so I hope, as a Canucks fan). Here’s to many more extended springs of playoff hockey in Vancouver!

The umpires of baseball or the referees of hockey – who’s worse?

Okay, I know they’re tough jobs and all, but it is frustrating when you see certain things happen. Anyway, I’m just glad to have baseball back, and just as hockey playoffs are about to start too.

I’ve been having the debate of what to watch all night, flipping between the Canucks vs Flames and the Jays vs Angels. I’d usually choose the Canucks, no questions asked, but so far this season, it’s pretty exciting to watch the Blue Jays. The bat of Bautista, the defense of Escobar, Hill and Macdonald, the emerging young rotation of Romero, Drabek, and hopefully soon, Morrow. These Jays are young, skilled, and hard-working. The new GM and manager represent a total overhaul of the Jays as a franchise, and early in this first season I’m liking what I see.

And I liked what I saw tonight, except for on a couple of plays, of course. The first was game-changing call on Yunel Escobar in which he was called out for running in a straight line, avoiding the ball, and stepping safely on third base. This call was absurd, and absolutely affected the game in a critical moment in extra innings. Scott Carson, the 3rd man in the booth for Rogers Sportsnet, seems to be just as puzzled as I am. He tweeted “Been doing this a long time, but I’ve seen things happen for the first time over the last two innings … Bob Davidson’s call on Escobar????” That call definitely influenced the outcome of the game, and made no sense. I hate when umps do stupid things.

The second play that was tough to watch was Snider’s botched fly out, in which he misread the ball. It sucks to have the winning run reach base on a play like that, but I guess that’s baseball.

Back to the positive stuff. The Jays looked fairly promising, the Bautista deal looks like it will work out after all, and I’m excited for some of these young guys like Arencibia, Drabek, and Escobar.

All that being said, I’m only talking about baseball as a sport. Baseball has many problems, or more precisely, the MLB has many problems. The game of baseball is great; the league is terribly run, however. First, the steroid scandals. It’s so painfully obvious that some players have used steroids, and it’s certainly tarnished the game. Baseball has always been a game of statistics, of numbers, and of chance. The steroid era has greatly inflated a number of players’ stats, and their names are still in the record books.

Secondly, the umpiring.

Umpiring is crucial in a baseball game. Each umpire has a slightly different definition of what a strike zone is, and the pitchers and batters slowly learn it as the game goes on. The umpire behind home plate is not the only important one making calls on the field. The umps at the bases are undoubtedly just as important, as they have to make many close calls at the bags. We all know how bad it looks when an umpire blows a call, especially when the stakes are high. Who can forget the call that cost Armando Galarraga his perfect game last season?

When umps do stupid things, it’s a lot more obvious nowadays. Sitting at home, we have the benefit of instant replay and the ability to rewind live TV, so we can watch the replay again and again to see how just bad the call really was. When will the MLB wake up and start using instant replay of some kind, at least on foul calls or close plays at the bag. If they brought in some sort of challenge system, I think it could work.

I understand that making judgment calls in any sport is a tough job. It can be hard to see what happened in a quick game like baseball or hockey, and making a decision on the spot, you’re bound to make mistakes sometimes. Today, in the digital age of HD TV and dozens of cameras at every game, we can make the right call. The MLB should at least try to erase two or three of the stupid things umpires do each game, by bringing in some form of instant replay.

I’ve been working my way through a list of books Maria Popova posted last month: seven must-read books on the future of the internet. Since reading Nick Carr’s The Shallows a few months ago, I’ve been extremely aware of the time I spend on the internet, and really try to think about how I use it. Carr’s book actually made me take a step back, use my computer a bit less (for a week or two), and wonder if Nick Carr is right, that maybe the internets are making us stupid. The internet has certainly changed the way I function on a day-to-day basis, as I find myself increasingly attached to both my laptop and Android smartphone.

The Battle: Internet vs Book

I sometimes feel like this guy, with a book replacing the typewriter.

From approximately age seven until eighteen, I had a pretty standard routine before I went to bed. I would lay in bed and read a book until I felt tired, often spending hours tearing through books, staying up until 3 in the morning (on a school night too, nonetheless) to finish whatever I was reading at the time.

Then in 2003, I went to university, and by necessity (the room was tiny) had a computer beside my bed in my dorm room. Ever since, there’s been an increasing amount of nights in which I grapple with the choice of reading a book until I fall asleep, or turning on my computer (or more recently, using my smartphone) to browse the internet. More often, I turn to the computer rather than the book, and I realize that I’m not alone. Other people are going through the same thing, and they’re writing books about it. Reading thought-provoking books (such as those found on Popova’s list) about the internet’s effects has made me extremely self-aware of the changes happening in our world. I have been trying to figure out just what it is that makes me turn to my laptop or smartphone instead of a book. Perhaps it’s fitting that I am coming to a better understanding of why this is… by reading books.

On a sidenote, speaking of smartphones, this month will mark my one-year anniversary of owning a smartphone, Google’s flagship Android phone, the Nexus One. Just eighteen months ago, I was one of those people who said, “I don’t need the internet on my phone! I’m distracted by the net at home enough as it is.” But once you’ve lived with a smartphone, and all the conveniences an instant connection to the internet offers, it’s hard to go back. My phone functions as a newspaper, the yellow pages, an e-reader, a map of the world, a GPS system, a camera, an mp3 player, a restaurant guide, and a connection to social circles through text messages, Facebook, and Twitter. E-mail and Facebook messages are becoming instantaneous, with avid smartphone users expecting a reply within a few hours. What will our world be like in twenty, thirty, or forty years? Will we even read books anymore?

Typing this out is making me realize that I should finish up this post and get back to reading. Next up on the list for me is Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus, which after a few chapters, is strengthening my belief that this is a profound shift we’re experiencing as a society, as we move further into the digital age.



Walking around during the Word on the Street festival in the Library Square, I couldn’t help but notice the marketing campaign going on for the Sony Reader. This is Sony’s eReader, their answer to Amazon’s Kindle.Sony_PRS-300

I am really curious to see if these things will take off. I have yet to see anyone using one on the bus or in a coffee shop. While it’s true that every new technology might seem a little strange at first, I have a very hard time picturing myself reading books on a small digital screen. Then again, I’m sure people resisted the switch to paper, claiming there was nothing wrong with their stone slabs and chisels.

Anyway, why buy an eReader that is limited to books, music and video? Why not simply buy a smart phone that can not only store books, pictures, and video, but also act as a phone and camera?

Perhaps I’m missing something, but to me it seems kind of pointless to have an electronic device whose sole purpose is to store e-books.