Tuesday, August 27, 2019

If Leafs lose Mitch Marner, it's their own fault

Mitch Marner
If the Toronto Maple Leafs lose Mitch Marner, they have only themselves to blame.  Marner isn't saying much, only that he is trying to enjoy the summer.  In July, however, the 22-year-old restricted free agent indicated that he would refuse to go to training camp without a contract.  Well, July has turned into late August.  September and Labour Day are fast approaching.  As of this writing, there is still no agreement between Mitch and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If negotiations continue to stall, the talented right winger may practise with the Zurich Lions of the Swiss League  According to the Lions, an agent has inquired about the possibility of Marner training with the team if contract talks with the Maple Leafs do not progress.  So, there is a very real chance that Mitch may be heading to Switzerland this fall, although the Zurich Lions tweeted that whether and when Mitch will train with them, "is not decided yet."

It appears that Marner is ready to play hardball and hold out for what he wants, otherwise he'll walk.  Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has stated that if Mitch Marner or any other Toronto free agent signs an offer sheet with another team, the Leafs might let the player go.  Of course, this may be just posturing on the part of both parties in order to speed up the process.

Even so, Marner may not back down on his demands and the Leafs have a cap limit.  This is all too reminiscent of last year's dispute with William Nylander.  The Swedish forward held out, but eventually acquiesced to a six-year $45-million contract in December of 2018.  The Nylander agreement carries a salary cap hit of just over $6.96 mullion for the next five seasons.

My question is this: Why did the Maple Leafs agree to invest so much in William Nylander, especially when they knew they would have to deal with Auston Matthews and then Marner?  In February of  2019, the Leafs signed Matthews to a five-year contract extension with an annual average value of $11.634 million.  At least Matthews had proven something.  In 2016-17, for example, he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.  He played 82 games and established Maple Leaf rookie records for goals (40) and points (69) in a season.  In 2017-2018, he played 62 games and recorded 34 goals, and 29 assists for 63 points. In 2018-19, Matthews appeared in 68 games, scored 37 goals and registered 73 points.

Mitch Marner has also proven his value,  Last season, he played 82 games, scored 26 goals and recorded a whopping 68 assists for 94 points.  William Nylander, on the other hand, demanded a great deal before he had even proven his worth.  The Leafs actually played well during the time he sat out.  When Nylander finally returned, his play was laclustre and mediocre.  He certainly has potential and will most likely have a better season this year.  Still, I don't think he'll ever have the skill and finesse of a Mitch Marner.  If the Leafs hadn't made that lucrative deal with Nylander, they would have enough cap to afford Mitch Marner.  I hope they haven't lost Marner for Nylander's sake.  If Toronto had to give up one of those three young players due to the salary cap, it should have been William Nylander.

EDITOR'S UPDATE:  Fortunately, the Maple Leafs were able to reach an agreement with Mitch Marner on Friday, September 13, 2019.  He signed a six-year contract with an average annual value of $10.893 million.  It will be good to see Number 16 in a Leafs uniform again.  I am also pleased that the Leafs will finally select a captain.

- Joanne

Monday, August 19, 2019

America and guns

Here's how President Donald Trump has responded to recent questions about gun control:

"So, Congress is working on that. They have bipartisan committees working on background checks and various other things. And we'll see. I don't want people to forget that this is a mental health problem. I don't want them to forget that, because it is. It's a mental health problem. And as I say -- and I said the other night in New Hampshire; we had an incredible evening -- I said: It's the people that pull the trigger. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger."

"I'm also very, very concerned with the Second Amendment, more so than most Presidents would be. People don't realize we have very strong background checks right now."

- Donald Trump
August 18, 20119

Does that sound like a president who is going to get serious about gun control?  Does that sound like a man who is going to stop all the gun violence and mass shooting in the United States? Just days after a mass shooting at a garlic Festival in Gilroy, California,, a 21-year-old white supremacist opened fire at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.  The El Paso massacre left 20 dead and 20 injured.  Hours later, it happened again, another mass shooting at a bar in Dayton, Ohio.

President Donald Trump's response to this gun violence and shedding of innocent blood is woefully inadequate.  It is especially galling since Trump has been stoking the flames of white nationalism.  He is also a strong supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The president's reaction to mass shootings is always the same.  He offers his support and prayers to the grieving families.  However, he and his Republican lackeys will never do what really needs to be done in order to protect innocent lives.  They won't do it because they need the support of the NRA and right-wing conservatives to win re-election in 2020.  Trump and the Republicans have to save their political skins, which seems to be more important to them than protecting Americans from gun violence.

This can't go on.  It is a scourge and it has to stop.  Most Americans know it.  Still, Trump and his cohorts refuse to address the problem.  They refuse to do what must be done.  Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have no place on the streets of America or on any city streets.  They should be banned PERIOD.

Trump stated that the U.S. already has strong background checks now.  If so, why are there so many incidents of gun violence?  Why are so many weapons falling into the hands of mentally ill people and white supremacists?  Why are so many Americans, young and old alike, rich and poor alike, living in fear of mass shootings?

Donald Trump has blamed video games and mental health for the shootings.  Yet, he refuses to take any measures to prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who are mentally unstable.  He and the Republican-controlled Senate refuse to back legislation allowing stringent background checks.  Of course, Trump will never acknowledge his own complicity in the mass shootings, nor will the Republicans, nor will the NRA.  They just keep on repeating the specious argument that "guns don't kill people" ad nauseum.  Yes, people pull the trigger, but people also allow guns to be sold to the mentally ill and to  militant white supremacists.  More guns always equals more gun violence.  That's why countries with stricter gun laws have fewer shootings.  People who have to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  Guns can't do that.

The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows that:

89% of Americans favour expanded background checks for gun purchases.

76% favour "red flag laws" to identify dangerous persons and deny them guns

75% favour a voluntary buyback program in which the government would purchase firearms from current owners.

62% of Americans favour a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons.  (Why isn't that number higher?)

Only 25% favour the banning of handguns and 46% of Americans say someone in their household owns a gun.

For comparison, here a recent poll on gun control and gun ownership in Canada.  According to an Angus Reid poll (released May 24, 2019), found the following.:

* Half of Canadians (50%) consider gun violence a serious problem for the country, while half say political and media coverage of this has been overblown.

* 75% of Canadians would support a complete ban on assault weapons.

* 61% wanted to see a complete ban on handguns in Canada (support for the ban is considerably higher in rural areas than urban areas).

* Of those surveyed, 77% said they've never owned a gun, while 14% currently owned a gun.  9% had owned a gun in the past.

* Two-thirds of Canadians (65%) said they would support a tax
funded buy-back program for gun owners if the government banned handguns, assault weapons or both.

 - Joanne

Vocabulary Quiz #2

Number 16 Vocabulary Quiz #2

Number 16 presents a multiple choice vocabulary quiz.  Choose the correct definition of each word listed.  There are ten words for you to define.  Ready, set, go!

1.  umbrage (noun)

A.  A large mound of garbage or refuse

B.  Leftover residue from a fire, such as ashes and burnt items

C.  Offense or annoyance, a feeling of pique or resentment at some fancied slight or insult

D.  A secret or hidden room in a mansion

E.  A leafy vegetable, most commonly found in tropical and Caribbean countries

2.  countermand (verb)

A.  To attack unexpectedly in battle

B.  To revoke a command by contrary order

C.  To spy on an other country as a double agent

D.  To unlawfully seize private property

E.   To withdraw support from a candidate during an election

3.  piscatory (adjective)

A.  of, related to a blood vessels

B.  of, related to, or dependent on pigs or pig farming

C.  of, related to animals that have fur

D.  of, related to, or dependent on fish or fishing

E.  of, related to swimming or swimming pools

4.  incontrovertible (adjective)

A.  not open to question: INDISPUTABLE

B.  that which is impossible to forget  UNFORGETTABLE

C.  that which can be changed easily

D.  that which is not portable and can not be carried around

E.   of cars, relating to sedans, not convertibles

5.  distended (adjective)

A.  postponed, delayed (as a decision)

B.  enlarged, expanded, or stretched out (as from internal pressure)

C.  shortened in length

D.  chopped up into smaller parts

E.  alone and abandoned

6.  inculcate (verb)

A.  to trespass on someone's property

B.  to invade

C.  to plunder and rob

D.  to teach by example

E.  to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions

7.  renal (adjective)

A.  relating to the lower body

B.  of relating to, involving, or located in the region of the liver

C.  of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the kidneys: NEPHRIC

D.  of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the intestines or the intestines

E.   of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the pancreas

8.  obfuscate (verb)

A.  to make obscure, to confuse

B.  to be obedient

C.  to protest loudly

D.  to be controlling

E.   to demand strongly

9.  scurrilous (adjective)

A.  unreasonable, not logical

B.  not accurate

C.  very aggressive or violent

D.  containing obscenities, abuse, or slander

E.   ridiculous

10.  autophobia (noun)

A.  morbid fear of automobiles

B.  morbid fear of robots

C.  morbid fear of movable objects

D.  morbid fear of being lost

E.   morbid fear of solitude

(Note:  The definitions for the correct answers have been taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary or thesaurus)

1.  C
umbrage (noun): Offense or annoyance, a feeling of pique or resentment at some fancied slight or insult  as in I took umbrage at the speaker's remarks

2.  B
countermand (verb): To revoke a command by contrary order: OVERRIDE, OVERRULE, VETO

3.  D
piscatory (adjective): Of, related to, or dependent on fish or fishing

4.  A
incontrovertible (adjective): Not open to question: INDISPUTABLE as in incontrovertible facts

5.  B
distended (adjective): Enlarged, expanded, or stretched out (as from internal pressure)

6.  E
inculcate (verb): To teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions as to inculcate in him high moral standards

7.  C
renal (adjective): Of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the kidneys: NEPHRIC, as renal disease

8.  A
obfuscate (verb): To make obscure, as to obfuscate the issue; to confuse, as to obfuscate the reader

9.  D
scurrilous (adjective): Containing obscenities, abuse, or slander as in scurrilous accusations

10.  E
autophobia (noun): Morbid fear of solitude, as in the fear of being alone

- Joanne

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Blockbuster Baddies: Who is the Most Villainous Actress of All Time?

Here is a great infographic for film buffs.  Have you ever wondered about who is the most villainous actress of all time?  Here are some statistics and graphics to provide you with the answer.  I hope that you find this informative and entertaining.

- Joanne

Villainous Actress of All Time?

Bellatrix Lestrange, Mystique and Cruella de Vil.  All familiar names with movie buffs and filmgoers alike due to their cunning, cruelty and villainousness.  One of the greatest female baddies, Maleficent, is due to return to cinema screens in October.in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  Played by Angelina Jolie, her character is a powerful fairy who curses the King's daughter.

Casino Kings have trawled through almost 1,000 movie bios to find the most villainous actress of all time and which villainous role they're most likely to portray.  Hare are the results.

Top Five Most Villainous Actresses

- Glenn Close
- Helena Bonham Carter
- Sigourney Weaver
- Charlize Theron
- Jessica Lange

Glenn Close is the most villainous actress of all time, playing villains in 29% of her movies. She is perhaps most recognisable in her role as cruel dalmatian owner and fur enthusiast Cruella de Vil in the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians.  Close is closely followed by British actress Helena Bonham Carter, who famously portrays Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter franchise.

Unsurprisingly a cheating partner takes the lead for the most villainous role, with a slippery thief and corrupt authority coming in close seconds.

The USA tops the charts for the most villainous as 8 of the 10 actresses are American.

Top Five Villainous Roles

- Cheating Partner
- Slippery Thief
- Corrupt Authority
- Cold Murderess
- Evil Witch


Thursday, August 8, 2019

"My Country, Right or Wrong": Thoughts on Blind Loyalty

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
From a letter by Roosevelt, written in May 1918 and published in The Kansas City Star (as quoted in The Nation at War by James Scherer).

"'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case,  It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober."'

- G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), British author
From The Defendant [1901]

"Burt you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile."

- Patrick O'Brian (1914-2000), English novelist
From Master and Commander [1969]


Lindsey Graham
The day after Donald Trump's infamous July 17, 2019 rally in North Carolina, when Trump stirred up hatred against four progressive Democratic congresswomen (all women of colour, all American citizens), U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham made the following comment to reporters.

“for President Trump, if you embrace his policies, doesn’t matter where you come from, he probably likes you.”

- Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican, South Carolina)

There is some truth in what Senator Graham's said regarding Donald Trump.  As long as you agree with the president and wears a red MAGA hat, you are a patriotic American.  However, if your skin is brown or black and if you do not agree with the president's policies, if you are (horrors) a card-carrying Democrat, then you are characterized is an enemy, an alien, a communist, "the other."  That's why there are few African-Americans or Latinos at Donald Trump's hate rallies.

As a Trump supporter and enabler, the senator is horribly misguided.  If he truly agrees with Trump's views on loyalty and patriotism, then he is not fit to be a member of the United States Senate.  He does not comprehend the essence of democratic dissent and free speech.

"My country, right or wrong" is the philosophy of the Archie Bunkers of this world.  That's why I subscribe to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, G.K. Chesterton and Patrick O'Brian.  I believe it is incumbent upon a true patriot to criticize his or her own country, to point out what is wrong and what can be improved.  The true patriot cannot sit back and allow injustice to happen without protesting.  It is a civic duty and a responsibility.  I also believe it is dangerous and undemocratic to equate loyalty to one's country with loyalty to one's leader.  That is exactly what the dictators and authoritarian strongmen do.  That's the reason why Donald Trump admires Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin so greatly.  They don't have to tolerate criticism.  They can do what they want.

For Donald Trump, loyalty to the United States means loyalty to him. If one does not agree with him, then one is unpatriotic. This president doesn't seem to grasp the essence of democracy.  He doesn't realize that blind loyalty is not true patriotism.

- Joanne