Thursday, February 07, 2008

Smoking Gun?

Lawyers for Brian McNamee, the trainer who has accused ex-client Roger Clemens of using performance-enhancing drugs, today released photos purporting to show syringes, blood-specked gauze pads, and drug vials used by the star pitcher.

Evangelicals and Tax Cutters Lose Control of Republican Party

As I see it, the current Republican party has 3 main groups - hawks who support an aggressive foreign policy; evangelicals who support family values; and tax cutters who want to reduce the size of government. As much as people like to bash President Bush, he was able to bring all three groups together to win 2 elections. He has been very aggressive on foriegn policy, supported family values and delivered massive tax cuts.

No Republican 2008 presidential candidiate seemed to appeal to all three groups. Rudy Giuliani appealed to none of the groups and quickly disappeared. Fred Thompson should have scored better but was a poor campaigner and was outflanked by Mike Huckabee on family values, by John McCain with the hawks and Mitt Romney with the tax cutters.

Mitt Romney was not trusted by the evangelicals because of his liberal record as a governor and his Morman faith. John McCain was also viewed as too liberal on family values and opposed the Bush tax cuts. Huckabee was a tax and spend governor and has no credibility with hawks.

So as the primaries rolled along and it has become clear that the nominee will be McCain, the losers in the battle to select that next standard bearer has been the tax cutters and evangelicals. Romney has now dropped out and Huckabee remains in because his presidential campaign provides him with a national audience.

The challenge for McCain is to get the two losing groups to support his campaign and work on getting him elected. For those who have a "take no prisoners" approach to politics, the tendency may be to just go home and wait until 2012. Perhaps McCain can create some enthusiasm for his campaign by selecting a running mate that motivates the family value crowd and the tax cutters to remain engaged.

Players not likely to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs

It goes without saying that there will be significant changes made to the Toronto Maple Leafs and their lineup to start next season will look signficantly different. Although some fans would like to see the team get rid of everyone and start from stratch, that's just not feasible. So there will be a lot of players returning because their contracts make them impossible to trade or for the only reason that the team needs to dress 23 players. Here is my guess at who will not be back.

Andrew Raycroft: Raycroft represents the biggest disaster from the Ferguson era. The player appears to have no confidence and the team has even less confidence in him. He will be impossible to trade but that won't stop the team from getting rid of him. The last year of his contract will be bought out or he will be waived and sent to the minors.

Mark Bell: His situation is even worse than Raycroft. A combination of his contract, play and injury also make him untradeable. I can't see him coming back so his fate will likely be the same as Raycroft.

Chad Kilger: I have a feeling that Kilger will go at the trading deadline for a low draft pick. His size and checking ability might interest a contender looking for some depth. But no one will give up much for him. His salary is also reasonable.

Wade Belak: Belak is a unrestricted free agent at the end of the season so if no one picks him up at the trading deadline then we will be let loose at the end of the season.

John Pohl: Also an unrestricted free agent in July. Hasn't played much so he will be replaced by a younger player.

Dominic Moore: He is here only because of injuries. Also an unrestricted free agent who won't be signed.

Hal Gill: A big man who can add depth to a contender. You can never have too much defense. Salary isn't prohibitive like some of the others so he may be traded this month.

Kyle Wellwood: The team appears to have lost patience with Wellwood and he is only playing because of injuries. Even then, its on the 4th line. I think he and the team will agree that a change of scenery might help so he will be traded in the offseason.

Andy Wozniewski: Too slow and too error-prone although he could still develop into an NHLer. I just don't see the Leafs investing further in his development. He is an unrestricted free agent and will be given his walking papers this summer.

Nik Antropov: Although he is 2nd on the team in scoring, I can see the team trading him. He is having his first injury-free season and his size, contract and scoring ability will attract some decent offers. Considering his injury history and his lack of speed, a trade makes sense.

There is a remote possibility that Tucker might be moved this month though his injuy problems make it pretty remote. If he can't be physical he won't help a contender in the playoffs. Also Kubina has one of the team's worse contracts. No one will want to take on that contract so its interesting to see what the team will do if he can't be moved.

Right now the team has 17 players on contract for next season for a total of $42 million. If the above players are removed from the roster that will reduce the numbers to 11 players and $34 million. If they can dump Kubina that makes it $29 million on just 10 players. Sundin will be signed for about $6 million and the cap is projected to be $53 million. So the new GM will have $18 million to spend on 12 players. Half of those spots will be filled by young players at about $3 - $4 million. Still leaves $14 million for about 6 players.

Huckabee Girl Gets Her 15 Minutes

Mugshot of the Week

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Good Lord, Cheeseburger in a Can

In my search for the worst junk food on the planet, I think I've stumbled upon it. Cheeseburger in a can. Would you eat it? Can you imagine what it looks like when you pull it out of the tin?

It couldn't possibly look anything like the picture below. And it costs about 4 Euros or $6.

When historians look back at the decline of mankind in future centuries, they will point to this as the turning point.

A review can be found here.

Finding the Right Balance

Current Delegate Count

As predicted by the pundits and experts, John McCain has opened up a signficant lead over his rivals and will lock up the Republican nomination in the next few weeks. On the Democratic side, it's still too close to call and impossible to say when a winner will be declared. Obama has some momentum but Clinton continues to battle hard.

Many Americans are expressing their dissatisfaction with the choices in this election. Yes, the candidates are flawed but when aren't they flawed. Fred Thompson also had flaws. Even the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan had his shortcomings. The conservative wing of the Republican party is the making the most noise about their future nominee. However, the voters are expressing a strong desire to shift to the centre after 8 years of conservative control. This is not that unusual in politics. Governments tend to swing left and right like a pendulum and the current swing is to the left. The conservatives will come back in favour in 4 years as the voters swing back to the right.

Even more significant is the outcome of the Democratic race. No matter who wins it will be a historic event as the party will have selected either an African American or a woman. It's interesting how both candidates don't want the campaign to be about gender or race but it is never far from the surface. And yes both candidates are flawed. So what. You can't really predict who will be a great president so why bother trying.

Seems a lot of noise is about the candidates' stand on wedge issues - abortion, gays, stem-cell research, etc. I really think America should be more focused on leadership, the economy and national security and to lesser extent relations with its allies. Interest groups will continue to battle on the wedge issues for years to come. No president will be able to resolve these issues to anyone's satisfaction anyway.

Democrats (2,025 needed to win)
Obama 765
Clinton 845

Republicans (1,191 needed to win)
Romney 269
Huckabee 190
McCain 613
Paul 14

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mayor Michael Bloomberg for President? Not Likely Now

There has been a constant buzz about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg mounting a Presidential run. Some of it involves Bloomberg being offered as a brokered candidate at a deadlocked Democratic convention. Though most of the speculation has him running as an Independent where he would draw from unhappy Republicans and Demorcats in addition to Independent voters.

I just don't see that happening anymore. It is becoming clear that the eventual nominees will likely not help an independent candidate. The Republican presidential nominee will be John McCain who has been attracting a lot of independent voters. This is obviously not good for Bloomberg. Should the Democratic nominee be Barack Obama who also attracts independents, it would put an end to any thoughts of Bloomberg as a candidate.

Now some of the speculation surrounding Bloomberg is that he has been floating a possible presidential run in order to get considered as a running mate on either the Democratic or Republican ticket. But the eventual nominees don't need an independent as a running mate to broaden their appeal. In particular, McCain may need to find someone acceptable to the conservatives in his party to strengthen his ticket.

Another Candidate for Mother of the Year

On Super Bowl Sunday, a deputy saw a car drive through a red light and swerve back and forth over the center lane on U.S. 1 South in Florida .

The deputy stopped the car. Investigators say the woman, who identified herself as Tina Williams, smelled of alcohol.

According to the report, Williams told the deputy she never had a license and was running out of gas. The deputy saw a case of Busch beer in the front seat with a seat belt around it, and a baby girl in the backseat.

When asked why the girl wasn't restrained, Williams reportedly told the officer, "I don't know."

Williams faces charges of driving under the influence, child endangerment, driving without a valid license running a red light and not having a seatbelt or child restraint.

Super Tuesday Preview

Appropriate just 2 days after the Super Bowl. Today 24 states are holding primaries on what is being referred to as Super Duper Tuesday. Up for grabs are 1688 pledged Democratic delegates, and 900 Republican delegates. Delegate-heavy states such as California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Georgia could play a deciding role in the outcome of both races. But with polling showing a tight Democratic race, tonight's results won't produce a nominee for the Democrats.

On the Republican side, John McCain has some serious momentum, fresh off decisive, key wins in South Carolina and Florida. Right-wing criticism notwithstanding, he's also gotten some critical endorsements, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki, as well as the Los Angeles Times (California is the big catch). Mitt Romney, well funded and polling close behind McCain will be a formidable foe against the Arizona Senator in several delegate-rich states.

California is a critical state for both parties, with 170 Republican delegates (and a winner-take-all primary structure), and 370 Democratic delegates (and proportional allotment). Early voting in that state will impact the outcome tonight. Whether Mitt Romney stays in the race after tonight is anyone's guess, but many are suggesting that McCain walks away from February 5 with the Republican nomination. The Democratic race, however, is far from over, and Clinton and Obama have at least a few more primaries between them before this race is over.

Is she Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour movie was number one at the box office this past weekend. Most adults are scratching their heads on this one. Buts lets face it kids own the box office these days. We adults stay at home in front of our big ass TVs.

Who is this Hannah Montana person? Following in the footsteps of Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire), Hannah Montana is another Disney television show popular with the young ones, and Miley Cyrus, the aforementioned spawn of Billy Ray, plays the title character, an ordinary teen with a double life as a pop star. Yet the character is so wildly popular that the personalities of Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus appear to have merged. Hannah Montana is all fun and games as long as these multiple personalities don't drive Ms. Montana/Cyrus into a padded cell like a certain other teen starlet.

Not keeping up with the BlackBerry Generation

Today is Super Tuesday south of the 49th Parallel and I am still amazed that antiquated voting apparatus is still being used in some regions. It's as if 2000 election mess never happened.

More Infrastructure Problems

After yesterday's subway derailment, Kennedy Station is still out of commission, and now problems on the King Streetcar is making it even more difficult to make in to work on time this morning. Oh did I mention the sink hole on Lakeshore Blvd.?

TTC continues to work on repairing the damaged tracks, signals and cables all day and all night, as a result of the derailment.

Then there was the driver of a garbage truck who thought he was backing up on Brant St. but he was actually accelerating forward. The truck crashed into a utility pole, bringing down 300 feet of streetcar wires on King St. More shuttle buses.

But the big outrage is more fee hikes by the city after the recent 3.5% tax hike and the new land transfer tax. Hockey parents are seething because arena rental are going up 34 per cent with competitive youth hockey leagues incurring an 18 per cent increase and community youth house hockey leagues a 10 per cent increase for ice time.

Top Maple Leaf Prospects

Well the season is a right off and likely next year as well. Although the Leaf roster for the first time in years has lots of young players, none are franchise players in the mold of a Mats Sundin. The young Leafs are destined to be 2nd, 3rd or even 4th liners. But what prospects do the Leafs have that might make a difference? Here are what I consider the top 5 prospects. I didn't include Tlusty and Stralman since both have been up with the Leafs for a while. The prospects just don't look that strong.

1. Justin Pogge (3rd round 2004)

In his 1st year on the Marlies he had a rough start and finished with 19 wins and a 3.03 GAA. This year Pogge is doing much better and already has 17 wins and carrying a GAA of 2.26. He is a tall goalie (6'3") that moves around very well. He is projected to be a #1 goalie in the NHL. The question is will he be a average #1 or a very good one.

2. Nikolai Kulemin (2nd round 2006)

Kulemin is a 21 year old winger playing in the Russian League. As a 20-year-old last year he led his team in goal scoring with 27 goals. He is reported to be a good skater and strong defensive player who works very hard. He is not expected to become a scorer and will likely be a 3rd line checker.

3. Chris DiDomenic (6th round 2007)

DiDomenic was the third in rookie scoring last year in the Quebec Junior League. This season he is the leading scorer and was player of the month in September. He is an average skater and projected to be a 2nd or 3rd line player.

4. Tyler Ruegsegge (6th round 2006)

Ruegsegger is incredibly competitive, strong in both ends and can score consistently. His skating is below average, which could be a barrier to his reaching the NHL. He played for Team USA at the Junior Worlds and was their best player. He's called the Rubberband Man because of his great moves.

5. Robbie Earl (6th round 2004)

Earl has now played a game for the Leafs and looked alright. He finished his college career and played his first year as a pro with the Marlies last year. Earl is a tremendously gifted offensive player who is exciting watch. He is an excellent skater with explosive speed. He is not known to like physical play and is not that big. He is another potential 2nd line player.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Letterman Kisses Paris Hilton's Ass

In September Dave Letterman had Paris Hilton on his show following her gruesome stretch in jail. He poked fun of her until she began to pout and later said she would never return.

Well she returned last Friday and Letterman spent 10 minutes of his show apologizing and grovelling. It was sickening to watch. I can't believe what a sell out he has become.

Marketing Sex

Police seized photos from an Abercrombie & Fitch store in a Virginia mall over the weekend, citing obscenity. The company has been showing shirtless guys in their ads for some time but I guess not everyone appreciates butt cracks.

the summons for a Class One misdemeanor was issued to the manager because there is no legal way to issue a summons to a corporate entity in such circumstances. The manager was not arrested but faces a fine of up to $2,000 and as much as a year in jail, if convicted.

In 2003, the company halted publication of its 7-year-old A&F Quarterly catalog because of complaints about sexually suggestive photographs by award-winning photographer Bruce Weber. It will be interesting to see how the company reacts.

Check out an Improv Everywhere stunt when a New York A&F store was invaded by shirtless customers. The readtion is surprising for a company that likes to push the envelope.

Hollywood 'It Girls' for 2008

Each February, Vanity Fair gets Annie Leibovitz to do a shoot for their pre-Oscar cover of the hot new faces for the year. This year's group are: America Ferrera, Ellen Page, Emily Blunt, Amy Adams, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Alice Braga, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Banks and Ginnifer Goodwin. I don't know all of them so you have to figure out which is which on your own.

Natalie Holloway Case Takes a Surprise Turn

In December it looked like this high profile disappearance was going to come to a painful end. It captured world-wide attention because it involved a pretty American girl and what it appeared to be a priviledged young man, Joran van der Sloot . A desperate attempt by Aruba authorities to re-arrest key suspects yielded nothing new.

However, a Dutch crime reporter appears to have taped what could be considerd a confession by van der Sloot. In the tape he admits to making out with Holloway on a beach when she appears to have passed out. He believes she has died and panics and with the aid of a friend dumps her in the ocean. So he may have possibly killed her if in fact she wasn't dead at the time.

Dutch viewers were glued to their TVs yesterday watching he tape from hidden cameras. The reporter, Peter R. de Vries, had befriended van der Sloot and was able to get him to admit what had transpired that evening back in May 2005. Van der Sloot now says he was making it up.

It will be interesting to see how the Aruban officials react to this new information. Prosecutors have previously said they cannot prove a crime was committed without finding Holloway's body.

ABC News has obtained exclusive U.S. rights to this stunning new information caught on tape and will air a 90-minute special edition of "20/20: The Final Hours of Natalee Holloway" Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Final Super Bowl Thoughts

It looked like a strung out Paula Abdul mouthing the words to the national anthem which is what you would expect from her.

I like Tom Petty but he was a poor choice for the half time show. It's been years since he had a hit but still the performance was so flat.

The Patriots were still 18-1 which is incredible and will again be favoured next season. The dynasty continues.

I think Bill Belichick was out-coached yesterday. I'm still scratching my head at that 49-yard field goal attempt that he passed on in the third quarter, instead going for it, and failing, on fourth-and-13.

And how come Belichick never could come up with a solution to the intense pass rush of the Giants. He had a good look at that pass rush in game 16. I could not believe how many times Brady was knocked on his ass.

I believed over the past 2 weeks that Brady's high ankle sprain would be a factor in the game. Can't say I was wrong.

It's not much of a consolation to see a New York team win a championship instead of at Boston team. Let's hope the NBA and NHL can find teams in other markets to win this spring.

Controversy over parade on the day of the primary will no longer an issue.

New York Had Worse Subway Incident

A man was fatally run over by a northbound N train yesterday morning. According to the NY Times, no criminal activity is suspected. A man who said he was a witness said the victim had been running to catch the train and climbed between two cars. He slipped under the train as it began to move and he screamed, the witness said that by the time the train stopped, the man had been crushed.


Subway Derailment

Late last night, a train leaving Kennedy station came off the tracks and slide into a wall. Can't remember this ever happening before and no injuries were reported. The TTC says the derailment happened when something fell off the train. The tracks were seriously damaged in the incident and will be closed all day as crews repair them.

Service between Kennedy and Warden Stations is via shuttle bus through out the day, until they've finished cleaning it up. TTC will be using about 30 shuttle buses but that doesn't even come close to replacing the capacity of one subway load. So avoid the Kennedy station if you can.

That's why they play the game

I tell the hockey team that I coach that they don't automatically award wins to the better team. You have togo out and earn them. That's why you play the game. Yesterday's Super Bowl is a classic example. Everyone assumed it would be a New England Patriot win, except the Giant players. They believed that they could win and produced one of the most exciting finishes in Super Bowl history. Sports history has many famous underdog winners including the Miracle Mets in 1969 and the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. The Jets win was perhaps a bigger upset than Giants yesterday. The Baltimore Colts were 22 point favourites to beat the Jets while yesterday the Patriots were 12 point favourites.

Below is the play of the game in yesterday's Super Bowl. I can't believe that Manning got loose to get away that pass.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Yes We Can

A bunch of big and small names have banded together in support of Barack Obama. The below video was directed by Jesse (son of Bob) Dylan and features the Black Eyed Peas, Scarlett Johansson, "Micheal" from Lost, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Herbie Hancock, and many more putting a musical spin of one of Obama's speeches.

Dylan says they didn't coordinate the release of the video with the Obama campaign and they aren't sure if he's even aware of it. "We didn't talk to anybody there... We just came together because it was an inspirational song about change coming out of his speech." Except I found the video prominently on Obama's website.

One Hit Wonder

Culture Club - Do You Really Want to Hurt Me (1983)