Friday, September 07, 2007

Does he or doesn't he?

...use Grecian Formula?


People who rushed out to buy the iPhone (no Canadians since they aren't available here) at the premium prices of $500 or $600 are really annoyed today. Apple is dropping the price by $200 to make some big bucks over the holidays. Afterall, electronics have considerable price elasticity, which is why the top selling iPod is the Nano and not the full size model.

Apple did announce that people who bought early would receive a $100 Apple store credit. That credit costs Apple far less than $100 and lets face it, you can't find much under $100 in an Apple store so Apple will likely recoup the credit through additional sales.

Some people have interpreted the price drop to mean that sales have been poor. That is probably not the case but you wonder how it will effect product launches in the future. Mind you, for those who have to own the latest gadget, they won't care.

Family Detained at Airport Over 3 Peaches

Massachusetts State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill and his family, returning from an Italian vacation last month, were pulled aside and detained by customs agents at Logan International Airport after one of his four daughters was caught with contraband - three peaches.

To his credit he did not tell the agents he was an elected official. He was unaware about the peaches and did not declare them. They demanded he pay a $300 fine or he would be arrested and jailed.

Somewhere in the course of protecting America from foreign threats, Homeland Security appears to have gotten offtrack. Harrassing their own citizens over a few peaches doesn't appear to be an appropriate use of resources when considering the big picture.

How many more horror stories are there out there just like this one.

Throw Skimpy Oufit From the Plane

I picked up this story first from Liberal Lean. A 23-year-old college student, Kyla Ebbert says she was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight two months ago because a flight attendant thought her outfit was inappropriate. Kyla was wearing a white denim miniskirt, high-heel sandals, and a turquoise summer sweater over a tank top over a bra. You see young women dressed like this every day.

A flight attendant asked her to come out into the jetway and asked her to change. She refused to change and they eventually let her back on. But only on the condition that she pull her tank top up and pull her skirt down a bit. She also covered herself with a blanket. By the way it was over 100F in Tucson that day.

She is still upset and appeared on the Today Show wearing the outfit she had worn that day. Here is the video of her appearance.

She is thinking of suing though I'm not sure what the damages are. She says she only went public because she couldn't get an apology from airlines which makes you wonder how stupid is Southwest?

Whats interesting is that Southwest, it earlier times required its fight attendants to wear skirts as short as Kyla's (see below).

'Smart' Camera Can Detect Smile

This is totally cool! Sony Corp. will begin sales this month of the compact "Cyber-shot T" series that can detect a smile and immediately drop the shutter.

The photographer can program the camera to detect which type of facial expression to look for, be it a faint smile or a tooth-baring grin.

But the camera is not exclusively designed to take pictures of happy moments. The user can turn off the function and use it as a normal camera.

Though with a digital camera this feature isn't as valuable as it would be with a 35mm camera. For group photos I normally take several shots and pick the best of the lot.
UPDATE: Here is how its done. I just tripped over a report on smile measurement softwear. It utlized 3D face mapping software.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Media Trips Up John Tory

Reporters love to lobby loaded questions at politicians to see how they will handle them. Yesterday John Tory kind of fumbled the ball.

He was asked whether Christian schools would still be able to teach creationism, even if they got public funding. He responded saying, "They teach evolution in the Ontario curriculum, but they also could teach the fact to the children that there are other theories that people have out there that are part of some Christian beliefs."

He was later forced to issue a clarification that his proposal would allow creationism to be discussed only as part of religious studies programming, as is now the practice in Ontario's publicly funded Catholic schools, and not in science classes.

This calls for some new briefing notes for the candidate!

Excerpt from 'Dead Certain' by Robert Draper

click on image to enlargen

Happy Birthday Rose!

Real Subtle Mike

A pair of freshmen at Northeastern University learned a tough lesson before classes even started this semester, when one of them allegedly leaned out the window of his dormitory and yelled something regrettable in earshot of plainclothes police officers. "If you're looking for weed, my roommate Ferrante has some for sale," Michael R. Emery yelled, according to a release issued today by the Suffolk district attorney's office. The sales pitch, made Sunday to a fellow student out a second-floor window at the Hemenway Street residence hall, got Emery, 18, and his roommate, Matthew J. Ferrante, 18, in a lot of trouble. After their room was searched and officers found a bevy of marijuana, smoking accessories and liquor, the pair was arrested, arraigned, and apparently thrown out of school.

Accused letter bomber may have been looking for revenge

It looks like one theory regarding the letter bomber, Adel Arnaout, that was dramatically arrested last week was that he may have been acting on personal grudges, targeting his former lawyer and a past neighbour.

Arnaout, who is charged with attempted murder and explosives-related offences over three letter bombs, was a former client of one victim, a Toronto lawyer, and lived in the same neighbourhood as another intended bomb target, a Guelph construction contractor.

Police sources said Arnaout had been convicted of criminal harassment and was on the run from another harassment charge during the time he is accused of making and delivering the letter bombs.

Arnaout had a history of harassment charges -- an April, 2003, conviction for criminal harassment for which he received a conditional discharge. The case file has been sealed by the courts, but Global News reported Wednesday that Arnaout was convicted of harassing managers of a Toronto modelling agency with which he had signed, hoping for a career as a male model. When Arnaout failed to get any work as a model, he allegedly began calling the agency repeatedly and threatening them, claiming to be a member of the Russian mafia.

Toronto lawyer Terrence Reiber, who specializes in real estate law, represented Arnaout in at least two civil suits in the past five years. However, he turned down Arnaout when he was asked to file another suit on his behalf.

Human Rights Watch Also Critical of Israel

Human Rights Watch charged "indiscriminate air strikes" by Israeli forces caused most of the estimated 900 civilian deaths in Lebanon during last year's conflict with Hezbollah.

The 249-page report follows one on Hezbollah last month in which HRW said the guerrilla group fired "thousands of rockets indiscriminately -- and at times deliberately -- at civilian areas in northern Israel" during the conflict of July 12 to Aug. 14, 2006.

HRW disputes Hezbollah systematically used civilians as human shields "as claimed by Israeli officials," but acknowledges the guerrilla group may have sought cover behind various UN bases installed to monitor an earlier ceasefire in southern Lebanon.

Although the report focuses on Israeli and Hezbollah military operations during the war, some commentators say the wider context of the conflict needs to be continually emphasized. "The war itself was not between two internationally legitimate entities," explained Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch. "Hezbollah should by that time have disarmed according to international law, and its actions in seizing the Israeli soldiers were also illegal."

What is MMP?

Many voters may still not be aware that there is a referendum (the first in 80 years) on the ballot at the next provincial election on October 10. The referendum is to determine whether the province’s electoral system needs an overhaul.

Under the current electoral system, each voter in the province’s 107 ridings gets one vote to choose a local representative in the provincial legislature. The political party that wins the most ridings forms the government.

Under the proposed mixed-member proportional (MMP) system, each voter would mark two ballot boxes, one for a local representative and one for a political party.

The legislature would expand to include 129 members from 107, but the number of ridings would be reduced to 90. The other 39 representatives would be so-called “list members,” who would be distributed among the political parties so the balance of power in the legislature is roughly equal to the vote totals for each party.

I personally like it because it would end the trend of political parties forming a majority government after winning only a fraction of the total popular vote. It also means that if you are a Green Party supporter your vote will count because although they will not win any riding, they will get enough of the popular vote to get some seats. To me that is more democratic.

However, some people think this system is less democratic. Their concern is that voters don't decide who gets on the party lists which will fill 39 seats in the Legislature. But the lists will be made public so if you don't like who is on the Liberal's list that might be another reason not to vote for the party. In fact you could vote for the Liberal candidate in your riding but not for the party.

This is not a unique system. It has been tried elsewhere and has been successful in reducing the power of traditional governing parties (like the Liberals in Canada) and empowering smaller parties.

I think it's a good thing!

Fred Thompson Finally Announces

But how much attention will go to his younger and surgically-enhanced wife Jeri Kehn?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bad Bus Crash in Richmond Hill

Just up the street a York Region transit bus and a SUV crashed into a hydro pole, injuring six people during rush hour. The accident took place in the Elgin Mills Road and Bathurst Street area and knocked out power to up to 10,000 households.
UPDATE: Tonya D'Ambrosi, 18, of Richmond Hill who was the driver who collided with a York Region Transit bus last week died on September 12.

Larry Craig Poll Results

So last week I asked what is the next move for Senator Larry Craig?

60% said he should admit he's gay and come up to Toronto to get married.
5% said he should admit to substance abuse and go into rehab.
25% said he should declare he has found Jesus and intends to serve God.
10% said he should become a regular on Howard Stern's radio show.

Well it looks Senator Craig may not be resigning to come up to Toronto after all. His announcement on the weekend has been rescinded and he plans to overturn his guilty plea and fnish his Senate term.

She may be a mess but Amy Winehouse sure can sing

Chupacabra found ... on a T-shirt

I would have to agree that the alleged chupacabra carcass found in Texas is likely a hoax to sell T-shirts.
The animal, described as "a cross between two or three different things", was found as road kill last month near the Texas town of Cuero. The woman who discovered the carcass has been using it to market chupacabra T-shirts. Dog breeders say the carcass appears to be that of a Mexican Hairless dog, rather than the blood-sucking creature of legend.

Last night on a radio show, I heard a guy calls in to say he saw one in Illinois. He indicated that it ran like a pig and its bark sounded like a goose. Others have sited some unusual beasts as well. Mass hysteria no doubt.

Canada May be Heading Towards an Election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that he will prorogue Parliament and delay the next session until October 12. The big political question is whether he is doing it simply to get a fresh start or because he hopes to trigger defeat of his minority Conservative government so he can call an election to seek a majority.

I don't buy the "fresh start" angle I see this decision as the Conservatives orchestrating their own defeat in the hands of more vocal opposition in the House who have all stated over the summer that they will be giving the Conservatives a rough time this fall. Even if the Conservative intention isn't an election, it forces the opposition to ramp up their election preparedness, which creates a momentum that isn't easily abandoned.

Harper's announcement today sets everything in motion, and with a full six weeks before Parliament returns, the rhetoric will only intensify. In many respects, all three opposition leaders have backed themselves in a corner, it is hard to see how they can tactfully withdraw and look credible.

This is as good of a time as any for the Conservative to attempt to gain a majority. Their agenda is stale and their attempts to increase their popularity have failed. All the parties have been stuck at the same level in the polls for quite some time. Perhaps a campaign will break up the current log jam. Or we could end up with the same result as the previous election.

Liberalsn NDP Promise Dental Care for the Poor

One of the gaps in our universal health care system has always been no coverage for dental care. Only 50% of Canadian are covered by private dental insurance. Those without coverage either pay themselves or forgo dental treatment. The absence of basic dental coverage leads to numerous heath problems that only shift costs to elsewhere in the system.

Canada ranks second last of nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in per capita public support for dental care.

So the announcement yesterday that Ontario's working poor would get basic dental care at a cost of $45 million-a-year program under a Liberal government is long overdue. New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton promised a $100 million-a-year denticare program two months ago. The Liberal proposal would cover about 500,000 people at a cost of about $900 per person.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Great Student Prank

Kyle Garchar, a senior at Hilliard Davidson High School in suburban Columbus, said he spent about 20 hours over three days plotting the trick. Garchar, 17, created a grid to plan how the message would be spelled out once fans in three sections held up either a black or white piece of construction paper. Directions left on stadium seats instructed fans to check that the number listed on their papers matched their seat numbers. Darby supporters were told the message would read “Go Darby.” “It was tedious,” Garchar said. “I didn’t really think it was going to work.” Davidson Principal John Bandow had told students that he expected them to show sportsmanship at the game, which Darby won 21-10. Bandow gave Garchar three days of in-school suspension and banned him from extracurricular activities for a semester, the students said. Two Darby students who helped Garchar received the same punishment after the principals from both schools spoke by phone.

I guess the prank is worth a suspension but you have to give him A+ for effort.

Every fall I wish I was back in university

CN Tower No Longer Tallest

It’s finally going to happen: after years of seeing pretenders to the crown only to fall short, in a matter of days or weeks, the CN Tower will be surpassed as the world’s tallest free-standing structure by the Burj Dubai (below), an office and condo tower in the United Arab Emirates.

The CN Tower has held the distinction for the last 31 years. We will only have the second tallest structure.

In case you missed Jerry's weekend rants

...not the most appropriate language for TV or for soliciting donations. But you are always going to get a rant. Yes he is a curmudgeon.

Home Depot Employee Fired for Stopping Alleged Thief

Hard to believe but Dustin Chester is job hunting this week, after The Home Depot fired him and the general manager for thwarting a thief from running away with a pocket full of stolen cash.

It seems he violated company policy. The Home Depot said its policy, which directs workers to notify loss prevention specialists or police to handle criminal situations, is in place to protect its employees and customers.

I know this area is a legal minefield which is why companies don't want staff to aprehend criminals. But couldn't they have just thanked him and then warned him not to do it in the future?

Airshow Crashes

Airshows have always been popular and I used to go down to the CNE on the Labour Day weekend to see the one in Toronto, until the crash about 14 years ago. Which is what bothers me about them. High-risk entertainment just doesn't seem right. People shouldn't be risking their lives to entertain me. Maybe that's why I'm not a big NASCAR fan.

Anyway, each year there is a crash at an airshow somewhere. This year it was in Warsaw.
The Ontario Liberals have timed the announcement really well and are dangling a juicy carrot in our faces. If re-elected, they promise to add another statutory holiday - a long weekend in February to mark 'Family Day'. I noticed the Conservatives were careful not to criticize the idea but rather the timing of the announcement. John Tory said he was all for families having a day off in February but warned about Liberals making last-minute promises.He suggested that the public would see this as election time opportunism and that the business community should have been consulted.

Hmm, throw in a weekend at Fern Resort and they have my vote.

PETA Protest in London

21 members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Europe (PETA) performed a "21 bum salute" at Tower Bridge, London protesting the bearskin hats worn by the Buckingham Palace Guards. The protesters were wearing fake ones.

I love their protests.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Another Polls has Liberals in the Lead

SES Research has a poll out on the Ontario election and this one is pretty easy to spin but both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives but to my reading it is mostly good news for McGuinty. My earlier post had similar numbers.

First the signs pointing to a minority Liberal government but within striking distance of a majority.

Liberals: 40%

Progressive Conservatives: 34%

New Democrats: 19%

Greens: 8%

Labour Day also means Jerry Lewis

How can you not associate the Labour Day long weekend with Jerry Lewis and his telethon. A long weekend of endless bad entertainment and Jerry either acting stupid or ranting about his critics (the man has a thin skin). So for some nostalgia here is the irrepressible and horrible Charro.

Happy Labour Day

Liberals Close to Majority

Liberals continue to firm up their slight lead in the Ontario election, according to a new poll by Ipsos-Reid released this past week. the Liberals would win between 52-55 seats with 40.4% support, the PCs would be at 40-44 seats on 36.2% support, and the NDP at 10-12 seats on 17.9% support. The Greens projected at 4.2% and all others at 1.3%, with no seats.

This is going to be very close. However based on the numbers over the summer, the election is for the Liberals to lose. Even another majority is possible.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hurricane Felix - 8 pm Tonight

Last Word on Larry Craig

It seems odd the number of gay Republican politicians that are homophobic. Are they in denial or hypocrites? And why are they getting caught in high-risk relationships? Well for one thing, if they were open about their lifestyle then they wouldn't need to sneak around and have high-risk sexual encounters. Perhaps they don't even consider themselves to be gay which is why they appear to be such liars. I think the pressure and stress that comes with their secret lifestyle is enormous. Part of their homophobic record is in response to the pressure. Who would suspect politicians with strong anti-gay voting records could possibly be gay. One by one the succumb to the pressure and the house of cards comes tumbling down.

So check out the Larry Craig poll on the right sidebar.

Happy 41st Selma Hayek

Hope you get down to your regular weight soon!

click on photos to enlargen

Ontario Quietly Edges Towards an Election

After Labour Day, the summer is officially over and perhaps the Ontario election gets into gear. On the other hand the province could slowly sleep walk towards October 10th.

Clearly the public appears disinterested and the politicians have been overwhelmingly boring. The McGuinty government has been neither spectacular or a disaster. Their many broken promises over the last 4 years has caused the government to not really make any promises this time around. Taking a cue from the federal Liberals, the provincial counterparts have been talking up the environment but their initiatives on the environment have miserly - like using more efficient light bulbs.

But the Conservatives under John Tory haven't exactly come out with a dynamic policy agenda either. Tory has been careful to distance himself from former Premier Mike Harris and selling himself almost as a Conservative version of centrist Dalton McGuinty. Tory's biggest splash in the policy area has been public funding of faith based schools. Yeah, really exciting stuff. We haven't even heard from the NDP and Howard Hampton.

The big issue should be the referendum on a new electoral system but most voters aren't even aware of this issue being on the ballot. I suspect when they see they will vote for the status quo. If they aren't aware that it's broken then why fix it. Which is too bad.