Saturday, April 05, 2008

Harper visits Auschwitz

Prime Minister Stephen Harper toured the former death camp at Auschwitz on Saturday, a historic site in Poland that has come to symbolize the Nazi genocide against Jews during the Second World War.

“We are witness here to the vestiges of unspeakable cruelty, horror and death. Let us never forget these things and work always to prevent their repetition,” he wrote in a memorial book after exiting the camp’s crematorium. “Lord, Bless the souls of those who have suffered and perished here and deliver us from evil.”

No more penny for your thoughts

Canadian MP Pat Martin proposed on Wednesday that the country's 1 cent coin, or penny, be scrapped on the grounds that it was "an expensive nuisance" and cost more to produce than it was worth. It cost Canada $130 million (US$1.00 = C$1.02) to produce 1.2 billion pennies last year, largely because so few of the small coins are actually circulated. Most end up in piggy banks, cookie tins, and desk drawers. He estimates there are 20 billion out there. The penny was introduced 100 years ago in 1908.

I'm like most people. I hate them. No doubt prices will go up slightly but I consider my $1.98 grande coffee to be 2 bucks. I don't even bother taking the change.

Oh My!

click on cartoon to enlarge

More Nostalgia...The Beatles on Ed Sullivan

Toking with Lawrence Welk

Do you think this couple had any clue what they were singing about or did they think it was a gospel song?

And then there was Lawrence Welk dressed as a hippie. As lame as a blind, three-legged dog with fleas.

Blue Jays Win Home Opener

Although they will likely finish 3rd in the AL East once again, the Blue Jays start the season with their best lineup since their back to back world series. But I can't see them finishing ahead of the high priced Yankee and Red Sox lineups.

Still the Blue Jays beat Boston in their home opener on very good pitching performance from Shawn Marcum. Marcum went seven innings in all and struck out eight, allowing just three hits and a walk. He retired 19 of the first 20 batters he faced, rarely giving up solid contact to one of baseball's toughest lineup. Although the Jays start the season 2-2, they have now received 4 excellent starts from Halladay, Burnett, McGowan and now Marcum. A very encourging sign.

The Blue Jays wore their powder blue uniforms last night and will wear them at all (Flashback) Friday home games this season. It was a sellout crowd of 50,171 at the Rogers Centre.

NY Street Vendor are Going to be Short of Stock

Everyone loves to buy knock off designer goods on the streets of New York. I've bought watches, shoes, bags, you name it. Well police in Queens made one of the biggest counterfeit busts in city history Thursday night.

Police raided a warehouse on Northern Boulevard in Flushing, and seized the merchandise with an estimated value of nearly $4.5 million.

Among the items seized were 50,000 pairs of sneakers, more than 30,000 counterfeit handbags, and 5,000 pieces of clothing. It took eight tractor-trailers to haul everything away. It appears that most of the stuff is coming in from China.

Police said the estimated retail value of the legitimate versions of the items is approximately $16 million.

Mug Shot of the Week

click on picture to enlarge

Yes you are a Big Boy!

Happy Birthday MS

33 years ago, April 4, 1975, 19-year-old Bill Gates and 22-year-old Paul Allen joined forces to create a partnership called Micro-soft. The company incorporated in 1981, and went public in 1986. If I had invested in Microsoft in 1986, the value of that stock would be worth 280 times as much today. Which explains why I'm still working today.

Coffee protects against Alzheimer's

According to the Journal of Neuroinflammation a cup of coffee a day could offset the effects of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, new research has claimed. Caffeine blocks the negative effects of high cholesterol that have been linked to the disease.

Looks like I'm already immunized!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

They are Now the Visible Majority

I'm now a visible minority in Toronto and a few other places in Canada, according to the latest census reports, including Markham, Richmond, Brampton, and Burnaby. I wonder if we'll now see an end to this particularly euphemism, or will it go on and on even when it's no longer true? No wonder its so easy to find ethnic food in Toronto but getting harder and harder to find steak and kidney pie, bangers and mash, toad in the hole, and yorkshire pudding.

City will pay for pothole damage...but there is a catch

Potholes are everywhere. You can't avoid them. Did you know that if you damage your vehicle going over one, the city will compensate you.? Two years ago Vaughan reimbursed me for a blown tire and dented rim.

But there is a catch. You have to prove that the city was negligent. Good luck with that one. The cash strapped city keeps a vice-like grip on compensation and will dole out the cash for repairs only if you can really prove your case. As it turns out not a penny has been given out this year.

Still if you have a claim you'd like to make, here's how to get the ball rolling.

City of Toronto

First you have to prove it was the city's fault. Toronto's legal department never pays out a claim without a thorough investigation first.

Needless to say, they'd prefer you go through your insurance company first.

If you decide to pursue the complaint, you have to submit it in writing. The claim has to include the time, date and location of the incident, a description of what happened, and a damage estimate.

And don't wait. Any such bid for compensation has to be done, in the city's underlined words, "immediately".

Address your note to:

City Clerk's Office,
City Hall,
100 Queen Street West,
M5H 2N2

Fax: (416) 392-1867

Or you can email:

But even then you're not finished. Two weeks later, you'll get another letter in the mail acknowledging receipt of your complaint and if it's found valid, you'll then receive yet another form to fill out.

For more information, call (416) 397-4212.

City of Toronto pothole page

Ontario Highways

The needs are similar to the city, but the envelope or email goes somewhere else.

Mail a comprehensive claim that includes the time, date and location where the damage occurred, and include copies of any relevant documents - like a repair bill or an estimate.

Send it to:

Management Board Secretariat
Risk Management & Insurance Services
700 University Avenue,
6th Floor,
M7A 2S4

Here's where more government red tape comes in. You can fax the information if you want to (416) 314-4444 - but you have to follow it up with a mailed letter either way. And you may have to wait up to three months for an answer.

Call (416) 314-3445 for more information.

Oops, Cubs commit another error

Let's face it the Chicago Cubs are more inept than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Given the Cubs century of futility, it's only fitting that once again a joyous event in team history is tainted with failure.

As part of Monday's Opening Day festivities, the team unveiled a statue of Ernie Banks outside Wrigley Field. Banks was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959 while playing shortstop. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Banks played his entire career with the Cubs (1953-1971). He was a 15-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 1960.

Well it seems along one side of the statue's base, sculptor Lou Cella of Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany carved Banks' famous quote "Let's Play Two" into the block of granite. Except he forgot the apostrophe, so it reads, "Lets Play Two."

An engraver came by today and added the missing apostrophe. Still just another reason to dump on the hopeless Cubs.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ban Walking and Talking?

Illinois State Rep Kenneth Duncan (D-Chicago) introduced a bill in the state legislature that would make using a cellphone while crossing the street illegal. So what's next walking and chewing gum at the same time?

Bill 4520 proposes an amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code, adding in

Sec. 11-1011.5. Pedestrian use of wireless telephone.

(a) A pedestrian shall not use a wireless telephone while crossing a roadway.

(b) As used in this Section, "wireless telephone" means a device that is capable of transmitting or receiving telephonic communications without a wire connecting the device to the telephone network.

(c) A violation of this Section is a petty offense for which a fine not to exceed $25 may be imposed.

Another Lame Hillary 3 am Ad

Like what is she going to do a 3 am about home foreclosures. And can't it wait till the morning.

One Hit Wonder

Lulu - To Sir With Love (1967)

Rare video.

Cherry Blossom Season in Washington is Stunning

Real Estate Pricing Not Falling in Manhattan

The Manhattan real estate market was more expensive than ever during the first quarter according to reports from real estate brokerages. There were "record" highs for Manhattan, in sharp contrast to what the rest of the nation's housing market is going through.

However, there are some mitigating factors: Though the median prices of apartments has risen to $917,000 from $840,000, that's because three times as many apartments over $10 million sold during this first quarter, versus last year's, helping boost the average. Still, studio apartment prices have increased 22% to $490,000 and one bedroom prices were up by 12% to $669,000.

Racial Stereotype of Coincidence?

Ever since Vogue put basketball star LeBron James on its cover — only the third man, and the first African American man, to gain that distinction — the cover by Annie Liebovitz has sparked a lot of debate. Critics have slammed Vogue for "perpetuating racial stereotypes," depicting the "dangerous black man" running off with a beautiful white woman (model Gisele Bundchen). The inspiration may be a famous World War I recruitment poster from 1917.

Earth Decade in North Korea

They didn't need to participate in Earth Hour in North Korea. It's always Earth Hour there.

Peter Foster in his blog in the National Post includes the night satellite shot above which shows contrasting power usage in North Korea and South Korea. Of course North Korea is the dark. It truly is startling. Those people are living in the middle ages.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Liberals Will Continue to Avoid Parliamentary Votes

A new Angus Reid online survey reveals some alarming trends for the Liberals and Stephane Dion. The Liberals are polling at their lowest level since Dion was made leader. The party numbers are:

The Conservatives enjoy the support of 36 per cent of Canadians – roughly the same level as the 2006 election – but the Liberals have dropped to 26 per cent, down two percentage points in the last month and four percentage points from the 2006 vote, according to the poll.

The New Democrats are at 18 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 9 per cent and the Green party, which enjoyed a strong showing in the March 17 by-elections, is at 9 per cent, double its support in the 2006 federal election.

Conservatives numbers are similar to their showing in the last election. The real reason for the 10 point gap is clearly erosion on the Liberal side, down from 31% at the beginning of February to a new bottom of 26%.

However, that question aside, Dion's numbers are abysmal. Only 11% of Canadians approve of Dion's performance, down a full 6 point since February. Equally concerning, Dion's disapproval numbers have reached towering heights, a full 57% disapprove, a rise of 7 points.

So the Liberals have no choice but to avoid bringing down the Conservative government by avoiding votes where they disagree with the government. However, the strategy is likely contributing to their eroding support. Obviously, the Liberals are waiting for a miraculous turn around. I just don't see it happening short of a scandal on the scale of the Liberal sponsorship mess.

The Real Rob Ford

The above video—not safe for work unless you're using headphones—was shot by the late Peter Walker and is a clip from Min Sook Lee's documentary Hogtown: The Politics of Policing (winner of the best Canadian feature prize at Hot Docs 2005). Uploaded to YouTube fewer than three weeks ago, it's been passed around online over the last few days, since being linked to by Toronto Life's Philip Preville in a Friday blog post.

The footage appears to have been taken during a break in City Council's meeting of Thursday, June 24, 2004. The preceding Monday the 21st, the Toronto Police Services Board had voted not to renew the contract of then-Toronto Police Chief (now OPP Chief) Julian Fantino.

LA Council Calls for a Murder Moratorium

The Los Angeles City Council asked residents today to stop killing each other -- for 40 hours.

The moratorium, which will begin at 6:01 p.m. on Friday and end at 10:01 a.m. on Sunday -- will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Anticipating criticism that the homicide ban is a gimmick, council members said the moratorium is a way to generate dialogue on violence in Los Angeles neighborhoods.

There is something truly pathetic about the homicide ban. The community has to be given a special reason to stop killing for 2 days. Very sad.

Beauty Queen Turned Cabinet Minister Not So Good

Here is a shocker. The National Post has article outlining the weak and erratic behaviour of Secretary of State Helena Guergis. It cites the CTV video I posted previously. The only shock is what took them so long to figure it out. The article suggests she may be better suited for the backbenches. Something similar to the treatment Andrew Raycroft has been receiving. I long ago made the point that not only is Guergis unsuitable in Cabinet but even as an MP. Let's face it, she is more suited for country fair outings than diplomacy.

But that Guergis name gets you places in Huronia including elected office.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Politicians Should Avoid Sporting Events...

...unless they enjoy getting booed.

Sacha Baron Cohen Creeps Out Kansas

Sacha Baron Cohen is at it again.

Cohen is working on his latest film “Bruno” which is a mockumentary starring a gay Austrian TV host.

The movie is made up of footage of Cohen’s character interacting with the public, and his latest antics in Kansas haven’t gone over well.

Local newspapers report the Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita had to change its rules for commercial filming after the “European man” and other cast members “began dancing in tight short shorts, kissing and fighting in the lobby.”

While there was nothing illegal about the “performance,” the crew was asked to leave and the assistant director of airport operations says it won’t be as easy to film at the airport in the future.

Sick Sick Sick

An Ohio man is charged with four counts of public indecency after he admitted to having sex with his patio picnic table. Authorities in Huron County, Ohio say 40-year-old Art Price Junior confessed to repeatedly having sex with the table between January and March of this year.

Police in Bellevue, Ohio were tipped off, after someone anonymously taped one of the incidents then gave the recording to police. According to police, Price admitted that he had sex with the picnic table both inside and outside his home.

He is free on a $20,000 bond.

I'm no authority and fetishes. But I've never heard of a fetish involving patio furniture. But what ever kind of sex you are into, please keep it inside the confines of your home.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Police Make Arrest In Abdikarim Murder

Police have arrested a suspect in connection with a fatal shooting that was captured on surveillance video.

Abdikarim Ahmed Abdikarim, 18, was gunned down over two weeks ago while sitting with friends on the front porch of a townhouse near the Allen and Lawrence. The other five people shot survived.

In a rare move, police then released a segment from the video to the media and posted it online. The silent video shows a man calmly firing a handgun several times at an unseen group of men just a few metres away. Both the shooter and an accomplice flee in separate directions.

Wendell Damian Cuff, 25, was arrested Sunday and is charged with First Degree Murder and five counts of attempted murder. Meanwhile, investigators are still searching for a second suspect in the slaying. An arrest warrant has also been issued for 25-year-old Owen Anthony Smith, wanted on the same charges.

Abdikarim’s killing was the 11th homicide in Toronto this year.

Gordie Howe Turns 80

Monday is Gordie Howe's 80th birthday. He was an incredible athlete, playing professional hockey into his 50s. In fact, at 50, he led his team, the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association, in scoring with 96 points. He played 25 seasons for the Detroit Red Wings and was a top-five scorer in the NHL for 20 consecutive years. He could do it all - score, bodycheck and intimidate his opponents, for 32 seasons.

Happy birthday Mr. Hockey!

Below Gordie Howe scores a "Howe Hat Trick" (of sorts) with a goal, high-stick and ejection with the WHA Houston Aeros vs. Winnipeg Jets Dec. 2 1975

What did you do during Earth Hour?

I was visiting my invalid sister (she has a busted leg) last night and yes we had the lights on. Toronto Hydro is reporting a 9% drop in electricity usage last night. I guess that makes Earth Hour a success. The planet will thank those who shut off their lights.

Seriously, by Monday people will realize nothing has changed. Community events make people feel good because they get to share a common experience with millions of strangers and for an hour feel like they are actually part of a greater community. But if the goal was to make people aware about the climate change crisis, I'm not so sure it actually increased awareness. Certainly I haven't noticed governments acting with any urgency.

But I do have to admit seeing the darken skylines was sort of cool. Here are various pictures.

Toronto Skyline

Dundas Square in Toronto

Sidney skyline

Chicago skyline

Mug Shot of the Week

So is this a he-felon or she-felon?