Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pug or Partner? Are You Better Off With A Dog?

bDog lovers should enjoy this.  It's an infograhic on the financial, emotional and practical benefits of having a pug as opposed to a human partner.  I hope you find it amusing and informative.  (Note that costs are in British pounds)

- Joanne

pug or partner? by Moneypod.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Roy Halladay: My Tribute to the Doc

"By all accounts, the baseball world lost not only a star and a great competitor but also an even greater man, one who had earned virtually universal respect within the industry and among fans.  His immense talent may have been matched only by his tireless work ethic and his humility."

- Jay Jaffe
Sports Illustrated, November 8, 2017

Roy Halladay's premature death came as a shock to baseball fans, especially those in the two cities where he made his mark - Toronto and Philadelphia.  On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, Roy lost his life when his single-engine plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Florida.  He was 40 years old, much too young to die, especially for a man with such a zest for life.

Halladay was the Toronto Blue Jays' first-round selection in the 1995 major league draft. In total, Roy spent 16 season in Major League Baseball, 12 of them in Toronto, the remainder in Philly.  He was an eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner (22 wins in 2003 for the Blue Jays and 21 wins in 2010 for the Phillies). The lanky right-hander from Colorado left the game with some impressive career statistics. He had a win-loss record of 203-105, an ERA of 3.38 and 2,117 strikeouts.  Halladay was durable and resilient.  He had the strength and determination to go deep into games.  At the time of his retirement in 2013, he was the major league leader in complete games.among active pitchers with 67.  He had also racked up 20 career shutouts.

Roy's nickname "Doc" (after Wild West gunslinger Doc Holliday) was bestowed upon him by the late Tom Cheek, longtime radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays.  He endeared himself to Torontonians because of his philanthropy.  He gave back to the community.  During his time with the Jays, Roy and his wife Brandy invited children from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and their families to watch games in  "Doc's Box" at the Rogers Centre.  Halladay also had a stipulation in his contract by which he donated $100,000 each year to the Jays Care Foundation.and he was nominated several times for the Roberto Clemente Award for his support for underprivileged children.

When Roy left the Blue Jays after the 2009 season, Toronto fans were disappointed and saddened.  At the same time, they understood why he had to go.  It was best for Doc.  He wanted an opportunity to compete in the playoffs and the World Series before his career ended.  He didn't think that was going to happen in Toronto.  So, he went to Philadelphia, where he fulfilled his dream of playing in the postseason.  He simply wanted a chance to play on a World Series-winning team.

In December of 2009, the Phillies acquired the Blue Jays' ace in a trade for minor league prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor.  For Roy, the 2010 season in the City of Brotherly Love was unforgettable.  It was simply magical.  On May 29, 2010, he pitched a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies, defeating the Florida Marlins by a score of 1-0.  It was the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.  Halladay followed that up by throwing a no-hitter in his very first postseason start, on October 6, 2010.  It was only the second no-hitter in Major League Baseball history (Don Larsen threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series).  Halladay's postseason no-hitter made him the fifth pitcher in major league history to throw two no-hitters in one season.  It came at the expense of the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Divisional Championship).

Although the Phillies did not advance to the 2010 World Series, Roy's 21 regular season victories and his perfect game earned him his second Cy Young Award.  He joined the exclusive group of only six pitchers in MLB history to win the Cy Young in both the American and National Leagues.  It is a group that includes such luminaries as Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry.

During the 2012 season, Roy reached another milestone in his illustrious career.  He became the 67th MLB pitcher to record 2000 strikeouts.  During  2013 season, however, Halladay was plagued with shoulder problems and had a 6.82 earned-run average in 13 starts with the Phillies.  His fastball averaged only 88 miles per hour.  Realizing that he was no longer capable of playing at his former level of excellence, Roy decided it was time to retire and spend more time with his family.  He explained his decision with these words: "There's a lot of travel and a lot of time away from family and loved ones.  I felt this is a great time for me to get back involved and help my kids. They're starting to strive for their dreams and that's something I want to be part of, so I'm looking forward to that."

Roy with family

In December of 2013, Halladay signed a one-day, free-agent contract so that he could retire as a Blue Jay.  In doing so, Roy demonstrated the high regard he held for the city of Toronto and the Blue Jays organization.  At the time, he stated, "I was very lucky to have a lot of people in the (Blue Jays) organization really develop and help me become the player I was able to become."

By no means did Roy intend to slight the city of Philadelphia or the Phillies organization.  In fact, he he said, "I want the Phillies organization to know how much I enjoyed my time there.  How much they meant to my family and what a major part of my career they were."  It was just that Toronto had given him his start and had stuck with him when he struggled during the early days of his career.

Last June, I attended the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in St. Mary's Ontario.  Roy was one of the inductees, along with Montreal Expos great Vladimir Guerrero, Baseball Canada president Ray Carter legendary umpire, Doug Hudlin and the 2015 gold-medal winning Pan Am Canadian Baseball team.  Although I didn't get an opportunity to speak to Roy, I was delighted to see him there.

I am so thankful hat Roy Halladay played in Toronto for a dozen years.  My only regret is that he was unable to play on a winning team here and it's unfortunate that he failed to secure a World Series ring in Philadelphia.  However, he deserves to be voted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown when he is scheduled to appear on the 2019 ballot.  I admit I'm biased, but I hope Halladay is inducted as a Toronto Blue Jay.

Apart from Roy's excellence as a ball player, he was a wonderful human being and an exemplary family man,  He was completely devoted to Brandy and his two sons, Braden and Ryan.  He wasn't loud-mouthed, crass or boastful.  He was the kind of athlete you would want your children to emulate.

R.I.P. Roy Halladay.

- Joanne

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Trump versus Kim

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have been playing a dangerous game.  In truth, both men have been behaving like children fighting in a schoolyard.  They have been hurling insults at each other in the manner of pubescent adolescents.  What an ungodly spectacle!  It is truly lamentable that two such immature men should wield so much power in the world.

Kim Jong-il is only 33 years old  and he is a ruthless dictator.  Donald Trump is 71 year old and he is the purported leader of the free world.  He is the head of state of a democracy which is supposed to stand for liberty and defend human rights.  Both live a lavish lifestyle and they are both narcissists.

Kim called Trump a "dotard."  and Trump's derisive pet name for Kim is "Rocket Man"  When Kim referred to Trump as "old," the president responded sarcastically, "I'd never call him short and fat."  This repartee would be comical, if it weren't so frightening and if the stakes weren't so high.  However, we can't lose sight of the fact that there is a genuine risk of nuclear war.  For now, Trump and Kim are exchanging insults, but what if they start hurling nuclear missiles?  What if North Korea misinterprets one of Trump's loathsome midnight Twitter messages?

This is not a chess game.  These are not schoolboys at recess.  This is not some contest to prove who is more macho.  These two men have lives in their hands - human lives.  If they press a button, they can wipe out innocent human beings in seconds. Kim is a brutal,totalitarian  and he behaves like a brutal totalitarian.  Trump conduct is another matter.  Much more is expected from the leader of a country which prides itself on its democratic ideals.  The President of the United States should not demean himself and his country by stooping to the level of the dictator of North Korea.

Trump's stance has not made people feel any safer.   According to the Los Angeles Times, Hawaii is already making preparations in the event of a surprise nuclear attack by North Korea.  Television commercials will begin airing advising Hawaiians "to get inside and stay inside" in case a bomb drops.  Concerned residents and state officials are preparing warning siren to go off  on December 1st

In August, North Korea launched a missile over Japan.  According to CNN, their state media announced that "it was the first step of the military operation (of the North Korean military) in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude into containing Guam (a U.S. territory).

Some downplay Korea's nuclear threat.  After all, Kim may be nasty, but he certainly doesn't want to self-destruct or give up his hold on power.  Remember that this is a man who reportedly had his uncle executed and his half-brother killed in an airport assassination after learning of a Chinese-backed plan to remove him from power.

Donald Trump, it seems, is the wild card in this situation.  He's unstable and unpredictable.  That's what worries me.  What a tragedy it would be if the United States and North Korea stumbled into war.  I only hope that sanity prevails.

- Joanne

Saturday, November 11, 2017

More Reflections on War and Peace on Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries.  It is Veterans Day in the United States.  On November 11th, 2010, I posted a short essay about why I wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.  Here is that essay again, along with some quotations on war and peace.  I believe it is especially relevant given the current tensions in the world and the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Why I Wear a Poppy on Remembrance Day

Without equivocation, I believe that war is an abomination, a blight upon humanity. Yet every Remembrance Day, I wear a bright red poppy. Here's why. I wear a poppy to honour the memory of those who have suffered and died in war. I also wear it to remind myself of the folly and futility of war. Yes, war may sometimes be necessary to rid the world of a scourge such as Nazism. It may be the only recourse to overcome a madman like Adolf Hitler. However, there is no glamour in war, only hardship, poverty and death. It is not glorious and it is not adventurous. It is unspeakably brutal and it takes the lives of innocent people. It causes untold destruction and it cruelly separates families. It forces its victims away from their homes and into refugee camps. In times of war, the innocent are the most vulnerable and they always suffer the most.

I wear a poppy for those who died in the muddy trenches World War I. The “Great War” was an ugly and unnecessary war. When it began in August of 1914, many thought it would be a grand adventure and that the troops would be home by Christmas. They didn’t realize that such a great number of those eager, youthful combatants would never see their homes again. Sadly, those young people went to war and died because their countries were engaged in a battle for colonies and for military and economic superiority. What a waste of human potential!

I wear a poppy for the victims of World War II and Korea and Vietnam. I wear it for those who suffered under Nazism and fascism and for those who sacrificed their lives to end the reign of those cursed ideologies. I wear it for the victims of Stalin and Mao and all those who currently live under totalitarianism and dictatorship.

I wear a poppy to remember all the women who have been violated by soldiers during wartime. I wear it for the 6 million who perished in the Holocaust and for all the victims of genocide. I wear it for the 300,000 who died in Nanking in 1937 and I wear it for those who lost their lives when the deadly atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wear it for the victims of Pol Pot and his killing fields. I wear it for the children of war, the babes in arms who begin their lives in poverty and horror. I wear it for the orphans and widows of war. They suffer because the military-industrial complex and arms dealers throughout the world have a vested interest in war. Without it, they would not be so affluent. Their money would be spent on education, health care and the alleviation of poverty.

I wear a poppy to remember the mistakes of history. This is an imperfect world and humans are imperfect creatures. Evil exists and it will take root and spread if we allow it to do so. The only answer is to educate the world's youth so that they will not support another Adolf Hitler. We must make certain that young people are well-versed in history and that they know the truth about war, genocide and extremism of both the right-wing and the left-wing variety. They must be made aware that extremism leads to death, misery and totalitarianism.

I wear a poppy for the all the victims of terrorism and for their families. I wear it to remember those who perished on September 11, 2001. I wear it for all those who have been maimed and broken by war, both physically and psychologically. I wear it for those who lack basic human rights. I will not forget. On this November 11th and every November 11th, I will remember them all and I will hope for peace.


Older men declare war.  But it is the youth who must fight and die.

- Herbert Hoover
Speech at the Republican National Convention, Chicago, June 27, 1944

I have never met anyone who wasn't against war.  Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.

David Low (1891-1963), British political cartoonist
From New York Times Magazine, February 10, 1946

History is littered with wars which everybody knew would never happen.

Enoch Powell, (1912-1998), British politician
From his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, October 19, 1967

I have seen war.  I have seen war on land and sea.  I have seen blood running from the wounded.  I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs.  I have seen the dead in the mud.  I have seen cities destroyed.  I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line - the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before.  I ave seen children starving.  I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.  I hate war.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Speech at Chautauqua, New York, August 14, 1936

The absolute pacifist is a bad citizen; times come when force must be used to uphold right, justice and ideals.

- Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

- Mahatma Gandhi
From Non-Violence in Peace and War [1942]

There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.

- William T. Sherman, American Union general
From his speech at Columbus, Ohio, August 11, 1880

Peace can not be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding.

Albert Einstein

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of it scientists, the hopes of its children . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1953

War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), Prussian soldier and military theorist
From On War   

You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

Malcolm X
Speech in New York, January 7, 1965

War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention.

Henry Maine (1822-1888), English jurist
From lecture delivered in Cambridge, 1887, in International Law [1888]

You can't switch on peace like a light.

- Mo Mowlam (1949-2005), British politician
From Independent, September 6, 1999

Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.

- Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch Jewish philosopher
From Theological-Political Treatise [1670]

They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

- Isaiah 2:4

- Joanne