Agree with our leaders, or pass

Winning bridge team that didn't vote for Bush

These (American) ladies recently won an international bridge competition in Shanghai, and displayed their little sign when receiving their prize. The sign was prompted by questions from players from other countries:

“What we were trying to say, not to Americans but to our friends from other countries, was that we understand that they are questioning and critical of what our country is doing these days, and we want you to know that we, too, are critical,” Ms. Greenberg said, stressing that she was speaking for herself and not her six teammates.

Anyone who’s traveled much (or simply interacted much with folks from other parts of the world) in recent years, will recognize the situation. Many U.S. government policies including, but not limited to the Iraq fiasco, are broadly condemned worldwide. In my experience, however, most folks are clever enough to distinguish between the government and its people (something many Americans appear to struggle with), so one of the first things they often ask about is where you stand on the war. The faculty and graduate students at the University ask me. Sub-Evil’s schoolmates ask him. I’m hardly surprised that it came up around the coffee pots and meal tables at an international bridge tournament.

Apparently, however, there are those who believe that it’s unacceptable for these people to publicly separate themselves from the current administration. The women didn’t make any sort of policy statement and criticize any particular actions. All they did is self-identify as being in the near (or actual – depends on the election) majority of voters that didn’t tick the Shurb box on the day. Yet the United States Bridge Federation has chosen to void their bowels and enter the full court press on these players:

[The sanction] calls for a one-year suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing; a one-year probation after that suspension; 200 hours of community service “that furthers the interests of organized bridge”; and an apology drafted by the federation’s lawyer.

It would also require them to write a statement telling “who broached the idea of displaying the sign, when the idea was adopted, etc.”

Alan Falk, a lawyer for the federation, wrote the four team members on Nov. 6, “I am instructed to press for greater sanction against anyone who rejects this compromise offer.”

Hey, we even have some classic “We’ll reward you for folding early and turning against your friends”. Charming, really. Participating in the international circuit is a key component of the income for some of these ladies, so this is serious business, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s hard for them to stand up to this level of pressure. I hope they can get some really good lawyers and smack the crap out of these small-minded dweebs. I’d not be surprised (or blame them), however, if they try to find a quick way out of this with minimal damage.

Thanks to 21st Century Citizen for the pointer. They source to the NYTimes, which is where they (and I) got the photo.

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Bike beats car across London- Huzzah!

Transport for London? by Owen B.

TopGear (a testosterone heavy but amusing car program here in the UK) staged a race across London feature four of their presenters using different modes of transport: car, public transport, bike, and speed boat up the Thames. Much to their dismay and my eternal delight, the guy on the bike took the day, and the car in fact came in last. The boat was second, but given that it was a super expensive speed boat and its success depended on both ends of the route being on the river, there are obvious scaling problems. It was a long route, so you’d need to be both fit and aggressive to match the cyclist’s performance, but the public transport option came quite close and is obviously accessible to most everyone.

Considering that London is totally not designed to support cycling, however, you have to wonder how much better it would be if there was genuine support for the use of bicycles.

Thanks to the Colchester Cycling mailing list for the tip that the race was gonna be aired.

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