Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sesame Street on the Madoff scandal

Carpool dummy ticketed for not wearing seatbelt

A commuter who put a homemade dummy in the passenger seat to sneak into the HOV lane was caught on Wednesday near Seattle.

But it wasn’t because a cop realized the passenger was fake.

Instead, the State Patrol trooper noticed the dangling belt buckle on the passenger side and suspected a seat belt violation.

Patrol spokeswoman Christina Martin said that the driver acknowledged trying to beat traffic by using the HOV lane.

He created his passenger by draping a rain jacket over plastic piping, topping it off with a Halloween mask of Gandalf, the “Lord of the Rings” wizard, a beard and a baseball cap.

The trooper issued a $124 ticket and confiscated the dummy.

Banking 101

Banking 101 (in better days)

It is all so simple:
  • Employed people earn money.
  • That money is deposit by those employed people in "demand deposit" (checking and savings) accounts, which become a liability on the bank's balance sheet.
  • Banks are only required to keep a certain percentage (called the "reserve requirement") of that deposited money on-hand (this is why runs on banks are very bad).
  • Banks loan that money out (assets on their balance sheet) and charge interest.
  • This interest is their revenue.
  • Money that was loaned out gets "re-deposited" in another bank.
  • Bank B is only required to keep a certain percentage as a reserve requirment, the rest loaned out.
  • The cycle repeats.
  • This is called the money multiplier effect (1 divided by the reserve requirement) and helps grow the economy by expanding the money supply (so we can all buy more Chinese crap).
  • This is how businesses make payroll, buy supplies and run an operation.
Example = with reserve requirement 20%, a deposit of $1000 when loaned out will create $5000 in deposits.

Banking 2009

It is all so simple:
  • Unemployed people don't earn money, they collect unemployment 'insurance' (which is partially taxed).
  • That money is automatically deposited by state governments in "demand deposit" (checking and savings) accounts to banks they make deals with, which still becomes a liability on the bank's balance sheet.
  • Unemployed are issued a debit card to that bank.
  • Banks are only required to keep a certain percentage (called the "reserve requirement") of that deposited unemployment insurance money on-hand.
  • Banks don't loan out that (or any) money out, so they cannot charge interest.
  • Banks accept money from the US Government and don't loan that out either
  • No loans, no interest - no interest, no revenue - no revenue, no profit - no profit, no fat bonuses.
  • No money loaned, no money "re-deposited" into another bank.
  • Banks charge fees to unemployed holding debit cards to access their own money
  • Banks make some profit nickel and diming the unemployed to death.
  • No multiplier effect to expand money supply (but we still are forced to buy Chinese crap since it is the only thing that is affordable).
  • No money, no loans no businesses making payroll, buying supplies
  • The cycle repeats
  • Recession or depression

Rick Dees turns 59

...really when is the last time you heard Disco Duck?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pennsylvania deer go on a beer run

A wrong turn and an open door caused quite a commotion at a liquor store in Pennsylvania when three deer ran inside.

One deer crashed into a display and another took a detour right into a closed door.

The deer made their way out of the store when they figured out how to jump on top of some shopping carts and then dive out the back door.

Chris Bosh does the weather

Notice how Chris is holding a basketball so that we all know that he is a basketball player and not a lame weatherman. Hey I know it was all for fun.

Jonathan Krohn, future star of the GOP

Fourteen year old conservative Jonathan Krohn won a standing ovation after his three minute speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month. Since then, the homeschooled middle schooler has had a spread in the New York Times, done countless radio interviews and fielded interview requests from network anchors.

What cracked me up was when he said that Obama was “the most left-wing president in my lifetime”. His lifetime would cover...let me think...Obama...Bush....Clinton. Well, Obama would be the only left-wing president in his lifetime. This kid is brilliant.

Utah, the U.S. porn capital?

Utah, the reddest of the red-light states, where Internet porn is not just a past time, it's a way of life. Or so a Harvard Business School professor, who published a study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives , would have you believe.

According to Benjamin Edelman, broadband Internet users in religious conservative states subscribe to on-line porn sites in disproportionate numbers, and Utah leads the nation with 5.47 subscribers per thousand. Well, well.

Coach Wilson, why didn't you take game misconduct penalties earlier in the season when games mattered?

Joaquin Phoenix attacks heckler

The scruffy actor-turned-insane-rapper gets into fisticuffs with a heckler during a live performance at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. If this isn't all an act then why is Casey Affleck always there filming his bizarre behaviour.

Fashion Disaster

Thursday, March 12, 2009

One Hit Wonder

Edison Lighthouse - Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) (1970)

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#22 - Rick Vaive
(Tiger Williams, Brian Conacher, Brian Spencer, Errol Thompson)

#23 - Eddie Shack
(Alexi Ponikarovsky, Randy Carlisle, Todd Gill, Joe Crozier)

#24 - Bryan McCabe
(Ron Stewart, Drake Berehowski, Brian Glennie, Brent Imlach)

Miss Virginia 2009 is also a hockey goalie

Miss America Pageant 2009 featured a contestant with one unique talent. Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler is the former starting goalie for the Penn State women's hockey team. She has also tried out for the U.S.Women's Olympic Hockey team.

James Taylor is 61 today

Elmo meets Ricky Gervais

The NHL does nothing to curb fighting

The proposed new penalties for fighting have been received positively by hockey people, fans and the media. Some are suggesting that tacking on an extra 10-minute misconduct to a 5-minute major penalty could see the end of marginal players that provide physicality to the game (better know as goons). The additional penalty would apply to staged fights where two enforcers drop their gloves at a faceoff. As well, it would apply to fight initiated following a clean hit. These two categories supposedly make up 45% of NHL fights today.

The thinking is that the additional penalty would make players think twice about dropping their gloves in these situations. Some are suggesting that once these types of fights disappear, the need to carry enforcers who can’t play hockey will also disappear.

I think this is nonsense. For one thing, these players will likely test out the referees so see how long then need to skate around before they can drop their gloves (is it 10 seconds after the faceoff). So we may see a change in behaviour but not necessarily fewer fights. They will try to disguise a staged fight.

The bigger consideration is whether a 10-minute misconduct is even a disincentive to fight. Players like Colton Orr, Riley Cote, Eric Godard and Eric Boulton (to name a few) get very little ice time. Some are on the ice less than 5 minutes per game. So tacking on a misconduct means they will miss one or two shifts that game - if at all. The team does not play short handed and is certainly not disadvantaged by having its worst player in the box. These players justify their roster spot by the number of fights they have in the course of a season. When their agents discuss contracts with general managers, they are not going to be pointing to the number of goals scored, their +/-, or the number of minutes played. Hey my guy had 22 fights last season and that protects your skill players. These guys cannot afford to let their fighting stats drop so they will gladly take the 10-minute misconduct.

This clever rule change allows the pro- and anti-fighting advocates to declare a partial victory. Already the anti-fighting crowd is running around declaring this is a good first step. As for Brian Burke and the pro-fighting supporters, they can say that they have done something about fighting knowing very well that these measures will be ineffective. In fact, watch for Burke to add some muscle to the Toronto lineup this summer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today's economic update

  • Even billionaires are having a rough time. According to Forbes Magazine, 355 of the world's billionaires dropped off the rarefied list, including five from Canada. It's the first time since 2003 that the number of billionaires in the world actually shrank. There are 793 billionaires in the world, compared to 1,125 last year. Canada has 20.
  • The richest man in the world was once again Bill Gates, who lost that honour to Warren Buffet last year. Even though he lost $18 billion over the last year, he is still worth $40 billion. Buffet lost $25 billion from the value of his company Berkshire Hathaway, and is now worth $37 billion.
  • Canada's formerly famous celebrity businessman and owner of Edmonton Oilers (including Wayne Gretzky), Peter Pocklington, was ordered held behind bars in Riverside, Calif., Wednesday after being arrested by the FBI on charges of bankruptcy fraud. Anyone on the FBI's most wanted list usually gets offered a hockey franchise by Gary Bettman.
  • Everyone is announcing layoffs - even Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of Sesame Street and other kids' programs, is cutting about one-fifth of its work force because of the economic downturn.
  • Fast-food joints are charging for items that used to be free. There’s growing evidence that during this economic downturn even the most recession-proof businesses—quick-service chains such as McDonald’s that thrive on people’s desire for inexpensive food from familiar brands—are tightening their belts. Franchisees have to buy ketchup packets, but have traditionally doled them out for free. Not anymore.

Who cares what they watch in Omaha


WTF - Muppet Fashions??

Ron Wilson v. Howard Berger - who're you taking?

Howard Berger gives it back (this is going to be fun):

“If there is one thing, among many, that I’ve learned in my first season around Ron Wilson, it’s that the coach of the Maple Leafs doesn’t react well to criticism. That’s not to suggest the other Leaf coaches I’ve had experience with in the past 20 years enjoyed being challenged, but Wilson takes it as a particular affront — mainly because of his heightened sensitivity to all things media.”

“Ron fancies himself as being cool and detached when it comes to reporters; he has often insisted that coverage of his team is “irrelevant”. But, he belies that notion in just about every one of his daily gatherings with the media horde that follows the Maple Leafs. In fact, he’s probably the most media-paranoid coach I’ve ever been associated with, and that’s saying a mouthful after my years around the big Irishmen, Pat Burns and Pat Quinn. Though Wilson is often cutting and sarcastic in his repartee with the Toronto media, he finally boiled over in his post-game scrum on Tuesday night, moments after the Leafs had come from behind to beat the New York Islanders in overtime.”

“I couldn’t quite figure the timing of it. Here the Leafs were — in Game 67 of another lost season, with no chance to make the playoffs — and Wilson is suddenly pulling out all the stops. Stick challenges are so rare in the NHL, and are almost always utilized as a last resort in a critical circumstance. I had difficulty in Ottawa envisioning such a circumstance, with the Leafs 11 points removed from a playoff spot and wedged, as per usual, in no-man’s land in the Eastern Conference standings.”

“Wilson’s move in Ottawa on Monday was justified, but I found the timing to be ridiculous. If this was the sort of tactic he planned on ultimately deploying, why didn’t he try and pull it off back in November or December, when the potential gain would have been more meaningful? That’s all I was questioning. Calling for a stick measurement isn’t really a ballsy move; in fact, it borders on a cheap ploy by a coach who’s team is usually in a desperate situation. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Wouldn’t it have been more useful for Wilson to try such a maneuver, let’s say, on Nov. 15th in Vancouver, when his players were nobly battling the Canucks at the end of a tiring road swing? Or against Washington at the Air Canada Centre on Dec. 6th, when the Capitals clung to a 2-1 lead for the entire third period? At least the season was still hanging in the balance back then. There was nothing to be gained from growing desperate in Ottawa on Monday.”

“Where Wilson’s media paranoia, and his aversion to any sort of criticism, got the better of him, was in his interpretation of my question. He chose to view it as a challenge to his integrity as a coach. I was simply asking about the odd timing. Now, I can understand why he took exception to my thought that he could have used the stick challenge earlier in the season. I think he determined it to be an accusation that he wasn’t trying as hard to win games back then, but that’s absurd. It never crossed my mind, and the concept of his integrity as a coach was not at all a part of my thought process until he raised it in his post-game harangue Tuesday night. On reflection, though, it was a rather insensitive remark after a tough loss to the Senators, and one I could have phrased differently. Wilson is a proud man and a very good coach; I’ve never questioned either of those qualities in a general sense. My challenge on Monday related only to the timing of his decision in that particular game.”

“Unfortunately, Wilson doesn’t have the mind-set to accept any sort of media challenge. He is so hyper-sensitive to being even mildly confronted that he often executes pre-emptive strikes, accusing reporters in scrums of harebrained notions about his club that have never — and would never — cross our minds. Just about every day, it’s “you guys” this, and “you guys” that, as Ronny pre-supposes some imaginary form of attack. I’ve lost count of the number of times my colleagues and I have looked at each other moments after a Wilson rant and said, “Where the hell did that come from?”

“Sadly, this flaw in his character shrouds one of the most thorough, clever and articulate hockey people I’ve ever run across. Hardly a day passes that I don’t learn something from Wilson and — privately — we’ve had several engaging chats, mostly about his days as a defenseman with the Maple Leafs in the late-1970s. When I felt we had gotten off to a rocky start in our relationship early in the season, I attempted to call a meeting with Ron. I asked him, personally, and I tried to arrange it through Leafs’ media relations director Pat Park. I had a tough few years with Quinn as well, but we ironed out our differences very quickly once we got together behind closed doors. It’s the way I always try to mend confrontation, but the request to Ron fell on deaf ears. Perhaps such an understanding or truce would defeat an edge Wilson feels he holds over reporters. In that regard, he’s only fooling himself.”

Hump Day Hottie

Amanda Beard

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It might be unhealthy


A McChicken sandwich inside a double cheeseburger.

Could be in need of some economic stimulus?

New event for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?

Toronto Maple Leaf fans are delusional

Obama distances govt from Bush 'signing statements'

A little known feature of American public administration is the use of signing statements. These are official legal documents issued by a president the day he signs bills into law, instructing official how to implement the statutes. Signing statements date back to the 19th century and were occasionally used by presidents to declare one or two provisions of a bill to be unconstitutional. In the latter part of the previous century, presidents began to doing so more frequently.

Then along came George W. Bush who it appears used them indiscriminately. According to a recent New York Times article, Bush used signing statements to challenge over 1200 bill sections while in office. If that sounds like a large number, well it is more than twice the number challenged by all previous presidents combined.

I never knew that signing statements existed. I had always thought that the president either signed a bill or vetoed it. The problem with signing statements is that not only was Bush using them to ignore Congress but without using a veto it also did not give Congress an opportunity to override his veto. This is just another example of presidential abuse of power during the past 8 years.

Last week President Obama issued a directive asking that signing statements issued by President Bush to challenge new laws should not be relied on without first consulting with the Attorney General. However, Obama has indicated that he too would use signing statements if he is sent a bill with a provision he feels is unconstitutional but he would use some restraint when using this power. The question is whether that genie can be put back in the bottle.

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#19 - Paul Henderson
(Bill Derlago, Ron Stewart, Kent Douglas, Tom Fergus)

#20 - Bob Pulford
(Rick Vaive, Al Secord, Ed Belfour)

#21 - Borje Salming
(Bob Baun, Kirk Muller, Gord Drillon)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Grocery store accidentally sells peppers with cocaine

Three people bought peppers at a Queens store last night and found them even hotter than they expected - all of them had bags of cocaine inside, police sources said.

The peppers were sold at a store on Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park to three separate purchasers, none of whom apparently had any idea of what they were buying.

Store owners told authorities that the peppers had been imported from South America. Police notified the health department and cops were searching the store with K-9 units.

You might say they were "doctored peppers".

Sunday, March 08, 2009

St. Bernard needs human help after getting frozen to pond

There was a rescue involving a St. Bernard in Billings, Mont., but this time it was the humans who saved the day.

A 16-month-old St. Bernard named Duke apparently fell through the ice on a golf-course pond after escaping from his yard. He was able to pull himself out but ended up getting frozen to the ice.

The firefighters broke the ice around Duke's tail with a mallet before hauling the dog and a chunk of ice back to shore.

Duke was feeling better after being de-iced and warmed up under a blow dryer at a veterinary clinic.

Hey afterall isn't dog man's best friend?


Has Iran crossed the nuclear threshold?

Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, head of military intelligence, told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday that Iran has crossed the "technological threshold." He said this does not mean that Iran actually has a bomb, only that it has the expertise and materials needed to make one. Yadlin’s comments follow a similar assessment by the U.S. military chief earlier this month.

The U.S. Administration's highest ranking officials, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen and the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that recently raised the issue. Mullen when asked on CNN whether Iran "might now have enough fissile material to make a bomb" he answered: "We think they do, quite frankly." He went on to add "Iran having a nuclear weapon, I believe, for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world." Secretary Robert Gates, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," while acknowledging the Iranian problem said of Iran, "They're not close to a stockpile, they're not close to a weapon at this point and so there is some time." What he was not pressed about is the duration of this time. It may be running out fast.

There are other alarming developments. Iran just launched a space satellite but claimed it was to monitor earthquakes and to enhance communications. The International Energy Agency admits it underestimated Iran's nuclear stockpile by one-third. Finally Iran has boosted the number of centrifuges significantly.

The West appears to be pinning all its hopes on diplomacy though I'm not sure anyway really believes this will work to stop Iran. Even Israeli politicians appear to be trying to avoid a war. However that has't stopped Israel from carrying out a cover war, For example, Mossad has been targeting Iranian nuclear scientists. But you can't stop their nuclear program by taking out a few people. I am pretty convinced that an Israeli strike will occur in the next 12 to 18 months.

Mug Shot of the Week

Fashion Disaster

Agnyss Deyn who I understand is a model and not a professional clown.

Mickey Dolenz is 64 today

Mayor climbs up a ladder to recue a dog that doesn’t need rescuing!

I've never been to Brownsville, Texas but things must be pretty slow down there if the mayor becomes directly involved in animal rescue.

Or maybe it has to do more with the mayor’s love for dogs. However it has gotten him in trouble — for trying to save a Great Dane he thought was in distress, stranded on an apartment building balcony.

As it turned out the Dane wasn’t in distress after all, but Mayor Pat Ahumada didn’t find that out, according to the Brownsville Herald, until after he called for a fire department ladder and surprised the apartment owner in his kitchen.

Overzealous? Maybe a little. Still, it’s better than Don Call, the dog-shooting mayor in Kansas.

Ahumada, mayor of Brownsville, alerted animal control, the fire department and police when he received a report from a local TV station about a dog apparently stranded on a second story balcony.

He then went to the location himself, scaled a fire department ladder and entered the apartment to help the dog.

“He looked to be stuck on the balcony,” Ahumada said. “I didn’t know the condition of the dog or if the building was abandoned … The animal’s paws were hanging out from the railing and he was struggling to get up.”

As it turned out, the 14-year-old dog was fine. According to his owner, he has little mobility, and enjoys passing the day on the balcony. “He broke into my house,” the owner, who asked not to be identified, said of the mayor. “My dog is very well taken care of. He shouldn’t have done that.”

The mayor’s zeal for animals has caused problems before. In 2007, the city informed Ahumada that his six dogs were twice the city’s legal limit for one home. That same year, Ahumada picked up a dog thinking it was stray and gave it to a family. When the original owner asked for the dog back and the family refused, the issue ended up in court.

Two years earlier, before he was elected mayor, Ahumada was charged with theft after taking a dog from the Brownsville Animal Shelter. He claimed the dog was not being properly cared for and the charge was dismissed.