Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sicko: A Canadian Perspective

Michael Moore continues to be a polarizing figure another controversial film about the American health care system. His style is never objective or balanced - he is always out to make a statement. In Sicko, he is critical of the political and health care establishment for keeping the U.S. as the only industrialized country without universal health care.

He contends that the American system of private medical insurance is a disaster, and that a state-run system, such as exists nearly everywhere else in the industrialized world, would be better. This argument is illustrated with anecdotes and statistics — terrible stories about Americans denied medical care or forced into bankruptcy to pay for it; grim actuarial data about life expectancy and infant mortality; damning tallies of dollars donated to political campaigns.

What is different about this film is that he condemns both sides of the political divide and it is likely neither Democrats or Republicans would disagree with his description of the problems with the U.S. system.

With evident glee Moore sets out to challenge some widely held American notions about socialized medicine in the second half of the film. He finds that British doctors are happy and well paid, that Canadians don’t have to wait very long in emergency rooms, and that the French are not taxed into penury. “What’s your biggest expense after the house and the car?” he asks an upper-middle-class French couple. “Ze feesh,” replies the wife. “Also vegetables.”

The reality is that these systems are not perfect and they are not free. In Canada, we pay for health care but there is one big insurance pool operated by the government. You pay in your entire working life and when you need care (often when you are a senior) you get it. Resources are rationed which means you sometimes need to wait for some services but you are never denied services you need. A colleague developed a detached retina which was surgically repaired the same day. However, if I want a routine eye exam with an opthamologist I better plan ahead and book it 4 months in advance. They system works.

So when Moore suggests that you don't wait in Canadian emergency rooms that is just not correct. You might wait hours if you do not exhibit life threatening symptoms. But you will never be turned away. So we accept that we might have to wait so that someone with more serious problems can get looked after.

If that's socialism, then call us socialists.

Arizona Reporters Tragically Create Their Own News

A police chase through the streets of downtown Phoenix turned into a midair tragedy Friday afternoon when two television news helicopters covering the action collided and crashed to the ground in smoke and flame, killing all four people on board.

Typically air traffic controllers clear helicopters into an area where they can cover a chase like this. Once they are in the area, the pilots themselves are responsible for keeping themselves separated from other aircraft.

Phoenix police say they will charge the suspect they were chasing in the reporters death.

Doctor Falls Asleep During Surgery

A former anesthesiologist at Children's Hospital in Boston who fell asleep in the operating room must prove he's clean before practicing medicine again.

Thomas Ho admitted to falling asleep during surgery in December 2005 after taking a prescribed medication. Ho admitted that he "was under a great deal of personal stress," the state said in its complaint against him.He also said he inhaled Isoflurane, an anesthetic, during his lunch break in January 2006 because he was having a panic attack and felt he was going to die. Ho, 30, was in a residency program at Brigham and Women's Hospital but was doing a rotation at Children's Hospital when the two incidents occured.

The Board of Registration in Medicine revoked his license, saying he cannot apply for a new one until he proves he hasn't used drugs or alcohol for 15 continuous months and agrees to chemical dependency monitoring.

Roller Derby is Back

Roller Derby is back in Toronto. Tonight the Toronto Roller Derby League, the largest flat-track derby league in North America, presents "Derby: Dead or Alive" at the George Bell Arena. I understand its just like back in the 70s with elbows, body checks and wild crowds.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thanks for finally telling us

Did you see where Aquafina is going to start labeling it's water as being from the tap? This is so the environmentally concerned can pay a buck fifty for 16 oz.s of water without feeling guilty about it.They'll still have to individually work out a rational for not feeling stupid about paying a buck fifty for 16 oz.s of water.

Walk Score

Walk Score, a nifty little site that will rate a street address based on its walk-ability level.

My place in Thornhill gets a score of only 9 out of 100 Which explains why were are planning on getting a 3rd car.

The site uses an algorithm to determine the walk-ability score of a specific address. The easier it is to walk to stores, parks, schools and restaurants, the higher the score. The ratings can be a suburban "Driving Only" (0-25 out of 100) all the way up to a "Walkers' Paradise" (90-100 out of 100). Although the algorithm is working quite right because it show no school in my neighbourhood (there are actually3 and a 4th being built.

Canned Busker

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Toronto Real Estate Market is Insane

A house on Munro Park in The Beach with an asking price of $1.3M recently sold for an incredible $1.9M - roughly $600,000 over the asking price.

It's becoming the year of the bidding war as the Toronto Real Estate Market isn't showing any signs of slowing down any time soon. The summer months of July and August are traditionally a slow time of year in Real Estate-but not this year. Properties are regularly selling for over their asking price all over the city and the idea of getting a bargain has become like the quest for the Holy Grail.

The people most affected by all this-prospective buyers-are getting fed up. Some are relieving their frustration by acting irrationally and they end up overpaying for a property just for the sake of buying something. Others are packing it in and deciding to rent and wait for the market to cool off.

Hilary Duff Dating Mike Comrie

This couple is almost as interesting as the Jarret Stoll and Rachel Hunter match. Mike Comrie just signed with the New York Islanders. They could be quite the power couple. Comrie stands to inherit The Brick Furniture (with about 160 big box stores) fortune from his dad one day.

More Simpsons' Movie Hype

About a dozen 7-11 stores in the U.S. were done up as Kwik-e-Marts as a clever promotion for The Simpsons' Movie coming out this weekend. They were cute. Now the promotions have come to Toronto. A giant donut has been painted at the base of the CN Tower (above) and now the Fox and Fiddle on John Street is being turned into Moe's Tavern (below) for a Thursday night post-screening party. If they are serving Flaming Moes I might even show up.

Staal Brothers' Mugshots

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman should be thanking his lucky stars. While baseball is about to see one of its most sacred records broken amidst a steroid controversy that won't die, and the NBA is dealing with a gambling scandal that is calling into question the credibility of the league's referees, all the NHL has to deal with is two brothers getting arrested at a bachelor party that just got a little out of hand.

Congrats to the Eric and Jordan Staal for creating some very entertaining hockey news at the end of July. And good luck Eric on your upcoming marriage.

3rd season of Weeds starts in 3 weeks

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

That must have been some party

Brothers Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins were among 14 people arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after a weekend party.

The incident early Saturday morning occurred at the Lutsen Resort and Sea Villas, about 90 minutes south of the Thunder Bay, Ont., hometown of the Staal brothers. They were gathered there for 22-year-old Eric's bachelor party. Jordan who is 18 was released after booking but not before being charged with consumption of alcohol while under 21 years of age, in addition to disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.

Overweight Cyclist Walking His Bike For Rest Of Tour De France

Miss Universe 2004 -- Still Out of This World

Jennifer Hawkins patrolling a beach likely somewhere I will never be able to visit.

Strange nude blonde shows up in a German shop

A mysterious blonde paid a visit to a petrol station shop in the small eastern German town of Doemitz on Sunday - wearing nothing but a pair of golden stilettos, tatoos and a thin gold bracelet.

The tall, slender woman strolled into the shop in the town of Doemitz on the warm afternoon and bought cigarettes, said petrol station employee Ines Swoboda.

A quick-witted customer did, however, snap pictures of the woman believed to be about 30 years old as she walked back to a waiting Ferrari and climbed into the passenger seat.

How our criminal justice system fails us

One of the men charged in 11-year-old Ephraim Brown's murder was freed in the 2005 shooting of four-year-old Shaquan Cadougan after a judge ruled that police had coerced a confession from him. Gregory Sappleton was among several people arrested two years ago following a drive-by shooting that hit another innocent young victim, Shaquan. He survived but still has bullets embedded in his body.

Police alleged the gunman in the Cadougan shooting stashed his weapon at the Sappleton residence and on that basis obtained and executed a search warrant, Brown said. A search of the home turned up a gun in the basement. Narcotics were also found in the house. Sappleton and his brother Adrian were arrested upon arriving home but denied any knowledge of the gun.

A charge of attempted murder was dropped. Additional drugs and weapons charges were later dismissed after a judge determined that a statement Sappleton made to police was not voluntary. And that is how the justice system fails to protect the community. Every young thug is given the benefit of doubt time and time again - even when it comes to murder. This gives them a sense of immunity and only fuels their anti-social behaviour.

Police aren't sure if Sappleton is actually a gang member although they say he associates with gang members. According to the police's Guns and Gangs unit, about 100 street gangs operate in Toronto; they are keeping a close eye on 20 to 25 of the larger crews. A street gang is defined as three or more members who are involved in criminal activity. However, street gangs are quite fluid so the police likely have no real sense of the true numbers.

Meanwhile, police continue to hunt for more suspects involved in last weekend's gun battle that ended the life of Ephraim Brown.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Happy July 25th!

Train Wreck Memorabilia

Remember last February, when Britney Spears shaved her head and went nuts on a Ford with an umbrella, before her mom shuttled her over to rehab?

Now you can drive yourself crazy -- in the same 2002 Ford Explorer -- along with the busted green umbrella tossed in for rainy-day angst!

Bidding starts on this eBay auction -- at $25,000.

Lindsay Lohan Arrested for DUI Again

It appears Lindsay Lohan was arrested for drunk driving in Santa Monica early this morning. This is her second DUI charge in less than three months. Her blood alcohol level was reportedly between .12 and .13 — well beyond the .08 legal limit — and cocaine was found in her pocket following a search of all her junk.

She must have forgotten her alcohol monitoring bracelet at home last night. Good thing the police were out looking for her. She looks wasted in her mugshot posted above.
Kiss this career good bye for a while. It will hard to avoid some jail time and serious rehab.

Gangbangers Charged in Ephraim Brown Death Well Known to Police

The police and the court system are quite familiar with Akiel Eubank and Gregory Sappleton, both charged with murder in the death of Ephraim Brown. Their background underscores the weaknesses in our criminal justice system and the useless gun registry.

Akiel Eubank has had numerous run-ins with the law and wears his gang affiliation razored into his haircut. Police describe him as a gang member with a history of violence and weapons offences. He was on probation and prohibited from owning weapons. He has "5PG" shaved into his closely cropped hair which identifies him as a member of the Five Point Generals, a group whose turf is known to be Weston Rd. and Lawrence Ave

Gregory Sappleton, two years ago faced numerous charges after a home in the city's north end was sprayed with bullets, injuring four people including Shaquan Cadougan, then 4, believed then to be Toronto's youngest shooting victim.

Of course our federal government is philosophically opposed to banning hand guns because liberal gun ownership has been such a success in preventing shootings in the U.S.

There have been 23 shooting deaths in Toronto this year. In contrast, during the notorious "year of the gun" two years ago, 20 people were killed as a result of gun violence.

No Crocs for Docs

I have this ongoing dislike for Crocs as they are turning up everywhere and being worn by almost everyone.

It turns out that many nurses and doctors swear by them. They were originally intended to be boating or outdoor footwear because of their non-marking, slip-resistant soles. But whether or not hospital staff should wear them is a hot topic inside the province's hospitals.

At issue are the holes in the top of the shoes and the strap on the back. Blood or bodily fluids can seep into the shoe holes, causing an infection control risk. Sharp objects could go through one of the holes. If the straps of the shoes aren't worn properly, health staff transporting patients can inadvertently slip out of the shoes.

For years, surgeons and operating room nurses and staff have worn clog type shoes in the operating theatre. But clogs traditionally worn in the OR had closed toes.

Everyone Wants "Ghetto Dude" Now

If you are interested in offering Evon Reid a job you may have to take a number. He's getting his 15 minutes of fame as result of the new coverage over the weekend and it seems to be working out for him.

He has an interview with Cabinet Office this week but is getting offers from other both from the public and private sector including an offer to work in Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory's office. He got his apology from Premier and McGuinty as well as a call from Tony Dean who is head of the Ontario Public Service. Evon has noticed how he has unwittingly been hijacked into the Ontario election campaign.

Let's hope he makes use of the opportunities wisely.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And one pill makes you ... older!

Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, and Mamas & the Papas' Michelle Phillips are still '60s rockers -- 67 & 63 years old!

Train Wreck Update

Britney having trouble carrying Jayden and keeping her clothes on at the same time. Britney also debuted a new weavehider headband, which appears to have been fashioned from an old bicycle tire.

Latest in Beachwear Accessories

Lindsay Lohan modelling an endless supply of teeny-weeny bikinis and overpriced sunglasses, hooker shoes and her latest fashion accessory — a shiny new alcohol-monitoring bracelet.

2nd Man Charged in Ephraim Brown's Death

Police have arrested a second man in connection with the fatal shooting of 11-year-old Ephraim Brown.

Late this afternoon, Gregory Sappleton, 21, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Yesterday police arrested Akiel Eubank, 20 - a man officers say is "extremely well-known" to them - and charged him with first degree murder.

Some Item's Confiscated at Airport Security

Last year, according to U.S. Transportation Security Administration figures, airport agents collected 12,295 "clubs, bats and bludgeons"; 1.6 million "knives and blades"; and 74,665 other objects classified as "deadly/dangerous." Here are some unusual items:

electric impact drillS
circular saws
hockey sticks
nail guns
chain saws
furry handcuffs
riding crops
studded collars


"Hotlips" Monica is 34 Today

Murder Charge Laid in Ephraim Brown Death

Akiel Eubank, 20, arrived at a North Toronto hospital with a gunshot wound to the upper thigh. He was initially questioned as an innocent bystander and was released. But after interviewing friends and relatives of the boy, Eubank was charged with first-degree murder.

Police allege that Eubank was one of two men firing shots at one another near a house party in the city’s north end early Sunday morning. Ephraim and other children were caught in the crossfire.

My Vote for the Darwin Award

A teenage boy who broke into a high-rise apartment fell 26 storeys to his death during a botched burglary in the Toronto's east end yesterday afternoon.

Police say the teen had broken into an apartment on the 26th floor and ransacked the home of cash and jewellery. He was startled when the family living in the apartment returned home.

Instead of fighting through the family, the thief moved to the balcony, threw his bag of stolen goods over the side, and began climbing down. That's when he slipped and fell.

Another Child Murdered on the Weekend

Another child,Ephraim Brown, has been killed in the crossfire of a gang gun battle, and once again, no one is coming forward to reveal any details.
This was just one of a series of unrelated shootings this weekend.

I know guns don't kill people - people kill people. We need to make sure by getting rid of shooters and the guns.

NOTE: Toronto police confirmed on Monday morning they have made an arrest in the shooting death of Ephraim Brown. More info will be posted when available.

This is the "ghetto dude"

A University of Toronto honours student, who applied for a job with the provincial goavernment, will receive an apology from Premier Dalton McGuinty, after he was referred to as a "ghetto dude" in an email from a part-time contract employee in the cabinet office.

Evon Reid applied for a position as a media analyst with the Ontario government's cabinet office, but instead of receiving a standard message confirming the receipt of the email, it read, This is the ghetto dude that I spoke to before."

A woman in the cabinet office, Aileen Siu, who sent the email said she was "multi-tasking" when she accidentally sent the email to a job-search colleague to Reid. Siu insisted her note didn't refer to anyone "outside my circle of friends.''

Tony Dean, head of the Ontario Public Service, said a sincere apology has been offered to Reid and his office will be taking appropriate steps to address Siu's conduct.

Unruly Schoolboys or Sex Offenders?

The two boys tore down the hall of Patton Middle School after lunch, swatting the bottoms of girls as they ran - what some kids later said was a common form of greeting.

But bottom-slapping is against policy in McMinnville Public Schools. So a teacher's aide sent the gawky seventh-graders to the office, where the vice principal and a police officer stationed at the school soon interrogated them.

After hours of interviews with students the day of the February incident, the officer read the boys their Miranda rights and hauled them off in handcuffs to juvenile jail, where they spent the next five days.

Now, Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison, both 13, face the prospect of 10 years in juvenile detention and a lifetime on the sex offender registry in a case that poses a fundamental question: When is horseplay a crime?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Some Cool City Skylines

Sidney, Australia

Hong Kong, China


Toronto, Canada

Cheaters: Israeli Style

An Israeli man who hired a detective to find out whether his daughter was cheating on her husband was told by the investigator his wife was in fact the one being unfaithful.

The man had his daughter followed at the request of his son-in-law, who had been suspicious of his wife's behaviour. The daughter was found innocent but the private investigator managed to snap photographs of the mother and another man caught in the act.

Bikini-clad women mow lawns in Memphis

One lawn care company is showing a little skin to boost business.
The women of Tiger Time Lawn Care offer to mow customers' lawns dressed in bikinis — a service that attracts more attention to the ladies than the lawns.

Some customers sit in lawn chairs and have a beer while watching.

Mitt Romney is such a funny guy

Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth

Green giant Al Gore makes a pretty penny off of his environmental speaking engagements. The former veep raked in around $100,000 for a recent 75-minute speaking engagement at the University of California, San Diego, reports by way of the L.A. Times.

What did Gore require during his stay? How about first-class air travel for himself and one companion; $1,000 per day for incidental expenses; security guards; and an environmentally-conscious vehicle for all road travel. The vice president also demanded that there be no press, nor video or audio taping of his appearance, and that he have full approval over all banners, logos, and communications materials for the event.

Answer: Alex Trebek

Question: What Canadian-born television game show host turns 67 today?

Picture below is from the CBC archives showing Alex doing a news report in 1965.

Cheney, Briefly Assuming Bush’s Duties, Says He Enjoyed The Downtime

Vice-President Dick Cheney, having briefly assumed President Bush’s duties while the President underwent a routine colon procedure on Saturday, told reporters today that he “enjoyed the downtime immensely.”

The two hours and fifteen minutes spent doing Bush’s job were “incredibly relaxing,” Mr. Cheney said, adding that they were a welcome relief from his exacting Vice-Presidential schedule.

Invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution Saturday morning, Mr. Bush transferred to Mr. Cheney all of his presidential responsibilities, which meant that Mr. Cheney spent Saturday jogging, going to the gym, and hitting a ball for Mr. Bush’s dog to retrieve.

All in all, Mr. Cheney said he emerged from his brief tenure as President rested and refreshed, ready to plunge back into his demanding Vice-Presidential workload.

As for the President, Mr. Bush’s doctors pronounced his procedure a success, but said that they were having difficulty determining whether or not the President’s anesthesia had fully worn off.