Thursday, November 30, 2023

Shame on Rogers for firing Ben Wagner

In firing Ben Wagner, Rogers Communications has shown utter disdain for radio broadcasting and for the  legions of  Toronto Blue Jay fans who grew up listening to the Jays on radio.  In a statement yesterday, Rogers confirmed that the company had declined to renew Ben Wagner's contract.  How disappointing!

The Blue Jays were built on radio.  Fans will never forget the easy on-air banter and the chemistry between the late great Tom Cheek and his partner Jerry Howarth.  In February 2018, Jerry retired from broadcasting for health reasons after 36 years of calling games for the team.  Jerry has strongly criticized Rogers' decision to dismiss Ben, which he described as "embarrassing."

Ben has been the voice of the Blue Jays since Jerry's retirement, including during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Like all broadcasters at the time, he had to deal with COVID restrictions.  Sportsnet said that the decision to streamline production was made to minimize travel during the pandemic, and to follow league and government protocols.

Ben remined with the broadcast team during this difficult time by providing live hits from the Blue Jays' temporary home at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida.  He also served as a live contributor to radio and television segments.  Unfortunately, Sportsnet continued to scale back the radio coverage of the Blue Jays, even after the pandemic eased.  Frankly, Ben has not been treated fairly, or with much respect.  Rogers has never given  him a real chance.  The writing has been on the wall for some time now.

In 2022, Sportsnet covered road games remotely.  Ben Wagner called the games from a a screen at the the studio in Toronto, before returning to traditional in-person broadcasts for the second half of the season.

In 2023, however, remote coverage returned,  Sportsnet was one of  only two MLB franchises to not send radio personnel to road games. - the other being the Los Angles Angels.  Jerry Howarth was "very disappointed" with that decision.  He stated, "You don't get any kind of picture of what's happening regarding a ripple effect of a play, a call, emotions, people that are involved in the call one way or another because you are not there.  You can't see that.  So you can't fully appreciate what is happening at that very moment."

During the 2023 season, Ben  usually worked Toronto games solo, without being accompanied by a regular colour commentator, as is customary across the major league. A rapport between announcer and colour commentator is a necessary ingredient for baseball broadcasting.  Rogers did not allowed that to happen for Ben Wagner.

We don't yet know what is being planned for the radio broadcast.  Sportsnet does not intend  to announce its plans until "prior to the start of the 2024 season," according to an email from a network spokesman.  However, I wouldn't be the least surprised if the games are simulcast with the feed on television. 

Baseball is made for radio description.  Doesn't Roges understand that the television feed is not the same.  Dan Shulman describes what viewers can see on their TV screen .  Radio requires a different type of description because the visuals aren't there.

It seems to me that Rogers has too much of a monopoly on ownership.  According to Adam Seaborn, head of partnerships at the Toronto-based media company Playmaker Capital, having a team owner that also owns the TV and radio network and the stadium "creates a culture of cost-cutting as opposed to competition."  Seaborn went on to say that "if the team was owned by a random billionaire, the radio rights would go up for bid every five to ten years, and the highest bidder would be forced to put a guy on the road and put together a top-notch broadcast."

Rogers has made some cruel, bonehead moves in recent years.  The corporation is penny wise and pound foolish.  In September of 2022, they sent popular TV commentator and former Blue Jay Pat Tabler packing.  He is now a colour commentator for selected Cleveland Guardians games.  Back in 2020, Sportsnet suddenly cut ties with longtime radio personality Mike Wilner, a Toronto native.  Mike is now a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star.

Then there was the Roger's messy handling of former Blue Jays president Paul Beaston at the end of his tenure with the club.  He never complained, but he also deserved better,  Ben Wagner also deserved better.  I wish him well.  I hope he finds another broadcasting job soon, where is appreciated by his employees.

- Joanne

Monday, November 27, 2023

Language Corner: What happened to the Latin language?

"In an importance sense, Latin never died. So learning Latin today is less like resurrecting the dead and more like looking at an old photo of modern Indo-European languages."

- Blake Adams, author, editor, educator, Latin tutor, and a scholar of Early Christian Studies - From the Ancient Language Institute website

I have always wondered why Latin "died" as a spoken language.  After all, the Roman Empire was so pervasive and far-reaching. So, what happened?  After doing some research, I learned that it is more accurate to say that Latin evolved, rather than to say it died.  

Latin was originally spoken by small groups who lived along the lower Tiber River.  The language spread along with the growth of Roman political power.  It spread throughout most of western and southern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean coastal regions of Africa.

The language of the ancient Romans began to decline in the 6th century, shortly after the fall of Rome in 676 A.D.  The fall of Rome led to the fragmentation of the empire, causing distinct Latin dialects to develop across the Western Empire, which  eventually transformed into the five Romance languages - Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Romanian.  

According to Adams, you could still find writers who wrote classical Latin.  However this changed gradually as writing the language became less common.  Latin schools slowly disappeared except in a few Italian towns .This was another factor in the decline of classical Latin. "Putting a language to writing, and consulting prior works in the same language, tends to slow a language's rate of change," points out Blake Adams in his article "When Did Latin Die?"  For example, modern English speakers use many world that would have been understood in Shakespeare's day.  However, the English language would have changed a great deal more if students didn't study Shakespeare in high school.  

Classical Latin, the language of great Roman writers such ss Cicero  and Virgil, became "dead/" after its form became fixed.  Vulgar Latin, the language ordinarily used by Romans, continued to evolve as the Roman Empire spread.  During medieval times, however, Latin was still the most widely used language among scholars and writers.  

It is important to note that languages don't die like organisms.  Latin is still studied and it is the official language of the Holy See, the central governing body of the Roman Catholic Church (Italian is the official language of Vatican City and is used in all official matters).  Until the changes brought about by Vatican II in the 1960s,, Latin was required in the liturgy of the Church.

SOURCES: Encyclpaedia Britannica; Ancient Language Institute website (, "When Did Latin Die?" Blake Adams, Wikipedia

- Joanne

Thursday, November 23, 2023

A Tale of Two American Thanksgiving Day Messages


Bidens ask Americans to 'stop the rancor' and treat each other with 'decency' in Thanksgiving message

Trump's mug shot

Trump knocks prosecutor, ‘Radical Left Lunatics’ in Thanksgiving message

Ask yourself this, America!  Who is more presidential and more stable, Joe Biden or Donald Trump?  If your answer isn't Joe Biden, you are truly missing something.  

There is nothing amusing about Donald Trump.  As The Economist pointed out, he is the most dangerous person in the world.  He is poised to make America a fascist state.

Trump is full of hate and vengeance.  His rhetoric is violent.  He behaves like a mob boss.  Is that who you want leading the United States?  Is that who you want as commander-in-chief of your armed forces?  Think about it.

Trump has made no secret of the fact that he admires dictators such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Kim Jong Un of North Korea.  Is that who you want leading the United States?  Think about it.

You have the power to stop Donald Trump with your vote on November 5, 2024.  If he is returned to power, you may never be able to vote in a free election again.  He may never leave office once his term is over.  By the election of 2028, Trump may be an unhinged 82-year-old dictator.  Think about it.

Your loyalty should be to your country and to the Constitution.  Trump wants you to be loyal only to him.  As an authoritarian, he believes that he alone represents America.  Anyone who disagrees with him or criticizes him is an enemy.  He has referred to his opponents as "vermin," using the language of Hitler and Mussolini.

Donald Trump doesn't represent America and you should let him know that next November, if he is allowed to be the Republican nominee for president.  He shouldn't be the nominee after his actions on January 6, 2021.

- Joanne

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

60 Years Since the Assassination of JFK, too many questions linger

6O years have passed since that dreadful day in Dallas and we still don't know the truth about what happened.  I am definitely not one for conspiracy theories, but I am certain there was much more to the Kennedy assassination than we know.  I very much doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

I am a baby boomer.  On November 22, 1963, I was seven years old.  On that fateful Friday afternoon, I was home from school with a cold.  It was one of the few days I was absent from the classroom due to illness.  On that momentous afternoon, I was lying on the living room sofa, watching television.  My mother, who followed the soap opera As The World Turns, asked me to watch the show for her and fill her in.  In the meantime, she went upstairs to speak to my aunt (her sister) on the phone,  I dutifully watched the soap for her and I was ready to report on all the happenings.  

Suddenly, As The World Turns was interrupted by a sombre Walter Cronkite.  President Kennedy, he said,, had been shot in Dallas, Texas.  Soon after, Cronkite sadly announced that the 35th President of the United States was dead   The seemingly unflappable news anchor choaked back tears and he kept putting his glasses on and taking them off.  I ran upstairs to inform my mother the horrible news.  I will never forget that day.

That fateful day in Dallas

Lee Harvey Oswald, a U.S. Marine Veteran and Marxist, shot and killed Kennedy from a sixth-floor of the Texas School Book Depository as JFK's motorcade travelled through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.  About 45 minutes after the assassination of the president, Oswald also shot and killed a Dallas police officer on a local street.  He then hid in a movie theatre, where he was arrested for the police officer's murder.  Oswald was charged with the assassination of JFK, although he denied responsibility, referring to himself as a "patsy."  Two days later, on November 24th, Oswald was shot dead by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters.  The shooting of Oswald happened live on television.  

On November 29, 1963, the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, popularly known as the Warren Commission, was established by executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Chief Justice Earl Warren chaired the commission, which consisted of a panel of seven men.  The panel was comprised of Democrats and Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, among them future president, Gerald R. Ford, a Republican.  It also included diplomat John  J. McCloy and Allen Dulles, former president of the World Bank and former CIA director.  Dulles had been fired by John F. Kennedy in November of 1961, following the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April of that year.

The Warren Commission in August 1964

On September 24, 1964, the Warren Commission presented its 888-page final report to President Johnson.  It was released to the public three days later.  The commission reached the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, firing three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository for reasons unknown.  It also concluded that Jack Ruby acted alone when he murdered Oswald two days later.

Its conclusions turned out to be very controversial and have been both challenged and supported by further studies.  Man still cannot believe that Oswald acted alone.  However, the findings of the Warren Commission were supported by the Dallas Police Department, the FBI, the United States Secret Service, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), although the HSCA found that Oswald's role in the assassination was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."  The  HSCA asserted that acoustic evidence from a Dallas police officer's radio showed that that two shooters had probably fired on JFK's limousine.  Although further investigations have cast doubt on the radio evidence, the HSCA's added to public dissatisfaction with the work of the Warren Commission.  

Robert Tanenbaum, the original deputy chief counsel for the HSCA, resigned from his post shortly after being named.  Tanenbaum has been vocal about his belief that the CIA thwarted the official probe of President Kennedy's assassination. He  does not believe that the assassination was adequately investigated.

Members of the Warren Commission even expressed doubts about its findings.  Democrat Richard Russel reluctantly consented to sign the Warren Report, despite the fact that he could not rule out the possibility of a conspiracy,  Russell later confessed that he had "lingering dissatisfaction" with many of it findings.  Congressman Hale Boggs, also a Democrat, had similar doubts about the report, especially the "single bullet theory" that one shot had struck both JFK and Texas Governor John Connally.

It is clear that almost 60 years after JFK's assassination, the American public is not fully convinced that Oswald acted alone.  There are too many unanswered questions, too many missing pieces of the puzzle. One person who believed there was more to the story was journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, who was investigating the JFK assassination when she died under mysterious circumstances on November 8, 1965.  She considered the Warren Commission's conclusion, that Oswald killed Kennedy alone, "laughable."  She spent 18 months probing the assassination.  During Jack Ruby's trial, Dorothy was the only reporter who was able to interview Jack Ruby.  In his 2016 book, During Jack Ruby's trial, Dorothy was the only reporter who was able to interview Ruby. 

According to Mark Shaw, in his 2016 book The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Dorothy Kilgallen left Rugy's trial more certain than ever that JFK's assassination had been the result of a conspiracy.  In her column of March 20, 1965, Dorothy wrote: "The point to be remembered in this historic case is that the whole truth has not been told.  Neither the state of Texas nor the defense put on al l its evidence before the jury.  Perhaps it was not necessary, but it would have been desirable from the viewpoint of all the American people."

Dorothy was determined that the American people deserved to know the truth.  Sadly, before she could publish anything, was found dead in her Manhattan home on November 8, 1965.  The New York Times reported that she died from an overdose of alcohol and barbituates, and that police had found no evidence of violence or suicide.  However, James L. Luke, the assistant Medical Examiner stated, "It could have simply been an extra pill.  Luke admitted that the circumstances of Dorothy's death were "undetermined."  "We really don't know," he told the New York Times.  Furthermore, Dorothy's pages and pages of research were missing.

In his book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Mark Shaw makes the case that Dorothy was murdered to end her investigation.  She was not shy about publicly expressing her doubts about the Kennedy assassination,  She doggedly continued to investigate JFK's death, and as the New York Post reported, she conducted interviews and chased leads in Dallas and New Orleans.  By the fall of 1965, Dorothy may have been on the verge of a breakthrough.  In fact, according to Shaw, she had scheduled another visit to New Orleans for a clandestine meeting with an unnamed source.

Unfortunately, we may never know the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, especially since the CIA is unwilling to disclose everything it knows.  Here is what Jefferson Morley, vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation and editor of the JFK Facts Newsletter on Substack wrote in an article in the Washington Post:

Was the CIA merely incompetent in dealing with the itinerant Marxist Marine, or did it use him for some still-classified purpose? Or is there another explanation for its unwillingness to share all it knows? The clandestine service is no longer under any obligation to answer such questions. When it comes to the Kennedy assassination files, the CIA has won the battle over full disclosure.  

Sis decades have passed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  As popular as JFK was, some had reason to want him dead, including the Mafia.  It appears that the truth has been covered up.  The American public deserves full disclosure.  If the conclusion of the Warren Commission, is correct, what does the CIA and others have to hide?  Why the secrecy after all these years?  Something really smells  rotten.  It leaves a sour taste in our mouth.

Note: For more insight into the JFK assassination, I suggest you listen to Who Killed  JFK?,  Rob Reiner's investigative podcast on iHeart radio.  It is hosted by Rob and journalist Soledad O'Brien.

- Joanne