Saturday, November 01, 2008

The cell phone is 25 years old

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was the first mobile phone to receive FCC acceptance in 1983. DynaTAC was actually an abbreviation of Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage.

On Oct. 13, 1983, Bob Barnett, former president of Ameritech Mobile Communications placed the first commercial wireless call on a DynaTAC from inside a Chrysler convertible to the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell who was in Germany at the time. The call, made at Soldier Field in Chicago, is considered by many as a major turning point in communications.

While it might be considered extremely unwieldy by today's standards, at the time it was considered revolutionary, because mobile telephones were bulky affairs installed in vehicles. The DynaTAC 8000X was truly the first mobile telephone which could connect to the telephone network without the assistance of a mobile operator and could be carried about by the user. It weighed 28 ounces.

Will Obama be a black President or a President that is black?

There have been some ground breaking black Americans over the past 200 years including Douglas Wilder, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, Halle Berry, Denzel Wahington and now add to that Barack Obama. Whether or not Obama wins, he is still the first black Presidential nominee.

So if Obama wins, will he be a black President or just another President that is black? Will race become an issue throughout his administration? Will he surround himself with black advisers? I'm thinking he will be just another Democrat President who just happens not to be white.

Certainly on the campaign trail he has avoided discussing race relations. The only time he spent much time on the issue was when relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright became an issue. When he discusses class structure in America he talks about poor and rich, not black and white. The issues that he talks about - health care, education, jobs are just as important to whites as they are to blacks. His campaign hasn't been dominated by black advisers. The type of money he raised also suggests there is nothing radical about this guy.

Certainly if he wins, it will not be the result of the black vote but because of the white vote. People are voting because of his vision. But he may not be turning the world upside down. He may just be another liberal Democrat in the White House. If that's the case, I wonder if the "change" he has so often repeated on the campaign trail will actually happen. If he is as mainstream has he sells himself as, I don't see any radical changes in Washington. He has rejected the pressure to be a symbolic candidate and I can see him rejecting the pressure to be a symbolic President.

Tina Fey's 3 year old confuses mom with Sarah Palin

Vicar hospitalized with potato up his butt

This item is just so weird to let it pass by without comment.

A vicar clams a potato got stuck up his butt after he fell on the vegetable while hanging curtains in the nude.

The clumsy clergyman, in his 50s, told medical staff at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital that the accident was definitely not due to a sex game. He had to undergo surgery to extract the spud from his backside.

A nurse, Trudi Watson, was quoted as saying "He explained to me, quite sincerely, he had been hanging curtains naked in he kitchen when he fell backwards on to the kitchen table and on to a potato. But it's not for me to question his story."

I can buy the fact that he was hanging drapes in the nude. Hey maybe he was hot. It's easy to fall off a ladder. I've done it. But you can't convince me that those spuds weren't sitting there for some kinky sex game that he had planned once the drapes were up. The accident was just a ironic set of circumstances. Had "games" begun in full as planned I'm sure the spud would have been positioned for easy removal.

Teacher strips for 15 year old students

I know my high school never had a teacher like this. A teacher put on a strip show for her 15-year-old pupils. She was supposed to be supervising a term party. But things got out of hand as the pretty teacher put on her own extracurricular activities for the teen pupils.

She seductively stripped down to her underwear – to the joy of her howling students. Obviously parents want her fired.

But the school's headmaster in Zalaegerszeg, western Hungary, has refused to sack the unnamed mistress despite pressure from parents and other teachers.

"I was forced to give the German teacher a warning, but I will not dismiss her because she is a valuable teacher for our institution," said head Sandor Rozman. He claimed she had shown no more flesh "than you would see on a beach."

Jimmy Kimmel plays tape of teenage Sarah Silverman

Silverman and Kimmel pretended to be awkward around each other as their interview started, but things really got uncomfortable when the host revealed he had a clip of his ex performing on a local Massachusetts talent show, called "Community Auditions."

Stunned Silverman said, "You're a fucking asshole," after the clip, adding, "I can't believe that exists."

Friday, October 31, 2008

The best sports mascot has to be the Phillie Phanatic

Most mascots are so lame. They couldn't entertain a group of 4 year olds. But there is something about the Phillie Phanatic that makes him stand above his peers. Here are a few of his classic moves.

The Phillie Phanatic and an ump do an Irish dance

Just doing his thing

Shooting hot dogs at the crowd

Being a pest

Thornhill Woods Haunted House

My neighbourhood has the most amazing house decorated for Halloween called the Thornhill Woods Haunted House. For the past 3 years the owner has had his house decorated from October 16 -31. They are also collecting money for The Hospital for Sick Children. The Thornhill Woods Haunted House is a good old fashion cemetery theme front yard haunt that’s packed with elaborate monsters, animatronics, tombstones, lighting and sound effects. It attracts quite a crowd. As well you will find:

  • Haunted cemetery theme.
  • Property is surrounded by stone columns with built in speakers, post lights and a (100' foot) creepy skull fence.
  • Two large stone gargoyles on top of the columns as you approach the front entrance.
  • Surround sound system with creepy music and thunder being played continuously.
  • The property is lit up by more then 30 pot lights and other lighting accessories.
  • Spooky porch lighting.
  • Climbing zombies risers and other creatures breaking out of the ground surrounded by over 20 detailed tomb stones.
  • Garage area is a Laboratory with a (8'foot) Animatronics Frankenstein that shakes violently as he is shocked to life (really amazing!)
  • 8' foot Night Terror Creature that was born in the laboratory.
  • Cannibal's Meat Shop refrigerated cooler stuffed with body parts for sale.
  • Crawling (8' foot) Vampire on porch roof.

Is located at
1 Krisbury Ave
Thornhill, Ontario

Corner house on Thornhill Woods Drive between Bathurst & Dufferin off of Hwy #7

One Hit Wonder

Dexy's Midnight Runners - Come on Eileen (1982)

Fashion Disaster

Haven't featured Misha Barton in a while. Does she own a decent looking outfit?

Mug Shot of the Week

Best comb over in the history of ever inside or outside of jail.

I hate to see Philadelphia fans when they're unhappy

There’s no shortage of photos and videos documenting the bedlam that followed the Phillies’ World Series victory. The crazy mob that looted this store definitely takes the cake. Then people hurled Grey Goose bottles at the head of the idiots who climbed on lamp posts. This truly is the end of civilization.

Now Joe the Plumber is a defender of Israel if he could find it on a map

Even Fox News can’t take Joe the Now-I-Want-an-Album-Deal and his comments on Obama’s relationship to Israel seriously. “Joe” has nothing to say and when he does say something, he can’t defend himself or his dumb views. Isn't his 15 minutes up yet?

Political ads are so unfair...but effective

In Canada we are spared most of the political ads run on American TV. If Canadian stations are broadcasting TV shows at the same time as U.S. stations (eg, a Bills game picked up by a Toronto station while it is being broadcast by NBC), the Canadian station substitutes Canadian ads for the American ones.

Anyway, I noticed the recent Obama ad below suggesting that McCain's economic policies were the same as those of Bush. The allegation is unfair and pretty much untrue. Though they may agree on things like the surge, there are significant differences between the two. Since 2000, you could say that McCain has been a thorn in the side of President Bush. However, negative ads have been part of the since President Johnson went after Barry Goldwater with his Daisy Girl ads in 1964. The use of negative or attack ads took off with the success of the Willie Horton ads by George H. W. Bush in 1988 against Michael Dukakis.

Forbes again rates Maple Leafs as most valuable in NHL

Forbes released its annual valuation of NHL teams and once again the Leafs are at the top with a price tag of $448 million (all values in $US). That is a 9% increase over the previous year. This just the value of the hockey team and does not include the Air Canada Centre, the Marlies, the Raptors, Toronto FC, Leaf TV and Raptor TV. Second to the Leafs are the Rangers valued at $411 million. At the bottom of the list is the Phoenix Coyotes valued at just $142 million.

  • The Leafs were also #1 in revenue with $160 million.
  • Although only 3 Canadian teams are in the top ten in value, they are the most profitable. All 6 Canadian teams are in the top ten in operating profit and collectively the earned a $150 million. Meanwhile the 24 U.S. team lost $10 million last season.
  • All of the assets of MLSE are valued at around $1.5 billion.
  • A Forbes representative remarked on radio that although the Leafs are valued at $448 million, if they were to ever go on the open market, the bidding would probably push the sale price well above that.
  • The NHL average is $220 million.
  • The Canadian dollar rose by 15% last season which pushed up the value of all the Canadian teams. Only the Leafs didn't experience an increase in value of at least 10%.
  • NHL teams are valued at approximately 2.4 times their revenue. Therefore, the Leafs' value is lower because they don't earn any playoff revenue. A successful playoff run could add as much as $100 million to their value.
  • The salary cap has made teams like the Leafs, Rangers, Flyers and Red Wings wealthier. The cap reduces a significant team expense but has no impact on revenue. How many of these teams would be spending close in $100 million on salaries by now. The year before the lockout the Leafs' payroll was $70 million and had gone up by $35 million in the 4 years prior to the lockout.
  • The salary floor has made the weaker teams less profitable. Teams like Phoenix, the Islanders, Columbus, Atlanta and Nashville must spend at least $40 million on salaries although their revenues are between $60 and $70 million. Guaranteeing that they will lose money.
  • The Leafs do not rank high compared to teams in other sports. There are 13 baseball teams worth more with the top ranked team, the Yankees, valued at $1.3 billion. There are 7 basketball teams valued above the Leafs with the top ranked team, the Knicks, valued at $608 million. Every NFL team is worth at least $800 million with the Dallas Cowboys valued at $1.6 billion. But no NFL, MLB, or NBA teams earn as big of a profit as the Maple Leafs.

Happy Halloween

The reason for the financial meltdown

Drinking and Halloween don't mix

Use silly string in Hollywood & get a $1000 fine

Talk about bizzare bylaws.

The Silly String law was introduced in 2004 to curb the amount of silly string that used to trash Hollywood streets during Halloween. The city reasoned that the cans were a safety hazard, causing people, horses (for police) and motorcycles to potentially slip and fall in additional to being used as a drunkenly weapon projectile. The string itself, they say, would clog storm drains, ultimately causing an environmental hazard traveling to the ocean.

The ordinance only covers the LAPD's Hollywood division and is in effect October 31st of each year, through 12:00 p.m. on November 1st of each year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hard to believe Grace Slick is 69 today

When you see Grace today you realize how long ago Woodstock was.

Race to replace Stephane Dion getting crowded

Obama addressing CEOs of bankrupt financial institutions

Harper retains Beauty Queen in Cabinet

A few speculated that Helena Guergis may be retiring to the backbench. However, with an expanded Cabinet and the desire to include more women (29%), the Prime Minister is merely move Guergis to another portfolio Minister of state (Status of Women). So she essentially is clinging to a junior Cabinet post by a thin thread wrapped around her well manicured hands.

I guess she can't do any harm there.

Toronto Maple Leafs: After 10 games

The Leafs had a tough schedule over the first 10 games and I had suggested that they might only win 2 games (Atlanta and Tampa Bay). They didn’t even beat Tampa Bay but they did manage wins against Atlanta, Detroit, Boston and New Jersey. Add in 3 shootout losses and they ended up with a decent record over that span (4-3-0-3).

This is a scrappy team now that doesn't give up. In several games now they have fought back after falling behind 2-0 in the first period. Last night was a classic example of how this team plays the game. They fell behind 3-0 only to tie it up. They fell behind twice more only but came back to win in the shootout (for the first time this season). The game was sloppy but highly entertaining.

I had suggested at the start of the season that the Leafs would play with more discipline, be better defensively, have more speed but would have trouble scoring. That certainly has been the case. The Leafs are 23rd in goal scoring (11th last season), averaging only 2.50 goals per game, but 3rd in shots per game with an average of 34.1. So their shooting percentage must be the worst in the league. The team’s goal against average is an acceptable 3.00 which puts them 14th overall (compared to 27th last season). Some expected the Leafs to be tougher but they are only 22nd overall in penalty minutes (last year they were 17th). As for specialty team, there has been a slight improvement so far. Their powerplay last season was 15th and now is rated 6th overall. Their penalty killing was horrible last year at 29th overall and has improved to 17th.

The biggest controversies over the first 10 games have centred on the status of Luke Schenn and the 2 suspensions slapped on Ryan Hollweg. Now that Schenn has played his 10th game, the media circus will fade away like it did around Mats Sundin’s status. As for Hollweg, suspensions have limited him to only 5 games so far. All is quiet for now but no one expects Hollweg to be reformed overnight.

Other players have seen even less playing time than Hollweg. Ian White has not played yet this year, Jonas Frogren and Anton Stralman have only played in 7 games while Carlos Colaiacovo has been limited to 4 games. The situation would have been worse had Jeff Finger not missed the first 7 games with a fracture. This has the potential to create some discourse in the dressing room unless Cliff Fletcher finds some teams willing to make a deal.

Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky are the only offensive threats right now. Ponikarovsky leads in assists (6) and points (9). He is tied for 35th in NHL scoring. Antropov leads the team in goals (4) and plus/minus (+5). Suprisingly neither Kaberle nor Kubina lead the defense in scoring. It’s Mike van Ryn with 6 points. That’s good for 17th overall among NHL defensemen. Nikolai Kulemin’s 3 points so far put him 8th among NHL rookies and Luke Schenn is 2nd among rookies in average ice time per game (and 3rd on the Leafs).

Some players have had rough starts adjusting to the new coach. Jason Blake and Matt Stajan each sat out a game for showing a lack of intensity. Stajan has bounced back to centre the #1 line and is doing a decent job. Blake is toiling away on the 3rd line, not completely out of the dog house. Dominic Moore has done an outstanding job on the 4th line. The work he did last night to set up Mayers goal is typical of his play so far this season. Rookies Kulemin and Grabovski have skill but are still learning the game.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The green side of Ontario's proposed Bill baning cellphones while driving

There is an interesting side to the Province of Ontario's just tabled legislation that would restrict using handheld devices while driving: a provision that would allow informal carpools.

The bill is actually called the 'Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act of 2008'. The Ministry of Transportation says it will, if passed (that's assured-the ruling Ontario Liberal party has a majority) update the Public Vehicles Act that will promote carpooling in Ontario by removing the barriers and red tape associated with forming carpools. This will include amending the definition of a carpool vehicle to recognize informal, irregular carpools that operate between municipalities for purposes other than just home-to-work and work-to-home trips.

The big benefit here is that these informal carpools will be able to use the province's small but growing network of HOV lanes. Ontario also has many carpooling lots located just off its 400-series expressways.

This was depressing

Woke up this morning to more snow! You look out and just want to crawl back in bed for about 6 months. This is the second snow fall in October damn it. I know it will melt away today but its still a depressing sight.

It’s not elitist to be anti-Palin

Some conservatives have labeled critics of Sarah Palin as elitists and intellectual snobs. But it’s not elitist to be anti-Palin. It has nothing to do with her lack of formal education because I agree that a Harvard law degree is no measure of competency. I love the idea of Sarah Palin with her common sense approach to issues. I think she is totally suitable for public office, but I don’t think she is fit for the job she is running for.

It is her lack of knowledge on key issues that makes her unsuited. Her lack of basic understanding of science from flu viruses to global warming is worrisome. You can’t provide proper leadership without same foundational understanding of national issues. Go back to what you were doing of find another office to run for and continue to grow. Then come back in 4 or 8 years and try again.

Joe the Plumber may run for congress

Could Joe the Plumber become Joe the Congressman?

Joe Wurzelbacher, the most famous plumber in America thanks to John McCain and Sarah Palin, told conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham Friday he's considering a run for Congress in 2010.

Wurzelbacher's chances would likely be slim. The Democratic incumbent Marci Kaptur has served in the district for 25 years, and remains a popular figure there. She won reelection in 2006 with nearly 75 percent of the vote and is expected to easily sail through another reelection this year.

But Wurzelbacher, who gained fame after he challenged Barack Obama on his tax plan earlier this month, has attained a certain rock-star status in the Republican Party and his entrance into the race would likely be greeted with instant excitement and media coverage.

'Hit a Jew Day' at American school causes outrage

Disgusting is the only way to describe the outrageous display of anti-Semitism demonstrated at a suburban St. Louis middle school when some students staged what they called "Hit a Jew Day." According to The Associated Press, sixth-graders at Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield last week began an unofficial "Spirit Week" that started with a "Hug a Friend Day," but moved to "Hit a Tall Person Day" and, finally, "Hit a Jew Day." A handful of students directly involved in organizing the action have been suspended and told to undergo counseling. But what about the students who knew of outrageous behavior and did nothing? "There is a mix of sadness and outrage," said district spokesman Paul Tandy. "The concern is a lot of kids knew about it and they didn't take action or say anything."

The racially motivated incident was a perversion of an unofficial "Hug a Friend Day" held earlier in the month. Fewer than 10 of an estimated 35 Jewish students were struck, but one student was slapped in the face.

The Associated Press reported that Jewish leaders are concerned that the incident is indicative of a rebirth of mainstream anti-Semitism in the United States.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fashion Disaster

Sarah Jessica Parker could be on this list on a daily basis.

Doesn't he have second amendment rights?

I think God noticed the Phillies were about to win the World Series and decided to intervene

It appeared that Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels was going to deliver a World Series victory for Philadelphia and earn himself the Series MVP when Mother Nature stopped him in his track.

Because it was only lightly raining when the game started, MLB hoped it could play a full nine innings. Quickly, however, the showers turned to a steady downpour and the field became a quagmire.

By the middle innings, the grounds crew was running shuttles onto the field, carrying bags of a drying agent -- baseball's version of cat litter -- to absorb the water. Pitchers were having problems with the footing, hitters couldn't see the ball and fielders were losing popups. It was awful.

Tampa Bay had checked out of their hotel in the afternoon before heading over to the ballpark. When the game was suspended, they had no where to go for the evening. Their hotel and others in the area were fully booked. They spent the night in a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, about 25 miles away.

Vaughan council supports Yonge subway extension

Vaughan city council too a break from its usual bickering to affirm its support of the Yonge Street subway extension yesterday, the second underground foray into York Region with six proposed stops north of Finch Avenue that culminate in Richmond Hill.

The proposed 6.5-kilometre underground extension would run from Finch station to a proposed station at Richmond Hill Centre, located near Highway 7, with stops at Cummer and Drewry avenues, Steeles Avenue, Clark Avenue, Royal Orchard Boulevard and Longbridge and Langstaff roads.
There would also be “major intermodal bus terminals” at the Steeles and Richmond Hill stations. There are also plans to include a 1,900-car parking lot and passenger pickup and drop-off point north of Longbridge Road.

Now let's see if the TTC can get the $11.5 billion pledged by the province and another $6-billion expected to come from Ottawa.

Ontario banning driver using hand held devices

With apologies to Libertarians, it's about time that Ontario decided to ban the use of cell phones, blackberries and hand held GPS devices in cars. Sometimes only through the use of law enforcement will the public begin to refrain from unsafe behaviours.

Today the Ontario government will introduce legislation that will restrict the use of cellphones, BlackBerries and other electronic devices by driver. Sources said it would include regulations to force Ontario drivers to use hands-free equipment when making calls and specifically ban text-messaging and emailing while driving.

Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia already have introduced bans.

Meanwhile, the OMA has found evidence that cellphone use - regardless of whether it is hands-free or hand-held - has a significant impact on the driver's cognitive functions, visual concentration ... and their reaction time.

I hate brussel sprouts too

Monday, October 27, 2008

Roadkill found in Chinese restaurant

Here in Toronto they've only found rats in the Chinese restaurants but a dead deer?

Or is road kill on the menu at a popular Hamburg, NY restaurant? A disturbing discovery at the China King Restaurant has forced health officials to lock the doors.

People who came to China King for their Friday dinner found it hard to believe. A dead deer had been butchered inside the kitchen in the restaurant they've been coming to for years. A witness sats he saw an oriental man dragging the deer inside.

Blue Jay signing of Adam Loewen catch Orioles by surprise

The following is from an Oriole blog the day before Adam Loewen signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. For those not familiar with Loewen, he is a Canadian pitcher who was drafted 4th overall by Baltimore in 2002. There was some debate over whether he had a brighter future as a pitcher or a hitter. Since six-foot-six lefties who throw in the mid-90s don't grow on trees, he was chosen as a pitcher and quickly ascended through the Baltimore system. Loewen gave up pitching back in July, when he suffered a stress fracture in his left elbow for a second time. Another surgery would have kept him out for at least a year with no guarantee the problem would be fixed for good, prompting him to rethink his career path. The Orioles released him with the idea of resigning him to a minor league contract so he could work his way back to the major leagues as a hitter. Until he decided to play for the only Canadian based team in baseball.

Anyway here is the blog entry. It's pretty funny:

As you've figured out by now, Adam Loewen did clear waivers. He's free to sign with any team, and he's already drawing interest, as team president Andy MacPhail pointed out yesterday in Steve Melewski's blog on MASN. The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly one of those clubs.

Loewen isn't leaving the Orioles. He's committed to them. I'm convinced of this and am willing to back it with some bold guarantees.

If Loewen ends up in another organization, I will quit my job at MASN and work as Pacman Jones' publicist. Or his bodyguard.

I will massage whatever hurts on Kellen Winslow Jr. (if you know the reason he was in the hospital, that's a bold statement).

I will pass out business cards claiming to be John Kruk's personal trainer. And hair stylist.

I will claim to have taught Alex Cintron everything he knows about fielding.

I will offer to babysit for Melvin Mora. Hungover.

I will ride around Baltimore all day Sunday with my engine on fire until I find a Detroit Lions bar.

I will tell Chris McAlister that he's not one of the Ravens' best 11 players on defense and he can't carry Corey Ivy's jock.

I will wear Haloti Ngata's jock as a Halloween mask.

The 49th Parallel's view on the U.S. Presidential Election

Not that most Americans care but many foreigners closely watch the U.S. Presidential Election. We are all impacted by the course taken by the American government - either through war, financial crisis, or just the value of the American dollar. Canada's close proximity and economic reliance require close cooperation between the two countries. Even my 84 year old mom in a nursing home has a view on the election.

Historically, Canada's Liberal party aligns itself more closely with the Democrats and the Conservatives relate better to the Republicans. Former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney got along fabulously with former President Ronald Reagan while former Prime Minister Jean Chretien got along well with former President Bill Clinton. You know, birds of a feather stick together.

For the past 18 months I have watched the campaigns unfold. I actually predicted last fall that the two nominees would be Obama and McCain although they are not necessarily who I had been rooting for. So when it came down to picking between the two, I've really had a dilemma because I consider both candidates to be badly flawed. Every President has to face several unforeseen major crises during their term in office and I'm not sure how well either will hold up.

I am concerned about Obama's limited experience both in leadership and legislative roles. How would he respond to a terror attack, natural disaster, economic crisis, etc. There isn't much to go on other than blind faith. He certainly is an excellent orator and has run an excellent campaign but how much of his agenda will he deliver on? How adaptive will he be if the landscape around him begins to change suddenly? You just don't know what you are really getting here. Still he would be an historic choice and some people seem to suggest that you need to overlook his inexperience to move forward. Despite what the polls state, many Canadians believe Americans are not ready to vote for an African-American President.

As for McCain, he too has many warts. He likes to play the maverick and take unpopular positions in issues. Mavericks make excellent critics but not necessarily good leaders. When the roles are reversed, how well will he react? Does he have the emotional intelligence needed to reach consensus with his opponents? In contrast to Obama, McCain has a long track record through years of public service. So at least you do know what you are getting. I was really leaning towards McCain until he announced his running mate. I thought his nominee was high risk and showed poor judgement. A vice-president needs to have the experience and qualifications to be president and Sarah Palin currently falls short. She has many good qualities but the vice-president post shouldn't be a developmental position.

Fortunately I don't have a vote on November 4th (my mom's birthday). So I'll just keep my fingers crossed like the rest of the globe and hope that it all works out.

What should the Leafs do with Luke Schenn?

For months the local media speculated on the future of Mats Sundin. Remember how they were so sure he was going to Montreal? There is an occasional story but the Sundin saga has pretty much petered out. Instead we have a steady stream of speculation regarding Luke Schenn. Should he stay or go back to Junior hockey? Will the Leafs ignore their bleak history with rookie defensemen and keep him up this season?

There is no way of knowing what is best for Schenn or best for the Leafs until it's too late. Some players can step into the NHL at 18 although most cannot. Some 18 year old NHL defensemen become stars (Dion Phaneuf), some become journeymen and nothing more (Luke Richardson) and some flameout after their rookie year (Fred Boimstruck). At this point you have no way of knowing how good of a player Luke Schenn will develop into. Everyone seems to have their theory on the best way to develop young players and has examples to support their approach.

But players aren’t all alike to so you really need to decide on a case-by-case basis. Bobby Orr probably could have played in the NHL at 16. Jeff Finger was essentially a rookie at 27. I think you play when you’re ready and age just isn’t relevant. Cliff Fletcher long ago suggested that if Schenn was one of their top 4 defensemen he would likely stay up. The Leafs today officially confirmed Schenn’s status and his recent play indicates that he has met Cliff’s threshold.

There is still another rationale for sending Schenn down – to delay his free agency eligibility which will save the Leafs on cap space. The thinking is that you develop players in Junior hockey and the minors and only bring them up when they are ready to make an impact. That way you benefit from having a cheap impact player for 4 or 5 years. Otherwise you eat up their “cheap years” developing them and by the time they become impact players they are no longer on an entry level contract. They may be the best reason for sending Schenn down but that doesn't appear an issue for the Leafs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

U.S. Presidential Election still close but Obama holds his lead

Updated: 26 Oct
Note: Virginia has moved into Obama’s column (at least for now)
Note: Ohio has moved into Obama’s column (at least for now)
Note: Florida has moved into Obama’s column (at least for now)
Note: Nevada has moved into Obama’s column (at least for now)
Note: North Carolina has moved into Obama’s column (at least for now)
Note: Missouri has moved into Obama’s column (at least for now)
Note: Indiana has moved into Obama’s column (at least for now)

If the U.S. Presidential election was held today, Barack Obama would win with 375 electoral college votes to John McCain’s 163. But the race is extremely close — there are many states were the margin of victory is 3% or less. These numbers are based on a rolling average of state polls. Below is the breakdown (sorted from most to least electoral college votes). Note: the number in parenthesis is the percentage lead the candidate is ahead and EV means electoral college votes. Top battleground states (where margin-of-victory is 5% or less) are highlighted in red. source

Obama beats in McCain in:

California (+21.0) — 55 EV
New York (+25.0) — 31 EV
Florida (+2.2) — 27 EV
Illinois (+23.5) — 21 EV
Pennsylvania (+10.8) — 21 EV
Ohio (+6.1) — 20 EV
Michigan (+17.0) — 17 EV
New Jersey (+15.8) — 15 EV
North Carolina (+1.0) — 15 EV
Virginia (+7.0) — 13 EV
Massachusetts (+20.3) — 12 EV
Missouri (+1.0) — 11 EV
Indiana (+0.5) — 11 EV
Washington (+15.3) — 11 EV
Minnesota (+11.3) — 10 EV
Wisconsin (+10.6) — 10 EV
Maryland (+11.4) — 10 EV
Colorado (+6.5) — 9 EV
Connecticut (+19.0) — 7 EV
Oregon (+14.7) — 7 EV
Iowa (+11.8) — 7 EV
New Mexico (+8.4) — 5 EV
Nevada (+3.3) — 5 EV
New Hampshire (+9.3) — 4 EV
Maine (+16.2) — 4 EV
Rhode Island (+22.7) — 4 EV
Hawaii (+35.5) — 4 EV
Vermont (+24.5) — 3 EV
Delaware (+17.6) — 3 EV
D.C. (-) — 3 EV

TOTAL — Barack Obama 375 EV

Danish Road Safety Council

The socialist Danes know how to get drivers to slow down. Just put topless women on the street with road speed signs. Definitely NSFW!

Canadians fair better than Israelis with minority governments

Canada has just voted in its 3rd straight minority government and most people are happy about it. Canadian minority governments tend to be more responsible and centrist. But the experience can be quite different in other countries.

Israeli has never had a majority government. The Canadian parliament has only 4 parties represented where the Israeli Knesset has 18 parties in 12 alliances - although the number is constantly changing as new parties are created by groups that break away from existing parties while other parties form new alliances. There are centrist parties (Kadima, Gil) leftist parties (Labour, Meretz), right wing parties (Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, National Union), religious parties (Shas, United Torah Judaism) and Arab parties (United Arab List, Hadash, Balad).

There are 120 seats in the Knesset and each party that gains at least 2% of the popular votes receives seats (the minimum number is 3). Cobbling a coalition is a challenge. For one thing, Arab parties are never invited to join the coalition. Since the Arabs hold 10 seats, a coalition that controls at least 61 seats has to come from the remaining 110 seats. Leftist parties and right wing parties rarely join the same coalition. Secular parties (which would include Meretz) refuse to join coalitions with religious parties. Since religious parties normally hold around 20% of seats, it is rare that they aren't part of a coalition.

Coalition negotiations are a combination of poker and extortion. Parties that are considering joining a coalition demand cabinet posts and government programs that would benefit their core constituents. For example, religious parties usually demand extra funding for religious schools as well as imposing more strict adherence to religious laws (80% of Israelis are secular). Elections must be held every 4 years but only one government has lasted 4 years in the last 8 elections. These coalitions are very fragile as parties bolt when ever they feel it is strategically advantageous to do so.

An example of how this all works (or doesn't works) is the attempt by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to form a government. After Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned due to a corruption scandal, the centrist Kadima party picked Livni as its new leader. She was asked by the president to form a new coalition. She was able to get Labour (19 seats) to join which combined with Kadima (29 seats) would hold 48 seats. She attempted for weeks to get the religious Shas party (13 seats) to join her coalition which would have given her a razor thin majority. Shas demanded $300 million in additional child benefits (they are paid only to families with 4 or more children - typically religious families) which is the usual type of extortion religious parties apply. Livni approach other parties - National Union (9 seats) and Meretz (5 seats) which give her a 62 seat majority. However, the two parties hate each other and would only join the coalition if the other was not included.

After 6 weeks of haggling, she informed the president that she could not form a government and that elections would have to be held. The current government lasted only 2 1/2 years.

One Hit Wonder

Stealers Wheel - Stuck in the Middle With You (1972)

Cough, Cough


Hillary Clinton is 61 today, Sasha Cohen is 24

Another innocent shooting victim

There just too many of these incidents in Toronto over the past few years and it seems no one has an idea on how to prevent them. A woman in her mid- to late-20s, was having a cigarette in front of the Duke of York tavern on Queen St. E. when gunfire erupted during an argument between two men around 1 a.m. today, police said. Bullets struck her and four other people, including the intended target. The others — two women and two men in their 20s or 30s — were sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

he shooting followed an altercation between two men outside Duke of York Tavern in Leslieville. The violence began after an argument erupted into gunfire after one of the men pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired several rounds before he fled the scene on foot. The woman was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Described by police as "extremely dangerous," the suspect escaped on foot. Giroux called it a "very easy case to solve" because the suspect is believed to be a regular at the bar and patrons interviewed by police were "extremely co-operative."

I love pandas

52 cows killed by lightning

What a strange amd story. Fifty-two cows were killed after lightning hit a wire fence they were grazing next to. The Hereford and Normandy breed cows were discovered by the ranch manager in the field.

A veterinary expert who examined the carcases said they had been killed by lightning hitting the wire fence bordering the field where the animals were stood. The incident occurred in Valdez Chico, near Montevideo, Uruguay.

Mug Shot of the Week

Glass shattering hit on Mike Van Ryn