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36 posts categorized "Canadian Content"

February 15, 2010

Olympic officials ignored risks before fatal luge crash

My latest post for Working In These Times takes a closer look at the death of 21-year-old luge racer Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run on Friday.

Luge is a risky sport, but there's no excuse for how the Olympic organizers and the International Luge Federation (ILF) managed the risks.

The president of the ILF, the official governing body of luge, warned that the Whistler Sliding Center track was too fast back in 2008. At the time, he recommended capping maximum track speeds at 85 mph for future tracks. Yet for whatever reason, ILF president Josef Fendt failed to sound the alarm in 2010, even though sliders were clocking well over 90 mph in practice.

Under heavy pressure from the federal government, Canadian Olympic organizers disgraced the entire country by allowing the home team to monopolize the luge run. Medals are great, but putting guests at risk for the sake of a competitive edge is the absolute antithesis of everything Canada is supposed to stand for.

Luge performance depends critically on practice. So much so that one excuse for not retooling tracks is that it would be unsafe to force athletes to learn new courses. When Kumaritashvili died, on the final curve of his final practice run, he'd only gotten in 25 runs at Whistler, over half of which had been abbreviated. By contrast, the average Canadian slider got 250 practice runs before the competition. 

Within hours of Kumaritashvili's death VANOC and the ILF put out a smarmy joint statement placing the blame squarely on the dead kid. The did adjust the track and move the starting line to slow the sliders down after the accident, but officials told the New York Times that wasn't for safety, that was just to make the "emotional" athletes feel better.

February 14, 2010

The Vancouver Olympics isn't fooling anyone

Nick Paumgarten sees right through the pretensions of my beloved, but hopelessly insecure hometown:

It was a dispiriting day, for the hosts. The horrific death of a Georgian luger, on a dangerously fast course on which the Canadians had limited everyone else’s practice, to give themselves an advantage come Gamestime, had, fairly or not, exposed the seamy side of their medal-accumulation ambitions, which they’d been uncommonly open about. The Canadians want so badly for these Olympics to go off clean, and for their own athletes to clean up, that the show may have been fated to start off with an awful mess. Gottesstrafe, as the Germans say—God’s punishment. Tragedy aside, the torch-lighting snafu and the lousy weather—rain, fog, and unseasonable warmth, which have already postponed Saturday’s showcase event, the men’s downhill ski race, and Sunday’s women’s combined—are examples of the kind of bad luck that befalls overanxious wedding-planners.

Bravo to Vancouver Poet Laureate Brad Cran for boycotting the Cultural Olympiad. He wouldn't sign a contract promising not to criticize the Olympics.

November 30, 2009

The Vancouver Olympics is a triumph of human civilization

Listen up, Canada Customs: The Vancouver Olympics will be the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful international sporting event I've ever seen. Is that clear?

I don't want to end up like U.S. journalist Amy Goodman, who was detained at the Canadian border by guards who were concerned that the host of the popular radio show Democracy Now! would speak out against the 2010 Olympics to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia. (via Melissa Lebo in Vancouver.)

For more international news, check out the latest edition of Morning Coffee.

September 21, 2007

US dollar reaches parity with Canadian

The US dollar and the loonie were trading one-to-one on Thursday. The US and Canadian dollars haven't been on par since 1976. [AP]

June 20, 2007


Crab, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

This one's mine...

Don't worry, I'll be my usual even-tempered Canadian-bred self shortly.

It's nothing to do with the blog world. Offline stuff has me down.

No crisis, just some regrets.

June 09, 2007

Charter guarantees collective bargaining

old flame, originally uploaded by *Meredith.

The Supreme Court of Canada says that collective bargaining is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

Not surprisingly, the government of British Columbia is miffed that the high court took away their power to negotiate contracts with unions and then legislate them away.

June 04, 2007

The Big Snit

One of the funniest animated shorts of all time: The Big Snit. "Stop sawing the table!" has become a catchphrase in my family.

April 28, 2007

Welcome, Jasper Bickle!

Img_0031 Congratulations to my dear friends Jen and John Bickle on the arrival of their first child, Jasper!

Jasper joined the esteemed ranks of Canadians at 23:50pm on Friday, April 20th, 2007.  He weighed in at 8 lbs. 2 oz. and measured 20 inches.

I'm very pleased to report that the whole family is elated, if tired.

Judging by the adorable preliminary baby pictures, little Jasper has inherited the radiant smiles of his parents.

April 23, 2007

Canadian taxpayers pay to rescue seal hunters

The Canadian Coast Guard is sending its heaviest icebreakers to rescue 450 seal hunters whose boats have been trapped by floating ice off Northern Newfoundland. [WaPo]

Update: I admire the Coast Guard for undertaking this mission and I'm proud that Canada has such advanced capabilities for rescuing people. I certainly don't bear the sealers any ill-will. I'm ambivalent about the hunt itself, but that's neither here nor there. These guys are in trouble. The Canadian way is to help first and ask questions later.

I just think it's important to keep track of the public and private costs of the hunt. The companies who profit shouldn't be allowed to quietly outsource occupational safety to the Canadian government.

If the Canadian taxpayers are footing the bill for an elaborate rescue mission, that's a precedent (and an ongoing liability) that should be taken into account when we assess the costs and benefits of allowing the seal hunt to continue--especially if there were any indication that these types of crises might become more common in the future due to climate change.

April 20, 2007

Canadian giant squid cartoons

I got yer Canadian giant squid cartoons.

Happy Friday!