Friday, July 29, 2011

BOOGITY BOOGITY BOOGITY AMEN

Not much to say, I was in Saskatoon last 4 days for the NASCAR Canadian Tire race there. I don't have much more to say, as I am still resting up.

Speaking of NASCAR, the pre-race prayer in Nashville last week was something else.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

BUSY WEEKEND OF AUTO RACING, AND GRIM NEWS FROM OVERSEAS

I really do not have much to say about very much at all right now. I was at the Edmonton Indy qualifying day on Saturday, at their newly reconfigured track. Will Power ended up winning the race today.

As well, today's a big day for Entourage fans as their final season begins tonight on HBO, with Kevin Connolly telling NBC that this final season is definitely not their choice. Anyway, a show that proved to be a good way to relax your cranium will be taking leave of TV soon, whether fans like it or not.

I have little else to say about the latest offerings at theaters such as the final Harry Potter movie, which cleaned up last weekend, or Captain America which cleaned up this weekend, or the death of Amy Winehouse, or that terrible, horrible gun attack over in Norway. Basically, I'm just tired after the trip to Edmonton and I am just sitting here watching the Riders play Montreal. in the CFL Incredibly, the Riders are leading right now.

Needless to say this is the only football I'm caring about at the moment. (This NFL lockout couldn't end soon enough given what a pathetic joke it has become lately.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

THE SHUTTLE HAS LANDED

Well it is a sad day as the Space Shuttle Atlantis has landed back in Florida, wrapping up the final mission of the Space Shuttle program. Today I got up very early to see the Shuttle land for the final time and got kind of choked up with the whole scene.



I guess it was time for the Shuttle to retire, but what really gets me is that there's nothing coming down the pipe replacing the Shuttle program in the USA. Instead, from now on they'll be spending millions of dollars getting rent-a-rides on the Soyuz. That's right, from the Russians.

That just has me and all the NASA fans out there shaking our heads. I don't know -- hopefully things will turn around for the American space program one of these days, but it sure looks like the space program and its fleet are going to be reduced to "tourist attraction" status for the near term.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HOT SUMMER VACATION NEWS FROM NOWHERE

Well, welcome to a Vacation News from Nowhere -- which makes sense to me because I am on vacation right now from work. Even though I am not in the office, the news of the world goes on. Speaking of which::

The politicians continue to call for scalps over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Already Rebekah Brooks, head of the newspaper unit, has resigned, and people have been arrested. It's even extended to top people at Scotland Yard and people are now even calling for Prime Minister David Cameron's scalp for his government's alleged links to the Murdoch empire through some of their hires.

People don't want to stop there, though, they want to go after the people right at the top of News Corp. News Corp chair Rupert Murdoch was hauled in front of a British parliamentary committee and really got roasted. He wouldn't take responsibility, though, which is a really bad PR move on his part. I get the feeling Murdoch really was out of the loop on this one -- the guy is just a businessman, concentrating on the business end. Yet people were roasting him as if they thought he was behind all the hacking. One guy even went in there and pied him, only for Murdoch's wife to come after him and slap him in the face. Murdoch called it the most humbling day of his life.

I really think Murdoch's empire is in a lot of trouble now. It's so bad that you have people out there wanting licenses pulled for his TV stations in the States, all because of the actions of these out-of-control reporters over in Britain.

I hear these rumors about how Murdoch may be forced to relinquish his other newspapers in Britain, but who the heck will buy them? Nobody wants to buy newspapers these days, period. I worry these other papers he owns will end up shut down, which should please their competitors to no end. But it will do nothing for ensuring a free press in Britain. What is needed over there is some newspaper self-examination, but the politicians are likely to go overboard and over-regulate or close things down instead, and throw more people out of work. I know the News of the World scandal was terrible and I didn't like what was happening there, either, but closing down NOTW doesn't appear to be enough for people. I worry the politicians won't stop until every paper Murdoch owns is shut down. So much for a free press in Britain, then, if that happens, but then again the News of the World did nothing to police itself when it came to its own reporting.

In other news Casey Anthony is out of jail. What, you missed this? Apparently she was sneaked out of there in the middle of the night as her sentence came to an end. Needless to say, this story continues to be the gift that keeps on giving for the folks over at HLN, who continue to give this trial saturation coverage.

This weekend was also the infamous Carmageddon in Los Angeles. Apparently much ado about nothing.

In world economic matters the debt crisis continues to go on with talks both in Europe and also in Congress in the USA. 

Poker's November Nine has been finalized as the World Series of Poker Main Event goes on hiatus until the fall.

And Charlie Sheen is back on the air! He has landed a new sitcom coming this fall, called Anger Management.

"Winning!" That's all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WSOP MAIN EVENT WINDING DOWN

I have been really enjoying the wall-to-wall ESPN coverage of the Main Event of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. The coverage is as "live" as possible, with the feed delayed by 30 minutes to prevent cheating inside the hall. Groundbreaking poker television, the likes of which we had not seen at the WSOP before.

They are due to come out of their dinner break soon to resume action, as they try and narrow the field down to a final table of 9 players. Those 9 return the first week of November to the Rio to duke it out for the multimillion dollars.

I notice TSN in Canada finally decided to pick up some of the ESPN feed the other day, including the final action tonight. Too little, too late is my reaction.

I don't get it! The Canadian nets are really good when it comes to things like covering hockey, but they drop the ball on devoting major coverage to these other events. You would think that in Canada, where online poker is still allowed, these networks would be interested in going wall-to-wall on TV covering the biggest event in poker -- one with a Canadian defending champion (Jonathan Duhamel) and where another Canadian, Daniel Negreanu, was at the feature table getting major TV time. This wasn't some taped poker show we were talking about, this wasn't yet another rerun of The Big Game or Poker After Dark -- this is the bleeping World Series main event for the world championship!

But no. Folks in Canada got the shaft and had to turn to the Internet for most of the coverage, before TSN finally got with it late in the tournament. This is exactly what we have come to expect as far as sports coverage is concerned in Canada -- coverage of any sport other than hockey. Surely, TSN could have found room for it  in between the important CFL games and other stuff.

Of course, you know what to expect this fall during the US football season, when all the live college football games will be on American TV. If you're in Canada you can forget seeing them, because instead of showing live games Canadian football fans will be interested in, that's when Canadian sports networks will be sticking us with the rerun poker shows. It never fails.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

ON VACATION AT THE MOMENT

Sorry for the lack of posts lately at the blog as I am now officially on vacation (!). This is really the first really extended vacation time I've taken away from my newspaper as I plan to use up a very big backlog of vacation days owed to me. And even after I use them I'll still have plenty left over. That's what happens when you work like a dog and don't take your vacation time.

Anyway, I have been busy swatting mosquitoes and watching World Series of Poker coverage on the Internet, and I went to the horse races last night and actually won around five bucks. I plan to get around to ranting about the latest happenings, eventually. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

IT REALLY IS THE END OF THE WORLD

End of the News of the World, that is. Final edition was today, and it sold like hotcakes.

(Well, I guess that crazy end-of-the-world preacher was sort of right with his prediction.)

The paper was a sad victim of its own excesses when it came to scooping the competition with its over-the-line phone hacking. Owner Rupert Murdoch had to do something drastic to contain the damage being done to the rest of the News Corporation empire as a result of what was going on at the NOTW.

I worry this drastic measure won't be enough for the bloodthirsty politicians, though, who are going to likely declare open season on the free press in the UK and on Murdoch in particular. These politicians will probably try and dictate exactly the kind of content it wants from the media through more government-controlled rules and regulations, all because one reprehensible newspaper didn't have the good sense to know when to quit.

Needless to say, the News of the World approach to journalism - this scandal-mongering, prying-into-other-peoples'-business type of reporting - is not my style, nor is it particularly what I want to read. I used to work one time at a place that expected reporters to always be confrontational and pry into peoples' business whether they liked it or not. Simply put, I wasn't allowed to be myself at that job.

Still, I worry what will be in store for the rest of these papers when they have to deal with these politicians. I am less worried about the News of the World's executives who now will likely be on the receiving end of criminal penalties for their activity. Good riddance to them, frankly.

The folks I feel sorriest for are the rank and file at that paper who lost their jobs. They were the ones probably ordered around by the bosses to do this hacking into mobile phones to begin with, just to keep their jobs. As usual, they get the shaft.

The Sun has the obit of the News of the World's history here.

Friday, July 08, 2011

END OF ERA FOR THE SPACE PROGRAM

The final mission for the Space Shuttle program has lifted off today. Atlantis is now in orbit.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

CASEY ANTHONY VERDICT

The verdict is in, and my first thought was Nancy Grace wasn't going to like it, and a lot of people looking for justice today for Caylee Anthony weren't going to like it -- but a lot of the commentators out there (Nancy excluded) just don't feel the prosecutors did the job in proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. No doubt about it, this is a major defeat for the prosecution.

Whether these "not guilty of murder" verdicts today -- Casey Anthony was only convicted of lying to the cops, nothing more -- were the correct outcome or not, they just did not provide the closure this case needs. The questions go on.

Monday, July 04, 2011

AND NOW --- INDEPENDENCE DAY NEWS FROM NOWHERE

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to American readers of the CAIRNS BLOG. First, the big breaking story of the day is that President Barack Obama is not dead. I repeat, he is NOT DEAD. Those are untrue lies spread by hackers to the Fox News Politics Twitter feed.

So ignore those. It's just the usual idiots trying to undermine civilization in general yet again.

Man, something has to be done about these nutcases on the Internet, hacking Twitter and spreading all this misinformation. It's getting to the point where you can't believe a darn thing you read on these "tweets" anymore, due to these lies and hacks. Anyway, bottom line is the President is not dead.

As for that other President, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, it's a different story -- he could be dead pretty soon if these cancer stories are true. He had surgery last week in Cuba. 

I notice also that Thailand now has a new leader -- a female PM.

In other news, William and Kate are busy on their royal tour of Canada. They spent Canada Day in Ottawa, and then this weekend they were in Quebec where William said a few words in French. Today, Wills and Kate were racing against each other in PEI. It's fun to be a "Royal".

Also having fun: Prince Albert of Monaco, who got married in a big royal wedding of his own last Friday to a woman who, it is alleged, supposedly got cold feet and threatened to become yet another Runaway Bride over supposed lovechild allegations involving the groom.

Where have I heard all this before? Oh yeah, in California. Speaking of which, Maria has officially filed for divorce from Ahhnold, I mean Arnold.

Good news for former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The prosecution's case against him is so full of holes that he is now released and tthe charges look like they are going to soon be dropped.

Speaking of court cases: the Casey Anthony case is finally in the hands of the jury. No verdict yet.

It looks like Two and a Half Men is going to kill off Charlie Sheen's character. Also, a supposed move by Sheen to cable net TBS is being vehemently denied by that network. On top of all that, his "Goddesses" have apparently dumped him. All in all, things seem to be going downhill fast for Mr. "Winning!" Sheen.

Also, Sheen was quoted in the press as saying he did steroids for his movie Major League. Personally, I think that's just him being outrageous to get himself his usual publicity, nothing more.(Although I wouldn't put it past him to do it, either, given the rest of his other antics.)

In other news from TV, Glenn Beck has departed Fox News.

And finally, we have crowned a hotdog eating champion. Americans sure know how to have fun on a holiday, do they not? We don't do any of this "Major League Eating" up here in Canada on Canada Day. Then again, maybe Canadians have more sense. (Sixty-two hot dogs this guy ate. Good heavens.)

Happy fireworks day, folks! That is all for the moment.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

ONLINE POKER'S WOES OVERSHADOW THE WSOP

I have been following what has been a pretty exciting World Series of Poker this year from Las Vegas. You can find the live updates here at the WSOP website. They have also been streaming the final tables live in webcam-style fashion.

This event has proven just the tonic to get people diverted away from all the negative online poker news elsewhere, like the US government's Black Friday crackdown that shut down online poker operations in the USA.

That online shutdown devastated a lot of the online companies affected, including Full Tilt Poker. So much so, apparently, that it's feared they don't have the money to be able to pay back their former players. US players have been complaining that they can't get their money withdrawn from Full Tilt, and even player Phil Ivey has complained about it and sued his former company, saying he would not be entering the WSOP because so many people couldn't get money out of Full Tilt and it wouldn't be fair to everyone if he were to play while others could not.

Just this week, more problems for Full Tilt, as the jurisdiction of Alderney yanked their online gaming license and shut them down. So they are out of business right around the world right now.

Now we are hearing stories about how Ivey has lined up some white knight to come to the rescue of Full Tilt Poker and get the players their money back. We'll see. Anyway, I am just so glad I don't have money in Full Tilt Poker. 

These outside problems have really cast a cloud over the poker world in general, and have made for more news headlines than the actual event itself. But fortunately, thanks to the WSOP, live poker rolls on. Much as the federal US government tried to rub poker out, it's still standing.

TRANSFORMERS 3 CAUSING THE USUAL DIVISION AGAIN

This week Michael Bay's big Transformers: Dark of the Moon rolled out to the usual critical bashing from the usual people. Only 38 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert trashed the movie, Richard Roeper gave it a D, and so on. Still, that is better than last time -- though it didn't take much for this movie to be better than last time, to be honest. I tend to agree with Kevin Carr's assessment that no Megan Fox and no racist bots equal a better movie. Whether I agree it equals a movie that is actually worth watching is another question, because the end result sounds like it is still big and dumb.

Word from a lot of people is this 3D effort is still overlong and headache-inducing, yet the usual Michael Bay defenders don't care and say this is exactly why they see the movie. I think it's gotten to the point where minds are made up about the Transformers franchise before even entering the theater -- people either love it or hate it before even seeing it.

As for its box office, Box Office Mojo has its assessment as of Friday's numbers. So far this summer, no real surprises with respect to the overall box office -- I'm not even surprised Green Lantern is fading fast, because I always considered Green Lantern to be a second-rate DC superhero anyway.

CASEY ANTHONY TRIAL WRAPPING UP

Final arguments are going on today in an unsual Sunday session in court in the Casey Anthony trial. Coverage can be found here. Honestly, I don't know what is going to happen. I haven't really been following enough of the trial to make an opinion on it, so I really don't have an opinion on which way it's going to go. But you can bet Nancy Grace will be excited over whatever happens next. Anyway, closing arguments today.

Friday, July 01, 2011

NBA LOCKED OUT

Well, I sure hope you all enjoyed watching the recent NBA finals, because that's the last pro basketball you may see for a long time. The NBA locked its players out at midnight, and from the sounds of it both sides are so far apart that there is serious worry there may not be a season at all. Commissioner David Stern is openly talking about how the owners are losing money -- this, in spite of all the revenue the NBA is getting for its product around the world.




This is the same kind of talk we were hearing from the NHL back in 2004, although back then I believe there was much more speculation, almost an assumption, that the entire season would be scrapped.

Anyway, that's two leagues now locked out at the same time, the NBA and the NFL. Not that it really matters much, because neither league is in season. Supposedly the NFL isn't far from some sort of settlement, so hopefully that situation will be resolved, but I really worry about the NBA. I think too many of those players are a little too greedy about things, and I think the owners really are in trouble and seeking a pushback.

ANDERSON COOPER ON NOISY MOVIE THEATERS

Well. this blog has admittedly given Anderson Cooper a hard time in the past -- what for standing in the rain all the time in all these different terrible storms and so on.

But in the past month he did a commentary on TV that I absolutely agree with. It was about this girl who got kicked out of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Austin for texting, and all I have to say is, I absolutely agree with Anderson Cooper on this one. Texting in movie theaters is a distraction and takes away from the moviegoing experience of everyone else in the theater. Frankly, going to the movie theater is a miserable enough experience these days with all these distractions happening, such as people talking to each other in the theater right in the middle of the movie, and it's about time for people to put their foot down and say enough is enough.

If you're going to text, or use the cell phone or talk loudly or otherwise be disruptive in a theater, it just ruins it for everyone else. Leave the freaking theater! Here is Anderson's rant here. Way to go, Anderson.

I will have more to say about Anderson Cooper later regarding his new syndicated TV show, as well as other syndicated TV shows in the post-Oprah era. But that is all for the moment.