Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, December 04, 2021

I imagine many North American hockey fans have, at one time or another, wondered what international competition would look like if talent hotbed Quebec fielded its own home-grown team.

If Bloc Quebecois has its way, that will come to pass, even before La Belle Province achieves independence from the rest of Canada.

Unfortunately, much like the question of Quebec independence, current conditions don’t bode well for such a scenario:

“I would like to see the same rules as those applying to Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland,” [Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles] Duceppe said of his plan to raid Team Canada for a separatist Quebecois squad. “They have their own [teams] in the soccer World Cup or the rugby World Cup. If it’s possible in Great Britain, it could be possible in Canada.”

Actually, it couldn’t. The soccer and rugby situations are colored by the fact that Scotland, Wales and Ireland all had their own “national” federations in place before FIFA was formed. In essence, they were grandfathered in. And the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation explicitly limit each country to one representative at world championships and the Olympics.

Even if Duceppe’s party should sweep voter-rich Quebec, that won’t earn him enough seats to launch another independence referendum any time soon. And without a nation of Quebec, there’ll be no Quebec national team.

I wonder if the IIHF’s limit of one team per country isn’t a holdover from keeping the USSR from fielding teams of Russians, Ukrainians, Latvians, etc…

As an object of idle wonder, the makeup of a Team Quebec roster would be mighty thin on the blueline, if recruited from current NHL stock:

The only Quebec defender on Team Canada’s 81-man list of Olympic eligibles is Eric Desjardins, a player who’s barely ambulatory at 36. After that, you’d be looking at journeymen such as Philippe Boucher and Patrice Brisebois or Mathieu Dandenault. That blueline couldn’t stand up to Carolina, let alone Kazakhstan.

Funny how things shift. Several years back, I speculated about the strengths and weaknesses of a Quebecois Olympic team. I don’t have a copy of those scribblings, but as I recall, I think I found both goaltending and defense to be the weak points of such a team; Martin Brodeur might have been the only bright star for overall team defense back then. But the offense would have been stellar — some things never change.

What do the players say about this proposal? The Lightning’s Vinny Lecavalier, undoubtedly one of the top-liners for a Quebec team, is taking the diplomatic approach:

“Well, Canada is a country, so that’s my answer,” he said. “I’m part of Team Canada and Canada as a whole. I’m proud to be Canadian.”

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/04/2021 09:35:06 PM
Category: Hockey, Political
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I don’t know if it takes a female mysogynist to point this out, but women in general are acutely vindictive when it comes to offenses of any degree:

If a woman had written Dante’s Inferno, the First Circle of Hell would still be reserved for traitors. The population density, however, would be far greater and Brutus, Cassius, and Judas would not be at its center…

No, a woman’s hell would involve betrayal of a lesser but more intimate kind. The best friend who now wants to date her friend’s ex-boyfriend, the best friend who didn’t whole heartedly take the female’s side in bad break-up, the best friend who made a snide comment about her friends white go-go boots just one too many times. These would be the new residents of hell.

(If scattershot, and downright sloppy, writing makes you cringe as much as it does me, do yourself a favor and stop reading after the third paragraph. You’ll get the meat of the argument with just that synopsis.)

There are enough daily demonstrations of this dynamic in both the personal and professional realms: Most missteps become transgressions, a practical life-or-death scenario. Among my male friends and colleagues, it’s pretty much the chief gripe about female coworkers.

The standard explanation is the supposedly pronounced emotional quotient for women. I wonder… Men can be just as prone to irrational behavior as women, and just as long memories when it comes to payback. The approach may be the difference: Men can mask such intentions for years, while women tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves. And I guess that, while the outward display of such motives are important for both genders, it’s a bit more critical for women, especially in terms of ultimate fulfillment.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/04/2021 08:36:27 PM
Category: Society, Women
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One of my pet pursuits among international affairs is the proposed addition of Turkey to the European Union.

Part of my interest has to do with being a first-generation Greek-American. The politics of that part of the world hit somewhat closer to home, given that I have a lot of family in Greece (although none of them are particularly close). My overall interest in international relations explains more of my curiosity.

But probably the biggest thing that attracts me to the situation is how patently absurd it is. The hand-wringing over whether or not the Turks would make “good” EU citizens is an exercise in hypocrisy. The fact is, Europeans are overwhelmingly bigoted against Muslims, both on ethnic and religious grounds, and will never, ever let Turkey into their economic/political clubhouse.

Prime example of this: The chilly reception that Turkish guest workers have received in German society, even decades after those workers and their families became permanent residents.

Concerned that so many of its well-educated citizens were leaving, Turkey reached an agreement with the West German government that future workers come from less-developed areas. Between 1967 and 1973, migration was mainly from poor, religiously conservative eastern Turkey.

“You will meet some Turks who will say that because of people from rural areas, our image was negatively affected,” says [Safter] Cinar of the Turkish Union. “In parts of Turkey, entire villages came to Germany, rented a house and lived in some kind of feudal culture.”

In 1973, West Germany stopped recruiting workers. But instead of encouraging foreigners to go home when their contracts ended, the move prompted many to bring their families here. By the time East and West Germany reunited in 1990, the number of Turks and other immigrants had jumped to 4.5-million, more than 5 percent of the entire population.

Thirty years’ worth of opportunity to integrate, with such dismal results, doesn’t augur well for even greater numbers to enter Europe, let alone become — politically at least — an extension of Europe.

In turn, Turks and other Muslims haven’t always helped their case for European integration. Instances of honor killings and generally poor treatment of women have only confirmed the worst prejudices:

Women of Turkish origin are often called the most disadvantaged group in German society. Almost 40 percent have been victims of domestic violence, compared to 25 percent of all German women.

Within just a few months, five Muslim women in Berlin were murdered by male relatives who thought they had brought shame to the family. But such “honor killings” drew little attention until last February’s death of 23-year-old Hatun Surucu.

Surucu was only 15 when her family arranged her marriage to a cousin. Two years later, she divorced him, taking her young son with her. She shed her head scarf, studied electrical engineering and developed an active social life.

As he would later tell the court, her brother Ayhan said he tried to “talk sense” into her that bleak winter day.

“Hatun told me that she would go to bed with whoever she chose,” he said. “That was too much for me, I pulled out the pistol and shot her.”

As extreme and isolated as such situations may be, they become magnified in the larger debate. And considering that Turkey has devoted the past 80 years in becoming a secularized reflection of a western European nation-state, and that this still isn’t enough to satisfy European attitudes… you have to conclude that nothing will.

In my opinion, Turkey has a better chance of joining the U.S. as the 51st State than they do of becoming an EU member.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/04/2021 06:38:52 PM
Category: History, Political, Society
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It figures: Just when I bitch about how the National Hockey League’s new salary cap environment dampens trade possibilities and dooms teams to subpar seasons, the league’s GMs managed to find their trade-trigger fingers.

And, in the process, make me look like a fool. Cie la vie.

The notable transactions so far:

- Sergei Fedorov getting shipped from Anaheim to Columbus, which has yet to pay dividends for either team;

- Joe Thornton being unceremoniously dumped from Boston to San Jose, which, in the early going, seems to be charging up both sides of the deal.

Which goes to show that trades involving major talent can take place amid cap-crunching. Thank God the trade market in the NHL hasn’t completely dried up, as happened in the NFL after the cap was instituted. I guess the presence of guaranteed contracts in hockey has kept the transactions market alive; football’s voidable contracts result in less incentive for teams to give up assets straight-up.

I’m hoping there’ll even be the usual amount of deadline deals in the NHL this season. It’s always a thrilling show, seeing what playoff-bound teams do to load up for the postseason.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/04/2021 02:34:49 PM
Category: Hockey
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There are quite a few things I’ll miss about no longer being employed with Florida Trend. I’ll get into more of that next weekend, when I’m officially on the loose.

But one thing in particular will be the semi-regular Times Publishing Co. Book Sale, where the newspaper unloads the thousands of promotional/review copies of books, CDs, DVDs and other knick-knacks for bargain prices. The money all goes to charity, so it’s all good. It’s also open only to Times Publishing staffers, so in my mind, it qualifies as a workplace perk.

This one was a little disappointing. Despite being among the first to get through the doors, I found a rather thin selection. As usual, I wasn’t looking for anything in particular; there’s so much of a grab-bag of stuff that I customarily just browse and rely on luck to deliver. But this time around, not a whole lot was jumping out at me.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t come away with a few things. Like the last couple of times, I couldn’t resist dropping something under $15 on these little items:

- “Settling Accounts: Drive to the East” by Harry Turtledove. I’m a big fan of the alternate history subgenre, and Turtledove has established himself as the grand master of the form. But I got bored with this storyline a couple of books back; the plot was getting far too predictable (basically paralleling actual world history, despite the Confederate divergence), and Turtledove’s pacing and characterization was in dire need of very aggressive editing. Still, when I saw this hardcover available for a buck, I grabbed it. At this point, it’s a casual but satisfying read.

- “Seven Types of Ambiguity” by Elliot Perlman. As is typically the case, the jacket art caught my eye on this one; I’ve never heard of Perlman, who’s a fairly new Australian author. Reading the reviews, the story sounds intriguing enough: An incident is recounted through seven different perspectives.

- “Men and Cartoons” by Jonathan Lethem. Another jacket that sparkled my eyes. Haven’t researched it at all; I want to go in cold.

- “The Physics of Superheroes” by James Kakalios. I got an early tease on this in Wired Magazine, so when I spotted an advance uncorrected copy on one table for 50 cents, I grabbed it. Looks like a fun browse.

- “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, Episodes 4-7. I’ve been meaning to catch this show on FX, but never did get around to it. So I took the opportunity to pick up this disc. I wish the Episodes 1-3 disc was there too, but it wasn’t; hopefully I won’t be lost picking this up in mid-stream.

- Chemical Brothers: “Music:Response” (U.S. Enhanced EP). I’m a big Chemical Brothers fan, and even though this disc is five years old, it was worth the couple of bucks to pick it up. I’ve been compulsively replaying the title track on my iPod for the past couple of days. The video for “Let Forever Be” — which, curiously, isn’t included as an audio track on this album — is another nice bonus here.

- Reggae Blitz: All-Stars. Another old disc, but full of a bunch of good tracks. As it happens, I was just thinking that I could do with an extra dose of reggae tunes, so this came up at the perfect time.

- DJ Krush: jaku. I don’t think I’d heard of DJ Krush before; I’m not too into trip-hop. But the cover art appealed to me, and — the dominant theme here — it was worth dropping a couple of bucks on a tryout. What I’ve heard so far has been nice.

Not a big haul. Considering I’ll be packing stuff up for my New York move soon enough, it doesn’t make much sense to add to my clutter. But I’ll allow myself these few extra items. And seeing as how I’ll have some extra downtime, this media mix will keep me occupied.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/04/2021 01:08:06 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Publishing
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