Saturday, March 21, 2020

Some reflections while at home during the COVID-19 crisis

Here I am in Toronto in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Fortunately, I haven't travelled anywhere since I visited Prince Edward Island last summer, and as far as I know, I have not been in contact with anyone who has the virus.  Of course, I am taking precautions - washing hands etc.

Like many people in this city right now, I've been staying at home.  I've stopped using public transit and I only go outside to take a walk or to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy.  So, as you can imagine, I've had a lot of time to think and reflect about this pandemic.  What is happening is truly a nightmare.  The sheer volume of death and devastation, especially among the older population, is staggering.

I used to work in a newspaper library.  I am a news junkie.  I love current events and politics.  I know it's important for the public to be informed about the virus.  However, I can only take so much of this 24-hour wall-to-wall coverage.  I get the information I need and then tune out.  I am fully aware of how serious this crisis is, but I can't be completely consumed by fear and all the bad news. 

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has no idea how to deal with this crisis.  He seems incapable of soothing people's fears, or giving them true hope.  When asked by NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander to say something to calm Americans, Trump went on a tirade.  He reprimanded the correspondent and told him he was "a terrible reporter." (Alexander had challenged the president for promoting unproven drug treatments).

It is certainly not helpful for the American president to tout untested drugs, drugs that haven't even been tried on the COVID-19 virus.  It is certainly not helpful for the American president to throw tantrums and attack the press, which he calls the "enemy of the people"  The media are not perfect, but a free press is one of the pillars of democracy.

Trump appears clueless and incoherent.  He doesn't inspire the the trust needed at a time of crisis.  At first he didn't take the virus seriously.  He declared that it was going to magically go away.  Now he claims to have known all along that this was a pandemic.  Because of the president's mixed messages and misleading attitude, it has taken longer to provide the measures needed for the United States to combat this scourge.

When I think of how Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt helped America and the world get through the Great Depression and World War II, it saddens me to see the lack of global leadership today.  Instead of the Roosevelts and Winston Churchill, we have Trump and Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

We Canadians are doing our best to get through this crisis, but Canada is not a superpower.  Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, does not have as much influence as the leaders of more powerful nations.  We don't have a huge population or a great deal of military might.  The leadership in the U.S. and Europe and Asia affects us profoundly.

I have never experienced war first hand.  I never lived through the Great Depression or World War II.  As bad as the current crisis is, I am glad I do not have to face bombs like the British did during the London Blitz.  Yet, I have to admit that I am scared and worried.  I am trying to stay positive and not be too stressed.  It's hard to do at this terrible time, but it sure helps.  Maybe I should listen to some of FDR's old "fireside chats" on YouTube.  They were so reassuring.

By the way, here's how describes Roosevelt's "fireside chats."

From March 1933 to June 1944, Roosevelt addressed the American people in some 30 speeches broadcast via radio, speaking on a variety of topics from banking to unemployment to fascism in Europe.  Millions of people found comfort and renewed confidence in these speeches, which became known as the "fireside chats."

Below is a photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's June 28, 1934 "fireside chat" during the depths of the Great Depression.  He spoke about the merits of his recovery program.

Where have you gone Franklin Roosevelt?

Here are two final thoughts.

1.  This is one world and we are all in this together.  We are interconnected.

2.  In a crisis, government is not the problem.  It is a solution to the problem.  It is a balm.  It provides aid to a suffering people.

- Joanne

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The longest one-syllable words in the English language

" Never judge us the least."

Yours truly,


- Riya Ravi Sankar

Riva Ravi Sankar was born and raised in Coimbatore, a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  She is a poet and the English language has always fascinated her.


A word with one syllable is called a monsyllabic word.  The word "cat" is an example of an monsyllabic word.  Monsyllabic words cannot be divided into two or more syllables.  Each syllable must contain no less than one consonant and one vowel.  The consonant "y" can be a monsyllable.


* According to the Guinness World Records, the longest monsyllabic words in the English language begin with the letter "S."  "Scraunched" and "scrounded" are the longest and they both have 10 letters.  "Screeched,"" scrounged," ""squelched, "straights"and strengths finish in second place with 9 letters.

* It's interesting to note that in Chinese, all words are monsyllabic.

* How many monosyllabic words are there in the English language?  The Phonetic Word Search website returns 12,000 one-syllable words.  However, some of those words have two pronunciations and many of them are rarely used.

- Joanne

Friday, March 6, 2020

5 Golden Rules to help stop coronavirus

What is needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is knowledge and information, not fear and panic.  The most trustworthy information comes from the World Health Organisation (WHO).  Number 16 would like to share with you 5 Golden Rules provided by WHO.

- Joanne

5 Golden Rules
to help stop coronavirus

🙌Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
Keep a safe distance from anybody coughing or sneezing (at least 1 metre / 3 feet).
🤦Minimise touching your face.
🙊Sneeze and cough into your elbow or tissue.
🏠If you have symptoms, stay at home and call for medical care early.

Source: World Health Organisation

Monday, March 2, 2020

Quebec City Snow Sculptures

Here are some photos of the work of a very talented artist, snow sculptor Denis Gravel of Quebec City.  I hope you enjoy them.  Merci Denis.

- Joanne

Saturday, February 29, 2020

It's Leap Year Day

30 days hath September, April, June and November; all the rest have 31 excepting February alone, which has 28 days clear and 29 in each Leap Year.

Today is an ephemeral ghost . . .A strange amazing day that comes only once every four years.  For the rest of the time, it does not "exist."  In mundane terms, it marks a "leap" in time, when the calendar is adjusted to make up for extra seconds accumulated over the preceding three years due to the rotation of the earth.  A day of temporal tune up.  But this day holds another secret - it contains one of those truly rare moments of delightful transience and light uncertainty that only exist on the razor edge of things, along a buzzing plane of quantum possibility . . . A day of unlocked potential.  Will you or won't you? Should you or shouldn't you?   Use this day to do something daring, extraordinary and unlike yourself.  Take a chance and shape a different pattern in your personal cloud of probability.

- Vera Nazarian
The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Leap Year contains a special day, a bonus day, that is added to the Gregorian calendar so that it will be aligned with the astronomical year.  That day is February 29th and it is added to the shortest month of the year.

Happy Birthday to all Leap Year babies today.  Since February 29th comes around once every four years, it is uncommonly rare to have this birthday. The odds are  A  person has just a one in 1,461 chance of being born on that day, according to the BBC.  The reason is that four years equals 1,460 days and the addition of one day for the the Leap Year makes it 1,461.

Three out of every four years, Leap Year babies have the choice of celebrating their birthday on February 28th or March 1st.

Some Leap Year Babies

Antonio Sabato Jr., Italian-American soap opera actor, born February 29, 1972

Ja Rule (Jeffrey Atkins), American rapper, born February 29, 1976

Dinah Shore, American singer, television talk show host, born February 29, 1916, died February 24, 1994

Tony Robbins, American motivational speaker, author, born February 29, 1960

Dennis Farina, American actor, born February 29, 1944, died July 22, 2013

Henri Richard, Canadian hockey player, NHL star, born February 29, 1936

- Joanne

Friday, February 21, 2020

When is someone "elderly" or "middle-aged?"

Age is a state of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

- Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (1906-1982), African American baseball player, noted for his longevity in the game.

Satchel Paige was a right-handed pitcher who played Negro League baseball until Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier.  In July of 1948, at the age of 42, Satchel made major league debut with the Cleveland Indians.  He pitched for Cleveland again in 1949 and then spent three season with the St.. Louis, from 1951 to 1953, until age 47.  After a time in the minor leagues, Satchel resurfaced in the majors.  In 1965, at the age of 59, he had a one-game stint with the Kansas City Athletics in which he pitched three shutout innings.  When asked about age in interviews with the press, he would respond, "Age is a state of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Sachel Paige

Age is relative.  An athlete over the age of thirty is considered a veteran.  A thirty-something politician is considered young.  Another factor is that people are living longer.  When Henry VIII died in 1547, he was 55 years old and considered elderly.  However, 55 is generally not considered "elderly" now.  It is generally considered middle age.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "middle age" and "elderly as the following:

Middle age (noun): The period of life from about 45 to 64.

Elderly (adjective): rather old; especially: being past middle age; of relating to, or characteristic of later life or elderly persons

Defining "middle age" and "elderly" is highly arbitrary and quite subjective.  One problem is that the word "elderly" has certain connotations.  When someone is described as "elderly," we expect them to be feeble and to walk with a cane.  We conjure up an image of someone with grey hair who only likes to talk about the "old days."  This is simply not the case with many people 65 and over.  The word "elderly" reinforces a false stereotype of someone who is doddery or senile.  That's why the media should be cautious about using that word.  It doesn't seem fair to describe an energetic, healthy 66-year-old as "elderly?"

Age is also a matter of perspective.  To a teenager, a 42-year-old may seem "elderly."  Imagine how that teenager views a 70-year-old.  It is said that 60 is the new 40.  If that's the case, how does that affect the definitions of "middle age" and "elderly?"

- Joanne

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tribute to Tony Fernandez

TONY FERNANDEZ  June 30, 1962 - February 15, 2020

The Toronto Blue Jays are deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Frernandez today, one of our club's most celebrated and respected players.  Enshrined forever in Blue Jays history on the Level of Excellence (at Rogers Centre),.  Tony left an equally marks in the hearts of of a generation of Blue Jays fans during his 12 unforgettable seasons with the team.  His impact on the baseball community in Toronto and across Canada is immeasurable.  

- Statement from the Toronto Blue Jays

Sad to hear of the passing of former Blue Jays all star Tony Fernandez.  He played the game like a kid who couldn't believe he was getting paid for it.  And he treated the kids who were his fans like they were his bosses.  RIP Tony Fernandez

- Steve Pattereon
Canadian stand-up comedian, actor and television host

In my view, Tony was everything a Hall of Famer should be: an all-time great on the field and a charitable, selfless person person away from it.  We will miss him dearly.

- Scott Crawford
Director of Operations for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

This Sunday, I had planned to write about some happy topics. (We all need a break from the horrors of the Age of Trump, the climate crisis and the coronavirus.).  Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day because I woke up to the news of the death of Tony Fernandez.  The Dominican native was only 57 years old when he passed away.   He died in Florida after suffering a stroke yesterday,  He had been hospitalized due to kidney disease complications and put into a medically induced coma.

It's easy to list Tony's formidable baseball achievements during his 12 seasons as the Toronto Blue Jays'greatest shortstop, Fernandez had four stints in Toronto  (1983-1990), (1993), (1998-1999), (2001).and was a member of the Blue Jays' World Series championship team in 1993.  He earned the Blue Jays' Level of Excellence Award, which was created by the Jays "for recognizing individual achievement."  Tony was Toronto's leader in hits, triples and games played.  On June 28, 2008, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame at St. Mary's, Ontario.  On October 17, 2016, he was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto.

During the course of his 17-season career, Tony also played for the New York Mets, the San Diego Padres, the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees. the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers.  On September 3, 1995, Tony hit for the cycle as a New York Yankee against the Oakland Athletics.

Tony Fernandez was a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and a five-time Major League Baseball all star.  He was an all star both on and off the field.  He was simply a class act.  Dan Plesac, an all-star pitcher and current MLB network analyst, described his former Blue Jays teammate as a "kind, giant of a man.  Soft spoken and a true professional."  Another of Tony's onetime teammates, pitcher Todd Stottlemyre, wrote:  "My heart is heavy at the loss of my former teammate.  I will never forget this man.  He influenced my life in a positive way."

To me, Tony Fernandez epitomizes the best in professional athletes.  He was a fan favourite and I will always associate him with the glory years of the Toronto Blue Jays.  My condolences to his wife, Clara and their five children: Joel, Jonathan Abraham, Andres and Jasmine.  Rest in Peace, Tony.

- Joanne

Friday, February 7, 2020

Oscars Quiz 2020

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2020 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.  As you prepare for the big night, why not challenge yourself and try Number 16's tenth annual Oscars quiz.  There are 10 questions.  Good luck!


1.  Robert De Niro was snubbed at this year's Academy Awards.  He did not receive an Oscar nomination for Martin Scorsese's gangster epic The Irishman (Joe Pesci and Al Pacino were nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for their performances in the film).  De Niro is the past winner of two Oscars.  For which films did Niro win his Oscars?

De NIro
A.  The Deer Hunter and Raging Bull

B.  Taxi Driver and The Godfather Part II

C.  Raging Bull and The Godfather Part II

D,  The King of Comedy, The Deer Hunter

E.  Once Upon a Time in America, Raging Bull

2.  Who is the only actor to be nominated twice for a Best Actor Oscar.

A,  Montgomery Clift

B.  James Dean

C.  Peter Finch

D.  Jean Harlow

E/   Sal Mineo

3.  How many times have the Academy Awards been postponed?

A.  Once

B.  Twice

C.  Three times

D.  Four times

E.  Never

4.  What year were the Oscars first broadcast in colour?

A.  1967

B.  1965

C.  1964

D.  1966

E.  1968

5.  How much does an Oscar statuette weigh?

A,  7 1/2 pounds (3.4 kilograms)

B.  8 1/2 pounds (3.85 kilograms)

C.  6 1/2 pounds (2.94 kilograms)

D.  5 1/2 pounds  (2.49 kilograms)

E.  7 pounds (3.17 kilograms)

6.  Brad Pitt has been nominated this year for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  In 2012, he received an Oscar for producing the Best Picture - 12 Years a Slave.  Has he ever won an Oscar for an acting role?

A.  No.

B.  Yes, he won a Best Actor in a Leading Role Award for his performance in Moneyball.

C.  Yes, he won a Best Actor in a Leading Role Award for his performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

D.  Yes, he won a Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in 12 Monkeys.

E.  Yes, he has won two Oscars - Best Actor in a Lead Role for Moneyball and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for 12 Monkeys.

7.  Kirk Douglas died on February 5, 2020 at the age of 103.  Did he ever receive an Oscar?

A    No, he never received an Oscar.

B.  Yes, he received an Oscar for Lust for Life.

C.  Yes, he received an Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful.

D.  Yes, he received an Oscar for Champion.

E.   Yes, he received an Academy Honorary Award.

8.  Marilyn Monroe never won an Oscar.  Was she ever nominated for one.

A.  Yes, for her role in Some Like it Hot

B.  Yes, for Niagara

C.  Yes, for The Prince and the Showgirl

D.  No, she was never nominated.

E.  Yes, for Bus Stop

9.  Renée Zellweger has been nominated this year for her performance as Judy Garland in the film Judy.  If she wins, she will garner her second Oscar.  For which film did she win an Oscar?

Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland 

A.  Bridget Jones's Diary

B.  Cold Mountain

C.  Chicago

D.  Nurse Betty

E.  Jerry Maguire

10. Sydney Poitier will turn 93 years old on February 20, 2020.  He is the first black to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.  For which film did he win his Oscar?

Sydney Poitier in 1968

A.  Lilies of the Field

B.  A Patch of Blue

C.  Blackboard Jungle

D.  A Raisin in the Sun

E.  Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?


1.  C.
Raging Bull and The Godfather Part II

Robert De Niro won the 1975 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Godfather Part II.  He also received the 1981 Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Raging Bull.

2  B.

James Dean

James Dean was won two Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscars posthumously.  He won for his performances in the 1955 film East of Eden and the 1956 film Giant.

On September 30, 1955, James Dean.was killed in a highway crash while driving his Porsche to Salinas, California to compete in an auto race.  East of Eden was released a few weeks before his death.  He died before Giant was edited.  It was released about a year after his passing.

3.  C.

Three times

The Academy Awards were delayed for a week in 1938 due to a flooding in Los Angeles.  In 1968, the Oscars were postponed for two days because of Martin Luther King's funeral.  In 1981, they were pushed back for one day because of an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

4.  D


The Academy Awards were first broadcast in colour on April 18, 1966.  That was 13 years after the Oscars were first televised across the United States and Canada, on March 19, 1953.

5.  B

8 1/2 pounds (3.85 kilograms)

6.  A


Brad Pitt has never received an Academy Award for an acting role.  He had been nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and for Moneyball.  He has also been nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for 12 Monkeys.  If he wins for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he will take home his first acting Oscar.

7.  E


In 1996, Kirk Douglas received an Academy Honorary Award.  Although he was nominated for three acting performances, he failed to win all three times.  In 1950, Douglas was nominated for Best Actor for Champion.  In 1953, he was nominated for Best Actor for The Bad and the Beautiful.  In 1957, he was nominated for Best Actor for Lust for Life.

8.  D


Marilyn Monroe was never nominated for an Academy Award.

9.  B

Cold Mountain


In 2004, Renée Zellweger won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Cold Mountain.  In 2003, received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Chicago, but did not win.  In 2002, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Bridget Joness's Diary, but did not win.

10.  A

Lilies of the Field

Poitier in Lilies of the Field

Poitier with Oscar in 1964

In 1964, Sydney Poitier won a Best Actor Oscar for his role as a handyman who helps a group of German-speaking nuns build a chapel in Lilies  of the Field.  He was the only black man to win that award until Denzil Washington won it 38 years later for Training Day.  Coincidentally, Denzil Washington won his Oscar on the same night in 2002 that Sydney Poitier received an Honorary Oscar from the Academy in recognition for "his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being."

- Joanne

Friday, January 24, 2020

Vocabulary Test #16: Ten words related to birds

Number 16 Vocabulary Quiz #6 
Ten words related to birds

1.  What is the correct term for someone who studies birds?
A.  An orthologist

B.  An ornithologist

C.  A paralogist

D.  A homologist

E.   An ophiologist

2.  What is an aviary?
A.  A collection of birds' nests

B.  A place for healing injured birds; a kind of hospital for birds

C.  A gathering of bird watchers

D.  A place for keeping birds confined

E.  A special school for those who study birds

3.  What is an avifauna?
A.   The birds who can fly

B.   The birds who cannot fly

C.  The birds or the kinds of birds of a region, period, environment

D.  Birds who do not build nests

E.   A bird of prey

4.  What is a talon?
A.  The claw of an animal and especially of a bird of prey

B.   The bill or beak of a bird

C.   A baby bird about to leave the nest

D.   An old bird

E.   A female bird

5.  What is oology?
A.  The study of birds' feathers

B.   The study of birds' sounds

C.  The collection and study of birds' eggs especially in relation to their shape and coloration

D.  The collection and study of birds' nests especially in relation to their shape and size

E.  The study of the migration of birds

6.  What is a gizzard?
A.  A bird's throat

B.  Where the reproductive and urinary ducts of a bird open

C.  Area between eye and bill of a bird

D.  Extension of the foregut of a bird, used to store food

E.  Part of a bird's stomach, grinds food

7.  What is a wattle?
A.  A large, colourful bird feather

B.  Fleshy protuberance, usually at the bill of a bird

C.  A kind of bird walk

D.  A baby bird

E.  A group of migrating birds

8.  What is a crest?
A.   The loudest sound that a bird makes

B.  Where the nest of a bird is located

C.   A distinctive marking on some birds

D.  Long feathers atop the head of a bird

E.  The highest a bird can fly

9.  What does "to fledge" mean?
A.  To leave the nest after acquiring the ability to fly

B.  To spread wings

C.   To fly without the rest of the flock

D.  To search for food

E.  To abandon nest and build another one elsewhere.

10.  What does "to molt" mean?
A.  To return after migration

B.  To lose feathers due to aging

C.   To attack another bird

D.  The process by which the colour of a bird's feathers fade

E.  To replace old feather

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

1.  B
ornithologist (noun): One who is involved with a branch of zoology dealing with birds

2.  D
aviary (noun): A place for keeping birds confined, as in "The zoo has a new outdoor aviary."

3.  C
avifauna (noun): The birds or he kinds of birds of a region, period, environment

4.  A
talon (noun): The claw of an animal and especially of a bird of prey, as in "The hawk gripped the mouse in its talons."

5.  C
oology (noun): The collection and study of birds' eggs especially in relation to their shape and coloration.  The first known use of the term "oology" was in 1830.

6.  E
gizzard (noun): The muscular enlargement of the digest tract of birds that has usually thick muscular walls and a tough horny lining for grinding the food

7.  B
wattle (noun): A fleshy pendulous process usually about the head or neck (as of a bird), such as the flap of bumpy red skin hanging off a male turkey's face

8.  D
crest (noun): A showy tuft or process on the head of an animal and especially a bird

Blue Jay with crest (long feathers on head)

9.  A
fledge (verb): Of a young bird: to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity also: to leave the nest after acquiring such feathers

10.  E
molt (verb): To shed hair, feathers, shell, horn, or an outer layer periodically, as in "Birds molt once or twice a year."

- Joanne

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Imperial Presidency of Donald Trump

Let there be light and let it shine on the truth so that America and the world can be saved from the tyranny of the Imperial Presidency of Donald Trump.  President Trump insists that he is innocent and that he has not done anything wrong.  Don't believe him, America!  You can see that he is not behaving like an innocent man.  Why doesn't he want the American people and the rest of the world to know the truth?  An innocent man exposes himself to the light, but Donald Trump has cloaked himself in darkness.  If he has nothing to hide, why has the White House been doing  everything in its power to withhold witnesses and documents from Congress.  I challenge every Republican and Trump supporter to provide me with a satisfactory answer to that question.

Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts have insulted the American people.  Why don't they think that Americans are capable of making up their own minds after having access to all the evidence?  Why can't John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney testify?  Witnesses testified at the Senate trials of Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton.  What kind of trial has no witnesses?

Is Team Trump afraid that given the evidence, Trump's perfidy will be laid out for all to see.
Trump's aim is to continually expand the powers of the presidency, but there is a reason why the founders created two other branches of government.  There is a reason why the Congress is a co-equal branch which cannot be ignored.  There is a reason for the impeachment process.  That reason is to curb presidential power. That reason is to stop a president like Trump from becoming too autocratic.  If Trump wins another four years in office. the United States will be unrecognizable.  Trump might as well be crowned king or emperor.  This cannot and should not be allowed to happen to America and the world.

Trump's trained seals in the Senate are not going to convict him.  Barring some unforeseen circumstances, there is only one way to save America.  He must be defeated in the 2020 election.  I write this because I am alarmed.  I truly believe that Donald J. Trump is not only a threat to America, but a threat to the whole world.  This is the gravest threat to the Republic since the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

No, Donald Trump!  You can't do anything you want.  You are not above the law.  Contrary to what you say, the president cannot kill someone on Fifth Avenue with impunity.  He or she must be accountable to the people.  The Constitution of the United States says so.

- Joanne

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Another Memo to Conservative American Evangelicals

"The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader (President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine) to harass and discredit one of the president's political opponents (Joe Biden).  This is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.  

The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration.  He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals (Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and others).  He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud.  His Twitter feed alone - with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders - is a perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused."

- Mark Galli
"Trump should be removed from office," Christianity Today editorial, December 19, 2019


Note: This is my second memo to American evangelicals.  I wrote my original memo on September 21, 2018

American evangelicals:

Your support was critical to Donald Trump's electoral college victory in 2016.  You are a prime reason why he sits in the Oval Office today.  Donald Trump chose Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate in order to attract your votes.  He is depending on your votes in order to win re-election in 2020

I have some questions for you and I trust you will reflect carefully as you answer them privately.  As you well know, the main tenets of Christianity are to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself.  Christ clearly set out those two commandments.  So, I ask you honestly to consider whether Donald Trump has lived up to those commandments in his words and deeds.  No one is perfect, but surely the president of the United States cannot be allowed to behave in a profoundly immoral manner.  His tweets are full of name-calling, insults and bullying.  He belittles anyone who disagrees with him.

Here are some points to consider:

* Prior to the 2016 election, released The Washington Post released a 2005 video in which Donald Trump bragged about molesting women in a conversation with Billy Bush.  Many people were surprised that this video did not immediately put an end to Trump's candidacy for president of the United States.  20 of 30 years ago, he would have had to end his presidential campaign due to that video.

* Donald Trump has called Mexicans "rapists and criminals" and treated them with utter contempt.  Is that an example of loving your neighbour?  Trump has separated innocent Central American migrant children from their parents and placed them in detention camps.  That is unconscionable. It is monstrous and barbaric.  Jesus said, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of heaven"  He did not say only some children.  He meant all children.

Children in detention camp

* Trump has removed environmental protections.  He  encourages the use of fossil fuels and he took the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord.  In the Book of Genesis, God grants humans stewardship over the earth.  "Then the Lord God took the man into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." Genesis 2:15.

Trump ignores science.  He won't do anything about the climate crisis.  The climate crisis is a moral crisis and it threatens the very survival of our planet.  We are running out of time and the world cannot afford another four years of Donald Trump.

* Donald Trump is not the "chosen one" as some of his followers profess him to be.  God did not grant him the right to be president of the United States.  He is not some kind of king or messiah.  Is he invoking the ancient "divine right of kings," by which kings were chosen by God to rule?  Does he consider himself some kind of messiah? (The thought is sickening).  Yet, Trump behaves like a cult leader and his supporters practically worship him.  They are afraid to cross him.  The First Commandment says "Thou shall no other gods but me."

* Trump has no respect for the Constitution of the United States.  He acts like a dictator.  He wants all power to be vested in the Executive branch of government.  He doesn't like to be reminded that Legislative branch (Congress) is a co-equal branch of government.

* Trump brags that the American economy has never been as good under his administration.  Well that may be, if you are a billionaire or well off enough to invest in the stock market.  The Trump economy does nothing for lower income Americans.  It does nothing for those trapped in low paying jobs.  It does nothing for those who do not have health insurance.  It only increases the widening gap between haves and have nots.  That is not social justice.  That is not Christianity at work, since Christ was a champion of the poor and the marginalized.  Christ did not demonize the poor.  He said, "Blessed are the Poor."

Anyone who claims to be a Christian cannot in good conscious support Donald Trump.  Trump must be held accountable for his behaviour because nobody is above the law.

- Joanne

Thursday, January 9, 2020

How to become an eco-friendly driver

Here is an infographic with valuable tips on how to become an eco-friendly driver.  The statistics have been taken from American sources and American "gallons" and "miles" are used rather than "litres" and  kilometres."  Yet the information is still relevant to those living outside the United States as they can easily do the conversions.  More and more people are becoming concerned about the environment.  Here are ways you can make a difference.

- Joanne

Take steps to be more eco-friendly on the road to improve the environment and your wallet. Remember: driving safely is one great way to go green and get you a better car insurance rate. It’s never too late to adopt sustainable practices in your driving habits, vehicle maintenance, and daily commute.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

My 2020 Wish List

Last year I posted my personal wish list for 2019.  I promised to let you know which of my wishes came true and to write another wish list for 2020.  Here's how my 2019 wish list turned out:

* I wished that 2019 would be a bad year for dictatorships and authoritarian leaders around the world, especially Russia's Vladimir Putin.

In fact, it was a rather good year for right-wing male leaders.

Boris Johnson/s Conservatives won a majority in the December 12, 2019 British election, but the honeymoon will soon be over,  The Conservative victory will not put an end to the Brexit agony, as many UK voters surmised.  Getting a deal done will not be so easy and it will not happen as quickly as Boris would like it to.  I'm afraid that there will be tough times ahead for Britain, economically and politically.  Brexit will open up a can of worms with Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Also, the British economy will decline due to Brexit and Johnson will not protect the National Health Service (NHS).

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu is still hanging on to the leadership of his Likud party, although he has been indicted on charges of breach of trust, bribery and fraud.  As a result of the charges, he is legally required to relinquish all his ministry posts, with the exception of the post of prime minister.  On March 2, 2020, Israeli's will be going to the polls for the third election in one year.

Vladimir Putin continues to rule Russia with an iron hand as does Kim Jong-un in North Korea.  Putin holds the puppet strings that control Donald Trump and the United States of America/

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is in power and he is anything but environmentally friendly.  He thumbs his nose at wildfires in the Amazon.  He bullies and harms indigenous people who are trying to protect the rainforest, known as "the earth's lungs."

The bright spot for democracy is Hong Kong.  It is valued by the people there and they are trying to preserve it.

* I hoped that 2019 would mark the final year of the presidency of Donald Trump.  I wished that he would resign or that he would be impeached and convicted - the sooner, the better.  I said that every day he remains in office causes damage to the United States and to the rest of the world.  I stated that my nightmare would be that Trump would be able to run again in 2020.

Well, 2019 did not mark the final year of the Trump presidency.  He remains in office and he fully intends to be the Republican candidate for president in 2020.  The good news is that he has been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives and he is awaiting a trial in the Senate.  It is highly unlikely that he will be convicted by the Republican-controlled Senate, but he will be held accountable for his crimes and misdemeanours.  He is not happy about being the third president in American history to be impeached.  He knows that that dubious distinction will be forever attached to his name.

Anything could happen between now and the November election.  There may be a few surprises.

* I wished that the United Kingdom would remain in the European Union.  

Alas, now that Boris Johnson has a majority government, there is little chance that the UK will remain in the European Union.

* I wished that the Toronto Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup, their first victory since May 2, 1967.  My dream scenario:  Mitch Marner would score  the winning goal with about 50 seconds left in the third period of the seventh game.  

That didn't happen.  The Leafs were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.  They got off to a rocky start this season and fired coach Mike Babcock.  The team is playing much better under new coach Sheldon Keefe.

Although the Maple Leafs didn't get past the first round of the playoffs, The Toronto Raptors brought joy to the city when they won the 2019 NBA championship.

* I hoped that 2019 would be a good year for those who are concerned about the environment.and that some significant progress will be made in the fight against climate change.  

Greta Thunberg, the teen environmental activist from Sweden, led an inspiring campaign to save the planet for future generations.  She stood up to world leaders and told them in no uncertain terms that they are not doing nearly enough to fight climate change.  Unfortunately, populist right-wing politicians and their followers are preventing necessary measures from being taken.  More people, however, are concerned.  There were many climate change protests in 2019, but the protesters, especially young adults, have to show up and vote for candidates who take a strong stand in support of environmental protection.

Here in Canada, the Conservatives lost the October 21, 2019 federal election partly because they did not have a credible plan for environment.  It hurt them enormously in the highly populated City of Toronto, where the environment mattered to voters.  The Conservatives lost all 25 of Toronto's parliamentary seats.  They are in the process of choosing a new leader who will have to seriously address the climate crisis if the party is to return to power.

* I wished for a really major breakthrough in preventing, curing or controlling one or more of the world's most harmful diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's etc.

The good news is that several major medical breakthroughs occurred in 2019.  They will benefit those with everything from peanut allergies to prostate cancer.  Biogen, a biotech company, announced in October that it is seeking FDA approval for a new drug called Aducanumab, which is reported to be the first drug to reduce cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's Disease..

* I  wished for fewer wars and more civility in the world in 2019.  

Unfortunately, I didn't see any improvement there.  I still remain hopeful that the pendulum will swing and that some of the more populist right-wing leaders will be defeated in elections.

Here is my 2020 wish list:

* I fervently hope that Donald Trump resigns from office in 2020 or loses the November election.  He is becoming more and more unstable.  Every day he remains in office, he poses a very real danger to the United States and the world.  It would also be nice if the Republicans lost control of the Senate, so that Mitch McConnell could no longer be the "Grim Reaper."

* I also hope that Benjamin Netanyahu will finally be ousted from power by Israeli voters.

* I will lower my expectations for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020.  I hope they will go deeper into the playoffs.  If they somehow win the Stanley Cup, I will be thrilled, but I am not counting on it.  f the Leafs fall short, it would be great to see a Canadian-based team win Lord Stanley's Mug.  That hasn't happened since 1993.  It's due.

I hope the Toronto Raptors can repeat their NBA championship victory, but it won't be easy.

I don't have high expectations for the Toronto Blue Jays, but I hope they have a much better record than last year.  I think they will.

* I once again wish for more civility in the world.  It may not happen until Donald Trump leaves the White House.  This is not to say that Trump is the only cause of all the incivility and gracelessness.  However, he is undoubtedly one of the leading causes of the lack of civility in the United States and around the globe.  As president of the world's most powerful country, he has a great deal of influence.

*  I also wish for less war and terrorism.

* I hope that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan are successful and that Canadian athletes perform well and honourably.

On January 1, 2021, I will write another wish list and I will let you know if any of my wishes came true.

- Joanne