Monthly Archives: January 2018

On Don Cherry and Europeans in the CHL

Pig

Hockey talk. CHL banned European goalies back in 2013. It was meant to force Canadians to develop their own goalies instead of drafting talent from Europe. CHL still allowed two imports per CHL team, but those were limited only to forwards or defense men. I personally don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the way Canada has been developing goalies, it’s just that we’re not giving them the chance to step up to the next level, and prior to 2013, teams have just been opting (safely but lazily) to draft European talent.

Don Cherry, a Canadian hockey legend, recently came out and said that he’s all out against Europeans playing in the CHL. He says that ultimately, despite the Canadian spirit of embracing foreigners and immigrants, each team has two spots that are leaving out Canadians, with their own dreams of making it big in the sport, in favor of Europeans. Now, I’m trying to understand the protectionist and conservative attitude that he’s taking, but some people’s reaction to his comment is bit overblown, in my opinion.

First off, racism and bigotry are heavy charges. So I would need more egregious evidence of this before I start calling Don Cherry names. I think Don just simply sees the CHL as a development tool for Canadian talent, a means to an end, and that we should be using that tool to develop our own talent, to reward our own. We shouldn’t be giving that opportunity, how little that may be, to players from other countries. Thus, the argument of “it’s just a game, let the best player play” doesn’t hold water when you’re trying to get the Canadian players to be the best. That is exactly the logic behind the CHL goalie ban. Canada wanted to develop its goalies. I believe Don Cherry’s comment was made in that spirit. I also don’t see connections between this protectionist attitude and Canada’s open-arms approach towards immigration. We welcome immigrants from all countries thinking that they’ll prosper and be wonderful Canadians. Everyone CAN be a Canadian. I’m not sure if Radim Salda who hails from Czech Republic and plays for the Saint John Sea Dogs would be applying for a Canadian citizenship anytime soon. That’s not what the Europeans are in the CHL for.

With this in mind however, if every other country started taking Don Cherry’s attitude, we won’t see Canadian players play anywhere else. As a compromise, I think the limit to two players per team is fine enough as it is. It allows Canada to develop talent where it needs to develop and brings in talent overseas without overcrowding the teams with foreigners. The CHL, much like any other sport with free agency, is still fans basically cheering for clothes. Not everyone from the Halifax Mooseheads hail from the province much less the city (I think there’s only one player from Halifax.).  It’s not a ridiculous situation where no one in the team is from the country they’re supposed to be representing as implied by their team name. I read some news yesterday about an eSports team, the London Spitfire, which despite having “London” in the name, is owned by a company in Los Angeles and 100% composed of Korean kids. Now, I don’t blame them for just having Korean kids. ESports is unavoidable here, and Korean kids happen to be the some of the best in the world. But the London Spitfire is obviously aimed solely at winning. It does not share the patriotic notions that Don Cherry has. It couldn’t care less about British kids playing videogames unless they’re better than Koreans.

Back to hockey. North and South Korea recently agreed to compete as one team for the women’s Olympic hockey competition. Now this is a good olive branch for both countries, especially after months of escalating tension stoked by Donald Trump. But a part of me can’t help but feel bad for half of the South Korean team who not only have been working hard to be part of the team, but they were bound to compete in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where South Korea, a country where hockey is not popular, is guaranteed a spot in the competition for being host. The Korean equivalent to Don Cherry must be going nuts.

I share Don Cherry’s sentiment. I feel bad for the Canadian kids left out in favor of foreign talent. Those are kids who will have to work harder, settle for other things, or just simply give up on the sport. But in the end, those are just two spots in big teams in a big league. They’re small sacrifices in the altars of inclusion and good hockey.

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On Hunting Seals and Wearing Their Warm Fur

Centaur

I just saw the 2016 documentary ‘Angry Inuk.’ It’s upsetting, but one of the sins the world always seems to commit (among other things) is ignore the plight of First Nations. Basically, because of “conservation” efforts to save non-threatened seal populations, the seal skin market was destroyed, effectively plunging Inuit communities who relied on the seal skin trade into poverty. The infuriating part is that the people who push for the ban on the seal skin trade are often people who can afford to indulge on such causes and not be affected by the consequences.

It reminds me of people who are into organic foods. People who are into organic foods are those who can afford organic food; and the richer and more into organic food you are, the preachier you tend to be regarding your diet. And often, lectures and the message of change are geared towards those who can’t really afford a different way of eating and living. In the case of Inuit seal hunters, it is people living comfortably and more affluently down in warmer climates that are telling Inuit that what they are doing is wrong. It is simply wrong to kill cute seal pups and sell their skin.

I’ve never had much issue with eating all sorts of animals and people hunting them, unless they’re endangered. I’ve had whale meat before and I really don’t care for it. I really wish commercial whale fishing in Japan would stop already, especially since whales are becoming more and more endangered. Now, you might say this is hypocritical and it is no different from the situation with Inuit hunting seals, but as far as I know, there are no communities in Japan dependent on whale hunting. In fact, the Japanese seem to be pushing whale hunting not for the same cultural and life-altering reasons and with the same small-scale methods used by Aboriginals, but by a highly sophisticated commercial process in order to have whale meat continue to be available in Japanese restaurants and grocery stores simply because some people like to occasionally eat whale. The Japanese can survive without commercial whaling.

I’ve had seal before and I think it’s fine. I’ve had bear as well. I’ve even eaten dogs. Now, some might call that monstrous, but pigs have been proven to be much smarter than dogs, equivalent to the intelligence of two-year-olds on average. Now, I mostly eat strange things out of curiosity (and then for pleasure should I develop a taste for it), but I do feel for people whose livelihoods depend on the sale of what most of society would deem unusual or even unsavory. There’s an old dog meat restaurant near where I work. It’s a family-run place, and I could only imagine the toll on them should there be a huge backlash on eating dogs in the country.

The problem is, outfits like Greenpeace, PETA, the Humane Society, and Sea Shepherd are all business at the end of it all. They will create marketing campaigns and manufacture villains in order to keep their operations afloat. As the documentary showed, seals are no longer endangered, but the campaign against killing cute seal pups is such an effective money generator that it’s highly unlikely that they’ll ever stop using baby seal imagery. And as businesses cater to their demographics, animal lovers can be the biggest suckers.

Just recently, I saw a popular animal show in Korea do a showcase on dogs raised for their meat. They partnered with an American company and rescued dogs destined for the butcher’s shop. They then flew the dogs to America and had families adopt them.  What an awful, awful, story of animal lovers not knowing where to throw their money! Why can’t they just use the money to rescue dogs in their own respective countries and have them adopted by locals? Wouldn’t that have resulted in more dogs rescued in the long run? It’s a great story to tell, “I rescued this dog from a Korean dog meat farm.” But you could’ve rescued two more dogs from a puppy mill in Idaho. And also, to the Korean producers of the show: great way of perpetuating the stereotype that Koreans eat dog! Some do, but the majority who don’t are I’m sure are quite tired of hearing about it.

I’m an animal lover myself, and I’ve cared for pets for most of my life. I just tend to be really suspicious of animal rights organizations and those pushing for people to eat a certain way. It just reeks of ethnocentrism sometimes.

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Marijuana and Pole Dancing

Injektilo

So California finally legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, the US Attorney General removed Obama-era protections for marijuana sales in the state, allowing the federal government to stop and arrest people who are in possession of what is still considers as a controlled Schedule I drug. And as much as the right wing in the United States yell about states’ rights when it comes to things like gun, contraception, and marriage laws, I doubt if they would be as loud when it comes to California allowing its citizens to enjoy cannabis.

The fact that marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug with no medicinal benefits basically ignores all of the people using the drug to help them deal with pain, especially in cancer treatments. It’s people ignoring evidence over fear and rumors. The same way there is evidence and history of prohibitions creating illegal activity (the prohibition gave birth to an era or organized crime in the US after all), some people, most importantly people in the US Justice Department, believe that drugs gave way to the existence of Mexican drug cartels, not the drug war creating a demand that only illegal actors could fill. Once again, people are ignoring evidence over fear.

In Korea, marijuana possession could land you in jail. The country is very strict when it comes to cannabis and opioids, but alcohol in the country is extremely cheap, and it’s not that hard to find either people getting belligerently drunk at night or simple unconscious.  I understand the protectionist attitude when it comes to opioids, especially since the country has an extremely high suicide rate. But when it comes to marijuana, a part of me thinks that a bit of cannabis would help a very stressed out populace. Instead of drinking with friends and getting angry or mopey, people could just get high, relax, and take a nap. Unfortunately, Korea borrowed America’s drug war and using drugs still carry a significantly negative stigma (but go ahead, drink soju with your coworkers until you black out!).

I’m just hoping that people get over it already. Marijuana is not the Devil’s lettuce. The fear and mystique regarding drugs, much like anything unknown, is only there because gossip and hearsay takes the place of actually knowing. Smoking a little pot will let you know that it won’t turn your brain into mush, it won’t make you any more evil, and it won’t make you look any cooler. I remember a coworker once asked me if I’ve ever tried cocaine, eager to hear exciting cocaine stories from Canada. Much to her dismay, I told her no. If people were actually told the truth about drugs, there wouldn’t be this haze of intrigue and fear around them. They would be as plain as Tylenol. Tylenol helps you deal with pain and fever. It could get you constipated too. Marijuana gets you high and mellows your mood. It helps you deal with pain as well. Cocaine gets you really high.

Speaking of demystifying and truths, I can’t stand how pole dancing is being mainstreamed, even in South Korea. This might be a bit of a reversal of my liberal attitudes with drugs, but I’m just annoyed at how it’s being whitewashed and sold as some sort of exercise, when it’s basically erotic dancing. There are far better and safer exercises out there. And no matter how far removed a person might be to its original intent, in my mind, as well as many other men’s, it’s still erotic dancing. Its original intent, back in the burlesque days, was to keep the women upright after being inebriated with either drugs or alcohol or both. And I suspect that the a lot of the women who are trying out pole dancing as an exercise has never spent one night in a disgusting strip club. Much like Chris Rock, if I had a daughter, I would work twenty hour days just to keep her from dancing on a pole.

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