Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This doesn't make sense

This doesn't make sense

I don't get it.

I don't get why a person's actions/behaviour/hobbies/foibles should take precedence when determining whether (s)he should retain a job for which (s)he has proven competency.

This has bugged me for a very long time, but this week's news stories about General David Petraeus and now, General John Allen are just plain STUPID.

My anger has been simmering for decades...

It started with Pete Rose.  Here's an athlete that worked his ass off to become amazingly talented at what he does.  He still holds many records.  Despite all these accomplishment, you won't EVER find him in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Why?  Because he was a gambler.  After years of denials, he finally admitted that he bet on his own team to WIN every game when he managed them.

My question is this:  why would such a talented athlete, who excelled in his chosen sport, be denied the honour of lifetime recognition for his records, just because he happened to have a bad habit?  Nobody has every accused him of cheating, or failing to do his job well!

Tiger Woods is another example of an amazing talent who has been vilified because of marital indiscretion.  Should he have cheated on his wife?  Of course not!  Does that make him less likeable as a person?  Most definitely.  Should he be regarded as a pariah in golfing circles?  In my opinion, absolutely not.  He's a remarkable athlete who follows the rules of the game.  That's all that should be expected of him.

In contrast to this, there are people who have accomplished amazing feats in sports while under the influence of performance-enhancing substances.  Some have paid the price (like cyclist Lance Armstrong and pitcher Roger Clemens).  Others, like home run kings Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have either received slaps on the wrist, or no punishments at all, while they continue to bask in the glory of surpassing the home run records of Babe Ruth and Roger Maris.  It's too early to know whether they will be denied entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame; but I do know that their records have NOT been nullified (as were the Tour de France wins by Lance Armstrong).

So, that brings me to the news of the day.  General Petraeus, who single-handedly came up with the strategies that allowed the U.S. to gain the upper hand in Iraq before gracefully exiting and set the framework for similar strategy in Afghanistan was rewarded for this military genius with the position of CIA director.  Now, he felt compelled to offer his resignation because of an affair!  Offering to resign was the right thing to do.  However, President Obama did the wrong thing by accepting the resignation.

Let's examine this closely.  As head of the CIA, having an affair is certainly a potential security issue.  Imagine the CIA director being coerced into doing something compromising to US interests, due to the threat of having his affair exposed.  Yes, that would be bad.  But now, the affair is common knowledge.  It's out in the open, where it can't be held against him.  With the threat of blackmail now gone, what is the benefit of letting such a talented man step down from this important position?

Some say that the fallout from this affair will forever tarnish his legacy.  Many point out that his possible aspirations to run for president have been dashed.  That may be so, and frankly, I'm not sure I'd want to elect a leader that shows such indiscretion.  But here's a man who has been doing a formidable job as CIA Director and now, he's been unceremoniously dumped.

The trouble with people is that we're human.  And humans have lapses in judgement that can be quite embarrassing.  In my opinion, the punishment meted out to General Petraeus for his lapse in judgement is too stiff for the crime.

I think he should be reinstated as CIA Director (or engaged in the role of adviser) and allowed to continue the work he's done to improve the performance of the military and intelligence communities.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Credit where credit is due

And the winner is ...


As I write this post, the mainstream news organizations have declared Obama the winner of a second term as President of the United States.  Whether this turns out to be the case or not, our neighbor to the south has exercised its right to vote, and the turnout at the polls, from what I hear, was quite high.

Believe it or not, the presidential race wasn't the highest priority in my mind.  Matty Maroun, billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge (the busiest land-crossing site between Canada and the U.S.) wants to stop plans to build a competing bridge across the Detroit River.

Despite the plan already being signed by representatives of Detroit, Windsor, Ontario, Michigan and Ottawa; Mr. Maroun decided he could halt the bridge construction by amending the Michigan constitution.  In order to do that, a proposal would need to be put on the ballot.  Getting the proposal on the ballot would require a relatively large number of signatures on a petition.

So, Matty Maroun set about getting the required signatures, and the proposal was added to the ballot for Michigan voters.  Not content to get the proposal on the ballot, Mr. Maroun then set about creating a massive misinformation campaign to ensure the proposal's acceptance.  By latest accounts, he spent upwards of $33 million on TV, radio and other means to convince people that the bridge construction should be stopped because it would be built with Michigan money (a statement that is blatantly false, since the Ontario government is on record as saying it would pay the entire Michigan share of the expenses).

The grass roots opposition to his proposal was outspent by nearly a 30-1 ratio.

Tonight, it appears that Maroun's proposal was soundly defeated.  I honestly thought that the masses would be bamboozled by his smoke and mirrors tactics and wouldn't be smart enough to see through the ruse.  I am happy to say I sadly underestimated the intelligence of the typical Michigan voter.

I'm not naive enough to think this is the last "stalling" tactic to be fielded by the ever-desperate Maroun.  But, at the very least, it will be one less hurdle that needs to be overcome on the way to seeing the new bridge project completed in my lifetime.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Maybe next year?

The best team won

Detroit will have to wait at least a year for a shot at another World Series.  Going into tonight's game, there was only a 6% chance of the Tigers winning the series.  For yet another game, Detroit's offense sputtered, and the breaks went against them.

At least the Lions won today!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I'm glad SF won!

Detroit or San Francisco - it's a toss-up

I'm glad San Francisco will be Detroit's opponent in the World Series.  They've never faced one another in a World Series, and San Francisco has the better regular season record.  Both teams have "superstar" players with MVP credentials, so it should be an exciting series, regardless who wins.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Na na na na, hey hey hey, Goodbye

Na na na na, hey hey hey, Goodbye

Well, the Yankees have been sent home with their tails between their legs.  Who's next, I wonder?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bring on the Yankees!

Bring on the Yankees!

I wish the Tigers could have finished off Oakland in four games.  That would have meant resting Verlander and having him pitch two, maybe even THREE games in the race for the pennant.  Now, I guess he'll be limited to a maximum of two.

I hope that'll be enough.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Need a game 5 - too bad!

During the playoffs, it's never a good idea to let things go to the last game... there's just too much that can go wrong.  I was getting ready to celebrate with Detroit holding a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning in game 4 of the playoffs.  A win would send Detroit to the next level.  A loss would mean a final game 5 faceoff with Oakland.

Well, I guess there's going to be a game 5.  Last inning heroics by the home team means that Detroit will have one last shot to get to the next round.  They came into this round as the underdog, but quickly won the first 2 games of the best-of-5, so it looked good.

Now, it's down to a 50/50 chance to advance.

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown

Re:  Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown

A feat more rare than a perfect game occurred today in Detroit's last game of the season.  Miguel Cabrera reached one of the most difficult pinnacles in baseball, finishing the season with the highest batting average, the most RBI's and the most home runs of anyone in the league.  The last time this was accomplished was in 1967.

But in a way, this feat was more spectacular than what happened in 1967.  That was the year that Carl Yastrzemski pulled off the Triple Crown.  But Carl won by TYING in the category of most home runs.  In other words, nobody had MORE than him, but he wasn't alone at the top.  In fact, the last Triple Crown winner that stood alone at the top of all three categories was Frank Robinson, who won the title in 1966.

Since 1973, when the designated hitter rule came into force in the American League, winning the Triple Crown has become more difficult, in my opinion.  Why?  Because there is no reason to remove an effective pitcher from the game simply to try to get a better hitter into the offensive lineup.

Cabrera's feat was partially engineered by the keen eye and mind of the Tiger's manager.  With one eye on the statistics of the other players who mathematically had a chance to catch Cabrera, it was determined that a "worst case" scenario might be for the person in second place in the batting average race to have a perfect night at the plate.  If that happened, Cabrera would have to do no worse than 0-for-2 to maintain his lead.

With that in mind, Cabrera was allowed to enter the game.  The managers knew that if he did well, they could leave him in; but if he was having an off day, they could remove him after two, unsuccessful appearances at the plate without jeopardizing his Triple Crown title.  And that's just what they did ... Cabrera went 0-for-2 before being removed in the fourth inning.  Meanwhile, his closest rival went 2-for-3, falling just short of catching Cabrera for best batting average.

This feat is amazing and nothing will detract from Cabrera's win.  But, I can't help thinking back to the 2010 season when a Tiger pitcher threw a perfect game - only to have that feat negated by a bad call by the umpire on what would have been the last out of the game.  The umpire called a runner safe (the replay clearly showed the runner was out), thus spoiling the perfect game opportunity.  While that game will never go down in history as a perfect game, at least the umpire had the decency to apologize to the pitcher after the game for making his grave mistake.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My son - the graduate

My son - the graduate

What do you get when you combine a winning personality with laser-focus on your studies?  You get an honours graduate diploma and a darn-near-perfect GPA.

Congratulations, and best of luck with your future endeavours.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Olympic Disappointment

Spencer loses first bout - again - and is eliminated from competition

I have yet to see Mary Spencer throw a punch.  And now, I probably never will.  Looking forward to the first match in her Olympic journey, I had planned to watch the fight.  Then, for some reason, I forgot what time it was scheduled to be on TV.  It was only after the news reported her loss that I even knew it was over.

Mary had a lot of pressure put on her, what with being the only Canadian woman boxer to qualify for the games, and being a Covergirl spokesperson to boot.  So what?  When you're an Olympic hopeful, that comes with the territory.  She deserved the wildcard spot in this competition, based on her past record.

And now, she also deserves to start from scratch, and prove to the country that she is worthy of the investment the Canadian government has put in her.  I personally think she shouldn't set her sights on the 2016 games in Brazil.  Instead, she should turn pro and maybe think about donating some of her winnings back to the Canadian Olympic Committee.

When our Canadian women's triathlon competitor finished dead last in the field of 52 competitors, she humbly addressed the nation and apologized for her poor showing.  Although someone always finishes last, it was comforting to see her feel the need to apologize.

I have seen no report of such contrition from Spencer.  She wasted an opportunity - a single win would have guaranteed Canada a medal - and left me with the feeling that she simply didn't take her responsibility seriously.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some people can't escape attention

With all the scrutiny of passengers by the TSA, what must it be like for those among us who are "well-endowed"?

Just ask Jonah Falcon, a 41-year old gentleman who has been featured on documentaries about above-average sex organs.

Here's the full story:  http://tinyurl.com/8299hrp

Monday, June 18, 2012

You go girl!

You go girl!

I've never seen Mary Spencer box.  I've only read in our local paper about her amazing achievements.  So, it was with sadness that I noted the three-time world champion's first-round loss in the Olympic qualifier match in China last month.  It meant that her dream of representing Canada in Great Britain on the women's boxing team (a sport newly added in this year's competition) was over ... unless she was granted a wild-card berth.

Today, officials announced that Mary was the winner of the wild-card slot.  It's a good (and fair) decision, taking into account Mary's standing within the world amateur boxing community.  After all, she had been ranked #1 in the world prior to her shocking loss at the qualifier.

I won't watch the Olympic Games.  In my personal estimation, they are right up there with March madness when it comes to disrupting my TV watching experience.  But I will be rooting for Mary Spencer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Apology due

I apologize

Back on March 30th, I was one of the many incredulous citizens that condemned a judge's decision to let a suspected fraud artist leave the country to visit a sick relative, after a co-conspirator had also won such a favour and didn't bother to return.  My last words in that post were:  I guess you'll be seeing part 3 of this continuing saga come mid-May.

So, it's mid-May, and today's paper features a story about the return to Canada of the fraud suspect.

I apologize!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Four Chabad Rabbis

The four "black hats"

My home town doesn't have many Jews.  We used to have many more, but those that wanted to practice their faith moved to bigger centres of Jewish population.  Despite our dwindling numbers, we still have three functioning synagogues.  The synagogue I attend has a Chabad rabbi.  When he walks to the synagogue for sabbath prayers, he wears his traditional black topcoat and black hat.  I'm sure he attracts a lot of attention.

This past weekend, our rabbi hosted some of his family members, and of course, they also attended synagogue for the sabbath.  On Saturday morning during prayers, the rabbi mentioned that when he and his family members were walking home after Friday night services, they were stopped by two passerby's who wanted to photograph them.

I hadn't really thought much about this, but I imagine it has been many years (if indeed it has ever happened before) that four Chabad rabbis have walked together on the streets of this town.  For posterity, I asked that they furnish a picture of the "family" of rabbis.

Our rabbi is third from the left.  The other rabbis are his brothers and father.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy Birthday, Dad

Dad last celebrated his birthday on this day in 2004.  Had he not died two months later of an infection contracted in the hospital where he was undergoing a minor, routine procedure, I have no doubt he would be celebrating his 92nd birthday today.

I miss you, big guy!

Despite thinking about him on every birthday (and times in between), this one is more emotional than most.  Back in January, 2003, my father left a "Happy Birthday" message on my sister's answering machine.  She never erased that message.  Recently, she taped that message and had it transferred to a CD.  This past weekend, I visited her in Toronto, and she presented me with a copy of that CD for my own birthday.

I've since added some photos to it to make a video presentation.

I confess that I wasn't as "moved" as she was by hearing the CD.  It was warm and cute, but not terribly nostalgic... until today.  Hearing his voice, picturing his mischievous smile and the sparkle in his eye as he recorded that message... and realizing that it could be me, singing the same song to him for his birthday... it was all too much.  I just finished my little cry, and thought I'd share.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Lilli!

Happy Birthday, Lilli!

I went to school with a few awesome girls.  They basically ignored me for the most part (I being the nerd, and they being almost supermodel hot).  But for whatever reason, we had a friendship that endured for years.

At some point, I stopped seeing the majority of these girls, but one friendship has persisted.  Lilli was my closest neighbour growing up, and we attended the same public and high schools.  Although we went our separate ways after high school, we still enjoy calling one another on our birthdays, and when she visits my home town, I make an effort to get together.

Ironically, this weekend, she has returned to visit her parents and celebrate her birthday, while I will be heading out of town to visit my sister in Toronto.  Before leaving, I took the time to call her (first at her home, and then at her parent's home when I found out she was back in town).

I can't describe how happy it makes me feel to hear her voice - to know that she's doing well.  Happy Birthday, Lilli!

Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm just speechless

Last December 7th, I posted about the mastermind of a local car dealership scam. This person duped many people into buying worthless warranties on their vehicles, and also forged their finance agreements so that the amount they thought they owed on their vehicles was different than the amount he reported to the finance companies. Most of the car buyers are now facing threats of repossession from the finance companies.

Back then, I posted how this mastermind fooled the court into letting him leave the country to visit his "ailing" mother. He hasn't returned to face trial and is reportedly living large in his home country of Lebanon.

So today, his second in command (who is currently in jail facing more than 60 charges of fraud related to the same scam) also approached the judge to say that his father is sick, and he wanted permission to leave the country to visit him.

It's obvious what the judge would say, having been fooled before. He said "Fine, go visit your dad. Just be back by May 16th".

I guess you'll be seeing part 3 of this continuing saga come mid-May.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

That's just creepy

I just finished sending an email to someone using my Gmail account. It was intended to help the person solve a technical issue, and I asked him how his disk drive was attached to his computer.

As I hit the "send" button, Gmail did not immediately send my message. Instead, it popped up a box saying something like: "You used the phrase is attached in your message, but you haven't attached any file to this message. Did you intend to do so?"

Now, I realize people forget to attach files to their emails once in a while. Hell, I have forgotten it myself more than once. But, I think it goes too far to have Google try to interpret what I mean in my messages unless I'm performing a search. Unless I ask for help with my grammar, I'd prefer Google just do what I ask.
The heat wave continues

This is Canada. Until yesterday, it was winter. The average temperature for Windsor in March is 2 celcius (36 fahrenheit). The highest average temperature ever recorded in Windsor was 5 celcius (41 fahrenheit) ... until now. With days left until the end of the month, the average temperature for March stands at 9 celcius (48 fahrenheit)!

Over the past four days, the average temperature in Windsor has been 78 fahrenheit. Yesterday, Windsor hit an all-time high temperature for March 21st in all of Canada ... 82 degrees. That was higher than Las Vegas, Dallas Texas, and a few other cities that are normally considered "hot". And it was freakin' WINTER (OK, technically the first day of spring).

I'm not complaining, but G-d help all the blooming flowers and no-longer-hibernating critters if we get one or two more good snowfalls before the really warm weather begins.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not much worth talking about has been going on recently. But the weather is amazing. Except for some very cold weather at the beginning of March (the nerve!), the remainder of the month has been amazingly warm.

Yesterday and today, I had to turn the air conditioning on in my car to remain comfortable. You heard right! Air conditioning in Canada in March!

The temperature today reached at least 24C during the afternoon (according to the built in outdoor temperature sensor in my vehicle). That's 75 in "real" degrees! If this is "global warming", then I'm all for it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New device will detect infections, cancer in minutes

Canadian ingenuity is alive and well. A device has been invented that can visually analyze blood samples and has the ability to recognize and categorize diseased cells in a matter of minutes.

A prototype already exists and the inventors speculate that a fully operational unit should be in the field within about two years. This will allow nurses and health care professionals in clinics and doctor's offices to perform quick and accurate diagnoses of diseases like cancer without biopsies and long waits.

Read the story here.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Throne 2.0 - a toilet seat for the internet age

I saw a new device today at Costco.

It was a toilet seat with a remote control! So, I thought... finally, someone has determined we're so lazy or germophobic, we need to have the seat raised and lowered automatically.

I was wrong... the remote is used to control two functions - a stream of warm water intended to wash away any vestiges of unseen waste from your behind, and a dryer which is meant to get you back to the state where you can comfortably don your undergarments without getting them wet.

The toilet seat comes with its own plumbing fixture (presumably to connect a water source), and a power cord (presumably to heat the water and drive the dryer).

What will they think of next?