Friday, December 29, 2023

Centennial Park Conservatory Photos

Here in Toronto, we've had days and days of damp, drizzly weather.  It's been unseasonably mild and there has been no sunshine and definitely no white Christmas.  That's why on Boxing Day, December 26th, I visited the Centennial Park Conservatory in Etobicoke, in the west end of the city.  It was filled with Christmas pants and flowers.  It brightened my day and there was a beautiful red cardinal in the greenhouse, which you see in the photo after the one below.  I hope you enjoy the photos.

- Joanen

Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas 2023: Reflections on a world gone mad

Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born 

- Attributed to John Wesley Work, Jr. (1871-1925),  American musicologist, singer and songwriter

No one is completely certain of who actually wrote the words to the Christmas hymn "Go Tell It On the Mountain."  The verses that we sing today may have been written by John W. Work, Jr. to replace the original ones that got lost.  

Work, Jr., his wife Agnes, and his brother Frederick, collected slave songs and spirituals.  Work published them as New Jubilee Songs by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901) and New Jubilee Songs and Folk Songs of the American Negro (1907), which contained the first publication of "Go Tell It On the Mountain." which he may have played a part in composing.  Some, however, attribute the test to his bother, Frederick J. Work.

Joan Wesley Work, Jr.

With war in Ukraine and in the Middle East, "Peace on  Earth" may seem far away this Christmas. As we approach the end of 2023, the world seems to be plunging into madness.  Peace may seem a distant prospect, but it doesn't have to be, not if we find peace in our hearts.  This will not be easy.  Given all the discord around us, the quest for inner peace will be challenging.  However, it will be well worth the effort, especially when considering the alternative.

We live in a time of great polarization and enormous human suffering.  Finding inner peace will require a great deal of self-reflection and self-discipline.  It begins with you and me, and it's a matter of finding strength, courage and hope in a world gone mad.  

I try to remember that life is not all black and white.  There are shades of grey.  Therefore, I try not to regard those who think differently than I as "the enemy". No one has all the answers.  It's beneficial to look at matters from other points of view, even if you can never agree.  It is said that there are two sides to every story.  Sometimes there can be more sides and angle than you expect.  People of faith share much in common.  I believe in ecumenicalism.  It makes no sense for Jews and Muslims and Christians to hate each other, or for anyone who lives by the Golden Rule.

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will not find it under a tree."

- Roy L. Smith (1887-1963), American clergyman

May you find peace in your heart this Christmas.  I'm working on it myself, so I understand the struggle.


There is some good news this Christmas about Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral.  The renovation of the fire-damaged cathedral has entered its final stage. After the devastating fire on April 15, 2019, the spire has been reconstructed in similar fashion, despite some debate about whether to modernize it.

A large crane lifted a new copper rooster back to the top of its spire on Satiurday,December .  This new weather vane rooster was blessed by the Parish archbishop Laurent Ulrich.  The rooster symbolizes the cathedral's resurgence.  It is a French emblem of vigilance and Christ's resurrection, similar to a phoenix.  

Raising the copper rooster

The old rooster had crashed through the roof along with the wooden spire.  I was found slightly damaged but nearly intact in the debris l fire.  It will be displayed a new Notre Dame museum.  Last week, after viewing the rebuilt spire, French President Emmanuel Macron promised that the reconstruction of the cathedral would be completed as scheduled and that it would reopen within a year.  

Notre-Dome is de Paris is set to reopen for religious services and to the public on December 8, 2024, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  President Macron would like Pope Francis to attend.  By next Christmas, the grand cathedral should be standing in all its glory.

- Joanne

Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas Foods and Delicacies Quiz

Christmas Foods and Delicacies Quiz

Number 16 presents a multiple choice quiz on Christmas food from around the world.  There are ten questions to test your knowledge of Christmas cuisine.  Good luck!

1.  Plum pudding 

A.   A Christmas bread with raisins and plums

B.    A plum wine served at Christmas in Britain

C.    An Irish fruit pudding with peaches and plums

D.   A dessert of plums and ice cream served in Britain

E.   A sweet, dried-fruit pudding traditionally served at Christmas in Britain.

2.  Panettone

A.  A pasta

B.  An Italian soup served at Christmas

C.  An Italian type of sweet bread

D.  An Italian ice cream

E.   An Italian Christmas wine

3.  Pozole

A.  A classic Mexican soup

B.  A South American Christmas dessert

C.  A fruit served served at Christmastime in Spain

D.  A Christmas beef dinner in Peru

E.  A chicken Christmas specialty in Chile

4.  Ceviche

A.  A Christmas bread popular in Spain

B.  A Christmas soup served in Portugal

C.  A spicy Christmas Caribbean dish 

D.  A popular seafood Christmas dish in Peru

E.  A South American dessert

5.  Golubtsi

A.  A Dutch cheese served at Christmas

B.  Stuffed cabbage rolls, popular in Russia at Christmas

C.   A Turkish Christmas bread

D.  A popular Christmas dessert in Hungary

E.   A Polish Christmas appetizer

6.  Mopane worms

A.  A kind of Christmas soup in the West Indies

B.  A popular Christmas treat in Southern Africa

C.   A Christmas dessert in Mexico

D.  A Christmas appetizer in South America

E.   A Greek Christmas liqueur

7.  Rooster Doro Wat

A.  A renowned Ethiopian Christmas dish

B.   An African Christmas soup

C.   A Christmas appetizer, popular in Uganda

D.   A Christmas punch, a popular drink in Cuba

E.    A Christmas dessert, often served in Jamaica

8.  Fatah

A.  An ancient Christmas oatmeal dish

B.   A Mideastern soup served at Christmas

C.  A Christmas dish with origins in Egypt

D.  A Christmas desert in Madagascar

E.   A  Christmas biscuit in Nigeria

9.  Nyama Choma

A.  A Christmas dessert in the Philippines

B.  A Christmas soup in the Phiippines

C.  A Christmas vegetable dish in Kenya

D.   A Christmas seafood dish in the Philippines

E,  A classic Christmas meat dish in Kenya

10.  Cepelinai

A.  A popular Christmas candy in Latvia

B.   A Christmas soup in Croatia

C.  A Lithuanian Christmas dish

D.  Estonian biscuits served at Christmas

E.   A Romanian Christmas dessert


1.  E

Plum pudding, also known as Christmas pudding.
  A sweet, dried-fruit pudding traditionally served at Christmas in Britain.  The classic plum pudding recipe calls for the pudding (or fruitcake) to be steamed.  It is soaked with brandy or sherry sauce.  Despite its name, plum pudding does not contain any plums. It calls for fruits such as raisins, sultanas, currants, diced apple, prunes and dried apricots.  The name "plum pudding" is thought to have originated from the pre-Victorian use of the work "plum" as a term for raisins or other dried fruits.

2.  C  

Panettone: An Italian type of sweet bread, speckled with raisins, citrus, almonds with a buttery texture..  It is commonly served at Christmas and during the winter.  It originated in Milan.

3. A

Pozole: A classic Mexican soup, popular at Christmas.  The soup has rich, cultural significance.  Preparing pozole on Christmas Eve is a way of sharing with family and friends.  Pazole contains Hominy corn.  Either pig or chicken are cooked in a spicy broth.  Its red and green colours contribute to the joyful atmosphere of Christmas.

4.  D

Ceviche: A popular seafood Christmas dish in Peru.  Christmas falls during the summer in Peru.  The spicy flavour of ceviche is ideal for the warm weather.  It consists of fresh seafood marinated in lime or bitter orange juice, topped with onions,  jalapeño peppers, and cilantro.

5.  D

Golubtsi:   Stuffed cabbage rolls, served in Russia at Christmas.  They are a popular Christmas Eve lunch in Russia.  The cabbage leaves are stuffed with ground pork and rice and then cooked in a tomato sauce.

6.  B

Mopane Worm:   A popular Christmas treat in Southern Africa, especially in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa.  The insects are full of protein and are caught and sun-dried before being rehydrated and cooked in different ways, often with onions, tomatoes and spices.

7.  A

Rooster Doro Wat:  An Ethiopian Christmas dish.  Doro Wat is a fiery chicken stew and is frequently served with a rooster, signifying the birth of Christ.

8.  C

Fatah: A Christmas dish with ancient Egyptian origins, part of Coptic Christian tradition.  Fatah consists of layers of rice, pita bread and lamb, topped with garlic-tomato sauce and finished with yogurt, crispy fried bread, and almonds.

9.  E

Nyama Choma:  A classic Christmas dish in Kenya.  It is made by grilling or roasting meat, usually goat, beef or chicken, and seasoned with local spices.

10.  C

Cepelinai: A Lithuanian dish, consisting of large potato dumplings, filled with meat, cheese or mushrooms.  It is a popular Christmas custom in Lithuania and highlights the importance of potatoes in Lithuanian cuisine.  

- Joanne

Monday, December 18, 2023

Dear America, what's wrong with you?

Republicans confronted after Donald Trump accused of  'parroting Hitler' with migrants speech

Dear America,

What is wrong with so many of you?  Don't you remember Hitler and Mussolini, or have you forgotten the lessons of history?  In 1940, John F. Kennedy, then a college student, wrote a book entitled Why England Slept. about the tragic events of the 1930s that led to Hitler's rise to power.  Kennedy's book also deals with the difficulties of democracies in confronting the threat of totalitarianism.  Why England Slept was reprinted in 1961, when JFK became president.  It should be recommended reading today because if Donald Trump returns to the White House, a sequel, entitled Why America Slept, will need to be written some day.

It's absolutely shocking that millions of people in the United States, which prides itself on its democracy, are willing to vote for a despot such as Donald Trump.  Many of them have had parents and grandparents who sacrificed their lives to rid the world of Naziism.  It's disconcerting that so many Americans are willing to overlook the fact that on January 6, 2021, Trump supported the attempted overthrow of a duly elected a violent mob of his far-right supporters.  It's truly sad that some Americans actually believe that the mob was just a peaceful group touring the Capitol building.  

Trump's behaviour and his criminal activity, should have prevented him from running for president in 2024.  The thought of him in the Oval Office again sends chills down my spine.  It's a very scary prospect.  This is a man who said that "immigrants are poisoning the lifeblood of this country."

The Republican Party is controlled by Trump.  Almost 100 members of Congress have endorsed him, including the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, far-right extremist Mike Johnson. Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said that Trump is fit to be president.

I hesitate to call the Republican Party the GOP (Grand Old Party).  It's no longer grand.  It's no longer the party of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  Republicans are a spineless herd, except for a few brave dissidents who have criticized mob boss Trump.  If democracy survives in America, it will be due to the courage of Republicans such Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney and Chris Christie. 

With regard to Trump's comment on immigrants, Christie stated, "He's disgusting.  And what he's doing is dog whistling to Americans who feel absolutely under stress and strain from the economy and from the conflicts around the world, and he's dog whistling to blame it on people from areas that don't look like us."

I disagree with the politics of Cheney, Romney and Christie, but they have stood up for the rule of law.  They have dared to speak out about Trump's threat to democracy, risking their own safety and political careers. Unfortunately, they are few and far-between. The egregious "Freedom Caucus " controlled by Trump, rules the show with such far-right zealots as Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan and Lauren Boebert.

This is not fear-mongering or exaggeration.  Trump's words and actions speak for themselves.  He has referred to the media as the "enemy of the people."  He has called his detractors "vermin."  He has declared that he would only be a dictator on Day One of his presidency.  Trump is not joking.  Americans must take his words seriously.  Hitler did not hide his intentions.  He made them very clear in his book Mein Kampf.

America, you need to awaken from your slumber before it's too late.  Stop sleepwalking through this crisis.  Why isn't there more concern about Trump's clear and real threat to democracy.  There aren't enough alarm bells sounding.  I can guarantee if Trump gets his hands on the reins of power again, American democracy will be lost.  Trump has not concealed his plans to turn the United States into an authoritarian regime.

Here's how German historian Volker Ulrich characterizes Hitler in his book Hitler: Ascent (1889-1939). Trump's personality and his behaviour are chillingly similar. to that of the Nazi dictator.      

* Hitler was an egomaniac who “only loved himself,” a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and a “characteristic fondness for superlatives” who had a “keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of other people.”

* Hitler had a “bottomless mendacity” that took advantage of the latest technology to spread his message and “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth.”

* Hitler was an effective orator and adept at assuming various masks and feeding off the energy of his audiences, concealing his anti-Semitism beneath a “mask of moderation” when trying to win the support of middle-class liberals.

* Hitler specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements and adapted the contents of his speeches “to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners.”

* Hitler peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers and fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments in “offering himself as a visionary leader who could restore law and order.”

* Hitler presented himself in messianic terms, promising “to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,” although he typically was vague about his actual plans while painting “the present day in hues that were all the darker.”

* Hitler virtually wrote the book on modern demagoguery by using repeated emotion-based “mantralike phrases” consisting largely “of accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.”

* Hitler’s ascension was aided and abetted by the naïveté of adversaries who failed to understand his ruthlessness and tenacity, as well as partners who believed “he was not serious or that they could exert a moderating influence on him.”

The parallels between Hitler and Trump are frightening.  I write this with great concern about the future of America and the rest of the world.  I don't expect the brainwashed MAGA crowd to pay any attention to my concerns.  My hope is that I can reach Republicans or independents who are sitting on the fence.  

Donald Trump has shown nothing but admiration for brutal dictators.  He has praised Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.  If he becomes president again, Trump will not hesitate to support his buddy Putin.  He will allow the Russian despot to completely overrun Ukraine, and Putin will not stop there. He will attempt to invade other countries.  This cold-hearted dictator has visions of grandeur.  He views himself as the Peter the Great of the 21st century.

Americans, stand up for democracy!  Let your voices be heard on election day, November 5, 2024.


Your concerned Canadian friend and neighbour,


Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Toronto Blue Jays are better off without Ohtani

Sorry, fellow Blue Jays fans, but I'm not upset that Shohei Ohtani has opted not join our team.  On the contrary, I'm rather pleased.  Don't get me wrong.  Ohtani is an international superstar.  The thought of him playing for the Jays was both exciting and enticing.  However, when I scratched below the surface, I couldn't help but notice some liabilities where Ohtani is concerned.  I was left with some strong reservations about him playing in Toronto.  They were reservations which I could not ignore.  Now that he has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the ungodly sum of $700 million over ten years, I am relieved.  

I am not questioning Ohtani's talent.  There is no doubt that he is a unique athlete.  His claim to fame is that he is both a pitcher and a position player. - a designated hitter, and a good one.  He is one of baseball's more dominant sluggers, with 171 home runs, 437 RBI, 86 stolen basses and a career batting average of .274 over 2,871 plate appearances.  He's also been an outstanding pitcher.

Due to an injury, however, the Japanese phenomenon will be less effective this season.  In late August of 2023, he was shut down due to an elbow issue in his throwing arm.  Shohei Ohani was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and he underwent surgery on September 19, 2023.  In a press release, his agent, Nez Balelo, stated that the procedure was done in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttache.  Dt. ElAttache has performed surgery on such star athletes as, pitcher Chris Sale, as well as basketball's Kobe Bryant and football's Aaron Rodgers.

According to Ohtani's press agent, "the ultimate plan after deliberation with Shohei was to repair the issue at hand and to reinforce the healthy ligament in place while adding viable tissue for the longevity of the elbow.  I expect a full recovery and he'll be ready to hit without any restrictions come opening day of 2024 and do both (hit and pitch) come 2025."

The bottom line, however, is that Ohtani is not expected to return to the mound until spring training 2025.  The two-way star will be unavailable as a pitcher for the Dodgers in 2025.  As with any injury, there is no guarantee as to whether he will be able to pitch as effectively once he fully recovers.  

Ohtani has never played in a post season game in Major League Baseball since he signed with the Los Angeles Angels on December 8, 2017.  He ended his time with the  Angels without taking part in a single playoff game.  It must be pointed out to Blue Jays fans, that despite having arguably the two best  MLB players in Ohtani and Mike Trout, the Angels were unable to produce a winning team.  The Angels couldn't make the playoffs even with Ohtani both hitting and pitching.  

Ohtani desperately wants to player on a winning team.  He has more of a chance of doing so with the LA Dodgers.  The Blue Jays' disastrous playoff record in 2023 and 2022 did not help their attempt to acquire his services. Perhaps Ohtani never really intended to come to Canada.  Perhaps he and his agent used the Jays as a bargaining chip to gain more from the Dodgers.

Ohtani is not a particularly young player.  He is 29 years old and will turn 30 on July 5, 2024.  By the end of his ten-year contract with the Dodgers, he'll be pushing 40.  A 40-year-old can still be a designated hitter. Ohtani is very careful about his conditioning, so that shouldn't be a problem when he reaches his mid to late 30s.  

Rogers Communications, owner of the Blue Jays, Rogers Centre and Sportsnet, the network which broadcasts Jays games, pursued him relentlessly.  Their number one consideration was to boost sales of Rogers products.   His face on advertisements for Rogers would have increased the sales of their cell phones dramatically.  Building a good team and contending for a World Series was a factor, but not the determining factor for Edward Rogers and company.

The Blue Jays have a lot of holes to fill in their lineup.  Many of their players have become free agents.  Rather than spend all that money on Ohtani, the Jays have a golden opportunity to put a more balanced team on the field.  They have not placed their hopes in one player.  Yes, Shohei Ohtani is a generational superstar, and an extraordinarily talented ball player.  Yet I would rather have the Jays contend for a World Series.  It's a matter of looking beyond the hype.


- Joanne

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Shame on Rogers for firing Ben Wagner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Joanne

Monday, November 27, 2023

Language Corner: What happened to the Latin language?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Joanne

Thursday, November 23, 2023

A Tale of Two American Thanksgiving Day Messages


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

Trump's mug shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Joanne

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

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

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

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

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

That fateful day in Dallas

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

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

The Warren Commission in August 1964

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Joanne  

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Again I say, wake up America!

You won't recognize America if Donald Trump returns to the White House.  In fact, he won't ever leave the White House if  he becomes president again.  Trump has spelled out exactly what he intends to do if he is returned to power.  The man is unhinged.  He is violent.  He is an authoritarian.  He spreads lies along with his MAGA followers.  The Republican party has been taken over by morally corrupt and spineless politicians.  They want to hang on to power and they are afraid of mob boss Trump.

There is a moral bankruptcy in America right now.  Otherwise, Trump would never have been able to run for president in 2016 after he bragged about groping women.  He wouldn't be allowed to run for president in 2024 after he led an insurrection on January 6, 2021.   

Here is exactly what Trump intends to do:

Donald Trump and far-right conservatives have some  some big plans for his second term should he be reelected, and they would be devastating for American democracy.

Trump’s plan is called Project 2025 and it would involve replacing more than 50,000 career civil servants in the federal government with Trump loyalists. Established in 2022, the project's aim is to replace existing federal civil service workers, those  it regards as "the deep state," with conservatives who would further the goals of the next Republican president.  It’s a project being headed by the Heritage Foundation, and it’s so far backed by more than $20 million in funding.  With those loyalists installed, Trump would be able to increase his power and abuse that power as much as he desires.

Below is a photo of Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, which established Project 2025. 

Project 2025 would reshape the executive the executive branch of the United States government.  Although participants in the project cannot promote a specific presidential candidate, many are closely associated with Trump.  It would mean that the president of the United States would have complete control of the executive branch upon inauguration.

If Donald Trump had absolute power of the executive branch, he would continue to strengthen his grip on government.  He would try to control the media, which he has called "the enemy of the people."  That's the first thing an authoritarian does.

Is this quasi-fascist America what you want?  It happened to Italy in 1922 and in Germany in 1933.  Heed the lessons of history.  Don't think it can't happen to the United States!  Pay attention!  The Economist named Donald Trump the biggest danger in the world, with good reason.

- Joanne

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Whatever happened to the Atlantic Schooners?

Tomorrow the 110th edition of the Grey Cup will take place at Tim Horton Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. The Montreal Alouettes will be representing the East, while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be representing the West.  The Grey Cup is not as glitzy as the Superbowl.  How could it be?  No one does glitz like the Americans.  However, it does have its own style, a more homey style, steeped in history and tradition. T he trophy is named after Albert Grey, the Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911.

I had hoped that the Toronto Argonauts would represent the East in the big game.  The Argos had a splendid season, winning 16 games and losing only 2  They were led by quarterback Chad Kelly and they seemed to be steamrolling toward a second consecutive appearance in the CFL's championship game.  That is until something happened on the way to the Grey Cup.  The Argos were soundly beaten by the Montreal Alouettes in the Eastern Division final in Toronto, and Kelly did not have a good game.  Perhaps the Argos were rusty and complacent, having sewn up first place so early.

Yesterday, my husband and I visited Hamilton to partake in some of the Grey Cup festivities.  There were various activities and booths along James Street.  There were pavilions and entertainment at the Hamilton Convention Centre.  All of the Western Division teams, except for the B.C. Lions had their own pavilion.  The only pavilion from the East was that of a team that doesn't exist yet - the Atlantic Schooners.  

We enjoyed ourselves in the Schooners' pavilion, eating lobster rolls and watching a Newfoundland band called Screeched In.  We also listened to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Pep Band and we chatted with people from all over Canada.  Screeched In conducted a fun tradition by which one becomes an official Newfoundlander by kissing a fish (in this case, "Jimmy the Fish" and drinking some dark rum known as Screech.  Below are two photos of the Screech ceremony.

My husband and I love Atlantic Canada.  Maritimers and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the salt of the earth. and we fervently hope that the Schooners become a reality soon.  The Canadian Football League (CFL) currently has nine teams, five in the Western Division and four in the Eastern Division.  A team based in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, or in Moncton, New Brunswick, would even things up.  The CFL would truly represent Canada from coast to coast and sea to sea.

The Atlantic Schooner were originally a conditional expansion team that was set to begin play in Dartmouth, Nova back in 1984.  Unfortunately. ownership was unable to secure enough funding for a stadium.  As a result, the application for a franchise was withdrawn 13 months after it was submitted.  It's now 2023 and the dream is still alive.  I hope to see it come to fruition.  I was told that there is going to be a meeting about the situation next month.

- Joanne

Bye Bye, Twitter! No Antisemitism for me


I have disassociated myself from Twitter,  (I refuse to call it "X.")  I have had a Twitter account for many years.  When I worked in the library of the Toronto Star, our staff attended a seminar about Social Media.2.0, which included Twitter.  Twitter was very new at the time and we were asked to open an account on it.  I can not in good conscience continue writing messages on this platform, nor read it.

I am not a fan of Elon Musk.  He spent $44 billion to acquire Twitter and he has run it down to the ground.  Advertisers are fleeing after Musk agreed with a tweet accusing Jewish people of "hatred against whites."  I was not pleased when Musk change the name of the platform to "X" and allowed Donald Trump to once again spew his hatred and lies on the social medium.  

When I saw how Twitter was becoming a forum for hate messages, I unsuccessfully attempted to remove my account from Twitter.  I wrote a final message saying that I was through with Twitter as long as Musk owned it.  I have not tweeted anything since. 

We now know, without a doubt, that Musk stands with the supporters of Trump.  He stands with the far right.  His endorsement of Antisemitism sickens me.  I would feel the same way if he had endorsed Islamophobia, anti-Black or Asian sentiment or any other form of hatred.  Hatred is hatred, no matter the target.  It is not a legitimate expression of free speech.  It should not be tolerated.

It's a shame that Elon Musk's $44 million wasn't spent on alleviating poverty or illness.

- Joanne

Friday, November 17, 2023

Why Donald Trump is not mentally fit to be President of the United States

 The Economist names Trump #1 'biggest danger' in the world: 'Will wage war on any institution'

Keep in mind that The Economist is a respected British newspaper.  It has been published for almost two hundred years.  Hence, there is every reason to pay attention to the news that Economist staff has stated that, heading into 2024, it is deeply concerned about the possible return of Donald Trump to the White House.  The paper waned that Trump's return would be viewed as a go-ahead for Russian President Putin to "fight on" in Ukraine and expand his conquest to other former Eastern Bloc countries.  The paper also warned that if Trump were returned to the Oval Office, China might invade Taiwan  "with catastrophic consequences."  It expressed a fear that Trump would mishandle the situation in the Middle East, as Iran and its proxy miliary force find increased support.  

The clock is ticking.  There is less than a year until the 2024 presidential election in the United States.  Much could change in that time, but I am extremely concerned that not enough Americans realize how serious a threat Trump is to their democracy.  So many people are getting false information from Fox News and other far-right media.  So, I will continue to write periodic warnings to my friends in the United States from my perch here in Toronto, Canada.  I don't have a vote in the American election, so it's up to you to decide the fate of your country.  It will be a decision that with profoundly affect Canada and the rest of the world.

Every day, Trump's rhetoric becomes increasingly cruel and violent.  He is using fascist language, reminiscent of Hitler and Mussolini.  He has called his political opponents "vermin." and he has mocked the beating given to Nancy Pelosi's octogenarian husband, Paul.  He has called the media the enemy of the people.  Is this the kind of person Americans want in the Oval Office?

I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, but it is becoming clear that Donald Trump is becoming more and more unhinged with each passing day.  My hope is that will not be permitted to run for public office via the 14th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which forbids anyone who has engaged n insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United from holding public office (Remember January 6, 2021).

In a column for the Washington Monthly, attorney James Zirin, a former federal prosecutor in New York's Southern District, noted Donald Trump's growing problem with facts, his confusion when giving speeches as well as pronounced slurring when speaking.

Cutting right to the chase, Zirin asked: "Has Donald Trump gone nuts?"

Admitting, "This is obviously a difficult question to raise about any person, let alone a candidate, who has demonstrated vicious, paranoid, and violent behavior," he added, "Still, all the armchair gerontologists parsing every utterance from President Joe Biden, trying to distinguish his congenital stutter from his natural aging, should look at Trump, whose behavior has gone from bad to weird to bizarre."

Taking great pains to point out he's not a medical professional, Zirin asked if the former president might be "suffering from a palpable form of dementia."

- Tom Biggiani, Microsoft (, November 25, 2023

I am passionately concerned about the survival of democracy in the country next to mine.

- Joanne

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

What do the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody mean?

"I was green with envy when I heard ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It was a piece of sheer originality that took rock and pop away from the normal path.”

Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA 

One of my favourite songs is "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.  The song was released on October 31, 1975 as the lead single on Queen's fourth album, A Night at the Opera.  Written by lead singer Freddie Mercury, it is almost six minutes long. Elton John was reported to have said that the song was too long and too weird.   

Freddie Mercury began writing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 1968, when he was a student at Ealing Art College in London, England.  The song was not originally titled "Bohemian Rhapsody."  In May of 2023, a collection of Mercury's personal belongings were being prepared for an auction at Sotheby's.  A copy of his handwritten lyrics revealed that he had intended to call it "Mongolian Rhapsody."  According to The New York Times, he crossed out the first word and changed it to "Bohemian,"  

I never really understood the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody until I read the following.  It was posted by Brice Forest, a member of the band Balearic Burger.  I would like to share it with the readers of Number 16.

- Joanne


Why is the song called 'Bohemian Rhapsody'?
Why does it last exactly 5 minutes and 55 seconds?
What is this song really about?
Why did the Queen movie premiere on October 31?
The movie premiered on October 31 because the single was first heard on October 31, 1975. It's titled that way because a 'Rhapsody' is a free-form musical piece composed of different parts and themes that seem unrelated to each other.
The word 'rhapsody' comes from Greek and means 'assembled parts of a song.'
The word 'bohemian' refers to a region in the Czech Republic called Bohemia, where Faust, the protagonist of Goethe's work of the same name, was born. In Goethe's work, Faust was an elderly and intelligent man who knew everything except the mystery of life. Unable to comprehend it, he decides to poison himself.
At that moment, church bells ring, and he goes outside. When he returns to his room, he finds a dog that transforms into a kind of man. It's the devil, Mephistopheles. He promises Faust a full life without misery in exchange for his soul. Faust agrees, rejuvenates, and becomes arrogant. He meets Gretchen and has a child. His wife and child die. Faust travels through time and space and feels powerful. When he becomes old again, he feels miserable once more. Since he didn't break the pact with the devil, angels contend for his soul.
This work is essential to understanding 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'
The song is about Freddie Mercury himself. Being a rhapsody, it has 7 different parts:
1st and 2nd acts - A Capella
3rd act - Ballad
4th act - Guitar solo
5th act - Opera
6th act - Rock
7th act - 'Coda' or final act
The song talks about a poor boy questioning if this life is real or if his distorted imagination is living another reality. He says that even if he stops living, the wind will keep blowing without his existence. So, he makes a deal with the devil and sells his soul.
Upon making this decision, he rushes to tell his mother and says...
"Mama, I just killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he's dead. Threw my life away. If I'm not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters..."
The man he kills is himself, Freddie Mercury.
If he doesn't fulfill the pact with the devil, he will die immediately.
He says goodbye to his loved ones, and his mother breaks into tears, tears and desperate crying that comes from Brian May's guitar notes. Freddie, terrified, cries out, "Mama, I don't want to die," and the operatic part begins. Freddie finds himself in an astral plane where he sees himself: "I see a little silhouetto of a man"... "Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"
Scaramouche is an "escaramuza," a skirmish between armies with horseback riders (4 horsemen of the Apocalypse of evil fighting against the forces of good for Freddie's soul), and he continues, saying, "Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me."
This phrase appears in the Bible, specifically in Job 37 when it says, "the thunder and lightning frighten me: my heart pounds in my chest." Seeing his son so scared by the decision he has made, Freddie's mother begs to save him from the pact with Mephistopheles. "He's just a poor boy..." "Spare him his life from this monstrosity." "Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?" Her pleas are heard, and angels descend to battle the forces of evil. "Bismillah" (an Arabic word meaning "In the name of God") is the first word in the holy book of Muslims, the Quran. So, God Himself appears and shouts, "We will not let you go."
In the face of such a confrontation between good and evil, Freddie fears for his mother's life and says, "Mama mia, mama mia, let me go." They shout again from the sky that they won't abandon him, and Freddie cries, "No, no, no, no, no," and says, "Beelzebub (the Lord of Darkness) has a devil put aside for me." Freddie pays homage here to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach when he sings... "Figaro, Magnifico," referring to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," considered the greatest opera of all time, and to Bach's "Magnificat."
The operatic part ends, and the rockier part bursts in. The devil, angry and betrayed by Freddie not keeping the pact, says, "So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die?"
It's chilling how the Lord of Evil feels powerless against a human being, against repentance and love.
Having lost the battle, the devil departs, and we reach the final act or 'coda' where Freddie is free, and that feeling comforts him. The gong that closes the song sounds. The gong is an instrument used in China and East Asian cultures to heal people under the influence of evil spirits.
It lasts for 5:55 minutes. Freddie liked astrology, and in numerology, 555 is associated with death, not physical but spiritual, the end of something where angels will safeguard you. 555 is related to God and the divine, an ending that will lead to a new beginning.
And the song plays on Halloween eve for the first time. A holiday called 'Samhain' by the Celts to celebrate the transition and opening to the other world.
The Celts believed that the world of the living and the dead were closely connected, and on the Day of the Dead, both worlds would unite, allowing spirits to cross over.
Nothing in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is coincidental.
Everything is carefully crafted and has a meaning that goes beyond being just a song.
It has been voted worldwide as the greatest song of all time.