Saturday, March 29, 2008
As far as I'm concerned Earth Hour is a sham. It's some feel good propaganda being pushed by governments to mask that fact that they are doing nothing regarding the environment and the climate change crisis.
Don't tell me turning off your lights at 8 pm increases awareness of the problem. Everyone knows about it but the government isn't acting on it. Instead of symbolic gestures we should be using our energy and resources to bring about change. But the first change has to be with politicians and business leaders. They are the biggest obstacles to saving the planet.
My disappointment right now, although huge, feels drab and lifeless. This may be a product of maturity, although I doubt it. It may be a product of enforced expectations. I don't know, and at this time, I don't even care.
He Score, He Shoot!
It feels like its been years since I last watched a Leafs playoff game. Probably because it has. 2003. Five years ago. Jesus. I miss it. I miss it so bad.
Sports and the City
We’d like to congratulate the team on a third straight year without a playoff appearance and some individual congrats are also in order. ...To the entire Toronto Maple Leafs organization, congratulations on another year of leaving your fan base feeling fed up, unsatisfied and generally fucked.
Leafs Are Trash
This year, it was a powerplay goal by the 87 year old Glen Murray that officially once-and-for-all put a fork in the Leafs...So now it's time to focus on coach firings, GM hirings, waivers, shutting down the injured and infirm and prepping for the draft. Oh, and let's go Raycroft!
Bitter Leaf Fan
There's no better single scene you could choose to describe this Leafs season than Kessel's back-breaker goal: a younger, faster opponent breaking in to score, while a Leaf trails behind him, not skating hard, complaining to the officials. That's what this team has become. They don't work hard. They don't skate. And they always find somebody else to blame. It's a tribute to this team's core leadership that a young player like Kronwall can come up, play only a handful of games, and still know exactly how to handle the situation. His reaction was right about of the Bryan McCabe playbook.
Down Goes Brown
Another failure. It sucks...I beg to differ if we don't lead the league in man-games lost, or the top five every year. That certainly doesn't help. We have a lot of injury issues; that's no excuse though. We seem to find one month where we just go on a slide and don't play consistent. You can't have a stretch where you lose six, seven games in a row every year and try to fight and claw your way back.
I know at times I've critical of the Toronto Transit Commission and it's easy to forget that, to some other major metropolitan areas, the TTC is considered to be a shining example of a well-operated mass-transit system. In fact, recently, a group of visitors from Philadelphia, including representatives from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), and the University of Pennsylvania Design School among others, paid a visit to study our transit system. (Yes, the TTC.)
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, there are enough similarities between the two cities' transit systems to make a reasonable comparison between them. The Toronto commission is, in some ways, comparable to SEPTA, with about the same size workforce (roughly 10,000) and operating budget (about $1 billion). But it carries 50 percent more passengers: 460 million, compared with SEPTA's 301 million a year.
The Inquirer article is absolutely chock-full of praise for the TTC and well worth the read, but here are some of the highlights:The three top attributes of the Toronto system are "service, service, service," noted Edward D'Alba, president of Urban Engineers, another in the group.
One thing "that really impacted me was the sheer size of development within a quarter to half a mile of the Toronto subway stations," said Andrew Levecchia, senior planner for the Camden County Improvement Authority. "Thirty thousand to 40,000 people at a transit node. This is what we need. . . . They seem to be more willing to intensify density" than suburban Philadelphia residents, he said.
Toronto has outgrown Philly and the metropolitan area is 6 million compared to 5 million for Philly. With so many more customers, and a higher base fare ($2.75 versus $2), the Toronto commission recovers about 80 percent of its operating costs from riders, compared with about 43 percent for SEPTA.
"SEPTA matches up fairly well against Toronto's transit system," McCaney said. "In my opinion, the real dramatic difference is not between the transit systems themselves, but rather how Toronto and the greater Toronto region seems to have much more effectively exploited its transit system as an economic development asset."
Friday, March 28, 2008
You could not make up this story.
Ruben Zarate attempted to rob a muffler shop on the Chicago Northwest Side yesterday, but employees told him only their boss could open the safe, and he wasn't there. So Zarate gave them his phone number and told them to call when the boss got in. They called the police instead. The even sadder part is that when the cops called him claiming to be the manager, he actually went back to the shop expecting this to work. This time when he waved his gun around a cop shot him in the leg.
He lived, so it’s okay if I say this: what a dumbass.
The couple were both arrested and are undergoing psychiatric examinations. Yup, life in the big city.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
So will mediation prevent a threatened TTC strike on Monday at midnight? Will they or won't they? Not even the TTC seems to know for sure.
This kind of intervention has made a difference in the past. In 2005, a strike was averted only after intense talks continued 13 days past the deadline. In 2002, it took 17 days. But in the 2006 wildcat walkout, an agreement was reached - and union members still left their posts.
Union leader Bob Kinnear has confirmed it's possible his members could choose to stage a work-to-rule instead of a full blown walkout. What would that entail? It's not entirely clear. It could be as simple as not collecting fares or not wearing uniforms.
The union could copy a 1989 tactic by going with the rule book to the letter and slowing down service as much as possible, including having subway trains crawl into and out of stations.
It lasted 41 days and was a strategy that infuriated riders, but it's better than the alternative. It means it would take you a lot longer to get where you're going - but at least you'd be able to get there.On the sidebar I'm running a poll asking if Torontonians think TTC workers should be allowed to strike.
Picking a fight with a wildly popular two term Liberal majority government which governs the most vote-rich province in Canada is perhaps the stupidest move Harper’s advisors have thought of yet. Obviously internal polling confirmed this. Hard to make some sense of all this though Calgary Grit has put together a list of possible reasons:
1. They want to blame McGuinty for the impending economic slump
2. This will help CPC fundraising
3. Trying to hurt the "Liberal" brand in Ontario
4. Trying to damage a future McGuinty run for LPC leader
5. There are enough people who dislike McGuinty that this will get them votes
6. Flaherty wants to replace John Tory
7. This is to remind Ontarians that they like federal/provincial fighting
8. Deflect attention from Cadman/Mulroney
9. A chance to re-emphasize that they're the party of tax cuts without having to actually cut taxes
10. Portray Tories as being best for the economy
11. Beating up Stephane Dion isn't challenging enough anymore
12. Harper just likes picking fights with people
Manischewitz broke the tragic news today that Tam Tams, their bite-sized matzo crackers, will not be available in time for Passover this year. Tam Tams made their debut in 1940 and have been produced every year for the past 86 until now, derailed by a delay in the installation of a new $15 million oven in their New Jersey plant.
The December installation didn't leave enough time for the boost in production needed for Passover tables across the region, which usually takes about five months. Manichewitz made the tough decision about which products to produce in their shortened time frame and Tam Tams didn't make the cut. Spokesman David Rossi explained, "We realized there are only so many hours in the day that we can make matzos, and something had to give."
So what's a Jew to do? Either buy similar products from competitors or make do with last year's batch, which might still be available if stores didn't sell out last year. Failing that, just stick to regular matzoh. Next year, with Tam Tams. Or in Jerusalem. Or both.
Although victims initially suspected that a man who robbed three banks within 90 minutes yesterday was wearing a fat suit as a disguise, police today say the man really is a fat guy.
"We don't believe it's a fat suit," Det. Russ Fairey said. "We just think he is fat."
Early reports indicated the robber must have been wearing a "fat suit" to disguise his identity.
But police now believe the robber is about 5-foot-9 and 300 pounds. His beard, however, is a fake.
Meanwhile, public health officials are concerned that the thief is at high risk to develop dementia.
Herb Peterson creator of the Egg McMuffin passed away Tuesday at the age of 89. Mr. Peterson created the Egg McMuffin because he had a preference for eggs benedict and wanted to create something similar for the Golden Arches.
At the center of the new ring is Kristin "Billie" Davis, a busty bottle blonde who hails from a rough-and-tumble California trailer park. She has a reputation for hard-partying, shameless self-promotion and a rumored 10,000-name-long client list. I noticed discreet isn't part of her repertoire.
This is one classy looking lady.
The lawyer defending the first person to be put to trial from the 'Toronto 18' claims the informants used by crown have been exaggerating.
Defence lawyer Michael Moon in his factum states that "In fact this hapless F-Troop, who ventured into the deathly cold of winter without a proper tent ... was reduced to sleeping in the vehicles at night to prevent freezing to death" and "trooping off to the Tim Hortons multiple times a day for coffee and use of the bathroom."
It appears that this defendant is indeed a minor player in this group since he has not been accused of the core conspiracy: an alleged plot to detonate fertilizer-based truck bombs in downtown Toronto.
Mr. Moon suggests that the ringleaders werelooking for a "few good men" -- without their knowledge -- to groom for a Canadian terror plot.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Australian model Kristy Hinze says she was instantly attracted to her 63-year-old boyfriend, Netscape founder and Texan billionaire Jim Clark, by his intelligence. Everyone stop giggling. Kristy is not in the least bit interested in Jim's money. Clark's yacht, Athena, the biggest privately-owned yacht in the world, obviously had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
She didn't even realize he was rich. She thought Netscape was some type of fishing gear.
The couple have been dating for two and-a-half years and, despite his being worth an estimated $US1.1 billion, Hinze gushes that the reason she loves her billionaire entrepreneur so very much, is because "He's handsome and has so much charisma - and he's so funny". He has her laughing all the way to the bank, obviously. She adds, "I just love him".
So there is hope for geeks. Well at least rich ones.
New York Gov. David Paterson, who replaced disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer this month, today added to his previous revelations of marital infidelity, and marijuana and cocaine use, by claiming that he has also sniffed glue, tagged subway cars with graffiti, bet on dog fights, driven with his seatbelt unbuckled while talking on a cell phone and fired several shots from the grassy knoll on Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.
Looking at the Leafs, I think you hang on to players 1) who provide value relative to their salary; 2) fill a specific need; 3) are cheap; and 4) may not provide much value right now but will likely in the future. If you don't fall in one or more categories than you need to go. I'm also not big on buying out contracts. You are limited to only 3 buy-outs under the current collective agreement and the cost of a buy-out limits you financially for years. For example, the Leafs are still carrying the Belfour buy-out this season. So here is my list:
Vesa Toskala: An elite first string goalie is a necessity in the NHL. Toskala fits that description and will earn his $4.0 million salary that kicks in next season.
Andrew Raycroft: He earns $2.2 million next season, which is too much for a back up. He should be shipped to the Marlies to free up cap space. Perhaps if he bounces back some NHL team may show some interest. His replacement could be Scott Clemmensen or any other cheap back up available over the summer. Justin Pogge has been sharing the net with Clemmensen because he has not shown enough to win the first string job. He should stay with the Marlie until he establishies himself as a #1 goalie.
Mats Sundin: Sundin is looking at the Leafs on a season to season basis. Frankly its hard to rebuild a team when a key player will not commit beyond one season. I would be happy if he retired and those dollars go to a younger free agent who you can sign for a longer period (eg., Hossa).
Nik Antropov: Brittle and slow. But he has size and a scoring touch. His $2.15 million salary for next year makes him a bargain if you can get 70 games out of him.
Alexei Ponikarovsky: Good skater and good size. Average scoring ability. Salary is reasonable and he will be a decent 2nd line player.
Darcy Tucker: We all know that Tucker plays with a lot of heart and emotion - when healthy. When he is banged up all his shortcomings become very noticeable - lack of size, speed and defense. You can't get rid of everyone so he is worth bringing back after a summer of R&R.
Jason Blake: Ferguson's worst free agent signing and you knew it the day it was announced. Giving a 5 year contract to a small 34 year old forward who is not really good enough to play of a 1st line makes no sense. You will never be able to move this contract. Maybe they can find a centre for him that will help get a little more offense out of him.
Alex Steen: Just signed a new deal. He has moments of great hockey interspersed between a lot of mundane hockey. Easily pushed off the puck. He will never live up to a first round pick but is a decent 2-way player who will fill in on a 2nd or 3rd line. He is still young.
Mats Stajan: Developing into a solid 2-way player. Will be an excellent shutdown centre who can contribute offensively. A definite keeper.
Mark Bell: I cannot see him earning his $2.5 million salary next season. Would look much better in a Marlie sweater.
Kyle Wellwood: He has been awful but at 24 he is too young and his hands are too good to write off quite yet. He is a RFA this summer and won't be earning a raise. He needs to improve his fitness level, drop some weight and play with more intensity. Still, if a good trade offer comes in, grab it.
Boyd Devereaux: Strong skater and defensive player who can chip in with some scoring. Not sure why the Red Wings didn't keep him around. Next year's salary is $0.6 million which is good value for a 4th liner.
Dominic Moore: Very fast and a gives you 100% effort on every shift. Very good on face offs. He is only 26 and although an UFA in the summer will be cheap to resign. Good value as a 4th liner.John Pohl: Not as good as Moore and 2 years older. Will be an UFA this summer. I would let cut him loose.
Jiri Tlusty: He should have been with the Marlie all season getting lots of ice time. Unless he can earn a spot on one of the top 3 lines, I would have him play next season on the Marlies. Another season of 8 minutes of ice time per game will not benefit the team or Tlusty.
Jeremy Williams/Kris Newbury/Darryl Boyce/Alex Foster: Young players at various stages of development. One or more might win a spot. Right now, the Leafs seriously lack toughness and only Newbury provides that.
Tomas Kaberle: Best defenseman on the team and is paid a reasonable salary. The offense and powerplay would seriously falter if he is moved and fortunately he vetoed a trade. At 29 he has years of good hockey left and has few injuries. He seems to make his defense partner play better by doing all the puck handling or them.
Pavel Kubina/Bryan McCabe: The Kubina signing made no sense. You don't pay a 3rd defenseman $5 million because he will never get enough ice time to justify that salary. So one of these two players has to go. I don't really care because neither is worth the money. Kubina has a provision in his contract that gives the Leafs a 6-week window to trade him this summer. Alternatively, McCabe may agree to move to a New York team in a trade if they will have him. Maybe the Leafs might get lucky this summer.
Carlo Colaiacovo: Very talented so you need to stick with him. He is only 24. However, he is one of those players who you would move for the right offer.
Ian White: Only 23 years old. Why would you give up on him?Anton Stralman: The type of player you rebuild around.
Andy Wozniewski: An UFA this summer. I volunteer to help pack his bags.
Stefan Kromwell: Also only 24 and cheap. Defensemen take longer to develop. He has size and is a good skater. You need players like this to provide some depth to your team.
That's a total of 16-17 returning players. So this is not a total rebuild but you need to change some of your core players. This team is too soft and weak defensively. The collective agreement will slow down the process so it will likely take two summers to bring about the necessary changes.
The youth, who was 18 when he was arrested, is accused of attending the 12-day camp from Dec. 18 to Dec. 31, 2005, during which he was "present for terrorist indoctrination, wore hooded camouflage and participated in various military-style exercises including marching, obstacle course training and firearms training," according to the Crown's factum. The document contains transcripts of wiretaps and videotapes that include one conversation in which one of the accused speaks of the group's ambitions.
- While some of the allegations have already surfaced in public reports, a great deal in the factum had never been published. Some of that expected evidence includes:
Videos of terrorist indoctrination, in which the accused are exhorted to wage battle in the new empire of "Rome" in North America, "whether we get arrested, whether we get killed."
- Wiretap surveillance in which they discuss their desire to "establish the religion of Allah and to get rid of the oppressors" and the need for funds to finance their goals of building a "team" to "go make an attack."
- The construction of a "radio frequency remote-control detonator" that needed to be improved because its range was nine metres.
- Allegations the accused attended two training camps. One was a 12-day camp near the town of Washago, Ont., where they practised military-style exercises in camouflage gear and undertook firearms training with a 9-mm firearm. The second was a two-day camp at the Rockwood Conservation Area, where they donned camouflage clothing and made a propaganda-style video of their military drills.
One police recording reveals a discussion of Operation Badr, a plot to storm Parliament Hill, take politicians hostage and demand the removal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan and the release of Muslim prisoners in federal institutions, police allege. If their demands weren't met, they'd "kill everybody".
Remember all the money Ashley Dupre was going to make? It's disappearing, fast. Ashley has made plenty of money for media outlets, but hasn't seen a penny of it herself. And given that her story is now... yawn... a couple weeks old, it will be increasingly hard for her to cash in.
"Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis was prepared to pay her $1 million to appear in the company's new magazine, but then rescinded the offer when it was discovered she was already in one of the company's videotapes from 2003. Even the Orlando Sentinel discovered it had a topless image of her from a story that year on the "Girls Gone Wild" series. Us Weekly posted more than 50 photos of her from a "modeling" shoot on its website last week.
Ashley you 15 minutes are up. In fact, you never even made it to 15 minutes.
Knut the polar bear has turned from a cuddly cub into a publicity-addicted psycho, one of his keepers claimed yesterday.
Markus Roebke said Berlin Zoo's celebrity animal was obsessed with the limelight and howled with rage when denied an audience.
When the zoo had to shut because of black ice everywhere he howled until staff members stood before him and calmed him down.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Jonathan is one of the worst goalies in the league and doesn't seem to have much of his dad's hockey genes. However, he does have his dad's ugly temper.
Someone should remind Flaherty that he is no longer the Ontario Finance Minister. I seem to recall the people of Ontario rejected his government back in 2003.
This is virtually an unprecedented move prior to a provincial Budget. Certainly we have seen federal and Ontario governments disagree on issues in the past but this has gone beyond just philosophical differences. You also can't help but wonder if some of the rhetoric has to do with a possible federal election later this year. I'm not sure attacking a popular provincial government will help the Tories in Ontario. Perhaps some federal support for Toronto might be more effective.
This time last year the afternoon temperatures were 15C (59F) and my bulbs were in bloom. Normal highs are 7C (45F) but we seem to be lucky to even get above freezing. There is snow still on my lawn and more coming.
This winter's snowfall now sits at 189 cm which is just 18 cm of the 138-39 record. Since we are looking at a cold April, that record may fall.
Hey Toronto, on the positive side, the Maple Leafs stop playing in early spring so with the delay in nice weather maybe they will stay alive a while longer.
Monday, March 24, 2008
NEWS FLASH: Bao Xishun at 7'9" is no longer the World's tallest man. The Chinese giant has been beaten by Leonid Stadnik from the Ukraine who is was measured in 2006 to be 8'5". He still lives with his 66 year old mother and has to stoop as he moves around his house. He spend most of his time in his tiny home village because he cannot fit in a car or bus.
Compounds detected include painkillers such as ibuprofen, cholesterol-lowering drugs and the common household antibacterial agent triclosan.
So will drinking tap water help me with my arthritis?
You don't see this story every day. Saturday's National Post has a story about a Oregon man who claims to be pregnant. Well it seems the man used to be a woman but now is a man married to another woman and it is the man not the woman in this couple that is pregnant. Oy, my head hurts.
Thomas Beatie's first-person story appears in the April issue of The Advocate, a Los Angeles-based newsmagazine for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
According to the story, Mr. Beatie was born a woman but decided to become a transgender male and legally changed his sex to male. He had his breasts surgically removed and started bimonthly testosterone injections, but kept his vagina.
Now identifying as male, Mr. Beatie legally married Nancy Beatie, the story says. The pair wanted a biological baby but Ms. Beatie was unable to carry a child. So they decided Mr. Beatie would carry the child.Things should get interesting in the hospital maternity ward this summmer.
Afterall Beauty Queens are more comfortable at cocktail parties than in prisons.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
The Incredible Hulk hits the big screen in June and is expected to be one of this summer's big blockbusters. Again, Toronto fills in for New York.
Pictured is the Yonge strip, which is pretty much untouched and those familiar with the area will notice Toronto's Big Slice restaurant, Sam the Record Man, Le Chateau, and the Zanzibar strip club in the shot; an Apollo sign was raised to bring in the New York feel. The Toronto phone numbers left on signs and the non-New York buildings and billboards staying in the shots.Check out the trailer here and see if you can spot any other faux pas.