Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rebuilding the Maple Leafs

My recent poll asking which players should the Leafs keep as they rebuild got some surprising results. For one thing only 3 players received a vote of confidence from at least 50% of respondents. Even more surprising is that some people did not think the Leafs should include Luke Schenn in their rebuild plans. I cannot get my head around that. But then so many respondents have already written off three very young players - Tlusty (20), Kulemin (22) and Stralman (22). They may not turn out to be stars but all three will likely be very useful players in about 3 years. But then respondents went the opposite direction with Pogge (22) and he registered the second most votes although his record in the minors has not been inspiring. I'm beginning to get the impression Leaf management may be looking elsewhere for their future #1 goalie.

Luke Schenn 83%
Justin Pogge 53%
Dominic Moore 50%
Mikhail Grabovski 44%
Jeremy Williams 42%
Ian White 42%
Niklas Hagman 36%
Mike van Ryn 36%
John Mitchell 33%
Matt Stajan 33%
Jeff Finger 33%
Tomas Kaberle 28%
Anton Stralman 28%
Jonas Frogren 28%
Jason Blake 25%
Alexei Ponikarovsky 22%
Lee Stempniak 22%
Jiri Tlusty 22%
Nikolai Kulemin 22%
Nik Antropov 17%
Pavel Kubina 14%
Vesa Toskala 8%
Ryan Hollweg 6%

Friday, January 30, 2009

A 50-year history of public education

Teaching Math In 1970

A logger sells a truck-load of timber for $1000.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the selling price.
What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1980

A logger sells a truck-load of timber for $1000.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the selling price, or $800.
What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1990

A logger sells a truck-load of timber for $1000.
His cost of production is $800.
Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In 2000

A logger sells a truck-load of timber for $1000.
His cost of production is $800 and his profit is $200.
Your assignment: Underline the number 200.

Teaching Math In 2009

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is totally selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands.

He does this so he can make a profit of $200. What do you think of this way of making a living?

Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers. If you are upset about the plight of the animals in question counselling will be available)

Teaching Math 2018
أ المسجل تبيع حموله شاحنة من الخشب من دولار . صاحب تكلفة الانتاج من > ! الثمن . ما هو الربح له


Welcome to Loblaws, please don't step on the sticky paper

So I understand that the rodent-infested Loblaws that was shut down ny health authorities has now re-opened. And they have a greeter dressed up as a mouse to welcome back their customers.

Seriously, the problem got incredible news coverage. Now any establishment with a large source of food is going to attract vermin. It's a fact of life. But a major infestation only happens through neglect. Rodents reproduce quite rapidly so if you don't stay on top of the problem your little problem quickly becomes a big one. Store management was not on the ball. My guess is that someone is going to pay the price for lost sales and reputation.

UPDATE: Someone has reported that the Store Manager and Divisional Manager have been fired.

Mug Shot of the Week

Bungling convicts foil their own escape

"Security footage in New Zealand shows two prisoners - handcuffed together - ruining their own escape when they tried to run around either side of a lamp post. When the jailers caught up with them and took them back into custody, the men were furious with each other, police said."


Update on the Bush shoe-thrower

Here’s the monument erected in Iraq to commemorate journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi throwing his shoes at George W. Bush. Hmmm, so how grateful are the Iraqis to the Americans for saving them for Saddam?

But you do have to give the neocons some credit here. They were right: Iraq did put up a sculpture in memory of Bush.

UPDATE: The director of an orphanage in Tikrit says she must remove the shoe sculpture set up to honor the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush. Excerpted from

Ali Lohan has a career?

15 year-old Ali Lohan is going to drop out of high school to help further her career. What career? It takes a lot of hard work to make in that business. 've never gotten the impression that she is prepared to make the effort. I think her generation has got a real problem with that. This is more of the “your best is enough” bullshit that families have been feeding to kids for over three decades now. Sorry, kids, but you aren’t all automatically special to everyone. You have to make yourself what you want to be. Do the work. And finish school.

Memories of Darcy Tucker

Yes I was a fan of Darcy "Side Show Bob" Tucker during his turbulent stay in Toronto. Before he went soft and tried to convert himself into a goal scorer he played with an edge. Most memorable was his monster hit on Sami Kapenen during the 2004 playoffs. I blame management for not recognizing when it was time to cut bait. Like Tie Domi before him, Tucker wanted to reinvent himself as a scorer. When players are no longer able or willing to accept their assigned roles, they become a liability.

Parliament is back in business and with a new "non-partisan" spirit

Parliament is back in session after a precedent-setting perogue of Parliament last month. It all began in November with a disastrous Economic Statement by the Conservative government set off a series of events that nearly created a constitution crisis in Canada.

The government after soundly embarrassing the Liberals in October decided to take advantage of the opposition’s weakness following the election to introduce party funding changes to further undermine the dispirited Liberals. Forgetting that they were still operating as a majority, the Conservatives miscalculated the anger of the opposition who formed a coalition to defeat the government. The coalition would have made Stephane Dion prime minister despite the fact that he had already resigned as Liberal leader.

To head off a planned con-confidence vote, Prime Minister Stephen Harper went to the Governor-General to request the perogue of Parliament to provide the Conservative with an opportunity regroup. Her other option would have been to refuse the request and allow the government to fall which would have allowed the coalition to form a government (or she could have called for another election). She chose to grant Harper’s request which headed off a potential constitutional crisis.

With Parliament shut down, the Liberals realized they could not continue with Dion as their leader until a leadership convention in March. Instead they abandoned their rank and file as well as their democratic principles by anointing Michael Ignatieff as leader.

This week Parliament resumed sitting with a new Throne Speech and Budget that abandoned the Conservatives long-held principle of opposing deficit budgeting. Instead the Conservative introduced a long list of program spending, tax cuts, government handouts, and infrastructure projects designed to stimulate the economy even though the government did not really believe any of it will work. It was actually intended to keep the Conservatives in power and give them a chance to win the next election.

After chastising the government for being too partisan, the Liberals refused the Conservative’s offer to offer suggestions for the Budget. Ignatieff sensing that the Conservative were in a weak position and could no longer bully the opposition indicated that the Liberals would support the government for now. He did suggest that the Conservatives were “on probation” and would have to report back quarterly on how they were doing. Ignatieff understands as well as Harper that the stimulus package will not make an appreciable difference and his intention is to give the government enough rope to hand itself. So much for a new non-partisan spirit in Parliament.

Ignatieff is not a big coalition supporter (Bob Rae and Dion were behind this move) but will likely bring the coalition bogeyman out of the closet from time to time to threaten the Conservatives. His goal is to bring down the government and trigger an election when the time is right. Meanwhile Jack Layton is walking around Ottawa like a jilted bride. His dream of being in Cabinet disappeared in a matter of weeks as the Liberals found new inner strength under their new leader.

Who said Canadian politics is boring.

Ray Emery Fights Trainer In Russia

Perhaps things haven't changed too much with Ray Emery.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Swiss police locate pot farm using Google Earth

Swiss police said they stumbled across a large marijuana plantation while using Google Earth. Police said the find was part of a bigger investigation that led to the arrest of 16 people and seizure of 1.2 tons (1.1 metric tons) of marijuana as well as cash and valuables worth 900,000 Swiss francs ($780,000).

Officers discovered the hemp field in the northeastern canton (state) of Thurgau last year while investigating an alleged drug ring, said the head of Zurich police's specialist narcotics unit Norbert Klossner.

The plantation, measuring almost two acres was hidden inside a field of corn. But officers using Google Earth to locate the address of two farmers suspected of involvement in the drug operation quickly spotted the illegal crop.


Just call her helmet girl!

Who is doing the fighting in the NHL

Up to January 21st, there were 449 fights in the NHL which works out to 0.64 fights per game. This is the fighting rate prior to the lockout in 2004-05. The two season subsequent to the lockout, the fight rates were 0.38 (2005-06) and 0.40 (2006-07) fights per game. It’s hard to say whether the crackdown on obstruction reduced the frustration levels in the league and indirectly the number of fights. A more likely explanation is that the crackdown on obstruction meant teams were either on the powerplay or killing penalties more often. Therefore, enforcer just saw less ice time and few opportunities to fight. Interestingly, preseason games have double the number of fights even though the games don’t count for anything. However marginal players fighting for jobs means more fights too.

There have been 288 players (out of 752 players have played in at least one game so far this season) who have received fighting majors for a total of 875 fighting majors. However, only 159 players have received more than one fighting major. Therefore, 21% of players account for 85% of fights (746). Not surprising, a small group of players are doing the bulk of the fighting. The league leaders are Jared Boll (Columbus) and Riley Cote (Philadelphia) with 15 each. Not surprising neither are exactly household names and somehow I doubt fans buy tickets to see Boll with 8 points this season and Cote with 1 point. Boll is averaging 8:51 in ice time per game and Cote only 4:03. So Cote is spending almost as much time in the penalty box per game as he is on the ice.

I’m not picking on Boll and Cote but somehow I think the league would be better if their spots (as well as others like them) could be taken by players that can actually play hockey.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hmmm, Britney is looking healthy again

Holocaust survivors for marijuana

This is an unbelievable Israeli political ad.

Be careful when text messaging your drug customers

Myranda Ballantine typed a text message saying she had marijuana for sale, then sent it to the wrong number, leading to her arrest on a felony drug trafficking charge. A subsequent investigation led to a Jan. 4 sting by police detectives, who arranged a buy at a Taco Bell parking lot, where Ballantine was arrested, according to court records.

During a Jan. 27 Portsmouth District Court hearing, Ballantine waived her right to a probable cause hearing on the felony charge alleging she sold $120 worth of marijuana to a city police detective. Her waiver moves the case to Rockingham County Superior Court where it is expected to be reviewed by a grand jury.

NBC rejects racy PETA Super Bowl ad

Montreal may ban insulting police

Montreal police have asked the city to make it illegal for citizens to hurl insults such as "pig" and "doughnut-eater" at officers.

Mayor Gerald Tremblay said yesterday his public security committee is mulling the request by Montreal's police brotherhood to slap offenders with fines.

The union wants Tremblay to make it illegal for members of the public to fire insults at cops, regardless of whether they are profanity-laced.

"It's something that will be addressed - we know that other cities have passed some bylaws considering that subject," said Tremblay, stressing the city has not made any concrete decisions about banning indignities directed at police.

Chief-Insp. Paul Chablo, communications director for Montreal's police force, said lawyers from the department and the city are examining the feasibility of such a rule.

"The key factor is ensuring that it becomes a useful tool for the officers involved, but at the same time it doesn't infringe on anybody's rights," he said.

Budget targets Conservative Party recover more than economic recovery

A classic example of "a chicken in every pot", the Conservative budget aims to keep the government in power and win the next election. Whether it stimulates recovery is only secondary and based on the Conservatives' November Economic Statement, the government likely doesn't believe in it. Why else would Harper spend $438 million on arts and culture? That won't help economic recovery.

So once again Stephen Harper reverses his position on policy matters to cling to power. Harper's turnarounds include:

• The Senate. He was adamant he would not resort to the old politics of stacking the upper chamber with party cronies. But faced with the possible defeat of his minority government, Harper moved fast before Christmas to fill 18 vacancies with loyal Conservatives, many failed candidates or with party ties.

• Fixed election date. In May 2006, Harper proposed fixed election date legislation that would set the next election date in October 2009, to stop political leaders from "trying to manipulate the calendar."

• Supreme Court appointments. In December, Harper appointed Thomas Cromwell of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, bypassing a parliamentary hearing process he championed to more openly scrutinize nominees.

• Government appointments. The Prime Minister had promised to implement a public appointments commission to eliminate cronyism in such appointments. It was to be part of the government's much-vaunted Accountability Act. It never happened and, since winning its first minority government in January 2006, the Tory government has made some 1,500 appointments, many based on political pedigree.

Harper was revered for his conservative ideology but he's sacrificing it for political expediency.

One Hit Wonder

Edie Brickell and the Bohemians - What I Am (1988)

Fashion Disaster

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bad week for workers

5,000 workers laid off

8,000 workers laid off

5,000 worker laid off

2,800 workers laid off

7,000 workers laid off

20,000 workers laid off

7,000 workers laid off

8,000 workers laid off

2,500 workers laid off

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes are paranoid about flying

The Daily Mail reports that Kate Winslet and her husband Sam Mendes never travel on the same plane as they fear dying in a crash and leaving their son, Joe, and Winslet's daughter from her first marriage, Mia, orphaned. Both have suffered frightening air travel experiences that help explain their fears.

According to a friend, on Sept. 11/01, Mendes was originally booked on the ill-fated American Airlines flight 77 from Washington Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles that was hijacked by five Islamic terrorists after take-off and was crashed deliberately into the Pentagon. Fortuitously, Mendes's plans changed and he was not on the flight.

In October 2001 Winslet and Mia, her daughter by first husband Jim Threapleton, were flying from London to Dallas on a BA flight when they were caught in a terrifying mid-air incident. A passenger claiming to be an Islamic terrorist stood up and screamed: 'We are all going to die.' The pilot decided to land the plane immediately at nearby Toronto to have the man arrested.

So now as much as possible, the two avoid flying on the same flight. But I bet they travel in the same car. I would bet most kids are orphaned as a result of a fatal car crash.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The stunning Mia Kirshner is 34 today

Mia is born in Toronto and her dad Sheldon writes for the Canadian Jewish News.

Movie Review: The Reader and Revolutionary Road

I don't hide the fact that I have been infatuate with Kate Winslet since I saw her back in 1994 as a teenager in the New Zealand film Heavenly Creatures. She had made nearly 20 films since then but most people only remember seeing her in Titanic. So I recently saw both if her current film releases - The Reader and Revolutionary Road. She walked away with a Golden Globe for both roles. A rare accomplishment.

The Reader has picked up 5 Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Actress. The crucial decision in the film is made by a 24-year-old youth, who has information that might help a woman about to be sentenced to life in prison, but withholds it. He is ashamed to reveal his affair with this woman. By making this decision, he shifts the film's focus from the subject of German guilt about the Holocaust and turns it on the human race in general. The film intends his decision as the key to its meaning, but most viewers may conclude that The Reader is only about the Nazis' crimes and the response to them by post-war German generations.

The film centers on a sexual relationship between Hanna (Kate Winslet), a woman in her mid-30s, and Michael (David Kross), a boy of 15. That such things are wrong is beside the point; they happen, and the story is about how it connected with her earlier life and his later one. It is powerfully, if sometimes confusingly, told in a flashback framework and powerfully acted by Winslet and Kross, with Ralph Feinnes coldly enigmatic as the older Michael.

Michael and Hannah meet in the 1950s. Hanna makes little pretense of genuinely loving Michael, who she calls "kid," and although Michael has a helpless crush on Hanna, it should not be confused with love. He is swept away by the discovery of his own sexuality. What does she get from their affair? Sex, certainly, but it seems more important that he read aloud to her: "Reading first. Sex afterwards." One day Hanna disappears. Michael finds her apartment deserted, with no hint or warning. Eight years later, as a law student, he enters a courtroom and discovers Hanna in a group of Nazi prison guards being tried for murder. By revealing his affair he would be able to help her with a lighter sentence but remains silent instead.

The movie created a lot of discussion among my friends who saw it. What is the movie really about? Why did Hannah not reveal her own secrets? Why didn't Michael have the nerve to come forward? Is the director really pointing the finger at Germans who remained silent during the war?

Revolutionary Road is a much more straightforward story. I thought it was the better of the 2 films altough it did not get nominated for Academy Award for Best Picture. Still it did receive 3 Oscar nominations. The film was directed by Kate Winslet's husband Sam Mendes. You should know it's a tough movie to watch. It re-unites Winslet with her Titanic co-star Leonardo Dicaprio.

The best way to describe Revolutionary Road is the American Dream awakened by a nightmare. It takes place in the 1950s, the decade of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. It shows a young couple who meet at a party, get married and create a suburban life with a nice house, a manicured lawn, "modern" furniture, two kids, a job in the city for him, housework for her, and martinis, cigarettes, boredom and desperation for both of them.

Frank (Leonardo Dicaprio) and April (Kate Winslet) can't see inviting futures for themselves. Frank joins the morning march of men in suits and hats out of Grand Central and into jobs where they are "executives" doing meaningless work -- in Frank's case, he's "in office machines." He might as well be one. April suggests he just quit, so they can move to Paris, she can support them as a translator at the American Embassy and he can figure out what he really wants to do. Translating will not support their Connecticut lifestyle, but ... Paris! What about their children? Their children are like a car you never think about when you're not driving somewhere.

Frank agrees, and they think they're poised to take flight, when suddenly he's offered a promotion and a raise. He has no choice, right? He'll be just as miserable, but better paid. In today's hard times, that sounds necessary, but maybe all times are hard when you hate your life. Frank and April have ferocious fights about his decision, and we realize that April was largely motivated by her own needs. Better to support the neutered Frank in Paris with a job at the embassy, where she might meet someone more interesting than their carbon-copy neighbors. The marriage and their lives just continue to disintegrate.

Obama: The College Years

Time Magazine has revealed some interesting pictures of a young Barack Obama. In 1980, when Obama was a freshman at Occidental College in Los Angeles, he was approached by an aspiring photographer named Lisa Jack, who asked him if he would be willing to pose for some black and white photographs that she could use in her portfolio.

Does hockey need fighting?

The NHL has a fight on its hands: Those who want to keep fighting in the game vs. those who want an outright ban.

The debate is raging on all-star weekend and across the hockey world after 21-year-old senior league player Don Sanderson died following a bout earlier this month and in the wake of Philadelphia Phantoms forward Garrett Klotz suffering a seizure in an AHL fight (see video below). Sanderson did not die from a punch to the head but rather when he fell head first on to the ice after his helmet came off during a fight.

The Ontario Hockey League reacted quickly -- and with positive response -- to the Sanderson situation, increasing the penalties for those who fight with their helmets off or attempt to take the helmets off their opponents.

There are some strong advocates for fighting in hockey. Take Brian Burke, the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey czar who believes that taking fighting out of the NHL will "rip the fabric out of the game" and empower "the growing rat factor in our league". He and others believe that without enforcers, other marginal players will take runs against the stars of the game. The enforcers keep the cheap shot artists in line.

On the other side of the debate are those that point out that hockey is the only sport that condones fighting. In other sports the penalties are much stiffer so fights are almost nonexistent. Bob McGowan on The Fan 590 has been very vocal over the years and suggests that people come to games to see scoring but he is not aware of any fan that comes specifically to see a fight.

Many in the game of hockey often refers to the "Code" suggesting that its part of the tradition of the game. No one has really defined what this "Code" is which allows fight advocates to define it anyway the see fit. Don Cherry does it all the time. The National Post recently interview former and Maple Leaf and Canadien player Dick Duck who indicated at one time the Code meant you did not pick a fight unless it was an even match, you never hit a man when he was down and you never hit another player from behind. But you see those things in hockey all the time.

What you now have in hockey are players who cannot play the game. Their sole purpose is to fight so when their coach sends them on the ice, they understand it is not to play hockey. The classic example is the fight between Garrett Klotz and Kevin Westgarth in the video below. The fight was off the opening faceoff so obviously it wasn't in the heat of the moment. It was a premeditated fight between two goons that serves no purpose. Klotz suffered a seizure in the fight and had to be rushed to hospital.

Let's face it the NHL believes it is part of the entertainment package and therefore reluctant to ban them. But the reality is that fighting hurts the image of the game and one day an NHL player will die if fighting is not banned. Combatants should be suspended but consideration should be given to protecting star players from the cheap shot artists who will prey on the Sidney Crosby's and the Daniel Briere's. The game doesn't have to be ruined with the elimination of fighting.