Friday, April 15, 2011

I can't believe I actually feel sorry for Helena Guergis

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is such an asshole that I actually feel sorry for Helena Guergis. Now anyone who follows this blog knows I can't stand Helena. She is an arrogant, uneducated moron who has no business being in Parliament and would never have gotten elected but for her political family. But don't get me started.

Her teary press conference was part frustration but was likely part strategic. It seems that Guergis had to submit an access to information request to determine the allegations made against her that prompted the Prime Minister to boot her out of caucus. We had been told by the Prime Minister that there were of “serious allegations”made against Guergis and her husband Rahim Jaffer and the matter had been turned over to the RCMP. Mr. Harper canned her after Arthur Hamilton, a Conservative Party lawyer, passed along information reported by private investigator Derrick Snowdy, alleging that Guerrgis and her husband had been involved in fraud, extortion and prostitution. Her access request reveals the allegations were groundless. However, she has never received an explanation, apology or offer to clear her name.

The reality is Harper finally came to the decision that she and her idiot husband had become too much of a liability and threw her under the bus. This is politics so there is no due process or fairness. Politicians are like piranhas; they will eat you alive. After he booted her out of his party, he parachuted another Conservative candidate into her riding in order to hang onto the seat. Harper cannot afford a single Conservative seat if he is expects to win a majority. Guergis finds herself running third (20.5% of popular support) behind the Conservative (36%) and Liberal (224%) candidates. That is explains the today's press conference. It is very much a ploy to gain some public sympathy and win back some support in Simcoe-Grey.

Still no one deserves to be treated this shabbily. Her reputation has been ruined while she continues to be ostracized from her colleagues. Wouldn't it be interesting if Harper was one seat short of a majority and Helena sitting as an Independent?

This girl has been spending too much time at the zoo

Why are there two separate English and French Leaders’ Debates?

If you happened to have watched both English and French debates this week you would have noticed two very different debates took place. The French debate was not a repeat of the English debate from the night before. The first night dealt with national issues and most attacks that night were directed at the front runner, Stephen Harper. The next night focused on issues of interest to Quebeckers and interestingly the attacks were directed at the front runner, but in Quebec, Gilles Duceppe.

To me this is an extension of the ongoing pandering to Quebeckers that takes place in Ottawa. No other province has been more successful at leveraging Ottawa for money than Quebec. As long as the Bloc can win 40 to 50 seats in federal election, then they will blackmail the government to throw them extra money. That’s why Duceppe is the kingpin the French language debate. It’s not because his French is the best.

This practice will never stop but it should. There should be one Leaders’ Debate that is conducted in English and French. The questions and answers can alternate in the two official languages. This way the debate focuses on national issues and is relevant to all Canadians.

Last two people who can speak language aren't talking to each other

The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it's at risk of extinction. There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other.

Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other's company.

"They don't have a lot in common," says Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, who is involved with a project to produce a dictionary of Ayapaneco. Segovia, he says, can be "a little prickly" and Velazquez, who is "more stoic," rarely likes to leave his home.

Segovia, who denied any active animosity with Velazquez, retained the habit of speaking Ayapaneco by conversing with his brother until he died about a decade ago. Segovia still uses it with his son and wife who understand him, but cannot produce more than a few words themselves. Velazquez reputedly does not regularly talk to anybody in his native tongue anymore.

Guy pulled over driving bumper cars

Police officers monitoring CCTV in a Chinese city were stunned to see a man trying to drive two bumper cars along a busy road. Officer Liu Yulin said he thought he was "seeing things" when he saw the man with the fairground cars in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province.

He radioed for a traffic patrol to stop the man and officers quickly rushed to the scene and ordered him to pull over to the side of the road. The man, Zhang, told them he owned the bumper cars and had rented a space at a nearby amusement park but business was slack.

He had decided to take the battery-powered bumper cars to a busy area downtown in the hope of attracting brisker trade. Zhang told police that he and an assistant had been driving the cars but the assistant had been called away after receiving an urgent call so he decided to drive them both.

Officer Xiao Hu told Zhang it was illegal to drive one bumper car, let alone two, as they were not roadworthy vehicles. However, as it was unclear what the correct punishment should be under Chinese law, he let Zhang off with a verbal caution.

This guy is on to something. Driving around in Toronto you take your chances and I'm not even talking about when the roads are slick from rain or snow. If Lexus or Ford started selling bumper cars it would reduce car insurance costs in Toronto by hundreds of dollars. Now to have any appeal at all they would have to come with bluetooth and GPS.

Prime ministers with babieskittens Week

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thanks Manny don't slam the door on your way out

We've known for years that Tampa Bay's DH Manny Ramirez was his own special brand of stupid. Former teammates considered him to be anywhere from a clown to cancer. He's made some ridiculously stupid comments. So I shed a fake tear on the news that biggest sideshow in baseball has retired after 19 seasons.

Manny apparently failed a drug test by testing positive for a banned substance during spring training. He didn't bother to appeal the positive test. Rather than face a suspension of 100 games, Ramirez decided instead to hang it up for good.

MLB isn't being very forthcoming about what exactly Manny tested positive for. It shows how stupid he is that in this day and age, he would try to get away with using any type of banned substance. The last time he got caught, he was suspended for 50 games in 2009 while with the Dodgers for taking some sort of female infertility drug/hormone replacement.

Despite his childlike demeanor, Manny led an unbelievable career in the Majors. He won two World Series titles with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007. He hit 555 homeruns, collected over 2,500 hits, and had a career batting average of .312. Now, how much of that was fueled by God given talent, and how much was fueled by "banned substances", we will probably never know.

China bans time travel

The Chinese government, in another strange episode, has decided to ban time travel. Well, at least when it comes to television shows and movies.

Somehow, though, the government has taken a sudden disliking to the idea of distorting certain historical events, things and people. Maybe they don't want people going back in time to pre-Communist China and discover they like it.

The idea of time-travel has soared in popularity recently, and it seems like the authorities have just gotten sick of it. Common themes revolve around protagonists going back to ancient times, with script writers often taking liberties with plots and events. Even worse than just being an annoyance, some people fear a real disrespect for China's history.

Federal seat projection

The projections below span from just prior to the election call to prior to the leaders' debates. These numbers come from DemocraticSPACE who does a great job following election trends. Based on polling the Conservatives are headed towards another minority in the May 2 election. Below show seat projections by party. A riding is assigned to the party that is ahead even where it is by a small margin.

25-Mar 12-Apr
Conservatives 157 152
Liberals 69 78
NDP 33 34
Bloc 49 43
Green 0 0
Others 0 0

Barry Bonds prosecution is a witch hunt

Barry Bonds, baseball's all-time home run leader, was convicted of obstruction of justice, but a jury of eight women and four men could not render a verdict on three counts of perjury after four days of deliberations.

A mistrial was declared on the three perjury counts, and the jury was released.

So maybe it's time to move on? The American government has spent millions and millions on this case. Thankfully it's not my tax dollars. Are there not important cases for the government to pursue? This is nothing more than a witch hunt. Barry Bonds is an easy target - he's black, rich, aloof and a cheater. But he isn't Bernie Madoff,

If baseball didn't care that he cheated and the fans didn't care so why does the government? He filled stadiums with fans eager to see him slam a baseball with his chemically altered body. He sure wasn't alone. Hundreds were doing the same thing.

The radiant Julie Christie is 70 today

In the 1965 film Dr. Zhivago

In the 1967 film Far From The Maddening Crowd

In the 1975 film Shampoo

Her award winning performance in the 2006 film Away From Her

Russian rock band perform using only iPads and iPhones

A teenage rock band have become the first group to play a series of live gigs using only Apple iPads and iPhones for instruments. The group from Kazan, Russia cover hits by rockers like Nirvana.
Instead they download apps for drums, keyboards and guitars and play them onstage through a downloaded mixing desk.

I want this cat burglar

Prime ministers with babies Week

Movie injuries are rarely serious

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mall offers women money to shop in nothing but bras, panties and high heels

Here's one way to get people to go shopping - offer women money if they show up at a mall in sexy underwear.

That's exactly what happened at Lakeside Shopping Center in Essex, England, on Sunday.

The first 100 women to arrive in nothing but bras, panties and high heels were given £100 ($163) gift vouchers, which were good in many of the mall's stores.

It is unclear how many turned out, but several young women were onhand to engage in some revealing shopping.

The promotional gimmick was engineered to promote the new spring fashions available at the mall.

Having shoppers come out in their undergarments is not unique to England.

No big deal, it's spring afterall. Try holding this promotion in January. I know how this works. The mall isn't interested in the 100 girls in their undies so much. It's the 10,000 who also showed up to ogle at these women. That's money in the bank.

59 year old tries out for Saskatchewan Roughriders

This is great for the reputation of the CFL. A guy old enough to be a grandfather is at a tryout camp. This guy looks like George Plimpton's grandfather. His name is Charles Chulada and he shows up with in jeans, a 16 year old t-shirt and cleats almost as old.

I hope the defibrillator is close by.

I don't get much out of the Leaders Debates

The 1960 Presidential Debate in the U.S. was a ground breaker and has set the tone for political debates for the next 50 years. The sight of Vice President Richard Nixon sweating under the hot TV lights while Senator John Kennedy appeared cool and comfortable had an effect on the TV audience and the outcome of the election. In Canada, a similar landmark political event was the Leaders Debate in 1984 where Prime Minister John Turner provided a weak defence of patronage appointment. It was the turning point of the election.

Since then politicians have treated political debates as something they need to win or at least not lose. But I have never considered political debates to be a contest. The media does us a great disservice by always looking to declare a winner. For me a debate provides the party leaders with a forum to lay out their platform, their vision for the country, their approach to leadership and defend their positions. If I decide to vote based on policy then want to choose a party and leader that best represents my views.

So I want the leaders to talk about economic policy, social and health policy, the environment and Canada’s role on the world stage. That is why the Leaders Debate always disappoints me. The format was there for a healthy debate on policy but the leaders showed little interest in such a debate. I loved the questions provided by voters but within 30 seconds the leaders switched the discussion to allow them to get out sound bites prepared in advance of the debate. Often the voters’ questions were never answered. Discussions over proroguing Parliament, contempt of Parliament votes, and other political manoeuvrings are not things that will resolve problems for Canadians and have no place in a debate. The leaders were all very much prepared almost over prepared. They and their staff decided in advance what they would say, their body language, their tone and which topics they would avoid.

Frankly too many Canadians treat our elections like they were U.S. presidential elections. What we are also doing is selecting our next Parliament. It’s not just about who will be our next Prime Minister but who will your representative in Parliament and best represent your community. That is what is so wrong about parachuted candidates. They are running for themselves and not for the community. Because incumbents have such a distinct advantage in elections your MP will likely be around much longer than the party leaders themselves. I’m not overly impressed by the part leaders so in this election I’m voting for the best candidate in my riding. You should consider taking the same approach.

Prime ministers with babies Week

Hump Day Hottie

Katrina Bowden

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shame shopping

My first round NHL playoff predictions

Eastern Conference

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers

It’s too simplistic to point to Alex Ovechkin and declare the Caps winner in this series. Washington also finished 1st overall last season only to be knocked out in the first round. There is no question Henrik Lundqvist will be a factor and is the only reason the Rangers qualified for the post-season. Meanwhile Washington is going with an unapproved goalie. Both teams are hobbled my injuries going into the playoffs. Still Washington finished very strong and slipped past Philadelphia and Boston to take the first seed. Their defensive game is much improved which has been Bruce Boudreau’s objective over the regular season.

Prediction: Caps in 6

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres

The Flyers were really the Cinderella team last year when the slipped into the playoffs and rode a minor league goalie all the way to the finals. This year has been entirely different. The Flyers have been one of the stronger teams this season until their goaltenders let them down. Management has already gotten into panic mode by recalling 2010 playoff hero Michael Leighton. Not exactly a vote of confidence for the goalies. Meanwhile the Sabres are firing on all cylinders with red hot Ryan Miller. Chris Pronger can change the complexion of a series on his own but is he healthy enough to carry the Flyers.

Prediction: Sabres in 7

(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens

Lots of hate hear even before the Chara hit on Pacioretty. A lot of question marks in this series. Will Mike Cammalleri be able to repeat his clutch scoring for last year? Have the Bruins learned from their monumental collapse to the Flyers last year after being up 3-0 in the series? One thing for sure, the goaltending will be superb. However, Tim Thomas will neutralize any edge Carey Price may have provided the Canadiens. The physical Bruins will eventually wear down the Canadiens if the series goes deep.

Prediction: Bruins in 7

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning

Will Crosby play? That’s all you need to know about this series. The answer seems to be that he will not be available for the first round. That swings to offensive advantage to the the Lightning who have Steve Stamkos and an array of other weapons. Then down the stretch GM Steve Yzerman wisely picked up 41 year old Dwayne Roloson to fix his goaltending problems. Rollie hasn’t disappointed. Still there is an experience factor with Pittsburgh and they have done fine for the past 3 months without both Malkin and Crosby.

Prediction: Bolts in 6

Western Conference

(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks

The reigning Cup champions have an experience factor that cannot be overlooked. Yet they are just a shell of the team that dominated last season and barely qualified for the post season. Patrick Sharp has come back early from his knee injury so hard to say how effective he will be. In the past the Hawks have had Vancouver’s number though the Canucks are thinking this may be payback time. But looking back the President Trophy winner often struggles in the first round of the playoffs. Will Vancouver imitate the Caps of 2010? Will the superb Sedin twins be able to carry the very deep Canuck team in the competitive West?

Prediction: Canucks in 6

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have lost Anze Kopitar and they have no scoring depth. Doesn’t look good. The Sharks started off slow but have been gaining momentum in the second half. They also did well in last year’s playoffs and come in with the experience factor. This should be a short series.

Prediction: Sharks in 5

(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes

This is a repeat of last year’s first round match up. Teams actually don’t look much different than last year either. The Red Wings are a little banged up but have the depth and still have an edge in scoring. However that is offset but the clear edge Ilya Bryzgalov has over Jimmy Howard. Then there is the ageless Nik Lindstrom to control the play both on offense and defense. Despite the fact that the moving trucks are already parked in front of the arena, the threat of relocation has never seem to distract Phoenix. Uncertainty is no doubt the norm for the Coyotes.

Prediction: Wings in 7

(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators

Who would have thought at the start of the season that Corey Perry would be the NHL’s only 50 goal scorer and a Hart Trophy candidate? Not me. Then there is a 40 year old Teemu Salanne scoring 80 points. That’s just nuts. Throw in Ryan Geflatz and Bobby Ryan and you have a lot of offense. But then Predators have the best shut down pair in hockey with Shea Weber and Ryan Sutter who are sure to see close to 30 minutes of ice time per game. Also Anaheim’s goaltending situation is unclear because of injuries although they just need one healthy goalie to give themselves a chance.

Prediction: Ducks in 6

Sign of the day

Happy 64th birthday to David Letterman

Letterman on the Tonight Show in 1979

Letterman's early morning show from 1980

Letterman with an Alka Seltzer suit in 1984

With the Guy Under the Seats in 1985

With Larry Bud Melman in 1985

Letterman dropping stuff off a 5 story tower in 1986

Toll booth gag from 1986

Letterman in a magnet suit in 1986

Madonna uncensored on Late Night in 1994

A birthday present from Drew Barrymore in 1995

Salma Hayek describes how she got her big breasts in 2006

It's the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight

Who was the first man in space? Well it wasn't an American. On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, making a 108-minute orbital flight in his Vostok 1 spacecraft.

Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space less than a month later.

This spurred the Space Race which peaked when Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.

Prime ministers with babies Week

Man celebrates 64th birthday by flashing school bus

It was his 64th birthday and Jack Snyder wanted to get naked, authorities said. So, in Port Richey, Florida, on Monday afternoon, Snyder dropped his pants, shook his hips and wagged his genitals at a passing school bus full of children on their way home from Chasco Elementary, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office.

A grandmother driving past to pick up her grandson saw Snyder's nude "butt" and called the Sheriff's Office, said Kevin Doll, agency spokesman. Shortly after, the Sheriff's Office began receiving calls from concerned parents whose children arrived home with stories of seeing Snyder's exposed body parts.

Snyder, who was still on the scene when a deputy arrived, said he thought flashing the bus would be "funny," a report states. Snyder was arrested on Wednesday and charged with five counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition.

Happy birthday Jack! Hope they bring you a cake in jail.

Facebook friends

Sign of the day

Winklevoss twins continue their Facebook grudge

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss refuse to drop their grudge against Facebook. The twin Harvard alumni said they will appeal today's rejection of their demand for more Facebook money the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling by the Appeals Court was pretty brutal:

The Winklevosses are not the first parties bested by a competitor who then seek to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace. And the courts might have obliged, had the Winklevosses not settled their dispute and signed a release of all claims against Facebook. With the help of a team of lawyers and a financial advisor, they made a deal that appears quite favorable in light of recent market activity. For whatever reason, they now want to back out. Like the district court, we see no basis for allowing them to do so.

At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.

Ouch! But don't feel sorry for the boys. The Facebook stock they received in their original settlement is worth in the neighbourhood of $100 million. That should continue to fund plenty of high price lawyers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thornhill riding all-candidates debate

Sunday night I attended the Thornhill riding all-candidates debate held at Beth Avraham Yoseph Synagogue. The debate was hosted by B'nai Brith and the issues discussed were domestic and international topics of importance to the Jewish community. Thornhill is 36.6% Jewish and is only one of two ridings with a Jewish plurality (the other is Mount Royal in Montreal).

The riding has five candidates with the recent addition
of Liz White, representing the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada. Ms. White is running in Thornhill because Peter Kent is the Environment Minister and the election providers her with the opportunity to challenge the government's environmental policies. However, she did not participate in Sunday's event. The other candidates are:

  • MP Peter Kent (Conservative) - current Environment Minister and prior to entering politics he was a news editor, producer, foreign correspondent and news anchorman on Canadian and American television networks
  • Dr. Karen Mock (Liberal) - a teacher and educational psychologist specializing in multicultural/anti-racist education and has received numerous awards for her human rights work
  • Simon Strelchik (NDP) - the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Policy Administration and Law as we all as a York University student completing his master's degree in government
  • Norbert Koehl (Green) - the general manager of Stonemill Bakehouse Ltd. a Toronto-based, bakery specializing in organic and all natural, healthy and nutritional breads
This is essentially a two-person race. In the 2008 election the Liberal and Conservative candidates received over 88% of the votes. In the 2006 election they received 86% of the votes and in 2004 it was 89%.

The opening remarks quite succinctly summarized what each candidate was about. Peter Kent immediately launched into an attack on the unholy coalition that defeated a Budget that the country badly needed. This was a reoccurring theme for the Conservative candidate - the opposition parties were up to no good. His responses for the night were Conservative party spin and sound bites which lacked in substance or accuracy. He never once spoke about how he would be a good representative for Thornhill but rather touted Stephen Harper as the only real good choice for Prime Minister. I have heard Mr. Kent on previous occasions and was equally disappointed. Either he sees himself as a Stephen Harper clone or the Conservative party controls their candidates so closely that they are entirely scripted. The result is that you really don't get an opportunity to assess Peter Kent only the Conservative party machine. However, for this crowd his strength was in his party's strong defense of Israel on the international stage.

Karen Mock provided a more folksy and warm image. She emphasized her impressive record in community activity in particular in the area of human rights. There is no question Dr. Mock will be a strong MP and advocate for the community whether in government or opposition. However, one area that she obviously perceives as a weakness is with regards to policies toward Israel. This would appear to be surprising considering she is Jewish. Her problem in this election is the Liberal leaser, Michael Ignatieff, who has issued a number of confusing and conflicting statements regarding the Middle East. Dr. Mock provided each attendee with a 2-page document on the Liberal party's position on Israel. On several occasions she clarified that the Conservative and Liberal positions on Israel are identical and that she would never had agreed to be a Liberal candidate if she wasn't convinced that her leader stood behind Israel. Although I agree the two parties' positions are similar (as they are with many issues) they are not identical. As well, Karen Mock is a person of integrity and if she is comfortable with Ignatieff's Israel policies then so am I.

Simon Strelchik seems to see himself as a populist orator. When speaking he tends to rant waving a fist in the air. Even in the question and answer portion when all the candidates were sitting he would get up on his feet as if on a soapbox and begin a rant. It was a total turnoff. He relished attacking Mr. Kent which I felt only aided Dr. Mock because it provided her with more time to present herself as an alternative to the Environment Minister.

Norbert Koehl is a quiet and thoughtful individual who sees his role in this campaign to sell the Green party. As a former candidate he is well versed in federal and local issues. It would be next to a miracle if the Greens win a seat and it certainly will not be in Thornhill.

There were over 200 in attendance but the audience was stacked with loud campaign workers from all four parties. Consequently it was difficult to gauge the reaction of the crowd. With respect to won the debate, from my perspective there is no such thing as a winner. People attend these things for different reasons. I am not impressed by either Harper or Ignatieff and had decided to vote based on who would best represent Thornhill. Based on what I heard that decision will be very easy. Karen Mock will make an outstanding MP.

Prime ministers with babies Week

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sign of the day

Husband gives money away to keep wife from getting it

An Australian man who blamed greed for ruining his marriage has acted out the ultimate revenge on his estranged wife. After selling their house for $395,000 he gave every cent to charities, a court has been told. The man, 58, also has boasted he put all his bank statements in a bucket of water and made papier mache out of them. The man told the Federal Magistrates' Court, sitting in Victoria, that he gave the money away anonymously to "eliminate the cause of the divorce".

"I bought about 300-400 envelopes, stamped envelopes," he told the court. "I put a random amount in each. I put charity names and addresses and I sent them out. Some I delivered, some I put in charity boxes. I distributed it in a random fashion." The man, who cannot be identified, told the court he gave the money to charities including Unicef, Oxfam, the Sacred Heart Mission, the Royal Children's Hospital, the RSPCA, the Red Cross, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Help Haiti.

"I have formed a view that the wife's main concern was the division of family assets," he said. "I felt that as a good Christian I ought to remove temptation and greed from both of us." He said he was now jobless, with $2000 in the bank, a $1000 car, and land worth $10,000.

Magistrate Norah Hartnett concluded the man had taken the drastic action to deprive his wife of any money after 20 years of marriage. Ms Hartnett ordered the man be placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond for breaching court orders to produce documents relating to the sale of the home. In an interim judgment, Ms Hartnett also ordered that a family report be compiled to reach a resolution in the case.

Sidney Lumet: 1924 - 2011

Lumet was one of my favourite directors. He had an endless string of classics including the following:

His first film was Twelve Angry Men in 1957

The Pawnbroker in 1964 has a special meaning to me

Serpico in 1973

Dog Day Afternoon in 1975

the absolutely brilliant Network in 1976

I was stunned when he released Before The Devil Knows You're Dead in 2007 at the age of 83

Prime ministers with babies Week