Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goodbye Mr. President

I am going to miss George Bush. What provided me with the most amusement was his now famous Bushisms - his infamous blunders in syntax. David Letterman made them a nightly feature on his show. Even in his last press conference he honoured the media with one last gem when he told them that "sometimes you misunderestimated me".

I tried to search for my favourite. It was hard but this one stood out. If anyone can tell me what it means I would be very grateful:

People say, 'How can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil?' You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you.

—Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

Friday, January 16, 2009

The root causes of the Gaza conflict in less than 6 minutes

Hey kid can you spare me a trillion?

Zimbabwe’s central bank says it will soon introduce a 100 trillion dollar note as the once prosperous country battles to keep pace with hyperinflation that has caused many to abandon the country’s currency.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said the new notes that includes 50 trillion, 20 trillion and 10 trillion would be released for the “convenience of the public,” according to statement released Thursday.

The new 100 trillion dollar bill would be worth about $300 in U.S. currency. A loaf of bread in Zimbabwe now costs about 300 billion Zimbabwean dollars — and like most commodities, the price increases every day.

David Mirvish Bookstore is closing

David Mirvish Bookstore is closing next month.

The store, specializing in books on visual art, architecture, photography and film, opened in 1974 just across from its current Markham Street location in what is now known as Mirvish Village, near Honest Ed's department store.

The bookstore had already informally started to notify people coming in with gift certificates that they should use them up before the end of the month. I understand that Amazon has got the best of most bookstores, but this is a shock. For some time, people informally speculated that the bookstore was losing money but still retained value to the owner because it anchored Mirvish-owned real estate on Markham St.

Boy George really wants to hurt you

The grim, beat-up, overweight old man dressed in black leather, with shaven, tattooed skull, who is beginning a prison sentence for a false imprisonment, could hardly have looked less like the 1980s superstar he used to be. Singer Boy George whose real name is George O'Dowd, was sentenced to 15 months in jail on Friday after being convicted of falsely imprisoning a male escort by handcuffing him to a wall in a London apartment.

O'Dowd's lawyer said that his client and the escort had both behaved like "drug-crazed idiots" and that O'Dowd's substance-abuse problems were a contributing factor.

Boy George revived British pop after the slump of the early 1980s. At a time when it was risky to be seen to be gay, even in showbusiness, he always appeared in public heavily made up and dressed like a girl.

His sexuality did not prevent Culture Club's single "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" from reaching No 2 in the US, and No 1 in the UK and numerous other countries. But by the age of 25, he had such a drug problem that one of his brothers denounced him, hoping the shock would jolt him into giving up the habit. Two decades later, in 2005, in a fit of paranoia brought on by cocaine, he told New York police that his flat in Manhattan had been burgled. That led to him doing community service for wasting police time.

Mary and baby Jesus in a lava lamp

Mary and Jesus can be found just about anywhere: tree stumps, slices of toast, pumpkin patches, you name it. Well this guy found them in a lava lamp. And he has a website now.

American Freedom is no longer produced in the USA

What were those safety instructions again?

I'm like everyone else, I totally ignore the safety instructions at the beginning of each flight even though I don't fly that often. And I snicker when they mention the part about the seat cushions can be used as flotation devices. How could we land in water flying to New York? This was quite the wake up call.

Oh and check out the Air Canada video below.

The Arab world is deeply split

The rejection of the most recent Israeli ceasefire proposal by Hamas reveals a tragic split within radical Islamist group – those living in Gaza are willing to negotiate while the political leaders living in Syria are not willing to make any concessions. For those in control of Hamas, long-term goals are more important than the suffering of those caught in the war.

This split exists on a larger scale throughout the Middle East. Portions of the Arab and Muslim worlds have taken a hard line while others try to work towards an agreement with Israel. At a meeting organized by Qatar, a top exiled Hamas leader rejected Israeli terms for a cease-fire and called for increased resistance. The meeting was boycotted by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, which held a competing meeting in Kuwait.

In Qatar, the Hamas exile leader Khaled Meshal was joined by Iran and Syria in calls for all Muslim countries to break ties with Israel. Both Qatar and Mauritania, which have low-level ties with Israel, were reported to have said at the meeting that they were freezing those relations. In Kuwait, meanwhile, foreign ministers of a competing set of countries, planning for a Monday summit of their heads of state and government, agreed on a $2 billion rescue package for Gaza and a pledge of support for the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt’s cease-fire efforts.

The real war in the Middle East is not between Muslims and Israel but between radical Islamists and secular moderate states. The Islamists who are championed by Iran aim to dispose of moderate regimes through the use of proxies such as Hamas in the Gaza, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon. These moderate states are considered as illegitimate as the Jewish state occupying “Palestine”. Not surprising the reaction from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan has been restrained while Israel has been pounding Hamas. These states do not recognize the coup by Hamas, which took control of the Gaza from the Palestinian Authority. In fact, when Hamas supporters tried to knock down the barrier wall between Gaza and Egypt at the start of the conflict, Egyptian troops fired at Gazans trying to cross into Egypt. The last thing the Egyptians want is to have more radical Islamist infiltrate their country.

Many liberal westerners to not fully understand this Muslim split. So while Israel and moderate Muslims are willing to negotiate a Palestinian solution, it is pointless when Islamists will not recognize and abide to agreements that include the ongoing existence of Israel. But then they don’t even recognize the legitimacy of the moderate Muslim states anyway.

Jason Blake is looking like a hockey player again

I have to admit I was never overly impressed by Jason Blake when he was on Long Island. His successful was in his final year in New York was a by-product of playing with Alexei Yashin. When John Ferguson signed him as a free agent in 2007 I was convinced that the team would over time regret it. I don't get that excited about hat tricks which included empty-net goals but last night Blake showed a lot of grit on goals one and two. Even on the empty-netter Blake drove to the net, was tripped on the way in and crashed into the goal immediately after the puck crossed the line to ice a 6-4 win over Carolina. Blake's first goal was a slick wraparound and his diving shot (pictured above) that beat Cam Ward later in the same period was a beauty. In addition, he did a lot of the leg work on the winning goal by Kaberle to finish with a career high 5 points.

Now one game doesn’t make up for a season plus of mediocre hockey. But even I have to concede that you have to give Blake a mulligan for last season because of health issues. Not only was he a bad hockey player, but he admits he was also a lousy teammate and spouse. But in the past 6 weeks since being paired with Domenic Moore, Blake has played some decent hockey. He has abandoned his harmless 50-foot wrist shots and has begun to drive to the net to create legitimate scoring chances. The numbers back this up. Last year he compiled the 5th highest shot total in the NHL with 332 but only scored 15 goals. His shooting percentage was an embarrassing 4.5%. This year he has increased his shooting percentage to 9.6% which places him tied for 287th in the league but no worse than stars like Henrik Zetterberg, Brad Richards and Alexei Kovalev. Blake has scored 13 goals this season on 136 shots which still places him in the top 25 for shots on net. However, this does not mean that the Leafs are getting value out of this contact or that he is suddenly tradable. Jason Blake still presents Brian Burke with a significant challenge as he attempts to rebuild the Leafs.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ceasefire is coming to the Middle East but no peace

The conflict in the Gaza will come to an end shortly as Hamas is zapped of any ability to strike back. The number of rockets launched into Southern Israel has slowed down to a trickle. It is inevitable that Hamas will back down on most of its demands and will look for something to save face.

For Israel the objective was to cripple Hamas enough to gain a period of quiet. Likely the Israelis hope that a weakened Hamas will open the door for the secular Fatah to take back control of the Gaza. I doubt that can happen. Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah has also been weakened because he is viewed by Palestinians as too weak and unwilling to try to stop the fighting in the Gaza. With peace negotiations suspended and Palestinians divided between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, no one really holds out high hopes for a larger postwar role for Fatah.

Although an agreement might be reached with Egypt to stop the flow of arms into the Gaza, it will only be a matter of time before Iran finds a way to sneak them in. Then another cycle of attacks will begin that will lead to another full assault by Israel. And so the cycle will repeat itself.

I hear many naive westerners critical of Israel for not negotiating with Hamas. Radical islamists like Hamas can never accept the existence of a non-Muslim regime in the Middle East. In fact, they also reject secular Muslim regimes which is why many Arab states including Egypt and Jordan have done nothing to aid Hamas. In fact, Hamas had cold-bloodedly killed about 70 Fatah supporters in Gaza under the cover of the war. That is their attitude towards secular Muslims - the same as for the Jews.

Does Megen Fox know what "doppelganger" mean?

Beautiful women who claim they are ugly can be pretty annoying but I love that she uses the word "doppelganger". Hey even if she doesn't know what it means it's still hot.

And she's right about Selma Hayek's boobs.

One Hit Wonder

Alannah Myles - Black Velvet (1989)

Man it's cold out there

It's currently -15C (6F) with a windchill of -24C (-11F). It's going to get colder, so pack your bags and join Kristin Cavallari down south. You won't regret it.

A Wade Belak tribute? What's next?

The only thing that could have been more painful than watching the lifeless Maple Leafs fall to Nashville Tuesday night would have been to have watched the first period tribute to Wade Belak. Fortunately, TV audiences were spared and only those at the ACC had to endure it. For those who had lost track of Belak, after being traded to Florida last season he was put on waivers this season and picked up recently by Nashville. Since trading Belak on November 27, the Panthers are 12-5-4.

I can’t imagine a player less deserving of a tribute than Belak – player of limited skill who could not play more than two consecutive shifts without taking a penalty. In his 6 seasons with the Leafs he scored a total of 7 goals and 24 points. He did play 318 games for the Leafs, usually fewer than 5 minutes per game. What stands out most during his tenure with the Leafs was the number of games he sat out - almost 30 games per season. Any video tribute should have included shots of Belak in civvies sitting in the press box.

I can’t wait for the Jonas Hogland tribute.

Adolf Hitler Taken from Parents

Remember 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell?

He’s the little boy whose name was the center of an international firestorm last December after a Greenwich, N.J, supermarket refused to write his name on a birthday cake. The store said it was inappropriate and refused to give an apology after the parents demanded one.

Adolf and his two sisters -- one-year-old JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and 8-month-old Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell -- were removed from their parents’ home Tuesday night by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services.

It is unclear why the children were removed from their parent’s home.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ricardo Montalban dies at 88

Hey now that is acting!

eacher planned to buy 14,000 newpapers to cover up child porn rap

This sounds like right out of a sitcom plot but a colleague of a head teacher arrested for child pornography tried to cover up the case by having every copy of a local newspaper bought.

The teacher, apparently acting on her own initiative, asked a caretaker to buy every East Lothian Courier (in Scotland) in circulation to spare Andrew Melville any embarassment. The paper has a circulation of about 14,000.

Melville, 48, from Gullane, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where he was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service and placed on probation for three years. He earlier admitted possessing and distributing indecent photographs of children between 2004 and 2005. Police found 457 indecent images of children at his home.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Julia-Louis Dreyfus is 48 today

Hookey been bery bery good to me

NHL needs to rethink All-Star voting

The NHL All-Star game has always been a total bore. The best you can say about it is that it resembles a high calibre shinny game. No hitting, no back checking - just some fancy puck handling and lots of scoring. You just can't fix it. But the voting has become a bit of a joke. The NHL has gone to voting over the Internet which as been nothing but a problem.

Last year fans tried to write in journeyman defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick. Some people suggest he may have actually been voted to the 2008 All-Star game but the NHL fudged the numbers. Although the NHL has tried to prevent fans from writing programs to automate voting but have been less than successful. Montreal fans had obviously beaten the system and within the first few weeks Canadien players had huge leads before the NHL caught on. Pittsburgh fans tried to pump up their players' numbers. In the end 4 Canadiens and 2 Penguins received the highest amounts. A similar result occured in the West with 3 Chicago players and 3 Anaheim players selected by the fans. No one was good enough from the Stanley Cup winning Detroit Red Wings.

Now there are always more deserving players who are overlooked but this year it has made the voting look like a farce. The 2 best defencemen in the NHL finished 4th in the West (Lidstrom) and 5th in the East (Charo). The goal scoring lead has been flipping back and forth all season between Ovechkin, Vanek and Carter. The finished 6th, 11th and 23rd in voting for forwards in the East.

You think the league has a problem?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Israeli polls show coalition parties gaining strength

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has lost momentum as a general ballot in Israel draws near, according to a poll by Teleseker published in Maariv. A prospective tally of seats shows the rightist party would get 28 seats in the Knesset in next month’s election, down seven since December.

The ruling Kadima party would also get 28 seats—up seven in three weeks. Labour is third with 16 mandates, followed by Israel Our Home with 12 seats, and the International Organization of Torah-observant Sephardic Jews (Shas) with 11 mandates.

Both Kadima and Labour continue to gain strength as a result of the success of the Gaza campaign.

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire will likely begin receiving much more attention after walking away with 4 Golden Globes Sunday night. Frankly if Slumdog Millionaire isn't be the best picture of the year then certainly is the most entertaining. Great movies transport the audience, and this one left me floating on air.

Jamal , an 18-year-old Muslim, is a highly successful contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire." He has qualified to answer a question that could bring him 20 million rupees (about $460,000), but the show's host is jealous of his popularity and deeply skeptical of Jamal's knowledge. After all Jamal is an orphan from Mumbai's slums who works as a tea server at the phone company. So he turns Jamal over to the police, and they begin torturing him to confess that he's somehow cheating.

In the brilliantly structured screenplay this summons forth a remarkable series of memories from Jamal, going all the way back to his childhood when his mother is killed in a religious riot. Each story illustrates how Jamal is able to answer the questions. The screenplay is simply brilliant. I consider it to be an Indian version of Rocky. An underdog that beats the odds. I loved it.

Fashion Disaster - Golden Globe Edition

No Pants Subway Ride - Toronto 2009

On Saturday, over three hundred Torontonians dropped their trousers on the TTC as part of the second annual No-Pants Subway Ride—an event organized by Improv in Toronto. The event began at Queen’s Park at 3 p.m., as hundreds of cold Torontonians huddled around awaiting instructions. The original plan was to board at Museum Station, but scouts reported that TTC constables were out in full force, so the event was diverted to Queen's Park Station, and from there the group travelled south around to Eglinton Station, then back again. The objective was simple: remove your pants and act casual—you don’t know any of the other pants-less individuals, and they don’t know you. (

The event, part of a larger worldwide event organized by Improv Everywhere, was a resounding success, and commuters were annoyed, mystified, entertained, and brought to hysterics by the sight. Kind of a silly thing to do on a cold day but what the hell.

Joe the Plumber turned War Correspondent

In his first day as a reporter, ‘Joe the Plumber’ Wurzelbacher described the hardships of daily life in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

“I’m sure they’re taking quick showers, I know I would,” Wurzelbacher said. “So you can’t plan your day, you can’t take a picnic.“

He got a first-hand taste of reality in Sderot, when his group heard sirens warning of a rocket attack. With cameras rolling, Wurzelbacher and his group ran into a shelter.

“I’m in the bunker, I’m sitting there angry, outright furious, that I’m letting this terrorist dictate what I’m going to do because they’re firing missiles,” Wurzelbacher said. “It was fear at first, then outright anger, and then me wanting some kind of retribution. I’m not a person that runs from things, but when it’s a missile, you run.”

sniff, sniff...I think I'm tearing up.

"Sometimes you 'misunderestimated' me"

I couldn't have stated it any better. Thanks for 8 years of mangled Yinglish.

Kate wins 2 GGs!!

Will they finally give her an Oscar?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Film Review: Doubt

Doubt is a powerful film set in 1964. Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) delivers a sermon to his congregation and the schoolboys in his charge asserting that doubt can be as sustaining as certainty, and few understand what he’s on about—least of all this Catholic school’s severe principal, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), who strides among the pews and classrooms watching for signs of disobedience. She is concerned about his liberalism? There must be a sinister motive. A fresh-faced, hopeful nun, Sister James (Amy Adams), notices Father Flynn paying special attention to Donald, the school’s sole, and very vulnerable, African-American student, who returns from a private meeting with the priest looking shaken. Although she can't be sure, she has a duty to inform Sister Aloysius.

Streep is riveting. She shows that Aloysius, however simple her exterior, is alive on the inside. The eyes dart about, and the musings under her breath—sighs, asides, exclamations—suggest an openness to the notion of human imperfectibility. Her interrogations of Hoffman’s Flynn are beautifully choreographed battles of wit. Hoffman's Father Flynn is one of his best performances because, all in all, he’s warm and likable. He doesn’t believe he’s a predator, so we can’t quite either. We understand why Sister James wants to see the good in his motives, and Amy Adams makes James’s struggle to shine extremely touching.

Are they arresting Obama supporters?

You think some Italian game shows have gone to far?

complements of The Mayor

Obama may be coming to Toronto

Barack Obama will visit Canada, making us his first foreign destination as President of the United States. No details of when, where or how have been released, and while it seems likely that he'll visit Ottawa, the possibility of Obamania hitting Toronto.

Anyway, should he come here, get ready for even worse traffic people when his motorcade closes up streets in the city.

Mercedes clocked at 231 km/hr on DVP

A 29-year old Aurora man was clocked at going 141 km/hr over the speed limit on the Don Valley Parkway yesterday. Not only that, but police claim that he was driving drunk when he was pulled over just after 2 a.m. yesterday morning.

Police finally caught up to him at Hwy 404 and Finch Ave. E. John Kowal, 29, was charged with impaired driving, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and stunt driving.

His Mercedes SL600 has a base price of about $125,000 (USD) and a top speed of at least 250 km/hr. Good thing he eased off at 231 km/hr (about 144 mph). That's just crazy fast. What does he think this is, the Autobahn? The alleged speeder obviously has more money than brains.