Friday, June 17, 2022

Photos of Toronto Islands and Lake Ontario

 Here are some photos taken around the Toronto Islands and Lake Ontario on a beautiful June day last week.  I hope you enjoy them.  Above is a photo of the Centre Island pier, by Lake Ontario, looking east.

- Joanne



Centre Island ferry docks.



Centre Island, looking west, beach




Fountain, Centre Island

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Read this before your vote in tomorrow's Ontario election

The province of Ontario has a population of more than 15 million people, more than many countries.  Ontarians go to the polls tomorrow to decide who governs this province, perhaps for the next four years.  The stakes are high and the election is of utmost importance.

According to the polls, Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives have a strong lead and are poised to win a second majority government.  On one major issue alone, the Ford government does not deserve to be re-elected.  That issue is the controversial Highway 413, also known as the GTA West Corridor.  The new highway would connect Milton and Vaughn.  It would be 59 kilometres long and destroy over 566 hectares (1.400 acres) of Greenbelt, according to Environmental Defence, a climate change group.  Environmental Defence says that that Highway 413, if built, would add 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, causing $1.4 billion  in damages from pollution.

Highway 413 would damage archaeological sites and leave a negative impact Indigenous ceremonial and burial sites, destroying their sacred cultural heritage of the Credit First Nation's territory in Mississauga.  It would also be disastrous for the Holland Marsh, resulting in higher prices for U.S. produce.   

The Ford government brags about how it has eliminated licence plate renewal fees and stickers.  At a time of high inflation, many people like the idea of saving some money.  However, they don't see the forest for the trees.  That money will have to be replaced.  It will have to come from somewhere.  Once re-elected, the PC government will make cuts to health and education.  Everyone will pay the price for that, especially lower income Ontarians, many of whom believe the licence plate renewal scam actually benefits them.  

If, as expected, Ford's Tories win a majority government, the consequences will be dire.  The Tories will unleash a series of massive cuts.  There will be nothing holding them back.  We will all suffer in the long run when lower income people are less healthy and less educated,

Unfortunately, Ford's bluster seems to be working.  Please don't fall for it.  Think about the future.  .  Think about the environment and climate change.  We're experiencing more floods and unstable weather every year.  Don't forget about the importance of education and healthcare.  Our children have suffered a great deal during the pandemic and many will need more help then others.  

If the Tories wins a majority, people will be ready to throw them out in four years.  They will be sick and tired of them by 2026.  Unfortunately, a lot of damage can be done to Canada's largest province in four years.


- Joanne

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Second Amendment

 

A racially-motivated mass shooting at a store in Buffalo.  Another mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas.  This is not what the Second Amendment intended.  This is not the so-called American dream.  The GOP and the NRA have blood on their hands.  They are responsible for the slaughter of innocents.  This can't continue.  America needs sensible gun control laws now!  

Americans are not free if they are not safe.



- Joanne

Monday, May 23, 2022

Good News About the Environment from Australia

 

In the past three weeks, tens of thousands of Australians have had to evacuate their homes after devastating floods struck the eastern part of the country.

Some regions experienced their worst flooding in decades, as torrential rain submerged residential areas, cut power lines and caused reservoirs to swell past the bursting point, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in damage.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet called the floods a “once-in-a-thousand-year event.”

But experts say climate change is fuelling an increase in extreme weather across Australia, threatening to make bushfires, floods and droughts more common.

               - United Nations Environment Programme website, "Australia: After the bushfires came the floods," March 17, 2022


After more than two years of COVID, along with the inhumanity of  Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, I relish any good news that I can find.  Today I found some from Down Under,  After nine years of conservative government, the people of Australia have opted for a different approach in the battle against climate change.  Australians want action on climate change and they have made a move in the right direction.  They have experienced enough of blistering heat, bushfires and floods, The temperatures in January, when the Australian Open tennis tournament is held, are almost unbearable.

For too long, Australia has lagged behind on climate change.  For too long, it has been dependent on fossil fuels.  The results have been devastating.  In addition to fires, floods and drought, environmentalists are also concerned about the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  The Great Barrier Reef suffered its sixth mass bleaching in March, due to heat stress caused by climate change.  Biologist Neal Cantin of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) reported the following: "More than half of the living coral cover that we can see from the air is severely bleached completely white and can have signs of fluorescence in the colours of pink, yellow and blue."

On May 21, 2022, Australian voters delivered a clear message to their leaders.  The environment matters to them and they want stronger action on climate change. That's why the country's Liberal-National coalition government was defeated.  That's why the Green Party, under the leadership of Adam Bandt, recorded its best ever election result.  There was a swing toward candidates who called for emissions cuts far above those promised by the government in power.  

Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the research group the Climate Council, stated that "climate action was the winner of the vote  "Millions of Australians have put climate first.   Now it's time for a radical reset on how this great nations of ours acts upon the climate challenge," she remarked.

The prime minister-designate of Australia is Anthony Albanese, 59, leader of the Australian Labor Party.  Albanese is a a prominent advocate of renewable energy and has said that "Australia's ling-term future lies in renewable energy sources."  

Many conservatives of the far right don't think climate change is a serious problem.  However, conservatives should be in the forefront of the battle against climate change.  To "conserve" means to "preserve."  Therefore, by the very nature of their beliefs, conservatives should want to "preserve" the earth's environment.  Unfortunately, that's not how many who call themselves "conservatives" see things, especially Republicans in the United States.


- Joanne

Monday, May 2, 2022

Time for Marner and Matthews to really prove themselves

Mitch Marner
 

Auston Matthews

The Toronto Maple Leafs are about to begin another playoff run.  This year, they play the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.  All eyes will be on Auston Matthews and his linemate Mitch Marner.       

Marner and Matthews are no longer rookies without playoff experience.  They are in their prime years as hockey players.  Mitch Marner will turn 25 years old on May 5th of this year.  Matthews is also 24 years old.  He will turn 25 on September 17th.  Both have played for the Leafs since the 2016-2017 season.  They are forever linked, like baseball's M and M boys, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.  

Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews played remarkably well during the 2021-22 NHL regular season.  Marner garnered 35 goals and 62 assists, for a total of 97 points.  Meanwhile, Matthews recorded 60 goals and 46 assists, for a total of 106 points.  M and M produced a combined total of 95 goals, 108 assists and 203 points.   

Matthews was deservedly praised for his 60-goal season and for surpassing former Leaf captain Rick Vaive's record for the highest number of goals by a Maple Leaf in a single season (Vaive amassed 54 goals in 1981-82).  Despite this accomplishment, Matthews has yet to really dominate during a playoff series.  He has recorded 13 goals, 11 assists and has a plus-minus of -3 in the 32 playoff games in his career.   A good regular season does not make up for continually losing in the first series of post-season play, as the Leafs have done in recent years.

Mitch Marner has only five goals, 20 assists and a plus-minus of -1 in 32 career playoff games.  In last season's disastrous playoff round against the Montreal Canadiens Marner and Matthews combined for a grand total of one goal.  The series began terribly for the Leafs when their captain, John Tavares, was injured.  M and M and the rest of the team did not go to the limit to make up for the loss of Tavares.  Instead, they were defeated by an arguably inferior team.

The time has come for Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews to really prove themselves.  The Leafs' dynamic duo has been less than dynamic in playoff competition.  Although their performances in regular season play have been praiseworthy and very commendable, the same can't be said for the  playoffs.  Leaf fans are well aware that M and M are getting paid big bucks to win  in both the regular season and in the playoffs.  They are also aware that great players come through when everything is on the line.  Therefore, much is expected of Marner and Matthews.  Will this be the year that M and M finally break out in post-season play or will their team once again be eliminated in the first round?  An anxious Leaf Nation awaits.  


- Joanne

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Language Corner: Do we misuse the word "literally?"


I hear the word "literally" used by many people around me, and even my fellow English majors use "literally" loosely.

You are not being literal if you are being figurative. In order to place a literal modification on a word, it first has to be a figure of speech before you can put "literally" before or after it.

Robert "Cathaoirtaisce" Scott III, Millennials of New Jersey

From "'Literally" Is Literally Used Wrong, Literally'"

Robert Scott is a  writer on language and linguistics.  He points out that "literally" is properly used before a figure of speech such as "up the creek without a paddle."  If you say "I am literally up the creek without a paddle, he contends, you should mean that you are actually trying to navigate a boat without a paddle.  In the same vein, it is incorrect to say that you "literally ate like a bird" unless you truly ate bird seed.  According to Scott, "literally should mean "a non-exaggerated use of a commonly exaggerated phrase."

To language purists, "literacy" is not a synonym for "really."  It is not a filler.  It loses its true meaning if it is used in the sense of He was literally late for work every day this week..  However, there are those who disagree and don't mind when the word is used more loosely. 

Although Merriam-Webster's first definition of "literally" is "in a literal sense of matter, actually," it has added "virtual, in effect" as the second definition of the word, despite the seeming contradiction. MacMillan Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary and  Google have all followed suit.  It is argued that the "virtual, in effect" meaning of "literally" is not new and that it has been in use since the 18th century. It can be found in the writings  of Mark Twain, James Joyce and others.

To  purists, however. "literally" is not a filler.  The word is deprived of its true meaning if it is used in the sense of He was literally late for work every day this week.  I realize that I am swimming against the tide (not literally, of course), but I tend to side with the purists.  I am well aware that language is not static, that it it changes constantly.  However, I take no pleasure in seeing a word lose its meaning just because it is used incorrectly by a celebrity or on a television sitcom.  When too many boundaries are broken, language declines.  It is debased.


- Joanne

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Reflections at Easter 2022

 

Christ is risen. Hallelujah! May the miracle of Easter bring you renewed hope, faith, love, and joy.

The year 2022, marks a rare confluence of the Christian celebration of Easter, the Jewish Passover festival and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  During this time, followers of these three great Abrahamic faiths will be worshiping the same God in their own special way.

For Christians, Easter falls on April 17th, 2022.  For Jews, Passover begins at sunset on Friday, April 15th (Good Friday for Christians).  It ends on Saturday, April 23rd at sunset.  For Muslims, Ramadan,  the nineth month of the Islamic year, is a holy month of prayer, fasting and refection, This year,  Ramadan falls at the beginning of April and ends at the beginning of May.  It culminates in the celebration of Eid-al-Foitr, "the festival of the breaking of the fast."

The Holy City, Jerusalem is sacred to all three of these great monotheistic faiths.  Sadly, the Middle East has long been a  source of conflict over land and holy sites.  For far too often, Christians, Jews and Muslims have been locked in bitter disputes, spurred by extremists and fanatics on n all sides.  Those who consider themselves "true believers" and regard others of a different faith as "infidels" or "apostates" pose the most serious threat to peace.

We are going through a most difficult epoch in world history, the most difficult time since World War II.  Humanity faces enormous challenges.  We have suffered through more than two years of a nightmarish pandemic. Russia has invaded Ukraine and has violated human rights and cruelly killed innocent civilians.  War crimes have been committed.  Far right authoritarianism seems to be rising around the globe.

This year, as Christians, Jews and Muslims hold their holy festivals at the same time, the faithful should emphasize their commonality, not their differences.  There is so much hatred and suffering in this world.  It does not behoove the followers of Christ, Moses and Muhammad to add to this.  It is against every major tenet of these three great faiths to contribute to all this anguish and adversity.

Christians, Jews and Muslims are all children of Abraham and they all worship one God.  This should never be forgotten.  Christians, for their part, should always remember that Jesus was Jewish,  This Easter, I wish blessings upon my Jewish and Muslim friends in faith and to all believers and non-believers alike..


UPDATE ON NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL, PARIS

On April 5, 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned in a devastating fire, just before Easter, which was celebrated on April 21st that year.  It's been more than three years since that fire,  I'm pleased to report that the cathedral has been saved and there has been a great deal of progress in restoring this great historical edifice.  The good news is that plans are underway to reopen the cathedral in the summer of 2024, just before the Olympics are held in Paris.


- Joanne

Monday, March 21, 2022

Number 16's 2022 Oscars Quiz

The 94th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 27, 2022.  The live show will start at 8 p.m. on ABC and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.  It will also be live-streamed on the ABC app.  This year's Oscars will be hosted by three women: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall.  As you prepare for the big night, why not challenge yourself and try Number 16's 11th annual Oscars quiz. There are 10 questions. Good luck!


NUMBER 16 OSCARS QUIZ

1.  Penelope Cruz and her husband, Javier Bardem, have both been nominated for Academy Awards this year.  Cruz is nominated for Best Actress for her performance in Parallel Mothers, while Bardem is nominated for his role as Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos.  Other married couples have been nominated in the same year, but which couple was the first one to have that distinction.

Cruz and Bardem

A.  Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

B.  Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

C.  Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne

D.  Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier

E.   Rachel Roberts and Rex Harrison



2.  Who was the first person named "Oscar" to win an Oscar?

A.  Oscar Isaac

B.  Oscar Hammerstein II

C.  Oscar Nunez

D.  Oscar Peterson

E.  Oscar de la Renta 



3.  Who won back-to back Best Actor Oscars for Captain Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938)

A.  Spencer Tracy

B.  Bing Crosby

C.  Fred Astaire

D.  Clark Gable

E.   Frederic March



4.  What was the first colour film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture?

A.  The Wizard of Oz

B.  Stagecoach

C.  It Happened One Night

D.  Gone with the Wind

E.  A Star is Born



5.  Who was the first actor to present himself/herself with an Oscar?

A.  Katharine Hepburn

B.  Norma Shearer

C.  Cary Grant

D.  Bette Davis

E.  William Holden



6,  Which foreign language film received the largest total of Oscar nominations and wins?

A.  Roma  

B.  Life is Beautiful 

C.  Fanny and Alexander 

D. Parasite 

E.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 



7.  What is the only film to win Best Picture winner and receive only one one nomination?

A.  Argo (2012)

B.  Cavalcade (1932/1933)

C.  Grand Hotel (1931/1932)

D.  Green Book (2018)

E.  The Broadway Melody (1928/1929)



8.  How many times was Mickey Rooney nominated for an Academy Award?


Mickey Rooney

A.  4 tunes

B.  2 times

C.  3 times

D.  Once

E.  Never



9.  Who has received the most Academy Award nominations?

A.  Katharine  Hepburn

B.  Meryl Streep

C.  Tom Hanks

D.  Walt Disney

E.   Martin Scorsese



10.  Who was the tallest actor to ever win an Academy Award?

A.  John Wayne

B.  Tim Robbins  

C.  Ben Affleck

D.  Sacha Baron Cohen

E,  Donald Sutherland




ANSWERS

1.  C   Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne

Lunt and Fontanne

Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne made Academy Award history when they were both nominated for Oscars in 1932.  They appeared together in The Guardsman.

In 1969, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were nominated for Best Actor for their work in the film Rachel, Rachel.  Woodward was nominated for Best Actress, while Newman was nominated as a producer for Best Picture.  Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were nominated in 1967 for their starring roles in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?.  Taylor won the Oscar for Best Actress but Burton did not win for Best Actor.  In 1940, Vivien Leigh won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.  Olivier was nominated for his performance as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.  The pair divorced in 1960.  Rachel Roberts and Rex Harrison were both nominated for Academy Awards in 1964,  Roberts was nominated for This Sporting Life and Harrison was nominated for Cleopatra.


2.  B   Oscar Hammerstein II 

Hammerstein


In 1942, Oscar Hammerstein shared a Best Music, Original Song Oscar with Jerome Kern for the song, "The Last Time I Saw Paris." from the 1941 movie Lady Be GoodIn 1946, he won another Best Music, Original Song Oscar, along with Richard Rodgers, for the song "It Might as Well Be Spring from the 1945 film State Fair.


3.  A   Spencer Tracey 

Tracy with Oscar for Boys Town


Spencer Tracy won back-to-back Best Actor Oscars for his performances in Captain Courageous and Boys Town. Consecutive Oscar winners are rare.  Tom Hanks won Best Actor for Philadelphia in 1994 and Forrest Gump in 1995.  Louise Rainer won Best Actress for The Great Ziegfeld in 1937 and The Good Earth in 1938.


4.  D  Gone with the Wind


In 1940, Gone with the Wind became the first colour film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. 


5.  B  Norma Shearer

            


In 1933, Canadian-born Norma Shearer (1902-1982) was the presenter for the Best Actress category at the Academy Awards.  She was nominated  for two Oscars in the Best Actress category that year.  She won for her performance in The Divorcee and had to announce, somewhat awkwardly, that she had won the award.  Since then, no nominated actor har presented an Oscar for his or her own category.


6.  E  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a 2000 Hong Kong film.  The Chinese swordplay film, garnered 10 nominations and 4 wins in 2001.  Roma, a 2018 Mexican drama, collected 10 nominations and 3 wins.  Life is Beautiful, a 1997 Italian comedy-drama. directed by Roberto Benigni, received 7 nominations and had 3 wins.  In 2020, Parasite received 6 nominations and celebrated 4 wins, including Best Picture.  The South Korean film became he first foreign language film to win Best Picture.  Fanny and Alexander, a 1982 Swedish film, earned 6 nominations and 3 wins.



7.  C  Grand Hotel

Greta Garbo and John Barrymore

Grand Hotel is the only film to win Best Picture and receive only one one nomination.  The 1932 MGM drama stars Greta Garbo and John Barrymore.


8,  A.  4 times

Rooney in 1983

Mickey Rooney received four competitive Oscar nominations during his lifetime.  He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for Babes in Arms in 1940, Best Actor for The Human Comedy in 1944, Best Supporting Actor in The Bold and the Brave in 1957 and  Best Supporting Actor for The Back Stallion in 1980.  

Rooney received two special Oscars.  He received a Juvenile Academy Award in 1939 and an Honorary Academy Award in 1983.



9,  D  Walt Disney


Disney in 1946

Walt Disney, who died in 1966, holds the record for the most Academy Awards in history, with 26 Oscars.  He won 22 competitive Academy Awards from a total of 59 nominations.

Disney won four honorary Academy Awards.  The first was in 1932 for the creation of Mickey Mouse. His last honorary Oscar was presented posthumously.  It was the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, chosen by the Academy's Board of Governors and given  to "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production."


10.  B  Tm Robbins



Tim Robbins was the tallest actor to ever win an Academy Award.  Robbins is 6 ft, 5 inches (1.96 metres) tall.  In 2004, he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in Mystic River, a 2003 drama in which he starred with Sean Penn, Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Bacon.


- Joanne

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Good news about all-year Daylight Saving Time

 

After two years of COVID and a heartbreaking war in Ukraine, I really needed a bit of good news, and I received it two days ago.  It isn't earthshattering and it seems very trivial compared to the pandemic and the plight of the Ukrainian people.  Still, it is something positive as far as I'm concerned.  In fact, it's literally a ray of sunshine.

For a long while, I have been an advocate of year-round daylight saving time.  Well, on Tuesday, March 14, 2022, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, that would establish permanent daylight saving time across the U.S.  The bill has one more hurdle before it becomes law, though.  It has to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can put his signature on it.   House Speaker, Nancey Pelosi has not yet said whether such a vote will occur.  Still, Tuesday's vote was a remarkable step forward.  When was the last time Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation?  Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a leading proponent of of the daylight saving bill was elated about the results of the vote.

The vote was proof of the strong support that year-long Daylight Saving Time has in the United States.  The momentum is on the side of permanent DST.  That  is welcome news for Canadians who are tired of switching clocks twice a year and who long for an extra out of sunshine.  It has been well documented that the time change is the cause of car accidents and traffic facilities.  More car crashes occur on the days following the change to Daylight Saving Time that at other times.  The loss of an hour's sleep affects people.  Also, the lack of sunlight causes moodiness and depression, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

In 2019, province of British Columbia passed legislation to switch to Daylight Saving Time permanently.  However, B.C. did not set a date because it wishes to align itself with Washington, Oregon and California.  All three West Coast states have passed their own bills to remain on permanent DST.  In response to the U.S. Senate's passing of the daylight saving legislation, B.C. Premier John Horgan said that his province is now "well positioned to do away with the time changes once and for all and move to permanent DST."

In Ontario, where I live, we have to align ourselves with Quebec and the state of New York.  It's a matter of scheduling travel times, television programming and sporting events.   However, I think the writing is on the wall.  It's the right time for permanent Daylight Saving Time.  By the way, on Tuesday, Carlos Paz, a spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi, said, "The bill just passed this afternoon and we are reviewing it closely."  Over to you, Speaker Pelosi, and your colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Please do the right thing and give us some sunshine during these dark times.  What are you waiting for?

- Joanne

Sunday, March 6, 2022

My novel on sale

 To readers of Number 16:

As you know, I have written a novel called Children of Dieppe. It's available as an ebook on a site called Smashwords.com.  Smashwords is having an ebook week sale until Saturday, March 12, 2022.  The sale began today and my book will be available for only $1.99 US until next Saturday (Regular price is $3.99 US).   

CHILDREN OF DIEPPE is the story of Denise Nair, whose father died during the tragic raid on Dieppe in 1942. The repercussions of that raid are life-changing for Denise's family, friends and acquaintances, especially the troubled Rosemary Tillis and the mysterious Gordon Sloane. This sweeping novel spans a time period from World War II until the 21st century.  It is about family, friendship, the aftermath of war and the effects of mental illness.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my novel in ebook form, click on the link below.


https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1060816


I thank you for your support.   

- Joanne


Friday, March 4, 2022

Baseball fans: Check out HotDog.com

 


Regular readers of Number 16 are well aware that I am an avid baseball fan and a supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Today it is my pleasure to highlight a valuable tool for fans of the game. It's called HotDog.com 

HotDog.com provides a steaming guide for watching Major League Baseball online.  It shows baseball fans how they can watch MLB online without cable.  The guide includes:

* No contract and live-streaming options

* On-demand and DVR options.

* Price comparisons and device compatibility.


You can learn more about HotDog.com's streaming guide by clicking the link below.  Why not check it out?

https://hotdog.com/tv/sport/baseball/

You will note that DIRECTV STREAM provides RSS access to every MLB team except my Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies.


- Joanne

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

2022 Quebec City Snow Sculptures by Denis Gravel

For the past few years, I've been posting photos of snow sculptures by talented Quebec City artist Denis Gravel.  Here are a couple of 2022 photos.  I hope you enjoy them.

- Joanne














Monday, February 14, 2022

The truth about the convoy protesters

 “Freedom of expression, assembly, and association are cornerstones of democracy; but Nazi symbolism, racist imagery, and desecration of war memorials are not. It is an insult to memory and truth.”

- Irwin Cotler, Human rights lawyer, McGill University emeritus professor and former Canadian cabinet minister

Language matters, so I urge the media to stop referring to the trucker convoys as a "freedom convoys."  There protests have nothing to do with freedom.  That's why I  was disappointed and disgusted that here in Canada, the National Post and Global News have been using that term in headlines.  This is an affront to real freedom.,  It is an affront to those who actually championed the cause of freedom and made sacrifices for the sake of democracy.  To describe these protests as "freedom convoys" is to use Orwellian language.  It is truly reprehensible.

Let's be clear.  The purpose of the convoy protests is to cause economic woes, anxiety and chaos in order to accomplish an extreme right wing, anti-government political agenda.  Many of the protesters are white supremacists and Neo-Nazis and they have displayed swastikas.  Kyle Matthews, executive director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University said, "It is shocking in 2022 to see people openly carrying these symbols and thinking it's okay.  Clearly there are a number of people who don't understand what the Holocaust is about.  They don't understand that their situation is nowhere near comparable."  

Frankly, the behaviour of many of the demonstrators has been abominable.  In Ottawa, they have placed anti-vaxxer signs on the Terry Fox statue and urinated on the National War Memorial.  That is definitely not my idea of championing freedom.  I hope it's not yours.  Therefore. I feel it is incumbent upon me to condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms.  It is not acceptable in Canada or anywhere else. 

The convoy protesters were likely inspired by the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.  That shameful episode in American history was encouraged by a former American president who refused to accept the legitimate results of the 2020 U.S. election.  On January 6th, his supporters tried to subvert democracy.  The protesters were not, as the Republican National Committee stated, engaged in "legitimate political discourse" (more Orwellian language).  One of them carried a huge Confederate flag.  Another wore a shirt with an anti-Semitic message about the Holocaust.  They threatened the lives of Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Sadly, these are the same people who are supporting the trucker convoys.  

It is distressing and disheartening to hear that convoy protests are rising up in various cities around the world.  It signals the insidious spread of Trumpism.  Decent people must speak up now.  Decent people must remember our history or, as the saying goes, we are doomed to repeat it..  The rise of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s should be taught over and over again to each generation.  Education is the best response to ignorance.


- Joanne

Saturday, February 5, 2022

This is a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated

 Here are some words of wisdom from virus expert Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, someone who is very well-versed on the subject of vaccinations.  

- Joanne

Dr. Michaerl Osterholm

"There is one very, very central point, and yet it seems to be one that for some reason, we have not been able to overcome as an obstacle, and that is getting people vaccinated. You know, I hear people talking all the time now that this is not a pandemic of the unvaccinated and from an infection standpoint, that's absolutely true. But if you look at it from the standpoint of who had become seriously ill, hospitalized and dies, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And it clearly is. And we have to understand that here we are in this country almost two years into the pandemic, a year into the availability of vaccines, yet only 63.8% of the US population that are eligible to receive two doses of vaccine have, only 41.7% have received that third dose that we've noted over and over again is so important."

- Michael Osterholm, American epidemiologist, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.


Monday, January 31, 2022

Help end this pandemic nightmare

Right wing anti-vaxxers have made made vaccination a political matter.  It is not a political matter.  It is a health matter.  The right wing anti-vaxxers like to scream and shout that their "freedom" is being taken away from them.  The have tunnel vision.  The only kind of freedom they see is individual freedom.  What they fail to acknowledge or understand is communal freedom, the freedom of the community to be protected.  Freedom is not absolute.  It must be curtailed when your "freedom' harms others and places their health and well-being at risk.

We've lived with this COVID nightmare for two years now.  If we don't protect the poorest and most vulnerable people in countries around the world, this pandemic will linger.  There will be variant after variant.  I urge everyone, unless you have a valid medical exemption, to get two doses and a booster.

How much longer must we endure this pandemic nightmare?  I encourage my fellow Canadians to do the following.  Please take action.  

Email the Federal Minister of International Development Harjit Sajjan and inspire him to take leadership on vaccinating the world.  The email address is 

harjit.sajjan@international.gc.ca

Please add your own words to the following text!

Dear Hon. Harjit Sajjan

I am writing to you to encourage you to take immediate action to end the pandemic everywhere, because we know that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

We cannot stop variants of concern until there is global vaccine equity. 

The next variant is preventable.

The next lockdown is preventable.

As Minister of International Development and a member of the cabinet committee for Canada and the World, you are in a unique and crucial leadership position to ensure the Federal government shares resources, knowledge, and doses with developing countries. You have a vital task before you. The world needs Canada to step up now.

I want Canada to commit to doing its fair share on the global stage to end the pandemic. The next variants are preventable if we act now.

Please do everything you can to get Canada to commit an additional $ 1.1 billion to support developing countries with their vaccination programmes and to help them face further waves. Canada should also immediately support a TRIPS waiver on COVID vaccine and treatment technology.

Thank you,


Name:

Email:

City:

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To those in countries outside of Canada, please urge your politicians and decision makers to do the same.  There is only one world and we are all members of the human race.  


- Joanne

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Why is Joe Biden's approval rating so low right now?

John Q. Public was recently asked why President Joe Biden's popularity has been sagging lately.

JQP: I think I know why President Joe Biden's approval rating is so low right now..  Let me see now.  Oh yes, didn't he give a tax breaks to billionaires?  

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: Didn't he brag about groping women in a notorious interview with Access Hollywood?

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: Didn't he lock up migrant children in detention camps, separating them from their parents?

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: Didn't he waste billions of taxpayer's money on a border wall?

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: Didn't he refuse to show his tax returns?

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: Wait a minute.  Wasn't Joe Biden's Twitter account permanently suspended due to risk of further incitement of violence?

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: Wasn't he involved in a scandal in which his lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money to stop her from disclosing an affair she alleged she had with him in 2006, when his wife was pregnant with their son, Barron.

Nope.  That was the other guy.

JQP: In November of 2016, didn't he make a $25 million settlement concerning three fraud lawsuits linked to the university named after himself?

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: Following the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, didn't he say that there were "very fine people involved on both sides," when speaking about those who attended the rally in support and those who protested against it.

No, that was the other guy.

JQP: During the first presidential debate in 2020, didn't he tell the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, to "stand back and stand by."

No, you've got the wrong guy again.

JQP: Doesn't he falsely claim that the 2020 election was rigged (evidence proved otherwise), causing many Americans to lose faith in democracy.

No, you've got it wrong again.  It was that other guy.

JQP: Wasn't he impeached twice by the House of Representatives?  The first impeachment was for abuse of power and obstruction of justice.  There was evidence that he tried to persuade the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on his political opponent.  

The other guy did that.  He tried to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.  Don't forget that the other guy was impeached a second time for incitement of insurrection.  

JQP: Didn't Biden refuse to participate in the peaceful transfer of power, a hallmark of democracy, after his defeat in the 2020 election?

No, he didn't do that.  It was that other guy.

JQP: Didn't he encourage a violent mob to overrun the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in an effort to overturn the results of an lawful election?  Didn't some of the rioters say they were there at the request of Joe Biden.  Didn't Biden just watch the riot unfold on television in a private dining room at the White House?  Didn't his former press secretary say he "gleefully" watched the mob on TV and praised how his supporters were "fighting for him."

Nope, that was still the other guy.

JQP: Didn't the New York attorney general say that her investigators have uncovered evidence that Biden's  company used :fraudulent or misleading" variations of golf clubs, skyscrapers and other property to get loans and tax benefits.

Once again, he didn't do that.  It was that other guy.

JQP: Gee, I can't believe I've gotten that all wrong.  I can't believe I've forgotten all of that.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, you're not the only one.

JQP: Then surely that other guy doesn't have the unmitigated gall to run again after all that.

I'm afraid you're wrong about that, too.  The Republican party is pretty solidly behind the other guy. 

JQP: So, if the other guy did all that, why are they are they so solidly behind him?

Good question.  The facts don't seem to matter to them.

JQP: Everything is so expensive these days.  Inflation is so high.  Americans have to pay much more at the grocery store and at the gas pump.  That's Joe's fault, isn't it?

Unexpected consumer demand, combined with congested supply chains and labour shortages are driving up prices.

JDQ: Isn't the U.S. economy tanking?  What has improved?

When Joe Biden took the presidential oath of office in January of 2021, the U.S. jobless rate was 6.9 per cent.  One year later, the unemployment rate is 3.9 per cent.

JQP:  Jos Biden is too old to be president.  He's 79 years old.  He must be senile.

Hold on now.  Isn't that ageism?  Biden held a gruelling two-hour press conference to mark his first year in office.  He answered questions from journalists who were trying to trip him up or make him look bad.  He was grilled and yet he maintained his cool.  He treated the press with respect and replied to all the questions he was asked.  That doesn't sound like senility.

JQP:  Why hasn't Biden stopped COVID around the world?  Why hasn't he solved all the problems in the Middle East?  Why hasn't he achieved world peace . . .


Joanne

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Cat Came Back: A True Story for Cat Lovers

Loli (date of phot unknown)

Most of us are weary of all the bad news about the COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.  We are being bombarded 24 hours a day on television and social media.  It's one story after another about how Omicron is so contagious and how it's spreading so rapidly.  We hear how one event after another is being cancelled or postponed.  Yes, of course I know we need to be informed.  I know we need to protect ourselves as much as possible.  Still, this is  just too much, even for an inveterate news junkie like me.  So, dear readers, I am going to give you some much-needed relief.  I'm going to tell you a true story that will warm your hearts.  It's the perfect tonic to make you feel better during these challenging times.

Come along with me and distract yourself from all the COVID news.  You deserve a break from the constant doom and gloom.  I am pleased to provide you with a harmless, temporary escape from the reality of a pandemic nightmare.  The best part is that this is not a fairytale.  It really happened.

Our story takes place in Ontario, Canada, where I live.  It's about a tabby cat named Loli, who went missing for 11.5 years, according to a Global News report by Hannah Jackson.  The cat's owner, Christine De Castro, told Global News that Loli went missing from the family's home in Vaughan, Ontario back in the summer of 2010.  At the time of her disappearance, Loli was a mere two years old.  (That makes her about 13 or 14 now, which is an old age for a cat.  Cats have an average lifespan of 12 to 18 years, although domestic casts can live into their 20s).

Christine De Castro searched extensively for her pet, but to no avail.  She finally resigned herself to the belief that the little feline was never going to return.  However, on New Year's Day of this year, Christine received some unexpected news from Vaughan Animal Services.  She was informed that Loli had been found and that someone had apparently trapped the cat in their garage.  Christine surmises that Loli ended up in the garage in order to keep warm.

Vaughan Animal Services was able to identify Loli with the help of  her microchip and Christine was told that she could come to the animal shelter and pick up her long lost pet.  Although Christine had moved more than once, her phone number remained the same and she was able to be contacted with regard to Loli.  As a result, she urges all pet owners to microchip their animal friends.  She also encourages them to donate to their neighbourhood no-kill animal shelter.

Not surprisingly, Christine was astounded by the news that her cat had been found..  She describes her reunion with Loli after all this time as "surreal."  What exactly happened to the cat remains a mystery and Christine reports that her pet is older and grumpier now.  In every other respect, however, she says that Loli is much the same cat as before.  Christine is still not certain whether the feline recognizes her after so long, but she believes that Loli is warming up to her.  

What a way to begin a new year on the right note for Christine De Castro!  As Christine puts it, "I think it's kind of fated that 2022 started with a cat that I really thought was a goner, reintroduced into my life."


- Joanne

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Children of Dieppe: A novel by Joanne Madden

Readers, if you are looking for a good read during this awful pandemic, I would like to remind you that my novel Children of Dieppe is available as an ebook.  It is the story of Denise Nair, whose father, a Canadian soldier, lost his life during the tragic raid on Dieppe, France in 1942.  The repercussions of that raid are life changing for Denise's family, friends and acquaintances, including the mysterious Gordon Sloane and the troubled Rosemary Tillis.  This sweeping novel spans a time period from World War II to the 21st.century.  It is about family, friendship, the aftermath of war and the effects of mental illness.

I would really like some feedback from anyone who reads Children of Dieppe.   I would be very happy to hear from you.

Here is the link to my ebook.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1060816

By the way, I am working on my second novel. a mystery/suspense story.  It is not a sequel to Children of Dieppe but it is related.  Some characters from Children of Dieppe appear in my new novel.

Readers, I would like to thank you for any support you have given me over the years just by reading Number 16.  I am truly grateful and I appreciate you.


- Joanne

Monday, January 3, 2022

My 2022 Wish List

Last year I posted my personal wish list for 2021.  I promised to let you know which of my wishes came true and to write another wish list for 2022.  Here's how my 2021 wish list turned out:

My biggest wish for 2021 was that COVID-19 would be brought under control around the world.  I also hoped that once that goal was achieved, more attention would be turned to the environment and combatting global warming. Well, we almost had COVID under control until the Omicron variant hit just before Christmas.  It is more transmissible, but not as severe.  More attention must be given to climate change in 2022.

I wished that Benjamin Netanyahu would be ousted from power in Israel..  That wish came true.  He is no longer the prime minister.  The current prime minister, Naftali Bennett, appears to be very right wing. However, at least there's a change, a fresh face.  We'll see what happens in the volatile Middle East.

I wrote that I didn't want a federal election in Canada during a pandemic.  We had one anyway.  The results were almost the same as the 2019 election.  The Liberals, under Justin Trudeau, retained their minority government status.  

I hoped that the Toronto Blue Jays would keep improving and that they would make some good moves over the winter.  I also hoped that at some point in 2021 that I would be able to able to attend a game at Rogers Centre.  The Blue Jays did indeed improve.  They finished the season with 91 wins, but it wasn't enough to earn a berth in the highly competitive American League East.  They had so much talent that it was heartbreaking that they just missed out on post-season play.  Nothing is guaranteed but they should
do really well next season.  Due to COVID-19, I did not attend a game at the Rogers Centre.

I hoped that the Toronto Maple Leafs would make the changes needed to compete, but I had no lofty expectations for them.  They didn't disappoint.  Due to the pandemic, all the Canadian teams played in the same division.  The Leafs finished atop their division and were clearly a superior team than the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.  Everything went wrong.  Their captain, John Tavares was injured in the first game and the Leafs ultimately lost the series to the Habs.  Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner underperformed in the playoffs, as usual.

I wished the best for the Canadian Football League, which was forced to cancel its 2020 season due to COVID.  I truly hoped there would be a 2021 season.  Thankfully, there was a 2021 season, although it began late.  The Argos had a good season, but they were defeated In the Eastern Conference final  by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  The Ti-Cats went on to lose the 108th Grey Cup game at their home stadium, Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.  The Cats lost a heartbreaker to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in overtime.

I hoped that Joe Biden would meet his destiny with honour and become a good president.  I hoped that he would restore the soul of America, as he has promised.  I wanted Donald Trump to be accountable for his crimes and for the damage he has done to American democracy.  If that meant going to prison, so be it.  No one is above the law.  

Unfortunately, Donald Trump has still not been held accountable, especially for his role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

As I do every year, I wished for more peace and harmony in the world.  There was no major war, but Russian President Vladimir Putin made rumblings about attacking Ukraine.


Here is my 2022 wish list:

Of course, I would really like COVID-19 to fade away like a bad dream.  The anti-vaxxers and the far right have been holding up progress,  We need to get as many people possible vaccinated around the world, especially in developing countries.

It is my hope that Doug Ford's Progressive? Conservatives lose the Ontario provincial election, on (or before) June 2, 2022.

I hope that Pope Francis will have a successful visit to Canada and that he will offer an apology to the Indigenous peoples for the Church's part in the tragedy of the residential schools.

Joe Biden did not deserve to have his approval rating plummet in 2021.  Remember that he came into office during a terrible pandemic.  He also had to clean up Donald Trump's mess. Of course, no president is above criticism, but here is list of some of Biden's most important accomplishments during his first year as president of the United States (Keep in mind that the Democrats only had a razor-thin majority in the Senate and that Biden was continually thwarted by the Republican and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema  He was dependent on Manchin's and Sinema's votes).

* Biden made sure that the United States rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, a voluntary agreement to reduce carbon emissions.  It is vital that the U.S. set an example to the rest of the world.

* Biden ended Trump's discriminatory Muslim ban.

* Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to help speed up American's recovery from the ravages of COVID-19.

* Biden signed the Infrastructure and Jobs Acts, providing over $1.2 trillion in infrastructure to every American state.

My hope is that Biden's Build Back Better Act is passed in 2022, as well as the voter's rights act.   

For the sake of democracy, it is imperative that former president Donald Trump be held accountable for his alleged criminal actions and for his involvement in the January 6, 2001 attempt to overthrow the duly and legitimately elected government of the United State.   I will not say "lock him up."  That's Trump jargon.  I will only say that once he is found guilty in a criminal court of law, he should serve a prison sentence, just like any American citizen.  The rule of law matters.

I hope that the Democrats do well in the 2022 U.S. midterm elections in November.  I hope that Stacey Abrams becomes governor of Georgia and that Beto O'Rourke becomes governor of Texas.

I hope that the Toronto Blue Jays make the post-season  in 2022 and that the Toronto Maple Leafs finally get  past the first round of the playoffs.

I hope that whatever happens with regard to COVID-19, the world will take strong measures to protect our environment.

I wish for more peace and harmony in the world in 2022.

In January of, 2023, I will write another wish list and I will let you know if any of my 2022 wishes came true.


- Joanne