Saturday, March 29, 2008

The alleged assualt on his wife by the coward Robert Ford

Toronto city Coun. Rob Ford was arrested Wednesday and charged with assaulting his wife and uttering death threats, his lawyer has confirmed.

Lawyer Dennis Morris told that his client was arrested in his Etobicoke home mid-morning after being accused of committing an assault earlier that day. Morris said Ford denies the assault ever took place and will plead not guilty.

From the Ceeb. Well, he's innocent until proven guilty, of course, as the National Post is quick to point out in their wonderfully selective fashion. Nevertheless, I think that most readers of this blog will tend to agree that regardless of the outcome of this, Mr Ford is a jerk. A few examples of his past behaviour can be found here:

In past incidents, Councillor Rob Ford:

• Lied about his drunkenness and profanity while watching a Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre in the spring of 2006. He was making remarks such as, "Green Party f---ing rules" and, "Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?"

• Initially, he denied to reporters he was even at the game, claiming he was being "slandered."

• Called Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby a "low-life" and "waste of skin" and Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti "Gino-boy," an ethnic slur. He later apologized.

• Incensed city money was being used for AIDS prevention programs such as giving prostitutes condoms, said AIDS is "very preventable. If you're not doing needles and you're not gay, you won't get AIDS, probably."

• Opposed bike lanes last year, saying: "Roads are built for buses, cars and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault."

Quite remarkable that someone like this continues to get elected. Perhaps the folks of his ward respond well to his grandstanding about fiscal responsibility, or maybe he just stands for good suburban values like racism, homophobia, poor bashing, drunken idiocy, and (maybe) domestic violence. Doesn't reflect very positively on Etobicoke, that's for sure.

Edited to add: It seems that the charge has been withdrawn. I guess he's not a wifebeater, so my apologies to Mr. Ford (but I stand by all the other mean things I said about him).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Not too bright...

A crew for a Milwaukee television station drove its news truck onto a channel to Big Muskeo Lake Sunday and broke through the ice. Crews for WDJT-TV in Milwaukee were reportedly shooting a story about thin ice when the truck fell through.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So now it's Arthur C. Clarke...

Man. A lot of eminent figures are dying this year:

British-born science fiction guru Arthur C. Clarke died at a hospital in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, his aide Rohan de Silva told AFP. He was 90.

President Mahinda Rajapakse mourned the death of Clarke and paid tribute to him as a "great visionary." His death was a loss to Sri Lanka, the author's adopted home since 1956, Rajapakse said.

"The president was deeply saddened by his death," spokesman Chandrapala Liyanage said. "The president recalled attending Sir Arthur's 90th birthday celebrations. The president believes his death is a loss to Sri Lanka."

From the Sydney Morning Herald.

Monday, March 17, 2008

JPMorgan to buy crisis-hit US bank

US banking giant JPMorgan Chase has agreed to buy crisis-hit investment bank Bear Stearns for a bargain-basement price.

But the deal announced late on Sunday in the US has failed to sooth worries among Asian investors over the strength of the US economy and the continuing fallout from the global credit crunch.

Hours after the deal was announced in the US, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index plunged more than 4 per cent in Monday morning's trade.

Shares in Hong Kong also dropped by more than 5 per cent.
Via Al Jazeera. For an idea of how big this could be, consider this:

JPMorgan is buying the troubled bank for just $2 with the US Federal Reserve, which has already approved the deal, providing special funding.

Before it faced speculation about liquidity problems, triggering a run on the bank last week, Bear Stearns stock had been trading at around $70 a share, plunging to $30 on Friday.
From $70 to $2 a share in a week? Crazy. Needless to say, the forums at are abuzz about this.

Here's another weird thing I've noticed. As most of you know, I'm a bit of a science geek, and as a result I've picked up some information on the composition of our coins. See, Canadian quarters and dimes made before 2000 are made of (virtually) pure nickel, while those made after 2000 are nickel-plated steel. I've tended to accumulate the old ones, in case I want to do a chemistry experiment with them sometime. Well, I ended up using my last ones in the dryer this past Friday, and since then I haven't received a single one in change. Not one. I have received a larger than normal number of American ones, interestingly.

Of course, the reason for this is that the old quarters contain more than 25 cents worth of metallic nickel, but until very recently there were still plenty of the old ones in circulation. Could it be that the mint is quietly taking the old ones out of circulation, and if so, why? Are they actually concerned that large numbers of them will be melted down for their scrap value?

Incidentally, bugsybrown has some more commentary on this story, including a nice summary explanation of what a bank run is.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More fun facts from SiteMeter

So the other day I was checking my hits and found this:

I'm curious as to how someone from Brazil even heard of Agile Like This, but they must have; the search terms are pretty unambiguous.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mom (sic) Faces Trial for Leaving Child in Car


CHICAGO (AP) — Treffly Coyne was out of her car for just minutes and no more than 10 yards away.

But that was long and far enough to land her in court after a police officer spotted her sleeping 2-year-old daughter alone in the vehicle; Coyne had taken her two older daughters to pour $8.29 in coins into a Salvation Army kettle.

Minutes later, she was under arrest — the focus of both a police investigation and a probe by the state's child welfare agency. Now the case that has become an Internet flash point for people who either blast police for overstepping their authority or Coyne for putting a child in danger.

The 36-year-old suburban mother is preparing to go on trial Thursday on misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and obstructing a peace officer. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined $2,500, even though child welfare workers found no credible evidence of abuse or neglect.


Update: they've dropped the charges. Pretty ridiculous that she was ever charged in the first place, though.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Snow rage"

Yeah, just another media buzzword, but it can get pretty crazy sometimes:

QUEBEC - A man fed up with having a neighbour's snow blown into his yard is accused of slinging a 12-gauge shotgun to put a stop to it.

Quebec City police say the 63-year-old man blew a gasket when a snow-removal worker blew snow into his yard Sunday after a record-breaking fall of the white stuff on the weekend. "It was a storm, alright, a storm in the extreme," said Quebec City Const. Catherine Viel. "He blew a fuse. We've never seen anything like that."

Source. Pretty bad when people behave like this, but this much snow can get frustrating at times. Still, I haven't pointed a shotgun at my boss, not even when he declined to clear Saturday's dump from the driveway of the office (which is also his house) in favour of waiting till us grunts showed up to clear it.

The snow is breaking records all over the place. Later this week it's supposed to go above zero, with rain; at times like this I'm glad I don't live anywhere near a river. I could see things getting pretty hairy in low-lying areas like Galt and Bridgeport.

Friday, March 7, 2008

School's bizarre ploy to beat internet perverts - masking pupils with Acid House smileys

No, not the Onion, but the UK Daily Mail:

A primary school has been accused of being alarmist for covering up the faces of pupils on its website – apparently to protect them from paedophiles.

Bizarrely, the images have been altered with the type of smiley faces popular during the Acid House dance craze of the 1980s.

The decision was taken at Cann Hall Primary School in Clacton, Essex.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Scary or sensational? A machine that can look into the mind

The answer is quite definitely both, in my opinion:

Scientists have developed a computerised mind-reading technique which lets them accurately predict the images that people are looking at by using scanners to study brain activity.

The breakthrough by American scientists took MRI scanning equipment normally used in hospital diagnosis to observe patterns of brain activity when a subject examined a range of black and white photographs. Then a computer was able to correctly predict in nine out of 10 cases which image people were focused on. Guesswork would have been accurate only eight times in every 1,000 attempts.

The study raises the possibility in the future of the technology being harnessed to visualise scenes from a person's dreams or memory.

From the Guardian. As a way of understanding the human brain, this is huge... but the implications for our civil liberties are pretty huge too. To their credit, the researchers acknowledge this:

However the team have warned about potential privacy issues in the future when scanning techniques improve. "It is possible that decoding brain activity could have serious ethical and privacy implications downstream in, say, the 30 to 50-year time frame," said Prof Gallant. "[We] believe strongly that no one should be subjected to any form of brain-reading process involuntarily, covertly, or without complete informed consent."
It remains to be seen how societies will cope, if this technology takes hold.

A veritable explosion of hits

Yesterday I had ten hits on my blog, which I believe is more than I've ever had in a single day. Nearly all of them, according to SiteMeter, were the result of folks searching for news on the death of Gary Gygax. I suppose the moral is that one should post or link to stories with geek appeal if you really want to get hits.

This week has been frustrating and stressful. On Monday I had to go back to York Region to finish that audit, and yesterday we had an audit in Guelph. Today I've got to finish writing a report on an audit I wasn't even involved in, and I'm going in a half hour early and may end up staying late. But that's life I suppose... at least that's my life.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

More RIPs

Well, by now we all know about the death of Jeff Healey, and today it was announced that Gary Gygax has gone as well:

Gygax and Dave Arneson developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974. The game started a culture of gamers, who now feed a sophisticated multi-billion dollar video and online game industry.

"His innovation created an entirely new type of hobby that now attracts millions of players worldwide," the black-shrouded D&D website said Tuesday.

"He inspired generations of designers, players and authors and he will be sorely missed by legions of fans."

Geeky confession to those who don't already know it- I love D&D. I just wish I could find the time- or the players- to get a campaign going now.

And I don't know his alignment, so I can't tell you what outer plane he's gone on to.