Lot's Goin' On

Seems that the election in Iraq has been a success, which is of course fantastic news. The Sunnis turned out for the election that saw high voter turn out throughout the country. The question now is can Iraq be a self-sustaining democracy. That’s a big question mark at this point if the US troops left the country would fall into civil war probably (and the Kurds could even declare independence). How long will US troops be there? We just don’t know.

Something not getting a lot of press here in the US is that the party that expects to do the best in the election is a fundamental Islamic party, the United Islamic Alliance, that probably has some sort of connection to Iran. How and why the press is over looking this VFLOAB isn’t sure, but that appears to be the case by accounts from the Economist and else where.

Reading the Economist this morning, VFLOAB was surprised to learn that not only does Europe have better TV over all picture quality (576i to America’s 480i), but Europeans haven’t caught on to the HDTV craze yet. Interesting since Europeans do have the money to buy a few of these sets, but get this most European countries don’t even have HD telecasts at the moment:
Now a similar transition is under way with the switch to “high-definition” television (HDTV) which, as its name suggests, offers sharper, more detailed pictures. It is still early days: while there are around 1.5 billion televisions on earth, the number of HDTV households grew from around 8m to around 14m during 2005, according to IMS Research, a consultancy. HDTV broadcasts have been available for some time in America and Japan, have recently launched in France and Germany, and will reach Britain and the Netherlands early in 2006. But unlike the switch to colour, the process of switching to HDTV is rather difficult to explain without descending into jargon.

This is suprising if for no other reason than HDTV is just better TV. It’s once of those things that once you see it, you never want to go back to 480i. And anyone who’s seen a sporting event, espically hockey, in HD you can’t imagine another way to watch the game. HD might as well have been invented just for sports.

And what’s to bring HDTV to Europe? Why the World Cup of course. For many Europeans the World Cup this summer will be their first taste of HDTV, as amazing as that sounds. But don’t epect them to go running out to buy new sets:
Declaring 2006 the “year of HDTV”, then, as some in the industry have, is overdoing it. Several previous years have also been declared the “year of HDTV” too, so scepticism is warranted. More consumer education and more HDTV content are needed; prices will have to fall too. The real tipping point, says Mr Healey, could be the 2008 Olympics or the 2010 World Cup. You will hear a lot about HDTV in 2006, but the transition, as with the switch to colour, will take many years.

Finally, VFLOAB is very upset to hear that the US Treasury Department is not going to allow Cuba to play in the World Baseball Classic. Why? Because if the thing turns a profit, the Cuban team will be able to take some US dollars home, and since our policy towards Cuba is so backwards and spiteful, well they just can’t do that.
Officials involved in the planning of the world tournament said the reason for keeping Cuba out was unclear, but it appeared to be linked to the possibility that if the tournament made a profit, the Cuban team could take American dollars home to its island, which is what the Cuban embargo is meant to prevent.

Obviously, VFLOAB is against this decision. First of all, the idea, point, and success of sport is to come together in peaceful competition. We see, hear, learn, and gain an understanding of the opponent in sporting events. Would the US deny Cuba from playing or competing in the Olympics or World Cup? Of course not, the out cry wouldn’t be worth the trouble (surprisingly the Guardian hasn’t picked up on this story yet).

And it goes without saying that the Treasury Departments decision and reasons for not allowing Cuba to play are dated and just socially unjust. Like that, the US is bringing to attention the dated embargo placed upon Cuba, basically calling for criticism. Why the US would want to do this, when Cuba isn’t a major threat to this country, is beyond our intellect; maybe the US government is just worried about the fact that all Cubans have good health care and decent education, something that we still haven’t figured out here in the USA.

And we don't want to say it, but is a barring of Venezuela next?

Hopefully baseball can come to some sort of conclusion and we’ll be able to see Cuba in the World Cup of Baseball, but right now as things stand, it doesn’t seem likely. And that’s a shame since everyone is a loser in this situation.

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