Saturday, June 19, 2010

Paula Abdul is 48 today

Paula at the 1989 Music Video Awards

Paula wasted on American Idol

What to bring if you're coming to protest at the G20 in Toronto

Some helpful advice to those coming to protest at the G20 next week in Toronto. Toronto is a safe and clean city ubt next week it will be crawling with 6,000 police officers loaded with new security equipment that they are itching to use. So you have to come prepared.

Here are some helpful things to bring:
  • water for irrigating eyes and wounds, for cooling off
  • several pairs of vinyl gloves to protect against blood AND pepper spray
  • wound care supplies (Band-aids, steri-strips, 2x2 & 4x4 bandages, 1st aid tape, Bactroban or other antiseptic)
  • chemical weapons decontamination supplies (3 small bottles of canola oil, alcohol, and a solution of liquid antacid/water, 1:1 ratio--this in a spray bottle, lots of gauze sponges or clean rags, stored in several small plastic bags)
  • comfortable, protective shoes that you can run in (leave the sandals at home)
  • gas mask or goggles paired with a respirator or bandanna to protect during chemical weapons deployment
  • heavy-duty gloves if you plan to handle hot tear gas canisters
  • hearing protection (the cops have sound canons)
  • watch, paper, pen for accurate documentation of events, police brutality, injuries

Desigated protest area is Queens Park which is the Ontario Legislature which is easy to get to by public transit, bike, or on foot. An ideal location because within several blocks of the of Queens Park are several large hospitals in the event you are unable to self-treat your wounds.

Whether you need a ride to Toronto, a place to stay while you’re here, or help deciding which demonstrations you’d like to participate in, the catch-all organization that’s overseeing the various interest groups and their actions is the Toronto Community Mobilization Network. The group’s website lists scores of events in a handy calendar format, from community meetings to full-blown marches, that are taking place across the city. If you want to start your own demonstration, they can also help you get organized.

Before you head over, though, the federal government would like to have a word with you. The Integrated Security Unit is overseen by the RCMP, but it’s staffed by everyone from local police officers to Canadian Forces soldiers. Here, you’ll find some advice the ISU has for protesters.

At most of the major protests here, though, demonstrators will have a special ally: an organization called the Movement Defence Committee. It’s made up of about eighty lawyers who’ve volunteered to help protesters free of charge. They’ll also be acting as observers at many of the major demonstrations. The lawyers have expertise in immigration law (to help people who may have trouble getting into Canada) and criminal law (for those who find themselves under arrest). The Committee’s recommending that demonstrators write their “Arrest Line” number—416-273-6761—somewhere on their bodies.

Would you hire Dion Phaneuf?

After Dion Phaneuf was named the 18th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, the Toronto Star asked readers what they would ask the team’s new leader if they had the chance. The top 10 question were provided to Phaneuf who graciously did his best to answer them. It was an opportunity to do some reflection but he did his best to try to stick with a particular message - the Leafs will make the playoffs and I'm not going to change the way I play the game. I was a little underwhelmed.

As I looked over the questions I thought that in some respects they were very similar to questions you might get in a job interview. So I decided to tweak some of the questions to make them sound like interview questions for a foreman or team leader position in a business and tried to make his responses fit. This is what I came up with:

Q: Previous supervisors in this department brought to the table many favourable attributes, yet they could not meets its perfomance targets. What do you bring that’s different that would help this department to achieve its goals?

A: I’m not going to change the way that I work or the way that I lead. I'm a guy who is going to lead by example. I want to be known as a guy who works hard day-in, day-out. I think I have that characteristic and I don’t want to change that. I think that’s probably the main way I’m going to lead, by example.

Q: How many years will it take for the department to return to be a top preformer?

A: To be honest with you, our goal from the start of next year is to meet our performance targets and that’s all we’re focusing on right now. Everyone is excited. Our goal next year is to be a perform at a high level.

Q: What will be your biggest challenge in motivating this team to achieving their goals?

A: I don’t think there’s going to be much of a challenge at all for us to be motivated to achieving our goals. Every guy in our departmentwants to meet our goals and that’s the bottom line.

Q: If you were to be the successful candidate for this position, what’s the one aspect of your own performance you think you need to change or improve?

A: Like I said, I’m not going to change the way that I work so I’m definitely not going to change anything in my approach. I’m going to get better and continue to learn. Every day I want to improve.

Q: As you know, the 5 years have been less than ideal for this company, and especially our customers. How would you, as a supervisor, plan to get this department out of the gutter and turn it into a high performing group in the next year or two? Customers love us, but are growing impatient.

A: The company has phenomenal customers. I want to do everything in my power to provider high quality service and, like I said, that’s our goal right away.

Q: Let's just say the department falls behind in achieving its goals; the effort has not been there and you need the pick things up. How would you get your group going?

A: You’re in that situation sometimes. You don’t want to be but you’re not going to be up at the end of every day or week. That’s the way business works. You’re not going to be perfect game every day but the important thing is to keep working, don’t change your approachand do what your goup does best. You don’t want to change your game plan, just keep going. Whether you’re down or whether you’re up, you want to work the same way.

Q: How annoying is it to have to deal with senior management? Do you not wish they would act rationally and ask poignant and intelligent questions for once?

A: It’s not difficult at all, to be completely honest with you. When you’re asked a question, all you can do is answer it and give the best answer you can.

Thank you very much Dion for coming in to meet with us. We will get back to you on our decision by the end of the week. Good luck.

Sign of the day

Drunk Russian Week

Vuvuzela sales

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mug Shot of the Week

Kind of fits with Drunk Russian Week.

The truth about HST

The 2009 Ontario Budget announcement included an initiative to eliminate the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) with a value-added tax and combine it with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to create the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Since that time opponents of the new tax have spread misinformation about the new HST and the media has been more or less complicit.

Here are the truths about the HST.

  • The provincial portion of the HST will be 8% and the federal portion will be 5%, for a combined HST rate of 135.
  • Most of the products we buy will see no new tax - 83% of purchases fall under this category. There are a lot of products and services on which we already pay the PST and GST. While some items will continue to be non-taxed (prescription drugs).
  • Right now the PST is charged on many purchases made by businesses in manufacturing goods and providing services. It penalizes business by taxing them at every step in the production, distribution and retail processes – making it a tax on a tax on a tax. Roughly $4.5 billion in embedded sales tax is hidden in this way.
  • The HST will generally remove this hidden tax by refunding sales taxes paid on most business inputs. These refunds will mean lower prices for many consumer purchases and lower business costs. Opponents are saying prices will not fall. Except 140 countries have already introduced this type of tax and for the very same reasons prices fell elsewhere.
  • It is being reported that consumers will pay more in taxes each year because of HST. It is true that they will pay more in sales tax but there are offsetting cuts in income taxes so for many people it will be a wash. Opponents aren't telling you that.
  • So why would the government reduce taxes to businesses while not increasing personal taxes while carrying a huge deficit? Well since 60% of goods produced in Ontario are exported, Ontario companies will be able to lower prices and sell more goods. It is estimated that 600,000 new jobs will be created in Ontario by making Ontario companiew more competitive. More jobs mean more tax revenue for the province. So Ontario expects to be ahead over time.

UPDATE: Paul Henderson's 72 hockey summit jersey is still auctioning the actual jersey Paul Henderson wore in game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series. The current high bid is $309,224.00 and the auction closes on June 22.

Wife and kids kill man for the contol of TV remote control

Police say a South African man who wanted to watch a World Cup match instead of a religious program was beaten to death by his family in the northeastern part of the country.

David Makoeya, a 61-year-old man from the small village of Makweya, Limpopo province, fought with his wife and two children for the remote control on Sunday because he wanted to watch Germany play Australia in the World Cup. The others, however, wanted to watch a gospel show.

"He said, 'No, I want to watch soccer,'" police spokesman Mothemane Malefo said Thursday. "That is when the argument came about.

"In that argument, they started assaulting him."

Malefo said Makoeya got up to change the channel by hand after being refused the remote control and was attacked by his 68-year-old wife Francina and two children, 36-year-old son Collin and 23-year-old daughter Lebogang.

Malefo said he was not sure what the family used to kill Makoeya.

"It appears they banged his head against the wall," Malefo said. "They phoned the police only after he was badly injured, but by the time the police arrived the man was already dead."

All three were arrested Sunday night, but Lebogang was released on $200 bail Tuesday, Malefo said. The other two are still being held in custody.

Malefo said the mother and son will reappear in the local Seshego Magistrates Court on July 27.


Drunk Russian Week

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sign of the day

Ultrasound confirms Helena Guergis is pregnant

American man on mission to kill Bin Laden

An American man who claimed to be on a mission to hunt down Osama Bin Laden has been arrested in northern Pakistan, police say. They said that Gary Brooks Faulkner, 52, was detained in the mountains of Chitral district north of Peshawar. He had a pistol, dagger and a sword and was carrying night-vision equipment as well as Christian literature.

Police say Mr Faulkner was stopped near the border with Afghanistan's Nuristan province, a known Taliban stronghold. They say he told investigators after his arrest late on Sunday that he was on a solo mission to kill Osama Bin Laden who is thought to be hiding in the mountainous Afghan-Pakistan border area.

The al-Qaeda leader is the world's most-wanted man, with the US offering a reward of up to $25m (£17m) for information leading to his capture. Police say Mr Faulkner, who is from California, arrived as a tourist in Chitral on 2 June and was assigned a security escort before vanishing on Monday evening. A search was then launched and he was found in a forest a few miles from the Afghan border.

"We have interrogated him and he has told us that he was on his way to Afghanistan to capture and kill Bin Laden," Mumtaz Ahmed, a senior police official in Chitral said. Asked if he felt he had a chance of tracing Bin Laden, he told police, "God is with me, and I am confident I will be successful in killing him," Mr Faulkner said.

Matador arrested for losing his nerve

A Mexican matador was arrested for breaching his contract after losing his nerve and running from the bullring. Terrified Christian Hernandez dropped his red cape and ran from the charging bull during an event at the Plaza Mexico in Mexico City on Sunday.

The 22-year-old vaulted over the protective wall at the side of the ring as the crowd hooted and whistled in derision. He was briefly persuaded back into the bullring by organisers but gave up before coming face to face with half-ton beast and skulked from the ring a second time.

He was arrested after the bullfight following complaints by organisers that he had breached his contract. He was later released after paying a fine.

The torero, who was badly gored in the leg during a bullfight several months ago, admitted that he had lost his nerve and would now retire from bullfighting altogether. "There are some things you must be aware of about yourself," he said. "I didn't have the ability, I didn't have the balls, this is not my thing."

Drunk Russian Week

Hump Day Hottie

Katy Perry

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sign of the day

Al Gore is fooling around with Larry David's ex

Al Gore's split from wife Tipper after 40 years of marriage was a shock to everyone who thought theirs was the ideal marriage. Now Star is reporting (like the quality paper that they are) that the former Vice President was having an affair with Larry David's ex-wife for the past two years.

Laurie and Al co-produced the 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” to save the planet from climate change. She has written several books and won numerous awards for her campaign to stop global warming. An interesting article that she penned for the Guardian in 2006 was titled “How I Made Al Gore Sexy”. In that piece she confessed to having a crush from afar. The following year she divorced her husband of 14-years, citing “irreconcilable differences" amidst reports she was cheating with the caretaker of their Martha's Vineyard summer home.

Laurie David released a statement, late today, denying an affair. She indicated that “The story is completely untrue. It’s a total fabrication. I adore both Al and Tipper. I look at them both as family. And I have happily been in a serious relationship since my divorce.”

Courtney Cox is 46 today

Courtney in a 1984 Bruce Springsteen video

Courtney at this year's Golden Globes show

Drunk Russian Week

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sign of the day

A Fathers' Day he will never forget

The Sausage King, Jimmy Dean is dead

Jimmy Dean wasn't only known for his sausage. Jimmy started out in country music and had several hits. Jimmy went on to host several talk shows including his own in the 1960s. In 1969, Jimmy and his brother started his now iconic sausage company! Jimmy sold Jimmy Dean to Sara Lee in the 80s, but he stayed on as the spokesperson of the company until 2004.

When I walk through the freezer section of an American supermarket I'm aghast by the crap with the Jimmy Dean name on it. But what do I know, America loves the stuff. To me the grossest food item has to be the sausage on a stick covered with pancake batter and chocolate chips. A heart attack on a stick. This is just so wrong!


Bra bars barrister from jail

There was a minor kerfuffle in Miami last week when a female attorney wasn't allowed to see her client at a federal detention center because the attorney was wearing an underwire bra, which set off a metal detector. So she went to a bathroom and took off her bra. When she tried to enter the facility again, she was refused because she wasn't wearing a bra.

The attorney Brittney Horstman reminded guards of a detention center "memo'' allowing female attorneys wearing an underwire bra to enter. But the guards would not relent. The guards refused to let her pass the second time around because she was braless, which is against prison dress code guidelines.

Drunk Russian Week

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My backyard with no grass

Last year I did the landscaping in my backyard and decided to go with no lawn. I hate lugging the lawnmower to the back, having to weed, water and fertilize. And to be honest the stuff is ugly. But I didn't want to go with something paved since much of my backyard is a wood deck. I wanted to maximize the green area so I decided to go with a groundcover. The stuff is easy to go, spreads like weeds, never needs to be cut and requires minimal maintenance. I decided to plant creeping thyme because it can also withstand traffic. So late last spring I planted about 80 small plants and watched them spread. We are now about 80% filled in now and right now the plants are flowering.

My guide to surviving the World Cup

I'm not a fan of soccer or football as some people refer to it. Though not to be confused with North American football which is a game that they need to hire an official scorer. For me soccer has as much appeal as watching Sunny van Bulow's coma. Dull doesn't begin to describe a game that runs for 90 minutes and is likely to end in a 0-0 tie with fewer than 10 shots on net. Did I mention that the nets are 24 feet wide (hockey nets are just 6 feet wide) yet no one can ever seem to get a shot on net. If Gary Bettman was running FIFA at least they would end games with a shootout.

So you might have figured that I'm not going to watch one minute of the World Cup despite the fact that the games can be seen everywhere - in the electronic department of Costco, in coffee shops, in boardrooms at work, in hospital emergency room waiting areas. Hey all you new Canadians can watch all you want. Just stay off the roads after the games.

For those who have never had the pleasure of driving in Toronto, we have some of the worst gridlock in North America. We have surpassed, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. It is almost 24/7. Toronto is also a lovely patchwork of ethnic communities. You have the Russian enclave at Bathurst and Finch, the Koreans in north Yonge and on Bloor, the Greeks on the Danforth, Little Portugual on Ossington, etc.

The problem is that each ethnic enclave insists on celebrating out of the streets following a victory by the team of their country of origin. If it's a tie, well then both ethnic groups celebrate. Then there are larger ethnic groups that have multiple ethnic enclaves. For example, the Italians have Little Italy, Corso Italia, all of Woodbridge and parts of Downsview. You know how it works. Everyone jumps into the car and drives up and down the street honking their horns and waving the national flag of the country of origin.

When the games get more important in the later rounds the celebrations get more intense and pedestrians totally shut down some neighbourhoods. You won't see any Canadian flags be waived by the locals. We suck at soccer. We only made the World cup once in 1986 and lost in three straight. Hey we're a hockey country.

So despite the fact that you may not be watching the games, if you want to preserve your sanity, you better follow the scores. You don't want to be driving on the Danforth following a win by Greece. Actually you never want to drive on the Danforth. But I think you get the picture.

So here is my plan to surviving the World Cup. I get the scores on my Blackberry and use a handy map of Toronto ethnic enclaves (here) and a GPS to map out safe routes to travel.

By the way, these celebrations pale to what the world will see when the Toronto Maple Leafs regain the title of Stanley Cup Champions. 2012 is going to be a great year!

Sign of the day

It was also Kat Dennings 24th birthday favourite Bryn Mawr resident.

Drunk Russian Week

Michelle Tanner turns 24 today

One of the Olsen Twins in Full House

Ashley and Mary Kate today

Darth Vader and Zorro have joined forces in a law suit

Darth Vader and Zorro have joined forces in a First Amendment battle with police and the Venetian Hotel-Casino on Las Vegas Strip. They say in a federal lawsuit that they were "kidnapped" by Venetian security officers, "strapped to a chair" and held in a small room for more than an hour in January before being kicked off the property.

They also say they were searched by metro police officers and handcuffed. Although the two men perform on the Strip for tips, they say they were just standing on the sidewalk in front of the Venetian when they were arrested.

The ACLU, which has joined the legal battle, says the Venetian wrongly asserted that the public sidewalk was in fact private property.

"Certain sidewalks abutting the Strip and adjacent to certain Strip properties on which (the men perform) ... have been repeatedly declared by the federal courts to be a public forum and the First Amendment fully applies to all expressive activity on those sidewalks." Aside from damages, the ACLU seeks a declaration that the hotel's and metro's policies of regulating public sidewalks is unlawful.

Full story here.

Tip for felons: avoids asking cops for rides

Philadelphia man Theodore Milner thought his day was going badly when he and a friend ran out of gas on the Interstate near Newark, NJ. Things did look up when the 21-year old was able to flag down a police car for a ride to the nearest service station.

But that's when things got really bad.

Because what Milner knows now, and apparently did not know then, was that if you solicit a ride from a cop, he may very well enter your name into his on-board computer and quickly discover if you have any outstanding warrants or court orders for your arrest. Milner allegedly had three such court orders.

His luck didn't get any better after he was taken into custody and police say they found seven bags of marijuana and a digital scale in his book bag.

He was charged with possession with the intent to deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.