Most of you know the drill. My Teacher News + Views blogs are divided into sections [see below]. I will keep updating each as news happens. You can Comment below the blog if you'd like. Newest additions are included in Large type for your convenience.
How cold is it?!? Don't ask #1 ....!!!
Satellite weather view of the mega cold Polar Vortex!
Is it cold enough for you? Hit minus 40 degrees in Toronto last night [Jan 5-6] with the wind chill factored in! Incredible for here. Did you know its all our fault? Yup, as Canucks! The super cold snap is the result of a polar vortex. A cold northern air currents is sweeping down and across the eastern provinces and states. Ho boy! CTV reports @ Polar Vortex
The cold snap is considered a health + safety risk in Waterloo County @ No school
Toronto Public schools face a big clean up after the storm. There's much concern over damage and safety concerns from the power failure and fallen trees @ Safety first
As of January 8th there are still a lot of school bus cancellations across the province @ School Bus Service?
Crisis what crisis? Here's a hydro chronology of the $106 million Ice Storm crisis in Toronto. Power has been restored, but clean up could still take 3 months. Property taxes might have to double this year to pay the cost. Wonder if Mayor Rob Ford still doesn't want the army coming into town to help clear away the debris? Don't forget, once we get a thaw all the broken trees and branches are going to come crashing down too as they unfreeze. Story @ Hydo Ontario and video Here!
The Ice Storm shows the real effects + cost of Mayor Rob Ford's election winning "Stop the gravy train" cutbacks @Penny wise!
Thanks Rob! I feel better all ready! PS: Most Ford story links have been moved to my Jan 21 blog!
York Region north of Toronto has requested that if the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] receives Disaster Aid, then it wants some from the provincial government too. The damage is widespread across Ontario of course. Story @ York Region
Toronto City Council votes in favour of requesting both the provincial and federal governments for disaster relief. Hmmm. Well as Canada's largest urban metropolis, the citizens do pay the most taxes to both levels of government. Let's see what transpires @ Disaster Relief
Canuck deep freeze continues through January with little end in sight! Seriously! The month is now almost over, and except for the brief thaw, it's still dreadful: Snow! Blowing Snow! Extreme cold Alerts! See my Toronto blogs from this month for more details.
TEACHER + UNION
The Doug Little report outlines a new strategic voting plan for labour and teachers so as to not reward the OLP for their attacks on us. Whenever an NDP candidate has a chance of winning they should be supported. If the NDP has NO chance then endorse + support the OLP. Doug explains the plan in detail. Comments? @ New Strategic Vote option?
I believe the teacher affiliates are all united on this endorsement. Can you help?
OECTA member online petition to protest the OCT [Ontario College of Tory's] teacher free increase this year to $150 is now up @ Here!
The Sudbury Coalition against Poverty is still pushing for emergency shelter this winter for the homeless as the deep freeze grips the province! This is controversial?!? Story @ Gimmie Shelter?!?
Meanwhile Toronto's housing and homeless budget has been slashed! Story @ Rabble.ca
The Toronto Coalition Against Poverty was ejected from City Hall today for protesting cuts during the budget debate. It only got at best a line or two in the news @ Kicked back out into the cold for being noisy!
Grrr. We don't care it it's cold + you are homeless! Get out of Toronto City Hall!!!
Tory Me Too ads debut in KW + London radio this week in an attempt to copy Working Families + launch a right wing attack. They include an urgent appeal to "fight back against the damage union power is doing in Ontario". @ Globe Neo Con Rant
Ontario MPP's have voted themselves a 25 plus 2 percent raise but not for you! A raise in the minimum wage could be a hard sell too. Nothing like leading by example eh? Haven't heard any of the 3 main parties arguing against their raise either. Matter of fact don't hear much about this at all! Story @ 27 Percent Raise?!?
Here we go with the BS again! More news on the following story below but please! Vote now! Globe Poll: Should teacher pay be based on performance or seniority or both @ Vote now!
Globe + Mail tries to make it seem like they are advocating merit pay to help teachers @ Wolf Sheep
Much anticipated Ontario Ministry of Labour report recommends tieing the minimum wage to inflation rate. Report @ Inflation rate?
Will the Wynne cabinet decide to compromise with $11 minimum pay? It might end up pleasing nobody @ Toronto Star
ETFO joins OSSTF in calling for an end to Catholic school funding @ CTV Video
Wynne vows to protect Catholic school system in current "One School System" debate during speech at Niagara Falls high school. Hmmmm. Surprised? How do you spell "MOU Roadmap"? Story @ Catholic school issue
Wellington Catholic board chair claims Catholic education is under attack in Ontario. All 3 main parties have claimed they support the Catholic schools. The Green Party explains it's position @ Guelph Mercury reports
Do you support Catholic School funding? Vote in the Globe + Mail Poll @ Vote!
Globe + Mail Online Poll Results [See question above]: 64% [40306 votes] = support/ 34%  = don't support/ 1%  = Unsure. Well it's not scientific, but it sure shows it was a hot issue with both sides working hard to get out their vote.
Would the gay rights issue help the Green Party make public school funding a big issue in the next provincial election? Sound like they are working on it down in Niagara @ Catholic School Funding?
Teaching isn't a "high performing" profession?!? Sounds like somebody is trying to sneak "merit pay" in through the back door again despite the denials! Sad part is a Toronto teacher authored the report. The old "seniority" pay boogeyman is thrown in to boot @ Performance appraisals from principal + students?
OECTA President James Ryan presented this pre budget submission at QP on January 16th @ Social Infrastructure
Pope Francis has been providing Catholic progressives with some much welcome hope. Scroll further below for more under In Other News!
Here's ETFO's Ontario pre budget submission for QP @ Budget 2014
Teacher free speech is an issue for US teachers south of our borders too. However, in their case it's the school administrators they fear. No mention of the double whammy we face here in Ontario questioning the teacher unions approach to the MOU concessions though. Article @ Don't rock the boat?
OSSTF ETFO + CUPE presidents express serious concern over this years contract talks with the province. OECTA President James Ryan has discussed the problems implementing last years MOU with the members. Oddly though, OECTA is conspicuous by it's absence here. Significant? I hope not. Tell us it isn't so James! Article @ This years contract
Congratulations: ETFO early childhood educators ratify a contract with the Trillium Public board. The local is the last one to do so in the province @ Contract Ratified!
CUPE Local 1483 to hold a "Rally for Respect" outside the Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board offices Tuesday Jan 28 at 5pm. They are in a MOU dispute with the board. Well, if there is one thing the Catholic boards are into, it's respect right! ........ Right?!? ...... Wrong! Well then, the Ministry of Education is eh!? No .....?! Sigh! Alas! Info @ Rally for Respect
CUPE goes after the Bruce Grey Catholic board for not implementing the MOU sick day terms for its workers. They are another of the "big 8" outstanding boards the MOE is ignoring. During a by election with a possible spring election + new contract talks pending too!? OECTA Provincial seems to have just rolled over and played dead. Looks like CUPE is saying "No way!" Story @ CUPE
See my January 13th MOU Implementation? What Me Too Implementation? blog for more info on this issue!
So the semester's almost over and the main office is squeezing you on "credit recovery" eh? Here's a bloggers overview on why it's a good idea @ Grassley's Blog
Then there's credit rescue. I've always thought this one was a real stinker-ooni, though I have my serious doubts about credit recovery too. Anyway here's a previous blog of mine on why credit rescue is such a bad, bad idea @ credit rescue
OCSTA Catholic trustees promo video causing a big controversy @ Trustees
Too bad the trustees and school boards don't practice what they preach towards their own teachers and staff. Colour the video BS considering the source. Also, if I'd been a public school teacher I'd be royally p.o'ed by its condescending tone. Big time. It needs to be said: If you have to tell everybody something is true, then it really isn't. To paraphrase scripture, everyone should know you are Christian by your love. We see none of that from the trustees, boards or for that matter from OECTA Provincial towards many of its own members any more. ETFO + OSSTF can call for one school system all they like, but it isn't necessary. If things keep going the way they are, the Catholic school system is going to collapse from within. Mark my word. See video @ Faith in Our Future Video
OCSTA goes into overdrive?
More on the controversial video as the implications of it's intent grow ugly, in regards to the issue of the Catholic/ public schools competition for students. Is OCSTA suggesting Catholics have values, everybody else not? It's a very slippery slope, not one you'd think they'd want to go down in a multi-faith culture + society like ours in Ontario! See @ Globe + Mail
Controversial Catholic trustee video is removed! OCSTA are their own worst enemy. Maybe the rest of Catholic education's too? Story @ Gone to heaven?
Hamilton Spectator opinion piece considers whether Catholic students are more equal or not. This is a hell of a time to be having a Catholic verses public school crisis when we are staring down the barrel at a divide and conquer PC Hudak neo con party poised with a lead in the polls. Passions run high on the issue but don't we have enough problems on our plate right now as Ontario teachers? Thank you Catholic trustees for throwing gas on the fire with your stupid self righteous video! Duh! Anyhow, read @ Red Hot
My "Happy Teacher New Year! Better than Last?" blog with a personal opinion piece on the current state of the teacher unions was posted January 1st. An interesting debate has followed in the Comments section below the blog. Worth checking out, adding your two bits. All points of view are considered on my site. I disagree with one of the perspectives, natch, but am glad for this discussion. Chins up! Join in @ Here
MOE Liz Sandals is resisting any changes to the Ontario Math curriculum. There is growing demand across Canada for more of a focus on learning the math facts, and less on creative problem serving. Like cursive writing the basic math facts, like memorizing the times tables has long gone out the window. Seems to me like the pendulum always swings from one extreme to the others. Memorization is a great brain exercise, and there are some things we just should know off by heart, but that is not the educationally correct position to take. Hasn't been for quite sometime. Seems that isn't about to change either. Story @ Math
There are some serious long term dangers for a high tech society that lacks everyday basic skills @ Zombification 101
Discovered: a 23 century old times table from an ancient Chinese - Hong Kong tomb! Now those where the days! It was made of reeds. Pretty creative too, eh, but were they bother to memorize it?!? Tut! Tut! Guess not, if some dude had to carry it to the grave. Story @ X10
More on math scores below, but first ......
Niagara Falls this week during the deep freeze!
Everybody loves Niagara Falls! When in Europe I always get asked about it, or folks will ooooh and ahhhh about it whenever they find out I'm from Canada. It's as Canadian as, oh I dunno, mounties, polar bears, aborigines and so on. They'd all like to come and see it. So for those blog readers, here it is! Twice! The next picture, from 1936 [ Those were the days! ] shows it frozen right over! The little dots you see are people walking over it! Now that's cold! Story + more photos @ History
Niagara Falls Winter 1936: Those little dots are people!
Now back to math scores ...
Daniel Kitts is entertaining an open forum discussion on math scores and the math basics @ TVO Agenda
Let's blame it on the teachers!? A case of a PR fix to cover up the denial? MOE Liz Sandals announces $4 million in chump change is being put into improved teacher training to raise the students low "creative math skills" in Ontario schools. C'mon, how much more training can an Ontario teacher get? Story @ Toronto Star
Globe article call for balance in math teaching styles @ Balance
The math scores debate continues to ruffle political feathers + raise public ire. Or so Martin Regg Cohn claims at the Toronto Star. Must be a slow news month .... Perhaps I've told this story before. It happened back when Wynne was Deputy Education Minister, under Kennedy. I was shooting the guff with her off the record somewhere or other when I was still doing the teacher political advisory thing. I thought she was quite candid. She basically said, look, she knows that the testing debate is BS but the public believe in scores as much as teachers don't. It basically just a political problem and a no win one at that. Nothing too profound here .... think of it as a motherhood issue. Anyway, here's the latest @ Math Scores
Everything is better in Florida! Unless you talk to the teachers about all the BS! Makes Ontario seem like a church picnic! Would never guess to read this @ Huffington
MOE announces full day kindergarten should be in place for all Ontario 4 and 5 year old children by this fall. One can argue this or that, like for example the half assed funding model provided from the roll back of the teacher contract cuts, but otherwise the OLP's done good in making sure this program is available for our provinces youngsters. Let's face it Hudak's PC's wouldn't have done it, if they had their druthers. NDP would've though. Maybe they'd even go for a province wide daycare program like in Quebec for the children of working parents? Story @ Full day kindergarten
Peel public board plans to make special education funding an election issue if one is called this spring @ Sped funding
Whitby teacher still missing one week after he went out jogging before classes @ Mystery
ETFO encourages it's teachers to protest the OCT 25% fee increase to $150. Some teachers get it deducted all at once, first cheque of the new year. Others over the next few. OCT? Mike Harris created it. We called it the Ontario College of Tories. The OLP was a bit nicer. To put a happy face on it, [or as Mick Jagger once said, "And now Keef is gonna make you 'appy"] they added a teacher majority of one on the board of directors, so it would seem like a College of Teachers to the unsuspecting. The OCT is best known as a hot line to get teachers in trouble, often quite bogus. Also for the monthly glossy self promotion magazine that you need like a hole in the head. Everybody should register their displeasure. We got an increase rolled back once before. Info @ ETFO
Here's the on line link ETFO set up to help expedite the process. Very handy @ Keep sending!
OSSTF encourages their members to protest too. OECTA Provincial retweets their message @ OSSTF
Read ETFO President Sam Hammond's letter of complaint to the OCT Chair, accusing the board of being "out of touch" with teachers, and the Consumer Price Index @ BS
UNIFOR ratchets up campaign against PC Hudak's Work to Rule for Less party platform. Good. Best defence is a strong offence @ UNIFOR
OPSEU's Smokey Thomas wants to talk but Tim says no! Wonder why? see below:
Now it can be told: Tim Hudak admits he has a big mouth, no talent, and that's why he got into politics! Seriously! That's a quote worth remembering! He then goes on to prove it by refusing to debate OPSEU President Smokey Thomas. Hudak recently implied the union has organized crime ties, from right out of the blue, but now refuses to discuss it further! Story @ Bizarre!
Leaked Walmart documents reveal their union busting strategy. Real nasty stuff @ Walmart Guide!
Remember the Charter Schools debacle during the Harris Years? He kept touting them as the next big thing while he tried destroying the public schools by gutting them to finance tax cuts for the rich. [The rich always seem to be short on cash ...] Had he succeeded we would've had a two class school system. Run down poor kids schools and fancy Charter Schools for the rich. Not very Canadian. PC party leader Tim Hudak still entertains the American Dream of bringing the Charter Schools up here for us, so watch out. We might not be out of the woods yet. Here's an interesting report on what it's like to teach in one @ Charter Hell!
Timbo and US style education reform? Why the Canadian and US school systems are very different @ Not the same!
Made in the USA: PC Party Leader Tim Hudak's plan to cut your teacher wages + benefits. Check out what happened to our colleagues stateside with the so called "Right to Work" laws. This is an excellent OPSEU video! Please share link @ Michigan Ontario?
Winter travel in Canada ....
The rise and fall of the North American middle class and worker/ professional unions: how to counter the right wing rhetoric @ CLC video short
Canadian government is "inventing a crisis" where there is none to justify stopping home mail delivery and lay off workers @ sounds like Snobelen!
My prognosis on teacher contracts + a spring election? Here's how it could play out: the OLP will flub some half ass contract offer including a few more concessions but with more bells + whistles, a few perks. That way they can play both sides of public opinion on the teacher issue, or so they think. The teacher union leadership [so to speak] will want to jump on it. Warn the members that it will be a lot worse if Hudak wins. The old "better get this now" routine! Sigh! Alas! I'd feel better if the NDP numbers were better, but still think it best to tell Wynne + Sandals no way. Screw this "we all are really still friends, or could be" b.s. If they want to play chicken, then let them sweat it out. They could be in for big trouble if they roll the election dice this spring. That can play out any number of ways. Best if we don't take the table scraps + run away again. But don't count on it. There are lots of back room moves going on, mostly involving kissing OLP butt. Pardon my language, but there is really no nice way to put it ....
Here's 5 trends in education to watch out for in the news this year @ Globe + Mail
A Toronto Star editorial says it's time to overhaul the sex education programs in Ontario schools during 2014 @ Seriously Outdated?
York University overturns a Professor's decision not to allow sexual segregation in his classes. In a 12 page letter, he turned down a male student's complaint that he can't do group work with females for religious reasons. Professor claims he doesn't want to be an "accessory to sexism". Read his rationale. Story @ Sexism or prejudice?
York University: The sexual discrimination verses religious rights debate heats up @ York U
Position: Sexual equality is not negotiable. Also what religious beliefs equivocally say the sexs can't mix? More @ Equality
Beware of the "Teach for Canada" recruiting program. Seems it's a neo con front group @ Trojan Horse
NUT [National Union of Teachers] is advocating one teacher union to better protect the profession against fierce government attacks in the UK. Sometimes there are more than one teacher union operating in each school, creating a terrible divide and conquer scenario. Would it be a good idea in Ontario too? You can comment below the blog. See story @ Nutty?
Former Harris Education Minister [I use the term Education lightly] John the "Snowman" Snobelen muses over the Harris Years. He claims it only got personal once. Otherwise it's an okay think piece [again ....] when it comes to not allowing students to fail a class, which IMHO is a bad idea too @ Snowman Snobelen
Former Harris Education Minister John Snobelen's new digs ...
Unite Here Local 75, representing the unionized workers at the Eaton Centre Richtree Market Eatery has won round one at the OLRB! In an aggressive heavy handed US style "Right to Work for Less" move the company laid off its unionized workers and hired non union ones instead last summer. Then they cut the staffs pay + benefits. The OLRB has ruled that's a no no in Ontario [Duh]. Story @ Union Win!
Here's a template you can use to write a letter urging Canada Post not discontinue door to door mail delivery @ Canada Post Petition
Have you heard the latest PC "schoolyard" radio ad @ Here
Can Tim Hudak's anti union policies help rally union solidarity by providing a reliable external threat to get everybody back in line? Sure. But is drinking Draino a good cure for a sore throat? Interesting story @ OFL
Sid Ryan: Rallying the badly divided union troops?
PC heavy weight Frank Klees announces he will not run in the next election! Media advisory @ Klees
Premier Wynne calls 2 Feb 13 by-elections in Niagara Falls + Thornhill @ Winter campaigns
See my Ontario Feb 13 By-election blog for coverage!
Is Wynne's strategy with by-elections + Ford "snub" actually a plan to postpone a spring election, perhaps even for another year? Sun News thinks so @ Spring Election
308 looks at the recent polling numbers to comment on Wynne's re-election chances this spring. Maybe yes, maybe no @ 308
OLP + NDP budget deal to reduce auto insurance by 15% has only resulted in a 4% drop @ Deal?
NDP accuses OLP of selling excess Ontario electricity at a loss outside the province @ Electricity
Opposition parties accuse Wynne of using the Ice Storm Crisis for some political grandstanding. Duh. It's called politics. I'm not playing favourites here but let's just keep this in perspective. Given half a chance they all would do the same. Got to love that righteous political indignation. Zzzzz. More @ Slippery + Icy!
Hudak: The high school years!
Opposition parties get to do some political grandstanding too, as they continue to go after how Wynne handled the Ice Storm crisis @ More
NDP's Andrea Horwath considers whether she will prop up the OLP this year. I think it would be wise for all 3 parties to try making the minority government work. However maybe that is expecting too much? One wonders how voters will take to an election call, whether they have the appetite for it. Plus the polling numbers suggest it might not change the status quo at Queens Park. Suppose the election call all depends on who's got Wynne's ear among the OLP insiders. It will be interesting to see if she can think this through for herself. Nobody in the OL has been batting 100% for quite some time now. Far from it. She might well not have a hard time getting bad advice. Story @ Spring?
Timbo's economic analysis of what ails Ontario found sadly wanting. Story @ Not a very good policy wonk!
CCPA shoots holes in Hudak's supposed Million Jobs PC Promise. Not hard to do @ The Million $ Man
Doug Ford announces he's "leaning towards" running for the Hudak PC's should there be an election. He says Tim supports his candidacy, but the PC's were trying to wash their hands of the Brothers Ford as early as last spring. There have been allegations Doug was a high volume hashish dealer during the 1980's. Let's see Timbo stick handle this one! Doug Ford could probably easily win his Etobicoke riding with his die hard Ford Nation supporters, handing Tim a second Toronto seat. But how popular is he outside the city? Credible? It's well known that he and Rob are the laughing stock of the world right now, and have been for some time. Will Ontario social conservatives appreciate his brand of conservative politics? Oh, and get this; Doug reassures everybody he doesn't want to be party leader. He thinks Timbo is great. Talk about sucking up eh? Maybe they can strike a losers pact? Story @ Provincial Ford Follies?
Doug Ford pledges to help Hudak "transform the province". I bet. You can vote in the Sun poll on whether you'd like to see him at QP @ Gruesome Twosome
Former Deputy Mayor + Ford Nation superstar, now Etobicoke Lakeshore MPP Doug Holyday suggests Doug Ford would be welcome to run for the PC's in Toronto if he can "learn to follow the rules". Hudak is still not saying anything, though Doug claims he has his support. Story @ Doug Holyday
Doug Ford insists he would be good for the Hudak PC's, and that they want him to run for MPP. He blows off Holydays concerns. Still no word from Tim @ a blowhard?
Rob + Tim: Will Hudak opt for "Fordism" in a possible spring election?
Will Tim Hudak pull "defeat from the jaws of victory" again if there's a spring election? "Fordism" will again move him away from the political centre into scary territory @ Globe + Mail
Birds of a feather ...
Timbo makes the media rounds touting his Million Jobs Plan. However, the OLP claims it will cost jobs not create them. Sounds like more corporate giveaways [read tax breaks paid for how?] to me @ Toronto Star
Worth repeating: OSSTF D21 reposts a link to this very funny but true video short exposing PC Tim Hudak's "Work to Rule for Less" platform. Looks like Timbo might be gambling that this is a winning ticket to forming the next provincial government, perhaps as early as this spring. If so, I think he might be wrong, but still it's scary stuff. You might want to share the link with anybody who is having a hard time wrapping their head around why it is a very bad, nay stupid idea @ No Free Ride
Toronto Sun writer seems to think Hudak will be out on his butt after a spring election. So who will replace him [Baird? Clement?], and how will his defeat affect the Conservative Agenda across Canada? Personally I think the Mike Harris years are an albatross around the PC's neck if they hope to ever reclaim the political centre vote in Ontario but so be it. More @ Bye Bye Timbo?
If PC's decide to stick with Ford it will be a clear cut case of "crass calculation". So far MPP's Doug Holyday and Lisa MacLeod have been making overtures. More @ Fordism
Toronto May Rob Ford's request to meet one on one with Premier Wynne is declined. The Premier has been meeting with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly + his committee since Rob was stripped off his emergency powers by city council. Rob has been strutting about pretending to be commander in chief during the ice storm crisis no doubt politicking all ready for the fall municipal election. Story @ Fordism
What to expect if Hudak's PCs do manage to form the next provincial government? Former Premier Mike Harris ruminates on his fight with teacher "bully's". Steve Paikin's takes him to task on his strategy + tactics in this 2010 TVO agenda interview @ The Politics of Division
Tim is him. Remember the PC infighting last summer? I wrote about Hudak's secret Harris cabinet with news links and so on in my blog @ Behind the PC Scenes!
IN OTHER NEWS
January 21 is Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day! Everything you need to know, and then some @ Huffington
Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day [just don't try to pat them on the head ok?]
The Free Speech Daily comes out daily online. It features links to free speech blogs + articles, including mine sometimes. Very interesting @ Free Speech!
Moved! My blog links to Rob Ford' latest drunken video escapade, as well as a number of other recent Ford story links have been moved to my new January 21 Cracked: Rob Ford blog, for your convenience! See you there!
Scary stuff: Businesses can track your movements via your cellphone. You should be careful of what happens when you agree to login at a free hotspot location. Nothing is ever really free. Story @ You are being followed!
Nigeria all but bans anything + everything "gay"! So does that include the Fa La La Christmas carol [which one was that?!?] that has everybody singing "Now we dawn our gay apparel [Fa la la la la la la la la .....]"??? Just wondering. Story @ Real scary!
Russian President Vladimir Putin explains his views on homosexuality, warning gays to "leave our children alone." By "cleansing" Russia of homosexuality he believes the birth rate will increase [?!]. When young people are exposed to information about homosexuality it apparently declines. Wow. But worry not! Otherwise gays are still welcome at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. This should prove interesting. Read for yourself @ Just worried about the kids ....
Sochi mayor claims the gay lifestyle is unacceptable + so there are no gays in the Olympic city. Hmmm. How would he know that?!? Should prove for some very interesting Olympic games next month. Story @ None?
Half of the permanent full time jobs are precarious in Toronto and Hamilton @ Toronto Star
It's so friggin' cold in Ottawa that the Rideau Canal is closed to skaters due to adverse weather conditions. Now that's cold!!! [PS: another nice thing about retirement is that if its cold you don't need to go outside. Nope.] @ Jan 6
Pope Francis: Some interesting Christmas messaging this year!
Pope Francis: Is he softening the Catholic Church position on gay relationships? A lot of folk seem to think so, but I have yet to see anything concrete @ Pope Francis?
Rich Catholics verses the Pope: Seems they are pretty darn cheesed with him criticizing the excesses and cruelty of unleashed capitalism! If he keeps it up they might not donate any more money to the church nor feel sorry for poor people anymore. Billionaire Catholic investor adds that the rich are sensitive too, and their feelings are really hurt. Guess they are fed up and not going to take it anymore! Pretty tough being a capitalist oppressor these days eh? Sigh. Alas. More @ Unrest in the rich pews!
If the food supply is to remain sustainable during the 21st century as the population reaches $7+ billion worldwide, we are going to have to consider urban farming. Why not? Makes too much sense? Actually, there's not enough profit$ in it for big bu$ine$$ @ CURC
Chow verses Ford race for Toronto Mayor in 2014?
Could Prime Minster Stephen Harper have something up his sleeve to help buddy Rob Ford win the 2014 Toronto mayoral race? Sound plausible, but do the PC's really want Ford back? Maybe John Tory instead? He's more credible [and still a leftie threat] for any self respecting Conservative, one would think ... See @ Olivia?
Possible Mayoral Prospectus: Olivia Chow verses John Tory verses Rob Ford? An analysis of the possibilities @ Toronto election
Olivia Chow was interviewed on CP24 today [Jan 22] about her new autobiography. She focused on the book and her current work with the federal NDP, and would not commit to running for mayor yet. Rather coyly, I thought, she noted she wouldn't want her grandchildren growing up in a Toronto with Rob Ford as Mayor.
Former PC leader + radio talk show host John Tory is expected to announce he will run for mayor in late February. His campaign team has been busy around the city getting ready. John is an affable Red Tory philanthropist with lots of big business connections, a formidable right wing challenge for Rob indeed. Though Rob kicked his butt last time around. Now? @ Who's Tory Now?
Toronto "elite" won't speak out to defend Rob Ford. This is his Achilles heel. There are lots of neo cons who might feel it necessary to pull the rug out from under him and get somebody else in who won't give them a bad name @ Toronto Star
Here's what the "city leaders" had to say @ Toronto Star
While the Rob Ford Follies held everyone's attention at City Hall this fall, the unemployment rate in Toronto spiked. That slipped right under the radar with all the other nonsense @ Toronto jobless rate
"Moosecleans " claims all of Toronto is to be given an intelligence test. Ha @ IQ?
BTW Olivia was on line right away to deny the story .... still, I wouldn't put it past the Cons for trying .... There could be a plethora of right wingers running, splitting the vote against Olivia. Hmmm. Maybe a trial balloon? Here's more @ Nope
Follow Up: TVO's Steve Paikin's backgrounder on Olivia Chow + the Lieutenant General story makes for an interesting read. What was really going on? @ Chow?
Are there some more members of the Ford family considering a run at City Council this year? More @ Oh no!
Toronto City Council votes to end the first past the post voting system after the November 2014 Mayoral election. It's been discussed in Ontario during years past but change was not forthcoming. Now its up to QP to approve the change @ Ranked ballots coming?
Public service announcement: Kids don't try this at school!
Sun News denounces the federal Conservatives ban on 75 + 100 watt incandescent light bulbs effective January 1st. Hey, as a member of our condo board of directors I was skeptical about installing halogen lights in the building hallways. However, in one year they not only paid for the refit but are saving us a bundle too! Anyway read @ Sun bright lights
Sears on the skids? Just what the heck is going on with the department store chain anyway? Remember Simpson Sears? The Christmas catalogue? It was so Canadian! The news has not been good. The Eaton Centre superstore in Toronto closes next month. More bad news @ Quite the mess!
US President Obama admits he smoked pot as a kid. Claims its no more dangerous than alcohol ..... unless you are Rob Ford of course..... Sorry. Couldn't resist! Story @ Obama not Rob Ford!
Crew of Apollo 1: remembered? What a way to go! Story below:
Day of Remembrance: NASA remembers it's dead: the crews of Apollo 1, Columbia + Challenger. Babyboomer time: Who remembers Apollo 1 and what happened? Story @ Space Exploration
Now it can be told: The RCMP spied on Canadian NDP Icon Tommy Douglas from the 1930's-1986. Is nothing sacred?! Sounds like we must've had our own Canuck J. Edgar Hoover eh? Story @ Rabble.ca
The Canadian dollar takes a deep plunge from parity, and some pundits are very happy. Even though it is quite anaemic, they argue cheaper experts will create more industrial jobs and corporate wealth. Hmmm. Maybe so, but it's kind of a sad way to look at things. Oh boy! Our bucks worth squat! Now we can undercut the better off countries! Not good for the Canadian self concept and self esteem I'm sure, which unfortunately is very Canadian eh? Just my opinion. Globe + Mail article is here
The Russian Winter Olympics are coming next month to a TV station near you!!! Meanwhile, not everybody in Russia is tickled pink. Story @ Nyet?
Fidel: I .... I ... I'm still alive?!????
Fidel Castro: still alive + well! He attended a Habana art show on Wednesday. Remember when US President Obama shook brother Cuban President Raul Castro's hand at Nelson Mandela's funeral? Mark my word. A tip. Something is brewing with the deadlocked 53 year US embargo of Cuba. When I was in Santiago de Cuba in November there were busloads of American tourists pulling into the hotel every night. A first! Sighting @ Hasta Siempre!
Climate change? NASA data concludes that the world climate warming trend continues, but you could fool me, that's for sure! Story + data @ NASA
NASA Data: World climate warming trend continues .... [?]
Hey buddy can I buy you a space drink??? A vapour atmosphere has been discovered around lost dwarf planet "Ceres" in the asteroid belt between Jupiter + Mars. So, if folks are ever tripping out that way some day, they can stop for a cool one or a shower @ Ceres: Your space watering stop!
Canadian rockster Neil Young denounces the Albert oil sands project @ Rust never sleeps!
Neil Young verses Stephen Harper!
Other prominent Canadians speak out in support of Neil Young's position whether Prime Minister Harper wants to hear it or not! It's quite an impressive list of artists, authors, musician, a scientist, layer, other Order of Canada recipients and so on @ I Stand with Neil Campaign!
Is there life on Mars? Rover finds jelly donut! Sounds like quite the party! ;-) Story @ Well I'm convinced ....
KULTURE KULT INK
Here's to warmer climes! To warm your tootsies: How I spent my Christmas holiday ? With a visit to a tropical resort to go diving and lie on the beach .... Well, now that I'm retired everyday is a holiday. Plus when it's too cold [or hot or wet or dry Nope. I don't like it! Never did! Except perhaps when I was little and didn't know any better .... Downside to the trip was I got food poisoning on the last day and it took about a week to recuperate. Bleech! Its all pretty much relative to me. Was still a great time for Janet + I. Photos, story @ Cuba
Oh no! No landlines?
11 reasons to bring back land line phones in 2014: [#1: They can save your butt in an emergency. They work during power failures. No need to recharge either.] Also a list of other common objects that are fast becoming obsolete @ So new it hurts?
Excuse me I can't see?!?! A 9 by 6 foot flat t.v. screen anybody? New in 2014 @ A Bigger TV???
Howzabout those TV soundtracks eh? Some great ones these days. Here's a good taster @ TV Tunes
20 sure signs you attended Catholic school @ Confession 101
Walking Dead fans should know that the "Walking Dead Daily" is now available online @ Walking Dead!
Best + Worst of the 56th Grammy's? Seriously, I probably get at least a half dozen cds every week and I rarely recognize any of the winners on these shows. That's going way back, but lots of folks do @ Gammy's?
Retro dance producer greats Giorgio Moroder + Nile Rodgers live? Dunno, maybe this one is so bad it's good? Here's an album review of pastiche Daft Punk "Album of the Year" Random Access Memories with video links @ Daft Punk
Retro 2013: St Laurent Daft Punk in Vogue
Karlie Kloss + Daft Punk photo shoot. Hey! They stole my look from back in the day!?! And if you believe that maybe I can sell you some private property in Cuba??? ;-) @ Vogue
Why, the Grammy's were so much fun even an 80 year old Yoko Ono got up to dance! Hmmm. Did you see Sean? Anyway, here's Yoko Ono + the Plastic Ono Bands "Bad Dancer" video. See the Grammy Yoko write up @ Break a leg?
Back to the 90's: Who was hot then? @ 40 Ladies
Smoke cigarettes + die like me! MMmmm is good!
Irony of Ironies: The Marlboro man dies of a smoking relate illness! Many young folk might not know that cigarette advertising was common into the 1980's. Possession of marijuana was a federal offence but tobacco companies trying to convince you to smoke tobacco with advertisements featuring cowboys, doctors and the like acted with total impunity. The Marlboro man would ride around on his horse smoking a cigarette. You could be a rugged individual like him by buying a pack too. Different times. However, I'd be willing to bet there's something else equally stupid going on today that we will only figure out years from now too. Meanwhile we are all going about being told its perfectly okay, maybe even good for us, while somebody's running to the bank laughing at our stupidity. No? Story @ Smokin'
For sale! John Lennon's mock Tudor Mansion! Asking price? 14 million pounds! Story + photos @ Being 4 the Benefit of Mr.Kite!
Hitler's Mein Kampf, his master plan, written in jail after the beer hall putsch, between 1925-26 has become an ITunes E-Book best seller in Canada. Dunno what to make of this really. I read it of course, as a History student/ teacher years ago. I is a very tough sled ride so I wonder how many are actually reading it through. This article suggests that its like smut, romance or any other forbidden fruit. Readers are intrigued with it but wouldn't want to be caught dead with the book. Well, the E version is very private. Also consider the cost: as cheap as .99 cents. Other experts interviewed claim its because of its academic interest. One should only wish there were so many folks interested in history out there. [ Sorry can't resist the next part ....] for as Thucydides [500 BC] wrote, [ to paraphrased ... ] those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. Whatever the reason Jewish advocacy groups are very upset. Story @ Mein Kampf
First new fashion trend of 2014 inspired by the deep freeze. So kool it hurts, quite literally so @ Brrrrr!
How cold is it?!? Toronto's Bruce Cockburn made a new music video! Nothing about missile launchers though ... BTW click off the "X" on the download ad, you don't need to use it to watch. Sneaky! Sneaky! See @ Coldest Night
Rappers Pacman + Peso film secret music video in North Korea. Most film footage I've ever seen of the place @ Escape Video
"Brainwashed" reader survey of the Top 10 discs from 2013 provides an interesting alt.rock overview @ albums
Hey ho! I'm going to do a fast forward here on my blogsite with more current music reviews, in addition to my retro rock, blues, country, reggae, jazz etc. preoccupations. You can forward any cds or downloads for review if so inclined. Scroll down my site to near the bottom and you will find my Top 10 Heavy Rotation list + a regularly updated Quickie Review section. Got a pretty good readership here, so .......
Folkie DIY [Do It Yourself ... ] singer songwriter Tom Brosseau releases "Today's a Bright New Day" from his new "Grass Punks" album. See @ Tin Angel Records
Scene Magazine has a pub review of 3 Canuck bands in concert; Ottawa's Ecstatic, Manotick's Hollerado + Newmarket headliner's the Tokyo Police Club; Guitars, synths, jams. There's some good alt.rock, for lack of a better label perculating in the True North Strong + Cold these daze @ Algonquin College Rock!
Here's my Top 5 albums of 2013! Scroll down to near the bottom of the site. They are listed in "Quickie Reviews". Please also post your own in the Comments section below this blog if you would like. These are the just the ones I liked a lot so the list is by no means complete!
2014 is the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania on my blog. See @ Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
I've posted the story of the "lost Canadian Beatle albums" on my January 22 blog. Important reading! Guess what happened to them?! Think US! My regrets American readers, love you, but it's a story that needs to be told!
My review of the new Beatles US Capitol box set is coming! Should be fun! Great graphics, I promise!
Part 2 of my John Lennon Discography is coming too! Story, pictures, music video + concert links with solo discography and album reviews! Part 1 1968-75 @ Lennon Remembered!
Truly scary stuff! How "Fresh Burgers" makes it socially acceptable for Japanese women to eat hamburger's in public without the fear of "Ochobo"! Talk about capitalism + social conditioning! Video @ Hamburger wrappers
My Fortune Cookie: "Sift through your past to get a better idea of the present."
Message from a Bottle: [From under my "Island Soda" bottle cap]: "Gi Mi sponge fi go dry up sea."
This Month's Word: Satori
Department of Decisions:
[Ralph Alfonso's Ralf Zine #40 Oct 1996]
So you've managed to read this far! Congratulations! Here's a bonus: "Nocturne"! Not for all tastes but Avy's "MMF Mick Jagger" blogsite is quite titillating with very good writing and a live unfolding story. Avy's latest blog takes her to Paris in search of love [read: Henry]. Stephanie's showed up back at her place in New York. The Chloe split resulted in major heartbreak! Then there's that thing about Avy's mom ... what exactly is it with her anyway?!? She's taken off again. And did she really ..... well you know, with Mick Jagger? Go read @ Blogger