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The Footballing Witch Doctor

Henry Winter from the Daily Telegraph once said “ When Mourinho walks into a press conference he makes Machiavelli look like an innocent schoolboy”. It seems that comment is quite a superlative yet it is not false. Mourinho, the self-proclaimed “Special One” has built every team that he has coached into league champions. His psychological impact on players and to opponents is unquestionable. He is a living legend of the game. One has to look at each team he has coached to truly appreciate the aura of magnificence he has built around himself. Mourinho’s first major coaching job was with little known Porto in Portugal. He himself said at the time “ When I joined Porto, the manager was a kid and so were the players”. In the space of two years Porto went from European unknowns to European Champions. Beating clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United on their way to the title. Mourinho instilled a certain confidence in a massively underdog team that they would win six titles in two years. Mourinho’s uncanny ability to instil confidence was a prime factor for Porto’s early success. Thanks to him Portuguese football was back on the world footballing map. Shortly afterwards Chelsea came calling with a huge contract and a promise to spend big on new transfers. Mourinho accepted the offer and moved to West London. Chelsea hadn’t won the league in fifty years and had always struggled domestically against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. However, that all changed with Mourinho, new arrivals from his old club Porto and a few new signings created a strong team that would go on to win seven titles in three years. Chelsea had become the unquestioned hegemony in the Premier League. Wenger and Ferguson had become mere spectators of Chelsea’s… Read More

Canada – Basketball powerhouse?

It does not surprise me that Canada has produced some extraordinary talent in the NBA. This influx of Canadian talent I believe stems firstly from the influx of young Canadian basketball players into US college programs. Wiggins, Bennet, Ennis and Joseph have all made it through the US college programs and excelled. Their talent prospered and flourished at the college level, which gave them an excellent preparation for the NBA. Canada has had to accept that Basketball programs in the US with their superior funding provide greater support and preparation for these future NBA players. Canadian basketball programs at the college level cannot compete with the amount of scholarships and funding US Basketball programs have. Additionally, the influx of Canadians in the NBA can be attributed to the growing popularity of basketball in Canada. The Toronto Raptors are the only NBA team in Canada and in being the only team they drive up the popularity of basketball particularly around the Toronto area. Most of the Canadian NBA stars grew up in areas around Toronto so it wouldn’t be a surprise if many of these Canadian players grew up watching or supporting the Raptors. Furthermore, the Toronto Raptors are significant role models to many young basketball players in Canada who want to play some day in the NBA. Canada’s close geographical proximity to the US is another more obvious reason for the rise of Canadian basketball players in the NBA. The influence of the NBA can easily leak into Canada through sport networks and exhibition games and encourage young basketball players in Canada to hopefully one-day play in the NBA. Young Canadian basketball players just have to look across the border if they want to play at a higher level in college before the NBA. The future looks very bright for… Read More

The Final Lap: Who will win the English Premier League?

With twelve games left in the FA premier League Chelsea are in pole position to win where they are seven points clear at the top. This Premier League season has seen the return of Jose Mourinho, the self proclaimed Special One at the helm of Chelsea. The FA premier league however, is notorious for surprises to occur.     Contenders Chelsea : It is not at all surprising Chelsea are leading the Premier League this season. Jose Mourinho has brought consistency and made Stamford Bridge an almost impenetrable fortress for opposing teams. Chelsea are not short on goal scorers, they can rely on the leagues top scorer Diego Costa who is having an outstanding debut season in the league. Chelsea’s last twenty games in the league has seen them concede goals in only four of those games which is an outrageous statistic and explains why they are favorites to win the league this season. Manchester City: City has a very talented team especially with player such as Aguero, Silva and Toure. However I would say they have been slightly below expectations this season. City manager Pellegrini does produce a very attacking style and that has brought them many goals this season. Yet, they have tied far too many games and that has cost them many points especially if they want to keep up with Chelsea. Second place for City would be a step back but is the most likely occurrence at the moment. Manchester United : United has bounced back tremendously from last seasons disastrous performance. New manager Van Gaal has rejuvenated the team this season and has made them perform significantly better. The addition of Di Maria from Real Madrid has definitely had a positive impact on the team and has helped United’s attacking options. However, Falcao is performing… Read More

Being a conservative punk

To many conservatives, and punks, the concept of “conservative punk” is ridiculous but as Johnny Ramone (perhaps the most famous punk of all time) once exclaimed “punk is right wing”. With bands like the Dead Kennedys, the Clash and Rancid championing left-wing ideas, it can sometimes be hard to see that anarchism is a fact of life on the punk scene. Being a traditionalist conservative and a punk can sometimes feel like two separate impulses or leading two lives but its actually not difficult to see the overlap, if you wanted to look. Nor is it difficult to find conservative voices on the punk scene. You may remember the American media reporting back in 2004 on a group called Conservative Punk that made waves rallying support for George W. Bush. Michale Graves, a former singer for the Misfits, wrote a column on the group’s website. Graves is well-known for performing in a skull mask and singing lyrics like “the boiled blister pops inside”. "I look like someone who should be hanging out with Marilyn Manson — in fact I have hung out with Marilyn Manson," Mr. Graves said. "It doesn't affect what my morals are." So what exactly are the overlaps between conservatism and being punk? To understand that, it’s important to remember that punk began as a reaction against the hippie movement. That’s evident in the looks and styles of early punks and is still visible in many elements of the subculture. Hippies wore hemp and tie-dye so punks wore leather and black. Hippies grew their hair long so punks shaved their head. Hippies were anti-violence so many punks embraced violence. Punk was a rebellion from the start against the dominant youth culture of the day. It was never explicitly political. Punk was a blank canvas and bands and… Read More

A tale of fandom – Montreal Comicon Power Rangers panel

I have been to a lot of Comicons. At last count I believe Montreal Comicon 2014 was my eighth. Philadelphia, Ottawa, New York, Montreal, Bangalore, London and Manchester being the first seven. The thing with Comicon is that it isn’t about the celebrities and guest appearances; it’s about the fans. Sure a lot of money changes hands at Comicons, people pay for autographs, for photo sessions, for merchandise and artwork, food and all kinds of other things. But the reason everyone goes to Comicon is because they are all fans. Geek culture, nerd culture or whatever you want to call it, is coming into the mainstream more and more every year and yet to a lot of attendees, being a fan of specific types of media is still a cause for ridicule out in the real world. Whether real or imagined the sense of persecution has not faded from the conscious of the nerd community. In my opinion that sense of persecution is what fuels the dozens of conventions that go on in cities all over the world calling themselves Comicon. Comicon is the place where we gather, where dressing up as whatever you want isn’t met with derision but celebrated, where fat guys in green pants and glasses become small time celebrities and anime cosplayers are the norm rather than the exception. To comicon attendees this is all fantastic and part of the fun but this doesn’t translate nearly as well in the outside world, if it did, we wouldn’t need comicon. And yet what makes Star Wars any less deserving of mass following than say, NHL hockey? As a self-professed nerd I would say it isn’t. And yet no one was ever bullied, teased or otherwise mocked in grade school for wearing a hockey jersey, the same cannot… Read More

American Sniper – Bridging the real and the imaginary

Martha Nussbaum is an eminent scholar of classical literature and philosophy. Her fame extends beyond academia; she has influenced discussions of public educational policy, and more general current cultural attitudes. For over two decades, she has weighed in on public disputes about feminism, abortion law, and affirmative action. She frequently draws on her own re-interpretation of classical texts while acting as an advocate of contemporary liberalism. Her own views exemplify 'the personal as the political': she acknowledges that she reacted strongly against the outlook of her father, a wealthy Southerner and a highly racist WASP, who strongly disapproved of her marriage to a Jew and conversion to Judaism. She has ardently defended religious toleration, especially for Muslims in modern America. She has also championed liberal education, again drawing on her views of the wisdom of the Greeks. From them, she admires above all the invention of cosmopolitanism, most associated with the Athenian cynic, Diogenes. Her most celebrated and debated essay, Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism, held that public education worldwide should actively encourage "allegiance to the community of human beings in the entire world". It was published in a book, For Love of Country? (Beacon, 2002), with fifteen responding essays, polite but critical, including one by McGill's Charles Taylor. The contributors, with the single exception of Gertrude Himmelfarb, were all liberal or leftish academics, and were nearly all in respectful disagreement. They defended, if rather uneasily, a `reasonable patriotism`, to be distinguished – as they thought Nussbaum failed to do - from ethnocentricity and chauvinism. Clint Eastwood is by now a cultural phenomenon in his own right, of a very different kind from both Nussbaum and most of her polite critics. Clint Eastwood is by now a cultural phenomenon in his own right, of a very different kind from both Nussbaum and… Read More
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