Saturday, December 08, 2007

She sure loves those venti fraps

Honestly, does Starbucks pay Britney to run around town holding those drinks all the time. Either she is addicted to them or this is some clever product placement.

For personal crisis call...umm never mind

Considering this as a Christmas gift?

Forget it. Rocket-propelled grenade launchers are prohibited by law. Gee, must be nice living in Gaza without invasive restrictions.

Deja vu in the Natalee Holloway Case

A judge Friday ordered the release of Joran van der Sloot the last of three suspects re-arrested last month in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, ruling the evidence was not strong enough to continue holding him. Van der Sloot was arrested Nov. 21 along with two other suspects, Surinamese brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, who were released from jail Dec. 1 following a similar ruling.

The judge ruled that the prosecutors have not presented any more direct evidence than before either indicating either that Natalee Holloway was murdered or vander Sloot had been involved in her death.

Makes you wonder what was the point. Investigators had interrogated the men but they provided no new information. So it was just a stab in the dark. An attempt to see if one of them would let something slip.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Is Hanukkah Causing Global Warning?

By Bruce Feiler reprinted from

My wife and I celebrated Hanukkah for the first time last night with our two-year-old twin daughters. Sure, the last two years we lit the candles and gave them some presents. And a few weeks ago my family assembled for Thanksgiving and followed our (brilliant!) tradition of having an early Hanukkah celebration. The kids love it because they get all their gifts from their paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in one night. We love it because it reduces the stress of December in America.

But last night we had a real Hanukkah celebration, went to a neighbor's house and lit tons of menorahs, sang songs, ate latkes and jelly doughnuts, the whole thing. It was great. And when one of my daughters came over and asked me to spin the dreidel, and the other tried to rip open a bag of Hanukkah gelt, I knew the rituals were starting to penetrate. Awesome!

But wait! I come home to find that net-roots-Jews are spreading the word that Hanukkah candles are causing global warming. They've even hired a PR agent! Maybe that's what the Maccabee boys needed against those evil Assyrians -- a spin machine.

In a campaign that has spread like wildfire across the Internet, a group of Israeli environmentalists is encouraging Jews around the world to light at least one less candle this Hanukka to help the environment.

The founders of the Green Hanukkia campaign found that every candle that burns completely produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. If an estimated one million Israeli households light for eight days, they said, it would do significant damage to the atmosphere.

"The campaign calls for Jews around the world to save the last candle and save the planet, so we won't need another miracle," said Liad Ortar, the campaign's cofounder, who runs the Arkada environmental consulting firm and the Ynet Web site's environmental forum. "Global warming is a milestone in human evolution that requires us to rethink how we live our lives, and one of the main paradigms of that is religion and how it fits into the current situation."

Cofounder Tom Wegner, who heads the public relations firm Update Marketing Media, spread the campaign via mass e-mails and through social interaction Web sites like Facebook and He said no money had been invested in the campaign, but it had already raised awareness around the world and made people realize that they have to consider the environment this Hanukka.
Wegner said he did not consider the campaign anti-religious. The unlit candle could be the shamash, which is not required for the mitzva, he said. But he said he would encourage people who do not keep mitzvot not to light a hanukkia at all for environmental and educational reasons.

"We have many environmental traditions in Judaism like Tu Bishvat and Succot, but there are also traditions like Lag Ba'omer and Hanukka that made sense when they were instituted but are more problematic now in the days of global warming," Wegner said.

"There are many people who just light candles for the tradition and for their children," he said. "To tell a child on the eighth day that we are not lighting the last candle as a sacrifice for the environment is an act that is not only educational but also will prevent the release of a huge amount of carbon dioxide that would hurt the environment." Why stop there? I say. Maybe we should all light one of those funky new bulbs everyone is selling -- after all, they would last more than eight days! Or maybe we should add Al Gore's name to some of the Hanukkah songs -- "Gore" is pretty easy to rhyme. I mean, think of all the olive trees that are felled to make the oil to fry latkes! Think of the pesticides that flood those strawberry fields that produce the jelly for all those doughnutes! Come on, people, where is the anger!?! Hanukkah is destroying our planet.

Ham for Hanukkah

You have to laugh at this faux pas. Gourmet grocery store, Balducci's, in Greenwich Village in New York has become the butt of the Jewish holiday by advertising its boneless hams as "Delicious for Chanukkah".

A customer spotted it in the store and took a picture for her blog. No one form the store will comment but there is a notice on their website:

"We apologize for this unfortunate error and oversight. It was never our intention to offend anyone, especially during this holiday. We will be reviewing our employee training policy."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tasers: the next generation

The Taser is going wireless.

Until now, the electric-shock gun consisted of two barbed darts attached to wires that shoot out and strike the victim, immobilizing the person with 50,000 volts of electricity, causing severe pain and intense muscle contraction.

But the wires could only extend a few metres. With the new "extended range electronic projectile," or XREP, the Taser has been turned into a kind of self-contained shotgun shell and can be fired, wire-free, from a standard shotgun, which police typically have in their arsenal already.

The first electrode hooks on to the target, the second electrode falls and makes contact elsewhere on the body, completing the circuit and activating the shock. It can blast someone as far as 30 metres away, and, unlike the current stun guns, whose shock lasts five seconds, the XREP lasts 20 seconds, enough time to "take the offender into custody without risking injury to officers."

This is great news! Tasers are already killing people and now they're extending the range.

Philly's "Bonnie and Clyde"

There is a new "Bonnie and Clyde". It's Jocelyn Kirsch and her boyfriend Edward Anderton who are accused of stealing more than $100,000 by using the identities of their neighbors in a fancy Philadelphia apartment building.

They lived in a $3,000 a month apartment in Center City. They traveled the world hitting Paris, Hawaii and Turks and Caicos and taking pictures to remember it all.

Neighbors wondered how a young college student (she was going to Drexel) could afford all the fancy clothes she wore. He had recently been fired from his job as a financial analyst, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

Police finally caught up with Bonnie and Clyde when one of their victims was told that her package had arrived and would be waiting at a local UPS store. The victim who didn't order anything, called police, who were waiting for Kirsch and Anderton when they showed up to pick up the stolen stuff.

In their apartment police found keys to at least 40 apartments and mailboxes, high tech electronics include an Apple laptop, a machine for making high-quality fake IDs, as well as fake IDs and credit cards in many different names.

The two wild kids have been dominating Philadelphis headlines for the last few days.

Oh and those nice big boobs were a gift from Jocelyn's dad, a plastic surgeon.

Is the Earth Flat?

Why does anyone watch The View. Those people are just plain dumb. Though now that I think about it maybe it's where President Bush forms his opinions on issues. On the clip below Sheri Sheppard states she does not know if the earth is flat or round. She claims she never thought about it. Good Lord!

I like Lindt chocolate balls

...but no one ever gave me any wrapped like this.

Menorah Envy

When Long Beach, NY city officials planted a 7-foot-tall Christmas tree next to a 20-foot-tall menorah in the plaza in front of City Hall, some residents barked. They telephoned City Hall, wrote letters and testified at a public hearing that the tiny tree in the shadow of the huge Hanukkah symbol was an insult to Christians.

Town officials finally found a tree to match the 20-foot menorah: a 20-foot blue spruce. The old one was dug up and replaced.

Junk Food to be Banned in Ontario Schools

Premier McGuinty announced yesterday that his government would introduce a Bill to help kids eat smart. Sounds great on the surface but what the government is trying to do is legislate good eating habits. I doubt that is possible.

Ontario's Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act will call for:
  • An end to selling food with trans fat in school cafeterias
  • An all-out ban on junk food and trans fat in all public school vending machines
    Healthier menu choices in cafeterias, based on the new Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.

Under the proposal, Ontario would move to exempt some foods that naturally contain small amounts of trans fat, including beef, lamb and milk.

I thought that part of the mandate of the Ministry of Health Promotions was to promote healthy eating habits. So has the Ministry failed and now the government has to make it illegal to sell junk food? The school boards and schools are supposedly run by people who care about children. Can't the government just ask the boards to stop selling unhealthy food? In fact, the government could provide some money to make up for possible reduced sales because some kids might stop buying cafeteria food.

I just find that governments are too quick to use legislative and regulatory solutions to problems. These tools should be the last resort. But your chances of getting headlines increases when you make it illegal to sell junk food. And isn't that what this Bill is all about?

Bring in the Army to Fight Gangs?

Another gun battle yesterday and this time it was in the Jane and Sheppard area. It seems it was the last straw and has prompted city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti to suggest a drastic proposal to curb the ongoing gang violence problem - bring in the army to clean up his ward?

When police arrived at the scene they found numerous shell casings but no suspects. Two men in their 20s had fled the scene and one has since been picked up.

Two schools in the area were in lockdown for several hours.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Best Christmas Lights Display Ever

The best lights display in the Toronto area will not be happening this year. The family moved to a new house and there wasn't enough time to put up the display. But I do have a video from last year.

In honour of Adam Sandler on Hanukkah

Here are some more fine looking Jews:

Alyson Hannigan (mother is Jewish)

Gwyneth Paltrow (father is Jewish)

Paula Abdul

Hank Azaria

Keri Russell

Alicia Silverstone

Noah Wyle

Evan Rachel Wood

Daniel Jacob Radcliffe (mother is Jewish)

Natalie Portman

Scarlett Johansson (mother is Jewish)

Seth Rogen

Amanda Bynes (mother is Jewish)

Party insiders conspire to dump John Tory

Despite earlier reports that John Tory has the full support of caucus, it is being suggested that there is a movement behind the scenes to replace him as Ontario Conservative leader. The Toronto Star reports that meeting of high-level Conservatives will be held tonight to launch a campaign to dump John Tory as leader.

They indicate that a dinner will be held tonight at the Toronto home of Ron McLaughlin, former chief of staff to one-time premier Mike Harris, for about a dozen top Conservatives. Sources say disaffected backers of Tory's 2004 leadership, who worked on the recent campaign, are also planning to go tonight and that the people attending represent a broad coalition.

A new website,, was launched by Windsor party activist Nick Kouvalis designed to help concerned party members join forces and elect delegates who will vote Yes at the Feb. 24 leadership review in London. John Tory needs at least half the vote to prevent a leadership review. To date, Tory supporters have not organized and delegate selection takes place in January. With a little over 2 months to go, he may be in trouble.

I think the anti-Tory campaign is being either too hasty or short-sighted. It takes time to turn around a political party. Dalton McGuinty failed to meet expectations in his first election but has since won two majorities. It takes time to establish name recognition with the public when they pay so little attention to politics between elections. It didn't help that he jumped on an issue (religious school funding) that polarized voters and ensured his defeat. But the next time he will be that much wiser.

The issue to be considered should be whether he is a strong leader and can continue to direct the party to an election victory. If the feeling is he can't then he should be replaced. But making him a scapegoat does not serve the party well at all.

From the Police Files

The next Hollywood power couple?

Knut is One Year Old

Knut, the most famous polar bear in the world is celebrating a birthday. Last year his mother rejected him and animal rights activitist thought he should have been killed. Here he is today (above) and last year (below).

Too much fuss over vanity plates

I don't quite get the media fuss over the rejection of vanity plates by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Is this really worthy of front page coverage?

It started with a retired United Church reverend who was informed by the Ministry that her plates that she had been using for 20 years was no longer acceptable and had to be returned. Her plates are REV JO. Right off the bat this is a stupid position to take when you think. She has been give several reasons such as the government doesn't want to be seen to be condoning street racing, promoting religion and drinking and driving (Rev is the name of a vodka cooler). Because that is exactly what I'm thinking about as a crawl to work and back every day in the worst traffic imaginable.

The Ministry has put itself in the terrible position by coming up with arbitrary rules on what is acceptable on vehicle plates. And as you can see from this particular case, it can be a real stretch. The Ministry should just limit its censorship role to what obviously would be offensive to the public - like swear words. After all, its mandate is road safety. When they start to drift into other areas, it creates only headaches.

Then the media can get back to reporting on mundane things like Toronto murders, the Middle East and the Mulroney-Schreiber affair.

UPDATE: Common sense prevails! Premier Dalton McGuinty has intervened to allow Rev. Jo Sorrill to keep her plates.

Happy Hanukkah from the NBA

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Philly Cheesesteak

In a few weeks I'm heading down to Philadelphia for New Years. That means I partake in my annual cheesesteak. Everyone in Philly swears by their favourite place for cheesesteaks. The most popular are Pat's, Geno's and Mama's. My favourite is Mama's but the thing is so unhealthy I've switched from beef to chicken. I decided to look up the origin of the cheesesteak and a blog claims it originated at Pat's:

Philly is the home of Pat’s King of Steaks, and Pat’s King of Steaks is where the Philly cheesesteak was born. One day back in 1932, hot dog stand owners Pasquale (Pat) and Harry Olivieri decided to change things up and make a steak sandwich with onions. A cab driver who ate at Pat’s daily insisted on trying the new sandwich, and with the first bite declared, “Hey, forget ‘bout those hot dogs, you should sell these!” Cab drivers know fast food about as well as anyone, so the brothers did just what the cabbie suggested. In no time, the modest stand turned into the Pat’s that exists today. Controversy remains, however, over who’s responsible for putting the cheese in cheesesteak. Pat’s claims it was the first to do so (in 1951), but across-the-street rival Joe Vento of Geno’s Steaks (opened 1966) insists he added the finishing touches.

Tobogganing Season is Here! - Watch more free videos - Watch more free videos

Save the David Dunlop Observatory

I recently did a post on attempts by the Town of Richmond Hill to hang onto the David Dunlop Observatory. The University of Toronto has declared the facility surplus and are putting the observatory, and the 75 hectares of parkland surrounding it, up for sale to the highest bidder. Despite support by the town through restrictions on lighting and emissions that might cloud its view of the night sky, urban growth around the observatory has reduced its scientific value.

But the property is worth up to $100 million on the open market. Which is money the town doesn't have. They ideas on frustrating the sale and development of the property but at the end of the day its going to happen.

There are a number of groups that have joined the fight. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada would like to see it become a community observatory to provide astronomy outreach and education.

Another group is called Save the David Dunlop Observatory. They want to see the David Dunlap Observatory preserved as a historic landmark, an operating observatory for scientific research, and a natural landscape for the people of the GTA to enjoy. Except its been acknowledged that the facility is obsolete as a working observatory.

Then there is the Richmond Hill Naturalists. They see the need to preserve the site for greenspace as there is so little of it in the southern section of the town.

All I know is this is going to drag on for years.

Can Bush's Credibility Go Any Lower

The release of a report yesterday by the National Intelligence Estimate indicating Iran had scrapped its nuclear weapons ambitions in 2003 further erodes the U.S. president's credibility. The report said Iran has left the door open to pursuing atomic weapons, but had made no moves in that regard by the end of last month and was probably incapable of building a bomb before 2015.

You begin to question why the Americans have been threatening an attack and why they have been so aggressive in pushing for sanctions. Could it be that the objective is merely regime change. Sounds like Iraq all over again.

Clearly there is a need to monitor the Iranian nuclear program. It would be in everyone's interest to ensure that Iran does not pursue nuclear weapons. But just a few weeks ago Bush was suggesting that WWIII was a real threat in the near future.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to the report by stating that Iran was continuing in its efforts to produce a nuclear bomb. According to the minister, Iran had indeed stopped its program four years ago but has since renewed it. But Israel has no credibility either because they have been saying for several years now that Iran is about a year away from producing its first bomb. Could it be that they would love to see the Americans attack a regime that has been so hostile to Israel.

Grandmother at 29

It really is sad to see how the same mistakes are repeated by each generation. Almost as if they are trapped by the same forces that caught their parents. So this particular case of teen pregnancy is so striking.

Leticia Magee was 13 and living in Chicago when she gave birth to her oldest child, Celia. Celia, now aged 16, recently gave birth to baby Russell Eugene making Leticia a grandmother at 29. My wife became a mother at age 29.

No trades, no free agents, so Blue Jays bring back ugly uniforms

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chimps have better memories than humans

Japanese researchers have shown that young chimps outperform adult humans in a memory test, a Concentration-like game using numerals on a computer screen. It seems adult chimps lose the ability which scientist are suggesting indicates that as the chimps age, their memory capability is otherwise occupied.

I'm falling back on that excuse as well.

Rebuilt Philadelphia Flyers Represent New NHL - VIOLENCE

For the 5th time this season, a Flyers player was suspended for a shot to the head. Riley Cote got a three-game suspension for a vicious elbow on Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars late in a 4-1 loss Saturday night. Cote got a match penalty on the play.

This guy is a goon, nothing more. He has played in 18 games averaging less than 4 minutes per game. So in 70 minutes of ice time, he has managed 61 penalty minutes. Oh yes, I forgot. He also has 1 assist.

Still Flyers coach John Stevens keeps playing these guys. I'm just not impressed. The Flyers have receiving a suspension for every 5 games played. At this rate they will have accumulated 16 suspensions by the end of the season.

For all this mayhem the five suspensions only add up to 52 games. Hardly a deterrence. The NHL keeps saying they want to eliminate head shots but do they really?

The Flyers' other suspensions:
– Hartnell got two games for checking Bruins defenceman Andrew Alberts in the head in a game last Monday.
– Jones was given a two-game suspension after he sent Boston's Patrice Bergeron face-first into the boards on Oct. 27. Bergeron hasn't returned to action since he broke his nose and sustained a concussion as a result of the hit.
– Boulerice was handed a 25-game suspension for his cross-check to the face of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler in an Oct. 10 game.
– Downie got 20 games after flying down the ice, jumping through the air and delivering a hit to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond during a pre-season game.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and league disciplinarian Colin Campbell held a conference call with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren on Monday. They read him the riot act. I bet he is shaking in his boots.

Hey, I think I can afford Tara Reid

Reports coming out of Australia that former A-lister Tara Reid has agreed to host the Hooker Ball and making appearances at parties for a bargain-basement price of about $3500. I hear Tara Reid is also available for weddings, parties, bar mitzvahs - at a great price.

She is expected to dress up as a prostitute and judge a wet T-shirt contest. Really can she get any more desperate than this? Or maybe she looking to reinforce her bad girl image.

What's next, hosting BDSM parties?

Red Bull pulls nativity ad in Italy

An angry Italian priest has persuaded soft drinks company Red Bull to withdraw an advertisement setting its product in a nativity scene on the grounds it is disrespectful to Christianity.

The advert depicted four wise men, instead of three, visiting Mary and the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The fourth wise man bore a can of the soft drink.

Some people may ask how is this different than the British woman who named a teddy bear after Muhammad. Well a lot different.

Both incidents were treated as blasphemous acts. But in Italy and other Western countries, you only risk going to "hell". In Sudan and other Muslim societies, you risk serious jail time and even death. And as we have seen in the teddy bear affair, unintentional acts have little relevance.
UPDATE: Found the ad on Youtube but it's in Italian of course,

Canada Receives 'Fossil of the Day Award'

Let's face it. Canada is not in the slightest bit green and Stephen Harper doesn't particularly care. So it shouldn't come as a big shock that Canada received one of the first "Fossil of the Day Awards" at U.N.-led climate change talks in Bali.

The other two awards went to the United States and Saudi Arabia. Can you imagine, we are lumped in with those too countries. How embarrassing is that? It seems Canadian delegates were accused of telling a committee in Bali that emission reduction obligations were not necessary for all largest emitting countries. It seems our government is lecturing others while it has backed out of the commitments we made to the world.

The awards, a daily feature of annual Kyoto Protocol gatherings, are presented by youth delegations from around the world to heap scorn on nations accused of having less-than-green views.

How to Change the Gender Designation on your Driver's Licence

I was looking for some information on the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website when I came upon the procedure for getting your gender changed on your driver's licence. Leave to the government to have an application process for everything.

If you are undergoing or have completed sex reassignment surgery, and want to change the gender designation on your driver’s licence, the following documents are required:

  1. A letter from the applicant specifying the change requested. This letter needs to include the applicant's full name, current address, driver's licence number and the name and address of the physician who has signed an opinion letter in support of the change.
  2. A letter, on the letterhead of a physician licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and signed by the physician, in which the physician states that:
  • the physician has examined or treated the driver who is requesting the change in sex designation on the driver's licence; and.
  • ii. it is the opinion of the physician that the change in the sex designation on the driver's licence is appropriate.

The Ministry will review the application to ensure that the documents meet MTO's requirements and are in order.

Full surgery is not required as a condition for sex designation changes.

Toronto Approaching Homicide Record

Toronto set a record of 89 murders in 1991 because of a combination of Asian gang violence and crack hitting the street of Toronto. Since then the rate has held steady at about 70 homicides annually.

There was a spike in 2005 when 80 people were killed with record 52 as a result of hand guns. That year Toronto saw a considerable amount of gang violence over the summer. The year ended with the Boxing Day death of Jane Creba who was caught in a crossfire while shopping in downtown Toronto.

The number of murders over the last 3 years are:

2005 80
2006 69
2007 80 (to date)

But as 2007 has progressed, the murder rate has actually climbed so despite the fact there are only 4 weeks left in the year, Toronto could exceed the 1991 record of 89 homicides. The following are homicide rates during 2007:

murders 1-25 were over 21 weeks or 1.2 murders/week
murders 26-50 were over 17 weeks or 1.7 murders/week
murders 51-75 were over 11 weeks or 2.3 murders/week

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Drew Peterson sounds like one nasty guy

On Oct. 26, Stacy Peterson told her husband Drew, a policeman, she wanted a divorce. Two days later she was gone. Sounds suspicious doesn't it. Well even more so when you hear about his past.

Drew is 53 and 30 years his wife’s senior, having met and allegedly dated her when she was 17 and while he was still married to his then 40-year-old wife, Kathleen Savio. Stacy Peterson is Sgt. Peterson’s fourth wife and he has a total of eight children.

Drew allegedly told Stacy he was single when he was still married to his third wife. Sound familiar? Another wife-killer told similar lies concerning his marital status, Scott Peterson told Amber Frey he was a widower.

Drew allegedly threatened and beat his third wife, Kathleen, who he married less than three months after his second divorce. Of the 18 individual reports of domestic abuse from their household, at least half were related to allegations of physical abuse by one or both parties to the marriage.

After his divorce from Kathleen, things continued to be pretty ugly because of $2,000-per-month child support payments. One day Kathleen was found dead in an empty whirlpool-style bath tub. Her head reportedly showed signs of trauma and there was blood in her wet hair. It was ruled an accident.

Drew is now a suspect in Stacy's disappearance and of course denies any foul play. Authorities are also now investigating the death of Kathleen Savio.

Sean Taylor murder may have been a botched robbery

The Washington Post lays out the scenario by which the murder of Sean Taylor was actually a botched robbery attempt.

Police arrested four people in connection with the case and they will all likely be charged with murder. Police tracked down the individuals thanks to citizens' tips. Police say they have at least one confession.

The crooks broke into the home to burglarize it, not expecting anyone to be home.The four men are Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18; Eric Rivera Jr., 17; Jason Scott Mitchell, 19; and Venjah K. Hunte, 20.

Police did not say why the men decided to target Taylor's home but said they might have visited the house before the burglary. People close to the family indicated there was a link between the men and Taylor's stepsister, Sasha Johnson, who often stayed in Taylor's house when he was out of town. Wardlow's uncle, Christopher Devon Wardlow, 21, was dating Johnson, a neighbor of Wardlow's said.

Two Girls One Cup

OK this is the Disney version.

Britney Spears Survives Another Birthday

Police probing allegations that someone put pepper spray on Puerto Rican Universe Ingrid Marie Rivera's clothing said Saturday they would investigate whether anyone lied to them after tests found no traces of the substance on the woman's belongings.

This is an interesting development because earlier reports indicated that her belongings had tested positive for pepper spray.

She had broke out in hives and swelling during the pageant and was forced to ice down her face and body backstage during the event.