So, Adrian Grenier came to Western.  From the reaction it got on Twitter you would have thought it to be the second coming of Jesus Christ and not a brief appearance by a C-List actor known only for his role on TV’s Entourage.

Entourage star Adrian Grenier came to the Western campus in September.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Entourage is a great show and it’s sad to see it end its run.  And Grenier’s Vincent Chase is a great character who has come on in leaps and bounds from his humble beginnings in the first few seasons.  But I don’t understand why people flocked to see him like he has done something more meaningful with his life than filling up half an hour of our Sunday nights?

Today’s society puts celebrities, even minor ones – **cough** Jersey Shore **cough** – on a pedestal.  We raise them up to such deific heights that we forget that they are real people with different personalities than we see on their various movies, shows, or records.  And, unlike real life where we don’t like certain people for their personalities, we expect every celebrity to be a perfect model of friendliness and humility.

But I don’t want to question why we put celebrities on pedestals – that’s a question that probably could never be answered satisfactorily, but rather what we really hope to get out of meeting them in person?  What do we really expect from that meeting?  What kind of value do we expect for sometimes exorbitant fees and hour-long waits in line?

I suppose that everyone hopes to forge some kind of connection with a celebrity, whether just as a quick conversation or as a more long-term sharing of interests.  Is that actually going to legitimately happen though?  You might exchange some pleasantries while he or she makes out a semi-personal stock message on your dime-a-dozen album, DVD, or book created by that celebrity, but nothing meaningful is likely to occur.  However, when you do share a heart-to-heart with Justin Bieber be sure to let me know.

The fact is that we fall in love with the characters a celebrity acts, the music they play, or the characters they create as writers.  We don’t fall in love with celebrities unless their out-of-spotlight persona is larger than their in-spotlight persona, and that is very rare.  Bono is one celebrity that managed to pull it off, but he’s a piece of shit.  Let’s take Adrian Grenier for an example.  I bet maybe only five out of every one hundred people could tell you anything about Adrian Grenier other than what roles he has played and a large number of those will only be familiar with him from Entourage.  We don’t love Adrian Grenier as much as we love Vince Chase and that’s who we really want to see.  We don’t want to see Grenier sign autograph after autograph or talk about other projects; we want Vincent Chase.

Now, we can easily get Vincent Chase by pulling up an old episode of Entourage and throwing it on.  We don’t need to pay money to see the actor who plays him, doing so is likely to lead to disappointment when we see Adrian Grenier the real person and not in character as Vinny Chase.

By all accounts Adrian Grenier was a stand-up guy, the kind you wouldn’t mind being friends with.  But that raises another point against the deification of celebrities: you wouldn’t pay money to hang out with your friends.  It is a simple fact that one isn’t going to spend hard-earned money to simply sit and talk with one’s friend.  One might spend money on going to an event with a friend or for the dinner they eat while they talk, but never just for the privilege of talking to them.  That’s not what being a friend is all about.  Furthermore, in any celebrity encounter, as noted above, you’re never really getting a friend no matter how friendly the celebrity may seem.  You are just another gratification-hungry individual with some story about how much they love the celebrity in question.  If we’re going on the assumption that celebrities are real people just like you and me, then I bet they get pretty tired of the constant badgering and faux-adoration of the unwashed masses.  Sure, they make money out of pleasing the masses, but it’s a job for them.  It is not who they are.  They get paid because we like them.  If my livelihood was based on the whims of thousands of moody pre-teens I would put on the biggest fake smile you’ve ever seen and kiss so much ass that my face smells like fecal matter just like celebrities do…

These people provide you something tangible, unlike celebrities.

So, after all of this, why do we still partly define ourselves by which celebrities we meet?  It’s not like they’re meaningful encounters that have any true impact on who we are…  Why do we make a big deal out of serving Ryan Gosling coffee at a Starbucks – as one of my classmates did on WebCT?  He likes coffee just as much as 75% of the western hemisphere population…  Why is it a big deal that Paul Davenport and Shooter McGavin – another example of how we really only care about the characters played and not the person themselves – are Kappa Alpha alumni or that Alan Thicke burned down the original lodge?  They’re great people, but Kappa Alpha is so much more than how many column inches have been devoted to your praise…

In my opinion, there’s no rational reason.  I refuse to believe that celebrities are anything more than regular people who happen to make a living entertaining others.  And entertaining is far from the most essential or prestigious profession.  What of the farmer who grows your food?  What of the construction worker who built the house you live in?  If we’re going to idolize someone it might as well be someone who does something essential for our way of life and not someone who provides a secondary service that is only really used as a distraction from the stress of our everyday lives.

So, we need to stop treating celebrities like they are God.  As some militant atheists might tell you, God doesn’t actually exist…

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As a university student at a school that is at least fifteen times the size of Stirling, I can get rather bullish about my pride in my hometown and the people in it.  Stirling has shaped who I am and what I believe in, and a lot of that can be attributed back to my experiences at the Stirling Arena.

I grew up only a few doors down from the Blues Barn on West Front Street.  A well-stuck golf shot from my front yard would have put a dent in the old steel siding of the building.  The arena was there when I was born and I still go back there to watch games whenever I’m home from university.  It is an ever-lasting monument to what a community should be.

I remember the first time I stepped onto the ice at the arena.  I must have been somewhere between three and five years old (I’m not too sure on the exact dates) and I wasn’t wearing hockey equipment, but rather just a pair of skates and a bike helmet.  It was public skating.  I remember my Mom and Dad leading me around the ice and teaching me how to skate.  It didn’t seem like it would be the start of the building of a mystique that would last up to this very day, but I guess that when you’re that young and had never played hockey before, it is easy to see the arena as just another building.

I started playing hockey at around eight years old, fresh from watching Dominik Hasek steal gold for the Czech Republic at the Nagano Olympics.  From that moment, the Buffalo Sabres, home of our very own Rob Ray, became my favourite team and hockey officially—in Canada it’s only a matter of acknowledging it—my favourite sport.

My hockey career didn’t get off to a very auspicious start.  I remember that one of my teammates in Novice house league managed to convince me that a defenceman could go offside at his own blueline if he went into his own zone before the puck.  I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t spend long as a defenceman: I spent maybe half a season as an out player before trading in the shin pads, shoulder pads, and gloves for a set of goalie equipment that was rented out from the SDMHA.  I remember that the SDMHA had just purchased a new VIC black, green, and maroon blocker and trapper and at the start of each season I would make sure to be the first in line to claim them for the upcoming season.

Buffalo Sabres hero and my all-time favourite player, Dominik Hasek.

Eventually I graduated to my own equipment and the local glory that is rep hockey.  I was following in the footsteps of my hero, Hasek, although the goalie school I attended for a couple summers swiftly disabused me of the notion that Hasek’s belly-flop style was something to be emulated.  I can’t say that I was ever the greatest hockey player, but in Stirling hockey isn’t measured by skill alone, but rather by how hard you work for yourself, for your team, and for the emblem on the front of the jersey.

It is these things that growing up and playing hockey in Stirling taught me.  We took pride in how well we played and how well we comported ourselves as a team.  The community supported us no matter what, and any playoff game that we played in the Blues Barn was jam-packed with most of the town, not just our families and close friends.  We would take heart from this: why else do you think that our teams always seemed to win those home playoff games?

A big part of this was the recently passed Barry Wilson.  I have a special place in my heart for Barry and his family after years of being babysat by his wife, Kathy.  I remember the ever-constant face of Barry being there whenever I came over to the rink, whether immediately after school or early in the morning for practice, or late on a Saturday night for a league game.  Having that familiar face there all the time was something special in itself and Barry will be greatly missed by the Stirling community.

In short, and I probably could have saved everyone a bit of time if I had said this at the beginning, hockey in Stirling is a religion.  And, like the best religions, it leaves its believers stronger in heart, in mind, and in spirit.  I can say that of Stirling Minor hockey and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  Thousands of kids have passed through the system over the years and each one has participated in one of the best hockey programs around; there’s a very good reason why we played against teams from much larger centers than our own and did well.  The entire town, the kids, the parents, the people like Doug Fleming who stick around and coach teams even when their kids have long moved on are all to thank for their contributions to the SDMHA and their efforts in general.

At the end of the day, while I hope that my hometown can pull it out like so many overtime playoff games before and win the Kraft Hockeyville competition, I could really care less about whether the competition is won or lost because this town and its people are already winners on so many levels.  When I introduce myself to people I always have and always will introduce myself as being from Stirling, because being from Stirling is something to be proud of.

Let’s be honest, Western is a school of entitlement.  There are those here that think that Daddy’s credit card should be enough to get them an A+ average and their pick of jobs upon graduation.  Those are the same people who believe that Richmond Row is a good place to spend both their Tuesday nights and that $2000 that just magically appeared in their bank account.  The trend is that they expect something to be given to them on a platter just because they have the money to pay for it.

Yes, I graduated. Now give me a job.

But let’s get back to education.  What do we expect out of the money we put into this university?  I think it is fairly safe to say that most university students look to their university career to prepare them for a real career after graduation.  The expectation being that they will graduate with the requisite skills necessary to enter their chosen profession, or at least with the skills to get into a professional or graduate school.  The next question then is how do we determine that we’ve actually got those skills?  I mean, sure, your diploma technically states that you possess the required skills, but anyone with an ounce of intelligence will tell you that a diploma is given out to all students who meet a bare minimum standard of competence.  Another astute observer might note that some graduates who wave their diploma around like it’s a Nobel Peace Prize are actually as dumb as the proverbial door knob that they can’t quite figure out how to operate.  What we’re left with is that darling of graduate admissions officers everywhere, the transcript.  Yes, the transcript that holds record of what mark the professor has given us.  It is possibly the truest reflection, other than being able to actually demonstrate knowledge in practice, of what we have taken out of our university experience.

So, let’s adjust our expectations based on this reality.  Initially our expectation was to graduate with adequate preparation for whatever society-mandated slavery we choose to sell ourselves into.  If we can only judge that preparation by grades, our expectation then becomes that we get high grades out of university.  To put it in different words, we expect that upon graduation our transcripts will be a flawless run of A-pluses.  This twisted logic is given some much needed justification when we consider that we pay over $5000 in tuition every year for the privilege of having stuffy old men pound things into our skulls for at least fifteen hours a week.  Essentially, we pay the university for a service, that being preparing us for real life, and we expect them to deliver to the tune of a glittering transcript that even God might be proud of; it is a trade of money for grades.

This is the face of entitlement. Be scared.

Now, this smacks of the kind of entitlement usually reserved for hotel heiresses with daddy issues and that usually results in multiple failed TV shows that cumulatively had less viewers than that night-vision sex tape that was “leaked” on the internet.  This places the onus on the university to try and teach someone skills that they will be able to apply to the real world even if said student spends the entirety of their time trying to destroy their brain cells with alcohol, pot, and other recreational drugs.  This viewpoint completely ignores the necessity of hard work.  Ironically, the people upholding this viewpoint are likely ignoring hard work in reality too, not just in theory.

In reality, all our tuition is buying us is access to top-quality professors and resources.  For our parent’s or OSAP’s hard-earned money we get to come to campus, use the library, and study with distinguished individuals in their respective fields.  And what we take out of it is up to us.  We can spend that time learning skills that might someday make us slightly wealthier than the Joneses, we can get a Masters in English and not get hired by Wal-mart, or we can completely waste our time fist-pumping at Jack’s on a Monday night.  What we get out of these resources is entirely up to how much effort we put in…that and our respective mental capacities.

However, there is one thing that we can safely feel a sense of entitlement towards in our university careers: we have the right to have our hard work recognized.  We have the right for professors, TAs, and other beings shackled with the ball and chain of paper marking to give us credit for completing the assignment even if we don’t complete it well.  Essentially, we have the right to hand in a paper addressing the question and not receive a mark of zero in return.  No matter what is put on the paper, the act of completing the assignment is worth at least some marks.  By all means, fail a student because they did not argue well, make a point, or are just generally inept at writing a paper, but students are entitled to having their hard work recognized.  For example, if the essay question asks the student why the sky is blue, then the student should get credit if their paper tackles that question in some manner, even if it is completely wrong.

Now, before you point out that this is essentially giving students marks for free, remember what it is that we expect out of university.  We expect university to prepare us in some way for our chosen career.  We expect university to give us a true evaluation of whether we are prepared for the real world.  Now, are you so naive to think that hard work isn’t necessary in the real world?  Because the fact of the matter is that being a lazy dirtbag like you were in high school isn’t going to get you far when mommy and daddy kick you out on your ass.  You will be forced to work hard.  You will be forced to give your interpretations and answers to questions.  What giving these “free” marks does is act as positive reinforcement in the breeding of skills that are going to benefit you in real life situations.  These marks are saying that if you work hard you will get farther than someone who doesn’t put any effort in at all.  They are saying that it is better to try and possibly be wrong than to not do anything at all.  These are valuable lessons that people can take on board for their futures.  Not teaching them this just breeds the next generation of people who think that they are too good to wait in line at the bar or should get free drinks while inside because they once said hello to the bartender when they passed him on the sidewalk.

The long and short of it is that money doesn’t entitle us to squat.  It enables us to take part in the wonderful world of higher education—sometimes even when we’re so dumb that if we took a standard admissions test we’d be sent back to grade five—and potentially reap its rewards.  But like the farmer who reaps his crop, we must work hard for that reward.  Thinking otherwise only entitles us to failure.

University of Western Ontario Professor Emeritus Paul Davenport

Since the day oh so many years ago that Paul Davenport coined the phrase, The University of Western Ontario has prided itself on having the best student experience (at a research intensive university – funny how that part gets forgotten).

This year campus and London-area event planners seem to have out-done themselves by featuring a long line-up of acts that includes Lights, Basia Bulat, Avicii, The Sheepdogs, and Said the Whale.  And that’s just this coming week.  Later this year King’s has booked acts such as Bedouin Soundclash and Stars while The Wave is bringing in acts such as Keys N Krates.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

But is this really the best student experience that Western – and the USC – can provide?

Simply put, the aforementioned groups/artists really only cater to a certain segment of the 30,000-strong Western population.  They cater to the popular music-loving, generic techno-loving, line-up-at-8pm-to-get-into-Jim Bob’s crowd and are being put on in conjunction with promotions companies such as Premier Life whose main goal is to make students buy over-priced alcohol.  And I can guarantee you that the segment of the Western population mentioned previously make up only a small fraction of Western students.

So, what’s in it for the other 22,000 or so Western students that don’t care about that kind of music or that kind of scene??

Sadly, not very much.

In one example of Western doing it right, last night the Arts & Humanities and Music Soph teams put on a good event, featuring a talented band who played some of their own tunes as well as some classic rock and country favourites.  That was followed by an open mic that featured an eclectic array of performances with something that everyone could enjoy.  It was fun, friendly, and inexpensive (in this case it was free).  The catch you ask??  The event was for Frosh and Sophs only.

Now, when Dr. Davenport became President of The University of Western Ontario back in 1994 the school had a reputation as a bit of a party school.  That reputation was something Dr. Davenport set out to change.  The slogan “best student experience at a research-intensive university” was meant to show a balance between Western’s “enjoyable student atmosphere” (read: rowdy shenanigans) and its outstanding academic record.  That Dr. Davenport served as President for fifteen years (a feat only exceeded by W. Sherwood Fox and George Hall who both served 20-year terms) is a testament to his success.

However, a recent survey of Western alumni shows that the school’s reputation has floundered.  Western is seen once again as a party school, and this coming from people who attended this institution back when it was in its partying heyday.  Western’s VP-External, Kevin Goldthorpe, has made it his responsibility to change that perception.

In this writer’s opinion a good place to start would be providing events or a range of events that cater to all students.  Stop putting on events exclusively for the Richmond Row crowd and start putting on events for everyone, even those who don’t seem to care.

Events like this year's Avicii Frosh Week event only cater to select elements of the Western population.

Because what exactly are events like Avicii saying to people outside of that crowd?  Events like that, when they are all that’s being run, tell alumni, parents, and interested parties everywhere that the school is more focused on getting wasted and listening to a guy play music by clicking a button on his MacBook than being academically-focused and promoting creativity.  The USC’s partnership with Premier Life and other promoters to put on the event points to a culture that is driven by the downtown bars, not by academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge.

You might ask what having varied events might change about this picture?  After all, having different events does not necessarily mean more studying is going on.  What can change is the way student life at Western is perceived by those outside the Western bubble, not to mention making the lives of those inside it more enjoyable.  Let’s take the Arts/Music event of last night as an example.  There was no drinking involved, no promoters, the money for the event came from students, and the content was wholly student-driven.  It was, as you might say, good, clean, wholesome fun.  It was just a bunch of students innocently enjoying their Friday night.

To broaden the picture a bit more, having varied events showcases that the administration and student government actually care about what all students want instead of doing whatever they want and hoping students like it as well.  And one thing that many studies on academic performance indicate is that happy students do well in their studies.  Students who feel left out, who don’t have a good student experience, don’t.

In short, caring about students goes a long way to bandaging your damaged reputation.  Not caring got us the reputation we have now.

I was searching through my computer harddrive today and I came across this gem that I wrote back in second year.  It’s short, but sweet.

Dessert is defined as either “cake, pie, fruit, pudding, ice cream, etc., served as the final course of a meal” or “a serving of fresh fruit after the main course of a meal.” Pizza, on the other hand, is defined as “a flat, open-faced baked pie of Italian origin, consisting of a thin layer of bread dough topped with spiced tomato sauce and cheese.” In this paper I will argue that the two are mutually exclusive: that is to say that what has been commonly referred to as dessert pizza is not actually pizza.

We should start by unpacking our definitions. Taking pizza, we can say that for something to be pizza, it must a) be flat, b) be baked, c) have a bread-based crust, d) have tomato sauce, and e) have cheese. A dessert must be served as the final course of the meal. We could also add on to our conditions for pizza that it be served as part of the main course, as that seems the most logical order in which to eat a pizza. However, that condition is not essential to the argument at hand.

A dessert pizza, the catalyst for this discussion, does not meet the criteria that we have laid out for a thing to be pizza. Sure, it is flat, baked, and usually has a bread-based crust, but it lacks the cheese and tomato sauce required to be actual pizza. One particular dessert pizza recipe calls for cookie dough, whipped cream, bananas, strawberries, pineapples, and grapes. The only thing in those ingredients that we would find on an actual pizza is pineapple. If we were to call a dessert pizza actual pizza, ignoring the need to satisfy all of the conditions, we would then be forced to call anything that is flat and on bread pizza as well. Therefore, we could call toast with peanut butter pizza by the same logic. However, we know that toast with peanut butter is not pizza and to say so is absurd, just like it is absurd to call dessert pizza actual pizza when it does not fulfill all the criteria required for it to be pizza.

Of contention in this matter is that both pizza and dessert are defined as being some sort of pie and that in and of itself is fine. Pie, in this case, refers to the general shape and method of preparing the dishes in question: it is flat, baked, and usually round. It makes no claims as to content, but the rest of our definitions do. Our definition of pizza states that it must contain tomato sauce and cheese. Our first definition of dessert implies some sort of sweet content while our second definition specifies that it contain fresh fruit. The definition of dessert is less rigid, but still does not entitle us to conclude that pizza and dessert are consistent.

While dessert pizza is undoubtedly a great idea, it is simply not possible for something to be both pizza and dessert. This argument has been undertaken, personal tastes aside, in the interest of properly defining our foods to ensure that when one orders from a foreign menu, one knows just exactly what they are ordering. No one wants to order a dessert pizza and, expecting a delightful take on a time-tested classic combination of bread, cheese, and tomato sauce, be treated to an assault of frightening fruit placed on a bed of whipped cream. It just isn’t right.

Who wears more padding? A Stormtrooper from Star Wars or a NFL player?

In Grade Ten, I played American Football.

I have hated the game ever since.

Make no mistakes, American Football has never been one of my favourite sports.  I joined the team mainly due to peer pressure.  It didn’t take long to confirm that it just wasn’t the sport for me, but I have never been able to pinpoint exactly why I hated it.

Part of it might have been the endless stoppages.  Part of it might have been having different “teams” to play different parts of the game.  Part of it might have been the equipment designed to hurt players under the guise of being protection.  I could never pinpoint it exactly.

Now, almost 6 years later, I can finally understand why I hate the game so vehemently that I can barely call it a sport or acknowledge it as a form of football.

Simply put and with all due respect, American Football is a game for idiots.  It is a game that engages a minimal amount of the brain capacity of its players.  It is a game where any meaningful decision that requires any amount of thought is made by some 60-something standing on the sidelines in a tracksuit.  The only thought process required of a player is “Hit hard” or “Run fast.”

For example, in Sports Illustrated’s NFL Preview edition a story was run titled “What Ever Happened to Tackling?”  (It was billed on the cover as “The Lost Art of Tackling.”)  The main purpose of the article was to bemoan the degradation of tackling as a technical skill in the NFL, but it was also a showcase of just why American Football is not a thinking man’s sport.

An example of the "arrow through snow" tackling mentality.

Coaches in the NFL teach their players not to think.  They teach them to tackle in one way: straight up and as hard as possible, consequences be damned so long as you hit the guy hard enough to knock him down.  Specifically, Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson would teach his players to, according to cornerback Sheldon Brown, “just keep running through like knives” and, according to fellow coach John Harbaugh, “attack like an arrow through snow.”

In this type of philosophy, there is no thought.  There is only action.  A player is trained to be a heat-seeking missile and once the switch is flipped (read: whistle blown) automatically hunt down any opposition ball carriers.  The technique taught, as bemoaned in the article (in reality tackling technique in the NFL has only really devolved from ‘hit the guy as hard as you can with your shoulder’ to ‘hit the guy as hard as you can’), is non-existent.  The full extent of it is ‘be an irresistable force.’

Compare this to American Football’s genealogical predecessor, Rugby Union.

A technically sound tackle such as this one will allow the tackler to reagain his feet quickly and compete for the ball.

Due to the nature of the game, the big hit that has so wowed American audiences in the NFL, College Football, and high school Friday Night leagues across the country is largely eschewed in rugby in favour of a more technically sound, safer form of tackling.  Players tackle with their shoulders instead of charging full-bore into the opposition.  When they do charge full-bore they risk leaving a large hole in defense.   Not charging full-bore and holding a defensive shape requires thought.  It also results in far less injuries involving tackles than what is seen in American Football.

Furthermore, due to the continuous nature of rugby, tacklers must tackle in such a way to either not commit a penalty for disrupting the opposition or inflict a turnover on the opposition.  This requires thought about body position, angles, time, and the laws of the game.  The tackler must process how the opposition ball carrier is coming at them in order to ascertain how best to end up in a favourable position to complete a turnover.  Do they go high and hope to hold the ball up or stay on their own feet?  Do they go low and have to scramble back to their feet before contesting the ball?  Do they have time to even contemplate a turnover or should they just focus on rolling away and re-taking their place in the defensive line?

This level of thought is not required of an American Football player, even on the offensive side of the ball.

On offense, plays are most often called by the coaches on the sidelines.  The thinking is done on the sidelines, all the players have to do is execute.  And still that execution involves no more thought than “run into this gap,” “throw to receiver x,” or “catch the ball.”  As a thinking man’s game, offense in American Football is light-years behind sports such as Hockey, Association Football, or even Curling that demand their players make the key decisions in real-time.

It must be said that some thought goes into the mind games played between the offense and defense at the line of scrimmage, but that is merely a by-product of decisions made on either sideline.  It is not independent thought as such, but rather a necessary outcome of 22 grown men trying to keep each other in the dark.

Peyton Manning makes coaches obsolete by being one of the only true "thinking" American Football players.

Therefore, as a product of the game’s inherent devaluation of intelligence, there are very few examples of players who can be truly classified as smart players.  Peyton Manning is one (why the Indianapolis Colts even bother with an Offensive Coordinator and/or Quarterbacks Coach is beyond me…).  Green Bay Packer cornerback Charles Woodson is another.  Manning is the only quarterback in the league who truly calls his own plays, often at the line of scrimmage seconds before the ball is snapped, and Woodson is the pioneer of tacklers who think enough to try and strip the ball – thus causing a valuable turnover – in the process of making a tackle instead of following Johnson’s “arrow through snow” method.

Now, American Football fans might try and turn the title of this article against me and argue that American Football isn’t supposed to be about thought, but rather passion.  And that’s fine.  In my opinion, a sport bereft of passion is just as lacking as a sport bereft of thought.  But where does that argument take us?  It is an admittance of a flaw to be sure, since if thought and passion are our two criteria for what makes a good sport it then follows that having only one cannot be better than having both.  No amount of passion can overcome a lack of thought.  It will always be the case that thought plus passion will be better than either of thought or passion on their own.

But I digress.  This article is about why I don’t like American Football.  Those who do like American Football are free to like it as they so choose and for whatever reasons they want.  I long ago realized that, despite my vehement hatred of the sport and everything it stands for, there are many people out there that do like it.  Those people don’t need me telling them that their favourite sport sucks (they already have to put up with watching it for heaven’s sake!!).

It may have taken me six years, but I can now truly understand why I hate American Football.  I value sports that combine thought with passion.  I value sports that don’t require their players to perform like automatons, performing simple functions without thought for the greater picture.

I also value sports where the players don’t celebrate after performing those simple functions like they single-handedly won the Second World War…

A lot can happen in four years…

For instance, a kid from small town Ontario can graduate university at one of the biggest schools in the country (I know it hasn’t happened yet…).

When most of us think of where we were four years ago it won’t seem like it was that different.  It won’t seem like we’ve each undertaken a journey, a progression.  But things do happen, things do change.  Here are a bunch of things that can (and have) changed over the past four years.

Is he smiling for the camera or the pretty blonde in the second row??

Tiger Woods can go from being the most respectable athlete of his generation whose career couldn’t possibly fail to a degenerate sex addict without a good knee to stand (or swing) on.

– Justin Bieber can become the whitest thing since sliced bread to achieve world-wide popularity.

– Space shuttles can stop being launched into space, ending the 30-year NASA project that has come to form a large part of the American mythos.

– Osama bin Laden can cease to be the most wanted man in the world.

– Jack Kevorkian can cease to be Dr. Death and instead be collected by Death himself.

– Natural disasters can become more common and more devastating…and more translatable into Hollywood box office success.

– The BlackBerry is no longer just the smartphone of choice for the United States Department of Defense, but nearly every other two-thumbed organism.

Yes, a lot can happen in four years…but a lot can stay the same…a lot of things can seem to be just where we left them four years ago…

– Harry Potter can go from chasing criminals and godfathers through mysterious tunnels to chasing even bigger criminals and surrogate fathers’ ghosts through mysterious tunnels.

Smoother than a Baby's Bottom: Findings from an Examination of Justin Bieber's Face

The island nation of Fiji can still be controlled by Frank Bainimarama’s military government.

– The All Blacks can still be odds-on favourites for the Rugby World Cup.

– The Dark Knight can still be everyone’s favourite movie.

– Justin Bieber still cannot grow any measurable amount of facial hair.

– EA Sports can still fail to release a decent Rugby Union video game, thus alienating even more fans than it did when they repackaged Rugby 06 as Rugby 08.

– People can still be expounding 9/11 conspiracy theories like the world actually gives a damn.

Sure, these are all interesting tidbits and nice reflections, but what can we actually take from them and learn?

Let me do some reflecting and tell you what I’ve learned from the past four years…

– It doesn’t take much to capture the attention of a world wide audience…although sex certainly does sell.

– Now that the Cold War arms-race is safely over what is out there in space can be consigned to the laboratories of mad scientists everywhere as it has outlived its fifteen minutes of fame (or should that be light years??).

– Osama bin Laden was the world’s most wanted man, but no one bothered to knock on his front door to see if he was home…  Man, people are stupid.

– What goes around comes around.

– The end of the world is pretty hip right now…

– Evolution is eventually going to cause human necks to bend at a 45-degree angle so that it is a much more natural position to be in when we spend 8 hours a day staring down at a smartphone.  And thumbs will shrink to less than half their current size to prevent awkward messages like “I just saw your dick” (as opposed to “I just saw your duck”).

– What works once in popular media will work again and again and again and again and again…

– No one cares about Fiji.

Why am I showing you this? No one cares...

– Truly good movies stand the test of time.  So do truly bad ones…

– Being young and naive can be a great set of qualities to have, so long as they don’t land you in someone’s trunk and/or basement…

– and again…

– Shit happens.  Sometimes you can explain it, sometimes you can’t.  Sometimes you under-react and other times you over-react.  But there comes a time to move on…in the case of 9/11 that time would have been January 20th, 2009 – the day Barack Obama took office and replaced George Bush.

There are some important lessons in there, but there are also some things that just make you want to shake your head.

I guess the real moral of this story is that the world is an ever-changing place.  Things come and things go.  It is the destiny of humanity to adapt to these changes, especially since they are so uniformly driven by humanity’s need for progress, instant gratification, and total connection.

In a way, the change that we have seen over the past four years is a product of a movement towards a global community.  I mean, how many people seriously used Twitter back in 2007?  Why does the news cover things from around the globe instead of what is happening just down the street?  This is the world, and we’re going global.

The only real question that remains to me is to speculate on whether the changes we are seeing are good or bad.  It strikes me as an odd question given that we aren’t writing the history of our time, but rather living it.  When you wake up in the morning and check your email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, do you wonder to yourself whether it is good or bad to do so?  I know I don’t.

Besides, can we really measure these changes on a scale of good to bad?  What classifies something as good or bad on the global framework?  What scale of morality do we use?

I say, leave the weighing of our time to the historians of the future…they’ll be the experts on our age.  Just as the historians of the past were on the ages that came before us…