Sunday, August 28, 2011

THE LAST WORD ON HURRICANE IRENE

Overhyped. Not as apocalyptic as the media made it out to be, but still, it made a mess and people got killed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

IRENE

As if being hit by an earthquake isn't enough, now the northeast is about to be hit by Hurricane Irene, which could be the worst hurricane to hit the region in 50 years.

People are saying New York could be hit. Not Miami, not New Orleans, not Houston -- the Big Apple. Holy yikes. Everyone needs to board up and get the H out of there.

Already this thing is Category 3 and has swamped the Bahamas. Lots of fun for the storm chasers.

Hurricane forecasts here. Over and out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

SAD DAY IN CANADIAN POLITICS

Opposition NDP leader Jack Layton has died of cancer. The story here. State funeral set for Saturday in Toronto.

Also, he wrote a final farewell letter to Canadians in his last days, which you can read here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

AXE FALLS IN RIDERVILLE

Head coach Greg Marshall, assistant Doug Berry fired by Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Had to be done. A 1-7 start was totally unacceptable in Rider Nation, and as you can tell from the link, the fans around here were furious at the Riders. I think sending Marshall and Berry packing was the right thing to do at this point in time -- these players weren't playing for either of them, and in Berry's case his inept offense was most of the problem.

As I see it the issues with the team are in terms of motivation, preparation and discipline on the football field. In all three areas they were lacking. Consequently you have to point the finger at the head coach, because he's the one who needs to make sure these players are on top of their game in these areas.

I'm not convinced it's because of lousy personnel on the field -- this team hasn't changed that much from last year's team. You can blame the players if their record was, say, 3 and 5. But 1-7 points to a far larger issue and I think the issue was coaching.

We'll see now if the Riders will play any better for Ken Miller now that he's back on the sidelines. Otherwise, there's going to be a lot more people shipped out of here -- the fans will see to that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

AUSTIN POWERS IS BACK. YEAH, BABY!

Some big news from the world of entertainment to tell you about. Austin Powers is coming back!

That's right, Mike Myers has finally signed on to do his fourth Austin Powers movie. I must admit, I have been a fan of the spy-spoof series ever since the first one back in 1997.

I loved that first movie. The fembots! The swinging sixties lounge music! The mojo!

The problem was that the series seemed to get worse as time went on and tended to veer towards grossout humor and the like. The series kind of forgot what made it so great to begin with. The last one was particularly a sorry affair. Austin Powers in Goldmember was good for about half the movie. It really felt like they had nothing new in the way of material for that one. When I walked out of the theater after seeing it, I was really depressed. I had this sad sense that I had probably seen the end of the Austin Powers series, and for a long time I was right. 

It also was the start of a sad decline for Myers in the movies -- we haven't seen much of him for years now. I sure would like to see Myers' career rebound after that terrible Love Guru effort he made. Then again, this next Austin Powers flick could well be as bad as the Love Guru was. I hope not. I want to see Myers career revive and the Austin Powers franchise revive as well.

I sure hope this latest Austin Powers movie does come to fruition and that it is as good as the first one was. Hey, we could all use a few laughs these days.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NFL IS BACK! BUT NBA IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT

This has been a great week for football fans, because we are getting NFL pre-season action on the field. This, after that protracted lockout situation that dominated much of this year. For that reason, a lot of people seem to feel like the offseason felt like it went on and on. No, it was just the lockout, and quite frankly, this lockout situation ended the way fans wanted it to end -- with minimal disruption to the NFL season. Only the Hall of Fame game in Canton was scrapped, and nobody outside of Canton cares about that game anyway.

All in all, this 10-year deal for labor stability ensures that the NFL will dominate as the number one sport in the USA. The reason it is Number One is simple: because it has its act together. This labor deal is further proof of the league's good management and relatively sane labor relations.

One league that does NOT have its act together is the freaking NBA, with people openly speculating that the whole season will be lost. Players are starting to sign in the overseas leagues, and it is looking eerily similar to the situation we saw with the NHL back in 2004-2005. Commissioner David Stern is looking at the upcoming Labor Day weekend as a critical period. 

Here's my question -- if the entire NBA season goes down the tubes, will anyone really miss them? Nobody cares about the NBA until the NFL is over anyway, and even after the NFL is over more fans care about the NCAA hoops. And the moment NCAA hoops ends, it's baseball season anyway!

If tthese folks in the NBA lock themselves out the entire season, they may find no one misses them -- particularly in the markets that have repeatedly gotten hosed by the free agents over the years (Cleveland, Toronto etc.).

STRAW POLL FALLOUT

So Michele Bachmann, who grew up in Iowa, has come home in triumph to win the Iowa Straw Poll with Ron Paul a very strong second. 

So the two biggest radicals in the race ended up being the two biggest winners. No wonder people don't take these Iowa straw poll results seriously for producing potential Presidential nominees.

Unfortunately, it's no joke if you sink a lot of money into the race and end up getting clobbered, which is exactly what happened to Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty finished a distant third, so distant that he went on ABC's This Week this morning to announce he was throwing in the towel and withdrawing from the presidential race.  

Well, too bad for him, but I expect that possibly next year around this time we might be hearing his name again bandied about as a potential Vice-Presidential possibility. Among other things, picking Pawlenty might help deliver Minnesota into the GOP column in the electoral college --- or at the very least, force President Obama to waste more of his precious time there campaigning.. 

Ain't American politics fun? It's not even 2012 and people are already dropping out of the race.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PRESIDENTIAL RACE IN HIGH GEAR WITH IOWA POLL, RICK PERRY ANNOUNCEMENT, AND SO ON

Today is one of those days that American political watchers get all excited about. Today is the Iowa Straw Poll, a once-every-four-year tradition among Iowa's Republicans where campaigns round up supporters -- often paying for their tickets to get into the hall -- so they can have the privilege of voting for who they think should be the GOP's nominee for President of the United States. It's a pretty unusual setup and all it is is a glorified test of strength, nothing more. It's a test of campaign organization more than any other.

Still, it may produce a few casualties. Already we are hearing rumblings that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's campaign could give up if they don't finish in the top three in this straw poll.

Anyway, it has so far been a lot of fun for the political people down there. Earlier this week the candidates held their big debate, and today is the big straw poll vote. Here's a story from CBS News about what's happening down there this week.



It sure looks like a political convention in there today. I'm listening to the candidates speak and they are saying a lot of bad things about Barack Obama and the Democrats' handing of the economy, health care and the rest of it.

It's believed the frontrunning candidates today are Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, both from neighbouring Minnesota. Also, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is also expected to get a lot of votes.

But it seems like the people who are expected to be the biggest players in the presidential race are a non-factor today. Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachussetts seems to be a non-factor in Iowa today -- he's on the ballot but not officially participating -- but he is still widely seen to be the front-runner in the presidential race. Also expected to be a game-changer was an announcement made today in South Carolina by the man now seen to be his potential biggest challenger: Texas governor Rick Perry, who announced he was a candidate for President today.

Perry is seen as a strong candidate because of how well Texas has done economically over the past while, despite the poor economic times sweeping the rest of the USA. Also, the religious folks like him. That is seen as trouble for Bachmann, who needs the Christian Conservatives and Tea Partiers in her corner in order to win.

Also interesting was where Perry made his announcement: South Carolina. I guess his campaign figures that Bachmann, from neighbouring Minnesota, may win in the first contest in Iowa while Romney from Massachusetts may win in neighbouring New Hampshire. So if Perry is going to even have a viable campaign he has to win the third state on the primary/caucus calendar to have any hope at all. Hence, his appearance today in South Carolina while everyone else was eating cotton candy at the Iowa State Fair. See, the Perry folks know what they were doing when they were choosing the spot to make their anneuncement.

More soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

AND NOW ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC

What the heck is going on with London?! All this rioting is out of control!

OBAMAGEDDON

You know, Barack Obama's presidency looks more like a sinking ship with every passing day. This latest debt crisis and credit downgrade is one he brought on himself thanks to his lack of leadership and insistence on playing politics and passing the blame to the GOP -- not to mention all the spending he and the Democrats have done during their time running the show in Washington.

Now, the conservatives are having a field day. Rush Limbaugh went on a big spiel the other day on the radio that I pretty much agree with, which you can read here. It has plenty of catch-phrases that I am sure will be repeated by GOP presidential candidates -- and other candidates -- over and over again:

Obamageddon. That's what we have witnessed since Friday. Obamageddon. Barackalypse Now. The only silver lining I can find is that as far as 2012 goes, Obama's a "Debt Man Walking."

You said it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

DOWNGRADE!

No sooner do I finish my last post on the economy than news just came in that Standard & Poors has downgraded the USA credit rating to AA+ rating from AAA.

Well, what is there to say?! This is a night of humiliation for the Obama White House.

Get ready for what looks likely to be a miserable Monday on Wall Street. I guess the recession is on. Again.

JERRY LEWIS REMOVED FROM HIS OWN MDA TELETHON

Well, what a way to go out. First, the Muscular Dystrophy Association cuts back the hours of the Jerry Lewis Telethon from 21 hours down to something like six hours for the upcoming Labor Day, and then came the news earlier this year that this was going to be Jerry Lewis's final telethon as host -- that he would be "retiring", and he would make a brief appearance singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" and that would be it.

Well, the retirement has come sooner than anticipated because on Thursday came word that Jerry is now off the telethon completely. He is out as National Chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, too.

I dunno what to make of this announcement or why this happened. A lot of speculation is out there about behind-the-scenes infighting, including speculation that Jerry's comments trashing American Idol may have been the last straw.

Now granted, he wasn't even on the whole telethon last year anyway, but you would have thought these folks in charge would have found some room for Jerry. Just a few days ago, he seemed to make it clear he was not in a mood to retire at all -- pretty much at odds with what the MDA's line of baloney was. And he's still active with a multitude of projects, and his health seems to be holding up.  Maybe MDA didn't like Jerry's attiitude in the press about retirement. Also, a while back, Jerry got in trouble over trashing Lindsay Lohan and her legal troubles, so maybe this really is the reason: the people at MDA may be fed up with Jerry always opening his big mouth.

The news has prompted a negative reaction from the comedians, who are expressing outrage over this. All in all, it is not going to be the same; as this critic notes, what point is there to watching the telethon now? 

Personally, I don't see why MDA would want to banish Lewis from the telethon. Among other things, people watch the show just to see Jerry Lewis be nutty on TV! Besides, he's the biggest supporter the Muscular Dystrophy Association has. You'd think MDA would want all the help they could possibly get from their supporters -- not the other way around! Banishing the biggest MDA supporter of them all really makes no sense to me.

NERVOUS TIMES FOR THE ECONOMY

I dunno about you, but I don't need another recession. The people looking for jobs don't need a recession, the people still with jobs don't need a recession. But that's exactly what we may be getting soon if things don't turn around. The stock markets have been in turmoil, tanking yesterday over worries about USA jobs as well as the non-action in Europe about their debt problems,  and there were rumors flying today that S&P were going to downgrade the USA. Well, great -- all that hard work in Congress gone to smithereens. All in all, this week of mayhem on the markets has done nothing for consumer confidence. People are seeing what's going on and deciding to put the clamps on spending - which is exactly the opposite of what they ought to be doing to revive the economy. We may get a recession as a result of it whether we want one or not.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

ON THE SITUATION IN OTTAWA WITH THE NDP, JACK LAYTON'S HEALTH, AND SO ON

Being on vacation for the past number of days, I have up to now totally ignored the whole situation with the federal NDP with Jack Layton's surprising announcement last week that he was stepping aside as leader temporarily to focus on treatment for a new, unspecified cancer.

Wow, what a sad situation he is in. From the looks of him at the press conference Layton is in bad shape, looking thin and with a raspy voice. He claims he will be back in Parliament in September and a lot of media people were repeating this statement as if it was gospel, but I think this was nothing more than Layton trying his best to put the most optimistic spin possible on what looks like a grim battle ahead. I remember the very public cancer battles that people like Peter Jennings had fought, or for that matter Roger Ebert, and they were out of the public eye for several months. Of course, in Jennings' case, he died.

I think Layton is going to have a tough time beating back this cancer and making in back in time for the opening of Parliament, given what we have seen before.   

During that press conference Layton tabbed Nycole Turmel, one of the newly-elected Quebec MPs and the party's caucus chair, to be interim leader while he undergoes treatment.

I'm not impressed with the media coverage of this whole situation so far. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement there was a lot of focus on the "political implications" of this situation on the NDP and on Parliament, when people really should have been concerned about Mr. Layton's well-being. Then the media people started treating the latest Layton cancer revelations like it was Watergate, and they were asking why there wasn't any more specific information about his condition and about what type of new cancer he had -- all these "public has a right to know" type of questions. Never mind that the people at home had seen enough with their own eyes already about the state of Layton's health, based on what they saw at the press conference last week.

Then came the onslaught against Turmel, with the media calling her a "rookie MP" and therefore unqualified to be leader. That was the tone of the questions of her in the interviews -- a "who do you think you are" type of attitude from the usual press people. Ahem, if I recall correctly, when Jack Layton was first elected NDP leader, not only was he not a rookie MP -- he wasn't an MP at all!

I guess I was willing to give Turmel the benefit of the doubt -- at least until this week.

Did you hear about this? It turns out Turmel used to be a card-carrying member of the Bloc Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire! That's right -- the current interim Leader of the Opposition is a separatist supporter!

Anyway, the federal NDP really does have egg on its face over this latest news. This is not going to play well in most of the country. But it just goes to show how much the NDP have co-opted these former left-leaners who used to be Bloc supporters and got them to change over to their side.

Now the rumors are flying that Turmel is going to be turfed, or at least forced to resign. Some newspapers are already running pieces calling for her resignation. So far, though, she is hanging in.

Anyway, it seems pretty clear that Layton's return cannot come soon enough for the NDP in Ottawa. They are a shambles right now, there is no other way to describe it.

Monday, August 01, 2011

DEBT CEILING DEAL

Well, the debt ceiling deal appears to be done between the President and the US Congress and will probably pass sometime today, averting a calamatous US debt default. Honestly, I thought a deal would get done all along. Really, if folks want something badly enough to get something done in Congress, they find a way, and none of them were going to let a default happen. I'm not happy with all aspects of this deal, and really wasn't happy at all with what these nutty Democrats were proposing, but I'm at least glad to at least see something agreed to, because the consequences of a failure would have been disasterous.

That said, this wrangling over the past week or so has made the entire US government look bad. People really needed to focus on the big picture a lot sooner than they did.

And these Tea Partiers looked like they really weren't ready for prime time in opposing this deal the way they did. They were just obstructionists in my view. Hey, guys, there's a time to stand on principle, and a time to cut deals and avoid sending the nation off the financial cliff. And these Tea Partiers just don't seem to get the fact that the President of the United States still belongs to the opposing party and still has the veto power to call the shots. Pragmatism is hardly the hallmark of Tea Party politicians, in my view.

SO. WILL GENE AND SHANNON TIE THE KNOT?

I was in Saskatoon last week for the NASCAR Canadian Tire race there, as you know, and while there I just so happened to catch the final episode of the season of Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. 

Saskatoon proved to be a major part of the plot for the show this year, as Gene and his longtime girl (and former Saskatoon resident) Shannon Tweed came to Saskatoon to visit her family and friends and take in a Blades game at Credit Union Centre, all of which made the show. I saw the now-famous Saskatoon episode of the show and have to say Saskatoon comes off looking good -- it isn't too often that the place is the setting for any kind of storyline, real or otherwise.

Anyway, Tuesday was the season finale and it had Gene finally proposing to Shannon. All I gotta say is it's about time, Gene, that you summoned up the courage to propose to Shannon. Heck, they've been together 28 years, you'd think they'd be married by now. 

But of course, when the show ended they had to make it a cliffhanger and we didn't see Shannon's final answer -- yes or no. We've seen a lot of drama on the show this season with Shannon mad at Gene for numerous transgressions and so on, so this is their way to drag the drama on to the next season.

Anyway, stay tuned.