Friday, December 31, 2010

People who lit up my world in 2010

Another year tucked away in a life that has seen 68 New Years Eves, and reflections on a few folks who distinguished themselves this year in my own little corner of the cosmos.
• Deidre, our young friend, a teacher, who was told just before Christmas that she has bone cancer and is heading for months of chemo and radiology treatments. Her resolve is impressive, and her sense of humour raises the spirits of her many pals. If thoughts and prayers have any effect, the force is with her.

• Paul, who threw a birthday party this summer for an organization both he and I care a lot about. A long time champion of the cause, he brought together a roomful of supporters and well-wishers to celebrate its 15th anniversary. Talk is cheap. Paul walks the walk.

• Tracy, who stepped in to help in a time of need that extended to eight months, despite a full calendar and the demands of raising a family. She managed a thousand things with grace and good humour. I admire her ability to handle whatever comes down the pike. I think that's called aplomb.

• Patti, a go-getter grandma who cares about both her community and the future of the planet. She ran for public office this fall, and won. The good part --- she did it for all the right reasons and none of the wrong ones. We need more like her.

• Penny, another grandma, who persisted as the driving force behind a community effort to preserve the unique character of her special corner of Canada, in the face of a wall of money and industrial influence arrayed against her and her neighbors. After years of struggle, the payoff came as a Christmas present when news arrived that they had, finally, won the day in a precedent-setting OMB decision. Don't mess with grandmas.

• Judi and Colin, on a volunteer mission to Cambodia since mid-October, Judi advising an HIV/AIDS support organization while Colin works to improve the lot of orphans. There are many such Canadians leaving the comforts of home behind to make a difference in people's lives. I am proud to be their friend.

• The gang at Sleeping Children Around The World, the only charity I know that uses 100% of donor dollars to fund its program. Its travelling volunteers pay for their own trips to distribute bedkits to kids in underdeveloped countries, while its volunteers back in Canada make sure the operation continues to run smoothly. More than a million kids have received the gift of a good night's sleep so far. How about giving them a hand?

• Elizabeth, a wonderful woman in Zimbabwe who repeatedly went the extra mile to help our Sleeping Children team get the job done this summer, in very trying circumstances. Thanks also to her for trusting me with her own story of childhood hardship and triumph. It was a treasured gift. My first Christmas card of the 2010 season came from her.

• More friends doing selfless work at home and abroad --- Marg and Mike, Clarence, Grant and Leslie, Doug M., Linda, Helen, Hilda, Sidney.
It is a privilege to know them. Happy New Year, to all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to build an igloo

Okay, you can make love in a canoe, but can you build an igloo? This 1949 short film from Canada's National Film Board shows how. NFB films were classroom treats for those of us who grew up in the fifties.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Off to a golf course in Florida


Photo by Muffet

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hallelujah!

Very best Holiday wishes to all who have put up with my ramblings all year, sent comments, contributed amusing graphics and story ideas, and coerced their friends into reading this blog.

Here's a little musical treat.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Great Rollback --- Dispatch # 2

[Sent along by Fred]

Nettie Banks, retired police and fire dispatcher, has filed for bankruptcy. Alfred Arnold, retired fire captain, is working as a shopping mall security guard to try to keep his house. Retired police captain Eddie Ragland is living on help from colleagues, bake sales and collection jars. The retired fire marshal was found dead in his house with no electricity and no running water.

What the hell is going on in Prichard, Alabama?

Look for plenty more stories like this as The Great Rollback picks up speed.

For years, Prichard warned that its pension fund would run out of money by 2009, and it did.

So, it stopped sending pension checks to its 150 retired workers, even though a state law requires it to make those payments despite the fact there is no money.

Municipalities with this problem, and there are many of them everywhere, must either raise taxes, borrow, or cut services to pay these entitlements. All of these options are out of favour these days.

A Catch 22 that will be headline-making when it happens in a major city .

Uh-huh

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pet wars

Cats vs Dogs
Via: OnlineSchools.org

Monday, December 20, 2010

Have a nice day

Friday, December 17, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, a trend that puts our entire food supply at risk because bees carry out the essential task of pollination. Nonetheless, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide on a wide variety of crops.

Gravity in the Hudson Bay area of Canada is lower than it is in other parts of the world.

• The 1915 Briggs and Stratton Flyer may have been the most basic automobile ever built. It had no body, no doors, no windshield, and no roof, and its engine had just 2 horsepower.

• In 2011, the public will be able to tour the security zone at Chernobyl, where a nuclear reactor exploded in 1986. It was been evacuated and sealed off.

• The first commercial retinal implant is about to go on sale.

• If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
How about that?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tech support simplified

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• A new startup, Recorded Future, funded by Google and the CIA, claims its online tool has the ability to predict the future. It analyzes the content of web pages of all kinds to find connections between people, places, and events to find patterns that are predictive of product releases, mergers, natural disasters, and so on.

• 5.6 million Canadians, representing 23.1% of taxfilers, claimed a charitable donation on their income tax forms for 2009. This was a drop from 24.1% in 2008.

• Canadians are evenly divided on whether or not religion is a force for good, according to an Ipsos poll. 48% believe religion provides common values and ethical foundations, while 52% believe religious beliefs promote intolerance, exacerbate ethnic divisions, and impede social progress.

• More than 13 percent of people ages 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol in the United States last year, and more than 4 percent of people in that age group drove under the influence of illicit drugs, according to a new government study.

• The risk of having your identity stolen is much greater than you think. In fact, the chances are about 1 in 18, or probably worse because those are 2005 numbers.

• In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
How about that?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I mean, c’mon

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Zen and the art of body part maintenance

The phone rings. You are on a ladder, or on a toilet, or in the basement, or on the porch. You are expecting a call that you don't want to miss, so you dash to answer it before the caller hangs up or the answering machine cuts in.

Of course, this applies only to those of us who are still using phones that are connected to a wall. Modern people carry their phones with them at all times, and have little microphone thingies sticking out of their ears, so they can be alerted to spring into action when needed, like if the Prime Minister is under threat or there is a sale on batteries at Wal-Mart.

But I digress.

This happened to me the other day. I had recently had my annual medical checkup. I have that every 10 years, even when I'm feeling healthy. I mentioned to the doc that I have a ringing in my ears. He said it is Tinnitis, and that usually not much can be done for it, but he would refer me to an audiologist for a look-see.

He also said he thought I ought to have a colonoscopy, which he said everyone is having these days. So, of course, I said that if everyone is having it, count me in. I mean, I like to keep up with the trends, so why not give it a go. So he said he'd refer me to someone who would give it to me, so to speak.

So now I am waiting for these phone calls from an audiologist and a colonoscopist (try saying that without a lisp). Also, I am feeling a bit of urgency because I'm planning to bug out soon to our Florida hideout.

Phone rings. I dash up a couple of flights, down a hall, and grab the receiver on the last ring. My heart is thumping and my Tinnitis is running at 110 decibels, but I manage to detect that the caller is one of the clinics to which I have been referred. I don't register the name of the clinic, but the pleasant lady starts running through a list of screening questions with me, and finally reaches one about sleep apnea that is a showstopper for her, at which point she says they can't do the job, someone will be calling, and hangs up.

My assumption is that this was the audiologist. I stupidly assume sleep disorders are more closely connected to my ears than my ass.

I then hear from a clinic calling to book my colonoscopy, which I do.

After a couple more weeks of not having heard anything from the audiology front, I call my doctor's office to inquire. I am told that there is no record of my having been referred to an audiologist. I say, "Well how come I was called by one?" She says that can't be true, and that it must have been a colonoscopy clinic.

I hate when I am treated like a doddering old fool, so I get a little dudgeonly and say something about still being able to tell my ass from my ear, and she says she will leave a note for the doc.

I recount the entire sorry tale to my wife, and we both agree that unfair assumptions are too often made about the mental competence of folks in their seventh decade and up.

Now I start thinking about this. Like Hercule Poirot, I apply my little grey cells, and gradually decipher the probable chain of events which, it now appears, began with a call from a colonoscopy clinic, not an audiology clinic, and ended with me having to acknowledge my dodderingness after all.

Regrettably, I have further burnished the belief among the under-40 crowd that we seniors illuminate the world with the incandescence of a 25-watt bulb.

Update: Colonoscopy day arrives.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

But you get to browse the tabloids

Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• In the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, fat women are considered to be sexy and desirable. Girls are force-fed milk, cream, butter, couscous and other calorie-rich food to achieve the required tonnage to attract a mate. In contrast, the ideal for Mauritanian men is to be slim.

• The U.S.Homeland Security Department has recently seized dozens of domain names for websites that let people download copyrighted music or buy bootleg goods, such as fake designer handbags. The sites include borntrade.com, 51607.com, and amoyhy.com, all of which now display a message from Homeland Security.

Humans walk, drive, and sail in circles, rather than in straight lines, if there is no fixed point of reference, according to research by the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.

• The first digit of a credit card number indicates the type of institution that issued the card:
1,2: Airlines
3: Travel/Entertainment
4,5: Banking/Financial
6: Merchandising/Financial
7: Petroleum
8: Telecommunications
0,9: Other
• The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, owned by the provincial government, takes in $6 billion in annual revenues and has annual profits of $2 billion.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
How about that?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Weight loss breakthrough

Forget all that nonsense about diet and exercise. The answer is ... TAPEWORMS!

And, they're sanitized for your protection.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Flash mob in the food court

So, you're at the mall in Welland, Ontario, chowing down on your Wendy's Old Fashioned Combo or your KFC Big Box, and suddenly a glorious din erupts...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For your Holiday giving

Most of us need a bit of help to come up with something unusual for our special someone, something personal that they'll treasure for years. Well, here ya go.
Weedwacker golf club, just the thing when you find your ball in the deep fescue and need to improve your lie.

Exhaust powered car jack. Connect it to your car's tailpipe and watch it magically rise.

• Pillowcases featuring pictures of computer parts. No really! Your mom will be so pleased.

His and hers beer smugglers. Get your brewskis through security at concerts, sports events, wherever BYOB is forbidden.

Radio-controlled Tarantula. Absolutely the best thing if you're 11.

Squirrel feet earrings. Uh, yeah.
Ho ho ho.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reality check

Just a little warning in case you're contemplating the gift of fitness equipment this Holiday season.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• In Canada, 12% of greenhouse gases are caused by passenger cars and light trucks. What are we doing about the other 86%?

• The world's supply of diamonds will likely be exhausted in 12-13 years. And you were worried about the energy crisis.

• Your money in the bank is losing more than 2% per year, after inflation. Consumer prices rose 2.4% in the 12 months leading up to October, while interest on a typical savings account is running at 0.25%. If you're paying taxes on that interest, the results are even worse.

• The average person spends 6 months of their life sitting at red lights.

• Gene-mapping indicates that an American Indian woman probably arrived in Iceland 1,000 years ago, five centuries before Columbus made the trip the other way. She has about 80 Icelandic descendants today.

• Famous primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall says she was inspired to go to Africa by reading Dr. Dolittle and Tarzan books.
How about that?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This takes guts

My wife and I attended the World Equestrian Games in September, hosted by Lexngton KY.

Here's an amazing video of a horse and rider on the cross-country course. The camera is mounted on the rider's helmet. These horses have a special temperament.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meet the mob

Organized Crime
Via: OnlineSchools.org

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Rollback --- Dispatch # 1

There's a "big bang" in your future.

Expect a major contraction of those goodies purchased with our money, or with borrowed funds, by politicians over the past 50 years.

Yep, it was fun while it lasted, and society was kinder and gentler as a result, but the party is over. The first signs of the great rollback are starting to appear, and just at a time when an aging population means more people are about to need the social safety net.

Deficits are exploding, adding to gigantic national debts (Canada's stands at about $550 billion), and the huge boomer generation is on the threshold of retirement. It is known that the 14% of the Canadian population who are seniors consume nearly 44% of the provincial health care spending. Our federal government projects that about 23% will be over 65 by 2030, and studies are showing that many boomers are financially unprepared for retirement. They're not likely to warm to the idea of user fees on, or a reduction of, public services.

In my own province of Ontario, healthcare is 46% of the provincial budget and, if present trends continue, it will represent 80% of the province's spending by 2030. And healthcare is just the most visible of the social services that are likely to be be stressed beyond their limits.

Governments everywhere have ducked this issue, which has been looming on the horizon for some time, so now they have electorates that have no understanding of the mess we're in, and no willingness to make sacrifices to help ease the pressure on services they perceive as entitlements.

When Quebec and British Columbia proposed user fees for healthcare, the reaction from the public and opposition parties was swift. In France, citizens rioted in the streets when a raising of the official retirement age by two years was suggested. Protestors gathered in front of 10 Downing St. after the British government announced cuts to welfare and housing benefits.

Do the math. More demand for services. Resistance to fees and taxes to pay for them. A shrinking ratio of working taxpayers to retirees. This collision is bearing down on us like a runaway freight train on a downhill grade.

It promises to be one helluva smash-up.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blah, blah, blah

Friday, November 19, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Canada is 20th among nations in terms of numbers of people using the internet, and 11th in terms of the average connection speed. South Korea's average speed is 3.5 times faster!

• You get hot water immediately in your hotel shower because it circulates continuously in the pipe system, unlike your home where you you must wait for it to arrive from the water heater.

• The ear my be a better identifier than fingerprints or facial recognition. Technology has been devised that can identify an individual's ears with 99.6% accuracy.

The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.

• A hot scrotum can reduce your chances of becoming a daddy. The heat generated from a laptop computer can reduce male fertility. The advice is to keep your legs apart.

• A walla-walla scene in a movie is one where extras pretend to be talking in the background. When they say "walla-walla" it looks like they are actually talking.
How about that?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Put an oil refinery in your kitchen

Make your own oil, from plastic garbage, right in your own home. An amazing invention.

Monday, November 15, 2010

And, oh yeah, make that rare

Friday, November 12, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• The Google Map directions for travelling from Japan to China include "43. Jet Ski across the Pacific Ocean." Go ahead and see for yourself.



• "Hands-free cell phones are just as distracting as handheld cell phones because the conversation itself , not just manipulation of a handheld phone, distracts drivers from road conditions," says a study by psychologists at the University of Utah.

• South Korea is the most innovative country in the world, when measured by the number of patents filed per dollar of research budget. Canada is eleventh, behind Switzerland and the Netherlands.

• There is evidence that the rise of agriculture during the Neolithic Period of the Stone Age was a result of people's thirst for beer, and not because they planned on using grains for food, says Brian Hayden, an archaeologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

• The USA once planned to shoot a missile with a nuclear warhead at the moon to "one-up" the Soviet Union. Boys and their toys.

Alien cow abduction is a serious problem.
How about that?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering our heroes

"I'll be alright, Mom. I'll be back soon, Dad."

It was unthinkable that one would not go down to the recruiting office to join his classmates and pals in the great and glorious cause.

Young bucks, signing up to take on those who would threaten our way of life.

Yesterday, boys. Now soldiers, sailors, airmen. "We'll show 'em," they said.

The town turned out to see them off on the train. The band played. The flags flew. The girls waved.

Then, off to a faraway place to do indescribable things. Things the rest of us cannot comprehend, or even imagine in our worst nightmares.

Killed in their youth, deprived of the life the rest of us take for granted.

Sacrificed for us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Better living through technology

We've been cruising the intertubes in search of the latest technical advances, and here they are:
The Electric Shock Jacket
Turns you into a walking Taser. Anyone touching you while you are wearing this gets zapped with 80,000 volts. Perfect for the subway.

Sensitive Parking Meters
These adjust the price of parking spaces based on demand. The system uses electronic sensors to measure the call for parking slots in real time, and prices them accordingly. Midnight in the suburbs, free. Noon in downtown, ouch.

Combination Toilet and Washer
The water used to wash your clothes is reused to flush the toilet (not the other way around). Your guests will know you have a sustainable, eco-friendly household.

Miniature Projectors
Just 1 cubic centimetre in size, but capable of projecting documents and videos onto a wall, look for these in laptops and smartphones. Now we'll be getting baby pictures, boring Powerpoint presos and video elevator pitches everywhere.

Dog Poo-powered streetlights
Yep, stoop, scoop, and toss it into a a methane digester that powers a streetlight that illuminates the dog park. Already operating in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Personal submarine
Your very own two-person submersible that can descend to a depth of 1,000 ft., and motor around reefs and wrecks at up to 3 knots.

Toilet Seat Scale
Just sit there and watch yourself lose weight. Fabulous personal fitness device.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drop your pants and laugh

Thanks to Ingrid for sending the following quotes, purported to have been taken from actual medical records, as dictated by physicians:
• Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

• She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

• The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

• Skin: Somewhat pale but present.

• The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.

• The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

• Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

• I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

• She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.

• Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

• Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

• Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

• Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smith, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

• Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

• On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared.

• The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1983.

• The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

• Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

• Healthy-appearing decrepit 69-year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

• The patient refused an autopsy.

• The patient has no past history of suicides.

• The patient expired on the floor uneventfully.

• Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.

• The patient's past medical history has been remarkably insignificant, with only a 40-pound weight gain in the past three days.

• She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.

• Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

• She is numb from her toes down.

• The skin was moist and dry.

• Patient was alert and unresponsive.

• When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room

Monday, November 8, 2010

Homeland security

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Newspapers will be extinct in Canada by 2020, according to futurist Ross Dawson, a few years later than in the U.S.

• The world’s richest half-billion people, about 7 % of the global population, are responsible for 50 % of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile the poorest 50 % are responsible for just 7 % of emissions, says Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environment Institute.

• No, it's not the smoking, drinking, and other high-risk activities that result in men having shorter lifespans than women. Professor Tom Kirkwood, a leading gerontologist at the University of Newcastle, sees evidence that the cells of men's bodies are not genetically programmed to last as long as those in females.

Airships are making a comeback. While they look like World War I dirigibles, these are being designed to "lift heavy payloads, remain aloft for weeks or even months at a time, and fly without pilots—all while expending far less energy than a conventional airplane."

• Putting an ice pack on a bruise or sprain may actually slow down healing, according to a study at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

• In development and coming soon is a contraceptive gel that is rubbed on the skin, releasing hormones that prevent pregnancy.

• There is approximately one chicken for every human being in the world.
How about that?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Music hath charms

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An awakening

Boomers are discovering something about the Canadian healthcare system, and the attitudes of many medical practitioners toward the elderly, as they help their parents get the care they need.

Until you need it, healthcare is just a word. Sure, you read about the deficiencies of the healthcare system, the wait times, the concerns about sustainability, but it's not really part of your world until you see it up close.

When you do see it up close, it's often a shock. I can personally attest to observing hospital staff who are uncaring, insensitive, just going through the motions. I have seen physicians who clearly wanted to just get an older person out of the way so they could treat someone they considered more deserving of their attentions. I have heard first hand accounts, some from other physicians, of serial misdiagnosis of seniors' ailments and inappropriate prescriptions.

My uncle spent a week in a hospital corridor, only being admitted to a room after my cousin raised bloody hell. I watched a hospital staffer throw a meal tray down in front of my centenarian mother, without adjusting her bed so she could reach it.

I suspect that everyone with an elderly parent has witnessed this sort of thing, experienced the sense that older folks are just taking up expensive space and consuming scarce resources that would be better spent on young folks who aren't going to die in the next few years.

These healthcare workers don't seem to grasp that, with any luck, they'll be elderly soon enough, and are contributing to an ethic that will come back to haunt them when they, inevitably, need healthcare.

The boomers are paying attention, though. They know that their parents' problems will be theirs in 20 years. I expect that, as they have always done, they will make some noise.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Decommissioned C-130 Hercules planes could soon be bombing the planet with trees. The former military aircraft would drop sapling cones that contain fertilizer and moisture, and will bury themselves in the soil.

• Instant buildings have arrived. Just add water and the Concrete Canvas Shelter will be ready to use in 24 hours. They are rigid, inflammable, with good thermal properties, and a design life of 10 years.

• Investors are now expected to pay for the privilege of lending their money to the most indebted nation on earth. Yes, for the first time ever, the U.S. issued negative-rate bonds this week. And you thought the interest rate on your savings account was poor.

• Transat Holidays is recruiting for a new position --- full-time vacationer. Salary $40,000. Responsibilities: Visit 12 dream destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe over a 12 month period. [This item came from A Novel Woman via North Pelham Journal.]

• Snow days may be an endangered feature of kids lives in northern climes. An Ohio county has announced that, when school is called off because of heavy snow, they will replace these days off with online learning. Bummer!

• Nearly one-in-five adult Americans say they have seen or been in the presence of ghosts. This percentage has doubled over the past decade. Happy Hallowe'en.
How about that?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'd like to think this story is true

A little old lady from Wisconsin had worked in and around her family dairy farms since she was old enough to walk, with hours of hard work and little compensation.

When canned Carnation Milk became available in grocery stores in the 1940s, she read an advertisement offering $5,000 for the best slogan. The producers wanted a rhyme beginning with "Carnation Milk is best of all."

She thought to herself, "I know all about milk and dairy farms. I can do this!" She sent in her entry, and several weeks later, a black limo pulled up in front of her house.

A man got out and said, "Carnation' LOVED your entry so much! We are here to award you $2,000, even though we will not be able to use it!"

Here's her slogan:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The craziest country on earth

North Korea - The Craziest Country in the World
Via: OnlineSchools.org

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When mad men ruled the ad world

The post-war decades were a golden age of advertising, when Madison Avenue created evocative words to describe the marvels being delivered to citizens, now dubbed "consumers." Here's a sampling that reflect the ebullient mood of the times:
Dynaflow, Hydramatic, Cruise-O-Matic, and TorqueFlite: Can't you just feel the smooth, effortless power of a jet engine? These were automatic transmissions introduced by Detroit's big three carmakers.

Ultralucent, MoistureWhipGloss, Liquimatic, Lustre-Creme: The cosmetics industry has always led the way in the search for eternal youth and beauty. Feel your wrinkles melting away as these words soak in.

Sunliner, Firenza, Nomad, Sting Ray, Hawk, Cyclone, Toronado, Electra: Freedom, power, the open road --- fantasies conjured up on the auto dealer's showroom floor.

Tric-o-lastic, Healthknit, Dacron, Natural-Aire, Corfam, Fortrel, BanCare: Just some of the miracle fabrics and materials emerging from the fashion industry's research "labs."

HaloLight was featured on Sylvania TV's, while Philco had the Super Colorado Tuner, Admiral boasted the Triple X chassis (not what you're thinking), Westinghouse had the Electronic Clarifier, and Sparton had the Cosmic Eye.
It was all great fun, and I'll bet the ad guys went out for a beer after coming up with this stuff and had a good laugh. For a look at all those old advertisements, check out the Vintage Ad Browser.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Men who earn less than their spouses are more likely to have affairs, according to a paper presented to the American Sociological Association.

• The most-frequent speeding offenders drive Mercedes SL convertibles, being ticketed 4 times as often as the average driver, according to Verisk research. The least ticketed drove Buick Rainier SUVs, with just 23% of the average number of offences per 100,000 miles driven.

• Some experts think that strategically placed makeup may confuse face-detection surveillance cameras.

• The venerable Barbie, now 51 years old, continues to be popular, with sales rising 6% worldwide.

• The platypus must be the strangest mammal. It is duck-billed, web-footed, beaver-tailed, and otter-footed. It is born with teeth, but these drop out at a very early age. The female has a pair of ovaries but only the left one is functional. She is the only mammal that lays eggs, and she produces milk but has no nipples. The males shoot poison from little barbs in their feet. These poisons are almost identical to ones found in such wildly disparate creatures as starfish, sea anemones, spiders, snakes, and lizards. They locate their prey in part by detecting electric fields generated by muscular contractions.

• A German entrepreneur has found a way around EU regulations that prohibit light bulbs of more than 60 watts by marketing his own brand of 75- and 100-watt bulbs as mini heaters. Sales are strong.
How about that?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Prorogued for a few days



I am off to the Vancouver for the next few days, so no Geezer posts will be coming your way until I return next week. Talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Canadians are among the nationalities least likely to take all of their allotted vacation time, according to a new Ipsos survey. Other nose-to-the-grindstone countries are Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the U.S., India, and Brazil. The French are at the front of the line for getaways.

• The standard width of a golf hole is 4.25", established in 1891 by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and determined by the width of the first hole-cutter, which had been invented in 1829.

• A project is in the works to develop solar panels that could be used as the surface of parking lots and even highways. A street could power the entire neighbourhood.

• If you have a collection of vinyl records, but threw out the hi-fi decades ago, Crosley Radio rescues those old Buddy Holly tunes with the nifty Revolution. It's a midget record spinner that connects with a USB cable to your computer, or wirelessly to any FM radio.

• Those pruney fingers you get when you spend too long in the tub have a purpose. They are "highly efficient rain treads that help us primates grip the world when it is wet." Bet you didn't know that.

• Light turboprop-powered attack airplanes like the Cessna Caravan 208B are replacing expensive fighter jets and pilotless drones in guerrilla wars where the enemy has no air force. They cost about $2 million, contrasted with $10 million for a drone and $80 million for a fighter. They can take off from fields or roads, require a fraction of the ground support staff, and cost 95% less to operate. Please forward this information to your local member of parliament.

• This October has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. I am told that happens only once in 823 years. Party on!
How about that?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grab your neckers knob and back off on the foot feed

Someone forwarded this to me, original author unknown. I'll bet it puts a smile on your face if you are "of a certain age."

"I came across this phrase yesterday - fender skirts.

That's a term I haven’t heard in a long time, and thinking about fender skirts started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice like curb feelers and steering knobs (aka suicide knobs, neckers knobs).

[Ed: You could add rumble seat, whitewalls, whip aerials, frenched headlights, shaved hoods, chopped and channeled, lakes pipes, moon disks, 4-barrel carburators, and Hollywood mufflers.]

Since I’d been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first.

Remember continental kits? They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental.

When did we quit calling them emergency brakes? At some point parking brake became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with emergency brake.

I’m sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the foot feed. Many today do not even know what a clutch is, or that the dimmer switch used to be on the floor.

Didn’t you ever wait at the street for your daddy to come home, so you could ride the running board up to the house?

Here’s a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore – store-bought. Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

Coast to coast is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing. Now we take the term world wide for granted. This floors me.

On a smaller scale, wall-to-wall was once a magical term in our homes. In the ’50s, everyone covered his or her hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

[And what about picture windows?]

When’s the last time you heard the quaint phrase in a family way? It’s hard to imagine that the word pregnant was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company, so we had all that talk about stork visits and being in a family way, or simply expecting.

Apparently brassiere is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day, and my daughter cracked up. I guess it’s just bra now. Unmentionables probably wouldn’t be understood at all.

I always loved going to the picture show, but I considered movie an affectation.

Most of these words go back to the ’50s, but here’s a pure-’60s word I came across the other day – rat fink. Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here’s a word I miss – percolator. That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? Coffee maker. How dull. Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.

I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro. Words like DynaFlow and Electrolux. The 1963 Admiral TV had SpectraVision!

Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that’s what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening kids with castor oil anymore.

Some words aren’t gone, but are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me most, supper. Now everybody says dinner. Save a great word. Invite someone to supper. Discuss fender skirts."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another failed marketing concept



I guess people just didn't grasp the benefits of inconvenience.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• To be a church in the eyes of the I.R.S., you must have actual butts in seats. A "virtual congregation" is insufficient to claim charitable tax status. Whether or not it is a virtuous congregation is irrelevant in the eyes of the law.

• India is the second largest wheat producer in the world, with about 3 times Canada's output.

• The world's most charitable countries are, in order, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, and the USA, according to The World Giving Index, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation.

• The direction that water spins in the toilet bowl when you flush has nothing to do with which hemisphere you are in.

• Shaving will not make hair grow back thicker, faster, or coarser.

• Canadians purchased $15.1 billion worth of goods and services on the Internet in 2009, up from $12.8 billion in 2007.
How about that?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tomorrow: Chicken


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The planet gets smarter

We think of the internet as something used by people for web browsing, e-mail, internet phone, iPhone apps, and so on. But the "things" connected to the internet will soon outnumber the people, and these connections between things are becoming the "central nervous system of the planet," according to this interesting video.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sorry ladies

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ladeez and gennulmen, your 1967 Stanley Cup Champions


With the hockey season getting underway, hope springs eternal in the breasts of Leafs fans, as it has for the 43 intervening years since the boys in blue and white last won the cup.

I'll bet some of you oldtimers can name all of these guys.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• According to a new study from Ohio State University, oldsters prefer to read negative news about the younger generation, rather than positive news, because it boosts their self-esteem.

• Clean people feel morally superior. A Northwestern University study found that we feel morally cleansed after a good scrubbing, and are inclined to judge others more harshly.

• Humans are predisposed to select physically strong, tall, firm-jawed people as leaders, according to a new book, Selected: Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow, And Why It Matters. Experience and competence apparently influence us far less than personality, appearance and language. It all goes back to the Pleistocene era.

• Drugs and accupuncture are no more effective in curing depression than are placebos, according to Irving Kirsch’s book, The Emperor’s New Drugs. All three activate the same cortical regions. Kirsch says the theory that drugs correct a chemical imbalance in the supply of serotonin in the brain is wrong.

• Being racist is bad for your health, according to Are We Born Racist? New Insights from Neuroscience and Positive Psychology, a new book by Elizabeth Page-Gould. She says this is because, in cities, it is almost impossible to avoid talking to someone of another race. If you are prejudiced, your body responds with an acute stress reaction, stress hormones surge, heart pumps harder, blood vessels constrict, blood flow to limbs and brain are inhibited. Not good for either of you.

• Academy Award winners live an average of three years longer than the runners-up.
How about that?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Incoming! Surviving the information barrage

Time was, kids amused themselves with a fishing pole, or a softball, or a toboggan, or a bike, or a sandbox, or just watching the clouds go by.

Time was, their parents would sit on the porch, chat with neighbours, wander down to the park, or just watch the clouds go by.

No more. Watch people lined up at the bank or the supermarket checkout. Most are talking on their cellphones, staring at the tiny screens, or poking out text messages. This behaviour has become compulsive for many. They can't stop in meetings, at lunch, while walking down the street, even while driving, despite the knowledge that it can kill them, and others.

Electronic gadgets like videogames, iPads, laptops, and smartphones are seductive. The lure of social media is everpresent. I have experienced this myself, this compulsion to frequently check Twitter, check eMail, check Facebook, check LinkedIn.

We workaholics have always felt guilty when not working. We are conditioned to see not working as goofing off, slacking, not holding our end up, being irresponsible. We think vacations are for sissies, and meditation is a fancy word for daydreaming. We are sick, but society rewards us for it, so we keep doing it.

For us, the Blackberry and the iPhone are crack cocaine, and now social media are constantly beckoning.

Surely someone is looking for me, has posted something I need to know, has commented on my update, wants to tell me something, wants to hear from me, wants to do business with me, needs my help, needs an answer, needs a decision from me, right now.

I have become engrossed in online diversions while minutes, even hours, ticked by, and then felt guilty because I was NOT WORKING.

What is the effect of all this?

Our productivity is suffering (Of course, as a workaholic, I put this first). With a few exceptions, overuse of social media and gizmos of the information age that promised increased efficiency have had the opposite result. We spend countless hours on unproductive activity, and the constant interruptions destroy our ability to focus on the task at hand. We kid ourselves that we can multitask, but that has been shown to be a myth.

Our physical and mental health are suffering. In her article titled Repairing our culture of distraction, Emily Breder writes, "Unfortunately, constant activity is neither possible nor healthy. The toll this has taken on our health is obvious - rampant depression, obesity (self-medicating the depression with food), stress disorders, digestive and skin problems."

Our effectiveness is suffering. We have no time to think. Thinking is an important part of the management job, but we have little time for it in the wired world of 24/7 close-coupled connectedness. Too often, we allow incoming eMail messages and cellphone calls to direct our workday, diverting us from our intended agendas. We fail to distinguish between the important and the urgent, too often focusing on the latter at the expense of the former.

Our creativity is suffering. Creativity requires space and time, even isolation. Big ideas rarely emerge when we are under pressure. The creative parts of our brains seem to work best when we are not being overstimulated. Hiking, lawn mowing, gardening, cloud watching, fishing, canoeing, and similar pursuits that are not brain intensive seem to fertilize creativity.

Our relationships are suffering. Look around your home. Is each member of your family huddled away with their own screen, immersed in their own private world, unaware of and disinterested in what's going on around them? Same thing with your fellow carpoolers? How about the other folks in the lunchroom? What do workmates do while waiting for a meeting to start? 'Nuff said.

So what should we do? Some suggestions:
• Know when to unplug. All those gizmos have switches to turn them off, so go off the grid at drive time, lunch time, dinner time, recreation time, and family time.

• Schedule regular, cellphone-free, think-time meetings with yourself.

• Set explicit personal and business goals you want to achieve through social media, and cut out other online activity. Ask yourself, "Will this make me happier or wealthier?"

• Limit yourself to a couple of media, perhaps one for business and one for personal friends, rather than trying to keep up with the full gamut.

• Set aside a specific block(s) of time each day for social media. Otherwise, ignore it. If necessary, set your computer's alarm clock.

• Establish routines for business-related social media sessions (e.g. start or participate in 1 conversation every morning; reach out to one new person every day).
What techniques do you use to preserve sanity? Send them along.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Pregnant ladies should stick to beans and hard cheese if they want a baby girl. Said to be almost 80% effective.

• If drivers would just keep their feet off their brake pedals, freeway traffic tie-ups would disappear, according to transportation engineers.

• Black and white photographs are more powerful than colour, and are often preferred for photojournalism and fine art photography. Photojournalist Andrew Stawicki explains: "Your eye goes directly to the red sweater. But with black and white it goes to the face, the expression."

• If you’re over 18, you’ve lived through two years whose dates are palindromes: 1991 and 2002. That’s a rare privilege. Since 1001, the normal gap between palindromic years has been 110 years (e.g. 1661-1771). The 11-year gap 1991-2002 has been the only exception, and we’ll wait a millennium for the next such gap, 2992-3003.

• Women's wear makers have been fudging sizes for years, and now the practice has crossed the gender gap. It turns out that waist sizes shown on men's trousers can be up to 5 inches less than actual.

• To make a hotel elevator go directly to your floor without stops, hold down the "close door" button and the button for your floor until the car starts moving.
How about that?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boogers 101

A Brief Guide to Boogers
Via:OnlineSchools.org

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gardening tip # 5: Dynamite

From a 1910 Dupont sales brochure, tips on how to use dynamite to grow 60 lb. watermelons, among other things. Ordinary ploughing just keeps turning over the same old soil. Forget fertilizer. You gotta go deep to get results.

Try it at home. Your neighbours will be amazed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Comical commerce

My friend Dave and I were talking the other night, indulging in advanced nostalgia as we older folks are prone to do, the sort of thing that sends the video game generation into spasms of eye rolling.

Dave recounted a story about his teenage pal who had the nickname Lard-ass. The kid reacted to his moniker by getting into intensive body-building, and ultimately turned himself into one of those pumped up guys who seemed to always be posing in ways that displayed their muscles to best advantage.

I commented that this reminded me of those "90 pound weakling" ads for Charles Atlas weights in the back pages of 1950s comic books like Superman, Batman, and Captain Marvel. Of course, these were the comics aimed at subteen boys who were still wrestling with all the insecurities of youth, still working out who they were and what they would become, how to get a date with Mary Lou, that sort of thing.

The clutch of ads in these books were completely predictable. There would be the kid getting sand kicked in his face on the beach, while his disgusted girlfriend looked like she was about abandon him for the muscled up guy. Geez, that would be about the worst thing ever, and it could all be avoided if you just signed up for the Charles Atlas program and spent 15 minutes a day.

There would be the ad for Daisy "Red Ryder" BB rifles. Boy, if you coulda just gotten your hands on one of those, you woulda been the big man on the block. Unfortunately, your mom said "Forget it, you'd put your eye out with that thing."

The Schwinn bicycle was also a standard part of the mix. The Schwinn people cleverly designed their bikes to look like a motorcycle, at least in the mind's eye of a 10-year-old with a lot of imagination. It was way cooler than the CCMs available at Canadian Tire and Eatons.

With a playing card clothespinned to the forks so the spokes made an engine sound, you were Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

Targeting youthful fantasies, these three advertisers, along with Double Bubble, pretty much financed the golden age of comic books.

It's a testimony to the power of advertising, and the talents of those long ago copywriters, that sixty years later we still recall them so vividly and with a certain amount of fondness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Signs, signs, everywhere signs


Git yer farwood fer yer farplace.


I love to be surprised by great customer service.


Huh? Gives new meaning to the phrase, "Gotta go."


The first of life's hard choices.


Caution, you are entering a falling cow zone.


Have any of these cows been involved in a road accident?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that marvellous things are available for the fall shopping season. In order of increasing weirdness:
• Elf fairy ears are the season's hot new accessory for adults and teens. They will ship to Canada.

• The Annoy-a-tron is just the thing to drive your co-workers slowly mad with short, random beeps. The 12 kHz tone with built-in noise is particularly effective, ThinkGeek claims. Buy the 3-pack and triple your fun! Hiding it in food is not recommended.

• Save on shipping charges and add the Scrolling LED Belt Buckle to your order. It's the perfect way to "announce your brilliant thoughts to the world."

• New York garbage is on sale at the amazing price of $50. Hand picked and dated. Get yours now while supplies last.

• An authentic reproduction of Ecto-1, the vehicle that rushed Vennkman and the Ghostbusters to paranormal emergencies and ectoplasmic slimings, is up for auction.



• Just in time for Christmas, gifts for those embarrassed by insufficient body hair. Buy that special someone this underwear with realistic, screen-printed pubic, chest and leg hair. Gift box included if you order the full set.

• For $12, Rap Master Maurice will make a "vigilante mind battle rap call" to anybody who has done you wrong. Check out the samples, then don't delay because Maurice says the price is going to $17.
How about that?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Going budless

I'm in the habit of listening to my iPod on those little earbuds while doing routine tasks --- walking the dog, puttering around the yard, riding my bike, and so on.

Last spring, I began to notice a constant, high-pitched ringing in my ears, and it was not Jeff Beck playing Freeway Jam.

Googling around the intertubes suggested it was probably tinnitis, a common ailment for people my age. About 20% have it. There are a variety of causes, including exposure to noise and natural hearing impairment as we age.

So, as an experiment over the summer, I stopped pumping sound into my auditory canals via the earbuds. Frankly, I don't think they were the cause, as I always kept the volume at reasonable levels. More likely, the damage was caused decades ago by being around bulldozers and rock bands. I can remember a violently loud concert in Sauble Beach with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks ... but that's another story.

No improvement with the tinnitus has resulted, but I am back in touch with the world around me. I am enjoying the sounds of children's laughter, the chirping and fluttering of birds, the thrum of a '69 Boss 302 Mustang.

Not so much the repetitive gangsta rap thump of subwoofers in the pimped out Honda Civics stopped at the major intersection a half mile away.

So, I think I'll leave the buds on the shelf for a while longer, and just tune into the music of life.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

I will never complain about my job again

A special Labour Day feature:




Friday, September 3, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• A witch is selling spells on eBay. Moonstruck9000's prices range from $8.95 (Break up a couple) to $14.95 (The Love/Luck/Money Combo).

• Rev. Lisa Vaughan, Anglican minister at St.Timothy's in Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia, is holding a blessing service this coming Sunday for Blackberries, iPhones, laptops and any other communications gadget you might like to bring along.

• The profits at fast food restaurants are mostly in the french fries, which are marked up 500%, and soft drinks, which are marked up 1200%.

• North Sea fish stocks increased dramatically when commercial fishing was interrupted by World War II.

• An electric car made of hemp is being developed by a group of Canadian companies

• Thorium, an abundant metal with vast energy potential can take us a long way toward reducing our dependency on oil, according to Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia and Norwegian firm Aker Solutions.

• This recent August had 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays, all in one month. It happens once in 823 years.
How about that?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mind game

This is strange. Follow the instructions! NO PEEKING AHEAD!

Just answer the questions one at a time and as quickly as you can!

But don't advance until you've done each of them.

1. Think of a number from 1 to 10.

2. Multiply that number by 9.

3. If the number is a 2-digit number, add the digits together.

4. Now subtract 5.

5. Determine which letter in the alphabet corresponds to the number you ended up with (e.g. 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, etc.)

6. Think of a country that starts with that letter.

7. Remember the last letter of the name of that country.

8. Think of the name of an animal that starts with that letter.

9. Remember the last letter in the name of that animal.

10. Think of the name of a fruit that starts with that letter.

11. Are you thinking of a Kangaroo in Denmark eating an Orange?
If not, you're among the 2% of the population whose minds are different enough to think of something else. 98% of people will answer with kangaroos in Denmark when given this exercise.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The car keys blues

If you've ever walked into a room and wondered why you went there; if you've ever blanked on a friend's name; if you suffer from tip-of-the-tongue syndrome, this song is for you.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reflecting upon the events of June 27

I will start by saying that I have long supported the police. I have friends in law enforcement, and I believe they do a difficult, necessary, job.

I think their contribution to the functioning of society is generally underappreciated. Further, much of their work is boring, routine, and lonely, a far cry from the excitement portrayed in TV crime dramas.

But they occupy a unique position in society. No one else is authorized to carry weapons and use force against fellow citizens. This unique authorization demands that they act with restraint and regard for the laws they are charged with enforcing, and that they be subject to civilian oversight.

While I posted some thoughts here immediately after the G20 summit, I restrained my comments, fearing that, in the heat of the moment, I would say something ill-considered.

In my gut, I was disgusted by the way police in full riot gear were shown riding roughshod over the civil rights of hundreds of Torontonians who just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, who had no malicious intent, who were just going about their business (as they been encouraged to do by the mayor).

I was incensed that 200 people were surrounded by police with riot shields and truncheons, made to stand in a cold downpour for 4 hours, and then released when television coverage of the situation became too embarrassing for the authorities.

Typical arrests included a CTV News cameraman, two National Post photographers, a uniformed TTC ticket-taker on his way to work, a guy walking his dog near his own condo, a teenager who had eyewash in her backpack. TVO's respected public affairs commentator, Steve Paikin, was given a choice between leaving a peaceful (his observation) sit-in or being arrested.

This is the kind of thing that happens in dictatorships, not in a civilized democracy where civil liberties are an expectation. The law-and-order-at-any-cost crowd will say it was an acceptable use of force, but severe damage was done to the relationship between citizens and the guys we used to call Toronto's Finest.

I was also disappointed by the police chief's lame attempts to justify the extreme measures, and the wholesale detention of 800 people in what were later shown to be appalling conditions.

Here's what I would like to have heard from Chief Blair:
"We were given an extremely difficult assignment when our national government decided to host an international summit in the heart of Canada's largest city at a time of year when the streets are filled with citizens and tourists.

This situation was complicated by my own confusion with regard to the scope of special police powers authorized by the provincial government, and by the decision to supplement our own officers with those from police forces from jurisdictions across Canada, most of whom had never even visited Toronto, and therefore had no sense of connection to the city or its people.

While most officers were well-intentioned, some officers overreached their authority, and infringed the civil rights of innocent people. Some of the command decisions also were, in hindsight, ill-advised. We can now see that the hard line taken against all protestors and uninvolved citizens on the second day was an overreaction to the events of the first day, when Black Bloc vandalism threatened to get out of control, and the integrity of the fenced security zone was threatened.

On behalf of the Toronto Police Service, I apologize to the people of Toronto for our breaches of their Charter rights --- the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the right to freedom of association, the right to security of the person, the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, and the right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest or detention.

We have learned much from this and I promise that, if similar situations occur in future, we will do better. I hope we may regain your trust."
It's not too late.


Update: Two days after my post, Chief Blair acknowledged that some of the police tactics on June 27 were mistakes. I claim no credit.

Update: [June 25, 2011] An Angus Reid public opinion poll revealed that, one year later, 54% of Torontonians felt the police response was unjustified, a dramatic increase from the 23% who felt that way in a poll taken immediately after the summit.

Update: [March 14, 2012] The lawsuits against police pile up.

Update: [May 16, 2012] Police come under heavy criticism in OIPRD's long-awaited report on police activities during Toronto's G20 summit.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shit happens

[Quoted from You Can't Fix Stupid]

In Paderborn , Germany, zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant, Stefan, 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs, and prunes, before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let it fly, suffocating the keeper under 200 pounds of poop!

Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him.

"The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground where he struck his head on a rock, and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern.

With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated.