Saturday, November 26, 2011

TTC riders don't deserve this, Mayor Ford


An Open Letter to Mayor Rob Ford

With all due respect, Mr. Ford, what have Toronto public transit riders done to deserve this?  The city is cutting service on 62 bus routes in this city and TTC patrons (not customers) have also been told to expect fare hikes.  Was this what you meant when you talked about stopping the gravy train?  Since when has efficient public transit been gravy?  Isn't it an important service?  Don't the most vulnerable people in our fair city depend on the TTC.  I'm talking about the elderly on fixed incomes, students who can't afford cars, lower income people, the visually impaired who can't drive . . .

Adult TTC patrons already pay $3 cash fare per ride and $119 per month for a Metropass.  We are already burdened with paying the lion's share of the cost of operating our public transit system.  It's not fair that we are also going to have to endure poorer service.  It's not fair that we are going to have to pay more for that poorer service - not at a time when jobs are being cut and many are living on fixed incomes.

The province of Ontario should also be contributing more to the TTC.  I would be happy to pay more provincial tax if it it would prevent service cuts and fare increases.  An efficient, affordable TTC is in the best interest of all Torontonians and all Ontarians.  It affects everyone in this province, directly or indirectly.

I count myself among the many public transit users in this city.  My regular bus route is one of the ones targeted for service reduction.   All TTC patrons are going to be greatly inconvenienced and the most vulnerable will be hurt.  Some seniors may not be able to afford riding on the TTC as frequently and will be confined to their homes more often.

Mr. Ford, when was the last time you stood at a bus stop and waited for a bus in the pouring rain or during a snowstorm for twenty minutes or more?  It's so easy for politicians to be indifferent to public transit riders when they can just hop into their cars or take a taxi.

As mayor, you were elected to represent all the people of Toronto - not just car owners and drivers.  Nathan Phillips, when he was mayor of this city, was dubbed the Mayor of all the People.  He would never have tried to drive a wedge between car owners and transit riders.

This city depends on clean, efficient public transit.  The TTC is neither clean nor efficient and it is going to get worse once service on 62 bus routes is reduced.  The health of a city can be measured by the health of its public transit system.  Right now Toronto is not too healthy.

Mr. Mayor, I doubt that you will pay any heed to my letter.  You are ideologically driven.  You have a conservative right wing agenda and you will not change.  I am writing this because I am upset and frustrated about what is happening to my city.  I am distraught about what your policies are doing to the Toronto I love.  I need to vent.


Joanne Madden

More Campaign Slogans and Songs


On May 21, 2011, I wrote about witty political campaign slogans.  Now I am going to continue with this topic of snappy election slogans and political campaigns.

The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast breakfast cereal - that you can gather votes like box tops - is . . . the ultimate indignity to the democratic process. 

- Adlai Stevenson
Speech, Democratic National Convention, August 18, 1956

Adlai Stevenson was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956 and was defeated both times by Dwight D. Eisenhower.  He uttered those words in 1956 when television was starting to become a factor in U.S. election campaigns.  If he were alive today, he would be disgusted by the commercialization of politics and the proliferation of TV attack ads.  Yet, it's no secret that character assassinations and attack ads have always played  a role in democratic elections.  It's just that television and other mass media have intensified the darker side of politics.


One of the dirtiest presidential elections in American history was the 1884 contest between Republican candidate James G. Blaine and Democrat Grover Cleveland.  It was replete with scandals and mudslinging.  Blaine was dogged with accusations that as a Congressman from Maine, he had been corrupt in his dealings with the Little Rock & Fort Smith Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway.  His political adversaries ridiculed him as "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the state of Maine." 

James G. Blaine

Blaine's candidacy divided the GOP.  Some Republicans refused to endorse him as they considered him to be corrupt.  These reform minded  Republicans were dubbed "Mugwumps" and they came out in support of New York Governor Grover Cleveland.  Cleveland had a reputation as a corruption fighter and a reformer.  He campaigned under the slogan "Public Office is a Public Trust."

Cleveland and the Democrats, however, faced problems of their own when a paternity scandal surfaced during the heat of the election battle.  On July 21, 1884, an article in the Buffalo Evening Telegraph revealed that Cleveland, a bachelor at the time, had had an affair with a widow from Buffalo.  It alleged that he had fathered a son with the woman and that he had abandoned their child who was now ten years old. 

The story broke nationally and Republicans seized on the opportunity to make political hay out of their opponent's indiscretion.  They began bringing children to Cleveland's campaign rallies and chanting, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?"  Cleveland admitted that he had relations with the woman but said that he knew of other men who could also have fathered the child.  He decided to take responsibility for the boy and send money. 

Despite the scandal, Grover Cleveland narrowly won the election of 1884. His triumphant supporters shouted, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?  Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!"

 In 1920, the Democratic candidate for President of the United States was James M. Cox, the Governor of Ohio.  Cox's Republican opponent was Warren G. Harding, another Ohioan.   James Cox was opposed to Prohibition, which had come into effect in the United States in January of 1920.  Harding, who supported Prohibition, attacked Cox's position with the slogan "Cox and Cocktails."  It is interesting to note that Cox's Vice-Presidential running mate in that 1920 election was 38 year-old Franklin D. Roosevelt.


During the 1928 U.S. election campaign, Republican candidate Herbert Hoover faced Alfred E. Smith as his Democratic opponent.  Hoover used the slogan "Hoover and Happiness Or Smith and Soup Houses."  Hoover won the election and became the 31st President of the United States. In October of 1929, the stock market crashed, the economy tanked, and the people were left with Hoover and soup houses.

The 1932 U.S. election was held during depths of the Great Depression.  Hoover ran for another term in office.  When he returned to his home state of Iowa on a campaign trip, he was accosted by an irate group of farmers holding banners that read, "In Hoover we trusted.  Now we're busted."


Optimism has long been a theme that candidates use during elections.  Voters certainly need and want to be hopeful.  If, however, the economy crashes before a candidate takes office, the candidate is expected to clean up the mess once he or she assumes power.  Often, however, there is no quick fix.  It takes time to turn an economy around.and people become impatient.  They take their frustration and disappointment out on their new leader.  "You offered us hope," they say. 

For example, President Barack Obama didn't cause the Great Recession but he got blamed for it and was expected to turn things around in the blink of an eye.  During the 2008 election campaign Obama was definitely the candidate of  hope, but many Americans have forgotten that he also tempered hopeful expectations with a note of caution.  He declared that economic recovery wouldn't be easy and that it would require time.

As in the 2008 election, optimision played a integral part in the 1932 presidential contest in which Herbert Hoover sought re-electioni in the midst of the Depression.  Hoover procalaimed that "Prosperity is just around the corner."  Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign song was the upbeat "Happy Days are Here Again" from the 1930 musical Chasing Rainbows.  The song reflected Roosevelt's cheerful personality in contrast to Hoover's more austere demeanour.

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
Let us sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

- Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics)

To listen to "Happy Days are Here Again," click on the link below.


Sometimes, during difficult times, voters are asked to reject change and to remain with the same steady hand at the helm.  In 1932, Herbert Hoover, had campaign buttons that read "Don't Swap Horses, Stand by Hoover."  Yet voters did swap horses.  They were looking for change rather than stability

After leading Britain through World War II, Sir Winston Churchill faced the electorate in 1945. He ran on the slogan "Send HIm Back To Finish The Job." Although the war in Europe had ended in May of 1945. Churchill wanted to continue the wartime coalition until victory over Japan was achieved. Labour Leader Clement Atlee, however, advocated a new party-based government in Britain. On July 5, 1945, British voters went to the polls and elected a Labour government led by Atlee.  They rejected Churchill's steady hand and opted for change instead.

During the 1997 British election, the Labour Party used the campain slogan "Things can only get better."  It moved closer to the centre of the political spectrum and and called itself New Labour.  New Labour won in a landslide and its leader, Tony Blair, assumed the office of Prime Minister.  After years of Conservative government, Britain had chosen change.  The 43-year-old Blair became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1912.

- Joanne

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Joanne's Journal: November 23, 2011


Edition No. 3


Eternity's a terrible thought.  I mean, where's it all going to end?

- Tom Stoppard (1937 - ), British dramatist
From Rosencrantx and  Guildenstern arre Dead [1967]


So now stores in Canada are running Black Friday ads.  I appreciate that the economy is weak and that retailers are trying almost anything to entice people to spend their money.  But Black Friday ads?  They don't have any meaning or relevance in this country.  The term "Black Friday" refers to the day after American Thanksgiving.  We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving back in October.  Our Thanksgiving is a harvest festival.  It has nothing to do with pilgrims and it does not usher in the Christmas shopping season. 

Derek Szeto, founder of the discount website said,  "A lot of stores, especially those that are Canadian extensions of U.S. companies, will take the opportunity to hold sales."  "There is a lot of economic uncertainty," he added.  " We expect it will be a huge Black Friday shopping day."

Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Canadians already have Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, to shop for bargains and return gifts.  Retailers have tried to stretch Boxing Day into Boxing Week.  We don't need Black Friday here, thank you very much.  I'm probably in the minority, but I will not be joining the frenzy.  I will not be bargain hunting on Friday.

To my American readers: Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.  All the best to you and your families.  If you would like to read my story, A Thanksgiving Tale, click on the FICTION tab above.


From Greece to Italy to Spain, governments under the gun from financial markets are doing precisely the wrong thing.

They are slashing jobs and deficits in an effort to eliminate deficits.

But because unemployed people don't pay taxes, all that these governments have accomplished so far is to cut deeply into their own revenues, thereby making their deficits worse.

This increases the cycle to cut, thereby starting the whole cycle all over again.

- Thomas Walkom
Toronto Star, November 23, 2011

Altogether now, class.  Uunemployed people don't pay taxes.  Unemployed people don't pay taxes - at least not as much as they did when they were employed.  When companies lay off people, those people don't spend as much money either.  They do not buy cars and refrigerators.  End of economics class for today.


I'm glad that the Toronto Blue Jays decided to put the "blue" back in their uniforms.  We're finally rid of those hideous black uniforms with the evil blue jay on the logo.  Now all they have to do is put a contending team on the field.

I'm not saying that Justin Verlander wasn't deserving of the American League MVP award.  I'm just saying that if pitchers can be MVPs, then why have a Cy Young Award?  I'm also saying that if a player has to be on a contending team to win the MVP, then spell that our clearly.  Say that it's the award for the most valuable player on a contending team.   Then, define contending as perhaps a player whose team made post-season play.


It will be Winnipeg and B.C. in the Grey Cup.  I was hoping that Hamilton would represent the East in the Canadian football championship.  It just doesn't seem right to have Winnipeg in the CFL's Eastern Conference.  The East-West rivalry is an integral part of the Grey Cup game.  By the way, the Ti-Cats haven't been to the Grey Cup since 1999.  They won it that year too, 32-21 over the Calgary Stampeders.

Once Ottawa rejoins the league, Winnipeg can return to its rightful place in the Western Conference.  It will great to have the CFL back in the nation's capital. 


NHL bigwigs breathed a sigh of relief when Sidney Crosby returned to the ice.  He is, after all, the league's marquee player.  Fans are happy to see Sid the Kid back too.  Nevertheless, the NHL can't just close the book on the incident and say all's well that ends well.  The league should not be let off the hook so easily.  What happened to Crosby, should not have happened in the first place.  It probably would not have happened  if the proper rules and penalties had governed the game. 

Crosby was wise to take his time in returning to the game.  There is no guarantee, however, that he won't be hit again and suffer another concussion.  He might not be so fortunate if it happens again.

- Joanne

Friday, November 11, 2011

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.  Last November 11th, I wrote 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.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Bobby Kennedy met Ethel in Canada


In the winter of 1945-46, Ethel Skakel was a 17-year-old student at Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan, New York.  Jean Kennedy, her college friend and roommate, invited Ethel on a ski trip to the Mont-Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Canada for the Christmas holidays.  It was there that she was introduced to Jean's older brother, Robert Kennedy, a young man in the V-12 Navy College Program.  Bobby, as he was known, was to enter Harvard University in September of 1946.  He was two and a half years older than Ethel.

Their meeting was not a case of love at first sight.  Bobby liked Ethel but, at the time, he was dating Ethel's sister, Patricia.  Ethel, for her part, seemed more interested in Bobby's older brother John.  She had worked for John F. Kennedy during his 1946 congressional campaign and she had also written her college thesis on JFK's book Why England Slept.

Here's how Arthur M. Schlesinger describes Bobby and Ethel's early relationship in his book Robert Kennedy and His Times:

Robert liked Ethel and, after the 1946 congressional campaign, invited her occasionally to Cambridge.  But he took out her older sister Patricia even more.  In his senior year, when Robert invited Pat Skakel to Palm Beach, Ethel managed an invitation for herself from Jean.  Ethel attracted him by her high spirits and proficiency in sports.

Bobby eventually began seeing Ethel more frequently and called on her at Manhattanville College.  She visited him in Charlottesville, Virginia where he was attending the University of Virginia Law School.  By 1949, according to Schlesinger, they were "enthusiastically in love."  Ethel, a devout and pious Catholic, however, considered becoming a nun rather than marrying.  Schlesinger writes, "Robert, walking along the beach at Hyannis Port, said diconsolately to his sister Jean. "How can I fight God?"

In the end, Ethel chose marriage.  She and Robert Kennedy became engaged in February of 1950 while Bobby was still in law school.  His mother, Rose, said she had misgivings about that, but not about Ethel.

The wedding took place on June 17, 1950 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Ethel's hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut.  Bobby's older brother, John, served as best man.  It was a lavish affair with a large number of guests and, after a reception at the Skakel's home, the newlyweds departed for a honeymoon in Hawaii.

The first of Bobby and Ethel's 11 children, a daughter named Kathleen, was born on July 4, 1951.  After Robert graduated from the University of Virginia with his law degree, the family moved to the Washington, D.C. area.  Robert Kennedy was employed by the U.S. Department of Justice.  In 1955, Ethel's parents, George and Ann Skakel, when their private plane crashed in 1955.  Ethel's brother, George, also did in a plane crash in 1966.

Bobby and Ethel welcomed their second child, a son named Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, on September 24, 1952.  Another son, Robert Francis Kennedy, was born on January 17, 1954.  David Anthony  followed on June 15, 1955,   In 1956, Bobby and Ethel purchased Hickory Hill from John and his wife Jackie.  They raised their ever-growing family in the sprawling home located in Mclean, Virginia. 

That same year, on September 9, 1956, their fifth child, a daughter named Mary Courtney was born.  She was followed by Michael LeMooyne (February 27, 1957), Mary Kerry (September 8, 1959), Christopher George (July 4, 1963), Matthew Maxwell Taylor (January 11, 1965) and Douglas Harriman (March 24, 1967).  David Kennedy died of an accidental drug overdose on April 25, 1984.  Michael lost his life in a skiing accident on December 31, 1997.

During the presidency of his brother John, Bobby Kennedy served as U.S, Attorney General.  After John's assassination in Dallas in 1963, Bobby was next in line to carry on the Kennedy legacy.  In 1964, he was elected to the United States Senate for the state of New York.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in June of 1968 during his run for the American presidency.  His wife Ethel was pregnant with their 11th child when he was killed.  Their daughter, Rory Elizabeth Katherine Kennedy, was born on December 12, 1968.  Ethel remained at Hickory Hill until 2009 when the estate was sold for $8.25 million.  She is now 83 years old and leads a quiet life away form the spotlight. 

To view photos of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, click on the link below.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Joanne's Journal: November 5, 2011


Edition No. 2


Imagination is more important than knowledge.

- Albert Einstein
From The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

Well, I certainly need my imagination to get me through the month of November.  It's my least favourite month of the year.  Although there can be a haunting beauty about the eleventh month of the year, it is still the death month.  The trees are bare.  The days become shorter and darkness comes earlier and earlier.  That is why I always choose a Wednesday in the middle of November as my November Blah Day and I plan something enjoyable and interesting for that day.  This year, my November Blah Day falls on Wednesday, November 16.


I was pleased to read that U.S. President Obama's popularity has stared to rise again.  It was just one poll, a November 2 Quinniapic University poll, but it may be indicative of a trend.  The Republicans seem to be squabbling among themselves and the Herman Cain scandal hasn't help.  GOP Senators have not done their party any favours by blocking Obama's American Jobs Act.  The President is trying to do something to create jobs and Republicans are stubborning preventing him from doing so.  One year from tomorrow, on November 6, 2012, American voters will have their say.  In the meantime, this race is far from over!  Fasten your seat belts!


Good work, Toronto library lovers!  Your campaign to save our public libraries seems to be succeeding.  Your emails to city councillors and your petition have produced results.  On the evening of November 1st, the budget committee of the Library Board voted unanimously against neighbourhood library branch closings and cuts to hours of operation.  We must however, remain vigilant.  The fight is not over yet.  It is possible that this decision could be reversed when the full Library Board convenes on November 21st.  Library budget reductions may also be accomplished by slashing library staffs. 


U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona has shown remarkable bravery and courage.  She now vows to return to Congress.  I hope she does.  Giffords, the victim of a horrific shooting by a crazed gunman, has lost half of her sight in both eyes.  She walks with a cane and writes with her left hand.

A new memoir, titled Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, describes her efforts to recover after being shot last January 8th in front of a Tucson, Arizona grocery store.  Six people lost their lives in the attack that day, including a nine-year-old child.

Rep. Giffords' memoir is written from the point of view of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.  The last chapter, however, however, is written from Giffords' own perspective.  She states emphatically, "I will get stronger.  I will return."  I'm sure she will and I wish her the best. 

Giffords attacker, Jared Lee Loughner, was clearly unstable.  It was known that he was unstable.  He never should have been allowed to possess a gun.  If there had be stricter gun control, this tragedy would never have happened.  It's too bad the courageous congresswoman has not supported strict gun control.   She would be a tremendous advocate for the cause, such as James Brady who was shot in the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.


Allow me weigh in on the Rob Ford - Mary Walsh 22 Minutes controversy.  While I think Mary Walsh should not have gone to Ford's home, it is my opinion that the mayor overreacted and behaved uncivilly.  As she pointed out, how dangerous is a 60-year-old woman with a plastic sword?  It's too bad that Mary didn't do her Warrior Princess thing at another location.  Politicians of all political stripe have faced the Newfoundlander's Marg Delahunty persona.  They have either joked along with her or gritted their teeth and smiled.


Today is Guy Fawkes Day in Britain.  I suggest that you read my posting on Guy Fawkes Day from last year - November 5. 2010.


Why was the skeleton afraid to cross the street?


Because he had no guts.


Here's what I think about the NBA lockout.  I have no sympathy for the owners and no sympathy for the players.  A pox on both their houses, I say!  So many people are struggling to make ends meet and unemployment is rampant in North America.  So why should I empathize with those obscenely wealthy and overpaid athletes and their fat cat owners?  What about those stadium workers who sell tickets, souvenirs and concessions?  What about the restaurant and small business owners who lose business when there are no games? 

Here in Toronto, there isn't much buzz about the Raptors.  I don't hear many people lamenting their absence.  Of course, only the Leafs really matter in this town.  There's probably a great deal more reaction in other cities.  If not, then it does not bode well for the future of professional basketball.


Here are some final comments about the 2011 World Series.  I am quite pleased that the St. Louis Cardinals won.  I'll never forget Game Six and how the Cards kept coming back.  They were extremely persistent and refused give up.  Their victory in Game Six really decided the Series.  Game Seven was really anti-climatic.  There was absolutely no way it could live up to the excitement of the previous game.  The Cardinals won it at home before their enthusiastic and loyal supporters.  Tony La Russa made a wise decision to retire.  He goes out in a blaze of glory and a World Series victory.  How can he possibly top that?

I'm disappointed that John McDonald will not be back with the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2012 season.  T.O. fans will miss Johnny Mac.  He was one classy guy.  I hope he finds happiness playing in Arizona and I'm glad he had the opportunity to play in the postseason with the Diamondbacks.

I couldn't believe the number of ex-Blue Jays in postseason plays.  It was pretty hard for Toronto fans to swallow.  Why didn't some of those players perform as well here in T.O.?  I'm thinking of Mark Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel.

- Joanne

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Significance of the Number 16


You see I have a thing about the number 16.  I am practically obsessed with the number.  Why?  Well, I was born on July 16th.  As a child, I was an ardent fan of a hockey player named Mike Walton.    Walton was a member of the Stanley Cup-winning 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs and he wore number 16 on his sweater.  (Note : Marcel Dionne and Henri Richard also wore number 16. Bobby Hull wore the number 16 too but changed to number 9.   In baseball, New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford's uniform number was 16 and he was the sixteenth Yankee to wear that number.  Ford's number 16 was retired by the Yanks in 1974.)

16 is an even number and I prefer even numbers to odd numbers.  Frankly, I just like the way the number looks.  It's pleasing to me.

The number 16 has coming-of-age symbolism - Sixteen Candles, Sweet Sixteen etc.  It is the twilight age between childhood and emerging adulthood. 


* The planet Jupiter has 16 moons or satellites.

* According to Encyclopedia Britannica, 16 has favourable attributes because it is the square of 4.  It was popular in ancient India.  The Chinese-Indian goddess Pussah has 16 arms. 

* There was a 1916 silent movie called Number 16 Martin Street.  It was directed by Lloyd B. Carleton and starred Dorothy Davenport, Emery Johnson and Gretchen Lederer.

In the game of chess, 16 pieces are used by each player.  Of the 32 pieces in a chess set, 16 of them are pawns.

* In Samuel Beckett's novel Molloy, 16 pebbles are featured in a detailed description of someone working on a mathematical problem.

* The great Irish writer James Joyce met his future wife, Nora Barnacle, on June16, 1904.  The events of his novel Ulysses take place on that day and June16th has come to be known as Bloomsday after its protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

* Caterpillars usually have 16 legs.  Thus, they can be described as hexadecapodal.  All caterpillars have three pairs of true legs (6) attached to their thorax.  They also have up to five pairs of prolegs (10) which they use for walking and clinging on to surfaces.  However, in the metamorphosis, all prolegs disappear.  When they emerge from their chrysalis as a butterfly or moth, they have only six legs.

* The following famous people died on August 16: Singer Elvis Presley (1977), baseball great Babe Ruth (1948), Gone with the Wind author, Margaret Mitchell (1949), John Diefenbaker, 13th Prime Minister of Canada (1979) and horror movie actor Bela Lugosi (1956).

* There are 16 ounces in a pound.

* Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States.

* Tennessee was the 16th state to join the Union on June 1, 1796.

* Some famous people who died on August 16th: Babe Ruth (1948)

* King Louis XVI was beheaded during the French Revolution.

* The current Roman Catholic Pope is Benedict XVI.

*  In the Myers-Briggs classification systems, there are 16 different personality types.

- Joanne

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Be aware! The Conservatives are relaxing gun control in Canada


Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues on his relentless mission to shape Canada into his own image.  His latest move is to seriously weaken gun control laws in this country.  As a supporter of strict gun control, I am terribly saddened and dismayed.   When I read the front page headline in the Toronto Star yesterday, my heart sank.  I was appalled.  The headline said:

Tories delist sniper rifle, self loading weapons

Harper has made no secret of his plans to dismantle the long-gun registry.  He campaigned on that promise and never hid his intentions.  So it is not unexpected that, having having won a majority government, the Conservatives would launch legislation to axe the registry.  Axing the gun registry is bad enough, but Harper has gone even further.  The long-gun bill will withdraw registration rules not only on shotguns but on more lethal firearms.

These powerful weapons include the Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle used by Marc Lepine to take the lives of 14 women in the 1989 Montreal massacre at Ecole Polytechnique.  If that weren't enough, The Ruger Mini-14 was also the weapon of choice for mass murderer Anders Breivik's to carry out his terrorist attacks in Norway last July.

Once these weapons are declassified, they will no longer be under the current controls of the data base run by the RCMP.  They will no longer fall under the category of "non-restricted" weapons and will become unregistered.  You can bet that this will not escape the attention of criminals, terrorists and unbalanced individuals.  It does not make one iota of sense.  What law-abiding farmer has need of a Ruger MIni-14 semi-automatic?  Please tell me.  Introduce me to such a farmer.  I'd like to meet this person.

Certainly the Conservative government wants to appeal to its base support in rural areas.  With all due respect to farmers, I say if you want your guns, you should be happy to register them.  Is it so difficult to do that in order to protect lives?  We all pay for driver's licences and fishing licences.  The same should apply to weapons, even if they are for hunting or protection against wild animals.  Any weapon can fall into the wrong hands. 

The fact is that the overwhelming majority of Canadians live in urban areas.  Urbanites have grave concerns about weapons falling under the control of criminal elements.  They are more vulnerable to the actions of crazed indivualized as they live their daily lives, walking on crowded streets, travelling by public transportation and frequenting eating establishments.

I believe that the more gun there are, the more they will be used.  Sadly, the Harper government is intent on relaxing Canada's gun control laws.  There is truth to the old adage, "If a'int broke, don't fix it."  Recently, Statistics Canada recently reported that Canada's homicide rate had sunk to its lowest level since 1966, a 44-year low.  In 2010, there were 554 homicides in this country, 56 fewer than in 2009.  Police reported 170 homicides with a firearm last year, down from 180 in 2009.

One murder is one to many and I am not advocating a smug approach.  We should never be complacent about crime.  The murder rate, however, has been steadily decreasing.  We must be doing something right.  So why is it necessary to axe the long-gun registry and to relax control on sniper rifles and self loading weapons? 

Yes, the long-gun registry's costs should have been kept under better control.  Remember, though, that the registry was endorsed by Canada's police chiefs.  They defended it as an effective tool and they are not "bleeding hearts."  They are not soft on crime.  Relaxed gun control and the proliferation of prisons has not served to decrease crime in the United States.  It won't help here either. 

- Joanne