Official Sponsor

Lilith News is officially sponsored by Archer Dental, Toronto's Best Dentist.

Visit Archer Dental's locations in Rosedale and Runnymede to get the best possible dental care for your teeth in Toronto.

December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve Treason

POLITICS/RELIGION - Almost a hundred years ago, on December 24th 1914, troops on both sides of enemy lines committed treason by having an unofficial truce.

In modern society religion, ideology and nationalistic pride have become the primary sources of clashes between civilizations. But a hundred years ago religion was actually a source of unity.

Thus it was that on December 24th 1914, following the opening of World War I and Christian churches on both sides of enemy lines supporting the national stance of ethnic and/or religious superiority (basically saying 'God is on our side'), that the doomed soldiers who were sent to the front set aside their weapons and ignored orders.

Such an event hasn't happened again since then. The act of treason that occurred then would never happen today. Soldiers who did would be subject to summary execution (ie. shot on the spot for treason).

Thus it was that only 5 months into the conflict (and not knowing how long it would last) the first Christmas of World War I was not a slaughter-fest of artillery, machine gun and poison gas weaponry...

It was Christmas in the Trenches and the morale was low. Rats, disease, filth, the screams of wounded soldiers in the distance, the ominous presence of the enemy. It could have been a potential massacre. To boost morale the German Kaiser Wilhelm ordered 100,000 Christmas trees and millions of candles sent to the front.

It started with German troops on the opposite side of No Man's Land singing "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night). British, French, Scottish and Canadian troops joined in and in various spots along the 600 mile stretch of trenches the unusual event happened: The Christmas Truce of 1914.

It should be noted that MOST of the soldiers did not leave their posts. Instead they stood there dumbfounded, suspecting it was all a trick. But quite a few did leave their posts and surprisingly they were not given any serious punishment for it. (There were punishments later handed out, but none of them were severe.)

Those who did set down their weapons and wandered out on to No Man's Land which was quiet for the evening. They gathered up the corpses of the fallen, and what followed was a celebration of photographs from home, chocolate, cigarettes, beer, wine, schnapps and according to several reports, soccer games.

Fraternization with the enemy / treason is severely punishable, including the possibility of summary execution by a commanding officer. But there were too many troops that did it. An officer who shot his own men on Christmas Eve would have had a revolt on his hands.

A French film, “Joyeux Noel”, later tells the story of how this all happened and is adapted from the stories and letters from the soldiers who lived through the event. Letters from the actual event are actually quite valuable now. A remake of the film in 2005 makes it out to be to the Scottish who started it.

Now more religious people might say that the treasonous Christmas Eve of 1914 was the spirit of Christmas alive in the souls of those men... but religious historians are quick to point out Jesus was actually born in March and the festival of Christmas was moved to December 25th by the Roman Emperor Constantine to coincide with the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Prior to that gift giving was not part of Christmas, but a Saturnalia tradition.

Likewise Yule logs and Christmas trees are also pagan traditions. And Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) was actually a 4th century Greek (270 - 343 AD) who would secretly give gifts to people all year round, usually in the form of coins. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children and students.

Since then the story of Saint Nicholas has been warped and twisted so many times that it is now more of a pagan tradition than anything else.

Thus one could argue it was the common humanity that the soldiers in the trenches felt on December 24th 1914. They were tired of war and were really only there because their country had asked them to...

But there is one story about Saint Nicholas which does pertain to war and death. Its depicted in the painting shown here, Saint Nicholas Saves Three Innocents from Death. Saint Nicholas preached the values of compassion for your fellow man and helping out those in need.

Thus humanity and compassion was probably what moved the troops in 1914. Sadly it was short lived.

December 21, 2010

December 2010 Coming Attractions

ENTERTAINMENT - See also our list of November 2010 film attractions.

December 3
Black Swan
Starring - Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
Plot - A ballet dancer loses her grip on reality during rehearsals for Swan Lake.

December 10
The King's Speech
Starring - Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter
Plot - Reluctantly taking the throne after his brother’s abdication, King George VI must find the voice he needs to help lead his nation through WWII.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Starring - Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes
Plot - In the third film in the fantasy series spawned by C.S. Lewis’s saga, the now-teenaged Lucy and Edmund join their friend Caspian on a quest to find the seven lost lords of Narnia.

The Tourist
Starring - Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie
Plot - An ordinary American vacationing in Venice becomes caught up in a web of intrigue after he meets a mysterious woman.

December 16
The Tempest
Starring - Helen Mirren, Russell Brand
Plot - Prospero is now Prospera in this gender-twisted telling of the Bard’s comedy about a magical island.

I, Don Giovanni
Starring - Lorenzo Balducci, Lino Guanciale
Plot - Mozart meets his match when he collaborates with lyricist Lorenzo da Ponte to create Don Giovanni. Love triangles ensue.

December 17
The Fighter
Starring - Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale
Plot - “Irish” Micky Ward becomes an unlikely boxing-world sensation thanks to his trainer and half-brother Dickie Eklund.

Rabbit Hole
Starring - Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart
Plot - A grief-stricken woman becomes fixated on the teenager who was responsible for the car accident that killed her son.

Tron: Legacy
Starring - Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges
Plot - A young man faces computerized foes in the same digital universe where his programmer father disappeared 20 years before.

Yogi Bear
Starring - Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Tom Cavanagh
Plot - Innocent campers and one luckless park ranger at Jellystone National Park are terrorized by talking bears with ties.

How Do You Know
Starring - Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd
Plot - A professional softball pitcher tries to decide who makes better boyfriend material — the egocentric baseball pro she’s been dating or a corporate exec who’s about to be indicted.

December 22
Country Strong
Starring - Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw
Plot - A country-music star tries for a comeback after she meets a rising songwriter.

Gulliver's Travels
Starring - Jack Black, Emily Blunt
Plot - A writer disappears in the Bermuda Triangle only to find himself among the wee people of Lilliput.

Little Fockers
Starring - Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro
Plot - Greg Focker’s abilities as the daddy of 5-year-old twins are questioned by his ever-suspicious father-in-law.

December 24
Barney's Version
Starring - Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman
Plot - A Montreal TV producer reflects on the three very different women who became his wives.

December 25
True Grit
Starring - Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon
Plot - A teenage girl enlists a salty old cowboy to avenge the death of her father.

Also in December: I Love You Philip Morris, The Warrior’s Way, The Company Men, Casino Jack, Kings of Pastry, Enter the Void, Film Socialisme

December 15, 2010

VISA and MasterCard ripping off consumers

CANADA - VISA and MasterCard are ripping off both businesses and consumers due to “restrictive” and “anti-competitive rules” on merchants that add up to $5 billion CDN / year just in Canada alone, according to a report by Canada’s competition watchdog.

Canada's federal bureau of competition policy has asked the Competition Tribunal to strike down the credit card rules (essentially making them free), which it argues effectively eliminates competition between the two multinational credit card giants. The rules (which are identical for both VISA and MasterCard) is effectively a monopoly on credit card lending and overcharges businesses for the right to accept credit cards in their stores.

The costs to businesses ends up being passed on to consumers, resulting in an approx. 3% hidden 'credit card' tax on all purchases. Canadians used their credit cards for $240 billion worth of purchases in 2009.

Globally VISA and MasterCard handled approx. $6.5 trillion USD in transactions in 2009. Together they represent 90% of the global credit card market.

For businesses who accept these cards, the rules result in an “increased costs to business and ultimately consumers”...
“Visa and MasterCard's anti-competitive behaviour hurts businesses and consumers alike,” said commissioner Melanie Aitken. “It is particularly harmful for small and medium sized businesses, key engines for economic growth in Canada. Without changes to the rules, merchants will continue to face high costs for credit card acceptance, while consumers, even those who use lower-cost methods of payment like debit or cash, will continue to pay higher prices.”
Businesses are in favour of scrapping the unfair fees, pointing to the credit card industry's billions of annual profits.

Politicians looking to cut back on household debt in Canada (Canadians now have more household debt than Americans) need to focus on regulating the credit card and banking industry.

VW recalls 37,000 cars due to fire

CARS - Volkswagen is recalling 37,000 vehicles in Canada due to leaky windshield wiper fuel that can cause fires. The recall affects 2007 to 2009 models: Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Rabbit + 2006 to 2010 Beetle and Beetle convertibles.

The plastic tab on the bottom of the windshield wiper fluid tank chafes against a fuel line, causing a hole which can lead to fires. According to the company there hasn't been any fires yet.

Volkswagen says anyone could simply snip off the part that chafes.

December 14, 2010

Dollar at par is more curse than blessing

CANADA - The Canadian dollar is continuing to hover near parity with the U.S. dollar, often being worth slightly more than the U.S. dollar in recent months. This is a nuisance for anyone who is paid in U.S. currency and there is a whole list of reasons for why parity is both a blessing and a curse for consumers, businesses and for the Canadian economy.

ie. If you buy a lot of things from the USA, you're probably doing better lately because your Canadian dollar can buy a lot more. But if you (for example) run a magazine and accept advertising from the USA in American currency, then you're making less.

It really depends to the degree of the individual or business and their spending habits / income sources. ie. You might start insisting that you be paid in Canadian dollars, because they're worth more and you don't lose money in the exchange process.

Here is some ways you may be making or losing money.

#1. Exports are Expensive. Heck, your job might be in danger if you work for a company that depends on exports to the USA. They might decide its cheaper to hire someone (or move the whole factory) to an American city.

#2. Industries such as forestry, mining, autos, high-tech, and most other manufacturing often price their products in U.S. dollars for shipment into other markets (not just the USA), so they directly feel the pain because their products are suddenly more expensive and will sell less often.

#3. Lower demand = Lower production = Fewer jobs and a lower income ripple effect. Some industries are immune right now, ie. the mining sector is enjoying record high gold prices and strong market conditions, which offsets the parity disadvantage and incredibly profitable. Other sectors however, like automotives and manufacturing, can be hurt as more parts manufacturing is done in the USA or overseas.

#4. Imports are cheaper, but its a double edged sword. Sure, you can buy books, gifts, electronics easier because they're cheaper when you shop across the border, but that is money you are taking out of the Canadian economy and pumping into the American economy (often to buy something which is made in China).

#5. American real estate is suddenly really cheap. Especially in places like Florida or Arizona which the housing market has collapsed. Heck, even Detroit looks attractive. See $68,007 for a four bedroom house in Detroit.

#6. Real estate however is a long–term investment and comes with a variety of upkeep costs like insurance, electricity, etc. Both insurance rates and electricity rates are rising in the USA so it may not be worth as much as you think. There is also taxes, financing and legal problems since many American homes were foreclosed on illegally during the Great Recession.

#7. Cheaper Stocks. You could diversify your stock portfolio with U.S. investments, but again this is a double edged sword. Any time you spend money outside of Canada you are in essence hurting the Canadian economy.Yes, you could invest in U.S. financial assets, such as exchange trade funds (ETFs) and mutual funds which are both common and practical, but since Canada's economy is still on the ropes it might be safer to invest closer to home while the Canadian economy is still in recovery mode. Plus many American companies are still pretty risky at this time and its amazing they haven't had another stock market crash.

#8. Exchange-rate fluctuations can boost or limit investment returns. The Canadian dollar is expected to go even higher in the future, possibly as high as $1.10 USD by June 2011. Investing in the USA now means you will likely take a -10% drop in your investment later.

#9. Its cheaper to travel to the USA right now, but its also cheaper to travel many places right now because the Canadian dollar is so high. South America, Africa, Europe and Asia are also just a plane ride away. You can compare prices online and you quickly realize you have a lot of cheap alternatives that are more exciting than the crime infest USA.

#10. 12% more Ontarians are traveled to the USA this year, a combination of cross-border shopping and tourism. This demand has driven up the price of hotels in the USA, so it may seem like less on your wallet but you're probably still spending more than is necessary.

#11. Shopping for a car in the USA is way cheaper right now. Plus American cars have less rust on them due to less road salt in the Winter.

#12. With the Canadian dollar expected to keep rising in value it might be better to keep your money in Canada. When it reaches $1.10 USD then you can splurgh a little by taking a trip to go shopping / etc in the USA.

Traders in futures markets are hoping the Canadian dollar will drop in 2011, but most economists are predicting a 5% to 10% rise in the Canadian dollar's value. Worse, sine the USA is deliberately devaluing their currency, the U.S. dollar could drop in value simultaneously to the tune of 5% to 15%. Thus the Canadian dollar could rise in the next year dramatically compared to the USD, anywhere from 5% to 25%.

Of course such a staggering rise would hurt Canadian exports, which would cause our dollar to come back down in value. Thus what we can really expect is a turbulent up and down ride in 2011.



According to Statistics Canada, the amount Canadian’s are spending compared to what they can afford to spend hit an all-time high in the last three months.

In a report released yesterday, between July and September 2010 the ratio of household credit market debt (consumer credit, mortgages + loan debt) to personal disposable income increased to 148.1%. Its up almost 5% from the second quarter when the ratio was just under 143.5%.

This means Canadians are overspending on credit and need to be paying off their credit cards, mortgages and lines-of-credit more. Many Canadians are spending their paycheques before they even receive them, and worse, one in three Canadians is living from paycheque to paycheque. If they lose their jobs they could be in serious financial peril (ie. homeless).

As a double whammy Canadians are also earning less. The average income is down compared to 2009 and still below 2007 levels. The number of high paying jobs have dwindled.

While the Canadian economy may be showing signs of improvement in the stock market, joblessness is still high and the current Conservative government is squandering any stimulus money in their own political ridings.

December 6, 2010

WikiLeaks under attack by governments

POLITICS - The governments of multiple countries are working together to discredit and shut down WikiLeaks. Today the Swiss postal system stripped WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of one of his bank accounts. The money inside the account will still be returned to him, but many banks and governments are either refusing to work with WikiLeaks or are shutting down anything related to him in an effort to censor WikiLeaks from releasing sensitive government information.

The Swiss Post / Postfinance accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of lying about living in Geneva, claiming he didn't have any apartments or offices in Geneva.

“That's his money, he will get his money back,” says a Postfinance representative. “We just close the account and that's it.”

WikiLeaks secret spilling website isn't just being attacked by the Swiss either. Iceland, Germany, Sweden and other countries are making life difficult for WikiLeaks and its donation supported element (the donations are usually routed through Iceland and Germany).

And Sweden? Well, Sweden has upped the ante by claiming sexual misconduct against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when he visited the country in the Summer. The Swedish case has been described by his British lawyer Mark Stephens as a political stunt. A European arrest warrant was issued for Assange last week and it is currently working its way through the British legal system.

The idea is that if a country can convict Assange of some minor crime that his website can be shut down somehow and prevent the release of more sensitive documents in the future.

WikiLeaks has been under intense international scrutiny over its disclosure of millions of classified U.S. diplomatic cables, after previously releasing tens of thousands of classified U.S. military documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The disclosures have embarrassed the U.S. and other governments worldwide.

The intensity of the scrutiny has resulted in internet service providers and even online payment providers to refuse to work or cut ties with WikiLeaks.

Today WikiLeaks' Swedish servers came under cyber attack, the latest in a series of attacks by foreign hackers from a variety of countries including the USA. U.S. officials are seeking to charge Julian Assange with something, but are uncertain of what to charge him with because they obviously want him to disappear, but they don't want it to look like a cover up.

Extradition experts say arrest warrants can take weeks or even months to lead to an arrest, which means WikiLeaks can continue to release classified information on schedule.

Assange says his site has another 250,000 documents which will be leaked en masse if he is charged in the USA.

Quite a few politicians are calling for Julian Assange to be charged with treason and even to be killed, but newspapers and news agencies are quietly supportive of Assange because they are eager to get the information that Assange plans to release.

It should be noted that these documents were likely doomed to be leaked eventually anyway, all WikiLeaks does is provide a forum for releasing the information confidentially.

Facebook and MySpace fighting for attention

TECHNOLOGY - MySpace has updated their look and Facebook has announced plans to update their look too. Its a battle of design, aesthetics and functions.

MySpace for example is focusing on their ability to customize the page so users can feel more at home.

Not be outdone however Facebook decided to revamp their design to place more emphasis on photography of users. The overwhelming popularity of photographs — 100 million a day are posted on the site — persuaded Facebook to add more graphics.


BlackBerry PlayBook looks pretty awesome

Research in Motion last Friday gave a sneak peak of its upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. People got a chance to finally touch and use the device, which is half the size of an iPad, but has a lot more power and functions, like front and back cameras.

Attendees to the sneak preview of the PlayBook were wowed by the product on a number of levels. It can be used as a video camera, for video editing, is Flash capable (the iPad can't use Flash) and it is compatible with other devices (ie. HDTVs, digital projectors, SmartPhones and BlueTooth connectivity).

Due out in February 2011 for about $500, the BlackBerry PlayBook is a 7-inch tablet touchscreen and can run multiple applications at the same time and can be used side by side.

See Also: Touchscreen is the Future

South Korea vows revenge

By Charles Moffat - December 2010.

POLITICS - If a war comes between North and South Korea it will be because neither side was willing to stop tit-for-tatting back and forth.

President Lee Myung-bak’s choice for a new defence minister says South Korean jets will bomb the North if the North stages another attack like last week’s deadly artillery barrage. This would mean an incursion into North Korea, and a declaration of open war.

North Korea meanwhile has already promised more artillery barrages if South Korea and the USA conducts military drills near the North Korean border.

As a person who used to live in South Korea the question of whether the two Koreas will go to war is near and dear to me. South Korea is like a 2nd home to me. If a war happened I would be tempted to sign up and help teach Canadian troops how to speak Korean, an useful skill for troops to have when taking prisoners and recognizing which Koreans are the enemy and the ally.

President Lee’s government is under intense criticism that its response to North Korea’s November 23rd attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong was too weak and that they should be doing more to make it clear attacks on South Korea will not go unanswered. Especially since SK' spy chief dismissed information that the North was planning an attack on Yeonpyeong since August.

Thus the announcement that any new attacks will incur air-strikes and provoke a war is sending the message that South Korea is ready for war if the North doesn't back off. Kim Kwan-jin, the defence minister nominee, says South Korea will use all its combat capabilities to retaliate.

As nominee Kim Kwan-jin is guaranteed the post. The hearing before South Korea’s National Assembly is just a formality.

Kim also said North Korea is unable to conduct a full-scale war because of its weak economy, but this is just rhetoric on his part. North Korea's primary military ability isn't in normal weapons, its in sheer numbers of soldiers (military service is mandatory in North Korea), nuclear missiles and trickery, as much as it can muster. A war between the two Koreas will be full of Northern soldiers posing as Southern soldiers... which is why their ability to know English and their knowledge of western pop culture will be tested. (ie. by asking them to sing an Elvis song, name characters from Star Trek, or quote lines from The Good, the Bad & the Ugly.)

According to South Korean intelligence North Korea has boosted its rocket and missile capabilities for hitting Seoul. They now have 5,200 missiles aimed at Seoul. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff will not confirm the report.

The International Criminal Court said today it has opened a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes by North Korea resulting from its recent clashes with South Korea and attacks on civilians.

South Korean and US forces in the region remain on high alert.


Sarah Palin is drawing heavy criticism around the world after declaring that the United States has to stand with “our North Korean allies.” during a radio talk show.

Sarah Palin’s gaffe was made last Wednesday during an interview on Glenn Beck’s syndicated radio show in which she mentioned her desire to run for president in 2012.

The Times of India says Sarah Palin “did it again.”

London’s Daily Mail says Sarah Palin “may want to brush up on her geography.”

Of course, if a war with North Korea happens in the next 2 years and Barack Obama is the sitting president during a nuclear war, Sarah Palin will have very little chance of unseating the president during a time of crisis. War has a tendency to bolster support for the sitting president.

ie. Like how Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in December 1998 and his approval ratings soared; Or how September 11th happened and George W. Bush's approval rating soared, despite being most useless president in U.S. history during the 1st 8 months and completely incompetent during the remainder of his presidency.

December 3, 2010

Toronto man shot dead with Crossbow

By Charles Moffat - December 2010.

CANADA - When I heard that a Toronto man had been shot dead with a crossbow inside a Toronto Public Library I immediately thought of my little sister, who is a librarian. Worse, when she was little she built a small crossbow. Thankfully it wasn't her who did it.

The man who did fled the scene after the incident, running past bustling children and parents in broad daylight yesterday. Reportedly the man he had killed had first been pepper-sprayed in the face and then shot with the crossbow at point blank range.

The shooting happened at the Main Street Public Library, near Main Street and Gerrard Street East. According to Toronto police its the first time a crossbow was used in a murder in Toronto. “It’s definitely a very unique situation,” says Constable Tony Vella, “a first.”

A 24-year-old Asian man from Ottawa named Zhou Fang is now in police custody, charged with first degree murder and the Toronto media is anxiously waiting to hear the motive for the murder in broad daylight in front of so many witnesses. The suspect was arrested in Scarborough.

The bizarre murder has heightened concerns in the city about the use and ownership of crossbows. (As an archer myself I want to stress that these items are usually only used for target practice, and sometimes used for hunting. I've never even heard of a murder using a crossbow before in Canada.)

The victim was shot in the back according to EMS and the body was kept in place overnight. The library is now closed indefinitely while police and CSI agents search for addition clues. They may have difficulty extracting the crossbow bolt from the victim's body.

The crossbow is described as a small hand crossbow, a type which is illegal in some provinces in Canada, but not illegal in Ontario.

The murderer then fled in a U-Haul truck just after 4 PM and "calmly drove away" according to witnesses. Police quickly acted upon information they received about the shooter and he was in custody within the hour.

Dead is Si Cheng, 52 years old, a resident of Toronto. Cheng and Fang knew each other, but police are currently not releasing details.

Affordable Website Design & SEO

Looking for a quality professional website designer? Why not go where the smart money is?! Toronto Website Design and Toronto SEO. Get free SEO advice from people who really know the business.

Featured Posts

The Sarcasm Symbol
Ever had some confusion online or with your cellphone when someone fails to catch the sarcasm? Well now with the SarcMark you can ge...
Behold, the Scorpion Hydrogen Supercar
CARS - To the right is the future of supercars... it is a hydrogen supercar called the Scorpion. The Scorpion from Ronn Motors in Texas is t...
Documents show Stephen Harper misusing public funds
CANADA - According to 950+ pages of documents obtained by the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act the Privy Coun...
Pink's Rosie the Riveter
ENTERTAINMENT - What I like about this video is how it meshes different social movements like feminism, veganism, anti-capitalism...
California's Dustbowl
ENVIRONMENT - The photo on the right is a farm in California that has been put up for sale. Its just one of thousands of farms that are n...
Is Steampunk the New Goth???
GOTHIC - Watch out what you see on the subway late at night because while in 2001 you might have seen some pretty freakish goths, by 20...
Do you have enough Ice Water in your diet?
HEALTH - A Calorie (large C) is a measurement of the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a litre of water (1 kg's worth) ...
North Korean timeline towards Inevitable War
POLITICS - The following is timeline of events that have occurred on the Korean Peninsula. 1945 - Japan surrenders to the United States a...
Judgment Day is Tomorrow, so sayeth Cult
RELIGION - According to a cult based in California, Judgement Day is tomorrow (May 21st 2011) and Jesus Christ will return to the Earth a...
Sex in Space Forbidden
SEX/TECHNOLOGY - Sex in outer space is a big no-no according to NASA. Not for professional astronauts at least, but the growing numb...

Popular Posts / Last 30 Days