Saturday, July 31, 2010

Police in Sweden aren't like here

Horrific car crash at Bathurst and Finch area this morning

A black Dodge Caliber and a silver Chevrolet Malibu collided at around 7 a.m. near Finch Ave. and Bathurst St., ejecting one male passenger.

Investigators believe the Malibu was travelling westbound at a dangerous speed and disregarded a stop sign at the quiet intersection of Grantbrook St. and Charlton Blvd.

The Malibu was struck by a northbound Caliber, and the impact sent both cars spinning out of control.

The Malibu, carrying three men in their late twenties, went crashing into a concrete pole and tree. Its door was completely blown off and there was debris everywhere.

One 29-year-old man was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. He had not been wearing a seatbelt.

Scattered among car parts were beer bottles and a prescription bottle of medication.

Haircuts banned in Iran Week

Arnold Schwarzenegger turns 63

Mr. Olympic 1975

Governor Arnold in 2008

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sign of the day

OMG! Now they're cracking pet's backs too!

Tokyo’s oldest man turns out to have been dead for 30 years

The skeletal remains of a man who was thought to be alive at the age of 111 have been found in a residence in Tokyo's Adachi Ward - an estimated 30 years after his death. Found dead was Sogen Kato, who was born in 1899. Police said that following the death of Kato's wife six years ago, family members had received a total of about 9.45 million yen in payments for a survivor's mutual pension. Law enforcers are investigating the family's actions on suspicion of fraud and negligence as guardians resulting in death.

Kato's 53-year-old granddaughter, who had lived with him, reportedly told police that he shut himself in his room about 30 years ago, refusing to take food or water, in line with the doctrines of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Kato had lived with his daughter, 81, son-in-law, 83, and two grandchildren, aged 49 and 53. In June this year, officials from the Adachi Ward Office approached police saying they wanted to see Kato, but family members wouldn't let them.

When a police officer visited the home on July 26 with ward officials, the 53-year-old granddaughter said, "My grandfather is well but he's refused to meet with anyone." However, two days later, one of the grandchildren visited Senju Police Station and told police, "He shut himself in a first-floor room about 30 years ago in line with his doctrines, refusing to take food or water. When we looked inside the room in March this year, we saw the skeletal remains of our grandfather."

Police later checked the room and found Kato's body. Investigators said that Kato's wife died in August 2004, and between October 2004 and July this year, about 9.45 million yen was paid out for a survivor's mutual pension. Family members are believed to have withdrawn a total of 2.7 million yen from Kato's bank account over six occasions in mid-July.

Haircuts banned in Iran Week

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pay nothing or get disconnected

Is there anything more frustrating than dealing with a giant communications company? They are all about sales but have no concept of customer service. So I ran across this item which will only get you shaking your head.

Rounding error news: Comcast To Customer: Pay Us $0.00 Or We'll Cancel Your Service.

A Comcast customer received this letter informing him that his account's currently delinquent and that his service will be canceled if he does not pay the amount owed. The trouble? The amount owed is $0.00.

One Hit Wonder

Walter and Egan - Magnet and Steel (1978)

Guy wearing Lebron Miami jersey gets kicked out Of Indians game

You have to admit this guy is a bit of an asshole showing up in Cleveland wearing a Lebron James Miami Heat jersey. He just about incites a riot. And the girlfriend is a real class act too.

Haircuts banned in Iran Week

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'Nice Jewish girl' Anna Fermanova busted for trying to smuggle night-vision scopes to Russia

Russia's newest export is sexy bad girls named Anna.

Hot on the stiletto heels of sultry spy Anna Chapman comes Anna Fermanova, busted for trying to smuggle night-vision scopes to Moscow.

And just like redheaded double agent Chapman, foxy Fermanova left a trail of very revealing photos of herself on Facebook.

Fermanova, who was born in Latvia, was arrested at her home near Dallas on July 15 after returning from a four-month trip to Moscow - where her husband lives, court papers say.

"She's a nice Jewish girl who lives with her sweet Latvian parents," said Scott Palmer, a Dallas criminal defense attorney.

But court documents make Fermanova sound like quite the femme fatale.

They say a confidential informant tipped off federal immigration agents in February that Fermanova was in the market for weapons accessories.

Agents stopped her a month later at Kennedy Airport when she checked in for a Moscow-bound flight.

They found a $7,000 Raptor 4X Night Vision Weapons Sight in the blond bombshell's suitcase, along with two other night-vision devices worth $4,000 each, records say.

Fermanova told the agents she bought the scopes online for her husband's hunting buddies in Russia.


Almost makes you want to have oral surgery

But Dude, Meg Ryan is too old for you

Who is your favourite Jessica?

I haven't done a poll in a while and it's summer time so let's keep it light.

So who is your favourite Jessica (see sidebar)?

Jessica Alba

Jessica Biel

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Stroup

For those who missed Yunel Escobar's amazing defensive play this week

Bugs Bunny is 70 years old

Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd first appeared together in A Wild Hare in 1940.

How Captain Kirk solves problems

Sign of the day

The debate begins: Keep or trade Jose Bautista

On cable TV and talk radio in Toronto there is a raging debate going on as baseball's non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Should the Toronto Blue Jays keep Jose Bautista or trade him since his value on the trade market may never be higher?

A year ago no one would have given Bautista a second thought since all he would have brought in a trade was few Louisville Sluggers and some resin bags. Frankly I hated the guy. He had a puny batting average and his power, speed and arm were all very ordinary. When Alex Rios was shipped to Chicago and the Cito Gaston announced that the Jays would finish the season with Bautista in right field I was annoyed. Bautista was just another journeyman who filled a gap but could not help may the Jays a contender. He played for 4 different teams in 2004 before settling in with Pittsburgh. Only once did he ever have more than 400 at bats in a season.

But something happened to Bautista when he finally was given the opportunity to play every day - he actually became a major leaguer. In fact from the comments I've heard on air, most Jays want to see him stay in Toronto. But there are a lot of pros and cons to this one:

Reasons for keeping Bautista
  • How can you trade the major league home run leader
  • He still has another year before free agency
  • He is a good team player and can play several positions
  • He plays good defense in addition to hitting home runs
  • At 29 he is not too old be part of a rebuilding team
Reasons for trading Bautista
  • This year is an anomaly and his production is likely to drop off
  • You should buy low (ie, Escobar) and sell high (ie, Gonzalez)
  • The Jays could lose him through free agency after 2011
  • If picked up now he would be available to a contender for two pennant races before free agency
  • At 29 he may be a little old to be part of a core of key players for a future contender
For the Blue Jays there is no right or wrong answer since no one can predict the future. But it is possible to make a bad deal which to me is the key. As Bautista's production climbs so does the expected return in a trade. Rising expectations will be the biggest barrier to a trade. So unless someone comes calling with an incredible offer that Alex Anthopoulos could not possibly refuse, then I think the Jays will hang on to Bautista. There is no down side to keeping him. Even if his production falls drastically, unless the Jays have locked themselves in to a big contract then they can walk away.

The Summer of Kovalchuk continues

Lately, the NHL off season seems to generate more interest than the regular season. Last summer it was the Phoenix bankruptcy case. This summer it’s the Kovalchuk contract. Last year it was Bettman butting heads with an owner fed up with losing money. This year Bettman is butting heads with the NHLPA.

You got to love this guy. If he was in charge of BP, he would deny the well was leaking oil until the oils slick hit the shore. Then he would hire a team of lawyers to argue that it was the government’s fault.

Most people seem to believe that the NHLPA will win the arbitration case and the Devils will get away with significant cap savings on a huge contract. After all the league has allowed similar contracts to be signed in the past and clearly the CBA does not cap the length of player contracts. And maybe Ilya Kovalchuk turns out to be one of those exceptional athletes and will play 26 years in the NHL. You can’t prove that he won’t.

I actually think that the NHL has a good shot at winning the arbitration case. The goal for the NHL is to draw a line in the sand and signal how far the salary cap can be manipulated. Maybe the NHL regrets the Hossa contract. But the league did review that contract and eventually accepted it. So perhaps the decision last summer was that the Hossa contract would be the line in the sand. The question is whether the genie is out of the bottle.

So how can the league win this case? Well the NHLPA will argue that this contract is consistent with past practices but is it really? No contract has ever been drafted to cover this many years and no contract has ever had as many “throwaway” years (low salary years in which it is expected the player will just walk away). If it was the same as the Hossa contract or the Luongo contract then you can defend this contract as consistent with past practice. I don’t think so. If this contract is okay then how about a 20-year contract with 9 throwaway years? The arbitrator will have to consider where to draw the line otherwise you will eventually reach an incredibly absurd situation.

The second argument is that the there is no intention to for the parties to fulfill the full term of the contract and therefore it was designed solely to circumvent the CBA. Not many NHL players play beyond the age of 40. With each year beyond age 40 you just stretch credibility of the contract that much farther. Franzen and Zetterberg will be 40 at the end of their contracts. Hossa and Luongo will be 42 at the end of theirs. Statistically the probability falls sharply with each year. So will the arbitrator accept that the parties both believe that Kovalchuk will be playing at age 44? Not likely.

One thing for sure, this is a landmark case and will become the basis for the next round of CBA negotiations.

Haircuts banned in Iran Week

Hump Day Hottie

Kate Winslet

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What was I going to say?

Man id's himself on surveillance video to cops

St. Petersburg, FL police now say Dwayne Davis, Jr. is the guy here on a store surveillance video shown grabbing a man out of his car and pistol whipping him on June 12.

So how did officers finally figure out this man’s identity you ask? Was it the police force’s crackerjack investigative team that painstakingly solved the crime?

Nah. Davis accidentally turned himself. He allegedly called police to ask why he was on a TV news station in a surveillance video featuring unsolved criminal cases. The station was running a story on crimes police were trying to solve in the area, and Davis reportedly phoned the fuzz to find out why his picture was part of the story.

Don't they privacy laws in Florida? I can't believe the police have TV stations run videos of you without your consent. Oh wait they didn't know who he was. Good thing he contacted the police so the matter can be rectified.

Sign of the day

Maury Chaykin 1949 - 2010

Sad news that Canadian actor Maury Chaykin passed away today on his birthday. A truly versatile actor, appearing in numerous TV and film roles, far too many to count. While many will remember him in such films as Whale Music, Dances With Wolves, The Sweet Hereafter, and Where the Truth Lies and one of my favourites, My Cousin Vinny (see below at 4:40 mark).

Haircuts banned in Iran Week

In Iran the country's religious leaders have recently issued a catalog of acceptable "Islamic" male haircuts.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy 65th birthday Dame Helen Mirren

In her first film Herostratus made in 1967

In a photo taken in the past year

99 Cents Only Stores sued over price increase

Two years ago, the Los Angeles area retailer — faced with rising inflation and higher costs — raised the top price of its goods to 99.99 cents from 99 cents. Company executives thought it was a clever way to increase sales while staying loyal to the chain's love for the number 99.

But the move seems to be riling some customers who say they weren't aware of the nearly one-cent increase and felt duped into believing they were still paying 99 cents "only." Because U.S. currency makes it impossible to pay 99.99 cents for an item, shoppers are essentially paying $1 plus tax at the cash register.

Now the company faces two class-action lawsuits that were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court this month. The complaints allege unfair and deceptive business practices and misleading advertising.

The lawsuits are asking for unspecified monetary compensation and contend that 99 Cents Only should have been more clear in its advertising. A judge will decide whether the cases can proceed as class-action suits.

Eric Schiffer, chief executive of 99 Cents Only, said in an interview this week that he didn't believe there was any wrongdoing by the chain, which he said "took every possible effort and avenue to basically bombard the consumer about our increase."

"We changed all the signs, we have a large poster in the window of every store explaining the increase, we put it in our ads in the newspaper, we put it on the radio," he said. "Never mind the fact that the price increase was a very tiny amount, as we all know. So I don't think consumers were misled."

With commodity prices rising, the complaints seem "pretty ridiculous," said Joan Storms, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities.

"As long as they offer the best value in the marketplace, then who cares?" she said. "And where else are shoppers going to get a product for 99.99 cents?"

99 Cents Only opened its first store in Los Angeles in 1982 and has since expanded to about 275 locations, mostly in California but also in Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

When the chain announced in September 2008 that it would increase its prices by nearly a penny, Schiffer estimated that it would bring in an extra $12 million annually, which "will give us plenty of breathing room."


Sign of the day

Blue Jays still banging out those home runs

Well it was to be expected. The Blue Jays are unlikely to break the major league record of 264 homers in a single season by the 1997 Mariners. But they are still leading all major league teams by over 20 homers and are at pace to finish the season with 146. Now this projection will change over the next few days as it is expected that the make up of the team will change as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. But then Travis Snider is also expected to return to the lineup.

Of course the surprise of the season is Jose Bautista. By now everyone was sure he would cool off but he still leads the majors in home runs. During the All-Star break, FAN590 broadcaster Mike Wilner was convinced that Bautista wouldn't even hit 35 home runs. But as of tonight he is 7 away with 62 games to go. I would say he should be able to reach 40 and set himself for a very nice contract offer. He may never be able to repeat this season but hopefully he can cash in on it.

After 100 Games Current Projected Best Year
J. Bautista 28 45 16
V. Wells 29 32 33
Y. Escobar 2 3 14
J. Buck 14 25 18
A. Lind 14 22 35
E. Encarnancion 10 21 26
T. Snider 6 17 9
A. Hill 14 24 36
L. Overbay 11 18 22
F. Lewis 6 10 9
TEAM TOTAL 152 246

Chris Bosh quit on the Raptors in the middle of a playoff race

I don't run a sports franchise but long ago I figured out that you hanging onto to star players heading into free agency is usually bad news. If you can't sign them to extension then their value in a trade drops dramatically during the last year of a contract. But there is always the risk that the player can quit on the team.

It appears that might have occurred with Chris Bosh. I heard a very candid Bryan Colangelo imply that following the All-Star break, Bosh more or less took a pass on the remainder of the season. At the time the Raptors were solidly in a playoff position and there was talk of even home court advantage. Following the All-Star game Bosh sprained an ankle. The team doctors cleared him to play but it was Bosh's call when he was comfortable to return. Maybe the pain was too great, we will never know but Bosh missed the next 6 games to rest his ankle. When he returned from the injury he was no longer in top shape and played below his usual standard. Through this the Raptors went into a terrible tailspin. He then suffered facial injuries and was lost for the rest of the season.

The Raptors who have only made the playoff twice in 15 years really needed it this year. But there star player wasn't there for the team when they most needed him. In hindsight Colangelo thinks that Bosh was no longer mentally there for the team. Which disputes Bosh's claim that he didn't decide until the day he announced he was leaving. And when you think about it, don't you think Bosh talked about the summer with James and Wade during the All-Star game?

Haircuts banned in Iran Week

In Iran the country's religious leaders have recently issued a catalog of acceptable "Islamic" male haircuts.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sign of the day

Bear takes car on joy ride

Ralph Story doesn't hold anything against bears, even though one broke into his car early Friday morning and totaled it.

"He was just looking for something to eat; that's what bears do," Story said. "Anyone who lives out here knows there's going to be wildlife here. We learn to live with it."

His 17-year-old son Ben, who usually drives the car, had left a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a deodorant in the car, which is probably what attracted the bear, according to officials who talked to Story.

Early in the morning a black bear opened an unlocked car door. After he got in, the door closed behind him, Story said.

The Storys believe that as the bear shuffled around the car looking for a way out, he bumped into the gear shift and put the automatic transmission into neutral, sending the car rolling 125 feet back down a hill. It hit a few trees before coming to a stop in some brush.

The 2008 Toyota Corolla is being called a total loss, Story said. The interior is ripped up, the dashboard was torn out, the windshield is broken, and the airbags went off, he said.

"It was a big bear, full grown. It took up both front seats in the car," Story said.

The insurance company will cover the damage.

The bear's joy ride started at approximately 2:30 a.m., when Story's neighbors began hearing strange noises from the home.

After hearing honking from a car for about 45 minutes, a neighbor decided to go see what the noise was.

"She thought we weren't here so she figured our teens were the ones making the racket," Story said.

As she got close she noticed something seemingly violent happening in a car, so she called the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Story said.

A sergent and two deputies responded to the call that was supposed to be a check on a suspicious vehicle.

"The deputies were really surprised, they had thought it was maybe kids," said Michelle Rademacher, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

"We got the call at about 4:15 a.m., it was one of those 'oh my God' calls," Story said.

Of the five family members in the house, only Story's wife Stacey, had heard some noises, but had ignored them, not knowing they were coming from their own car.

The bear was freed at about 5 a.m. when deputies used a long rope to open the car from a distance, allowing the bear to run off.

First it was kids. Now you have to worry about wildlife swiping your wheels and trashing it. Typically the police don't bother to a thing. What has happened to our society?


Can Dalton McGuinty win a third term?

Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government has really stumbled in the past few months. The current Ontario government has a pretty smooth ride for the most part after first getting elected in October 2003. In their first term, the Liberals stuck to some core areas which were part of their campaign platform – heath care, education and the economy. The Liberals bought some labour peace and only stumbled on the commitment to no new taxes.

Second terms are always tougher. It becomes more difficult to stick to core issues and there is a tendency to drift off to other areas in response to stakeholder lobbying, unforeseen crises and complacency. The economic downturn was a huge challenge for all government but in Canada, Ontario was hit hard because of its dependence to the auto sector. Then suddenly this spring the Liberals began to stumble as a result of a series of poorly thought out policy initiatives. In the spring the Liberals announced a new sex education curriculum for schools in the province. It created a firestorm with parents and the government quickly retreated. Then in June, shortly before the start of the G20 Summit in Toronto, it was revealed that the Ontario government had approved a regulation under an obscure WWII statute to expand police authority for the week of the Summit. Neither the public, nor it seems the police as well, had an understanding of the new powers and it created another public relations disaster. Then the Ontario expanded the eco fee program with very little public information which created another public relations mess and another policy retreat.

Now not every policy initiative had been a disaster this year. The Liberals have managed to get through the HST changes and successfully battled the pharmacies. Yet things are not right. So what has happened to this McGuinty government? Most likely the chaos is the result of changes in the Premier’s office. The political staff behind the scene have incredible clout within government. They control the political agenda, communicating policy changes stakeholder management. McGuinty’s Chief of Staff in 2003 was Don Guy who also ran his 2003 election campaign. He was succeeded by Peter Wilkinson who ran the 2007 election campaign. Both were effective in keeping the government on track and on message. In April Peter Wilkinson was succeeded by Chris Morley who has risen through the ranks from McGuinty’s press secretary and other communication positions in the government. But things haven’t going so well under Morley’s watch which means there will be more changes coming to the Premier’s staff or further policy disasters.

The other factor is the changing faces in Cabinet. McGuinty began his first mandate with a much stronger inner core of Ministers - Greg Sorbara, Gerard Kennedy, George Smitherman, Dwight Duncan, Michael Bryant and Gerry Phillips. Most have moved on and not necessarily replaced with equivalent talent.

However, with a provincial election less than 15 months away, McGuinty doesn’t have a lot of time to fix the problem.

One Hit Wonder

Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music (1976)

40 ton whale crushes sailboat

Yeah they'll be talking about this whale of a story for years to come. Mostly because they survived to talk about it. Lesson to be learned - stay clear of frisky whales.

Oriole fan shows more hustle than Oriole players

Unlike the taser-happy staff at Phillies games, the Orioles have a policy of not chasing idiots who run onto the field. The problem in Baltimore is that fans are more entertaining than the Orioles.

Haircuts banned in Iran Week

Guess what? Vitaminwater isn't the least bit healthy

A U.S. federal judge ruled this week that Vitaminwater will not, as its labels promise, keep you "healthy as a horse." Nor will it bring about a "healthy state of physical or mental being". Instead, Vitaminwater is really just a sugary snack food; non-carbonated fruit coke disguised as a sports drink. Because it's composed mostly of sugar and not vitamin-laden water, judge John Gleeson held that Vitaminwater's absurd marketing claims were likely to mislead consumers.

Coke tried to explain away claims like "vitamins + water = all you need" as "only puffery." The judge disagreed.

The ruling rejected Coca Cola's motion to dismiss a class action suit brought by the scrappy do-gooders at the Center for Science in the Interest. The case should now be clear for trial, although it could settle if Coke is willing to change Vitaminwater's name to something less misleading. Sugarwater, perhaps?