Tuesday, January 30, 2024

When will the Toronto Maple Leafs ever learn? They keep making the same mistakes

  “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

The above quotation is often attributed to Albert Einstein, although there is little or no evidence that Einstein actually said that.  The source of the quote remains unknown, but the words certainly apply to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Let's discuss the Leafs.  It's truly astounding that the Core Four - John Tavares,
Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander- is still intact.  Tavares, the team captain is a seasoned veteran.  He often wins faceoffs for the team.  Although Tavares has been struggling lately, he can't be traded.  Number 91 has a no-trade clause in his contract.  Unless and until he waives his no-movement clause, he isn't going anywhere.

With the Core Four, the Leafs do well in the regular season, but year after year, they fizzle out in the playoffs.  Matthews, Tavares and Nylander take up about 49% of the team's salary cap.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that that doesn't leave very much to spend on defence and goaltending. To win a Stanley Cup, you need a strong defence and really good goaltending. 

On January 8, 2024, the Leafs signed William Nylander to an eight-year $92 million contract extension.  That means that he will be earning an annual salary of $11.5 million.  At 27, Nylander is probably at the peak of his career.  If the Leafs had traded him, they could have received maximum value in return.  They could have asked for a top-of-the-line defenceman.  It's too late now.  


On July 1, 2025, Mitch Marner becomes an unrestricted free agent, and he will ask for a hefty raise.  How are the Maple Leafs going to stay within their salary cap without compromising their defence and goaltending? How are they going to go far in the playoffs without a balanced team?  For too long, the Leafs  have been a strong regular season contender, but have faired poorly in the playoffs.  

I have been a Leafs fan my whole life, but I'm going to be blunt.  As every fan of the Blue and White knows, the Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.  I really can't see a parade along Yonge Street in the near future.  I am not demeaning Tavares, Matthew, Marner and Nylander.  They are all good players.  However, I refuse to be greatly impressed until they shine in post-season play.  They have never done that and the Leafs have never gone deep into the playoffs with the Core Four.

- Joanne

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Extremism is blocking peace in the Middle East

The world is off kilter right now.  It's off balance.  Too many people view society in terms of black and white.  For them, it's always "us against them", 'either/or," "my way or the highway."  There's never any compromise.  There's no in-between, no middle of the road.  They fail to see the shades of grey, the nuances.  

When that sense of balance is lost, extremism fills the void.  There is a lack of moderation.in an either/or world.  Unfortunately, the pandemic, social media and Trumpism have only exacerbated the problem.  There is a distinct lack of civility and so much polarization.

In particular, we are witnessing the rise of the extreme right around the globe, as well as a decline in trust for democratic institutions.  Conservatives are becoming noticeably more extreme.  In my own country, Canada, the conservatives of today are not the same as the conservatives of yesteryear.  They are more aggressive and they have moved much further to the right.  It's no surprise that our federal Conservative Party is no longer the Progressive Conservative Party.  The word Progressive has been dropped.

The far-right has drummed up hate for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  He was swarmed by protesters in Belleville, Ontario and he was forced to cancel an appearance in Surrey, British Columbia due to safety concerns.  I have seen anti-Trudeau hate messages around Toronto.  This has never been the Canadian way and it is deplorable.  It seems that MAGA Republicanism has found its way north.

Have we not learned the lessons of history?  Have we forgotten the rise of fascism and Nazism in the 1930s?.  I was sickened to read about a far-right rally that was held in Rome on January 7, 2024.  Videos were later released showing hundreds of men making fascist salutes.  This happened in front of the former headquarters of the MSI group, a neo-fascist party that eventually became the conservative Brothers of Italy.  The Brothers of Italy was co-founded by Giorgia Meloni, who just happens to be the Italian prime minister.

Of course, condemnation of right-wing extremism must be balanced by condemnation of left-wing extremism..  Stalin and Mao were as brutal as Hitler and Mussolini. History teaches that extremism in any form, whether it be political, religious or social, leads to death, destruction and oppression.  

Right now we have a nightmarish situation in the Middle East, with no end in sight.  Both Palestinians and Israelis are suffering terribly.  Yet, around the world, people are using the actions of the Israeli government to unleash the most vile anti-Semitism.  Similarly, there has been a rise in Islamophobia.  Synagogues and mosques are being vandalized and defiled.  Protesters are busy assigning blame to Jews and Muslims for the actions of extremists.  Meanwhile, innocent civilians are suffering and dying, many of them women and children,  Who is speaking for them?  

Where is the steady leadership that is so dearly needed.?  Remember how former President Jimmy Carter brokered the Camp David Accords back in 1978.  Thanks to the leadership and courage of Carter, as well as Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, peace was achieved between Israel and Egypt.  So, why can't a fair and just agreement be reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians?  The reason is that terrorist groups such as Hamas and extreme right-wing Israelis do not want peace.  They would prefer to see innocent civilians suffer than to agree on a fair and just two-state solution.  

Left to right: Begin, Carter and Sadat in 1979

There will be no peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution.  The Palestinian people and the Israeli people are sick and tired of war and suffering.  They desire peace and they want a two-state solution.  Meanwhile, the extremists are doing all they can to prevent peace and to prolong the suffering.  At one extreme, Hamas wants to obliterate Israel. wipe it off the map.  At the other extreme, Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right government reject a two-state solution.  Neither path leads to peace, only more death, destruction and misery.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu has always claimed that he would protect his country's security.  Yet, under his watch, Hamas was able to launch an attack on Israel and kidnap hostages.  Netanyahu has done Israel more harm than good.  He has hurt its reputation.  What is occurring in the Gaza is madness.  It is humanity at its worst.

- Joanne

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Hey Evangelicals in Iowa, Trump is using you!


The Iowa caucuses are about to open the Republican primary calendar.  It is frigid and snowy in the Hawkeye State.  A large percentage of Iowa voters identify as Evangelical Christians.   Here are some thoughts for them as they prepare to vote.

Dear Evangelical Voters,

Do you really think Trump cares about the hard-working farmers of Iowa?  Are you kidding?  The man lacks empathy.  He's running for president so he can avoid going to prison. He faces 91 felony charges across four criminal cases and two civil lawsuits.

I know you don't want to hear this, but you are being used by Donald Trump for political purposes.  All he wants is your money and your vote.  It is astounding that conservative Christians, who are well-schooled in Biblical verse, can support someone whose values and views are completely at odds with those of Jesus.  Trump is man whose policies and beliefs constantly violate the basic tenets of Christianity.

I live in Canada, so I do not get the opportunity to speak to many Trump evangelicals.  You are most welcome to email me and refute my arguments, but I don't see how you can square Trump's words and deeds with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  

* Jesus built bridges.

  Trump builds walls.

* Jesus preached love.  He said "Love thy neighbour."

Trump preaches hate.  It is no secret that he and his extreme right-wing followers harbour nothing but hate for immigrants, women, Blacks, Muslims, homosexuals etc.

* Jesus preached forgiveness.  "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," according to the Lord's Prayer.  In Matthew 18:22, Jesus rejects the teaching of religious leaders who restricted forgiveness to three times.  For followers of Jesus, forgiveness should be generous and unlimited.

Trump is vengeful.  His goal is to exact revenge on those whom he feels have wronged him or don't agree with him, especially Democrats, liberals, non-supporters and other critics.

* Jesus said that you can't serve two masters, God and mammon.  

Trump's wealth and lavish lifestyle tales precedence over everything with him.  He worships at the altar of the almighty buck.     

* Jesus showed respect and love for women such as his friends Mary and Martha, the Samaritan women at the well, the adulterous woman who was being stoned, and Mary Magdalene.

Trump denigrates women.  He objectifies them and rates them by physical beauty.  In the infamous Access Hollywood tapes, Trump bragged about groping women.  In addition, a Manhattan jury found trump liable of sexually abusing and defaming magazine journalist E. Jean Carroll.  Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages.

* Jesus suffered an ignominious death.  He was mocked, tortured and crucified.

In Trump parlance, Jesus would be considered a "loser."  After all, Trump insulted the late Senator John McCain for injuries he suffered while he was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

I can't for the life of me understand how you, as people of faith, can support such a man as Donald Trump.  It is beyond me.  



Monday, January 8, 2024

The Missing Reporter

Note to Readers of Number 16

If you have been following my postings on this website, you might be interested in my novel, The Missing Reporter.  You can find information about this suspenseful thriller on my author page.  Just click on https://joannemadden.ca/

Update:  I am working on my third novel, the sequel to The Missing Reporter.  I am looking for someone with experience in editing to assist me.  Payment to be determined.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading,  Your comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated.  I would like to hear from you.  It's very important to me.

Thank you for your support,


Monday, January 1, 2024

My 2024 New Year's Wish List

Last year I posted my personal wish list for 2023.  I promised to let you know which of my wishes came true and to write another wish list for 2024.  

Here's how my 2023 wish list turned out:

In my 2023 wish list, I hoped for an end to the horrible conflict in Ukraine, which has caused untold suffering and destruction.  That hasn't happened, and the war may drag on for a long time.  However, it's still h my hope that the war will end sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, another bitter conflict began in the Middle East in October.  Terrorists and extremists are responsible for the atrocities committed and the deaths of innocent civilians, among them women and children.  The majority of Israelis and Palestinians want to live in peace.  Both Jews and Muslims are children of Abraham.  They desire an end to the suffering and they support a two-state solution. The terrorists and extremists want war and a continuation of suffering.  

I hoped Premier Danielle Smith's United Conservative Party (UCP) would be defeated in the provincial election in Alberta of May 29, 2023.  I am opposed to Smith's policies and I don't like her Alberta Sovereignty Act.  However, the UCP, under Premier Danielle Smith was re-elected to government, albeit with a reduced majority.  

As regular readers of Number 16 are well aware, I am a homer all the way when it comes to sports.  I  hoped that the Toronto Maple Leafs would advance further than the first round of the playoffs in 2023.  Well, they did win their first playoff round against the Tampa Bay Rays, but they were eliminated in the second round by the Florida Panthers.  The Leafs need to break up the Core Four of John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.  They should trade Nylander for a top-of-the-line defenceman.  They need a stronger defence to win the Stanley Cup.

As for the Blue Jays, I opined that they must go deeper into post-season in 2023.  Nothing less would be acceptable.  It didn't happen and the team's playoff performance was very unacceptable and very unsatisfactory.  The decision to remove Jose Berrios after 4 1/2 good innings (during the second game of their playoff series against the Minnesota Twins) was boneheaded, as was the decision to trade Gabriel Moreno.  GM Ross Atkins should have accepted responsibility, but he didn't.  He just passed the buck.  

The defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts had a terrific regular season, led by quarterback Chad Kelly.  The Boatmen recorded 16 wins and only two losses in 18 games.  However, they were defeated in the Eastern playoff final by the Montreal Alouettes, who went on to win the Grey Cup.

Back in  2021, I wished that Benjamin Netanyahu would be ousted from power in Israel.  That wish came true, but only temporarily.  After continual political deadlock in Israel, Netanyahu was returned to power in 2022.  On December 29, 2022, he was again sworn in as Prime Minister, leading a hardline right-wing coalition. 

Netanyahu, 74, has been charged with one count of bribery and three counts of breach of trust in three long-running corruption casers.  Of course, he denies any wrongdoing and claims that he is the victim of a politically orchestrated "witch hunt."  Where have we heard that before?  Kind of sounds like his old friend, a former president who likes cheese burgers and diet coke.

On a happier note, Netanyahu's other friend, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, was voted out of office in an election held on October 30, 2022.  He  left office on January 1, 2023.  During his presidency, Bolsonaro rolled back protections for Indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest.

I hoped the world would  take stronger measures to protect our environment.  Some progress has been made, but far more has to be done. There should be less talk and more action.  People have so many day-to-day concerts, but the environment is of paramount importance.  It can't be relegated to the background.  According to the United Nations, 2023 was the warmest year on record.

Here is my 2024 wish list:

The American presidential election of 2024 will probably be the most crucial and consequential election in the history of the United States, if Donald Trump manages to evade justice and becomes the Republican nominee for president.  Should Trump win the election, the United States will never be the same.  Sadly, it will be transformed into an authoritarian regime.  One of my greatest wishes for 20234 is that Trump is not allowed to run for president under the 14th Amendment, or that he is found guilty under the law and sentenced to prison time.  If he is the Republican nominee in November, he must be soundly defeated by the American people. It will be a disaster and a nightmare if he should become president again.  He must be held accountable for his actions and for his assault on democracy on January 6, 2021.  No one is above the law.  No one should have immunity from prosecution for serous crimes and misdeaeanours, not a reigning monarch or a sitting president.(never mind an ex-president).

Trump, Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu are an unholy trio.  They are all Alpha males in their 70s and they have caused an enormous amount suffering, death and destruction.  All three pose a threat to world peace.




I wish for better leadership around the world and I hope that the popularity of the far-right will decline in 2024.

The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris France and I hope they are a great success.

I wish the Leafs, the Blue Jays, the Argos the Raptors and all the other Toronto teams the best of fortune in 2024.

COVID is still around and is not going disappear.  We know more about it, but it is still around.  I hope that more will be done to combat it.

My final wish is that there will be more civility in the world in 2024, and less political and social polarization.  If Donald Trump does not become president again, there will be less animosity and political strife.  He has set the tone for much of this hatred and ill-feeling.  In 2024, I hope that there will be a greater connection between people and less isolation.  

All the best to you and yours in 2024.  I wish you happiness and good health.  In January of, 2025, I will write another wish list and I will let you know if any of my 2024 wishes came true. 

 Happy New Year!
- Joanne