Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sanity Prevails Down South...Obama Wins!!!!!!

I woke up with a huge sense of relief this morning because Barack Obama retained the presidency. Credit is due to Mitt Romney for keeping the race close, but in the end the best candidate won. After all, Obama understands that a top-down, trickle-down system hasn't and will never work. Unless tax loopholes are closed and the wealthiest citizens and companies pay their fair share (read more than their secretaries), the government will always have a deficit and will not be able to provide support for the middle and lower classes.

I'm not saying Obama is perfect. Far from it. He hasn't been able to get through the political gridlock created by the Tea Party and far right in the House, but Obamacare and other initiatives give me hope that he has and will bring more positive change for the majority of Americans, which will help Canada and the rest of the world get on track.

Good job, Mr. President!!

Obama's victory speech

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CBC - Doc Zone - Episode - Sext Up Kids

Saw this documentary on CBC the other day and it was scary. Kids are overly sexualized and even hyper-sexualized from a young age and it is having hugely negative consequences. Watch below and let me know what you think.

As a teacher, seeing something like this is disturbing and makes you wonder what can be done to fight back against marketers and popular societal trends.

CBC - Doc Zone - Episode - Sext Up Kids

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Human Rights Violation in Algeria

Here is another injustice that needs to be rectified! Activists and union members are being arrested in Algeria and I don't think we should stand for this sort of thing. Read more below and I will post the link to click if you want to get involved in an email campaign to protest this injustice after the blurb. Cheers.

Human Rights Activist, IUF representative in Algeria abducted


On 1 October, Algerian IUF representative and human rights activist Yacine Zaïd was picked up off the street in Hassi Messaoud in the Ouargla province by unidentified men in a white Nissan 4x4 vehicle and has not been seen since. His location at this time is unknown. Zaïd had earlier been beaten upon being taken into custody by Algerian police prior to his release and subsequent abduction.

The IUF believes that Yacine Zaïd’s well-being and perhaps even his life is at risk because of his outspoken work in defence of human rights in Algeria and his long-standing defence of workers' rights, now as an IUF representative in that country.

The IUF calls on the Algerian authorities to act immediately to secure the release of Yacine Zaïd, guarantee his security and restore his full rights. We also call on authorities to investigate the matter fully and bring those responsible to justice.

You can help. Please send a message to the Algerian Government immediately to secure the safe release of Yacine Zaïd.

Monday, August 20, 2012

On Republican Senatorial hopeful Todd Akin's Medical Knowledge

Apparently Todd Akin, the Republican Senatorial candidate from the great state of Missouri, knows something of the magic of the female body that no scientist or doctor has ever figured out...the body magically shuts down and kicks out unwanted sperm when a woman is "legitimately raped"...therefore there is no need for the government to make abortion legal on the grounds that rape victims need a way to terminate their pregnancies.

So, according to Akin, not only are their "legitimate rapes", but the body magically knows when to accept a man's seed and when not to. Hmm...

Where do they find these guys?

To the credit of the G.O.P., they are trying to force Akin to give up his nomination by taking away his funding and badmouthing him to the media, but choosing him in the first place is still on them.

The party is shifting ever more to the radical, fringe right, which is just one more reason why Barack Obama MUST and WILL win in November. Hopefully the House and Senate will also go his way as Americans and the world are being shown what Republicans really believe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Rob Ford's REAL War on Cars

When Rob Ford took office last year, one of the ummm...controversial mayor's first pledges was to 'end the war on cars.' He cited streets cars, pedestrians and those useful scrambles they have at a few major intersections in Toronto (you know, the places where all the 'walk' signs are active at the same time whilst all motorists have a red light in their face) as problems making it hard for motorists to get into and drive around our fair city; however, it is my believe that the real war on cars, pedestrians and others drivers is being waged by the 'law-abiding' mayor himself. I see 2 possible reasons why he is doing this: either he is just a bad driver who is ignorant/doesn't care about the laws in the city he runs or this whole thing is a covert way to confuse and distract citizens and city councillors alike from all the odd, nonsensical and unrealistic things that Mayor Ford has done or tried to do since taking over.  
Don't believe me? Well, I think the evidence showing that other motorists should be terrified if they see the mayor operating a motor vehicle near them speaks for itself.

First off, we have a story running during the last mayoral election season bringing to light Rob Ford's past arrests for DUI and marijuana possession...

Next up we have Mr. Ford flipping off a woman and her daughter when they dare to tell him that he shouldn't be driving and chatting on his cell phone at the same time...

Then we have the more recent incident of Toronto's commander-in-chief not knowing the simple and commonly known rule of stopping behind street car doors when they are open, so as not wipe out people getting on or off the mass-transit device or other cars who are following the law...

And last but certainly not least we come to Tuesday's incident of Rob Ford reading important documents while driving to City Hall... 

He says he's a 'busy man' and was still 'paying attention to the road'. Sure, and I'm the great grandson twice removed of Joseph Stalin. Even if he didn't cause an accident, what he was doing was highly dangerous and quite illegal.

How Rob Ford still has a drivers licence and hasn't been charged with anything yet defies logic. Mayoral privilege I suppose.

The next time the happy-go-lucky man in charge talks about the 'war on cars', you know what he is REALLY referring to.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Music Break: The Birthday Massacre

This week's Music Break highlights one of Toronto's best kept rock secrets, the Birthday Massacre. They harmoniously blend goth industrial dark melancholy and horror film/fantasy lyrics with 80`s synth-pop sensibilities to create music that can make one chuckle, weep and grin within the span of the same song. The band members chose fantastic names to go along with their unique music. Lead singer Chibi`s name comes from a Japanese slang term meaning `short` or `miniature`, which suits her since she isn`t the tallest of women. Other band members include Rhim, Rainbow, Owen, Nate and Falcore (anybody remember the Neverending Story?). Here are videos of some of their biggest hits. Enjoy!


Looking Glass

In the Dark

Video Kid


Sunday, August 12, 2012

An online campaign for workers' Rights: Light the flame for workers’ human rights

I belong to an organizartion called Labour Start, an organization that takes action to try to expose/prevent/correct horrible situations for workers the world over. The particular situation I want to address today involves workers in Sri Lanka and China that made pins, clothing and other merchandise for London 2012. Some factories used child labour, others didn't pay their workers enough to buy bare necessities like food and still others forced their workers to slave for ungodly hours each day to make soon-to-be-discarded trinkets for a world event that is supposed to be about unity and equality, not exploitation.

The link below provides more details and an opportunity to join the online campaign calling for an end to these travesties. Check it out and join in if you feel it's a good cause.

Light the flame for workers’ human rights

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A little Air Time on CBC

So, Rob Ford is in hospital with "Asthma and swallowing issues" according to CBC and other news sources, and I just happened to be wandering the farmer's market outside Toronto City Hall on Wednesday when a reporter from the aforementioned Canadian Broadcast Corporation stopped me to ask a few questions about how much about the mayor's health the public has a right to know. I responded by saying that Rob Ford's health is the number one priority and that the public should be updated on his condition once he is proclaimed not in serious danger and doctors have had a chance to fully diagnose him, as people need to know how this will affect his ability to perform in his enlarged, cushy chair at city hall.

The interesting part of all of this is that CBC chose to use part of my response in their story on Ford. Wooo! 6.2 seconds of fame for me among anyone who happened to catch the 2 minute story on air or happened to watch the video on CBC.CA. Oh, and it would only matter to people who know and recognized me in the clip. And it's summer, so many people are off galavanting in exotic locales around the globe instead of intently scrutinizing Toronto news on CBC. And others don't watch CBC. Then there is the group that doesn't care about politics.... ... ...I guess what it boils down to is that I will be lucky if even 1 person I know saw the clip (I love you mom!)

I guess the only way to ensure I get those 6.2 seconds is by posting the clip on my blog. Shameless as it is, it is exhilirating for a formerly-shy, anonymous supply teacher and wannabe rockstar/political critic to see my face and hear my voice on a major news network, so I have decided to go ahead and post the video.

What do you think? Would you have posted it? How much do you think the public has the right to know about a politician's health? To me, people should be given the major details once the health of said politico has been stabilized. Their ability to work affects us all, after all.

My 6.2 seconds of fame!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

You Don't Say... July 26, 2012

I'm not saying that I have any time for the gang warfare and shootings that have been going on in Scarborough this year, but I really don't think that kicking suspected criminals out of their homes is the answer...or legal for that matter. If someone commits a crime, last time I checked, they get arrested, have a trial and go to jail if found guilty. Rob Ford angrily telling them to leave the city or trying to figure out a way to craft a law to banish them from Toronto city limits will only draw cynical, sarcastic laughs from the aforementioned criminal element (and the majority of the public for that matter).

Now I'm not saying that Mayor Ford's heart is not in the right place and that something must be done, but it might be wise to start by having dialogues with politicians, police, educators and groups running social programs as well as the residents of the affected neighbourhoods about how best to deal with these problems. I think that, if asked, a large number of these people will suggest that spending money on social programs to re-direct young men and women away from gangs and into sports, hobbies and life skills would be much more effective than Ford's idea of asking businesses to set up shop in those areas to create more jobs. If only it were that simple...ol' Rob apparently thinks that it is easy to convince companies to open locations in working-class areas that have been plagued by violence this month. And how do you convince gang members that a McDonald's job is more lucrative or exciting than a life of crime? At least social programs can give young people legal activities that they enjoy doing and hopefully would provide some of the skills necessary for these people to go to post-secondary education so that they can chose jobs and profressions suited to them. Nothing will get everyone out of "the life", but our resources should be put into the most effective solution.

Too bad the Mayor voted to cut funding to a lot of groups that provide councelling and other programs, like the Boys and Girls Club of Scarborough. Is it coincidence that these programs get slashed over the past few years and suddenly gang violence errupts?

I'm not saying it's perfect, but I like some of John Tory's plan to revitalize Ontario Place. He wants to see the area become a free, four-seasons park that has a large Forum stage like in days gone by. He is also calling for low-rise residential buildings around the area and a better link to transit than the current Go and TTC stops at the CNE. The Forum stage and the idea of free shows and concerts intrigues me, as Ontario Place could become the Dundas Square of the Toronto waterfront. On the other hand, I am not sure about having residences and possibly a hotel on the site. They would seem to contradict the idea of a large, open, free park concept. We will see what happens as time goes on.

I'm not saying that The Dark Knight Rises had nothing to do with the movie theater shootings perpetrated by James Holmes last friday, but I think that the BBC, Huffington Post and other news outlets commited a great injustice when they branded this crime the "Batman shootings." I understand that the gun attack took place during the movie and I know the only truly important thing in all this is the victims and their families, but this was an isolated act commited by a mentally unstable individual that shouldn't prevent anyone from going to see a good film. The movie shouldn't get bad press for what happened, as Holmes could have easily chosen a Disney film to commit his heinous acts. What should happen is that this should be used by sensible politicians and activist groups as yet another reason to ban handguns and other dangerous weapons in American cities. Sure, if criminals really want guns they will find a way to get them, but making it illegal to own one would have made it much harder for James Holmes to do what he did. "Protection" and the oft abused "right to bear arms" are not good enough reasons to keep firearms legal any more. My condolences and best wishes go to the people close to the victims and I hope that society can find a way to prevent this tragedy and the recent gang killings in Scarborough from happening again. What's in a name? Everything apparently!


Friday, July 06, 2012

Music Break...The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins were my favourite band in my late teens and early twenties. Their music was angst-ridden and full of aggressive, catchy instrumentation that included countless sizzling guitar solos. Lead singer Billy Corgan's voice wasn't pretty, but it and his lyrics were full of honesty and raw emotion. I haven't listened to them nearly as much since then, so I wanted to bring some of their top hits out of the attic for another spin. You and I can be the judge of how well their sound and songs have aged.
The Pumpkins are still going and are still relevant, with songs appearing on the Transformers soundtrack and a new album, Oceania, just released; however, the only founding member left is Billy Corgan (who was the megalomaniac band dictator in charge of all decisions anyway) and they don't get nearly the same mainstream attention as in the past. Maybe that is what Mr. Corgan was going for all along: a large cult following and building a fan base on his own terms using creative means.

Anyway, onto the videos. Here is a selection of videos for songs from all points in their career. Let me know if you think they have aged well or need to be put on the nostalgia shelf and kept there.

 Cherub Rock



Tonight, Tonight

Bullet with Butterfly Wings



Ava Adore


The Everlasting Gaze

Stand Inside your Love


And finally...a new song called Owata. It is from the concept album Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, which was released one track at a time on the band's website. As I said, a lot of the fire has gone out of the band, but they still produce interesting music and lyrics.


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Making the Grade: Monday Night Raw, July 2, 2012

Monday Night Raw from Laredo, Texas

It's been waaaaaaaaay too long since I did one of these. Let's get right back into it. As always, you can watch the full show above to see the segments I am commenting on. Let's get it on:

Confrontation between John Cena (F), Daniel Bryan (H), CM Punk (F), Chris Jericho (H), Kane (H) and the Big Show (H)
     Wow, the crowd was really popping. Every time a speaker paused or someone else came out from the back, they would errupt. Cena got a surprising amount of applause and Daniel Bryan got a good "YES" chant going. I like how Bryan generated a lot of heel heat and "NO" chants when he said he would beat CM Punk at the Money in the Bank PPV (MITB) and would make Cena the first MITB winner to fail to capture the WWE title. CM Punk also took advantage of the "Yes" when he came out third, and Daniel Bryan called him out for it. Nice.  Then Punk got in Bryan and Cena's faces before Chris Jericho came out and called Punk a "wannabe" for using his catch phrase. Punk's Bon Jovi retort was pretty funny, but the best part of the segment was Jericho's catch phrase lesson. Man, I miss the "Welcome to Raw is Jericho!" Jericho's look when Kane came down to challenge him was priceless!!
     The segment ended with the Big Show coming to the ring to start a brawl. I didn't like how he was able to lay out some of the top guys in the industry - Punk, Cena, Kane, Jericho and Bryan - in a matter of 15 seconds. I understand selling a guy as a focussed, evil, giant monster, but to take out all those guys that quickly is ridiculous!!
Rating: Good with side orders of "too long" and "poorly ended"

Kofi Kingston, Christian, Santino Marella and R-Truth (Faces) vs. Darren Young, Cody Rhodes, David Otunga and Titus O'Neil (Heels) in an 8-man tag-team match
     The match featured some typical high flying by Kofi Kingston and some good mat wrestling by Cody Rhodes. The heels got more crowd reaction than the faces, highlighting the excellent job Cody is doing in his role as a top bad guy. Later in the match, Santino got to hit his normal moves (drop-down splits et. al.), which was fine, but I didn't like how all the heels save David Otunga walked out of the match. It doesn't help fans take them seriously as wrestlers; instead, it turned into an Otunga sqaushing, as Santino pinned him after hitting the Cobra, then Brodus Clay hit a big Splash on top of his prone body. The segment ended with Brodus, the Funkettes and little Funketeers dancing in the ring. Bleh. The end made this whole segment more about feeling good and dancing than actual wrestling.
Rating: a Terribly booked, poor excuse for a match

Alberta Del Rio (H) vs. Sin Cara (F)
     The match never got going, as Del Rio went on the attack before the bell could even be rung. Then Del Rio continued to devastate Sin Cara, as he applied his cross arm-breaker outside on the floor. The whole point was to send a message to Sheamus - the current World Heavyweight Champion - that the Mexican aristocrat is vicious and a major threat to the Celtic Warrior. I have stated before and will say it again: I like it when wrestlers look brutal and aggressive, but I hate when it comes at the expense of a potentially good match. I understand that Del Rio is the #1 contender for the heavyweight title and needs to be built up so fans believe he could actually beat Sheamus, but why not have him beat Sin Cara brutally in a good match, where both men can come out looking somewhat strong? I understand what the booking team was doing here, but think it could have been done better.
Rating: Meh

AJ Eats a Rose
     After Del Rio beat up Sin Cara, the show cut to Daniel Bryan and AJ talking backstage. Daniel Bryan tried to apologize to AJ for being a jerk in the past few months, but AJ saw through it and called Bryan out for trying to butter her up before AJ gets to be special referee in Daniel's  WWE Title match with CM Punk at the Money in the Bank PPV. Then the diminuitive Diva bit the petals off the rose the two-faced Superstar gave her and spat them on the floor, showing the audience that she is still a bit bananas. I liked this segment, as it made sense storyline-wise and AJ has the crazy chick routine mastered.
Rating: Very Gooooooooood

Paul Heymen Addresses HHH's Challenge to Brock Lesnar for a match at Summerslam
     After the commercial break, Paul Heyman popped up on the Titantron to address the challenge that WWE COO Triple H made to Heyman's client, Brock Lesnar, for a match at Summerslam. Heyman said that HHH is only doing this because he needs a way to retire a hero, and getting destroyed by Brock would allow him to leave courageously and would certainly be the final match of his career. This is good: they are teasing that HHH wants to retire and Heyman is a master at selling his clients as barbarous behemoths. There is certainly interest in, and heat on, this match now and Heyman increased the hype for the 1000th episode of Raw in 3 weeks by saying Lesnar will appear and decide on that show. This is a typical wrestling ploy: delay the decision until a special show in order to make viewers tune in to find out what his big decision will be.
Rating: Greeeaaatttt

Sheamus and AJ (Faces) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero (Heels) in a Mixed-Tag Match
     This short match was designed to highlight Sheamus, who will meet Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Title at MITB in a couple of weeks, and AJ, who is in the middle of a love triangle with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. It accomplished it's mission, as Sheamus hit his Brogue Kick on Dolph Ziggler and AJ pinned Vickie to gain the victory, but it came at the expense of Vickie and Dolph. Now, I have no problem with Vickie being used as a jobber and losing this match, but Ziggler's credibility and chances at future stardom take a nose dive every time he gets outmatched and takes a big bump like he did here. Ziggler, I will say it again, needs to start being more competitive in matches and needs to actually win once in a while to elevate himself, as he has the makings of a brilliant heel champion. As an aside, I do like how AJ is developing quickly and learning how to work the crowd already.
Rating: OK except for the burying of Dolph Ziggler, which is beyond curious

Punk and AJ backstage segment
     This was a short segment designed to create discord between Punk and AJ, who is all over the show this week. Punk apologizes to being on the phone during AJ's match and lithe lady sells being very disappointed by the fact that her "man" missed her triumph. It made sense and served it's purpose fine, as it foreshadows a bumpy road for the two "lovebirds(?)" down the road.
Rating: Gooood

Heath Slater (H) vs. Doink the Clown in a Legend's Match
     This was a fun short match and let fans re-live the heyday of Doink the Clown one more time. Slater sells these matches very well and takes good bumps when he needs to. This match did its job and it was nice to see Heath actually defeat a legend in the ring. It was a huge bonus for me to have Diamond Dallas Page come in after and drop the One-Man Rock Band with a Diamond Cutter after, though, as DDP was always one of my favourite wrestlers. He was totally underutilized when he came to WWE and should have been champ there at least once.
Rating: Excellent on the strength of the DDP cameo

Big show (H) vs. Kane (H) in a No Disqualifications Match
     Another short match in a night of short matches. Maybe the new 3-hour format will alleviate the need for contests averaging under 5 minutes. Anyway, this was a typical monsters match: lots of power moves and little-to-no technical mat wrestling. It looked very awkward when Big Show sent Kane into the steel steps legs-first. I will give both performers credit for telling a bit of a story in the ring, as there were some near-falls and a bit of back-and-forth action. The predictable winner, the giant Big Show, came out on top after spearing a metal chair into Kane's midsection, followed by a massive choke slam. Big Show needed to win to keep his momentum going before MITB, and beating the evil Kane shows he can fight with the top dogs.
Rating: Ordinary with a slice of "that was awkward looking"

Eve confronts AJ Backstage
     Another AJ segment, but that's ok. She's pulling off her character really well and she is cute to boot. AJ riffed on Eve for trying to brown nose Teddy Long and then told her she would show the much taller Eve that she would show her how to get attention. Another foreshadow of things to come?
Rating: Gooood

Tyson Kidd (F) vs. Tensai (H)
     On paper this should have been a squash match, with Tensai literally squashing Kidd, but I am shocked to report the much smaller pugilist pulled off the upset. It all happened so quickly (less than 20 seconds), fitting with the current trend on the show. There is just one thing I don't understand, though. Are they trying to sell me the fact that Tensai, billed as a monster of a man who could take John Cena to the limit, could get beat by a small man via rollup after missing a splash in a corner? There were no kicks, punches, finishing moves or offense of any kind for that matter from Tyson Kidd, and yet he was able to pin Tensai? Come on!! That wasn't catching the bald beast by surprise, that was more like pinning a tranquilized  elephant. Only, Tensai wasn't tranquilized. My intelligence has just been insulted. And are they really going to push Tyson Kidd as the next big thing? Really? He is now in the World Heavyweight Title MITB Ladder Match at the next PPV and now he beat Tensai clean? Talk about pushing someone outta nowhere. Where has Kidd been the last few months and are his mic and in-ring skills really good enough to warrant this push?
Rating: Awful

Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan Strategize Backstage
     This was a funny vignette. Bryan annoyed Jericho by repeating his "Yes" phrase over and over and Jericho tried to retaliate with his own catch phrases. Humourous and short. Well done. Then the camera showed CM Punk tell John Cena he was going to take the lead in their upcoming tag-team match, forshadowing some dissent in the ranks? Could be. Lots of predictions of foreshadow this week.
Rating: Good for what it was

CM Punk and John Cena (F) vs. Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho (H)
     This was the main event of the evening and John Cena got another huge crowd pop when his music hit. Jericho did a fantastic job showing off, working the crowd and building heat for his team. He has been the best at those actions for years now. The match incorporated some classic tag-team maneuvers, like isolating one of the faces for most of the match until he miraculously makes a tag and 2 of the 4 combatants taking their battle outside the ring and arena. When Cena and Jericho left ringside to battle each other, Punk and Bryan put on another wrestling clinic. There was a giant Superplex from Punk and a near fall before AJ came out to wreak havoc. She certainly managed to do that, as she set up a table at ringside, gave the champ a massive kiss and then pushed him off the top turnbuckle. Punk then fell onto Daniel Bryan and the two of them crashed through the table. AJ did this seemingly because she doesn't like Daniel Bryan and because Punk ignored her twice: during her match and when she came out during the main event. Then she led the crowd in yet another "Yes" chant. She definately managed to get attention and has perfected the resident psycho character.
     I don't know where Cena and Jericho ended up in all of this and would have liked to have seen more of them, but I did like how the foreshadowing amounted to something: AJ causing bodily harm to CM  Punk and Daniel Bryan for "ignoring" her earlier in the night. Hell hath no fury...I like how this triangle has been built so far and am anxious to see how it comes to a climax at MITB, which is a sign that WWE is actually telling an interesting story for once.
Rating: Excellent

Overall Rating: Goooooood, as the storylines are coming together nicely and the crowd in Laredo was red hot, but I can't rate this show great or excellent because the matches themselves were short and secondary to storyline advancement. There needs to be a better balance of in-ring and out-of-ring action on Raw, but at least I am excited to see where the Punk/Bryan/AJ story is going and I am interested to see what happens when Brock Lesnar shows up on the 1000th episode celebration of Raw in 3 weeks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

You Don't Say...Monday June 18, 2012

I'm not saying I'm completely in favour of a religious-based party running the show in Egypt, but I am happy that they had free and democratic elections. I am also cautiously optimistic that the military will truly hand power over to the new parliament by the end of the month, which they have pledged to do. Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party appears to have won the vote with approximately 52% of the vote and, as I said, I am a bit wary of a relious party running a nation and what that means for freedom and progress, but a mostly well-run election is a big step forward for the large African nation, considering insidious dictator Hosni Mubarak had been running the show until last year.
Here is a news story from Al Jazeera on the election, the military's stance on giving up power and Ahmed Shafik's claim to have not lost the election yet (at least in his own mind).

I'm not saying I don't understand why the conservative New Democracy Party won the Greek federal election yesterday, but I am surprised that a country that has played host to major protests against austerity measures has voted for the politicians that will stay the course more than the others. new Democracy played on peoples' fears, claiming that the nation would be in shambles if they renogiated bailouts and risked being kicked out of the Eurozone. I would argue, however, that the nation hasn't actually been doing peachy keen with the Euro and going back to the Drachma might give them some economic control again: the chance to devalue their currency to attract manufacturing jobs, tourists and other outsiders that will slowly but surely boost the Greek economy. Oh well, fear is a powerful emotion to fight against and some days I just don't understand human behaviour.

Check out the video below for the Wall Street Journal's perspective on the election. They, like so many others (I really don't get why!!!) are relieved by the election results.

I'm not saying that I don't appreciate the government and border agents keeping undesirables (criminals and dangerous people) out of the country, but their new monitoring technology crosses the line from protecting people to infringing on our rights and freedoms. HD cameras and microphones are being installed at all border crossings and will soon be online. They will have the capability of picking up and monitoring every conversation that takes place in every car at the border: everything from serious debates to offhand jokes about bombs, drugs and other controlled substances that can't be taken across the border. Many of these light-hearted comments may be misconstrued as factual, which could lead to many innocent people being harassed and searched. The government has no right to spy on people in their cars like this and I have a feeling this new surveillance technology will be challenged in a supreme court and will be deemed in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Below is a link to the Toronto Star story on the issue:

I'm not saying I am a week late, but I still wanted to say congratulations to the Los Angeles Kings for winning the 2012 Stanley Cup finals over the New Jersey Devils. It is the first time in my life that the team I was cheering for since the start of the year has hoisted the cup in June. Now all I need to see is the Leafs win the big prize and my life will be complete...could be waiting a while.

Here is a clip of the last minute of the last game of the final.

I'm not saying I knew him, but my heart goes out to the drum tech who was killed while crews were setting up the stage for a RadioHead concert at Downsview Park yesterday. Scott Johnson was only 33 years old. RIP man!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Music Break...Social Distortion

Today on Music Break I am featuring one of my favourite and one of the longest surviving punk bands of all time: Social Distortion. They are fronted by Mike Ness on lead vocals and guitar, a man who is a little bit country, a little bit punk rock and 100% attitude. Their sound was influenced by legends like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Their music is catchy, yet the lyrics are poignant and are often tales that many can empathize with and relate to. Social Distortion has had success on indie labels and mainstream ones and have built a massive following since their formation way back in 1978.

If anyone is interested, Social Distortion is playing the Sound Academny in Toronto on October 20th. I will be there if I can afford it.

Without further adieu, here are videos of some of Social D's biggest hits:

Story of My Life

When the Angels Sing

Ball and Chain

Machine Gun Blues

Bad Luck

I Was Wrong

Mommy's Little Monster (Live)

Friday, June 01, 2012

On "The Great Euro Crash" BBC Documentary

The Great Euro Crash with Robert Peston (2012)

The BBC has been showing an insightful documentary on the current recession called The Great Euro Crash over the last couple weeks. It made some very valid and interesting points I hadn't considered before and I wanted to share my thoughts on some of them. Above is the doc in it's entirety and below are my comments.

*Germany seems to be an example of what used to work and what could work again. They became a European power again by bringing manufacturing and exporting jobs back to the country and by paying those workers very healthy wages. The exports are much higher than German imports now, thus allowing the country to make a ton of money off trade, and the workers receiving good wages further helps strengthen the German economy because it gives them spending power. That is an edge ze Deutch have over, say, the Chinese these days. Canada is trying to do something similar with the oil sands, but unfortunately that comes with a mighty environmental price. Other countries should follow Germany's lead and, instead of slashing wages and jobs and social programs, spend money to re-invigorate export sectors as well as pay healthy wages to employees so they can stimulate the economy by spending.

*This documentary and other commentators have suggested that many of the powerful nations in Europe, like Germany and France, have forgotten one of the fundamental compromises that was agreed upon when the European Union was formed. That was that Europe economically was to become almost like 1 ginormous nation, with the "haves" and areas with money and resources helping the "have nots" and areas with few resources. This is clearly not what is happening in reality, as France and Germany are demanding massive and devastating austerity measures and cuts from Greece, Ireland, Hungary and the other countries that are struggling most. Austerity, while it may cut the deficits of these nations for one year, will have tremendous negative effects down the line: widespread unemployment, a lack of an educated work force and a majorly slumping economy.
These effects have already begun to be felt in Greece and others, showing that austerity is cleary not the way to go. Part of the problem was that EU leaders decided to go for an economic union before a political union, where 1 finance minister or a small group could make decisions for the entire group and where agreements as to how economic support to struggling nations would be undertaken.

*I didn't know that the seeds of the EU were planted shortly after World War II, as France and Germany were looking for ways to prevent the continent (and the world) from being engulfed in another catastrophe. Unfortunately, they had no economic backgrounds and didn't fully appreciate the long-term economic effects that this union would have. Modern leaders made the same mistake to a degree, allowing countries like Italy and Greece to lie their way into the Eurozone without considering what the consequences might be. EU rules state that a country's debt to GDP ratio must be 60% to gain entry, but Italy and Greece were allowed in with higher ratios because they "were lowering their ratios to get closer to that number" (on falsified papers anyway). Also, it would have been difficult to have an EU without Italy and Greece, as they are the heart of Europe. Sadly, no one has figured out how to support and stabilize the these economies without having to consistently bail them out.

*I thought it was very interesting to hear that the German government and population have always been better at saving and controlling spending, while Greece and Italy have been the exact opposite. The immediate surge in their economies led the Greek and Italian parliaments and citizens to spend miles above their means, as they traditionally like to spend. People were buying Porsches and houses like they were going out of style, for example. When they fell back to earth and subsequently fell into a recession, a lot of people lost everything and the government was buried in an incredible hole.

*It's not surprising that soon after the economic rules were relaxed, the whole continent suffered several major crises. Host Robert Peston pointed out that the EU had a rule that said "annual deficits should never exceed 3% of GDP," but in 2003 France and Germany fought for that rule to be taken out of the Stability and Growth Pact of the EU and countries started borrowing and spending way more than they could afford or ever dream of paying back. Then in 2008, just 5 years after the rule change, the outrageous spending caught up with Europe and the whole thing went tits up. It was also made cheaper and easier to borrow money in the United States around the same time, so governments and citizens went crazy borrowing money for things like houses. When interest rates went up in Europe and America, people and governments could no longer afford their debts, leading millions to abandon/be thrown out of their homes and caused governments to lose their shirts. Thus, the great housing crisis and recession of 2008/9 was born! I can't believe that all the world's brilliant and well educated bankers and economists didn't see this coming and couldn't have warned the world about what was coming.

*The fact that taxpayers had to pay for bank bailouts has always been impossible to accept for me. The quote of the documentary was by Irish property developer-turned activist Mick Wallace, "The notion that the taxpayers should actually be taking care of the problems of badly run, failed, useless banks has been a bitter pill." Amen. Banks played games and tried to make more well than I can imagine by keeping interest rates low and relaxing borrowing limits and it came back to bite them in the arse. We shouldn't pay for their greed and we certainly shouldn't have allowed any of them to keep their golden parachutes on the way down!

*I was unaware that EU rules actually prohibit bailouts, as many nations have had to find ways around that agreement and have asked for hundreds of billions in support.

*There is no doubt, as Robert Peston points out, that major economic reform is needed to save the EU and economies of most countries in the world and make those economies competitive again. On the other hand, I'm not sure that slashing prices and wages to be competitive is the way to go. Governments and households can live within their means, granted, and spend a bit less on things they can't afford. But how about stimulating your economy by targeted job growth and putting more money in peoples' pockets through creating more and better jobs? And how about protesting and refusing to buy products from countries who pay their workers embarrassingly low wages (eg. China) and make them work in unfair conditions (Again, China, I'm looking at you)? Then, at least, every country would start with an equal playing field.

*If countries can't get back on their feet within the EU, then maybe the huge organization needs to be disbanded until someone comes up with a way to prevent these major economic problems from happening again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dustin Brown on Michal Rozsival: Dirty Hit or Incidental Contact?

Dustin Brown Knees Michal Rozsival

I felt a huge adrenaline surge and a level of ecstacy I haven't felt since... when I woke up and found out the Los Angeles Kings had won their Western Conference Final series against the Phoenix Coyotes the night previous. I was proud of a team who had, for the most part, stayed away from cheap shots, dirty hits and diving in these playoffs. In other words, they were winning the right way.

Then I turned on SportsCentre and heard all the chatter about Dustin Brown's knee-on-knee collision with Michal Rozsival literally one play before the end of the game and couldn't help but feel a bit let down because my team had lost some honour by taking out an opponent with a dirty play.

But then I watched the replay of the hit. And watched it again and again. And listened to commentary from a multitude of sources on this incident: TSN, Sportsnet, NBC. And I can't help but have mixed feelings about this whole affair.

Dustin Brown, I will concede, is at fault for two things on this play. There is no doubt that the Kings captain hit Rozsival after the whistle had blown, as the Coyotes were offside at L.A.'s blueline. Brown only hit him a fraction of a second after the referee stopped play, yes, but Brown is fully responsible for his own body and not hitting players late. I will also admit that Dustin Brown left his leg out on the check. It was sticking out at an angle where it could and did do damage to an opponent in a collision. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or if it was just out because of how he was skating towards the Coyotes' forward, but it was out there.

On the other hand, there are a couple points I'd like to make in Dustin Brown's defence. First of all, he did hit Michal Rozsival's arm and shoulder, too, making it seem to me like Brown was aiming high and not at Rozsival's knee. The other is that the Kings' captain didn't move his leg towards the Phoenix forward's knee before or during the collision, so perhaps the contact was incidental. Brown did have his leg way out in a dangerous spot the whole time, but it didn't look like he did anything to target Rozsival's leg.

Do I think Dustin Brown plays on the edge and can cross the line sometimes? Yes? Do I think that elements of the hit on Michal Rozsival were cheap and dirty? Absolutely. Do I think Brown targeted Rozsival's knee deliberately and tried to put him out? No. Do I think Brown should have gotten a penalty or suspension? A minor penalty, maybe, but certainly not a suspension.

Either way, this happened on the very next play...

and the Los Angeles Kings are off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first and only time since 1993. I have loved this team since 1989 and am proud of their accomplishments this post season. What a great underdog story and no amount of bitterness from Shane Doan is going to change the fact that LA was the better team against Phoenix, or Vancouver or St. Louis for that matter.

Go Kings Go! Bring your first Cup home to California this year!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

France and Greece Reject Austerity

I am breathing a breath of fresh air after the French and Greek elections last Sunday. I'm not saying that the results were completely positive, but it is clear that the people of both countries unequivocally rejected austerity and making the middle and lower classes pay so that the rich can hang on to their wealth. I am especially happy that Hollande and the left-wing socialist party won in France.

The news in Greece is more mixed unfortunately. The vote was split between a few parties, who will now try to form a coalition. A lefty block ruling the country wouldn't be bad, but it's scare that the far right is gaining in popularity. The Neo-Nazi party New Dawn scares the bejeezus out of me and it's even more frightening that they got 7% of the vote. How anyone can vote for a nazi party in the modern world is beyond me, even during a severe economic depression.

It's scary, but this whole thing is reminding me of the 1930's, as struggling countries are becoming more nationalist and xenophobic and are electing insane right-wing parties who promise to fight back against the world. They are playing on the fear of people and appealing to the worst instincts of humanity!! This led to World War II last time, which was the only thing that got the world out of the depression: SPENDING on war machines. Let's hope it doesn't come to that again and governments realize that smart spending and tax reform now will end the problem without the need of bloodshed.

Below is more coverage on the French and Greek elections in video format.

French Election Results

Greek Election Results

Friday, May 04, 2012

You Don't Say... May 4, 2012

I'm not saying I listened to the Beastie Boys every second of every day, but their music is important to the history of rock and rap and Adam Yauch (MCA) will be missed. Rest in peace. Hopefully he is continuing the fight for his right to party in heaven now.

Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right (To Party)

I'm not saying that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale had the right to snoop around the Mayor's home on Wednesday night, but Rob Ford needs to chill out and pick on people his own size. Daniel Dale says he was just checking out the property next to Ford's house that the Mayor wants to buy and Ford says Dale was standing on cinder blocks, jumping over his fence and peering into his house. We will never know the whole, unadulterated truth and both men could have acted differently, but it is especially unbecoming of the Mayor of Toronto to be cornering a small, meek man and threatening to hand him his ass on a silver platter. His tantrums and brutish behaviour are getting him international attention. A CBC News video on the story is below.

And here is a link to a BBC story on Toronto's Mayor and his love of bicycles:

The man is managing to make Silvio Berlusconi look good!!

I'm not saying that a lot of money should be spent to save Captain John's floating restaurant on Toronto' waterfront, but it will be a shame to see the iconic ship disappear from the city's landscape. It has been there since 1975, but doesn't seem to fit into the city's vision of the waterfront of tomorrow.

I'm not saying I would spit in his face if I saw him, but I am not really happy having Conrad Black back in the country. Is anybody happy about this? Canada's own Rupert Murdoch-esque disgraced media mogul was given a 1-year temporary residence permit to come back to Canada after serving his sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice. He gave up his Canadian citizenship long ago and would not have been allowed back in the country without the permit, as he now has quite the criminal record.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You Don't Say... April 26, 2012

I'm not saying that the provincial budget passed this week in Ontario is perfect, but it is much better after a few NDP ammendments. Collecting $470 million from the 23, 000 Ontarians that make over $500,000 a year will help pay down the province's debt and will allow it to spend more on child care, rural hospitals in the north, welfare and disability benefits (the last 2 will go up by 1% each). The deal that was reached also saves Ontario from another election that would have likely ended up in another minority government. The link below is to a Toronto Star story on the budget.

Don't be fooled, though. The budget is still quite an austerity proclaimation. There is a war brewing with the public sector and I am terrified that a Liberal government is leading the charge. Here is a report from Global News on the document and highlights from Dwight Duncan's budget reading at Queen's Park.

Global News Budget Report \

Dwight Duncan Reads Budget Highlights

I'm not saying Warhorse was a bad movie, but it was way over the top and I think I got cavities from the incredibly sugary, sappy story. Sure, the film gave an excellent, accurate look at what the trenches were like in World War I, the plot weaved together well, the acting was ok and there was enough drama and emotion to satisfy most viewers; but, there were many moments that were lightyears from realistic or possible and many scenes became melodramatic when they didn't need to. It was the best of films, it was the worst of films - all rolled into one neat package.
I'm not saying I am on cloud 9 because the Tories defeated the upstart Wild Rose Party in the recent Alberta election, but I am ok with the fact that the oil-rich province didn't shift futher to the right than it already has. These are days where we must rejoice in small joys, my friends!

I'm not saying that it will have an overnight impact, but I am pleased that labour groups and unions held a mass protest at Queen's Park this week. The war on the public sector is going to be long and costly to all sides and the workers of Ontario need to step and battle to the death over hard-earned wages and benefits that make this the best place in the world to work. We can't engage in this race to the bottom that corporations and governments are trying to sell as the only way in their doom-and-gloom prognostications.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Music Break...Turisas and Alestorm

Hello again. After a short hiatus I'm back and I've brought with me some some enjoyable European metal with a sense of humour. First up is is Finland's folk/battle metal heavyweights Turisas. They do an inspired cover of Boney M's 'Rasputin'. I have also included videos for hits 'Stand Up and Fight' and 'Battle Metal 2008'.

Turisas 'Rasputin'

Turisas 'Stand Up and Fight'

Turisas 'Battle Metal 2008'

Yo ho ho! Next up is Scotland's own Alestorm, one of the very first Pirate Metal bands. They sing sea shanties about gold dubloons and the terrors of the sea in the style of a folk metal band. Sounds fun? It sure is! The accordian will get your toes tapping and the lyrics will make you want to buy a sword and grow a scruffy beard. Here I present the videos for 'Shipwrecked' and 'Keelhauled'. Check em' out if you like what you hear. Cheers!

Alestorm 'Shipwrecked'

Alestorm 'Keelhauled'

Sunday, April 15, 2012

You Don't Say... April 15, 2012

I'm not saying the Daulton McGuinty and his minority Liberal government should pack up and go home right now, but he can kiss his long-term political future goodbye if he picks a fight with teachers and doctors. These two groups have strong, militant unions and don't like being threatened with, for example 10,000 elementary school teachers and staff being fired unless their union accepts a pay freeze for the next 2 yeras. That is not good-faith bargaining, it won't get a deal done any faster in either case, and it doesn't help students or patients in the long run. As I have stated before, I am not entirely opposed to a pay freeze for both groups as long as the grid system for teachers is not frozen as well; however, the strong-arm tactics are not going to work and Ontario teacher unions have been known to mobilize their thousands-strong forces to make life, shall we say, turbulant for any party that treats them unfairly. This is especially a bad time to go after them considering the Liberal budget may fall and an election might just be around the corner...

I'm not saying that I'm going to dance naked in the street or anything, but I am thrilled beyond words taht the Los Angeles Kings are up 2-0 on the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference Quarter Final series.  I have been a Kings fan since Wayne Gretzky landed there in 1988 and this is their first real chance at playoff success since their trip to the finals in 1993. Furthermore, Vancouver is the most hated team in the NHL for a reason. They have the likes of Max Lapierre, Alex Burrows and a plethora of others who dive and embellish any little bump to the highest degree. They yap, they whine and they try to get away with every shortcut in the book. L.A. hasn't eliminated the Canucks yet, but winning tonight at home to make it 3-0 would put a stranglehold on the series. Below is highlights from game 2:

I'm not saying that Kim Jong-Un is a carbon copy of his old man, but his first official speech as leader of North Korea sounded a lot like what his daddy would have said. He would be a proud papa, indeed. Un beat the drums of war and what he sees as a modern nuclear arms race, for which he would rather spend his country's puny resources than on feeding his own people or bringing them things like, oh I don't know, heat and electricity. Chip of the old block indeed. Let's hope he uses that foreign-educated noggin of his to blaze a better trail and one can pray that he works with the international community to stop this insanity and bring prosperity back to his people. Below is an HD5 news report about the speech:

I'm not saying that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was acting deliberately and maliciously when he gave out his office phone number today to any youth who want to know about minor football programs, which is against the code of conduct for city councillors. I just think he is forgetful, ignorant of the rules and simply doesn't give a damn. He says he meant to give his private number, not his office number, though this is the second time something like this has happened. Do we really want a man with such bad "memory problems" and who obviously doesn't think the code of conduct applies to him running Toronto?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Making the Grade: Monday Night Raw, April 9, 2012

It's time for the weekly Raw review and opinions, but I have decided to change the title and the format. I have discovered that other blogs use the "Good, Bad and Meh" idea, so I'm going for the title "Making the Grade". Other blogs also use letter and number grades, so I'm going to use words. From now on a match or segment can be "Excellent", "Good", "Ordinary", "Bad" or "Terrible" and added  word length means that that item is more extremely in that category. Let's try it out. And we're offfffff:

Brock Lesnar/John Cena Brawl
I really liked this segment. It was mostly action and very little talking. And it was a proper Donnybrook in the ring, which got the crowd roaring. This passion and violence is what was missing in the Cena/Rock buildup before Wrestlemania. Cena's slap to Lesnar was audacious and unexpected, but an understandable response to the unprovoked F-5 Brock gave Johnny last week. This was an Attitude-Era brawl and Cena took a legit. shot to the face from big ol' Brock. Cena smiling afterwards like he enjoyed the battle also fits his character. I call that starting the show with a bang! The locker room emptying added some excitement to the conflict, although it raises the question: why don't the superstars all come out to stop every brawl or attack that happens in the ring?
Rating: Excellent

John Laurinaitis takes out his rage on Teddy Long and uses Teddy as his patsy backstage
This is an expected reaction from the heel GM and furthers the Laurinaitis/Long rivalry that I'm sure will come to a head again months down the line.
Rating: Good

Brodus "Funkasaurus" Clay/Santino Marella (faces) vs. Jack Swagger/Dolph Ziggler (heels)
It's nice to see Clay in a proper match with real competition, but I don't like how he is being sold as a beast of a wrestler. Brodus no-sold Ziggler's attacks on several occassions and Brodus ultimately pinned Dolph, making the "Show-off" look weak. That is not how to build someone who has championship-ready skills up. Funkasaurus is never going to be WWE champ, but Ziggler should be and he didn't look as strong as he should have in this match. The contest was fine otherwise and it was nice to see Jack Swagger take Clay down and get a few moves against him in, but, again, that should have been Ziggler. Furthermore, Santino was his entertaining self and the performers were given enough time to tell a good story in the ring.
Rating: Good but lacking in logic

John Cena confronts John Laurinaitis Backstage
Cena showed his ruthless, aggressive side for once and demanded a match. For some reason, the GM decided to throw his best bud David Otunga to the wolves, saying that he would face Cena in a match later on in the night. If that's how he treats his friends...
Rating: Good

R-Truth (face) vs. Cody Rhodes (heel)
This was short match because the Big Show came out, distracted Cody Rhodes and allowed R-Truth to hit the "Little Jimmy" for the pin. I like that this rivalry is continuing and this is a logical step in that direction, but they could have given these 2 charismatic workers more time before the interruption to show their wrestling skills. The match was barely 2 minutes long!
Rating: Ordinary

Santino hunts for and finds the 3 Stooges in a gigantic box
Obvious movie promo, but it was mildly funny. I can't believe I am writing this, but the actors chosen to play this generation of the iconic slapstick comedians actually do an admirable job, especially Chris Diamantopoulos in his Moe makeup.
Rating: Good for what it was

Lord "Albert" Tensai (heel) vs. Yoshi Tatsu (face)
Tatsu, a Japanese wrestler, challenges Tensai because he isn't "real Japanese". Ok. Tensai comes out and squashes Tatsu, who gets no offence in whatsoever. Ok. The ref stops the match because he thinks Yoshi is getting brutalized, even though everyone watching has seen a worse beatdown in the past where the ref at least allowed th match to end with a pinfall. Ok. Tensai attacks Tatsu after the bell again because he is this dominant monster guy, or something. Ok. I know WWE is trying to use the Brodus Clay method to build the Lord up in his current WWE run, but it just doesn't make sense and it just isn't entertaining. I did like the crowd chants of "Albert", though.
Rating: Bad

CM Punk (face) vs. Mark Henry (heel) for the WWE Championship with interruptions by Chris Jericho
Punk showed a suitable amount of anger in his albeit long speech to start the segment, as he said he will use the anger he has from Jericho's actions last week to kick Jericho's ass. Then Jericho appeared on the Titantron and did what he does so well: he taunted the champ about pouring alcohol on his body last week with such venom and hatred that it's impossible for anyone not to hate him. That caused Punk to react by attacking Mark Henry with a TV monitor when the match started, effectively getting himself disqualified. And I liked how Jericho and Henry then teamed up to take Punk out, which was followed by beer being poured on the Straight Edge Superstar by Y2J, giving the feud an incredible amount of emotion and heat.The build before Wrestlemania was good, but now it's getting really personal and nasty. Nice!! My only complaints are that Punk and Henry didn't get to have any sort of match before the craziness ensued and that this segment was buried in the middle of the show. It should take priority over Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus.
Rating: Gooood, almost excellent

Zack Ryder (face) vs. Alberto Del Rio (heel)
This match had so much potential, as both guys are charismatic wrestlers with lots of in-ring skill. Too bad the company keeps using Ryder as a jobber, as he tapped out to Del Rio's cross armbreaker in under 2 minutes. No real match or offense for Ryder, just a way to get Alberto over so he can look like a legit. contender to Sheamus' World Championship. Ryder deserves better and the audience deserves to see a proper match once in a while. I hate squash jobs like this when there is potential for a great match.
Rating: Baaaaad

The Three Stooges Promo
The actor playing Curly came out dressed as Hulk Hogan? TNA's Hulk Hogan? Really? REALLY? I admit it was a good imitation, but I am glad that Kane came out and chokeslammed him, cutting the segment mercifully short. On the other hand, they took away time from Ryder/Del Rio to run this waste of time! Arggh
Rating: Terrible

Mark Henry Interview Backstage
Henry claimed that Punk intentionally got disqualified  because he knows he can't beat the World's Strongest Man. Makes sense. He also said that next week he will beat Punk to take his title. Fair enough. This was an interview that kept their rivalry, which includes Chris Jericho interludes and interference, going, which is a good thing in my book. Henry isn't great on the mic, but this segment did its job.
Rating: Good

Brock Lesnar Interview
Lesner is so terrible on the mic. He never looks at the camera and his voice doesn't sound intimidating at all. Luckily, this interview was short. Brock needs to do his talking in the ring, where he can unleash the beast.
Rating: Ordinary

John Cena (face) vs. David Otunga (heel) with John Laurinaitis at ringside in the main event
The match was short, but Otunga showed some personality, flexing and posing in the ring when Cena was down on the mat. The world knew that Cena would win, which he did with the STF hold. The world wasn't necessarily expecting Brock Lesnar to come out and drop Cena with another F-5, though, considering they brawled to start the broadcast. Well, they are establishing Brock has a top heel and John Laurinaitis' go-to guy, which is alright. Their feud is much more 1-dimensional than Punk/Jericho, but Cena and Lesnar are mega stars and the WWE needs to take advantage of the heat from Lesnar's recent return for as long as possible.
Rating: Good

This show wasn't terrible overall and the main rivalries between Punk and Jericho and Lesnar and Cena took steps forward. As usual, most of the matches could have been longer and better planned and the WWE needs to stop having 3 or 4 squash segments on every show. In fact, there were only 2 contests I would dare to call proper matches. The crowd wasn't bad, but not nearly as hot as last week. To me, a better show would have less movie promos and less-but-longer-and-better matches in the ring. Maybe next week...                

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On Abortion

After reading the post entitled "Why the Abortion Debate is Polarized" on The Scott Ross's blog ( ) and reading the subsequent comments, I got to thinking about my own views on abortion. I consider myself a pro-choice person for the most part and a progressive and I want to contribute some food for thought to this discussion. Here goes:

1. I believe that abortions should be legal at any point in a pregnancy if there are serious health concerns for the mother and/or the baby. There are problems that can be discovered well into trimester 3 that fully justify, in my opinion, an abortion. And let me also add that there also needs to be room in the law to take into account sexual assault and the denial, fear and shame that come with it as well not having access to an abortion clinic. To me, there are a number of circumstances in which a woman should be able to get an abortion late in their pregnancy.

2. I believe that, in a healthy pregnancy, abortions should be limited to the period before a vast majority of babies would survive outside the womb. If 75% of babies, for example, could survive after 25 weeks, then 25 weeks should be the cut off for abortions. Once a pregnancy is well into the third trimester, why can't a woman have a C-section (if a doctor is willing to perform it and he/she thinks the baby will develop properly and be healthy) or carry the birth until full term and then give it up for adoption? That way the kid can still have a life and the mother doesn't have to be responsible for it.

3. why would a woman need to wait till the third trimester to have an abortion? It doesn't take 20+ weeks for anyone to realize that they can't afford or care for a youngin' properly. I understand that it's a big decision that should be considered carefully over some time, but surely this can be done in less than 20 weeks?

4. I will concede a couple of things: I know that this "conversation" the Conservatives want to have is probably the first step in an attempt to outlaw all abortions, so they shouldn't be trusted or taken at face value. Stephen Woodworth et. al. no doubt believe that if they can start limiting abortions now, they can make them altogether illegal in the future, which can NOT be permitted to happen. On the other hand, there is some logic in the thought a baby's life has value and it stands to reason that the rights of the soon-to-be-infant should be considered in this debate.

I will also admit that women should have the final say about what happens to their body; however, it's selfish not to consider the wishes of the father and the baby when deciding to have/not have an abortion. It took 2 people to get pregnant and now there is a baby in the womb, so all 3 need to be part of the final decision. I think the debate gets framed in the wrong way and people often will say "a bureaucrat in Ottawa has no right to intrude on my privacy and can't tell me what I can/can't do with my body" but I don't think it's that simple. The government has a responsibility to keep all people healthy and safe and already has many laws about what men, women and children can do with their bodies. And I think the government would be walking that fine line between giving women control of their bodies and making laws to keep people healthy and safe by allowing women to have abortions up until the 25th ish week and allowing them later if there are extenuating circumstances that justify it.

This is an issue that I would love to have a discussion with everyone about. Please feel free to leave comments below and don't worry if you are pro-life, pro-choice or somewhere in between. There is room for everyone here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You Don't Say... April 10, 2012

I'm not saying that Peter MacKay is a weasel-faced weasel, but if the shoe fits...he admitted over the weekend that he KNEW about the extra $10 billion that the F-35 fighter jets would cost Canadians 2 YEARS AGO!! His excuse? That the extra 10 bill is the fuel/maintanance/crew costs associated with the planes. So why didn't you tell us, Peter, about the real lifetime costs of these jets when you had the chance instead of insisting it would be $15 billion instead of $25 billion? Your lies and excuses are not good enough for the Auditor General or for the general public. Time to resign maybe?? Yes sir! And by the way, saying that this is how all military spending is reported raises tons of red flags for me. I think an audit of all of our military purchases is needed so that Canadians can finally have an honest picture of what we are spending on the trappings of war.

Some Toronto Star articles based on this story:

I'm not saying it's going to stay like this all season, but it was brilliant to see a full house for the Jays home opener last night. There were so many people walking around in the new/retro awesome Jays jerseys and shirts before the game as well. There is a buzz for the Toronto Blue Jays like there hasn't been in years in this city! That is 2 parts optimism over a solid team on the field and 1 part excellent new team merchandise. Too bad the sellout crowd saw Closer Sergio Santos fall apart in the 9th and cause the team to lose 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox, one of the Jays' biggest rivals. The team needs to win the next 2 games in the series to get off to a good start and to keep the good will and optimism alive among fickel, cynical baseball fans in Toronto.

Here's a short Toronto Star video filmed outside the Dome before the game:

I'm not saying I told you it was a good idea, but a new survey conducted by Environics Research for the (albeit left-wing) Broadbent Institute has found that 64 % of the 2,000 people surveyed are willing to pay at least "slightly higher taxes" in order to battle the growing gap between the rich, middle class and poor in Canada. The study even found that Conservatives were on board: 58 % would pay more to save social programs and 62% of Tories would accept raising corporate taxes back to 19.5%, the 2008 rate, which is much higher than the 15% they pay now.

The income gap is a growing problem that everyone realizes can't be ignored and it appears that Canadians are appealing for the government to step in and do something about it. Harper and Co. may ignore these results from a "Leftist Group", but if other polls show similar numbers (and I am willing to wager they will), then it's time for the provincial and federal governments to give the people what they want: tax fairness to bring this great country closer to the equality of yesteryear.

Here is the Toronto Star's report on the survey:

I'm not saying that the provincial budget's fate now being in the hands of the NDP will miraculously fix all the wrongs in the legislation, but I am hopeful that it will push it further left than the Liberals would have taken it. Maybe they will force Premier McGuinty to raise the corporate tax rate, provide more money for education, healthcare and culture or spend more creating social, infrastructure and job programs for Ontarians. NDP leader Andrea Horwath has the ability to make the Premier dance and here's hoping she plays the right tune.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

On Recent Conservative Blunders and a good week for the Liberal Party

So, in the last week the Harper Gover...nope, can't do it...the deceitful big C Conservatives have taken two massive missteps. And after all the bad press over Robogate, these blunders couldn't have come at a worse time.
First of all, it was leaked recently, by Conservative government offices no less, that the F-35 the federal government want to purchase will cost 10 billion more dollars than they claim they were led to believe. This claim is obviously nonsense, as many experts warned the government that they were grossly underestimating the lifetime cost of these high-flying war machines and it is clear now that Harper's numbers were just part of their election strategy before winning a majority government last May. Man, even the Auditor-General is saying Harper's people knew they were lying and misleading the country. Who would have thought that the Prime Minister of all people could tightly control and manipulate information and lie outright to the people of Canada just to win his precious majority in the House of Commons?

Well, the previously spineless Liberals are actually ready to act and are raking Harper over the coals for this outrage. Interim leader Bob Rae is showing surprising testicular fortitude and is calling for the Prime Minister's head...I mean resignation, stating that a CEO of a business would be forced to resign if he misled his company and cost them $10 billion more than they bargained for. Video of Rae's speech is below.

Bob Rae calls for Stephen Harper to resign

The other mistake was talking a big game and then not being able to deliver. Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau talked smack about Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, who is of course the son of famed Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and agreed to a boxing match against the young Liberal for charity. Well, the fight was on March 31st and was carried on Sun News, a show claiming to be legitimate news but in reality is nothing more than a conservative-slanted sounding board. That was evident throughout the fight, as Trudeau was called "Justine" and "Shiny Pony" throughout the fight until he KO'ed Brazeau in the second round! The Sunshine Boys didn't expect or like the outcome so much and I couldn't help but have a huge smile on my face watching Justin Trudeau take apart Senator Brazeau. Video of the Sun News fight coverage is below.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau knocks out Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau

So, the Liberal party scored 2 victories this week: one in parliament and one in the squared circle. Hopefully the NDP and John Q. Public will join in the call for Harper's head and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the Tories get knocked out just as hard in the next federal election. Keep it up boys, you are making the Federal Conservative Party and all their minions look goooooooooood!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Meh on WRESTLEMANIA XXVIII

Wrestlemania 28 Highlights Wrestlemania is the granddaddy of all WWE pay-per-views, so I am going to give it proper treatment. I am going to review each segment and match in order and give it a rating of 'Good', 'Bad' or 'Meh'. At the end of my review I will give it an overall score and final comments. Right, let's snap into it:

Daniel Bryan (Heel) vs. Sheamus (face)for the Heavyweight Title
What?!?!?! A 16-second match for the title? Daniel Bryan gets a good luck kiss from his GF AJ, turns around and gets knocked out with a brogue kick? Are they trying to bury Bryan, like they have done with many other young stars, to see how he handles it? Or is this a double-switch? Daniel is the bad guy, yet the crowd was cheering like mad for him. Maybe they want to build some sympathy for him and turn him face again? Either way, they risk making Daniel Bryan and the World Title less prominent by booking a short squash match, and to do it at Wrestlemania takes testicular fortitude.
Rating: Meh

Kane (Heel) vs. Randy Orton (Face)
This was a very good mid-card match. There was a story here and good back-and-forth action. Kane's chokeslam from the second rope was surprising, as was how he got up and chokeslammed Orton when Randy was going for the punt kick. It was nice to see Kane win clean, making him look a little bit like the monster he returned as. He needed a win after getting vanquished by John Cena months back and I am thanking the heavens that Orton didn't hit an RKO out of nowhere after getting dominated, which happens too often with him.
Rating: Good 

Deadliest Catch Promo
I don't like these promos in general, but there were a few humourous moments. Attacking the crab with the Cobra and Mr. Socko was pretty funny and having Ron Simmons come in and say "Damn" was a fitting end, especially since he just inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. I'm going to give it a mixed rating, as it was funny but still a promo for a TV show and taking away time from quality matches...cough Daniel Bryan and Sheamus cough...
Rating: Meh

Cody Rhodes (Heel) vs. The Big Show (Face) for the Intercontinental Championship
The build up to this match excellent, what with Cody playing a lot of videos showing Big Show's embarassing moments to get him flustered. Rhodes is ready for superstardom. This was a charisma and power moves match full of power slams, but definately lacking technical maneouvers. Cody did get a couple leg locks in and worked the crowd well. Show used a couple nice counters near the end and knocked out Cody with a big right hand to win the belt. Ok mid-card match and now Rhodes is free to compete for the WWE title, but the crowd seemed disinterested till the end.
Rating: Meh

Maria Menounos/Kelly Kelly (faces) vs. Eve/Beth Phoenix (heels) in a Divas Tag Team match Maria Menounos of Extra was this year's celebrity involvement at Wrestlemania. She held her own for someone with fractured ribs and very little wrestling training and the ladies were actually given a few minutes to tell their story in the ring. Shocking. Menouncos actually took a lot of punishment in there and Kelly's flip off the top rope was well executed. Maria scored the pin on a roll-up of Beth Phoenix. It was obvious that the celebrity would get the win, but a roll-up is not enough to take down the divas champ; however, with Maria's limited skill set, what else could they do?
Rating: Meh

Triple H (Face) vs. Undertaker (face) with Shawn Michaels (face) as special referee in a Hell-in-a-Cell-End-of-an-Era match
It was a classy move to have Jim Ross call this match, as he was the voice of the WWE during the late 90's, the heyday of these three superstars. I loved HHH's entrance and Undertaker's Shredder costume and short haircut. I was waiting to see his nearly bald head and it was shocking to see it on him after years of having long locks. It was also fitting that the match was in the Satanic structure, as this match became synonymous with the Dead Man. One question for JR, though: can an inanimate structure (the cell) be morally corrupt? Anyway, there was so much emotion and drama in this contest and Michaels' face sold it so well. I thought it made sense that HHH and the Showstopper teamed up in attempt to finish off the Undertaker, which ultimately failed, especially since Taker has beaten both of them in Wrestlemania's past. There were chair shots, sledgehammer shots, steel step blows and a flurry of finishing moves. The Undertaker's back was the colour of a lobster by the conclusion of the contest. A great story was also told, which included lots of near-falls and changes in momentum. The correct man won in the end, as The Dead Man hit a final Tombstone Piledriver after a sledgehammer shot, running his Mania record to 20-0. This match was even better than their clash at last year's Showcase of the Immortals and was easily match of the night. The aftermath was also highly emotional, as Taker and Shawn Michaels helped drag Triple H out of the ring and the three shared a hug on the stage, signalling that all 3 careers may now be over.
Rating: Gooooooooooood

Hall of Famers presented on stage
This is a nice moment every year. It was great to see Edge, Ron Simmons and the 4 Horsemen among the HOF inductees. I remember being amazed at seeing Edge get put through 2 tables during a match with John Cena once. It was a bit odd to see Ric Flair on that stage, though, given that he is still an employee of TNA.
Rating: Good

Flo Rida knocks out Heath Slater Backstage
It was just a way to get Heath on the show and to hype Flo Rida.
Rating: Somewhere between Bad and Meh

Team Johnny (The Miz, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre and David Otunga, Heels) vs. Team Teddy (Santino Marella, Booker T, Kofi Kingston, Great Khali, Zack Ryder and R-Truth, faces) for control of Raw and Smackdown
There were some nice spots, such as a triple suicide dive from Team Teddy, but the end was unsatisfactory. Not everyone had gotten into the match and the Miz, the guy who kept getting beat in squash matches before Mania, scored the pin over Zack Ryder. Then Ryder, who has been jobbed enough lately, took a low blow from Eve. WWE needs to start building Zack back up, not tear him down even more. They also should have found someone else to get the win, not a bigtime loser in recent months. Looks like the rollercoaster for the Awesome One continues: awesome 2010 and early 2011, horrendous 2011 and early 2012 and now a turnaround again? This was a Raw match at best.
Rating: Almost Meh

GM John Laurinaitis tells CM Punk that if he gets disqualified in his match, he will lose his title
This move cements Johnny Ace as a heel GM and adds more intrigue to his match with Chris Jericho. It's the icing on the cake of the awesome buildup to this match and fits the storyline really well, as Jericho has been bashing Punk's family and taunting his foe and Punk has started to lose control as a result.
Rating: Good

Chris Jericho (Heel) vs. CM Punk (Face) for the WWE Championship
Now this is what I'm talking about!!! It was by far the best "wrestling" match on the card and featured more counters in the last 5 minutes than in all the homes in China combined. Both wrestlers also kicked got out of each other's finishing manouevers several times. Brilliant match. It was just like the buildup of the rivalry: No frills, no grand entrances, no interference, just superb wrestling. they let their skills in the ring do the talking and Punk pulled off the victory with the Anaconda Vice, which works for me. He needs to be champ for a long time to give his reign and the belt some meaning again. The crowd seemed to enjoy this contest, too, as they were chanting and into the match from the getgo. Chris Jericho did a wonderful job trying to goad Punk into hitting him with a chair so that Punk would be disqualified, thus making Jericho the new champion. Great use of psychology by the ultimate villain. The suplex to the floor by Y2J was another match highlight. This rivalry and match is what every Wrestlemania contest aspires to be.
Rating: Goooood

Brodus Clay Dances with his Mama
This was just a short filler to give fans a breather between the Punk/Jericho and Rock/Cena match. It was also a way to put distance between the matches so that Rock/Cena didn't look slow and sloppy in the ring. Many people find Funkasaurus amusing, but I'm not on the bandwagon. This skit also took time away from the Sheamus/Daniel Bryan and Big Show/Cody Rhodes matches, making it a fail in my book.
Rating: Bad

The Rock (Face) vs. John Cena (Face) in the Main Event
Having MGK and Flo Rida sing before John Cena and the Rock, respectively, came to the ring gave this match the hype and main event feel that the year-long buildup to it failed to do. The crowd was insane for it as well. Cena good booed out of the building and the Rock received a hero's welcome from his hometown crowd. What a pop!
The beginning of the match was a bit slow and Rock looked tired quickly, but the combatants really picked it up and made the last 10 minutes special. THe moves were executed well and each man got huge crowd reactions when they kicked out of each other's finishing moves. A personal highlight was the Rock getting his arm up before the ref dropped it a third time while he was in the STF. If it had dropped again, the Rock would have lost the match. I'm a sucker for this oldschool crowd pleaser, what can I say? Additionally, I did enjoy it when Cena caught the Rock after his dive off the top rope and delivered an Attitude Adjustment.
I thought it was genius to have Cena mock the Rock by preparing to drop the People's Elbow, only to have the Rock get up and counter it with a Rock Bottom for the victory. Hopefully this will be the start of Cena having more edge and a chip on his shoulder, and hopefully the Rock will stick around for next year's Mania. It was a surprise to have the Rock, a part-timer, beat John Cena, the face of the company, but WWE does like to send Wrestlemania crowds home happy and something tells me this rivalry isn't dead.
Rating: Gooood

Overall: 80/100
3 matches made this a special, memorable Wrestlemania. Undertaker/HHH was an epic, legendary contest that won't be topped. Meanwhile, Punk/Jericho was a brilliant "wrestling" match and Rock/Cena had the excitement of a main event worthy of Wrestlemania. The rest of the card and the skits were good enough to keep the show interesting between big matches, but weren't all that great. I was really let down by Sheamus/Daniel Bryan and I hope their was a reason behind squashing Bryan. I've seen the show twice now and I liked it more the second time, which is a testament to the fact that it was a good show.

Monday, April 02, 2012

You Don't Say... On the Federal Budget 2012

I'm not saying that the federal government alone is responsible for stimulating Canada's economy, but putting the majority of the burden on businesses is economic suicide. How are companies who are quick to outsource jobs and to make employees "part time" so as to not have to pay them benefits going to save our economy? They pay less corporate taxes every year and now the Conservatives are taking away regulations left, right and centre. This is the same formula that led banks in Europe and the US to collapse and begin this brutal recession in the first place. Greedy businesses' main motive is to increase their profit margin and many have a long history of hording our money, therefore the government should add regulations to make sure they play fairly and give back. Also, the government needs to still invest in targeted stimulus, like infrastructure projects, to create jobs and help people get out of the deep holes they have fallen into.

I'm not saying that I'm afraid of working hard my whole life, but raising the age that Old Age Security kicks in to 67 is unfair to the generation before me, mine and the generations that will come after me. My generation is the first in HISTORY that is expected to live shorter lives than our predecessors and now it will be the first in a long time expected to work till a later age than our parents. We are now basically expected to work until we die. Some people are lucky enough to have pensions that will hopefully kick in before 67, but there are people who don't and almost soley rely on Old Age Security once they finish working. And those people, after 40 + years of work, deserve to enjoy their last 20 or 30 years without having to bust their backs. Leave the work to the young and allow those who have paid their dues already to relax and enjoy retirement at a reasonable age.

I'm not saying that its fantastic to hear that the penny will be pulled from circulation, but my pocket will certainly be glad about this news. The penny is practically worthless and it's value is much lower than the cost to produce it. The only possible downside, besides losing part of Canada's history, is that I can predict right now that most stores will adjust their prices in an upward direction so that the price for single goods will end in a '5' or '0'. This could end up costing us a few bucks each year.

I'm not saying that the budget will mean complete environmental devastation, but it does pave the way for more pipelines and less money for the environmental agencies and the ministry of the environment. The government is counting on a ton of money from Canadian exports and a large chunk of that is expected to come from tar sands oil. That spells doom for the air and land in Alberta around the sands and raises the spectre of a catastrophic leak somewhere along the pipeline. And now the ministry and agencies that would normally sound alarm bells about oil projects have been neutered so they can't tell Stephen Harper how his war on the environment is almost as bad as Mao and Hitler's against dissidents and intellectuals.