Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's Nelson Mandela's 91st!

Is the $10,000 rebate for e-cars a bribe?

This past week, Ontario premier, Dalton McGuinty, announced his liberal government will provide up to a $10,000.00 rebate for those who are buying plug-in hybrid vehicles. The Ontario government wants one in every 20 cars on provincial roads to be electric by 2020, and to get there it is promising rebates from $4,000 to $10,000 to those who buy a plug-in hybrid after July 1, 2010.

Auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers called the cash incentive a bribe. One in every 20 cars adds up to about 350,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020. At $10,000 apiece in rebates, that means the province is looking at a $3.5 billion program if it meets its stated goal.

Now $40,000 is a pretty steep price to pay for a green car. I'm a huge supporter of the concept of the plug-in hybrid but this is too big of a premium to pay for fuel efficiency. Though $30,000 is getting closer to a reasonable price if that's what it will actually cost to drive off the lot.

The Volt can go 65 kilometres on one overnight electrical charge alone, but also has a small gasoline engine that will recharge the electrical motor, giving it a range of more than 500 kilometres before stopping to plug in. That won't get you to New York City in one day but it will get you Ottawa.

The first plug-in hybrids - also known as extended-range electric vehicles - are scheduled to arrive later this year when Toyota Motor Corp. makes available a plug-in version of its Prius. Toyota plans to put 500 plug-in hybrid Prius beta models on the road around the world late this year. This will allow Toyota to assess the performance and durability of its first-generation lithium-ion batteries. The auto maker plans launch a battery-powered electric vehicle by 2012 for urban commuter markets but at this point is still reluctant to mass market plug-ins without extensive testing.

The key barrier for purchasers is cost, mainly because the lithium-ion batteries that are the key component of both plug-ins and electric vehicles cost about $7,500 (U.S.) apiece. That price tag means the U.S. and Canadian governments will need to subsidize purchasers to make the car viable to large number of consumers. I had never anticipated that the battery would be this steep.

Toyota has been very critical of the announced subsidy. Since Toyota is 3 years away from selling plug-in hybrids, they are concerned that that the subsidy program will hurt sales of the existing hybrid Prius and favours the GM car. I'm sure the fact that the Ontario government owns 3.8% of GM has nothing to do with the program.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, once the Most Trusted Man in America, has died

The word is out that pioneer newsman and broadcasting giant Walter Cronkite has died at the age of 92. No broadcaster ever had the impact that Cronkite had. I doubt anyone will ever repeat what he accomplished. Before the Internet, news anchors like Cronkite kept you informed on world events. Two events that he covered stand out for me - the JFK assassination in 1963 and the first lunar landing in 1969.

Goodness, Phyllis Diller is 92

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Paul McCartney performs on David Letterman

...outside on top of the Ed Sullivan Theatre marque. They had to close the entire street. Reminds me of the Beatles rooftop concert in 1969 on the roof of Apple Corp in London. He is certainly a youthful 67.

Starbucks is now trying to rebrand itself

Starbucks just keeps trying to reinvent itself — and it seems that they've tried everything. The only thing left to do is just to stop being Starbucks. So that's what they're doing.

The Seattle Times reports that the coffee giant is testing several new stores in which there will be no Starbucks branding at all. Instead, the coffee shops will be branded with "community names," like "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea," in Seattle. If the pilot goes well in Seattle, it could move to other markets. Lets hope the prices are more reasonable. That might do more to increase traffice then any rebranding. By the way the McDonalds ad in the picture above is hilarious.

Man arrested with 40 pairs of panties in his pants

Deputies in McMinn County said an Athens man left a pool party with more than just a suntan.

Deputies arrested Jason Johnson after they spotted him walking down Highway 11, with panties hanging out of his unzipped pants.

In fact, investigators said he'd stuffed some 40 pairs of panties into his pants! Authorities said Johnson had stolen the underwear from a nearby home.

The owner of the panties declined to prosecute, but deputies charged Johnson with public intoxication.

Mr. Johnson has sworn off drinking alcohol. Probably a good idea.

World's tallest midget

Happy 46th Phoebe Cates!

Phoebe Cates-Fast Times At Ridgemont High - More amazing videos are a click away

Bowmans take control of the Blackhawks

I’m not sure how to describe the sacking of Dale Tallon – hostile takeover, coup d’etat? It caught some people by surprise but others have been expecting it for some time. Tallon recently messed up qualifying offers for about 6 young players that cost the team extra cap space (that the team could ill afford) in order to make a union grievance go away. That was given as the reason for his dismissal but there is some history here that can’t be ignored.

The Chicago Blackhawks were a dysfunctional hockey team for many years under the ownership of Bill Wirtz. He was a stubborn, interfering, cheap owner much like Toronto’s Harold Ballard. Not surprising, the Blackhawk’s Stanley Cup drought is even longer than the Leafs’. For years Wirtz had Bob Pulford around to carry out his dirty work. Pulford was a loyal soldier who tried to do the right thing but never was allowed to. Fan favourites were traded away (Belfour, Chelios, Roenick) because of salary demands. One thing that Pulford got right was promoting Dale Tallon as GM in 2005 after serving as his assistant. Tallon did a masterful job at rebuilding the franchise. He made some excellent trades (Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp) and drafted some excellent young talent (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane). He made some bad moves (what GM doesn’t) such as overpaying for Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell last summer but it was Tallon that built Chicago into a Cup contender.

In 2007, Bill Wirtz passed away and his son, Rocky, took over. Rocky was well aware of his father’s shortcomings and was determined not repeat his mistakes. Pulford was too closely connected with his father’s tenure and removed from the Blackhawk side of the business. John McDonough was hired away from the Chicago Cubs to run the Hawks but he had no hockey experience. Scotty Bowman, whose son, Stan, was already working in the Blackhawk organization, was approached last summer and agreed to serve as a senior advisor. However, what was most appealing for Scotty was the opportunity to help his son’s career. The takeover began almost immediately. Holdover coach, Denis Savard was fired six games into the season although you can’t criticize the job Joel Quenneville has done since he got the Blackhawks into the Western Conference finals.

It was only a matter of time for Tallon to go as well because he was not a McDonaugh “guy” and too closely tied to the previous regime. As recently as April 30, 2009 in an interview with ESPN, McDonough was raving about then-GM Dale Tallon.

"Dale has such an easy, relaxed style that he sometimes flies under the radar, but he's the architect of this team ... As much as we talk about the resurgence and renaissance of the Chicago Blackhawks and how the fan base has come back and the games are on television, it has to be the product on the ice.”

Interestingly, it appears that Stan Bowman’s role up to now has been to manage the team’s payroll under the salary cap. However, that has been one of the Blackhawks’ problem to date and should get worse next season. Although Scotty Bowman has no peers in the coaching fraternity, his record as a manager has been spotty. But this is Scotty Bowman’s show now. I’m sure he will figure it all out.

$23,148,855,308,184,500 for one pack of cigarettes; it's time to quit

A New Hampshire man says he swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and was charged over 23 quadrillion dollars.

John Muszynski checked his account online a few hours later and saw the 17-digit number — a stunning $23,148,855,308,184,500 (twenty-three quadrillion, one hundred forty-eight trillion, eight hundred fifty-five billion, three hundred eight million, one hundred eighty-four thousand, five hundred dollars).

Muszynski says he spent two hours on the phone with Bank of America trying to sort out the string of numbers and the $15 overdraft fee.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hamas says Israel dumping aphrodisiac gum on Gaza

Hamas Hamas suspects that Israeli intelligence services are supplying its Gaza Strip stronghold with chewing gum that boosts the sex drive in order to "corrupt the young," an official said on Tuesday.

"We have discovered two types of stimulants that were introduced into the Gaza Strip from Israeli border crossings," Hamas police spokesman Islam Shahwan told AFP.

"The first type is presented in the form of chewing gum and the second in the form of drops," he said.

The Islamist movement that has run the densely populated and impoverished Palestinian territory for the past two years said it has detained members of a gang that helped to bring in the products.

"They admitted during the investigation they were linked to the Zionist intelligence services," he said.

One suspect said he had received the products from an Israeli intelligence officer at a cut-rate price "with the officer saying they did not want money, but to distribute the products among the young people of Gaza," Shahwan said.

"The intelligence services are aiming to corrupt the young generation by distributing these products among students."

The story came to light after a Palestinian man filed a complaint that his daughter had experienced "dubious side effects" after chewing the offending gum, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli military declined to comment officially on the allegations, which one military source termed "absurd."


Fashion Disaster

Sienna Miller obviously forgot her skirt.

Auto insurance rates going up in Ontario

For those in Ontario who recently received their auto insurance renewals I’m sure they couldn’t help but notice that rates are on the rise again. The issue has had some media attention as a result of a government report released in the spring recommending further changes. The report subtlety points the finger at lawyers and health care provides. Lawyers build up both no-fault claims and tort claims to get their clients the biggest settlements and maximize their fees. Lawyers build claims by having their clients undergo excessive assessments and treatment programs that often provide little benefit to the client. Health care providers are pleased to cooperate because it generates generous revenue streams.

All this is lost on the public who blame insurance companies for any rate increase. This is technically true since they set the price of the product although they do not control the product. While other parties run up costs in the system, insurance companies are left handing out the bad news in the form of rate increases. Most people assume that rates are rising because insurance companies lost money when the markets crashed. However, unlike life insurers, auto insurers do not invest in the equity markets. Because most of their payouts are within a year of collecting premiums, revenues are put in short-term investments. Though when interest rates fell last year so did investment income for insurers.

At times auto insurance is a strange beast. You would expect insurance companies make their money on underwriting. However, insurers often forego underwriting profits to keep your business and rely on investment income to remain profitable. When investment income drops off then rates need to catch up with claim costs to ensure an underwriting profit. It’s almost as if the companies are in the insurance business in order to access capital to invest. Adjusting claims is almost a sideline. It’s analogous to Mcdonalds who are really in the real estate business. They buy properties and set up restaurant franchises in order to collect rent. Selling hamburgers is a sideline in order to justify collecting exorbitant rent from their franchisees.

What does this all mean? Well insurance companies, lawyers and health care providers will be lobbying the government to protect their interests and ensure they continue to make money. And as for consumer, well they will pay the bills.

Sidney Crosby imposter on MySpace

Sidney Crosby has become the latest professional athlete to find himself entangled in a situation where he has to deal with an irritating online impostor.

A message sent Monday from the MySpace page, “If You See Crosby,” asked for help to raise $3,000 for Phelps Park in Minneapolis. In exchange for a donation, preferably sent via Western Union, “Sid” promised to send a “game-played, autographed stick,” the message stated.

“That is not Sidney Crosby,” Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said Tuesday. “He does not have a MySpace page.”

Which begs the question people are still using MySpace?

Maybe the most humourous part of this story is the super sleuths who uncovered this fraud. Homeland Security? No. The FBI? No. Gary Bettman? No. Sidney Crosby's lawyers? No. It was some Penguin fans. Nothing like the blogosphere!

Ex-Governor Jesse Ventura is 58

Hump Day Hottie

Mary-Louise Parker

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I cant' believe this product exists

Here is why the Jays released Matt Bush

Former Padres No. 1 pick Matt Bush was arrested for a laundry list of dumb stuff and then cried like a little girl as he was taken into custody two weeks ago. He has since pleaded not guilty for drunken driving, resisting arrest and two counts of vandalism. Bush was released by the Blue Jays earlier this year.

The latest happened after police received a call about 1:40 p.m. June 28 about a man throwing objects at passing cars while standing outside his vehicle on Camino de la Reina near the San Diego Union-Tribune building in Mission Valley. Police said he had hit at least one car with his belt buckle. After getting into his vehicle, he backed into that same car, causing damage, police said. He was arrested in a parking structure of nearby Fashion Valley Mall, taken to jail and booked on assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, driving on a suspended license, vandalism and driving under the influence.

Toronto municipal strike is getting silly

Most mornings when I get to my office I'm delayed for a minute of two by striking municipal workers picketing my building. There are some municipal offices in our building so that's good enough reason to picket the garage entrance. So you sit in your car waiting for them to let you in. There is no conversation with commuters, no information handed out. They don't expect you do throw your arms up in frustration and call your councillor to end the strike. Heck I don't even live in Toronto. They are only there to be an annoyance and collect their $200 strike pay.

They look quite glum out there. And why wouldn't they be? It's the third week with no end in sight. The City is happy to use the strike to reduce its budget deficit. Union management doesn't care either. The workers are just pawns. Once the union has a strike mandate they can reject offers from the City without going back to the membership. So even if the workers are ready to accept what the City is offering they are given the opportunity to decide. So all they can do is make me wait a minute before pulling into the parking garage. What a statement they are making!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tony Romo dumps Jessica Simpson


Unfortunately, kids, it’s sad but true. According to People magazine, Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo have parted ways.

The consensus is a heartbroken Jessica will grow to the size of the Goodyear blimp by Labour Day.

Now we will have to live vicariously through Tom and Giselle.

First-Person Shooter Disease

This video is about a man who lives with First-Person Shooter Disease (AKA Duke Nukem’s Disease) – he can only interact with the world in the manner of a video game character. Yet he bravely struggles on to overcome obstacles of hand-eye coordination and peripheral vision.

Who ya going to call...Ghostbusters!

The Ghostbusters 1959 Cadillac Ambulance is for sale on eBay.

Pregnant after swimming in pool

Magdalena Kwiatkowska is absolutely certain her thirteen-year-old daughter is pregnant because of wayward sperm in an Egyptian hotel's swimming pool. She is so certain, in fact, that her daughter's delicate condition is due to "something in the water" that she is suing the hotel where she and her family, including the teenager, recently spent several weeks on vacation.

The Polish family returned home from their Middle East trip only to discover that the thirteen-year-old was expecting a baby. The girl adamantly denies having had any contact with lustful boys during their vacation, an assertion her mother wholeheartedly believes--or desperately wants to believe.

That is a heck of a lot of swimming that sperm would have to do to encounter some ovaries.


Pop star Kim used to be Tim

Meet the latest British pop sensation. At 16 years old, with blonde good looks and a wholesome appeal, Kim Petras is set to be a superstar. Turns out Kim was born Tim. Just days after turning 16, she had a sex change operation to fulfil her dream of becoming a woman.


23 year old widow sleeps with 27 men in 13 months

How do you cope when you become a widow at 23? After the death of her husband, Amy Molloy slept with 27 men in 13 months

She was a wife for exactly 32 days before her husband passed away in July 2007.

The cause of death was cancer, which started as malignant melanoma from a mole on his chest he'd had removed two years before, but quickly and silently spread to his liver, lungs, pancreas and, finally, his brain. It was this tumour that led to a stroke.

Full story can be found here.

Happy 67th birthday Han Solo

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Statue of the Week

Pamplona - the Revenge of the Bulls - 1st Fatality since 1995

The first fatality during Pamplona's famed Running of the Bulls San Fermin Festival since 1995 has happened on day 4 of the 8 daily runs through the narrow cobbled streets of Pamplona. And some others were seriously hurt - including two Americans - one, a 61-yr-old, was picked up by the rogue bull by the horns and flipped onto the cobbles and the bull continued to charge him - he miraculously was relatively unhurt . Another 61-yr old American was seriously gored in the chest and is expected to survive. At least 40 people have been injured in the first 6 days.

The bulls start out as a pack when at the start they are whacked on their rears with rolled up newspapers - when they are in the pack they are rarely dangerous but just run through the gauntlet to the Bull Ring where they will later be slaughtered by a matador. But when one breaks away it becomes a raging rogue bull and can attack other runners, Though a warning sound is made when a bull breaks lose in the pack and many runners seek refuge on window sills, etc. Some idiots keep running which is how you can get into trouble.

There isn't anything much disgusting than bullfighting. It is animal abuse plain and simple. Remember Michael Vick did jail time for doing the same thing to chickens dogs.

One Hit Wonder

XTC - Making Plans for Nigel (1979)

Bill Cosby is 72 today

Afghanistan's only pig ends its flu quarantine

Afghanistan's only known pig trotted out of quarantine, two months after he was locked away because of swine flu fears, to bask again in the mud at the Kabul Zoo. Yes only in the Middle East would you find a pig in a zoo.

The pig, a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, was quarantined because visitors to the zoo were worried it could spread the new swine flu. It was obviously that the Afghans did not understand that the flu spreads from person to person. Finally, it was acknowledge that their only porker was not a health threat. Still some Muslim not only do not want any contact with the pig but feel that it is irreligious to even look at it.

Teen falls into manhole while texting

"Suddenly everything became dark and smelly," notes the teenager who found herself in sewer. You think teens are a little obsessed with texting?

Mug Shot of the Week

Donut Wars: The Timbit vs. The Munchkin

Tim Hortons is stepping up its push into Manhattan's coffee wars by taking over a dozen Dunkin' Donut outlets that were involved in a legal squabble because of unsanitary conditions -- including a doughnut-eating mouse that made national headlines several years ago.

The Dunkin' stores closed permanently Friday and be reopened as Tim Hortons as soon as Monday. The stores mark the iconic Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain's first foray into the highly competitive New York City market - including Starbucks, Dunkin' and McDonald's, with its heavily hyped espresso drinks. Dunkin’ Donuts has at least 500 locations in the New York City area alone

Since opening its first U. S. store in 1984 in Tonawanda, N.Y., Tim Hortons has expanded into 10 other states, including Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It already has about 527 U. S. locations.