Saturday, 10 October 2009

Oh, the Humanity!

More than a month has passed since my last post, but at least I have a great excuse as I was pretty occupied with putting the finishing touches on my diploma work in Social and Economic Geography. High time to get back into the game with a four-in-one post.

In fact, the only thing I’ve handicapped over the last three weeks was the German general election. This election was, however, more than just the usual opportunity to show how much we have descended mentally and morally over the course of just four years (this time we learned that Germans, as a people, are so mind-numbingly stupid as to vote the most market-liberal option into power, just one year after the neoliberal agenda completely went bankrupt - in every possible sense of that phrase). Nope, when I started reviewing the candidates (talk about a field of bottom-level claimers), it dawned on me that this election was also gonna be the greatest spot play in betting history, thanks to the fundamentally undemocratic ramifications the “overhang seats” in MMP systems can have under very specific constellations, all of them in place this time. The kicker is: no one who doesn’t have an increased interest and at least some formal training in political systems research knows about those ramifications, and that’s why I was in every bettor's dream situation with a few minutes to go until the polls closed: knowing the outcome beforehand, and getting more than 4/5 on a lock. On that note: a hearty “ha ha” to everyone who told me that a minor in Political Science would never earn me a cent (now if I could only find a 'ha ha'-reason for the same accusation concerning my other minor in Social and Economic History...).

Otherwise, living shielded from the outside world for four weeks certainly adds perspective. As in, when you return to everyday life, the whole thing just seems too outrageous to be believable.
A nobel peace prize for a guy who has (not yet, even) closed exactly one part of a giant torture camp system while letting the rest operate freely? The rest, that’s things like Bagram Prison, where according to Europe’s biggest newsweekly, Der Spiegel, the nobel peace prize winner’s army tortured a human being by (among other things) destroying his leg so many times that the coroner’s report notified its ‘gelatinous’ consistency. The fun part: when they finally tortured him to death, the prison guards were already aware that the guy was entirely innocent, and not just because there never was any actual charge. Yep, sounds like a regular second coming of Gandhi, I suppose.
What’s next? Giving humanitarian awards to amok shooters if they don’t empty their entire magazine? Parenting awards for people who vow to only beat up their infants twice a week from now on? How ‘bout an animal advocacy award for Ernie Paragallo? He chose not to starve all of his horses, after all!

Meanwhile in German racing, Baden-Baden escaped the very real threat of having to cancel their three-day October meet for shortness of funds. In the same press conference, it was announced that there will be a 2YO BBAG auction race for 200.000 € during that very meeting.
That’s right: 45K more than the standard German G1 purse, pooped out for a number of horses who, if history has told us anything, will almost certainly never amount to even G3 level. A little more perspective: most German top horses make a mere prep start or none at all as juveniles. In fact, fields are so short that many racedays don’t even include a juvenile race, and the 100K Auction race for 2yo fillies during Baden’s summer meet looked like a farce (none of the contestants warranted a fifth of that purse), but certainly turned notable when three completely green horses collided mid-stretch, leaving a seriously injured reigning jockey champion (Eddie Pedroza) in their wake. All but two of the fillies in said race have yet to break their maiden, most haven’t been close either, and not one of them has won a race since. The tragic part: the BBAG is independent of the Internationaler Club, and while the Club faces a dire future, the BBAG is alive, well and hell-bent on its mission to destroy what’s left of German racing.

Overseas, it seems like I’ve missed one more Indian Charlie controversy. Unfortunately though, the mock paper ridiculing him had about the same level of humor ("basement") as the original.
Every time I get more behind-the-scenes info about Musselman’s rag, I’m reminded of Ridicule, a French film about a nobility so infatuated with their self-amusement and shallow intrigues that everything else becomes merely a joke to them, and all their resources are wasted for the pettiest of causes. The wit of their mockery and the gamesmanship involved have an alluring quality, and it takes both the hero and the viewer some time to free themselves of it, to see the destructive effects of the nobility’s obsession with itself. In any case, the lure is strong enough that none of the “players” ever realizes how rotten the game is until it finally comes crashing down – and then it’s too late.
I think about Ridicule a lot when I think about American racing’s “nobility”. Or today’s politics, for that matter.

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