Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bits and pieces

People like to point to Major League Soccer's attendance figures as 'proof' that the sport will never make it. Never mind that recent friendlies (exhibitions) by foreign teams in the US drew huge crowds, most in excess of 60,000. But even MLS' own numbers aren't bad, when you consider the relative youth of the league. This is MLS' 14th season and its average attendance is 15,559 per game. 1916 was the year of the 14th World Series. The highest average attendance of any single team in 1916 was 8,830 per game. It wasn't until the year of the 27th World Series that even a single Major League Baseball team average more than 15,559 per game. MLS average attendance is actually comparable to that of Brazilian soccer's top division and higher than Scotland's top flight (despite the distorting presence of two huge clubs) and only slightly less than the NBA and NHL, though their television figures remain far less than pro basketball's.

North Country Public Radio's blog had a piece on a proposal by Democrats to eliminate "socialized medicine" in America and the GOP's rejection of that plan.

The contention of the right-wing during BushCheney's war against civil liberties was that the government was competent enough to kidnap foreigners abroad and take away their freedom ad infinitum arbitrarily and without oversight (by randomly claiming they are 'suspected terrorists'), was competent enough to conquer and administer two foreign countries (obviously a piece of cake!) and competent enough to invade your privacy without law or oversight ("if you're not an evildoer, you have nothing to fear"), but not competent enough to ensure every American can get (and use!) decent health care without going bankrupt. Basically their contention is that our government is competent enough run social programs in foreign countries but not our own.

SARAH AND MAHMOUD muses the similarities between two theocratic, anti-elitist, right-wing populists: the "president" of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sarah Palin, who recently cut and ran as Alaska's chief executive.

Speaking of the woman who couldn't handle a full term as governor of Alaska but thinks herself qualified to be president of the United States, Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio has a good blog piece exploring then-Gov. Palin's love for big government and for leeching of taxpayers in other parts of the country. Alaska was the number one state in the country in terms of total Federal spending per capita... The vast majority of that money came from taxpayers in other states, from California to New York. Mann's writing a number of pieces, both blog and magazine, exploring the disconnect between conservatives' professed antipathy toward government and public spending and their actual actions when push comes to shove.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website has a profile of Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Youth from Nature Deficit Disorder. He was in the state as part of his "No Child Left Inside" campaign.

A segment on Radio Netherlands' Bridges With Africa program questions the real impact of fair trade on African farmers.

The public radio program On Point had a good show exploring the nature of kindness and why it's important.

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