Thursday, October 11, 2007

Off to Arizona Until October 21


Fans to Leafs: All is Forgiven!


The Maple Leafs got their act together tonight with a 8-1 blow out of the Islanders. This followed their embarrassing 7-1 loss to Carolina on Tuesday. Sundin broke Leaf goal and point scoring records and was picked the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stars of the game. Quite fitting since he is their only true star.

Tonight followed the same pattern as last season. A terrible game followed by a great game.

So why can't they play like this every night?

Predictions for Maple Leafs is Mixed

There was no consensus really on my poll on how the Toronto Maple Leafs would do this season. Here are the poll results:

Make the playoffs and be a Cup contender 1 (3%)
Squeak into the playoffs and get knocked out first round by a real contender 13 (43%)
Finish 1 or 2 points out of 8th spot like the last 2 seasons 8 (26%)
Have a total melt down and finish near the bottom of the standings 8 (26%)

About 1/2 said the Leafs would make the playoffs and about 1/2 said they would not. One pathetic supporter who likely has a blue maple leaf tattooed to his ass suggested they would be a contender this year. Hard to figure how you could come to the conclusion when only 3 new players were added to the roster.

69% of people felt that the team would either just squeak in or just miss the playoffs which suggests that the majority of people recognize that this team is spinning wheels. It's about the same as last season and the season before that.

26% felt that the wheels would fall off the wagon this year and the team would drop to the bottom of the standings. That might not be so ridiculous. The Leafs are so weak at centre that a long-term injury to Sundin could be catastrophic. The only wingers that seem to score with any consistency are those on Sundin's line. Take them off the line and they can't put the puck in the net. Look what's happened to Darcy Tucker so far this season.

Record Low Turnout for Ontario Election

Only 52.6 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, or 4.4 million of 8.4 million possible voters, according to numbers released by Elections Ontario at 6:30 a.m. ET Thursday, when 99.8 per cent of polls had been counted.

The turnout was worse than a previous record low of 54.7 per cent set in 1923. It also fell below the 2003 voter turnout of 56.9 per cent.

Legislation introduced by the previous Liberal government since the 2003 election to boost declining turnout in recent elections did not seem to have the desired effect.

Those changes included:

- Setting a fixed election date.
- Extending the hours and number of days of advanced voting.
- Boosting the number of polling stations.
- Extending polling by one hour on election day.

Who Voted for MMP?

It's impossible to know who voted for MMP, that is how many Liberal supporters, Conservative supporters etc. The proportion of voters that selected MMP was 36.7%. Interestingly, the proportion of voters that did not support either a Liberal or Conservative candidate was about 26%. I would guess that most of the votes in favour of MMP came from voters who did not support one of the two Centrist parties.

The MMP was supported by over 50% of voters in only 5 ridings. All 5 ridings are in Toronto and 4 elected NDP candidates. The 5th riding, Davenport, elected a Liberal but the NDP candidate was a close second and running third was Green Party leader Frank De Jong. This confirms my suspicion that support largely fell along lines.

So What Happened in Those Close Ridings?

The NDP’s Paul Ferreira won a tight by-election in York South-Weston but its impossible to predict whether he will be able to hold it. In the 2003 election, the Liberals received over 60% of the vote. Liberal Laura Albanese retakes riding.

Tim Peterson crossed the floor to join the PCs but in 2003 he won Mississauga South by just over 200 votes. It's going to be close again. Liberal Charles Sousa defeats Peterson.

Will new Liberal candidate Yasir Naqvi keep Ottawa Centre in the Liberal column? Yasir Naqvi retains riding for Liberals.

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek is a new riding which included about half of the former Hamilton East riding and half of the former Stoney Creek riding. Both riding were Liberal in 2003 but the NDP’s Paul Miller is making it too close to call and there is no Liberal incumbent. NDP Paul Miller wins.

Maria Bountroginanni decided not to run for re-election in Hamilton Mountain which has opened up the riding and it is impossible to predict if new candidate Sophia Aggelonitis can hold it for the Liberals. Liberal Sophia Aggelonitis prevails.

Back in 2003 Liberal Kim Craitor beat PC Bart Maves in Niagara Falls by 3,000 votes. This time its too close to call. Liberal Kim Craitor wins again.

Impossible to say whether first-time Liberal incumbent Liz Sandals can hold Guelph. Liberal Liz Sandals also wins again.

Liberal Carol Mitchell may not be able fend off the challenge from the PCs in Huron-Bruce which has traditionally been Conservative country. Liberal Carol Mitchell holds onto seat.

Same thing for Liberal John Milloy in Kitchener Centre which is in an island in a sea of Conservative blue. Liberal John Milroy prevails again.

Back in 2003 the Liberal, Conservative and NDP candidates all received over 30% of the votes in London-Fanshawe. It looks to be another competitive 3-way battle again. Liberal Khalil Ramal is returned.

Ajax-Pickering is another riding with no incumbents. When Jim Flaherty resigned to run federally his wife Christine Elliott won the by-election in 2006. With new riding boundaries, Elliott is running in Whitby-Oshawa. Liberal Joe Dickson takes the riding.

The same situation exists in Oak-Ridges-Markham because PC Frank Klees has moved to Newmarket-Aurora. Liberal Helena Jaczek wins seat in Tory country.

Will PC challenger Peter Shurman take Thornhill from a weak Liberal, Mario Racco? Conservative Peter Shurman defeats incumbent Racco.

Can Liberal Vic Dhillon hold Brampton West which contains most of Tony Clement's old riding? Liberal Vic Dhillon holds onto riding.

Will Toronto councilor and PC challenger David Shiner take Willowdale back from the Liberals?
Liberal David Zimmer is returned.

In an election where the government is returned with a solid majority, it's not surprising to see so many close races won by Liberals. The only exceptions are Thornhill with a large Jewish population and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek where there is always strong NDP support.

Why John Tory will have to give up the leadership

Over the next few days and weeks the knives will likely come out. In some cases it will be pissed off candidates who were sick and tired of defending the decision to support the funding of faith-based schools. Then there are leadership rivals who will be gently pointing out the exit sign.

And I'm not sure if there is MPP who will be willing to give up their seat to allow Tory to run in a by-election after such a disappointing defeat. Certainly it won't be in Toronto since the party got shut out.

Tory complained that his campaign was hijacked by the media and others. He wasn't able to talk about all the other policies in his platform. But who is to blame? I think its John Tory. He had have known this issue was contentious and chose to ignore. The party did focus group testing and the issue was rejected by the focus groups. And Tory was around during the Bill Davis years when public funding was introduced for Catholic schools. He knew how divisive the issue was back then. So he chose to let the Jeannie out of the bottle and now he will pay the price.

Bin Laden hiding in a city?

...and not in a cave at all. That's the theory of Lieutenant-General Asad Durrani, and he should know since he's the former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (best known for creating the Taliban) in Pakistan. Here he is being interviewed by Reuters:

"In the countryside or in tribal areas ... it's difficult to hide yourself because there people live ... and operate in a manner in which finding out about unusual presence is very important," Durrani told Reuters in an interview in London.

He said it was true that tribal customs placed great value on showing hospitality and not betraying a guest. "In the tribal code, anyone who seeks your protection has to be defended, if necessary with your life."

However, he added: "I am not sure over a period of four, five or six years that it would be possible even for the tribesmen to keep his presence under wraps."

Such information would have traveled or been divulged, given the incentives, Durrani said in a reference to the $25 million U.S. bounty on bin Laden's head.

So where is the evil old beard?

"Why not a big city? Anywhere in Pakistan, Afghanistan. Anywhere outside the region where it is easier to keep cover," he said. "These are the places where you can hide yourself much better."

Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were both captured in Pakistani cities. One can only hope Osama and al-Zawahiri will be the next two. I don't think anyone has ever seriously believed that bin Laden has been hiding in a cave all this time. It's much more likely that he's relaxing in some mansion somewhere, enjoying the hospitality of his many, many high-ranking supporters in Pakistan or Afghanistan (though he will have to move around a lot).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why the Referendum was Defeated

As I have been saying for quite a while, Ontario's referendum on electoral reform was set up to be defeated and indeed it was. The referendum was plagued by voter and media apathy, a poor education campaign, and an impossible threshold for passage.

Results so far show Ontarians have voted nearly two-to-one to keep the first-past-the-post election system, rejecting a MMP system recommended by a government-appointed citizens' assembly earlier this year.

The new system needed approval by a “super majority” of 60 per cent of voters and majority approval in at least 64 ridings.

Well since neither of the two largest parties (the Liberals and Conservatives) supported the proposal, it wasn't going to be supported by voters. In fact, rather than assist in educating voters, the Conservatives continually raised distorted views regarding the proposed system.

Although the Liberals promised democratic renewal during the 2003 campaign, the citizens' forum's recommended reforms did not appeal to the government so their proposal was neglected. Instead of a 2-year education program, voters were given a minimal amount of information over a few weeks. Voters who might have supported reforms if they understood them, stuck with the status quo.

The question is whether there is any continued appetite in Ontario for democratic renewal. MMP isn't the only alternative model.

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words


Food coma


Photo Shop Works Magic on Tara

Before

After



Liberals Returned with Larger Majority

Current results show the Liberals leading or elected in 72 ridings – 18 more than the 54 needed for a majority in the 107-seat legislature – with the Progressive Conservatives leading or elected in 25. New Democrats were leading or elected in 11 ridings.

At dissolution, when there were 103 seats in the legislature, the Liberals held 67 seats, the Conservatives 25, and the New Democrats 10, with one vacant seat. So if the results hold out, the Liberals go from a 15-seat majority to a 18-seat majority.

All Cabinet minister except for one has been re-elected. David Ramsay, Timiskaming-Cochrane (natural resources, aboriginal affairs) is currently trailing.

The night has been a disaster for John Tory. His party made no gains in the election and Tory did not win his riding. Although he indicated last week that he would remain as leader no matter what happened, that might not be the case. To continue as Opposition Leader, one of the elected Conservatives will have to resign their seat for a by-election. Hampton also insisted the 2007 election won't be his last.

In my riding (Thornhill), its a very close race with Conservative Peter Shurman holding a close lead over Liberla Mario Racco. This is likely the only riding in the province where the Conservative's position on funding faith-based schools may actually help them win a seat.

The Green Party has improved in the popular vote. In 2003 they only received 2.8% of the vote. Currently they are running at about 8.2%. However they were not even close to winning a seat. Interestingly, under MMP, they would have received at least 2 seats.

Speaking of which, the referendum vote is only about 37% in favour of the proposed MMP. More on the referendum later.

Pole Dancer Gets Workers Comp

An Indiana appeals court upheld a worker's compensation award Tuesday for an exotic dancer who was injured while performing on a pole at a strip club. You know we need to take care of our pole dancers.

Angela Hobson claimed she suffered neck pain and numbness after injuring herself while dancing at the Shangri-La West club in Fort Wayne on Dec. 20, 2001. She underwent surgery for a herniated disc in her cervical spine, according to court records.

Hey Toskala, did they warn you about this team?


Newcomer Vesa Toskala was left out there on his own for most of last night's game. The result was an embarrassing 7-1 win by Carolina. In fact the score could have been worse if not for some excellent saves by Toskala. The best goalie in the world couldn't have won last night's game.

What is becoming alarming is that the poor play during the preseason has carried over into the regular season. Most people recognize that the overpaid defense is actually quite porous. But what is worrisome is the lack of effort and emotion displayed by the players. Fans are being told not to panic, it's still early. So at what point do you begin to panic? They are playing in front of their own fans but refuse to give them anything to cheer about.

The Leafs had a number of games like this last season in which they appeared to sleepwalk through the game. Now that it has carried over to this season, you have to ask why the lineup has remained intact? I am sure the attitude of visiting team is that games at the ACC are must win games. There are no easy marks in the NHL and the Leafs could become the closest thing to one. Score early, the Leafs will give up and the fans will turn ugly.

One thing for sure, if the coach can't get this team motivated, he will not last another month.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Look what wandered off of the trailer park


...what a sight!

Enough on the Ontario election...take a look at Cloe Sevigny's dress


Marion Jones Hands Over Medals

I found it very gratifying to see American sprinter Marion Jones give up the five medals she won at the Sydney Olympics and accepted a two-year ban. I'm just disappointed on how long she took to admit it. She made millions on endorsements, race prizes and appearance fees. I doubt she will ever have to give any of that back. So she gave up the glory but not the cash.

I think back on the American media and sport establishment that was so critical of the East German medal machine in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then the German female swimmers were so broad-shouldered and muscle-bound, that there was no doubt they were cheating. At the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, East German athletes won 40 gold medals — twice as many as in 1972 — including 11 of 13 golds in women's swimming events.

But after the Berlin Wall fell, the truth emerged: the young athletes were subjected to a state-run program of heavy steroid use. In 1998 former East German coaches, trainers and officials faced criminal charges. The former athletes continue to face health problems, and lingering doubts about what they thought had been their finest hours.

Not much has changed since then except the flags of the cheaters.

Election Day and Referendum Day Summary

Tomorrow is Election and Referendum day. If you are planning to vote and you should, here is some information to help you make your decision. I have a summary of major issues and the major parties' positions. Here is the summary on Health Care, Education, Environment, Cities and the Economy.

Latest polling suggests a Liberal majority but polls have been known to be wrong and there are a number of very close races. Should these races go badly for the Liberal then a majority is not a sure thing.

I also have some information regarding the Referendum including a FAQ on MMP, and as well as a number of posts on why I support MMP. However, you need to come up with your own decision. I have my reasons which are well documented here, here, here, here, here and here.

NY Yankee-Haters are Smiling Today


Monday, October 08, 2007

It wasn't just turkey roasting today

Thermometer hit 32C (90F) today in Toronto which is unheard of in the month of October. Shattered the previous record which had been 28.3C (82F).

For the John Krasinski fans out there


Jason Blake has Leukemia

Maple Leafs winger Jason Blake has been diagnosed with a form of cancer, but has said he is confident that he can continue playing. So how realistic is he?

The type of leukemia he has is called chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) which is an uncommon type of cancer of the blood cells. It's considered chronic leukemia because it usually progresses more slowly than acute leukemia, sometimes over the course of years.
Unfortunately, CML is not a solid tumor that can be surgically removed. But the good news is that the prognosis for people with chronic myelogenous leukemia may be improving because of new medications to treat the condition. Although a bone marrow transplant may still be an option, many people with chronic myelogenous leukemia are able to manage their condition long term with the use of chemotherapy-like pills.

In fact, people can live with this kind of cancer for many years if it goes into remission. But of course, that also means that you must find healthy ways to cope emotionally with having a serious, chronic condition.

Will Blake be able to continue to play? It depends on how his illness progresses and how he responds to treatment. Chronic myelogenous leukemia can cause a variety of complications depending on its phase. Complications can occur either before CML is diagnosed and treated or as a result of the treatment. They include:
- fatigue
-excess bleeding
- bone or joint pain
- infections

All of these might make it impossible to play hockey. Good luck Jason!

Top 3 Candidate Websites

There are some impressive candidate websites out there. Many candidates are learning to make full use of the the electronic media. The top websites make use of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and blogs. The Liberal sites are a disappointment over all because the Liberal campaign centralized its candidate websites, so there were only a couple of Liberal candidates with their own individual websites.








Funny how they always have "Forbes" and "Money" in the waiting room


Joe Torre's Job Safe For One More Day


Hang on to the bug spray, the Yankees are still alive and I guess so is Joe Torre's job.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner announced that Torre's run as manager was in jeopardy of ending after 12 seasons – all concluding with post-season appearances.

Well to all the Yankee haters out there, maybe it will end tonight.

Torre brings back Chien-Ming Wang on three days' rest hoping to get the best-of-five series back to Cleveland for Game 5.

The Indians are going with soft-tossing right-hander Paul Byrd tonight, opting to save C.C. Sabathia for Game 5 when they would also have Fausto Carmona.

Chicago Marathon was a Disaster


One man dies and hundreds collapsed in the heat wave that hit Chicago on the weekend of their annual marathon. As a runner I know you have to take it slow in the heat and drink plenty of water. Its not weather for racing.

Organizers closed off the race after 4 hours with 10,000 runners still on the course. Another 10,000 smart runners decided not to show up at all.

All told, ambulances were called to help more than 300 runners as temperatures reached a record 87 degrees. Besides the death, at least five runners were in serious to critical condition at area hospitals Sunday night.

The disaster was partly the fault of organizers because they did not plan for enough water on the route despite the forecast of high temperatures. In Lincoln Park, runners drank water from a decorative fountain, a participant reported. Other runners said they phoned friends and asked them to bring them water on the route. Some stopped at gas stations to buy their own.



UPDATE: Just heard from a few friends who ran Chicago. They were annoyed that they were forced to walk the last bit. They indicated that they felt fine during the race and that the key was to stay hydrated. Love my running friends but they are nuts at times. It's not easy to stay hydrated when it reaches the high 80s, you are pushing yourself to have a good time and sufficent water isn't getting to the runners.

Ontario Ridings That are Too Close to Call

With just 3 days to go, several key ridings remain too close to call.

The NDP’s Paul Ferreira won a tight by-election in York South-Weston but its impossible to perdict whether he will be able to hold it. In the 2003 election, the Liberals received over 60% of the vote.

Tim Peterson crossed the floor to join the PCs but in 2003 he won Mississauga South by just over 200 votes. It's going to be close again.

Will new Liberal candidate Yasir Naqvi keep Ottawa Centre in the Liberal column?

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek is a new riding which included about half of the former Hamilton East riding and half of the former Stoney Creek riding. Both riding were Liberal in 2003 but the NDP’s Paul Miller is making it too close to call and there is no Liberal incumbent.

Maria Bountroginanni decided not to run for re-election in Hamilton Mountain which has opened up the riding and it is impossible to predict if new candidate Sophia Aggelonitis can hold it for the Liberals?

Back in 2003 Liberal Kim Craitor beat PC Bart Maves in Niagara Falls by 3,000 votes. This time its too close to call.

Impossible to say whether first-time Liberal incumbent Liz Sandals can hold Guelph.

Liberal Carol Mitchell may not be able fend off the challenge from the PCs in Huron-Bruce which has traditionally been Conservative country.

Same thing for Liberal John Milloy in Kitchener Centre which is in an island in a sea of Conservative blue.

Back in 2003 the Liberal, Conservative and NDP candidates all received over 30% of the votes in London-Fanshawe. It looks to be another competitive 3-way battle again.

Ajax-Pickering is another riding with no incumbents. When Jim Flaherty resigned to run federally his wife Christine Elliott won the by-election in 2006. With new riding boundaries, Elliott is running in Whitby-Oshawa.

The same situation exists in Oak-Ridges-Markham because PC Frank Klees has moved to Newmarket-Aurora.

Will PC challenger Peter Shurman take Thornhill from a weak Liberal, Mario Racco?

Can Liberal Vic Dhillon hold Brampton West which contains most of Tony Clement's old riding?

Will Toronto councilor and PC challenger David Shiner take Willowdale back from the Liberals?

Green Party Tries to Impress Voters


Is that clear?


Father of the Year...


Ah, parents. What won’t they do for their children? Now, you take Huang Li, a 10-year-old girl who went for a three-hour river swim with her limbs bound, hoping eventually to make it into the record books.

She covered nearly two miles, and when she got out, her father said - now pay attention, because this is probably the quote of the month, “Next time, she will swim further and I’ll follow her in a boat to ensure safety.”

Excuse me? The next time you’ll follow her in a boat?

The incident is raising eyebrows in China, which is already debating the case of an 8-year-old girl who ran 2,225 miles - the equivalent of one-and-a-half marathons a day - while her father followed on a motorized bicycle. Here’s the story:

Happy Thanksgiving


Sunday, October 07, 2007

I don't get these fashion looks







Hell hath no fury


Nature Hike

Went on our annual Thanksgiving Weekend nature walk in Halton. Came across what used to be a waterfall (first picture below). However, the lack of rain in the region has reduced the waterfall down to just a tiny trickle.


Usually the colours are fantastic by this time of the year. But extended warm weather and lack of rain has really affected the foliage.



Trouble Down the Street

Unless my neighbour was giving away coffee and donuts, it looks like there was trouble down the street. Will report back if it was anything interesting.

Leafs Play Poorly but Montreal was Even Worse

I thought the Leafs played better in the two loses to Ottawa but sometimes all you have to be is better than your opposition to win. Last night the Leafs made fewer mistake than Montreal and skated away with an overtime win.

The Leafs would never had gotten to overtime if it wasn't for some awful giveaways by the Canadien defense that lead to 2 goals for Alexei Ponikarovsky. I love Leaf-Hab games but this one was a stinker. Both teams made a ton of mistakes. There were pucks jumping over sticks, defensive zone giveaways, and untimely penalties. Toronto was awful early, while the Canadiens saved their worst for last. This one should have ended in a tie if it could. Neither team deserved to win. But in the new NHL someone has to win.

I thought Matt Stajan and Alex Steen were Toronto’s best forwards. Once Ponikarovsky switched with Jason Blake and joined Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov on the top line, I thought that unit was good. Vesa Toskala silenced his critics with an above average performance. But he was far from great. The usual fickle ACC crowd quickly got behind him.

Pavel Kubina looked terrible. Bryan McCabe’s inability to keep the puck in the Montreal zone in the 2nd led to a shorthanded goal by the Canadiens. McCabe was on the ice for all three Montreal goals. Is that the best you can get for $7 million?