Genes and 'Race'

"The mutation that deprives zebra fish of their stripes blocks the creation of a protein whose job is to move charged atoms across cell membranes, an obscure process that is crucial to the accumulation of melanin inside cells.

Humans of European descent, Cheng's team found, bear a slightly different mutation that hobbles the same protein with similar effect. The defect does not affect melanin deposition in other parts of the body, including the hair and eyes, whose tints are under the control of other genes.A few genes have previously been associated with human pigment disorders -- most notably those that, when mutated, lead to albinism, an extreme form of pigment loss. But the newly found glitch is the first found to play a role in the formation of "normal" white skin. The Penn State team calculates that the gene, known as slc24a5, is responsible for about one-third of the pigment loss that made black skin white. A few other as-yet-unidentified mutated genes apparently account for the rest."

It looks like our conceptions of 'race' are very much 'skin deep', as a single corrupted gene leads to the divergence from black skin to white.

Nor does this sound like it will provide racists with much in the way of ammunition. A defective gene for melanin production isn't exactly a rallying cry for racial supremacy.


Genes and Sex

You know how Billy Crystal said in 'When Harry Met Sally' that men and women can't be friends because the sex thing always gets in the way"?

It turns out that the differences between men and women at a genetic level go way, way, way back in our genetic heritage.

One of the more interesting things being researched is how and why genetic diseases are carried onwards. Often the disease seems to offer some protection or other benefit outside of the damage it brings (see: how sickle cell anemia offers protection against Malaria).

Schizophrenia may well turn out to be an example. But what possible reproductive benefit could Schizophrenia bring? It may be as simple as sexiness.

And speaking of sexy, turns out that the male brain really does respond differently to a pretty face.

Tell me something I didn't know!

Cthullu Carols!

Just in time for the holiday season!

Great Old Ones Are Coming to Town

You'd better watch out; you better go hide.
And Elder Sign's needed for this Yuletide
Great Old Ones are comin to town, and shaking it twice.
They're going to hit you, naughty or nice.
Great Old Ones are coming to town.
They're bringing ugly Shuggoths,
And horrid Deep Ones too,
Shub Niggurath is waking up
And so is Cthulhu
So you better watch out, you'd better go 'way,
Before the big guy comes up from R'lyeh.
Great Old Ones are coming to town.


What is your Cyborg designation?

Damn I wish I had this back in the day of 'Champions'!!


5 Questions!

I lifted these from my 2nd favourite podcast, 'Skepticality' (ABC's 'Background Briefing' is my runaway favourite). My own answers are in the comments section.

1. What is your favourite Urban Legend or myth?

2. Does Daylight Savings Time actually save anything?

3. What is the worst revisionist history?

4. If you could know the true truth about any one thing, what would it be?

5. What is the most important thing to teach our children?


How coffee affects your memory

"Caffeine is known to influence adenosine receptors which are found throughout the brain on nerve cells and blood vessels. It is thought that the drug inhibits these receptors and that this excites the nerve cells in the brain. “This may be the mechanism involved,” suggests Koppelstätter"


Happy Holidays!

Project Pterosaur!

Much hilarity to be found at this link!

This ministry is raising money, so they can go to Africa and catch living Pterosaurs!

Now even a relatively slow witted ten year old might point out that 'Dionsaurs are all dead', and that looking for them in Africa would be, well, stupid.

No sireee, to to these people!! Living Pterosaurs would be PROOF that man and dinosaurs lived at the same time - and thus proof that evolution is just propaganda. Or at least, that is how their logic works.

I heartily reccomend that you check out the 'Apatosaur' links - it seems they had a previous expedition and brought back scientific proof that the Apatosaur still roams the earth.

All of this hilarity is brought to us by Dr. Richard Paley, a teacher of Divinity and Theobiology at Fellowship College.

Lastly, how can you not love the proposed aviary - complete with day glow crucifix at the top! Sweet.


Sesquipidalian Obscurantism

If you can't beat them with brilliance, baffle them with a hyperstream of post-linguistic constructs sententially arranged so as to metaphorically and allegorically mimic the gastrointestinal effluvia of a bovine quadraped.

And you can quote me on that one.


Hitchens vs Falwell Stooge on Fox : The War on Christmas!

The link is in the title above (via Crooks and Lias) It really has to be read to be believed.

And I still don't believe it.

At the end of it all, is the absolute money shot:

"HITCHENS: This guy from Lynchburg (Falwell) defines progress as teaching junk science to our children, and leaving us the mockery of the world by pretending that we did not evolve.


SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.

We are not going to debate intelligent—we are not going to debate intelligent design right here, but, Christopher...

HITCHENS: That's progress to him. And he's a front man—and he's a front man—and he's a front man—and he's a front man for the fat-faced reverend...

SCARBOROUGH: OK, Christopher. Hold on.


STAVER: Joe, I think Christopher is really...

HITCHENS: ... who applauded the destruction of the World Trade Center.

SCARBOROUGH: OK. OK. You know what? You know what?

HITCHENS: Front man Falwell.

SCARBOROUGH: We—this, unfortunately, is—is now moving into intelligent design.

HITCHENS: Falwell said the World Trade Center was brought down by God.

SCARBOROUGH: I want to thank you for being with us, Christopher.

STAVER: Joe, I think Christopher has actually made my point.


SCARBOROUGH: Mat, thank you.

Guys, that's going to have—that's going to have to be it tonight.

Thank both of you for being with us.

HITCHENS: Jerry Falwell...


SCARBOROUGH: Hopefully, we can have this discussion in the future, and we will actually be able to have people on that speak like adults and allow each person to talk one at a time.

I mean, after all, friends, isn't that how adults talk? I don't understand it. I mean, if you have got the facts on your side, then why don't you talk, allow the other person to speak, and be courteous? Why does it have to be this way?

And why is it that a discussion on faith, on something that is very, very important to tens of millions of Americans out there, why does it always seem to degenerate like this? We can talk about—I mean, we ought to be able to talk about this like adults, instead of having this rudeness, which, I got to tell you, I mean, my mom didn't raise me that way. My dad didn't raise me that way.

I can't understand people who behave that way. But I am very sorry it happened tonight. And it doesn't usually happen in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

When I first started this show, it happened once in a while. I didn't control things as well as I should have. And I apologize to you for that. But it's just not going to happen on my show tonight. It's not going to happen in the future. And I'm sorry for what you just saw.

Coming up next, her crimes are going to make your blood run cold, and now she is out of jail. And could she be coming to America? Well, if she wants to, she can. A judge's stunning legal loophole that sparks outrage, tonight, we will tell you about it. "

AR: People were SHOUTING on the FOX Network?!?!? Not allowing each other TIME TO TALK?! Beyond hilarious. How he looks at himself in the morning after that cap speech, and doesn't think he deserves an Oscar, I don't know.

Hitch is his usual surly self, but I mean c'mon, you have an Iraq war Liberal Hawk with a propensity for drunken rants on the show and you engage him in a dialogue on the war on...X-Mas?

I suspect Hitch only agreed so that he could throw the live hand grenades.

Family Cthullu


Blizzard hits Vancouver

Day 2 - Vancouver Blizzard 2005 - Revenge of the Commuters

Chilled Vancouver commuters faced their second day of winter hell today, as an additional ¼ centimeter of the peculiar white stuff fell, bringing the lower mainland to its knees and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the marijuana crops. Scientists suspect that the substance is some form of frozen water particles and experts from Saskatchewan are being flown in. With temperatures dipping to the almost but not quite near zero mark, Vancouverites were warned to double insulate their lattes before venturing out.

Vancouver police recommended that people stay inside except for emergencies, such as running out of espresso or biscotti to see them through Vancouver's most terrible storm to date.

The local Canadian Tire reported that they had completely sold out of fur-lined sandals.

Drivers were cautioned to put their convertible tops up, and several have been shocked to learn that their SUV's actually have four wheel drive, although most have no idea how to use it.
Weary commuters faced soggy sushi, and the threat of frozen breast implants. Although Dr. John Blatherwick, of the Coastal Health Authority reassured everyone that most breast implants were perfectly safe to 25 below, down-filled bras are flying off the shelves at Mountain Equipment Co-op. "The government has to do something," snarled an angry Trevor Warburton. "I didn't pay $540,000 for my one bedroom condo so I could sit around and be treated like someone from Toronto."

AR: I don't know who composed this parody, but the fact is it is right on target. We had a dusting of snow the last two days and the reaction from residents here was akin to a 'Katrina' level disaster. Geez. Calgary would get a worse dump in APRIL!

But this is Lotusland.


Somewhere Denis Leary is on a Suicide Watch - Joe Thornton has been traded

---> SJ: Joe Thornton-C

---> Bos: Brad Stuart-D, Marco Sturm-L, Wayne Primeau-C

My verdict: Ridiculous.

29 NHL Gms heard that news and exclaimed one giant 'WTF?' - it is as lopsided a deal as I can remember, and the fact is that it is not about money (the Bruins only save a couple mill), it's about the Sharks landing one of the three most unstoppable offensive forces the world of hockey possesses. He has the full tool-box; 6"4 225lb bulldozer frame, above average speed, wingspan, hockey sense, vision, a rocket slap-shot, elite passing and playmaking skills, intimidating figher (though memorably had his clock cleaned in a tilt with the-even-bigger Lindros), he can log in-human amounts of ice-time, he is defensively responsible, he crushes people on the bodycheck, he plays hurt, he's fearless, and from all accounts - a respectful, responsible person, employee and captain. At the international level, Thornton is already a proven winner. At 26 Thornton is one of the stamped in iron choices for Team Canada's Olympic entry.

Brad Stuart, as good as he is, is still just an average NHL defenseman. He's a classic 'tweener', caught in a neverworld between defensive ace and offensive force. He may still blossom into a full blown #1 d-man, but at 26, he has yet to make an international team since jr., never been an all-star, and for that matter, never warranted consideration as one. He's been good, but it's hardly fair value for Thornton.

Marco Sturm is Martin Rucinksy subtracting 10 years. BFD. Yeah, he'll score 30 goals. Maybe. In a league where top end players will net 50 or more, the fact he might be a 2nd line sill winger isn't encouraging.

Wayne Primeau. Marginal NHL talent, and full blown bust as a #1 pick. I believe he may now be a 20 goal scorer. For his entire career.

To sum up;

Boston gets; a #3-4 defenseman, a 2nd line winger, and a 4th line checking centre.

San Jose gets; monstrous, physical, power pivot, perrenial all-star, and probable hall of famer, #1 centre.

In short its a brutal trade. Horrific.

It's Cam Neely and Glen Wesley for Barry Pederson.

It's a franchise apocalypse.

So far the commentary at ESPN has run towards a 'blame the player' attitude;

Burnside :

"Joe, you remember those playoffs, when the Bruins couldn't hold onto series leads of 2-0 and 3-1 against a woefully undermanned Montreal team? You remember that's the series when you managed to record zero points? That's the same series when it was suggested in the local press that maybe you didn't deserve to wear the captain's "C" anymore.

Sure you remember."

and Melrose:

"The Bruins thought Thornton hasn't done what great players do -- what a Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito or Ray Bourque have done -- which is lead their teams in tough situations, lead their teams to a Cup. Thornton hasn't taken the Bruins past the second round of the postseason since the team drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in 1997. The past three seasons, the B's have been ousted in the first round.

This trade would not have happened if Thornton lived up to expectations."

AR: I say 'Bullshit'. The B's were ousted in the first round for a very simple reason - other than Thornton, the teams were not very good. The last time we saw Joe in the playoffs he was struggling with a rib and back injury, but played through it anyway. He showed heart and guts in abundance, but because he was at something like 30% and didn't score, he's the reason they don't advance according to the il-logic above.

It seems the ESPN writers are no better than Bruins mgt at assessing Joe's game.

While I'm at the incompetence of the B's braintrust - and I use that word ironically - as well as the craven sphincter licking of the ESPN press - and I use that word ironically as well, why hasn't anyone mentioned the obvious?

Patrick Marleau should have been a minimum as far as players coming back in the deal. Minimum. Patrick Marleau + Stuart is a good start. Patrick Marleau + Stuart + Sturm is almost fair, but would still leave the deal tilted in SJ's favour (because you win a trade by getting the best player - period). And why wasn't Calgary contacted about Thornton? Sutter would at least THINK about Iginla, but he would almost certainly cough up Regehr and stuff. An Iginla-Thornton line? Beyond Evil. Sutter would have found a way to pay more than SJ. Philly would have found a way to make Primeau retire, and free the salary room up - and Boston would have been able to get a Pitkanen + Handzus offer for sure. In fact, I submit that even Columbus would have at least considered Nash for Thornton, and that Boston would have been getting at least something close to value for him.

Nope. They called up Doug Wilson the first guy they had on speed dial for a Western conference team and then bent over.

And when the Boston fans squeal about losing Thornton for a bag of pucks, ESPN gets them to direct their rage at the player.

Obviously, Bruin fans deserve better mgt.

And we all deserve better reporting than what is available at ESPN.


From "Fanatical Apathy"

STAN: Okay. Putting the reproductive stuff so close to the waste systems is going to cause a lot of infections, see? And look at this thing, this “appendix’ - you just left that in there from your horses and whatnot and it’s not even going to do anything except occasionally explode and kill its owner, right? And I hate to harp on the upright thing, but couldn’t you have reimagined these “feet” to be a little more durable, or do you actually want their arches to collapse and the whole thing to hurt? And this whole genetic system opens the door for spontaneous and/or hereditary mutations that can cause devastating diseases and defects that can be passed down and physically or mentally cripple some of their offspring right outa the gate.


STAN: I guess what I’m saying is that with you being all-powerful and all-knowing, why would you use 98% of your chimp design and cut corners on your most important creation?

GOD: Maybe… I just work in mysterious ways. Did you ever think of that, Mr. Smartypants?


FUNHL News and Notes

First up, the new rules and how it has affected hockey this year

Old Rule: Sasquatch sized goalie pads, ‘webbing’ under the pits, massive blockers, catching gloves the size of back-hoe scoops.

New Rule: Anyone else noticed that goalies are getting beat through the 5-hole now? How about the goals scored close to the goalie? In Jagr’s first game of the season he scored twice on the powerplay from the top of the circle with rocket wrist shots – both shots beat the goalie between the armpit and body (and left no doubt in my mind that he picked that space on the goalie to shoot at) – both shots would have been gobbled up in the goalies oversized jersey in the past.

Verdict: Forcing the goalies to wear human sized pads has been a long time coming.

Old Rule: Take the man on the back check, and tie him up. Leaving your man uncovered and able to accept a pass or take a shot is worse than sin (Example A: Ken Hitchcock’s teams).

New Rule: Actually, it’s just the enforcement of the rules as they already exist – namely you cannot impede the progress of a player away from the puck.

Verdict: Revolutionary. Players away from the play can build up speed and race into the offensive zone without having to drag that 220lb defender who has a stick between their legs with them. Gone is the ‘tight checking’ of the past. Gone is the ability to slow down forwards on the rush. Gone is the responsibility for ‘tying up’ a player. The result has been dramatic. Defensive defenders are now lost in their own zone as they struggle to match the speed of players they are no longer allowed to hook, interfere with, or otherwise ‘grind’ down. Goal scoring off the rush has gone way up. Wingers are now hitting a trailer in full flight (the fact a trailer is entering the offensive zone is also notable – previously they were being coached to hang back and cover the neutral zone). Goaltenders are getting shelled. Ken Hitchcock now pines for the days when coaching made a team great by instilling a defensive responsibility in all players to find and neutralize their man – now his team has to play hockey without him, and he doesn’t like it. Good.

Old Rule: Nets moved forward from the boards.

New Rule: Nets moved back to where they belong.

Verdict: I was surprised at how dramatic a change this is. Not for the reason everyone expected either. The biggest difference is not that playmakers can return to setting up behind the net (though I note that they have, see: Turgeon-C Col), no, the biggest difference is how the longer offensive zone spreads out the defenders – creating more point shots, and greater puck movement between the points and the half boards. Goals scored from long distance, especially on the powerplay, are the real result. Al MacInnis would be proud.

Old Rule: The front of the net is ‘No-Man’s Land’, a place of horror and despair you enter at your own peril. Craig Simpson, Joe Nieuwendyk, and John LeClair have all suffered from horrible back injuries by trying to claim that space as their own in the old NHL, and being fed lumber to the spine for their troubles.

New Rule: Simple, it’s called cross-checking, and the refs are calling it. Chris Pronger is probably the worst victim in all this, as he made his rep as a crease clearer – one of those guys who spots a forward camped out in the low slot or crease, and steps up to deliver abuse the viciousness of which could have him tossed in jail – but was nevertheless legal. Now, he puts the stick on a player and goes straight to the box. Hoo-Ra!

Verdict: If you can’t destroy a player for trying to get into scoring position, more players will get into scoring position. Even Paul Kariya was seen recently visiting the slot and crease area – places he’s been loathe to go since he was bludgeoned unconscious a few years back for daring to enter that space.

The Shootout

Old rule: 5 minutes of OT played as 4-0n-4 with the winner getting an extra point.

New Rule: After OT is played three skaters per team take turns trying to score mano-a-mano with the goalie on penalty shots.

Verdict: To my surprise, I love it. I am one of those conservatives who felt that shoot outs were 'not hockey', and frankly was sceptical about how it would play out. Mea Culpa - I was wrong. Watching the prime talent of the NHL getting the opportunity to attempt unimpeded high-light reel moves for the purpose of determing the game has been little short of AWESOME.


Some random notes:

Has a team ever been ravaged by injuries so early in the season as the Edge has been this year?They not only had trouble fielding an active roster, they had trouble fielding 3 healthy players at any position! In this light the Nash trade to the Great Whites is completely understandable (5 healthy guys including Lemieux for 5 losers and Nash), but so long as the Edge hold on to Elias as their mid-season hope for a scoring burst it won't be enough.

The next FP trade not involving the Shadowmen, will centre around Chris Pronger. Just saying.

Is their any other way to look at the Fedorov trade to Columbus then as a 'salary dump'? Says here that Doug Maclean is finished - which is too bad. His team is going through something very similar to what the Edge are - massive continuous injuries to key players.

Speaking of Columbus, it would be interesting to compare the history of their 1st rnd draft pick choices to those of the Thrashers. At some point I will do up a lengthy comparison of who picked who when. The Denis vs. Lehtonen situation alone bears mentioning.

Say what you want, but I simply don't believe that at this stage of his career Vinny Prospal should lead the Bolts in scoring.

Says here that Kolzig will be a Red Wing before the playoffs.

Owen Nolan's legal situation bears watching - the Leafs could be on the hook for his full salary giving them serious cap problems. More interesting still is where he will end up. My money says San Jose (where Nolan keeps a home), but there is an outside chance Calgary can entice him to play through a frigid Ab. winter with the playoffs a realistic possibility.

Speaking of legal issues, the Russian league wants Ovechkin back. From my reading of their claim, they may have a point. AO signed a deal with Avangard Omsk that included a right to match any NHL offer he recieved, and apparently they have attempted to do just that. It smells like extortion, but it may just be a sincere attempt by the Russian Superleague to keep it's home grown talent a few years longer. This may also have implications for Evgeny Malkin.

I see Jarome Iginla woke from his offensive slumber. With him dominating defenseman down low, the carved from granite sniper still has a chance to rise back to the top of the scoring race.

Is there a bigger surprise than Eric Staal? Actually, there is - Cam Ward.

Don't be fooled by Nylander's stats - he is a single bodycheck away from missing the rest of the season. Ditto for Straka.

Why does Boston suck so hard? Anyone? Is it the D? Raycroft? What? I'm perplexed. On paper they have all the ingredients of a playoff team, but on the ice (except for Thornton) they have played like paper tigers.

Kovalchouk is out to prove that the Bossy comparisons are apt. Says here Kovie nets at least 60 this season. There simply isn't a defenseman in the league who can skate with him.

The Calder race has two obvious candidates (Crosby and Ovechkin) but several players have emerged as possible candidates should either of them falter;

1. Henrik Lundqvist - not convinced? If he backstops the Rangers into the playoffs - a team picked by many to be a candidate in the Phil Kessel sweepstakes - he belongs in the running, and could ride a dark horse all the way to the big prize.

2. Dion Phaneuf - he won't score a ppg, he won't even be the Flames top offensive blue-liner, but he may already be the teams best all-round defenseman, and he logs obscene minutes in all situations. He is the demonic body-checker as advertised, but his game is already as good as Barret Jackman's, and you should remember that BJ's was good enough to win the ROY award.

3. Steve Eminger - Lost in the blizzard of press that Ovechkin has been getting is that the teams #2 scorer is the rookie defenseman Eminger. He has no chance of winning with the higher profile Ovechkin around, but the silky smooth D-man may end up opening some eyes if he continues at his current pace.

4. Marek Svatos - Oh how linemates can make a difference for a rook. Playing with gifted puck distributors like Sakic and Turgeon has been a boon to the skill winger. He's currently at a ppg - whether he can stay there is another question. He's a long shot to get any recognition for his year, but he should continue to develop into an above average scoring winger.

5. Mike Richards - His first goal was a thing of absolute beauty - he hits the offensive zone wearing a defender, uses his body to shield the puck, drives the net and whips a backhand to the top shelf. He can check too.

6. Pavel Vorobiev - The stumpy winger is a lot like former Nordique Andrei Kovalenko - stocky, wide skating style and soft hands. On a team as lacking in natural ability as Chicago they will be motivated to play him for his offense as much as possible.

7. Jussi Jokinen - Slick, highly skilled but small framed, he has already won himself a spot on Modano's line. A future Saku Koviu?

8. Alexander Steen - He'll never score 50 goals. He won't ever be a top end playmaker. He is likely destined to be a 2nd-3rd winger who is defensively responsible. That all said, I am very impressed with his mature NHL game. He lacks the sexy upside of the guys ahead of him, but the Leafs finally have a rookie worth paying attention to.

9. Ryan Whitney - with 9 points in 11 games, the fast skating defenseman is in the same boat as Eminger - he's a highly skilled offensive rearguard playing on a team that has already annointed its rookie of the year candidate. He currently leads all rooks in ice-time, and it is only a matter of when that he becomes an All-Star.

10 (tie). Ryan Getzlaf - the reason that Fedorov was expendable is that this rugged centre/winger has already shown he has the mustard to play in the NHL. Gradually seizing his role of powerforward, he has 'Rick Tocchet' stamped all over him.

10 (tie). Petr Prucha - out of nowhere this highly skilled waterbug of a winger shows up to kickstart the Rangers offense. He may fade as the physical game gets more intense, but right now it looks like NYR GM Sather has plucked another gem from the ether.

Ratzinger shows his true colours

"A new Vatican document excludes from the priesthood most gay men, with few exceptions, banning in strong and specific language candidates "who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture.' "


This is but the latest in Ratzinger's attempts to return the papacy to it's medieval origins. First strike back at the atheist intellectuals by getting Cardinal Schonborn to endorse 'Intelligent Design' and then flip-flop on science and the evidence of evolution. Then on to the 'inherently disordered' gay men who might sully the reputation of the Vatican by becoming priests.

Pathetic. Not that I expect much from a church that still believes in; harbouring pedophiles, demonic possession, transubstantiation and the virginity of Mary. Not unlike the current US government, the Vatican is both corrupt to the core and intellectually bankrupt.

Quote of the Day

"When the avalanche comes, the pebbles do not get to vote"

- Kosh


Origin of the French riots?

Reason provided this thoughtful article on how the French riots can be illuminated by an examination of the classic Kubric film 'A Clockwork Orange'.

I can't say as I agree or disagree with their analysis, for me the interesting feature was the sci-fi reference - why? Because A Clockwork Orange is but one of many 'dystopian' fictions that have political themes relevant to today.

Indeed, I have long felt that the most important modern literature comes from the field of 'sci-fi' or speculative fiction, or whatever you want to call it, with other more ambitious literary genres (i.e. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'magical realism') being all but incoherent by comparison.

Here are some other classic texts/films that have more than their fair share of political content, and with each I give a brief outline of how the text might fit with predicting reality;

Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut jr.

Billy Pilgrim comes unstuck in time. A philosophy manual masquerading as an anti-war screed in sci-fi clothing, it is a total demolition of Cartesian 'free-will', and a defense of principled atheism.

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut jr.

I doubt I've ever read a more cogent attack on state violence or as devestating a crtique of modernity as absurdity. Still resonates.

1984 - George Orwell

So influential it has become iconic, not just for its imagery (see Big Brother Cheney below) but also for its insight into how power corrupts language; i.e. 'The Clean Air Act', 'The Patriot Act', etc.

"We have always been at war with Eurasia"

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Attwood

Still my favourite of her works, it is a harrowing take on the theocratic impulses of the US. In it's own way, it hits even closer to the truth of today than 1984 in that she correctly foresaw the puritanical elements that would fuel the GOP of today.



Hockey fans you WANT to spill beer on...

Hat tip to Jeff D. for the pic.


God is perfect Evil

One of the traditional arguments against a Christian conception of God is the 'problem of Evil'.

Simply put, 'If God is Love (omnibenevolent) than how do you explain all the suffering in the world?'

One answer (now out of fashion) is to anthromorphize both a loving God and an evil counterpart in Satan, and ditch responsibility for the bad stuff onto Ole Scratch.

The more serious responses very across wider terrain, but can (albeit facetiously) be found satirized in the header link.

Picture of the Day

Nebulae in the Cygnus constellation

More Drury on Strauss

This is a text version of a talk Drury had on Strauss with Michael Enright of the CBC. It's worth reading in it's entirety.

Money quote:

"ME: Do you, in your studies, have you seen any impact of any evidence of Straussian influence in the political landscape of Canada?

SD: Only insofar as Strauss has influenced the Neo-Conservatives. Neo-Conservatism is a rising phenomena certainly Neo-Conservatism is the inspiration behind the Reform & Alliance Party. Now it is a component, but not the entire part, of what is now the Conservative Party in Canada. It’s an American import, Neo-Conservatism. We like to Canadianize it and call it the Calgary School, but it’s really the same old thing. Some of the Straussians in Canada, and there are a lot of Straussians in Canada, it’s a big phenomena in Canada. Whenever I travel in the States and give lectures, people always ask me how it is that a Canadian came to write the only two books that are critical of analysis of Leo Strauss. The answer is simple—Alan Bloom, who was Strauss’ most famous disciple, who wrote The Closing of the American Mind, spent most of his academic career at the University of Toronto which produces 90% of the Ph.D.’s in Canada. As a result, there are Straussians in every University in Canada."

At the U of C in my time you couldn't swing a dead hamster without clubbing a Straussian.

By my modest suspicion there are at least 5 and those are just the profs I had a reasonable suspicion of (cuz afterall, it's not like they wear signs or labels that indicate it).

The evil of Leo Strauss

Ok, I have in the past ranted about the 'Straussians' and their influence on American political thought. Rarely have I ever been able to coherently explain my fervent dislike for this cabal of intellectuals and their program.

Fortunately, we have Shadia Drury.

Now, to be fair, I was student of Drury's at U of C, and to this day I still referrence her course material more often than those of any other professor.

Drury currently plys her trade at the U of Regina.

The following is an interview she gave where she discusses the philosophical underpinnings of the Straussian movement.

Just so you kow;

Paul Wolfowitz
Irving Kristol
Richard Perle
Irving 'Scooter' Libby

and a host of others are died in the wool Straussians (my ultimate loathing is currently for William Kristol - Irving's son, and the chief apologist for the Cheney White House).

If you follow politics, especially in the US, it is vital to understand where the Straussians are coming from.

The Staggeringly Impossible Results from Ohio 2005

Yeah I know it verges on conspiracy theory looney land, but I still think that the polls were right, and that Bush actually lost Ohio (and don't get me started on Florida).

The latest results of polling vs. actual results in the recent ballot initiatives suggests that Ohio may well be under the thumb of nefarious forces.

Check out the 'Bradblog' article in the link, and then tell me I'm being paranoid.

Republicans hate Women

This time they are meddling with the FDA to prevent over the counter approval for 'Plan B' a contraceptive that is best taken immediately after (within 72 hours) of sex.

It speaks to a deep resentment of women's biological authority that the GOP would mess with contraception in this way. Sex it seems, is evil and wrong, and women who have sex shouldn't be allowed to avoid the pregnancy that could result.

To provide this contraceptive is in the minds of the GOP, a liscence for women to have sex without consequences - and Pat Robertson knows we can't have that.

I can understand the opposition to RU486, which acts to disrupt a pregnancy in it's earliest stages, on the grounds that is an 'abortafacient', which isn't to say I agree with them, just that they are consistent in their thinking.

But Plan B is not an abortafacient, and the GOP opposition is almost the equivalent of banning condoms.

Which is probably next on their list after they finish packing the supreme court.


Stupid Demon Tricks

My Spidey Sense is tingling!

From the useless information department, I bring you, Spider Sex!

Ever wondered how our arachnid friends copulate? C'mon, I know you do!

Money quote:

"Going courting for a male takes a little preparation. Those palps (hollow feelers near the male spiders mouth) are nowhere near his reproductive tract, so what he has to do is spin a tiny scrap of web and ejaculate a bit of semen onto it; he then dips his palps into it and fills a hollow channel in them. That's right, the prelude to spider mating is for the male to charge his face up with sperm. This can actually take quite a while, a half hour to several hours, so it's an important part of the process.

Another important and dangerous step is flagging down a willing female. Spiders often have elaborate courtship rituals, with fancy dancing, wig-wagging palps, and fragrant pheromones, all working to convince the female, who is a ferocious predator, that the male is friendly and conspecific and wouldn't she like a little wink-wink-nudge-nudge instead of or before eating him? I can sympathize. I remember when I first asked my wife-to-be out on a date in high school, and I was as nervous as if there were a worry that she might sink her fangs into my skull, inject my cranium with digestive enzymes, and slurp my brains out like a tasty oatmeal milkshake. With spiders, they might really do that."

AR: I'll never be able to think about filling my palps and lunging for the epigyne in quite the same way after reading this article. Seriously though, here is an example of what amounts to natural reproduction through oral sex.

Where are the fundamentalists on this? Surely this is an outrage! Oh, wait, perhaps they were designed this way. Ha!


Worst Case Scenarios

Something to give you a chill as you read.

John Ralston Saul

As interviewed in Mother Jones on the failures of 'Globalization'.


Check your Political Compass

I came out as; -5.25, -5.40
Smack dab in the middle of left wing libertarian.

The GF came out; -4.00, -7.28

More libertarian, less left wing.

Our biggest debates occured over the death penalty (she's in favour for extreme crimes, I object to it as being fundamentally barbaric), and to a degree over protectionism. In my own case, I favour restricting competition in culture industries, like our Can-con regulations, so I had to take the dive on some of the free market questions.

Take the test, it's much more interesting than a simple 'left-right' manichean dualism.


The GOP's cynical abuse of religion knows no bounds

The photo was taken at an American church where a sermon was used as part of a recruitment drive for the armed forces.

Yes, that really is Jesus superimposed on Ole Glory.

This alone is enough to make my stomache turn, and to ache for a nation that once embraced 'the separation of church and state' - but it get's worse.

Bartholomew's Notes on Religion points out that the IRS is going after an Episcopalian church and threatening their tax emempt status for suggesting that Jesus could have voted for either Kerry or Bush.

Apparently, suggesting that parishoners have an open mind about politics is an unconsionable conlfation of the public sphere with religion

What the picture above suggests is going on in the right wing churches that are not being investigated by the IRS isn't commented on.

The truth behind Sea Serpents

The mythical beast you see before you is NOT a sea serpent.

It's your run-of-the-mill horny whale.

Cheerleader Sex Crimes

The two ladies pictured here are both Carolina Panther Cheerleaders.

Last week the two women were busted for causing a disturbance with a third woman. It seems our two cheerleaders were in a local bar when they were busted by this prudish third party with a tiny bladder for the overly long amount of time they spent having sex in the ladies washroom.

Fortunately, Hustler has arrived to save the day, offering the two cheerleaders a full spread in the magazine. Ironically, the fact the two have shown such litttle interest in men, perversely makes them all that more interesting to men.

I for one, long for the day when lesbian cheerleaders are no longer stygmatized by their forbidden love, and when tiny bladdered prudes are the ones arrrested for making a disturbance.

Errors in Star Trek? NEVER!

This was a fun read, as the intrepid WinAce sets out to demonstrate that there is no such thing as an internal inconsistency in Star Trek.

On a sad note, the author who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis passed away this week.

He was all of 20 years old.

"Q takes Picard, Troi, Data and Yar to stand trial for the crimes of humanity. Why then, is Data, an android, included in the group? It makes some sense that Troi be included, being half human, but Data has no human DNA. He has no DNA, period!"

Data is an offshoot of humanity, what could be considered an artificial human. By that logic, would in-vitro fertilized humans also be unaccountable for the crimes of their forefathers??
Human society has always recognized this not to be the case, as any of a number of competing creation myths can show you. What's next - he'll be saying that Adam and Eve eating a magical fruit isn't grounds enough to condemn all their descendants to a fiery death?

RIP Allan.

Venus Express Launched

More of what is wrong with Kansas

Not only have they successfully injected the religious ID theory into their science classes, they have also neutered the definition of science itself;

"In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena."

Kansas is now officially dead to the enlightenment, as this Orwellian language game has gutted all reason from their school system. It is the elevation of ignorance to an art form.

Of course Kansas votes Republican.

Do I blame religion? Yes I do. Do I blame Christians? Well, it wasn't the Buddhist lobby that got this passed.

Positive trends

Republican Pennsylvania voted for Democrats to replace the Dover PA. schoolboard.

A sweep for the Democrats (including one of the parents who launched the anti-ID lawsuit) as they take control of the schoolboard with the promise to move ID from science classes and into an elective comparative religion course (where it really belongs).

In Maine and Virginia Democrats held both of the contested governorships.

Even better, in Maine the vote on anti-discrimination legislation easily defeated the attempts by the Christian right to have it thrown out.

Of course, in Texas the ban on gay marriage was passed - but Texas voters are always retarded compared to everywhere else (where else do they execute mentally sub-normal teenagers?, and in Kansas the schoolboard voted 6-4 to gut the science standards for textbooks to include ID, so you can't win 'em all.

That said, Canadian kids should continue to blow away the academically challenged students that emerge from the intellectual hellscape that is Kansas.


Arthur Silber vs. The Thomas Moore Law Centre

This was freaking EXCELLENT

Money quote:

From the TMLC -

At issue in the Dover lawsuit, brought by 11 parents in Federal District Court, is whether intelligent design is really religion dressed up as science, and whether teaching it in a public school violates the constitutional separation of church and state.The More center's lawyers put scientists on the witness stand who argued that intelligent design - the idea that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that a higher intelligence designed them - is a credible scientific theory and not religion because it never identifies God as the designer. Still religion is at the heart of the case's appeal for the center, say its lawyers and the chairman of its board. The chairman, Bowie Kuhn, the former baseball commissioner, said the board agreed that the center should take on an intelligent design case because while it is not necessarily based on religion "it is being opposed because people think it is religious." And that was enough for a group whose mission, as explained on its Web site, is "to protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square."

Arthur Silber replies with phasers set to KILL:

Let me see if I have this straight. ID is not religious in nature as long as God is never identified as the designer -- even though God (or an equivalent supernatural being or force of some kind) necessarily is. And even though ID is not religion masquerading as science -- even though it is -- religion is still "at the heart of the case's appeal for the center." Not because ID actually is based on religion, but because "it is being opposed because people think it is religious." Even though it isn't. So the center isn't pursuing the case in the name of religion, but it is. Not because it actually is about religion, but because other people think it's about religion. But it isn't.

Thankfully, before our minds completely melt trying to untangle this, we are left with the simplest basis of all on which to reject ID in its entirety, along with its advocates. That basis also possesses the invaluable virtue of being indisputably true: it's utterly unintelligible gibberish.

AR: Exactly.

The Venture Bros.!

If you've ever watched 'Johnny Quest', 'Scooby-Doo' (before Scrappy arrived to suck the life out of it), or read the 'Hardy Boys', you MUST check out 'the Venture Brothers'!

Go Team Venture!

Not as bad for you as booze!

Denver recently made possession of small amounts of pot legal.

Their reasoning was simple - it's not as bad for you as alcohol.

With something that direct and libertarian in it's conception, we may be seeing the thin edge of the wedge of legalization taking hold in the US.

Say What? II

Cardinal Schonborg released a work defending the 'ID' theory that (of course) had me climbing the walls in rage at the feeble mindedness of the Catholic church.

Now we have Cardinal Poupard reversing that stance, embracing science as a friend of religion, and touting evolution as a 'fact'.

I am sure to have further thoughts on this when my head stops spinning....

Say What?

William F. Buckley, one of the godfathers of the conservative intelligentsia, and former host of the great debate program (where have all the great debate programs gone?) 'Firing Line' makes the salient point that what the Bush Co. flunkies in the VP's office did to Valerie Plame was flat out wrong.

Money quote:

"The importance of the law against revealing the true professional identity of an agent is advertised by the draconian punishment, under the federal code, for violating it. In the swirl of the Libby affair, one loses sight of the real offense, and it becomes almost inapprehensible what it is that Cheney/Libby/Rove got themselves into. But the sacredness of the law against betraying a clandestine soldier of the republic cannot be slighted."

It's one thing for lefties to bleat about how serious it is to out an agent in time of war, it's quite another to hear it coming from someone genetically Republican.


Picture of the Day - the First Light

Photo and explanation from 'Bad Astronomy'

"In any deep image of the sky, the bright objects are of course the easiest to notice. Usually, the astronomers display the contrast in an image such that the bright things are easy to see, and anything faint is set to black. But in this case, the astronomers wanted to see the extremely faint objects. To do this, they masked out the bright objects and then upped the contrast… way up.
What pops out of the image is displayed in the bottom part of the image. The masked foreground objects are obvious enough. But what’s that fuzzy, glowing material weaving its way in the background?

According to the astronomers who took the image, most if not all of that diffuse glow comes from the very first stars ever born in the Universe."

The Sands-Yoo Debate on US use of Torture

The blog provides both an excellent precis of the debate and links to the entire debate as an audio download.

It's definitely worth a listen.


The Last Titan

the First Light

Astronomers may have detected the first light of the universe.

This may trouble some biblical literalists, since the first photons don't appear till well after the big bang, but in my books this is easily chalked up as;

'Science is WAY COOL'

The next evolution of marriage...

In Utah (it's always Utah) a judge was recently charged with having three wives.

Normally I'd go after the guy for being a Republican hypocrite, but in this case, I won't.

Now that we have stepped into the modern era by making gay marriages in Canada legal, Polygamy strikes me as the next obvious evolution of marriage (along with contractual limits i.e. 'This marriage is effective for ___ years, with the option for renewal given all parties agree to be set for ____", but I digress).

I don't mean to minimize the damage done by the polygamy practiced in Utah where the 'wives' are usually related to one another (ewww!), and where the brides face incredible pressure at far too young an age to be reasonably said to have given adult consent.

Both of those situations strike me is grounds to oppose the kind of polygamy as it is actually practiced in Utah.

Philosophically though, I'm not sure what the panic is over. If three (or more?) adult people (any arrangement of the sexes works for me) want to live, procreate, keep house together and refer to each other as married - I'm not sure I see what the problem is.

Perhaps Rich at the Lost Boys Survey has some thoughts....


Unrestrained Hilarity of the Day!

Hat tip to Ma-at who introduced me to the link!

EternalFootman: 25g of wafers and 20mL of cheap wine undergo transubstantiation and become the flesh and blood of Jesus. How many Joules of heat are released by the transformation?

LittleBunny32: if you assume that the material properties of GOD possess an infinite enthalpy, and obviously that of mortal materials are finite, then the transubstantiation process requires an infinite amount of energy and will freeze the entire universe. Alternately, if we assume they can be transmuted from the infinite creative capabilities (and energy) of GOD, then by combusting them we can receive an infinite amount of free energy and the catholic church is holding out on us


I freaking love this time of year.
It's the only time you can bury a corpse in your front yard and nobody comments.


That looks like a mosquito
I hate mosquitos
they're like the Jehovah's Witnesses of nature

And my favourite (from the 'Top 50 Favourites' section)

True story, I was happy. My girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year, and so we decided to get married.
My parents helped us in every way, my friends encouraged me, and my girlfriend? She was a dream!
There was only one thing bothering me, very much indeed, and that one thing was her younger sister.
My prospective sister-in-law was twenty years of age, wore tight mini skirts and low cut blouses. She would regularly bend down when near me and I got many a pleasant view of her underwear.
It had to be deliberate. She never did it when she was near anyone else. One day little sister called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived.
She whispered to me that soon I was to be married, and she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome and didn't really want to overcome.
She told me that she wanted to make love to me just once before I got married and committed my life to her sister.
I was in total shock and couldn't say a word.
She said, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want to go ahead with it just come up and get me."
I was stunned. I was frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs. When she reached the top she pulled down her panties and threw them down the stairs at me.
I stood there for a moment, then turned and went straight to the front door.
I opened the door and stepped out of the house. I walked straight towards my car.
My future father-in-law was standing outside.
With tears in his eyes he hugged me and said, "We are very happy that you have passed our little test.
We couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family.

The moral of this story is: "Always keep your condoms in your car"

Dembski vs. Kurzweil

Dembski (as you may know from reading previous posts here) is one of the wing-nuts working at the Discovery Institute (the Intelligent Design / 'Wedge' strategy wing-nuts), but in this article he takes issue with Kurzweil - a proponent of Artificial Intelligence, who has written about 'Spiritual Machines'.

Here's a quote from the always hilarious to read Dembski;

"How well have natural processes been able to account for intelligent agency? Cognitive scientists have achieved nothing like a full reduction. The French Enlightenment thinker Pierre Cabanis remarked: “Les nerfs—voilĂ  tout l’homme” (the nerves—that’s all there is to man). A full reduction of intelligent agency to natural causes would give a complete account of human behavior, intention, and emotion in terms of neural processes. Nothing like this has been achieved. No doubt, neural processes are correlated with behavior, intention, and emotion. But correlation is not causation."

Dembski isn't really going after Kurzweil till much later in his article (I wonder if Dembski counts this letter as a 'peer reviewed study'? snark), what he is really after is a take-down of philosophical materialism. Hence we get his strawman 'cognitive scientists have achieved nothing like full reduction'.

Well, no they haven't - cognitive neuroscience doesn't have to acheive 'full-reduction' to be succesful - it is a process of uncovering the natural processes, not the achievement of 'complete reduction' that is the hallmark of success. I doubt that 'full' or 'complete' reduction is even possible given the complexity of influences, the millions of neurons, and the infinitely complex ways they might be connected in a human brain.

For Dembski, every success of neuroscience is one more nail in the Cartesian coffin he has locked himself into. When he says 'correlation' not 'causation' it is because Dembski is wed to the notion that somehow, somewhere there exists a 'mind' - an intangible thing that 'directs' the agency of the person, something that is 'affected by the physica', but isn't 'natural processes'. So long as neuroscience continues its steady progress in explaining things without resorting to these invisible attributes (the mind, the soul, etc.) he will be against it.

In any case, the article is good for a chortle or two. But more interesting is the website that Kurtyzweil has setup.

Search for 'Transhuman', 'Cyborgs', or 'immortality'. Lots of good stuff.

Two new moons discovered around Pluto!

Astronomers ROCK! (hat tip to the Highlander for the link)

Theocrats to block anti-cancer drug because it could lead to teen sex

I'm all for respect in political discourse, but at what point do you throw up your hands and point out that these people are simply INSANE?

Money quote:

"Some people have raised the issue of whether this vaccine may be sending an overall message to teen-agers that, 'We expect you to be sexually active,' " said Reginald Finger, a doctor trained in public health who served as a medical analyst for Focus on the Family before being appointed to the ACIP in 2003.
"There are people who sense that it could cause people to feel like sexual behaviors are safer if they are vaccinated and may lead to more sexual behavior because they feel safe," said Finger.

This logic is so distorted that it boggles my mind. Treating HPV (the Human Pampilloma Virus) could lead to promiscuity - so therefore we shouldn't treat HPV? Even if there were a correlation between HPV treatments and more frequent sex, isn't the risk of CANCER more dangerous than teens getting it on safely?

Pharygula : his another take on this;

Money Quote:

"Here's a disease that kills about a third of the women who get it. It turns their reproductive tract into a nest of tumors that can spread and shut down the kidneys, metastasize to the lungs, the gut, everywhere, that sterilizes them and can cause horrible agony. The treatment involves radical hysterectomy, bilateral adnexectomy and lymphadenectomy, words I'd rather my family never even have to learn.

And it's preventable.

Yet these sick, evil people want to be able to hold this horrible disease as a threat to their daughters, their friends' daughters, their neighbors' daughters—they want to be able to say to their kids, "If you don't obey my rules, your womb will rot and dribble out your private parts, and you'll thrash in pain for a while before you die and go to hell." They like the idea of a disease that they can say is not prevented by condoms, so they can continue to preach abstinence with threats."

Andrew Sullivan also has a take on the Theocrats vs. HPV, but he goes further to inquire why it is that a microbicide gel has been developed to help women prevent HIV infection, but not gay men?


Happy Halloween!

Bat Skulls!

Bill Maher's new rules

New Rule: Since only 15% of Americans said they believe in evolution in a recent poll, America must change its name to the United States of Jesus Christ. And our motto, from E Pluribus Unum to "I'm With Stupid."

The good news for the nation: if we get any stupider about science, we'll forget how to cook crystal meth.

The Theocrats get their man

Alito is tabbed to be the next nominee for the Supreme Court by Bush.

How extreme is he?

"Abortion-rights advocates on the left are focusing on Alito's vote to uphold the legal requirement that an adult woman must notify her husband prior to getting an abortion."

Pretty much says it all right there.

His views on church-state seperation are equally 13th century.

So, what happens next? The senate Democrats will line up to oppose Alito (as they should), the Senate Republicans will line up to endorse him, and the result will end up in a fillibuster - after which, Frist et al., will try to go for the nuclear option (reducing the vote total needed to stop a fillibuster).

At the end this is the 'culture clash' that the GOP craves - will re-energize the GOP? Temporarily, but they could still lose the battle, and worse, it could spill over into the next primary season and affect some of the races negatively for them. If that happens another split of the GOP on a supreme court nominee might permanently fracture the party.


Happy Fifth Birthday to the ISS!

Who's got Telepathy?

Telepathy is when you own both parts of an elite line pairing, ala Gretzky-Kurri, thus locking out all other GMs on what they produce. Telepathy is the short form of 'Legion of Doom' where you have all three parts of an elite line, or 'team dominance' when you own most or all the significant producers from a team.

Telepathy is relatively uncommon, and Legion of Doom has achieved just twice by my reckoning - the Shadowmen when they actually went out and aquired the original Legion of Doom in it's entirety, and I won my second cup by trading for the Lemieux-Jagr-Kovalev trio to give me my own version.

So who has the strongest telepathy?

1. The Knights Templar - Bertuzzi and Naslund. Note, they wouldn't qualify for Legion status by aquiring Morrison. Why? Because Morrison (despite playing on a line with the aforementioned pair) isn't an elite player in his own right.

2. Personal Vendetta - Forsberg and Gagne.

3. The Severed Heads - Spezza and Heatley (and if Alfreddson were to end up on the 'Heads, we'd be in 'Legion' territory)

There is also one other GM with a significant pairing, though I think it falls short of telepathy;

The Edge - Fedorov and Sykora.

Note - The Ramapithicines don't have any telepathy, but they do have some team dominance in Dallas with Turco, Hedberg, Morrow and Zubov all filling roles.

Who might be telepathic?

The Highlanders: if they swap St Louis or another portsider for Glenn Murray. A Murray/Thornton pairing could be quite frightening.

The Wolves/Great Whites: If either managed to aquire both parts of the Zetterberg/Datsyuk equation they would qualify. I don't see it happening though.

Note: It is exceedingly tough to create telepathy with players from Colorado because the best players are FPs, and on different teams. Tampa Bay has some creative options, but Lecavalier, St Louis and Richards are all spread around with little likelihood of them being traded because of their obvious intrinsic value.

Did I miss any league telepaths? Are there Legions of Doom in the past I should note?

What Religion do you fit in?

I came up as 80% Atheist, and 100% Reason oriented.

I have only one question, if I am 80% Atheist, WTF is the other 20%?


2005-06 FUNHL Review Summary and Notes

Team Rankings:

1. Severed Heads - 19. Go figure he picks his own team, right? Last year I picked the Personal Vendetta.

2. Great Whites - 18: Building a team the old fashioned way, from the goaltender forward, and through the draft. Team donut lacks an imposing centre presence, so as Brodeur and the Big M go, so will go the Fish.

3. Personal Vendetta - 17.5: I don't think he has any idea what it feels like the day after the draft to run everyone's teams backwards through the draft predictions and come up with something other than his own name. He's the draft Terminator. It just doesn't stop. Key is the telepathy he has with Forsberg and Gagne. If they Gretzky-Kurri on us, it's all over.

3. Knights Templar - 17.5: Tied for third in my predictions with the Personal Vendetta. Yeah I had to read that twice to myself too. Must upgrade on D, and get value from Roenick or the lack of depth could be fatal. Otherwise, the core group of scoring forwards; Hejduk, Richards, Naslund, and Bertuzzi, is excellent and will bouy the team. If Tuomo Ruutu takes another step forward he could join that core group and make the Knights truly scarey.

5. The Highlanders - 16.5: He has the horses in Thornton, McCabe, Crosby, St Louis, Jovo-Cop, etc. to pace with the leaders, but can he get them to pull in the same direction? Nabokov is part of the answer, or a whole 'nother question.

6. Barbarians - 16: Has stopped the bleeding the franchise had been going through, and is building a solid foundation around his frustrating megastar, Kovalchuk. Datsyuk, Guerin, Tkachuk and Theodore form an imposing nucleus to compliment the purest goalscorer in the game. Not all is good. The D is in worse than rough shape and needs to be overhauled, and Tkachuk needs to get his act together for them to move up as threats. Of course Theodore or Kovalchuk might go atomic and accomplish the same task.

6. The Bladerunners - 16: A strong top two at each centre and rightwing, but question marks everywhere else. Vokoun could be the difference. Finding a #1 defenseman or three is a must.

8. The Edge - 15.5: His left wing could be ridiculous. Ovechkin looks like the grand slam of FP selections alreay, Nash has already won a Richard trophy and he's just a P3, and Elias had 90 points his last full season. Currently, they are dinged up a left, but if they get on track no other team has a set of three that comes close. The team also has its characteristically strong defense, and is complimented by a solid if unthreatening set of right wingers. The problem is that at centre there is no room for error, Fedorov has to be a top flight producer, and in goal Manny Legace has to play well in more than just spurts. Trading for a pivot to slot in ahead of Fedorov and Jokinen would make them a contender.

9. The Wolves - 15: The right wing is among the best in the league, with Iginla a potential trump card. Kipprusoff must start moving in the right direction, and give us something more than flashes of the Sub-Zero-Man hero identity of the playoffs. If he starts to freeze teams up, the Wolves might have a backstopper to rival anyone. The D is steep but not deep, after Niedermayer and Blake and it could use another mobile puckmover. That said, who cares about defense depth when the left wing is a total horror show and needs radical surgery?

10. The Shadowmen - (14.5) I wrote the review for the Shadowmen team prior to the trade where he aquires Rafalski and Poti from the Dogs. S'what I get for trying to take a snapshot of the league, by the time I finish Bob's team he's already changed it. So I have upped my estimation of the Shadowmen to 10th place. The team has issues, but whatever team I comment on is already different by the time the thought has formed.

11. The Ramapithicines - 14.5: Turco, a handful of above average defensemen, and Palffy are just enough to keep the cavedwellers from facing extinction. The centre is so bad it is rapidly approaching the event horizon from which no light at all can escape. On life support.

12. The Dogs - 14: Serious problems at every position. Lacks FP strength. No solid core of offensive players. No help on the farm. Dale Purinton is official team mascot.

The Severed Heads

The Severed Heads

L: Kariya, LeClair, Kozlov, Huselius, Bourque-P1, Ladd-P1

Rating: 3

Kariya gives the Heads a genuine 1st liner, but his injury history makes him a risky bet for more than a ppg. LeClair took a pay cut to play with Mario, and he is clearly on the downside of a solid career, but still capable of 60 points given his powerplay role and linemates. Slava Kozlov is now a stealth winger who needs to get his game back on track with new linemates. Huselius has already replaced Kozlov on the active roster, and his high skill level may be muzzled in Florida, but his talent is so huge he could break out anyway. Bourque is a thickly built but undersized winger with a terrific skill set, but is recovering from off-season knee surgery and is at least a year away. Ladd will spend another year in the minors working on his offense. The lanky winger has an NHL frame that he needs to fill out before he’ll take-off.

C: Spezza-P4, Lindros, Yashin, Kozlov, Parise-P2, Schremp-P1

Rating: 4

Spezza may well be the leagues best playmaker not named Forsberg. His telepathic link to winger Heatley completes the offensive package and his points so far prove his value as a top centre. Lindros looks much more comfortable in TO than elsewhere and his game shows it. He’s back to a ppg+ and racking up enough PIM to continue in the TG role. Injuries will always be a concern for him. Yashin has taken charge of the Isles and so far appears to be relishing the role. A return to ppg status for him is not out of the question now that he is the undisputed leader of the team. Kozlov never lived up to his hype, but can still produce a solid 60+ season and warrant spot duty in the event anyone goes down. Parise has electrifying skills but the smallish frame is a concern. He could charge for the ROY but realistically is still a year away from regular duty. Schremp was returned to the minors where he continues to rip it up. A permanent promotion may not be forthcoming this season, but by next he should be a long term Oiler. Has ‘Jimmy Carson’ stamped on his game.

R: Jagr, Heatley, Recchi, McCarty, Carter-P1, Grigorenko-P2, Horton-P2

Rating: 5

Jagr looks happy with the new look NHL – so much so he may well add a 6th scoring title, and his first Richard trophy to the already impressive collection of hardware he owns. Heatley has recovered fully from the horrors of the last two years, and his instinctive bond with Spezza is a delight to watch. The one-touch rockets he launches make the Sittler comparison apt. Recchi would be the #1 winger for half the league, and playing on the Heads third line means he gives them unrivalled scoring depth at that position. McCarty is the ultimate grinder and would only earn a role in the event of injury – and even then a trade would be more likely. Grigorenko is a long term project as he the once highly touted scoring winger has been slow to recover fully from a hideous car accident. He’s got the wheels and guns to play, so it is probably just a matter of time for him. Jeff Carter has the size speed and hands to be a regular, but as a rookie looks lost on the NHL ice. He may well require a year or two of seasoning against men to be fully ready to assume a scoring role. Horton appears to be solidly on the Neely/Tocchet path. Horton has already seized the lead in goalscoring for the Panthers, and is establishing himself on the top line. It will take a monster showing to displace Recchi, so the Heads can be patient.

D: Hamrlik, Briseboise, Souray, Sydor, Backman, Slegr, Kasparaitis, Johnson, Eminger-P1

Rating: 3

A solid top four on the Heads defense, but not exactly world beating. Hamrlik is a weak #1, but still competent enough to warrant being a top 2 defender. ‘Breeze-by’ can still work the powerplay only now he can do so with some awesome talent around him. I expect career highs. Souray may not have the kind of year he did last time he played, but he has matured into a steady rearguard in the 40 point mold. Sydor is still a good pp point-man, but he no longer scares people with his speed. Backman is blossoming into all-round force ala Van Ryn in Florida, and could move up the depth chart accordingly. Slegr is still a decent mercenary for the powerplay, but injuries seem to catch up to him with regularity now. Kasparaitis is a goon pick worthy of most teams bottom 4. Johnson was selected only to prevent him from becoming a prospect and will be gone at the first WD. Eminger is already showing dressable numbers and if he keeps it up may earn a permanent promotion.

G: Hasek, Raycroft

Rating: 4

If Hasek is even a fraction of his old self, the Heads could have the leagues best goaltender. With the defense in front of him that Ottawa can field, his numbers could well be award worthy – if he stays healthy. He’s still a ‘win-the-game-card’, albeit a wildcard, until he retires. Raycroft has a sound defense corps in front of him and a responsible group of forwards who aren’t afraid to back-check. He’s still on the unproven side, but was capable of #1 numbers as a rookie, so the ceiling may well have yet to be reached.
Overall: 19

The Shadowmen

The Shadowmen

L: Bochenski, Schaeffer, Hartnell, Daze, Fedoruk-P1, Jokinen, J-P1
Rating: 2

Bochenski is already regarded as one of the worst picks of the draft. His high-flying pre-season was not an indication of his readiness for full-time NHL duty. Schaeffer has come-back from a prolonged mentorship in Europe to show off some excellent skills, but given he’s never been a dressable forward previously he’s a bit of a risk to play regularly without serious concerns. Hartnell leapfrogs both of them to take the #1 spot by default. A good blend of nastiness and skill, this could be his breakout season. So far, he’s more on the Tocchet track than the Brad May, and that is worth cheering. Daze is once again hurt, but the 6’5” skill forward is nevertheless a solid winger when healthy. When that will be is anyone’s guess. Fedoruk is a banger with some skill, but he’s an NHL checker now, and unlikely to progress further. Jussi Jokinen though has all the tools to emerge as a legit scoring forward, including NHL wheels. Given the weakness at this position, he might well earn a promotion.

C: Sundin, Allison, Richards, Morrison, Koivu-P1, Stumpel-P1, Weiss-P1

Rating: 3.5

The rating would be higher had Sundin not eaten a puck with his face. With him out, Allison shoulders the load more than capably. Mike Richards has taken off in Philly, and has been everything he was advertised, including the hyperbole of his being the next Doug Gilmour. Morrison is a slick playmaker who has maxed out in the 70’s. Given the quality of his linemates there is unlikely to be any improvement on his career best. Koivu the younger is a strapping power pivot who has to put his hands to better use. He could be a comer. Weiss and Stumpel are moving in opposite directions in the sunshine state. Stumpel is in his end days, whereas Weiss is slowly building up to a top-line role.

R: Barnaby, Cheechoo, Bergeron, Carter, Nilsson-P1, Bure-P1

Rating: 2

Barnaby is still an agitating pest capable of 25 goals, but this shouldn’t qualify him for the top line. Cheechoo might develop into a solid power winger who scores 30, but that’s if everything breaks his way. Bergeron jumps to the top of the pack with his impressive speed and skills making him the clear scoring threat of the bunch. Anson Carter may also bump someone down the list, but he maxes out around the 65 point mark in a good year. Nilsson has Billion Dollar skills, and a 50 cent head. If a coach can reach him in time he could be the next Naslund. More likely he’ll be another Nylander. Val Bure has taken his Hollywood wife and packed it in, with no more all-star games in his future. He might re-emerge as a threat in LA, but don’t bet on it.

D: Zdlicky, Morris, Sopel, Mclaren, Markov A., Foote, Corvo, Delmore

Rating: 3

The ‘Z’ man has arrived as a top end QB, but one without a track record other than his first season. Can he keep it up? Yes. Morris has never hit the peak that was expected and has settled into a role as a ‘tweener’ defenseman, with a ceiling of 45 pts. Sopel and his rockstar haircut get new life on the Island where his booming point shot will be better appreciated. Andrei Markov is on the verge of becoming a Zubov level defender, but has to improve his offensive performance to earn the comparison. Foote is a stable defensive defender who maxes out around the high 20s. Corvo and Delmore are WD feeder.

G: Luongo, Thibault, Toivonen-P1

Rating: 4

Luongo is still the heir apparent to Patrick Roy, and his numbers will only improve as the D in front of him gels. Thibault is a pure back-up based on the amount of high speed rubber that will be directed his way – it could be a long season for him. Toivonen has terrific potential but is likely trade bait given Luongo’s long term status.

Overall: 14.5

The Dogs

The Dogs

L: Samsonov, Tanguay, Oliwa, Brashear, Picard-P1

Rating: 4

Samsonov needs to stay healthy and prove he is a ppg winger to earn his keep as franchise player after two disappointing years in a row. Tanguay could well supplant Samsonov as the team’s top portsider, but his concussion history is worrisome. Oliwa and Brashear will round out the wing with lots of fisticuffs and the occasional goal. Neither is a threat to score 20 goals though. Picard has offensive flash, but will need another year to round out his game in the minors.

C: Ribeiro, Handzus, Bonk, Arnason, Zigomanis-P1

Rating: 2

Ribeiro may well be a ppg centre with new look in the NHL, but he’s still lacks blazing speed, is undersized, and I suspect will under-point as a top line pivot. Handzus is line change away from being Joel Otto. He should be on a bench. Bonk has demonstrated sound offensive instincts and a solid wrist shot, but is slow and could be doomed to third line status for his team, essentially ending the dream of him living up to his high draft status. Arnason is an energy line checker who is unlikely to get free reign in Chicago. He could surprise, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Zigomanis lacks both foot-speed and hockey sense and will be a career AHL player.

R: Sullivan, Ekman, McEachearn, Hunter, Hemsky-P3

Rating: 2

Sullivan will have to over-perform as the top line winger to warrant the role. He’s capable of ppg stats, but usually only in bursts. Ekman is a 4th liner miscast in his role for the team, he belongs on the Waiver Wire. McEachearn has solid stats when healthy, but right now he isn’t. Hunter could emerge as the teams 2nd line gunner, but his all-round game doesn’t lend itself to high scoring totals. Still he is physical and has a strong shot, so he could surprise. Hemsky is running out of time in his quest to reach stardom. This may be his last kick at the cat, but if he gets his act together there is lots of room on this wing to promote him.

D: Gonchar, Tarnstrom, Poti, Rafalski, Bergeron, Klee, Hutchinson, Rathje, Barker-P1, Tyutin-P1, Purinton-P1

Rating: 4

Gonchar is still an elite pp quarterback and will get his game on track to be an All-star again. Tarnstrom is an offensive specialist who may be made redundant by Gonchar’s presence, still it’s a solid 1-2 punch. Poti and Rafalski round out the top 4, and give the Dogs their strongest position. Bergeron is starting to develop along the lines of small rearguards like Rafalski and Liles, he could hit for 40 if the planets move into position. The rest are either WD cuts, or way over age. Barker looks like Rob Blake, but will need another year to round out his considerable game. Tyutin also looks like a solid performer for the long haul, and is already drawing heavy minutes for the Rangers in all situations. Purinton is a one dimensional goon more likely to be suspended then dressable.

G: Belfour, Kolzig, Biron-P1, Fleury-P2

Rating: 3

Belfour is pushing 40, which is never a good sign for goaltenders, but in his case may not be an issue. What is an issue is whether his creaky back will keep him in the games till the end of the year. If so, he’ll be a solid if unspectacular starter. Kolzig will get bombed too many games to be worth the trouble of starting. He could well lose as many points as he gets. Biron is still waiting to be anointed as the Sabres full-time starter, and the wait for him to seize the role is getting desperate. Fleury has perplexed mgt thoroughly, and it remains to be seen if he’ll feature in their long run plans at all now that Biron is on board.

Overall: 15

The Wolves

The Wolves (logo not available)

L: Sedin D., Sturm, Malone, Dupuis, Torres-P3

Rating: 1.5

Not a first liner in the bunch, and all of the starters would be weak as second liners. Daniel Sedin has taken his time to emerge as a solid scoring threat, and the jury is still out whether he will ever develop the instincts necessary to take his game to the next level. Sturm is a speedy stealth winger, but he hasn’t put up monster numbers ever in the past, and we are past the point where it can reasonably be expected to happen in the future – he reminds me a lot of Niklas Sundstrom. Malone has a power-forward frame, but is still raw in his development. One day he could well become an excellent bang n’ crash winger, but not this year. Dupuis plays in Minnesota, ‘nuff said. Torres has been slow to mature, but his sniping ability and speed can’t be ignored. He could end up as one of the top guys if the people ahead continue to falter.

C: Lang, Nedved, Arnott, Horcoff, Stefan-P3, Kopitar-P1, Wheeler-P1, Brule-P1

Overall: 2.5

Lang is legit as a starting pivot, but there have always been questions about how explosive he’ll be. Most likely is a steady ppg over the course of the year. Nedved is now staring at the downside of his offensive years as he no longer possesses the extra gear to escape checkers. His wrist shot still sings though, but he’s now best suited to be a third liner. Arnott is capable of 50+ points, but relying on him for PIM is now a fantasy. Stefan has never lived up to expectations is going to wear a ‘bust’ tag barring a sudden exchange of DNA with Kovalchuk. Kopitar is a longer term project, but one worth the investment based on his obvious skills and youth. Wheeler is a huge (6’5”) and still growing monster, but it remains to be seen what his hockey skills will translate into in the big league. He could be the next Lindros, or (more likely) the next Holik. Brule is the player who could end up being another Michael Peca, or better. He’s got scoring skills, grit and loads of hockey smarts. He’s already hurt, but it won’t be long before he returns to the NHL and gets to demonstrate how close he is to earning a promotion – says here that it is very close.

R: Iginla, Murray, Satan, Vyborny, Kobasew-P1

Rating: 4.5

Iggy is the man, but these slow starts are killers. He could turn it on at any point to threaten for the Richard, and is worth the wait. Murray gives the Wolves a first line calibre winger for the 2nd line, and he’s a threat to post 40+. Satan looks re-energized playing on the Island (which says just how bad playing in Buffalo must be), and he should return to the 30+ goal mark, giving the Wolves two #1s and a #2 for their top three spots on the Starboard. Vyborny is an injury replacement at best, while Kobasew is a talented winger in the Cory Stillman mold capable of serious damage but not likely to ever lead a team in scoring. He’s still a year away from active duty.

D: Niedermayer, Blake, Fischer, Salo, Kuba, Skoula, Hill, Hulse, Suter-P2, Colaiacovo-P2

Rating: 2.5

Niedermayer and Blake make for an excellent top pair, one of the best in the league. However the rest of the D corps are largely interchangeable parts, any of which could be flogged at the WD without much care. Suter and Colaicovo give the Wolves a pair of D-men who should warrant promotions as soon as this season, but almost certainly next. Suter in particular has the skill-set to be a pp quarterback and his game already has enough edge to it that he can be considered reliable in his own end.

G: Kiprusoff, Esche

Rating: 4

Either goalie could be the #1, but both have small question marks. Kipper has never played a full season in top form, but he certainly looks to be capable of it. Esche hasn’t ever played a full year as the undisputed #1 for his team either, but he also looks to be ready to assume the workload. All in all as safe a goaltending duo as there is in our league.

Overall: 15

The Knights Templar

The Knights Templar

L: Naslund, Whitney, Simon, Knuble, Sejna-P2, Upshall-P1, Olesz-P1

Rating: 3.5

Naslund is now firmly entrenched as one the leagues elite scorers. Whitney is a mercenary winger capable of close to ppg stats and indifferent defense. He has injury risk associated with him as well. Simon is a heavyweight with 25 goal hands. He could surpass Whitney on the depth chart if he gets on a roll. Knuble is line dependent, but could have a career year which would still max him out as a 2nd line winger. Sejna has missed the bus on establishing an NHL career, and will join a host of other solid college players who couldn’t crack the big leagues. Upshall is being groomed to become an energy line forward, so don’t expect offense from him. Olesz is a potential scoring forward with high skill, but he has to grow into his toolbox first. Long term potential is good.

C: Richards, Savard, Roenick, Rucchin, O’Sullivan-P1

Rating: 3.5

Richards should be a solid bet for ppg or better – though speculation he’ll post century plus totals this year are overblown. Savard is a high skill pivot made of glass. He’ll be awesome right up to the point he gets hurt. Roenick is playing out the string now in LA. No longer fearsome with his speed, he’ll have to rely on his all-round offensive skills to contribute meaningfully, but injuries are robbing him of time. Rucchin is a 4th line grinder, and shouldn’t see duty barring injury to players ahead of him. O’Sullivan is a solid prospect, but playing for the Wild will mean the GM has to be patient to realize his potential.

R: Hejduk, Bertuzzi, Selanne, Sim, Ruutu-P3

Rating: 4.5

Hejduk is now one of the elite goalscorers. Bertuzzi has recovered from his enforced absence and is returning to the ultimate warrior status he had before the Moore incident. Could easily supplant Hejduk as the top starboard gunner, especially if he goons it up. Selanne is done. The wheels aren’t elite anymore and he has degraded to being a stealth winger most useful on the powerplay. Sad really. Sim will be back in the AHL before Christmas, but with Tuomo Ruutu about to return from injury that’s ok. Ruutu has all the tools to become an elite winger/centre, including a booming shot and fierce physical play.

D: Schneider, Redden, Berard-P3, Dempsey, Lydman, Malakhov, Havelid, Dandenault, Weber-P1

Rating: 2.5

Schneider, Redden and Berard make for an average top 3. Cyclops is the weakest link of the trio, but so far he’s been good enough to earn his keep. Dempsey, Lydman and the rest are various forms of filler, and any or all of them could be gone after the next WD. Weber is a brutal hitting rearguard but doesn’t seem to have the offense in his game to bring it to the FUNHL level. Still, he’s a serious prospect.

G: Giguere, Denis, Aebischer-P4

Rating: 3.5

Jiggy has a year of mediocrity to overcome, but should be a solid starter. Denis has talent to burn, but has yet to put together a full year that warrants being dressed. Aebischer could easily supplant either netminder for full-time duty.

Overall: 17.5

Personal Vendetta

Personal Vendetta
L: Gagne, Shanahan, Straka, Robitaille, Calder-P1

Rating: 4

Gagne is an elite sniper but only as long as he stays healthy – something he has increasingly had a problem doing. Shanahan is still a brutish winger capable of 30+, and gives the PV an elite #2. Straka is one the most injury prone wingers in history, but he is capable of ppg numbers if he can stay off of the IR. Robitaille is padding his HOF stats and will be in tough to reach the 25 goal mark. Calder is a grinder with upside, but so far hasn’t shown the talent of a 20 goal scorer. All in all a terrific set of wingers but there are a lot of risks here.

C: Forsberg, Modano, Briere, Cassels, White-P1, Reinprecht-P1

Rating: 4.5

Forsberg is still among the best pivots in the league – but his health woes are becoming equally legendary. Modano was as solid a ppg player the league has ever seen, posting 7 straight campaigns over 70 points, until his last that is. So far, he has recovered most of his scoring touch, and makes for an excellent #2. Briere has started the year like a house on fire, but the diminutive gunner will face increased attention that may blunt his stats moving forward. Cassels is still an above average play-maker, but he is winding down a career that was best when he lined up with Geoff Sanderson. White and Reinprecht are both overage prospects with little upside except as injury fill-ins – which is essentially why they were picked – both will likely be given walking papers next year.

R: Alfreddson, Mogilny, Cole, Parrish, Cammalleri-P2, Michalek-P1

Rating: 3

Alfreddson gives the PV a top end gunner for the 1st line. Mogilny is a solid selection for the 2nd line, and Cole or Parrish are both decent enough for the 3rd line role. A solid quartet overall but nothing overwhelming. Cammalleri has the talent to eventually climb the depth chart, but this doesn’t look like the year he will do so. Michalek is excellent along the boards, and sets up his line mates well, but may lack an NHL calibre shot.

D: Lidstrom, Timmonen, Niinimaa, Spacek, Hannan, Desjardins, Cairns, Hatcher, Girard-P1, Phaneuf-P1

Rating: 3

Lidstrom remains among the best rearguards in the league, and should rebound from a soft season where he registed below 60 points for the first time in half a decade. Timmonen is a pp specialist who should continue to provide steady points. Niinimaa is all but spent as an offensive force, and there are rumours he could return to Europe where the wear and tear on him would be far less. Spacek is a decent enough defender playing on a weak team. Any points he gets are a bonus. Hannan may well develop into a solid #1, but I don’t see it happening this year. Desjardins is playing out the string, no longer capable of rushing the puck up ice or running a powerplay. Cairns is ticketed for the AHL where his lack of foot-speed won’t be such a deterrent to his ice-time. Hatcher is a thumper in the old-school sense, but unless he shows his fearsome shutdown abilities soon a +/- role will vanish and leave him with only meagre goon points as his benefit to the team. Girard is a potential starter should he kick start his career from the idle it has been languishing in. He was supposed to be much better by now. Phaneuf has a chance at being a future all-star, but his shot is still wild, and he’s most noteworthy for the furious abuse he’s been dishing out as a rookie.

G: Khabiboulin, Joseph, Weekes

Rating: 3

Khabiboulin will see a lot of shots in Chicago, but this is his chance to show he’s worth the big money the Chi-Hawks through at him. So far, he’s been decent. Joseph is playing out the string hoping for playoff minutes with the Coyotes. He’ll tutor LeNeveu, but shouldn’t be expected to play the 60+ games he would have in the past. Weekes is a long shot to play regularly for the Rangers, and an even longer shot to make the PV.

Overall: 17.5

The Barbarians

The Barbarians

L: Kovalchuk, Tkachuk, Nagy, Roberts, Pyatt-P3

Rating: 4

Kovalchuk is the world’s purest sniper at the moment, capable of 60 goals if the stars align themselves properly. Tkachuk showed up to camp out of shape (by 30lbs), and then promptly got hurt as he tried to play himself back into game-shape. He should rebound to close to a ppg once he returns, but his lack of effort in the off-season is worrisome. Nagy is emerging as a genuine threat on the portside. He could easily reach the ppg mark for a full season if he avoids injury. However, he is slightly built and has suffered setbacks the last two years running. Roberts is an aging warrior who has already seen the inside of an ambulance this year. He’ll be in tough to make a regular contribution. Pyatt is on the Brad May track and doesn’t appear to have the skill set to get himself out of it.

C: Datsyuk, Koivu, Drury, Conroy

Rating: 3.5

Undersized as a quartet, they still have excellent scoring punch. Datsyuk in particular has taken off as a true #1 capable of ppg+ stats. Koivu is now too fragile to count on for a full season, but in the games he does play he usually gets something. An excellent #2. Conroy has had a blazing start to his season, but we know it’s a mirage for the long term. He’ll settle in nicely as a #3 with upside. Drury is the perfect injury replacement from the 4th line. He won’t trouble any of the three pivots ahead of him, but he’s a solid plug-n-play if needed.

R: Guerin, Walker, Williams, Getzlaf, Fehr-P1

Rating: 2.5

Rating: Guerin is a legit ppg threat with PIM upside if needed, but he is getting a bit long in the tooth to expect 40 goals from him. Walker is also a good blend of scoring and PIM, but his ceiling is well established around 60 points. Williams is the wrong Williams to be excited about. He may turn out to be an above average checker or even a decent third liner, but don’t hold your breath for more. Getzlaf will be groomed to take on power-winger duties, but isn’t ready for prime-time yet. Fehr has all the skills to be an offensive threat, but is still growing into his bean-pole frame – he’s a younger version of Joe Nieuwendyk if he puts it all together.

D: Leopold, Kubina, Visnovsky, Vishnevski, Bouwmeester, McGillis, Kaberle F., Regehr, Whitney-P3, Grebeshekov-P2, Zizka-P2, Koltsov-P2

Rating: 2

Leopold has upside, but has never cracked 40 points to make him legit as a top-end defender. Kubina is slowly devolving into a defensive defenseman. Visnovsky has wicked pp skills, and could take over as the top blue-liner. Bouwmeester is still probably a year or more away from being the impact defender expected, but he’ll contribute this year nonetheless. McGillis and Regehr are filler. Kaberle the elder could also end up as the top defenseman, if only by default. Whitney has a solid future, but Grebeshekov, Zizka and Kolstov are all in the minors without obvious reason to call them up.

G: Theodore, Roloson, Gerber-P2

Rating: 4

Theodore is one of the elite, but he has a tendency to follow an awesome year with a mediocre one – making this likely to be an awesome year. Roloson is an excellent back-up as he is unlikely to challenge for the top spot, but can fill in whenever necessary. Gerber is a project, and one that may well have been derailed by the emergence of Cam Ward in Carolina.

Overall Rating: 16