Saturday, November 15, 2008

The case against Brian Burke

Brian Burke is a terrific hockey executive but is he the right man for the Leaf front office? Maybe not.

For one thing, Cliff Fletcher may be as good or better. Sure Fletcher said earlier this year he wasn't interested in the Leaf GM job. But now that he's been doing it for 10 months I would guess he would stay on if that option was presented to him. Fletcher has done a good job in clearing cap space, moving out malcontents, and finding eager and cheap players. In addition, Fletcher has attracted a good management team around him including Joe Nieuwendyk, Al Coates, and Ron Wilson. When your interim manager is that good why not just drop the interim tag?

Brian Burke has a good track record in building a strong organization, recruiting talent, dealing with the media, and marketing the game. But Cliff Fletcher can do all these things too. Burke has a won a Stanley Cup but so has Fletcher. However, Burke's track record in a number of areas has been poor. When he managed the Canucks he had a history of poor draft picks or trading away picks and prospects for veteren talent. Sounds too much like the Leaf draft history. While with Anaheim he continually experienced problems managing with the salary cap. As a result he was forced to move players to remain below the cap. For example, Bobby Ryan was demoted to the minors this season so Burke could afford to sign Temmu Salanne. Previously he had to trade Andy McDonald to the Blues so that he could afford to sign free agents Selanne and Scott Neidermayer. He also put Schneider and Bryzgalov on waivers when he could no longer afford to carry their salaries. And let's not forget that terrible Todd Bertuzzi signing.

I would be perfectly happy to see Cliff Fletcher remain as the GM. But we know that isn't going to happen. The Leafs have a short list with only one name on it and that person will be on hired in a few weeks.

Canada for sale!

It would have been nice if Stephen Harper had mentioned the possibility of selling off some of the country’s capital assets in order to balance the books back during the recent election (just 4 weeks or so ago) instead of boasting that the fundamentals of economy were strong. Not that anyone really bought into it.

I recall back in 1999, the former Conservative Ontario government of Mike Harris gave a private company a 99-year lease to run highway 407 and charge motorist tolls at any rate they liked. Since then tolls have risen dramatically. I know the privatization minister at the time was Rob Sampson. Two Ontario Cabinet ministers at the time were Jim Flaherty (Attorney General) and Tony Clement (Transportation) are in the federal Cabinet. The people of Ontario got $3 billion but lost much more in toll revenue.

Israeli Prime Minister candidate Netanyahu rips off Obama

The New York Times points out that there is an incredible resemblance between the website of Benjamin Netanyahu the conservative Likud leader and that of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Auto executives to get bonuses

It was reported the other day by Detroit Free Press, as Chrysler axes thousands of jobs and goes cap in hand to American and Canadian taxpayers seeking a multi-billion dollar bailout to stave off bankruptcy, they’re paying out $30 million in so-called retention bonuses to 50 top executives that range from a “low” of $200,000 to $1.89 million.

The apparent justification for this is in order to “prevent loss of leadership during critical times.”

Do why would you even want to retain leadership that just about put the companies into bankrupcy? And who would be interested in hiring these executives anyway? The greed just never stops.

Bush White House gives shocker hand gesture

I just wonder if the Arizona State track team knew what they were doing when they asked the President to pose with using the shocker hand gesture?

Prisoner, too fat for cell, released early

Canadian prison authorities were forced to release a 450-pound (205 kg) drug gang member recently because he was too large for his cell.

Michel Lapointe -- known as Big Mike -- was arrested in September 2006 and received a five-year sentence in May this year. The paper said he could not fit on the chair in his Montreal prison cell and when he went to bed, his body protruded six inches on either side.

A letter from the authorities to Lapointe said: "You have been detained for more than 25 months and your prison conditions are difficult because of your health".

The authorities also cited the refusal of two other facilities to accept the 37-year-old.

J.P. Ricciardi, where were you?

Brian Cashman just robbed Kenny Williams of the White Sox out of Nick Swisher with no hint the Jays ever made a call. Now maybe Ricciardi did make a bid but no one has yet suggested the Jays tried to pick him up.

The Yankees get Swisher and a thrown in minor league reliever for Wilson Betimit, Jeff Marquez (who's probably about as good a Scott Richmond) and Johnny Nunez. This is the equivalent of the Jays dealing Scott Richmond, Kenny Rodriguez, and Joe Inglett for Swisher.

Swisher could have been that big bat the Jays have been looking for. He was a bust it wouldn't matter considering how little the White Sox were willing to take back. Instead I expect Ricciardi to sign another broken down bat (Scott Rolen, Shannon Stewart, etc) who will fall apart by June of July. Ughh. Hope it's not Giambi.

The inventor of the vibrating toilet seat

A guy named Johnny Henry has developed a vibrating toilet seat. He began working on his invention in 1997, has now developed a prototype.

Would you say this guy has way too much time on his hands? So Johnny tell us why you invented this totally lame product - to address some unfulfilled societal need, to further science, to save the planet?

“I believe in thinking out of the box,” Henry said. “I wanted to create something that is a little unusual.

“This invention is designed to stimulate,” he said. “It’s to make you feel good while you are there.”

When asked how he developed the idea, Henry said he “wanted to add some life to the otherwise lifeless toilet seat.”

Mug Shot of the Week

It's so nice to get some extra attention.

World's Best Bottom

This year's...

...and last year's.
It all looks the same to me.

Italian man granted divorce because of terrible mother-in-law

A court in Salerno has granted an Italian man a divorce after accepting his claim that his mother-in-law had "made my life hell". The man said: ''The marriage lasted just four months, but it was hell."

The man said he and his ex-wife Gemma, 31, had even signed a pre-nuptial agreement when they married, guaranteeing that her mother would not interfere in their life together. The agreement had not been observed, however, and the couple had separated.

''I thought all the stories about terrible mothers-in-law were made up, but I was forced to think again," he said. "There's no point describing everything I suffered, you have to go through it yourself."

Ten years on from their marriage, which took place in 1998, a civil court in Salerno this week finally confirmed an annulment of the marriage by the Catholic Church, even though the ex-wife, who comes from Amalfi, insisted that her mother had only intervened when her former husband mistreated her.

Mothers-in-law are often blamed for putting a strain on marriages in Italy, though usually it is the husband's mother rather than the wife's who is held to blame. Last year a poll by the research institute Eures said that three out of ten Italian divorces were due to "the unusually close attachment of Italian men to their mothers".

Don't mess withTexas cheerleaders

Parents of students on the dance team at a Texas high school allege members of a rival team prepared a gift of baked goods laced with rat poison and bleach, reports UPI.

Exchanging gifts and pranks is a tradition among Texas high school dance and cheerleading teams before football games. But the parents from Andress High School in El Paso said putting poison and laxatives in brownies and cupcakes and giving them to unwitting rivals is well beyond a prank.

Bea Saenz, whose daughter is on the Andress dance team, told the El Paso Times she wants the students from the school's cross-town rival, Chapin, to face criminal charges.

El Paso Independent School District officials Tuesday said that three members of the Chapin Sapphire Dance Team were suspended for three days and will face further punishment after admitting that they baked laxative-laced brownies for the Andress High School Dance team.

So wait a minute. The exchanging of baked goods is a long standing tradition? I can guarantee that this isn’t the first time that someone has pulled the old “rat poison and bleach cupcake mix” prank. These cheerleading squads have probably been doing it for years, the girls actually enjoyed it because they didn’t have to manually purge after snacking on their treats.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Who were the 3 guys who left Halladay off the Cy Young ballot?

Yes, the results of the AL Cy Young voting are in, and as always, the writers who vote on this stuff include some idiots.

Why do I say that? Because there are 28 members of the BBRAA who vote for the AL Cy Young-- two representatives of each team in the league-- and Roy Halladay's vote totals were four first place votes, 15 second place, and six third place. Now, that means three absolute idiots decided that Roy Halladay was, at best, the fourth best pitcher in the American League last year.

I mean seriously, there were two pitchers in the AL that were head and shoulders above ther rest - Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. OK, maybe an argument can be made that K-Rod, a one-inning guy, deserves to be in the conversation, and that K-Rod, based on his number of saves alone, could be included with the other two.

But no, three people left Halladay off the ballot in favour of either Matsuzaka, Mussina, Rivera, or Santana. All of those guys had great seasons, but, uh... come on.

OK, I'm done ranting. Congrats to Doc Halladay, the AL Iron Man.

NHL All-Star ballot stuffing

The CBC is reporting that the NHL is investigating possible ballot stuffing by Montreal Canadiens fans. Fans choose the starting lineups for the all-star game by voting at, and all six Canadiens on the ballot have huge leads in balloting for the Eastern Conference team.

It will be interesting to see what the NHL does about it. I bet nothing.

Here is the top 10 vote leaders in the East. Any thing make you suspicious?

1. Carey Price (G) - Montreal - 202,404
2. Andrei Markov (D) - Montreal - 200,968
3. Saku Koivu (F) - Montreal - 187,684
4. Mike Komisarek (D) - Montreal - 186,908
5. Alex Kovalev (F) - Montreal - 186,864
6. Alex Tanguay (F) - Montreal - 184,809
7. Alex Semin (F) - Washington - 723, 294
8. Alex Ovechkin (F) - Washington - 56,664
9. Sidney Crosby (F) - Pittsburgh - 54,794
10. Henrik Lundqvist (G) - New York Rangers - 52,938

What? It was an Internet scam?

Don't you just love this story found in Wired: User Sues; Schoolmates Weren't Really Looking for Him.

When told user Anthony Michaels last Christmas Eve that his former school chums were trying to contact him, he pulled out his wallet and upgraded to the premium membership that would let him contact long-lost fifth-grade dodge-ball buddies and see if his secret crush from high school had looked him up online.

But once he'd parted with the $15, Michaels learned the shocking truth: No one he knew was trying to contact him at all.'s come-on was a lie, and he'd been scammed.

At least that's what the San Diego resident alleges in a lawsuit (.pdf) filed against one of the net's original social networking sites, whose banner ads featuring unflattering yearbook pictures remain a staple around the internet. If the lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, succeeds, it could raise the minimum standards of honesty for online businesses.

EMA Firefighters Guide ( The UFO Chapter )

The following is a excerpt from the official FEMA Manual (Chapter 13).


"Near approaches of UFOs can be harmful to human beings. Do not stand under a UFO that is hovering at low altitude. Do not touch or attempt to touch a UFO that has landed. In either case the safe thing to do is to get away from there very quickly and let the military take over. There is a possibility of radiation danger and there are known cases where persons have been burned by rays emanating from UFOs. Don't take chances with UFOs!" In view of the federal law (cited earlier) empowering NASA's administrator to impound, without a hearing, anyone who touches a UFO or its occupants.?


"The two principal hazards noted with relation to UFOs have been attributed to powerful electrical fields which they can project in a general or localized area and the psychological effects they have produced on the general populace or individual contacts."

"Besides the possible physical effects of approaching a UFO, e.g.. burns, radiation, etc., there may be psychological effects produced by force fields that could induce a hypnotic state in the viewer, loss of consciousness, memory relapse, and submission to the occupants. In a less optimistic scenario, you may have engine trouble upon approaching the scene, and radio contact could be lost with your dispatcher."


"Some fire chiefs have little confidence in disaster plans, especially those dealing with UFOs or enemy attack. If you develop a plan that sets forth your responsibilities, resources, organizations, supplies information, telephone numbers, and special data that will be useful in obtaining help and fulfilling your role in disaster control, commit it to an electronic medium, a computer with a capability for continuous updating through modern word processing. Bring it forth when the need requires. With a good plan, good leadership, and adequate resources, you may save many lives in any disaster, including attack from possible enemies."

One Hit Wonder

Brewer and Shipley - One Toke Over the Line (1970)

My favourite version was on the Lawrence Welk Show. The singers had no idea what they were singing about. It's hilarious!

Fashion Disaster

Yes Fergie, the accessories really make this look.

Dumbest fitness machine ever

Have you ever said I like my treadmill but love to run on the open roads too. So here you have it - the Speedfit!

Kate Winslet annoyed by Vanity Fair photo shoot

Gorgeous Kate Winslet appears in the December Vanity Fair in a risqué photo series, which is a tribute to Catherine Deneuve in the 1967 film Belle de Jour. The photos have already attracted controversy after Winslet's team were forced to deny that her body had been airbrushed. Winslet is well known for her criticism of Hollywood and its obsession with thin bodies for women.

Now it turns out the fur rug she was photographed with was made from real fox fur. The actress, who has been a vocal opponent of fur, agreed to pose on the rug in the belief that it was fake. She was only alerted after animal rights campaigners spotted tell-tale signs that the throw used in the glamourous shoot for the latest issue of the society magazine was real. Vanity Fair has now apologized to the actress.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Making funeral arrangements

Will be back in a few days.

Hungarian synagogue hit on eve of riot anniversary

(AP) A Jewish group says windows of a synagogue in eastern Hungary were smashed on the eve of the anniversary of the Nazi-incited riots of Kristallnacht.

The Rabbinical Center of Europe says the incident took place late Saturday in a synagogue in the Jewish Community Center in Debrecen, some 230 kilometers (140 miles) east of Budapest.

Sunday was the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht in which 91 German Jews were killed and more than 1,000 synagogues damaged. It is considered one of the initial events of the Holocaust.

The Rabbinical Center said anti-Semitic attacks were "part of the daily life of Jews in Europe" and that it was necessary to educate young non-Jews about prejudice to combat its effects.

Monday, November 10, 2008

7% of Canadians have never heard of the Holocaust

A new national survey about Canadians' knowledge of the Holocaust -- commissioned to mark the 70th anniversary of "Kristallnacht" -- shows strong general awareness of the Second World War-era genocide, but notable knowledge gaps among younger and less-educated Canadians, as well as some francophones.

Last month's telephone poll of 1,500 Canadians for the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, showed seven per cent of all respondents had never heard of the Holocaust.

However, 13 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 24 said they didn't know what the Holocaust was, and nearly one-quarter of respondents with only elementary-level education -- 23 per cent -- had never heard of it.

Meanwhile, last weekend was the conclusion of Holocaust Education Week. Many of the programs were standing room only. But in attendance weren't Canadians wanting to learn about what had occurred 70 years ago. The programs were dominated by survivors and their families.

70th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Today is the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht which means the Night of Broken Glass. It was the real start of the Holocaust which represents the darkest period of European history. That night coordinated destruction of German Jews began with almost 100 killed, at least 25,000 arrested and deported to camps, 200 synagogues destroyed and thousands of Jewish business ransacked. So it was ironic that today, the 70th anniversary of that dark day, my dad died.

My dad was about to turn 96 later this month and had survived the Nazi death camps. The story he would tell would make your skin crawl. He worked as a slave labourer and part of the killing machine at the death camps - with little or no food. I think it was a combination of stubbornness, guile, iron constitution and just plain luck that allowed him to survive when so many did not including his first wife and a young daughter. He often spoke of his young daughter Leah who in his mind was still a child. Had she not been murdered she would have been a grandmother in his 70s today.

That toughness was part of his life till the day he died. Just 2 years ago he was crossing the street with his walker when he was struck by a car. He went sailing through the air and walked away with only a bent walker, broken glasses and a lot of bruises. The doctors at the hospital were amazed. But my dad was going when he was good and ready.

About a year ago my mother's health was failing and we found it necessary to move my parents into a retirement home. My father hated it. He complained it was worse than the concentration camps although it was a lovely facility. My family was perplexed by his attitude. He stopped eating and began to waste away - repeatedly stating he wanted to die. I never could understand why is was so upset about the home he was living in until this morning, just hours before his death, I read about the work of Marcia Sokolowski, a clinical ethicist at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. She has found that for survivors in an institution, routine elements of care can trigger horrors from the past. Being in an institution was not something my father could deal with so he chose his own way out. When he died it was on his own terms and not determined by sadistic fascists or a careless mother behind the wheel.

For my family the pain and anguish began 70 years ago on that dark night in Germany and ended peacefully here in Toronto.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

All fun and games till someone commits a felony


Uh, oh

Britney Spears back on stage with Madonna in Los Angeles this weekend. Britney looks so straight-laced compared to her head-shaving, pubic-poking days. While Madonna, umm, as scary as ever. Video below.