Monday, May 15, 2023

Why has no Canadian-based team won the Stanley Cup since 1993?

Last night the Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from Stanley Cup tournament by the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The Oilers were the last Canadian-based team still standing.  With the other two Canadian-based teams (Toronto and Winnipeg) already sent packing, Edmonton's defeat ensures that the Cup will not return north for yet another year

There are now 32 teams in the inflated National Hockey League.  These are too many teams.  The regular season drones on for 82 games and the playoffs go on well into June.  However, it's all about money and that's all the NHL seems to care about.  The  integrity of the game is far less important to the league.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup way back in 1967, their victory occurred on May 2nd.  There were only two rounds.  Now there are four rounds.  This season, the Leafs were defeated in the second round by the Florida Panthers.  In both rounds, the Leafs played teams based in balmy Florida.

The Carolina Hurricanes will face the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference final.  The Las Vegas Golden Knights will ;play the winner of the series between the Seattle Kraken and the Dallas Stars for the Western Conference title.  Four of the five teams still alive are based in the southern U.S.  The Hurricanes are based in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The Dallas Stars are based in Texas.  The Las Vegas Golden Knights are based in the Navada desert. The only exception is the Seattle Kracken, which are based in the northwestern U.S.  

The Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kracken are recent expansion teams.  They do not have long and storied histories in the NHL.  The Kracken began play in the 2020-21 season, while the Golden Knights first competed in the 2017-2018 season.

Since there are currently 25 American-based teams in the NHL and only seven Canadian-based teams, the law of averages dictates that U.S.-based teams will win Lord Stanley's jug more often.  However, a drought of 30 years is surprising.  You'd think that in three decades, a Canadian-based team would have won the championship.  

To be fair, I am not putting forth any conspiracy theories.  I am not accusing the Gary Bettman and the American NHL owners of deliberately sabotaging the chances of Canadian-based teams.  However, there is no doubt in my mind that Bettman et al prefer an American-based team to win the Cup.  First and foremost, it's a matter of money.  The NHL commissioner and the majority of owners want a team from the larger U.S, market to win the Stanley Cup.  A Canadian-based team produces less TV advertising revenue.

Some hockey fans argue that the Florida Panthers, for example, have many Canadian-born players.  I have been reminded that the best player on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews, is an American from Arizona, although he has failed to impress in the playoffs, when everything is on the line.

Despite the number of Canadians playing on U.S.-based teams, those teams do not represent Canadian cities or regions.  Canadians seldom take part in Stanley Cup celebrations in American cities.  That's the reason why few Torontonians cheer for the Florida Panthers.

What irks me is that a beautiful, state-of-the-art arena in Quebec City is without an NHL franchise. Quebec City is a winter city, ideally suited to hockey.  From 1979 until 1995, the city was home to an NHL team called the Quebec Nordiques.  During those years, the Nordiques developed a provincial rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens.  Although the Nordiques were relocated to Denver, Colorado in 1995, you can still see Nordiques sweaters in shop windows in historic Vieux Quebec.  When the Phoenix Coyotes were on the verge of extinction, every effort was made to save that team. The same effort did not seem to be evident in the case of the Nordiques. While it is true that the Nordiques played in an old arena, such is not the case anymore.  

A new arena, the Vidéotron Centrewith over 18,000 seats. has replaced the old Colisée Pepsi as Quebec City's primary venue for indoor events.  The building opened in 2015 and it is the home of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League(QMJH).

The Pheonix Coyotes did not have an adequate arena either, when their future was in grave doubt.  Now known as the Arizona Coyotes, they are still waiting on a potential new arena in Tempe, Arizona.  In February of 2022, the Coyotes announced that they had reached an agreement with Arizona State University to play all their home games there through the 2024-25 season, with an option for the 2025-26 season.

It's unfortunate that the NHL headquarters did not remain in Montreal.  When the headquarters moved to New York, American's effectively gained control of the league.  Yes, I am well aware that Canadians are not the only skilled  hockey players.  We were really reminded of that as far back at the 1972 Canada-Soviet  Summit Series.  The NHL now includes many fine players from Sweden, Russia, the United States, Finland and other countries.  The same argument applies to baseball, which has always been considered part of American culture.

In the same way as professional hockey is no longer dominated by Canadian players, Major League Baseball is no longer dominated by U.S.-born players.  Just think of the huge number of Latin players from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, South America Puerto Rico.  Then there are also many good players from Japan and South Korea. Shohe Ohtani, arguably the best player in MLB, hails from Japan,

Yet, MLB headquarters will never move away from New York.  Americans will never relinquish control of their "national pastime."  I also doubt that a non-American will ever become MLB commissioner.  By the way, I have no objection to a non-Canadian being NHL Commissioner.

Paul Beeston, former president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, was president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball from 1997 until 2002.  He was MLB's second ranking official.  However, Beeston, a Canadian, never became MLB commissioner.  Admittedly, I have no hard evidence that Beeston was never given the top job because of his nationality.  However, I doubt that his citizenship helped his chances.  

Beeston has remained mum on why he decided to step down from his position with Major League Baseball,  although frustration probably played a role in his decision.  By all intents and purposes, Beeston did an admirable job as an MLB executive during a difficult time with labour negotiations.  According to the Washington Post, baseball sources said Beeston's departure was not linked to the state of negotiations with the players union and that Beeston had indicated to associates that he intended to remain in his position until a collective bargaining agreement had been reached. Still, questions linger, as they do as to why a Canadian-based team has not won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens did the trick in 1993.

- Joanne

Monday, May 8, 2023

Beautiful Centennial Park Conservatory Photos

On Saturday, May 6, I spent part of the afternoon at the Conservatory at Centennial Park in Etobicoke, Ontario.  Here are some photos I took in the conservatory and surrounding area.  I'd  like to share them with you and I hope you enjoy them.

- Joanne


Thursday, May 4, 2023

Florida Panthers unfair to Toronto Maple Leafs and Canadian hockey fans

The Florida Panthers have decided not to sell tickets directly to Canadians for their playoff series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  This is patently unfair and the NHL should not allow it.  It is mean-spirited and inhospitable.  What do Florida fans fear from Leaf fans in the arena?  Are they concerned that some fights would break out?  Do they worry that the cheers from Leaf fans would be louder than the cheers of Florida fans?  Whatever the reason, this is no way to treat supporters of the visiting team.

Where would the Florida tourist industry be without Canadians?  Indeed, where would the Florida economy be without the Canadian snowbirds who descend on the Sunshine State every year.  In a 2018 Canada-Florida Economic Impact Study, the Canada Trade Commissioner Service estimated that about 500,000 Canadians travel to Florida during the winter months, with some spending up to six months there.  Those snowbirds were estimated to contribute about $6.6 billion to the Florida economy.  That's not chump change and Florida's economy would suffer greatly without it.

Many Canadians visitors are ardent hockey fans.  They spend money to attend the home games of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers when the Leafs, Montreal Canadiens or any other Canadian-based team comes to town, especially in a playoff series.  That is why this action by the Florida Panthers is so disappointing and so downright chintzy.

It is certainly true that many Americans are also avid hockey fans, but Canadians have a passion for hockey that is unmatched.  I do not travel to Florida in the winter, but I will declare my bias.  I'm from Toronto and my 2023 Stanley Cup dream final would be a matchup between the Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers.  It's not that I wouldn't be interested if the Leafs played an American-based team.  It's just that a Cup series between Toronto and Edmonton would be sweeter than wine.  There's still a long way to and a Leafs-Oiler series is a long shot.  However, it's certainly within the realm of possibility.

The fact is that no Canadian-based team has won the Stanley Cup since 1993, when the Montreal Canadiens defeated Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings.  That's a drought of 30 years.  As every devoted Leaf fans knows, the Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.  That's a drought of 56 years.  No fans are hungrier for Lord Stanley's jug than the long-suffering fans of the Blue and White.  

Those who love the Toroto Maple Leafs really love them.  How else could they have been so patient all these years?  Those who detest the Leafs really detest them.  There's not much in-between where the Leafs are concerned.  When U.S. President Joe Biden  addressed the Canadian House of Commons back in March, he poked fun at the Leafs, saying that he didn't like them because they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in January and his wife, Jill, is a Philly girl.  Biden received a standing ovation for those remarks.

I can guarantee one thing, though.  If the Leafs ever won the Stanley Cup, you would witness one of the biggest celebrations in the history of Toronto or anywhere else in the hockey world.  There would be more jubilation than in any other NHL city.  With the Leafs already down 2-0 in their series with the Florida Panthers, a parade in downtown Toronto seems increasingly unlikely.  Still, it's not over yet, and Leaf fans can dream, can't they?

- Joanne

EDITIORS UPDATE (May 19, 2023): The future of the Arizona Coyotes is in serious doubt.  On Mary 16th, residents of Tempe, Arizona voted down the organization's proposal to build a $2.1 billion entertainment district, including a new arena.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Vocabulary Quiz #9: Ten words beginning with the letter "Z"


Number 16 Vocabulary Quiz #9

Ten words beginning with the letter "Z"

Number 16 presents a multiple choice vocabulary quiz.  Choose the correct definition of each word listed.  There are ten words that begin with the letter "z."

1.  (noun) zither
A.  A magic spell

B.  A type of dress worn in Nigeria

C.  A musical instrument

D.  A dog breed

E.  A type of poetry with 10 lines

2.  (adjective) zealous

A,  Description of an eccentric person

B.  Characterized by fervent devotion to a person, a cause or an ideal

C.  Having an extremely jealous nature

D.  Having a cruel and vindictive personality

E.   None of the above

3.  (noun) zircon

A.  A kind of spaceship

B.   A sweet tasting liqueur

C.  A geometric figure

D.  A mineral sometimes used as a gem

E.  A kind of cheese

4.  (noun) zygote

A.  A bird found in Africa

B.  Someone who lives in a remote village

C.  A fertilized egg

D.  A single-celled organism

E.  A rare gene

5.  (noun) zymurgy

A,  A branch of applied chemistry that is concerned with fermentation processes (as in brewing or wine making)

B.  A dark blue mineral, similar to sapphire

C.  The process by which diamonds are mined.

D.  A branch of mathematics that involves geometric shapes

E.   In entomology, a scientific designation of a particular species of insects

6.  (noun) zucchini

A,   A kind of pasta

B.   An Italian soup

C.  A type of Italian sausage

D.  A cheese

E.  A dark green summer squash

7.  (noun) zwieback

A,  A kind of sandwich popular in Sweden

B.  A crisp, sweetened bread,

C.  A type of potato

D.  A tropical cocktail

E.  None of the above

8.  (noun) zenith

A.  A paradise or heaven

B.  A breed of cat

C.  The highest point or stage

D.  A witch in disguise

E.  The eruption of a volcano

9.  (noun) zebu

A.  A domesticated ox

B.  A kind of rifle

C.  A small clutch purse

D.  A newborn zebra

E.  A mountain goat

10.  (adjective) zany

A,  Having a dry sense of humour

B.   Undisciplined

C.  Loudmouthed

D.  Amusingly absurd or eccentric

E.  Quick witted

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

1.  C

zither (noun): A musical instrument consisting of a flat wooden box with numerous strings across it, placed horizontally and played with fingers and a plectrum (pick used for plucking strings of instrument}.  It is used especially in central European folk music.

2.  B

zealous (adjective); Marked by fervent partisanship for a person, a cause, or an ideal.  Filled with or characterized by zeal.  Example: zealous missionaries

3.  D

zircon (noun): A tetragonal mineral consisting of a silicate of zirconium and occurring usually in brown or greyish square prisons or sometimes in transparent forms which are used as gems.  Example: He analyzed the small amounts of uranium contained in the mineral zircon.

4.  C

zygote (noun): A fertilized egg; a cell formed by the union of two gametes (reproductive cells),; Broadly speaking, the developing individual produced from such a cell.

5.  A

zymurgy (noun): A branchy of applied chemistry that deals with fermentation processes (as in wine making or brewing)

6.  E

zucchini (noun): Botanically speaking, fruit; a smooth usually cylindrical dark green summer squash: also a plant that bears zucchini

7.  B

zwieback (noun): A usually sweetened bread enriched with eggs that is baked and then sliced and toasted until dry and crisp

8.  C

 zenith (noun): The highest point or pinnacle  Example: She is at the zenith of her career.

9. A

zebu (noun): Any of various breeds of domestic oxen developed in India, characterized by a large fleshy hump over the shoulders

10.  D.  

zany (adjective): Very eccentric, or absurd, often in an amusing way,  Example :A zany comedy

- Joanne

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The real reason Trump and Republicans are focusing on Biden's age

U.S. President Joe Biden was born on November 20, 1942.  Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946.  Biden is 80 years old,  Trump is 76 years old.  He will turn 77 on June 14, 2023.  There is not that much age difference between these two men.  Yet the former president and his supporters, as well as Republicans such as former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, continue to make an issue of Biden's age.  Haley, a presidential hopeful, has suggested that Americans should not vote for Joe Biden because he may die during his second term, in which case, Vice President Kamala Harris would assume the office of President of the United States.

Here is what Haley said about Biden in an interview with Fox News (of course).  "He's announced that he's running again in 2024, and I think that we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden you really are counting on a President Harris, because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely."  By the way, Trump would be 78 if he assumed the presidency in January of 2025 and 82 at the end of his term, providing that he left office of his own accord.

Republicans enjoy painting Joe Biden as senile, bumbling and mentally unfit.  The fact that Biden has had to overcome a speech impediment (stuttering), makes it easier for them to criticize him for sometimes stumbling over words.  In fact, Biden is an inspiration to those who have been bullied or held back because of speech impediments such as stuttering.


President Biden's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, stated in a memorandum released by the White House press office in February that Biden "remains a healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief."

If you think Dr. Connor's assessment of Joe Biden's health is too rosy and too biased, allow me to remind you of the assessment Donald Trump received from his former physician, Ronny Jackson, at a January 2018 press briefing.  Jackson, an ex-U.S. Navy admiral turned Texas Representative, told reporters that Trump could possibly live to 200 years of age as a result of his "good genes."

There are no guarantees regarding longevity.  A person's health or circumstances could change drastically at any time.  No one can control the vicissitudes of fate.  Much of life is unpredictable.  For than reason, it is said that the Vice President of the United States is a heartbeat away from the presidency.  Eight American presidents have died in office, four of them by an assassin's bullet.  Abraham Lincoln was 56 years old when he was killed by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.  John F. Kennedy, the youngest person ever elected president, was only 46 when he was shot in Dallas in 1963.  

In September of 1955, Dwight D, Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, suffered a massive heart attack during a golf trip to Colorado.  Vice President Richard Nixon became acting president at that time, and again in 1956, when Eisenhower had surgery.  Despite his health issues, Eisenhower went on to win re-election in 1956.  He died on March 28, 1969 at the age of 78.

It is ridiculous that Nikki Haley should speculate on how long Joe Biden will live.  He could live to be 100 or he could die tomorrow.  However, there is much more to Haley's comments about Biden's age.  Read her words carefully and you will realize what is really behind her remarks.  The issue goes beyond President Biden's age, or his health.  Donald Trump is not much younger than Joe Biden, and Trump doesn't exactly seem  in the best of health, mentally or physically.  No, folks.  The real issue is the possibility that Kamala Harris could become president.  Republicans are trying to scare Americans with the possibility that a woman of Black and South Asian heritage could sit in the Oval Office.  Imagine that!  Horror of horrors! 


I must say that Nikki Haley, should know better than to try to scare conservative Republicans with the prospect of Kamala Harris as president.  Haley herself is a woman of colour, the daughter of Sikh parents from India. With that background, she of all people should understand the hurdles Kamala Harris has had to face.  Instead Haley seeks to win the approval of he Republican right wing base by appealing to their racism and misogyny.  She'd be much better off by trying to attract moderate Republican voters.  She doesn't seem to realize that it is futile to try to out-Trump Trump.

Here's what should really frighten Americans and people in other countries around the world.  It's the possibility that Donald Trump, an authoritarian, who admires Vladimir Putin and other dictators, could once again assume the presidency of the United States.  If Trump should become president again, he would change the political and social fabric of America.  He would likely tamper with the Constitution. He would equate loyalty to himself with loyalty to country,.  

Remember that Trump has attacked two of the most fundamental pillars of democracy - a free press and the peaceful transfer of power after an election.  He has called the media "the enemy of the people"  He refused to recognize his defeat in the 2020 election, which by all evidence was fair and free.  At Trump's bidding, a mob of right-wing fanatics and racists stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  They desecrated that temple of American democracy.  They threatened to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence because he refused to block certification of Biden's win.

I write this to warn Americans.  If Trump attains power again, God help us, he will never relinquish it.  He will never leave the Oval Office until he dies.  American democracy will be lost.  Consider my warning when you vote in November of 2024.  Don't say that you haven't been warned.  

- Joanne

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Shame! Canadian banks are world's top fossil fuel funders - Royal Bank the worst offender

What a blight on Canada's reputation!  The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has the dubious distinction of being the Number.1 financier of fossil fuel development around the world.  The other four of Canada's big banks - Bank of Montreal (RBS), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and the Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) - are among the top offenders.  The worst offender by far, however, is the Royal Bank of Canada.

According to the annual Banking on Climate Chaos, a report from a coalition of environmental groups, Canada's five big banks are included among the Top 20 oil and gas funders globally, although  RBC is the biggest culprit.  The report reveals that between 2016 and 2021, the Royal Bank was the fifth largest fossil fuel funder.  Last year was the fist year in which RBC committed the most money to fossil fuel projects around the world, providing over $43 billion US.

The other major Canadian banks are also very adept at damaging the environment.  Scotiabank placed ninth worldwide in 2021with $29.5 billion US in fossil fuel funding.  TD ranked tenth with about $29 billion US, while Bank of Montreal was 15th with $19.3 billion US.  CIBC placed 16th at $17.9 billion.

Keep in mind that we are dealing with billions of dollars of funding to the fossil fuel industry.  Taken collectively, the five largest Canadian banks doled out a whopping $140 billion US in support of oil and gas projects globally.  That, my friends, is not chicken feed.  That is Big Money.  Earth Day is fast approaching.  It falls on Saturday, April 22nd.  The Big Five, especially RBC, should do some serious soul searching about their contribution to climate disaster. They should ask themselves whey they can't seem to divest themselves of their fossil fuel habit.  

This addiction to fossil fuel is not just a Canadian issue.  According to corporate data from 60 of the world's largest commercial banks, many have taken steps in the wrong direction.  Instead of cutting back on fossil fuel funding projects since the 2016 global agreement to limit greenhouse gases, these banks have actually increased that funding by a staggering $3.8 trillion US in the last five years.  How dishonourable!  How reprehensible!  How immoral!

- Joanne

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Bravo to Rogers for subway cell phone deal

 "We know safety is top of mind for Torontonians.  Residents and visitors expect wireless connectivity when they're travelling on the TTC's subway system."

- Press release from Ron McKenzie, Rogers' chief technological and information officer 

To be honest, I have my issues with Rogers Communications.  For one thing, it has too much of a monopoly on the media and telecommunications in Canada.  Still, I must give credit where credit is due.  Congratulations and kudos to Rogers for agreeing to a deal that will allow it to take over wireless service on Toronto's subway network.  The deal could finally allow cell phone coverage to the city's entire underground.  The giant telecommunications company has purchased the Canadian operations of BAI Communications Inc, the company that was given the contract back tin 2012.  

Kudos and congratulations also to the Toronto Star for its advocacy of cell phone service on Toronto's subway. I am sure the bad publicity played a role in Rogers' decision.  Big corporations don't want to appear as if that they are putting profit before public safety.  They are mindful of their reputations.

This Rogers deal is good news, but it is still not clear whether it will apply to all subway riders or just Rogers' customers.  Nevertheless, it's s a huge step in the right direction.  I have to admit, I didn't think it would happen so soon/  Clearly, Rogers has stepped up to the plate before Bell and Telus.

- Joanne

Language Corner: Funny words


Hello Number 16 Readers

I thought you might enjoy these observations about words from "The Laughing Librarian."  English is a crazy language, isn't it?

- Joanne

Monday, April 10, 2023

Will Bell, Rogers and Telus put public safety before profits?

As Torontonians know all too well, there have random attacks and murders on our public transit system, the TTC.  This surge in public transportation violence should not be tolerated in a civilized society.  It is outrageous that TTC riders should have to fear for their lives.  There have been four homicides in the past year, including the recent stabbing death of a 16-year-old.  This is reprehensible  It should be a major issue in Toronto's upcoming mayoralty election on June 26th.  Our city deserves better.  We must protect human life in our subway stations and aboard TTC buses and trains.

For a start, why isn't there cell phone service on subway trains?  This is where the three big telecommunications companies - Rogers, Bell and Tellus, come into play.  They have an opportunity to make the citizens of Toronto feel more safe and secure while riding public transit.  Will at least one of them strike a deal with BAI Communications Inc., the company that in 2012 was granted exclusive rights the city to set up wireless service in a 20-year, $25 million deal.  To its credit, only Freedom Mobile has signed on.  The Big Three have not.  

This is a cry from the heart.  The ball is in your court, Bell, Rogers and Telus.  Do you care at all about the safety of the people of Toronto, or will you continue to put profit first?  We will soon see if you will do the right thing.  You have no excuse for letting down the citizens of this great city.  You have no excuse for not doing your part to ensure public safety.  Are you listening Rogers, Bell and Telus?  You can save lives.  If you fail to come through, shame on you!

This is issue is not going to go away anytime soon and I will continue to write about it.  No dithering is acceptable.  Action must be taken as soon as possible.  Enough is enough!  

- Joanne

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter Reflections 2023


“Christ is risen: The world below lies desolate. Christ is risen: The spirits of evil are fallen. Christ is risen: The angels of God are rejoicing. Christ is risen: The tombs of the dead are empty. Christ is risen indeed from the dead, the first of the sleepers! Glory and Power are His for ever and ever! Amen.”

Saint Hippolytus of Rome   

"And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance , proven character, and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - 

- Romans 5:3-5

Christians celebrate Easter Sunday 2023 (April 9), the Jewish people celebrate Passover (April 5-13), while Muslims honour the holy month of Ramadan (March 22-April 20).  All three of the world's great monotheistic religions are expressing their faith in special ways at the same time this year.  They share great commonality.  

What people of all faiths (and no faith) need right now is a heavy dose of hope for the future.  Without hope, all is lost.  After over three years, the pandemic is easing.  COVID-19 may always be with us, and it will always be a threat to the elderly and the vulnerable.  However, it appears that the worst of the pandemic is finally over.  That in itself is cause for hope and celebration.  

We have all been through an international nightmare.  The effects of the pandemic on mental health, especially among young people have been devastating.  That is why I urge messages of hope  to our young people.  They are the future and they must be encouraged that they can make a difference with their lives.  It is important for them to know that their lives have meaning. It is important fo


On April 15th, 2019, just before Easter, there was a disastrous fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris).  While the ancient structure was undergoing renovations, its roof caught fire and burned for hours.  The cathedral sustained serious damage.

By November 2020, the job of stabilizing the building from future collapse was completed.

The government of France had hoped that the reconstruction of the cathedral would be finished by the spring of 2024, in time for the 2024 Paris Sumer Olympics. On April 14, 2021, President Emmanuel Macron announced that the cathedral would be officially returned to the church on April 15, 2024, and that the first Mass since the fire would be celebrated in the cathedral that day, even if the reconstruction is not completed.  However, it is expected that the cathedral will remain closed until December.

By Christmas of 2024, I hope to report that the cathedral is opened and fully functional.

- Joanne

Friday, March 31, 2023

Trump and the scales of justice

Donald Trump is not invincible.  He does not have super powers.  The long arm of the law has finally caught up with him.  The indictment of the ex-president is a victory for democracy and the rule of law.  No man or woman, no king, queen, president or prime minister is above the law.  Only dictators and authoritarians place themselves above the law.  In a true democracy, the law applies to everyone.  Everyone is entitled to a fair trial and a day in court, and Donald Trump will certainly have his day in court.  

Trump is no longer president.  He is a former president, a citizen of the United States.  If Trump were still the sitting president, he would still be subject to the law.  If as the U.S. Declaration of Independence states, "all men are created equal," then even a sitting president should be charged with a criminal offense.  

There are Republicans and right-wing zealots who argue that the charges against Trump have been politically motivated.  The evidence shows that this is not true.  The judicial authorities have gone out of their way to be fair to Donald Trump.  They have given him more leeway than any Ordinary Joe would have gotten.  It's time for the former American president to accept responsibility for his actions.  It's time for him to be held accountable.  

Trump will continue to scream and shout that he is the victim of a witch hunt.  He may attempt to incite violence.  What matters most, however, is that democracy is served.  Trump will complain about how unfairly he has been treated.  Poor baby!  The important thing is that he is held accountable.  That's what's needed for democracy to survive in America.

On a personal note, I have argued that the day of reckoning was coming for Trump.  Some friends and acquaintances though it would never happen, that he would continue to evade justice.  I strongly. disagreed,  Trump's indictment was certainly a long time coming.  Thank goodness the day has arrived.

- Joanne

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The name Karen has been unfairly tainted

Karen originated as a Danish name.  It is the Danish short form of Katherine, deriving from the Greek word Aikaterine, which is believed to mean "pure."  It became popular in the English-speaking world after the 1930s.  In more recent years, Karen has become a pejorative term for a woman whose behaviour is rude and demanding, especially a privileged white woman.  This meme has become increasingly prevalent in everyday conversation.  It is frequently used in the media,

What is the origin of the use of "Karen" as a pejorative?  Some point the finger at American stand-up comedian Dane Cook because of his 2007 comedy sketch "The Friend Nobody Likes," in which he named that friend "Karen."  Others suggest that it may have originated from the 2004 teenage comedy Mean Girls,.  A character in the film, played by Amanda Seyfried is reprimanded for asking her friend Cady, played by Lindssay Lohan, how can she "be from Africa if she's white?"

My name is not Karen, nor is Karen the name of anyone in my immediate family.  However, I do feel that every woman with that name has been tarnished with the same brush.  The stigma of entitlement has been attached to all women named Karen.  If it were my moniker, I would feel a great injustice for three main reasons.  Firstly, there is no concrete evidence that women named Karen are more racist and privileged than other women?  Secondly, women of all ethnic and racial backgrounds have been named Karen.  There are, of course, Black women named Karen.  How do they feel about being lumped with privileged white women?

Thirdly, I must also point out that there is a sexist aspect to the meme "Karen."  Why is it that women named Karen are tagged with being privileged and demanding?  Do you know any men named Karen?  Are there not men of entitlement?  What is the point of singling out a particular female name such as Karen?  A "Karen" is supposedly the kind of woman who demands to speak to the manager.  Really?  Don't any men demand to speak to the manager?  

Let me be clear.  I am not defending anyone of any race or gender who behaves in a privileged manner.  I just don't think that the name Karen should be labelled in such a way.  It is mean-spirited  and patently unfair.  

A great deal of money is being made off of the "Karen" meme.  There are stickers and poster for sale about the so-called "Karens."  There is even a book by Brad Gosse entitled Meet The Karens: They're Angry and They Demand Attention.

Some may accuse me of being too sensitive, but  stereotypes attached to specific names hurt.  That's why I encourage all women named Karen to be proud of your name.  Don't let an insidious meme get to you.  By the way, I urge any readers named Karen to let me know how you feel about how your name is being used as a meme for a privileged white women.  

- Joanne

Monday, March 27, 2023

My heartfelt warning to America

"There is no federal law prohibiting CURRENT presidents from criminal prosecution. Yet House Republicans want to pass a law prohibiting FORMER presidents — regular citizens — from criminal prosecution. I assume they will call it what it is: the Protect Donald Trump Act."

- Daniel Goldman, U.S. House of Representatives, 10th Congressional District, New York, Democrat

This is a cry from the heart from a deeply concerned Canadian. I am profoundly disturbed by the political landscape in the country next door to mine.  If, God help us all, Donald Trump should become president of the United States again, we will witness the end of democracy in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."  Democracy can be fragile and it must be nurtured.  Sadly, Trump and his spineless Republican colleagues are chipping away at the pillars of democracy every day.  The rise of the far right in the United States has spilled into Canada.  A case in point is the so called "Freedom Convoy" protest in Ottawa that brought that city to a standstill.

What is wrong with America?  What has happened to civility?  Why have mass shootings became a common occurrence in the United States?  How can people claim to be free when they don't feel safe anywhere?  What has happened to American democracy?  Why hasn't a man like  Donald Trump been banned from public office?  Trump behaves like a mob boss.  He is vengeful, mean-spirited and cruel.  His behaviour is erratic and I believe that he is fundamentally unstable and sociopathic.  He incites violence and his most loyal supporters are racist and ant-Semitic.

How can Donald Trump claim that he does not support violence when his actions prove otherwise?  With a possible indictment pending, the Republican former president has ramped up his rhetoric, warning that "potential death & destruction" would accompany any indictment.  He also posted a photograph of himself holding a baseball bat beside a photo of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.  Trump referred to Bragg, Manhattan's first Back D.A., as an "animal."  This was too much even for the New York Post, a conservative tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch.  The Post published an editorial denouncing Trump.

Trump won the election of 2016, due to the unfair and outdated Electoral College system in the United States.  The Republican Party will not allow the system to be changed.  Its only path to power is via Electoral College and by gerrymandering electoral maps.  Instead of becoming more inclusive,  the party of Abraham Lincoln, has become a party led primarily by white males.  It has not adjusted to the rapidly changing demographics of America.  Instead of making itself more attractive and relevant to Blacks, Latinos, Asians, immigrants and women, it has embraced a far right agenda.  It endavours to suppress votes, rather than encourage participation in the democratic process.

The Republican Party is no longer the Grand Old Party.  It is the  party of right wing extremists, gun lovers, hate mongers and Q-Anon conspiracy believers.  The face of the party now belongs to the likes of Trump supporters Josh Hawley, Margorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebart and Paul Gosar.  If Ike Eisenhower were alive today, he wouldn't recognize his own party.  He'd be appalled.  These are not traditional conservatives.  They are far right MAGA Republicans.  By the way, "Make America Great Again" is a Trumps dog whistle for "Make America White Again".  Exactly when did America lose its greatness?

In 2016, Hillary Clinton officially won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million.  Yet, the will of almost 2.9 million Americans was cast aside due to the Electoral College.  Still, Hillary Clinton conceded defeat and did not claim the presidency.  She did not yell and scream, "Stop the Steal." 

Trump is clearly an authoritarian.  He admires Vladimir Putin of Russia, Jim Jong-un of North Korea and Xi Jinping of China.  They are his heroes and they are all brutal dictators.  He aspires to be like them.  He would love to stand before a military parade as a great authoritarian.  The only thing standing in his way, should he become president again, is the United States Constitution.  Authoritarians and dictators can certainly find ways to get around constitutional law.

Donald Trump is the first American president who declined to peacefully hand over the reigns of power after losing an election to Joe Biden.  The peaceful transfer of power after an election is a cornerstone of democracy.  On January 6, 2021, Trump followers stormed Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.  I saw the images with my own ideas.  The picture that Tucker Carlson paints of the angry mob to his Fox News viewers is patently false and deceptive.  I saw what happened with my own eyes, as did countless others.  I am sane and clear-thinking.  That mob was out for blood and they would have killed former Vice President Mike Pence if they had been able to get their hands on him.  Donald Trump could have stopped the insurrection, but he chose not to.  In fact, he hoped it would succeed in preventing the certification of Joe Biden as president.

How can people of faith, particularly Evangelicals and Catholics, support a man whose behaviour is so un-Christian?  His gods are money and power.  He has lied and cheated his whole life.  "What's new about that?" you may say ask "Don't most politicians lie and cheat?"  Yes, many do.  However, Trump has taken lying and cheating to a new level. He makes Richard Nixon seem like a boy scout.  His transgressions are far more serious than Nixon's.  Yet, Nixon was forced to resign.  Meanwhile, Trump is running for president again.

Check out these facts.:

* Just before the 2016 election, Trump bragged about groping women. He dismissed it as "locker room talk."  

* Trump has branded Putin and Xi as "very smart people/"

* During the first 2020 presidential debate, Trump did not condemn white supremacy when do so.  He told the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, to "stand back and stand by."  Of course, the Proud Boys considered those words an endorsement of them.

* Trump is the first American president to be indicted twice.  He is facing four criminal investigations: 

The Stormy Daniels hush money investigations (Manhattan District Attorney's Office).

The Georgia 2020 election interference investigation (Fulton County District Attorney's Office)

A pair of investigations into Trump's actions around January 6th and his mishandling of classified documents (the U.S. Department of Justices).

Ah, but poor Donald!  He never does anything wrong.  He never makes a mistake and he never loses.  He is always the victim.  His enemies (not opponents) are out to get him.  He can't get a break from all those "witch hunts."

Fox News is responsible for feeding its viewers a steady diet of lies and false narratives.  The network tells its watchers exactly what they want to hear.  Regardless of Donald Trump's actions, his deluded and brainwashed base will never change  Their support of Trump is not based on facts or on truth.  It is based on emotion.  It is based on fear.  They are afraid of losing their power and influence to non0wwhites and immigrants.

Trump's adherents would kill for him, even though he would throw them under a bus if it would save his own skin.  Their Dear Leader once said that he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still stand by him.  How true!  That is why I appeal to all conservatives who respect the rule of law to oppose Trump's candidacy for president in the 2024 election.  

In a democracy, country should come before party.  Loyalty should be to country, not to one man such as Donald Trump.  No one is above the law, be that person a president, a prime minister, a king or a queen.  The scales of justice apply to all, including one Donald J. Trump.  For the sake of justice, for the sake of democracy, this disgraced former president must be held accountable before the law. To many, he may seem invincible.  But he is not.  Soon or later, the law will catch up with him.  

- Joanne

Friday, March 24, 2023

The link between mental health and homelessness

Earlier this week, I had lunch with some friends and acquaintances at a local restaurant.  The subject of homelessness came up during a conversation about some of the issues facing the city of Toronto as the June 26th byelection for mayor draws closer.  Two of my lunch companions immediately slammed the homeless. They claimed that the homeless preferred to be without shelter, that they chose to live that way.  I begged to differ and I tried to point out to them that most are not homeless by choice, but by circumstance,  Unfortunately, my companions had bought into a false narrative about the homeless.

I do not dispute that many homeless people prefer living on the street rather than in a shelter.  They can't stomach the conditions in a shelter and the lack of privacy.  However, the majority do not wish to live in abject poverty.  Who really enjoys being hungry?  Who really enjoys freezing outside in cold winter weather or in a sweltering during a summer heat wave?  People become homeless for a variety of reasons.  Every homeless person has a different story.  So, why are they all lumped together.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that between 25 percent and 50 percent of homeless people in Canada suffer from mental illness.  Out of those with severe mental illness, up to 70 percent struggle with substance abuse. Sadly, those with mental illness experience homelessness for longer periods of time and have less contact with family and friends.  

With the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the high cost of food and rent, is it any wonder that homelessness is so prevalent, especially among the mentally ill?  In the city of Toronto, where I live, there have been calls to declare homelessness a public health crisis.  The Ontario Human Rights Commission has expressed concern about the "significant lack of cold weather services in Toronto." 

South of the border, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 20 to 25 percent of homeless population of the United States suffer rom some form of severe mental illness.  The National Coalition for the Homeless has found that 38 percent of the homeless are dependent on alcohol and 26 percent are dependent on chemical substances.  Addiction is frequently the result of homelessness.  Mental illness, alcohol and drug addiction are not crimes or moral failings.  They are illnesses.  They are diseases.

Although little more than one percent of the U.S. population suffers from schizophrenia, the estimates go as high as high as 20 percent of the homeless population.  There is definitely a correlation between schizophrenia and homeless, especially since many, for a number of reasons, do not take anti-psychotic medication.

Dealing with mental illness is deeply personal for me as I have a close family member who suffers from mental illness.  He is unable to work and is often filled with anxiety.  If it weren't for the support of his family, he would probably be homeless and living on the street.  Not every mentally ill person is fortunate enough to have the support of a family.  Not every mentally ill person has access to medical care.  Many youths end up on the street to escape an abusive home life.

More and better services and safe, affordable housing are needed for the mentally ill.  A clearer  understanding of the nature and causes of homelessness is urgently required.  Our society must deal with the link between mental illness and homelessness.

- Joanne

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Pebble Art of Erzsébet {Elizabeth) Furman

I am very impressed by the "pebble art" of  Erzsébet {Elizabeth) Furman. That is why I wish to share it with Number 16 readers. It is so beautiful that I want others to enjoy the work of this talented Hungarian artist. Check out her Facebook page. (20+) Kavicsművészet, Kavicsképek - Pebble Art by Erzsébet Furmen | Facebook

Elizabeth Furman combines art with storytelling.  To enjoy more of her work, click on the following link.

An Artist Turns Pebbles Into Works of Art That Seem to Have Stories Behind Them (25 Pics) / Bright Side

- Joanne

Friday, March 3, 2023

Language Corner: What does the prefix "ortho" mean?


What does the prefix "ortho" mean?

The prefix ortho is derived from the Greek word orthos, meaning "right, true, straight, upright."

Examples include:

Orthodontics (noun): The branch of dentistry concerned with the treatment of irregularities of the teeth or jaws.

Orthondontic (adjective): Serving to correct or straighten the teeth.  

Orthodontist (noun): An orthodontics specialist.  A dentists who is qualified to treat irregularities of the teeth or jaws.  The orthodontist informed you that you needed braces.

Orthopedics (noun):  The branch of medicine dealing with the correction of deformities of bones or muscles.

Orthopedic (adjective) is derived from the Greek roots ortho and pedo, meaning child.  The word was coined by French physician Nicolas Andry do Bois Regard (also known as Nicholas Andry), a professor of medicine at the University of Paris.  Originally the term meant the correcting of bones or muscles of a child.  

Orthotic (nonun): An artificial support or brace for the limbs or spine, especially a supportive device inserted into a shoe, most commonly to stabilize the foot, correct alignment and provide cushioning

Orthodoxy (noun) is derived from the Greek term orthodoxia, meaning righteous/correct opinion.  It is the adherence to strict or accepted creeds, especially with regards to religious beliefs.  Hence, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church or Orthodox Judaism.

Orthodox (adjective): Of a person or their views, especially religious or political ones, or other beliefs or practices} conforming to what is conventionally or traditionally accepted as right, true, established and approved

- Joanne

Monday, February 27, 2023

Number 16's Oscars Quiz 2023

The 95hh Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2023.  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 Jimmy Kimmel.  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!


1.  Brad Pitt did not receive an Oscar nomination this year for his performance in the film Babylon.  Has he ever been awarded an Academy Award.  If so, how many Oscars has Brad Pitt won?

A.  Three

B.  One

C.  Two

D.  Four

E.  None

2.  Jimmy Kimmel will host the Academy Awards this year.  He has hosted the Oscars twice before.  When was the last time he hosted the ceremonies?

Jimmy Kimmel

A.  2017

B.  2018

C.  2016

D.  2021

E.  2015

3.  What was the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Makeup?

A.  The Wizard of Oz

B.  Planet of the Apes

C.  Amadeus

D.  An American Werewolf in London

E.   The Fly

4.  Who took a tumble on her way up the stairs at the Academy Awards in 2013?

A.  Jennifer Lawrence

B.  Anne Hathaway

C.  Jennifer Aniston

D.  Tina Fey

E.  Natalie Portman

5.  For which film was Lauren Bacall nominated for an Oscar?

A.  Key Largo

B.  To Have and Have Not

C.  The Mirror Has Two Faces

D.  How to Marry a Millionaire

E.  The Big Sleep

6.  Who received the longest standing ovation at the Academy Awards?

A.  Sidney Poitier

B.  Judy Garland

C.  Shirley Temple

D.  Alfred Hitchcock

E.  Charlie Chaplin

7.  What is the name of of the 1944 film for which Bing Crosby won the Best Actor Oscar? 

Bing with Oscar

A.  Holiday Inn

B.  Gong My Way

C.  White Christmas

D.  The Bells of St. Mary's

E.   High Society

8.  Which was the first film version of a Shakespeare play to win an Academy Award for Best Picture?

A.  Julius Caesar

B.  Romeo and Juliet

C.  Macbeth

D.  Hamlet

E.  Antony and Cleopatra

9  Which film  had a production budget estimated to be about $280 million.  It was nominated for nine Academy Awards.  It won three.

A.  Avatar

B.  Titanic

C.  Spider-Man 3

D.  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

E.   Avengers: Age of Ultron

10.  In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director.  What is the name of the film that earned her an Academy Award?

Bigelow with Oscar 2010

A.  Lyndon

B.  Nomadland

C  The Hurt Locker

D  The Matrix

E.  Selma.  


1.  C


Brad Pitt with 2020 Oscar

Brad Pitt has won two Oscars.  In 2014, he won a shared Best Picture Oscar as one of the producers of  12 Years a Slave.  In 2020, he received another Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as stuntman Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

2.  B


On March 12th Jimmy Kimmel will  host the Academy Awards for the third time.  He has previously hosted the Oscars in 2017 and 2018.  The first time he hosted, the awards featured the famous Best Picture mix-up.  Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally announced that La La Land  had win the Oscar for Best Picture, when the the actual winner was Moonlight.

3.  D

An American Werewolf in London

Special Achievement Oscars were awarded twice to makeup artists for 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) and Plant of the Apes (1968).  However, the Academy Award for Best Makeup was first given out in 1981, thanks to the film Elephant Man.  There were complaints when the makeup achievements of Elephant Man were unacknowledged the year before.

Beginning in 1993, the name of the award was changed to Best Makeup and Hairstyling.  It was to be shared with hairstylists if hair effects "contribute greatly to the appearance and effect of the characters."

4.  A

Jennifer Lawrence

There was an awkward moment at the 2013 Academy Awards when Jennifer Lawrence took a slight tumble on the steps on her way up to receive her award for Best Actress.  The moment went viral and Jennifer, of course, just laughed it off.

5.  C

The Mirror Has Two Faces

Bacall in The Mirror . . .

In 1997, Lauren Bacall received her first Oscar nomination at the age of 72.  She was nominated in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her role as Hannah, the vain, overbearing mother of Barbra Streisand's character in The Mirror Has Two Faces.  Bacall was widely expected to win, but the Best Supporting Actress went to Juliette Binoche for her performance in The English Patient.  The English Patient, a tragic World War II-era romance, dominated the awards that year, winning nine out of 12 nominations, including Best Picture.

In 2010, Lauren Bacall received an Academy Honorary Award.  She died in 2014 at the age of 89.

6.  E

Charlie Champlin

Charlie Chaplin with Oscar

Charlie Chaplin received a 12-minute standing ovation at the Oscars in 1972 when he was given the honourary award.

7.  B

Going My Way

Crosby (Left) and Fitzgerald}in Going My Way

In 1945, Bing Crosby received an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in the 1944 film Going My Way.  Crosby won for his portrayal of  Father Chuck O'Malley, a young priest who is assigned to a church in New York.  The paster, played by Barry Fitzgerald, takes a dislike to O'Malley's casual style, and the younger priest tries to win him over.

In 1946, Crosby was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in the 1945 film The Bells  of St. Mary's.  He once again portrayed Father O'Malley, becoming the firs actor to be twice nominated for an Oscar for portraying the same character. However, the winner that year was Ray Milland for his performance in The Lost Weekend.

In 1955, Bing Crosby was nominated for Best Actor in a Lead Role for his performance opposite Grace Kelly and William Holden in the 1954 film The Country Girl Marlon Brando won the Oscar for On The Waterfront.

8.  D


Olivier as Hamlet

The 1948 British film adaptation of Hamlet, directed by and starring Laurence Olivier, won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Olivier won for Best Actor.  Olivier was not present at the 1949 awards ceremony and Robert Montgomery accepted the award on his behalf.  Hamlet was the first British film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

9,  A


Scene from Avatar

Avatar, a 2009 science fiction epic was officially budgeted at $237 million, due to its groundbreaking, dazzling special effects.  Oher estimates, however, put the cost of the James Cameron film at between $280 million  and $310 million, and at $150 million for promotion.  Although Avatar did not win an Oscar for Best Picture or for Best Director, it did receive Academy Awards for Art Direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects.

10.  C 

The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director in 2010 for her Iraqi war thriller, The Hurt Locker.  She was only the fourth woman to receive a Best Director nomination - the others being Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2004), Jane Campion for The Piano (1994) and Lina Wertmüller for Pasqualino Settebellezze "Seven Beauties" (1977)

Kathryn Bigelow beat out her ex-husband, James Cameron who was also nominated that year Best Director for his 3-D epic, AvatarThe Hurt Locker won six Oscars, including Best Picture, out of a total of nine nominations.  However, it did not do as well at the box office, It is estimated to have earned $21 million at the box office, less than two per cent of what Avatar earned in tick sales in the same year.

- Joanne