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October 25, 2010

Haiti's cholera outbreak

HEALTH - UPDATE: Health officials say 105 more people have died since Saturday, bringing the total to 442 as of November 3rd.

Haiti is suffering under an outbreak of cholera, a deadly disease which as of last week had killed 253 and hospitalized 3,015. UPDATE: The number hospitalized is now over 5,000. There has been a 40% jump in new cases in the last 5 days.

Aid agencies around the world are fearing the worst, especially with heavy rains and tropical storms this time of year which are making it difficult to send medical aid and doctors. Torrential rainfall means drinking water is contaminated and the population is extremely vulnerable.

On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control discovered that all the Haitian patients had the same strain of cholera, a strain from South Asia. Its believed foreigners from southern Asia accidentally brought the disease to Haiti following the recent earthquake and it spread rapidly.

Haiti has not seen a cholera outbreak for approx. 50 years and most Haitians don't know what to do to prevent the disease. Poor sanitary conditions due to Earthquake is the biggest cause since the bacteria is transmitted through contaminated water or food.

Not everyone has been hospitalized. The total number of cases stands at 6,742 (November 3rd).

Cholera causes diarrhoea, vomiting, severe dehydration, and kills within 24 hours if left untreated.

Treatment involves rehydration and antibiotics, which is why medical aid is so important.

The January 12th 2010 Haiti Earthquake killed 230,000 people and devastated Haiti's capitol Port-au-Prince.

Android and RIM squeezing Apple Inc.

TECHNOLOGY - Google Android's software is now on 95 SmartPhone handsets, up from 60 in May. Revenue from mobile advertising is boosting Google's profit line and benefiting phone manufacturers like LG and Motorola because they don't have to pay to create their own operating systems for their SmartPhones.

Mobile advertising is still a very new idea, but Google is trying to cash in on an untapped market where competitors Microsoft, Yahoo! and Facebook will be unable to compete in without creating and marketing their own SmartPhone operating system. By being the only OS which is widely used Google has beat all the competitors to a market which analysts believe will explode with potential.

In the last 4 quarters Google had $27.6 billion USD in advertising sales. Google estimates that its mobile ad sales will break $1 billion in 2010.

And then there is the matter of YouTube, which is increasingly coming with ads before the video loads. Evidently Google is close to creating a monopoly on advertising. Its surprising that Google hasn't tried buying up television networks as part of its expansion.

Google recently purchased Teracent and Invite Media.

Meanwhile...
Research In Motion Ltd. demonstrated their new PlayBook tablet computer at a conference yesterday in L.A., scrolling through images and displaying video on the device.

The demonstration showed off how powerful, versatile and overall better the PlayBook is and how it out performs the Apple iPad, making the Playbook the "top pick" of RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky.

The PlayBook was first unveiled last month and will go on sale early next year. Unlike the iPad, the PlayBook can handle Flash technology, is more versatile, has front and back video cameras. The Apple iPad can't handle Flash videos or animation, including YouTube.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, is refusing to allow Flash video compatibility on the iPad because of rivalry with Google-owned video website YouTube.

With both Google and RIM working from opposite sides, Apple is looking more and more obsolete.

Lilith News' 1,000th Post

TECHNOLOGY - So we're up to our 1,000th blog post eh?

Not too shabby!

But we should note that is nothing compared to what Lilith News' parent organizations the Lilith eZine and the Lilith Gallery has done... which is somewhere in the range of 2,000 pages with lots of artwork, detailed articles, commentary, rants, biographies on artists, art history, feminist history and topics ranging from automotives to technology, from fashion to feminism, from health to sexuality, from religion to politics, and from entertainment to environmentalism.

And we've been doing this since July 2000.

It all started when Charles Moffat decided to build the Lilith Gallery, a website where he could display not only his own artwork, but the artwork of similar artists who had a controversial, feminist, political or even gothic quality to their work. But Moffat, being also a writer and prolific one at that, often decided to write webpages about the topics he found interesting or upsetting.

Then along came Suzanne MacNevin... born in Scotland, raised in Prince Edward Island, educated at Ryerson University in Toronto, and now living in jolly ol' London England Suzanne MacNevin (or Suzy, Glowmaid, the Glowing Maid) brought her own brand of writing to the website when she and Moffat collaborated to make a webpage they dubbed the "1001 Feminist Links" website.

The 1001 Feminist Links (and Other Interesting Topics) website became so popular it eventually morphed into what is now known as the Feminist eZine, a magazine-esque website which archives both historical feminist material, but also contains recent articles written by Suzanne MacNevin and other notable feminists or post-feminists.

But they didn't stop there!

Moffat's interest in art history began a colossal project known as the Art History Archive, similar to the Feminist eZine, but its focus on artist biographies, detailed overviews on art movements and even essays on specific topics pertaining to art theory and art history.

And then came the Lilith eZine (as mentioned above), which was eventually divided into subsections:By the time we got to that point MacNevin and Moffat had assumed more of a role as editors as guest writers became more frequent. We always welcome guest writers, but we cannot afford to pay you. You're doing it pro-bono, but we're always happy to give you a link to your website or blog with each article you write for us.

Eventually we realized an urge to talk about day-to-day news and add our commentary to it. That is how the Lilith News blog came into being on March 29th 2007 when Moffat wrote our first blog post, a mission statement which is now a little off-topic compared to what we usually talk about.

Seriously, if you read the mission statement you realize, yes, we have talked about global warming, climate change, clean air in Canada, reducing greenhouse gases, etc... but we really didn't stick to that topic at all. We also talk about Arabia, Asia, Capitalism, Crime, Economics, Food, Israel, Natural Disasters, Oil Prices, Piracy, Real Estate, Terrorism, Toronto, War. And a host of other topics...

In other words we really are general purpose.

But where the difference is that we are always looking at the bigger picture. We want to help make the world a better place through responsible communication and education. We believe tyrants need to be overthrown, that criminals need to be punished, that equality needs to be upheld, and freedom, good health and sympathy for our fellow man will lead the world towards utopia.

And seriously, we already have all the technology to make our world into an utopia. The only thing we lack is the will to do it.

October 21, 2010

Defamation Laws Endangering the Lives of Canadians

CANADA - If bloggers are not allowed to warn the general public about sexual predators and criminals (whether they have been proven guilty or not) then defamation laws are endangering the general public's safety, and therefore is unconstitutional.

Canada's defamation laws are out of date and need an upgrade.

Food for thought.

October 20, 2010

Is the AGO's Curator/CEO overpaid?

ART HISTORY/CANADA - Two more employees of the Art Gallery of Ontario have left the AGO as the largest art gallery in Canada continues to struggle with its budget problems.

Part of the problem is curator/director/CEO Matthew Teitelbaum who in 2009 was paid $1.07 million in salary and bonus.

According to ex-employees, who don't want to be named, Teitelbaum will be paid over $1.2 million in 2010, despite the fact that he is doing such a shoddy job trying to get paying visitors through the doors.

The two latest employees to leave are:

Kristin Ferguson, executive director of corporate services and operations.

Michael Parke-Taylor, senior curator of modern art, who has been with the gallery for 23 years.

Recently the AGO also "let go" former curator/director Dennis Reid, one of the leading authorities on Canadian art.

And these are just 3 of a slew of employees who have been "let go" while the AGO continues to flounder financially and Matthew Teitelbaum continues to get paid more.

Teitelbaum's big summer exhibit "Drama and Desire" was a huge financial flop.

Some people might call that incompetence. Others might call it greed. Even more people might call it both.

Unless the AGO changes its spending the AGO will be at least $2 million dollars in debt by March 31st 2001.

Oh wait, is that not Matthew Teitelbaum's salary from the last 2 years?

Meanwhile Teitelbaum claims there’s no cause for alarm. Teitelbaum argues that rapid turnover is perfectly routine at the end of a huge expansion, such as the expansion and re-opening of the AGO two years ago after its makeover by architect Frank Gehry.

“It’s the norm at other institutions as well that after a completing a big project that has gone on for several years, people are ready for a change,” said Teitelbaum recently before flying to Paris on the AGO account.

But wait Matt... that was TWO YEARS AGO!

That does not explain why he has been paying himself such huge bonuses. And it certainly does not explain his jet setting around the world on the AGO account to view exhibitions at other art galleries.

Gail Dexter Lord, a respected Toronto-based consultant who works for five-star museums all over the world, does not agree with Teitelbaum. She also points out that 2 years have passed by and other cuts took place two years ago to try and balance the budget.

“What is happening now,” says Lord, “is typical for museums that have made unrealistic attendance and revenue projections to sell the project and then, after re-opening, failed to achieve those targets. There are usually systematic problems that have not been addressed in the building phase. And those problems don’t go away.”

Lord did not point at Teitelbaum or his excessive salary and yearly bonuses.

Ferguson and Parke-Taylor both said in interviews Tuesday they chose to leave on a voluntary and personal basis.

In the past several years the following people have been let go, retired or pushed out the door:

Bruce Ferguson: director of exhibitions in 2007; Catherine de Zegher: director of exhibitions and publications in 2009; Kate Davis, director of exhibitions in 2010; Paul Gilbert, Contract marketing director in 2010; Susan Bloch-Nevitte, Executive director of public affairs in 2010; Arlene Madell, Director of marketing in 2009; Linda Milrod, Program director of Transformation in 2010; Paul Altheer, Chief operating officer in 2007.

It would take 1 million visitors per year to make the AGO financially successful. Right now its getting roughly half of that. When you add that up the 500,000 paying visitors per year are basically giving $2 each to Matthew Teitelbaum.

Does the CEO of a failing art gallery really deserve a $1 million+ annual salary + bonus? Very doubtful.

Pink Tartan's fashion groove

FASHION - Pink Tartan is a groovy spin on classic glamour. Their new spring-summer 2011 collection was unveiled last week at Toronto's LG Fashion Week and combined retro sophistication with a touch of the 1970s.

Designer Kimberley Newport-Mimran used black glam and lush, fluid dresses, Caftan-style, one-shoulder, stripes, gold buckles, lots of pockets, halter-styles and plunging necklines.

But really... how many pink strapless jumpsuits can you wear in a week? Can you really wear bell bottoms all the time?

And if your answer is YES, YES I CAN, then you are probably the type of person who would redo your whole wardrobe to make sure it matches.

You go out and buy new shoes, new socks, new hat, new handbag and so on...

And then you realize your furniture doesn't match your new wardrobe.

So you go buy a new couch, new bed, new chairs, new decorations.

And before you know it your home doesn't match the neigbourhood. You need to find a nice stylish neighbourhood, like Weaver's Mill in Georgetown near Brampton. You buy a new townhouse, but then you realize your car doesn't match...

So you go buy a new car, something shiny that matches your iPhone and has lots of gadgets like satellite navigation.

And you drop your dog off at the pound and buy a new one which is hypoallergenic.

And by now all your friends have left you before you've become a snob, but don't worry you'll make new friends who are equally snobby.

And then next year the fashion styles of what is "new and kewl" changes again and you have to go through the whole process all over again.

In related news...
Canadian supermodel Devon Owens was recently contracted by the Ford Modeling Agency, the world's largest and most influential modeling agency. We wish the young supermodel lots of luck.

October 19, 2010

Review of CSN Boxing Products

We have an upcoming review of CSN boxing products. CSN stores sell a variety of things including kitchen items, houseware goods, bathroom things, fitness and health stuff... and so on. So if you are looking to buy a dining room table or a punching bag, its a company worth browsing.

The boxing items review will be posted on our new Product Reviews Canada blog, as well as mentioned on here.

Better home deals near Brampton, outside the GTA

By Charles Moffat - October 2010.

CANADA - If you are looking to buy a home in Toronto, or even Brampton or Mississauga then the prices of homes are ridiculously overpriced. Even in Brampton the price of a home will cost you $500,000 or more.

Instead savvy homebuyers are looking elsewhere, trying to find homes which are close enough to Toronto that they can easily commute, but also in a nice location that is affordable.

Enter Georgetown, a small town just west of Brampton. Homebuyers can get a townhome in downtown Georgetown, close to the Go Station for a mere $289,990. That is a MINDBOGGLINGLY good price compared to the $800,000 you'd spend to buy a home in Rosedale, or even the $500,000 or more you'd pay for a home in Brampton.

And commute time wise its just a short Go train ride to downtown Toronto, bypassing all the traffic nonsense on the way. If you work in downtown Toronto like I do it sounds pretty ideal.

I am getting my numbers from the Weavers Mill - Georgetown Homes website and other info about the project they have online. They're building a collection of townhouses in downtown Georgetown with a 'stylish' flair that is meant to attract young, hip Canadians to buy a home there because the homes in Toronto are too expensive and overpriced in comparison.

I personally would love to own a home in downtown Toronto, but frankly I can't afford it. But Georgetown I could afford and that makes it a very attractive proposition for me. The fact that its a townhome appeals to me too. It makes it more ideal for singles or young couples. If I get married and start looking for a place outside of Toronto, I hope there is still some homes left for me in that price range.

Below is a copy of a rendering of one of the townhomes from the Weavers Mill project. Looks good, doesn't it? The opening begins November 13th 2010.

Officer Bubbles suing random people

CANADA - If you left a comment on YouTube about "Officer Bubbles" chances are likely you are now being sued for $1.2 million by Toronto Police Const. Adam Joseph, aka "Officer Bubbles". See: Officer Bubbles suing YouTube.

Adam Joseph wants YouTube to reveal the confidential names of people who commented on the cartoons so he can sue them for $1.2 million each. YouTube is hesitant about releasing the names, it would set a bad precedent and could spark a slew of lawsuits for breaching that confidentiality agreement.

In comes Todd Mara, 33 of Hamilton, a married man with two children. Mara thought it was a joke when he watched the series of cartoons depicting "Officer Bubbles" arresting everyone from Santa Claus to Barack Obama. Mara has come forward of his own free will, intending to defend his right to post comments on YouTube.

“I mentioned, according to what I saw in the video, that he’s an egomaniac,” says Mara. “I stand by what I did. I thought he was out of line.”

Mara says he “forgot about Officer Bubbles” and his comment and hasn’t used his YouTube account for months.

“Now all of a sudden, Officer Bubbles is back in my life. I never asked for this,” says Mara. “I don’t know why this guy wants to draw more attention to himself. I can’t figure it out. It’s ridiculous.”

Its a bit of a farce really.

In the cartoon Officer Bubbles arrests random people.

And in reality Officer Bubbles / Const. Adam Joseph is suing random people for defamation.

In his statement of claim, Josephs suggests the cartoons and comments are “false and devastatingly defamatory” for implying that he is a narcissist, among other things.

The cartoons were removed from YouTube by the original creator, but copies of them have since reappeared on YouTube and have been uploaded by other users. He can't sue them all, and even if he does, other users will just upload new copies of the videos. It will be a never ending struggle and endless defamation lawsuits.

But how can it really be defamation? If you do something and get a reputation because of it, you DESERVE that reputation. People talking about something you did is just a natural and reasonable reaction.

"You reap what you sow."

October 18, 2010

Canadian Winters: Are they really so bad?

CANADA/ENVIRONMENT - We are firm believers that Canadian winters aren't as bad as some people think they are.

Although I should point out that 90% of Canadians lived in the southern 20% of the country.

But seriously, how cold is Canada? Not very, as far as 2010 is concerned, which has broken almost every heat record in the book and is on its way to becoming the hottest year ever recorded in Canada.

Still, depending on where you go in Canada the temperatures in the winter can drop to as much as -50 C. That is enough to freeze your gonads off. ie. The kind of weather in which you're wishing you had hired someone else to do your snow removal for the driveway.

And if its consistently cold then your heating bills just keep going up. You could try cutting back, but we find its usually better to just insulate your home better. See my blog post about Eco Renovations in Canada or go out and research ways to insulate your home better.

ie. One really good way to save is when you're building your home in the first place is to use economical energy saving materials, like insulated concrete forms, energy efficient PVC trim and insulated metal roofs.

Outside your home we recommend wearing scarves, hats, a hoodie, gloves/mittens... and if its really COLD outside, thermal underwear!

And if you don't expect to get a cold, frostbite or both. At the very least you might get dry skin and need to buy some natural skincare products.

But for all our complaints don't forget about all the wonderful winter sports we enjoy in Canada, starting with hockey. (Curling isn't a real sport in my opinion. It sounds too much like sex to be taken seriously.)

Check out:
Wayne Gretzky
Hockey Fight in Canada
Women's Hockey at a Crossroads

However regardless of where we live in Canada, we all make fun of how cold it is in Siberia. When we're not making Newfy jokes that is.

"Hey, that is offensive against Newfies!"

October 17, 2010

Sintel

ENTERTAINMENT - "Sintel" is a free to download short film (see download options here or watch the YouTube video below) about a young woman who is trying to rescue her friend, a baby dragon named Scales. The video itself is 12.5 minutes long + 2.5 minutes of credits, but its a visually stunning and captivating short animation.

Made by The Blender / The Blender Foundation (see their other works: Big Buck Bunny and Elephant's Dream) the short combines some of the highest standards for animation skills, including fast action sequences, fires, landscapes and complex facial features/expressions.

The big difference however is that this isn't a multi-million dollar production, but a small international team of animators who use an open source, free software which allows animators to add their own graphics and improve upon the work of others instead of starting from scratch.



Officer Bubbles suing YouTube

CANADA - Constable Adam Josephs, aka Officer Bubbles, aka that idiot from the G20 police who threatened to arrest a girl for blowing bubbles during the protests, is currently suing YouTube in an effort to find out the identity of YouTube user "theforcebewithme" who has been making cartoons called "Officer Bubbles" in response to Adam Joseph's overhanded approach to dealing with bubble-blowing protestors.

The defamation lawsuit, for $1.2 million, wants the identity of "theforcebewithme", a 59-year-old Torontonian revealed so he can be added to the lawsuit.

Unfortunately for Constable Adam Josephs the user "theforcebewithme" has since deleted their YouTube account, but the damage is already done. The "Officer Bubbles" videos can still be found on a variety of video-sharing websites including Facebook, where the videos have been posted by third-parties.

“If the bubble touches me, you’re going to be arrested for assault.” - Constable Adam Josephs.
So the question then becomes can Officer Bubbles/Adam Josephs track down every video and get them all deleted? Hardly. The genie is out of the bottle and his actions at the G20 will live on in infamy.

Adam Josephs also wants the identities of 24 other people who posted comments about him, hoping to sue them as well for defamation.

Sheesh.

Some people really need to develop a thicker skin. Its just comments. Adam Josephs deserves his reputation due to the nature of his actions. He is just over-reacting all over again.



“I thought my opinion was my opinion in this country. I probably might not even post anymore,” says “theforcebewithme,” who as a 59-year-old government employee originally from New Brunswick with a talent for making cartoons is hardly a figure worthy of such a ridiculous lawsuit.

What is interesting is that Adam Josephs’ lawsuit isn’t targeting the video that sparked his infamy (the one showing what he actually did), but a collection of eight cartoons which show a cartoon police officer resembling Josephs engaging in abusive acts of power. In the cartoons “A. Josephs” arrests Santa Claus, U.S. President Barack Obama, a woman for dancing in the streets and punches a news photographer.

Adam Josephs claims the cartoons have brought him “ridicule, scandal and contempt both personally and as a member of the (Toronto Police Service).”

BUT HE IS WRONG!

The cartoons didn't do that at all. He brought ridicule, scandal and contempt upon himself by "acting like a major prick", according to YouTube users. He deserves to be ridiculed and shamed for his actions. He must be some kind of moron, says one YouTube user, because he still doesn't get it. HE DID SOMETHING WRONG, IT WAS CAUGHT ON CAMERA AND HE DESERVES HIS NEWFOUND REPUTATION.

The public reaction against what Adam Josephs did shows that Canadians, THE VAST MAJORITY OF THEM, disapprove of his actions.

Just look at some of the comments people said about Adam Josephs:

“If this steroid addicted Nazi has children, they must be sooooo embarrassed.”

“I think they’re trying to control the situation and, in reality, it’s just making it worse for the guy,” says one YouTube user.

It should be noted that in Canada our comments, thoughts, opinions and beliefs are protected by Section 2B of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Furthermore, under defamation law we are also free of guilt if our beliefs are reasonable and could be held by anyone. Thus, considering the amount of public outcry against Officer Bubbles, its a belief that many Canadians share and therefore a waste of the courts time to be suing people for a belief or opinion that many Canadians share.

Furthermore, and this is the most important one... you can't sue someone for defamation if the person suing is already infamous. ie. During the 1970s an infamous Quebec mobster once sued Macleans magazine for writing an article about him. He did win in court because the magazine had stretched the truth a little, but was awarded only 1 dollar because he was already infamous.

Food for Thought
"People should be judged based on their actions, and if the public finds someone's actions deplorable then they deserve their newfound infamy. The only person they have to blame is themselves."

October 13, 2010

Rocco Rossi drops out of Toronto mayoral race

CANADA - Seriously... who was going to vote for a bald guy named Rocco Rossi???

According to polls 4% of Torontonians were thinking of voting for the leftwing bald man with glasses who looks a bit like legendary villain Lex Luthor (Superman's arch enemy).

Today Rocco Rossi quit the Toronto mayor’s race after a new poll showed he was dead last and his meagre support collapsing while Rob Ford and George Smitherman fought in the 30% range.

Unlike Sarah Thomson who dropped out 2 weeks ago and supported George Smitherman, Rossi has decided to quietly drop out and not endorse any other candidates.

The Ipsos Reid poll conducted over the Thanksgiving weekend gave the following numbers:

Rob Ford 30% (who a few weeks ago was leading at 45.8%)
George Smitherman 31%
Joe Pantalone 11%
Rocco Rossi 4%

25% of respondents remain undecided. The poll’s margin of error is 4.9%, 19 times out of 20.

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Update 7

ENTERTAINMENT - Do you love fantasy MMORPGs or online roleplaying games?

Well then you'd probably love Dungeons & Dragons Online, the game which has it all... dungeons, dragons, undead, ogres, giants, orcs, sea monsters and more. It even has underwater combat.

And coming in update 7, DDO will also be introducing two new races: Half-Orcs and Half-Elves.

On top of that there will also be special new quests and a live event just for Halloween where the dead rise up in one of the graveyards and start attacking everyone. One of the quests even has a Spectral Dragon. A ghost dragon? That is just nasty.

Oh and there's also a new quest where you travel back in time and fight demons attacking the marketplace.

Meanwhile we're still waiting for gnomes and druids to be added to the list of playable races and classes.

The Top Supercars in the World

CARS - In no particular order...

Pagani Zonda
Horsepower - 594
Price - $320,000 to over $1 million
Max Speed – 215mph
Rentable - Yes
Regarded as representing the more passionate, bonkers end of the supercar market, this is a favourite of Top Gear`s Richard Hammond for its bold styling and incredibly performance.

Joss
Horsepower - 469
Price - $600,000 est.
Max Speed – 210 mph
Rentable - No
Australian made, the Joss featured in two Project Gotham racing games for the Xbox 360 before it had even made it into production. Its looks borrow heavily from the fabled McLaren F1.

Gumpert Apollo
Horsepower – 641 to 690
Price - $260,000
Max Speed – 223.9mph
Rentable - Yes
With racing pedigree, fierce styling and killer performance stats the Gumpert Apollo has won many fans and held on to the top spot on Top Gear`s power lap rankings until it was unseated by the Bugatti Veyron SS.

Lamborghini Murciélago
Horsepower -572 to 631
Price - $354,000 to $450,000
Max Speed – 211mph
Rentable - Yes
A favourite of footballers and film stars, the Murciélago as part of Lamborghini`s revival after the decadent legacy left by the Diablo and Countach in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Lamborghini Miura
Horsepower – 350 to 380
Price – Original cost of $20,000 current cost ranging between $200,000 and $800,000
Max Speed – 171mph
Rentable -No
Dating from the mid 60s the Miura is the Italian answer to the Ford GT40, with bug-eyed headlights and a bonnet that seems to stretch for miles.

Laraki Fulgura
Horsepower - 920
Price – $555,750 est.
Max Speed – 247mph
Rentable - No
Although it is based on Lamborghini`s Diablo, the Fulgura is a refined supercar originating in Morocco and coming with an emphasis on performance with its carbon fibre construction and natty gull wing doors.

Ferrari Enzo
Horsepower - 651
Price - $659,330
Max Speed – 226mph
Rentable -Yes
A modern classis, the Enzo takes its name from Ferrari`s founder and its technology from the high end world of Formula 1 racing, complete with sharp looks and performance to boot.

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition
Horsepower - 640
Price - $540,000 est.
Max Speed – 209mph
Rentable -No
Forged to celebrate a victory by famous racing driver Stirling Moss, this 2006 special edition of Mercedes` seminal supercar has all the thrusting presence of an icon.

Ford GT90
Horsepower - 720
Price - $3,000,000 development cost
Max Speed – 235mph
Rentable -No
This concept car took a significant departure from the muscular looks of previous entrants in the GT series, with rounded edges and a domed windscreen this mid-90s supercar looked thoroughly futuristic.

Lamborghini Gallardo
Horsepower – 493 to 562
Price - $200,000 to $240,000
Max Speed – 192 to 202mph
Rentable - Yes
The Lamborghini Gallardo has proved so popular that over 10,000 have been made and its bold styling that mixes sharp edges with curves make it a legend amongst modern supercars.

Bugatti Veyron SS
Horsepower - 1200
Price - $2.4 million
Max Speed – 257.91mph artificial limit and 267mph record speed.
Rentable - Yes
Taking the already astronomically fast Veyron and then upping the horsepower and max speed meant this Super Sport special edition could wow on the Top Gear Test Track and leave car lovers drooling.

Keating TKR
Horsepower - 2000
Price - $633,000
Max Speed – 260.1mph
Rentable - No
The insane horsepower in this beast is paired with a shell that resembles the Pagani Zonda and a McLaren F1 combined.

Ultimate Aero
Horsepower – 1062 to 1287
Price - $190,000 to $970,000
Max Speed – 236 – 272mph theoretical top speed
Rentable - No
This car has been vying to hold and break the land speed record for a production car and its wide, wacky styling blended with bold colour schemes has not escaped the attention of supercar fans.

Hennessey Venom GT
Horsepower – 725 to 1000
Price - $600,000 est.
Max Speed – 200mph
Rentable - No
This is a supercar that looks like something Batman might come up with if it got his hands on a Lotus Elise. With an all-black body, plenty of fins, black alloys and a perky spoiler this is the Dark Knight of the supercar world.

Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
Horsepower - 750
Price - $585,296
Max Speed – 248mph
Rentable - No
With unfussy supercar good looks, stellar performance figures and a US heritage the twin turbocharged Saleen S7 gives European manufacturers a run for their money.

Koenigsegg CCXR
Horsepower - 1064
Price - $1.2 million
Max Speed – more than 250mph
Rentable - Yes
Given that Forbes magazine voted the CCXR as one of the most beautiful vehicles in history little need be said about its exterior and interior styling, other than that it is as close to perfection as possible.

Vector W8
Horsepower - 625
Price - $455,000 original cost, current prices range between $200,000 and $1 million.
Max Speed – 220mph
Rentable - No
This relic of the late 80s looks like something that Lamborghini would have made if they wanted to be even more outrageous. Made with Kevlar, carbon fibre and aviation-grade rivets, this is angular excess in all its glory.

McLaren F1
Horsepower - 627
Price – $970,000 original price, $2 million to over $4 million current price.
Max Speed – 231mph to 240mph
Rentable -Yes
This car still holds the world speed record for a naturally aspirated road legal vehicle and its central driver position, gull wing doors and classic sleek styling make it one of the most famous supercars on the planet.

Locus Plethore
Horsepower - 750
Price – $395,000
Max Speed – 240mhp est.
Rentable - No
Canada`s first supercar has an aggressive, almost feline face, a squat stance and aerodynamic design that definitely help it to stand out from the supercar crowd.

Zenvo ST1
Horsepower - 1104
Price - $1 million est.
Max Speed – 233mph
Rentable - No
This Danish bombshell is characterised by angular scoops and air intakes and a body that shares similarities with the Bugatti Veyron and the Gumpert Apollo, which makes for an interesting mix.

Porsche Carrera GT
Horsepower - 605
Price - $440,000
Max Speed – 244.5mph
Rentable -Yes
This elongated Porsche has a carbon fibre frame and offers fans of the German manufacturer a supercar to treasure.

Jaguar XJ220
Horsepower -
Price - $650,000
Max Speed – 220mph
Rentable -No
At seven feet wide and 16 long the XJ220 won admiration in the early 1990s for its unabashed opulence.

RUF RT-12
Horsepower – 530 to 560
Price - $372,000
Max Speed – 219mph
Rentable -No
Looking like a Porsche 997 on steroids, the RUF RT-12 is one mean machine.

Ascari A10
Horsepower - 625
Price – $650,000
Max Speed – 220mph
Rentable -No
The supercar equivalent of a wasp, the Ascari A10 has insect-like headlights, a yellow colour scheme and a rounded behind that is reminiscent of certain Lotus models.

Noble M600
Horsepower - 650
Price - $317,000
Max Speed – 225mph
Rentable - No
Its baby-blue colour scheme may make it look a little light on style, but for raw power it has been enough to impress Top Gear`s Jeremy Clarkson.

Caparo T1
Horsepower - 575
Price - $480,000
Max Speed – 205mph
Rentable - Yes
With the looks of a Lemans racer and the performance to match, this is unlike any other two seater road vehicle you will have ever seen before.

Maserati MC12
Horsepower - 620
Price - $830,000
Max Speed – 205mph
Rentable - Yes
This is Maserati`s take on Ferrari`s Enzo and although the chassis is the same the finish is bigger, bolder and far more track-focused, making it an excellent choice for whatever car hire Cyprus has to offer.

Conservatives Record Budget Deficit

CANADA - Canada's budget deficit has hit a record $55.6 billion CDN, the 2nd time in two years that our budget deficit has exceeded $40 billion CDN. Our two-year budget for the time period is over $100 billion.

Indeed we are so far in debt the budget won't be balanced until 2015, and even then we will have billions upon billions of debt which will have to be paid off by... guess who, us and our children.

Or alternatively, maybe its time we raised corporate taxes instead of making the poor and the middle class pay for everything? Seriously, its the corporations and banks who got us into this financial mire in the first place. We should be taxing them to get out of it.

And we should note Canada didn't even have a bank bailout. We had an industry wide "stimulus package"... except all the stimulus money was mysteriously all spent in Conservative ridings creating jobs often in parts of Canada which didn't even need the stimulus money.

And to top it all off, the stimulus money came with a giant cheque with the Conservative Party logo on it... and was contingent upon a photo shoot. See Stephen Harper misusing public funds.

How corrupt can our government get?

Meanwhile Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is now saying Canada's economy is “fragile” and “uneven” and that we might have to do another stimulus package... which means EVEN MORE money for Conservative ridings, even more giant cheques with Conservative Party logos on it, and even more money wasted while the Canadian economy gets flushed down the toilet.

Jim Flaherty's stimulus package has been about as useful as a Tim Hortons in the middle of Lake Ontario. He's forgotten the primary rule of business: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Question: Where is the hardest hit location in all of Canada during this recession?

Answer: Windsor Ontario.

Question: How much stimulus money has the Conservative government spent in Windsor Ontario?

Answer: None, because they voted Liberal during the last election.

It makes no difference if the Conservatives boost the economy in Alberta, Alberta's economy is booming already because of the tar sands. Its the provinces and cities which are the hardest hit that need the help and they're not getting any help at all.

Here is another question for you: How much does the Finance Minister of Canada get paid? He's not doing his job very well, maybe it is time he took a pay cut.

Obama is Palin's 10th Cousin

POLITICS - According to Ancestry.com President Barack Obama, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin are all cousins. 10th cousins specifically.

The online genealogy service Ancestry.com now reports that Obama and Palin are 10th cousins, and Obama and Limbaugh are 10th cousins once removed. In both cases, the ties date to the 1600s.

Obama’s distant family ties to former president George W. Bush and former vice-president Dick Cheney surfaced during his presidential campaign. Obama is also a distant cousin of billionaire investor Warren Buffett and actor Brad Pitt, according to Ancestry.com.

“It just shows how all of these politicians, they’re on different sides of the political spectrum, but in the end they’re all part of what makes America great, and they all go back to deep American roots,” says Anastasia Tyler, the lead genealogist on the project.

Obama’s white, Kansas-born mother’s side of the family dates back quite far and according to genealogyofpresidents.blogspot.com almost all the U.S. presidents in recent history are descendants of Charlemagne, the French King and Emperor of Rome.

Both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama can track their family trees back to Massachusetts settler John Smith, a Protestant pastor in the 1670s who opposed the persecution of Quakers. Smith’s wife was the sister of one of the first governors of the Plymouth Bay colony, Thomas Hinckley. Hinckley’s father, Samuel, is the familial link between Obama and Bush.

In some cases there is more than 1 connection between some presidents. Almost like a small town with a limited gene pool.

Obama’s and Limbaugh’s common ancestor is Richmond Terrell, who settled in Virginia around 1656 and acquired a large amount of land.

Everyone is related if you go back far enough, but its less likely to be in recent centuries. Although if the presidents are all descended from the early settlers you realize that there really was very FEW early settlers.

But boy oh boy, they must have had a lot of children.

October 11, 2010

Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner dedicates it to victims of Tiananmen Square

POLITICS - Imprisoned pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo has dedicated his Nobel Peace Prize winnings to the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Liu has been imprisoned in China for XX years for promoting democracy in the Communist country.

Liu Xia, the wife of Liu Xiaobo, was recently allowed to visit him in prison and said the following in a Twitter message:

“Brothers, I have returned,” she wrote. “Seen Xiaobo. The prison told him the news about his award on the night of the 9th.”

The Norwegian-based Nobel Peace Prize committee named Liu the winner on Friday, honouring Liu’s more than two decades of advocacy of human rights and peaceful democratic change, including demonstrations for democracy at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and a manifesto for political reform that he co-authored in 2008 and which led to his latest jail term.


The Chinese government meanwhile refuses to admit the Tiananmen Square Massacre ever happened, and continues to face international ridicule for refusing to come clean about the events in June 1989 when it sent in the army and tanks to disperse a crowd in Tiananmen Square and ultimately killed 7,000 to 10,000 Chinese people.

Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an 11 year prison sentence. The 54-year-old literary critic is hardly a dangerous figure, but his advocacy of democracy and change in China is seen as a threat to China's ruling Communist party. His wife Liu Xia is currently under house arrest and has had her cellphone connection cut.

Liu’s wife has said she hopes to go to Norway to collect the Nobel medal and its prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.5 million) and then following her husband's wishes, she will attempt to distribute the funds to families of the Tiananmen Square Massacre victims. Its not a lot, about $150 to each of 10,000 families, but its a lot more than the Chinese government is willing to do.

October 9, 2010

IKEA and Wal-Mart going Green Energy

ENVIRONMENT - IKEA and Wal-Mart are both going green on the rooftops of their shopping centers across North America, but the difference is in how they are doing it.

In IKEA`s case they`re making a solid profit by generating electricity by installing 3,790 solar panels on the rooftops of IKEA stores in North York, Etobicoke and Vaughan. Altogether the 4,800 square meters of solar panels covers approx. 60% of a Canadian football field (Canadian football fields are bigger than American football fields) and will produce 960,000 kilowatt hours annually, enough for over 100 houses.

IKEA is being paid 71.3 cents per kilowatt hour, which means they pay off their investment faster and over time the price per kilowatt hour will drop until the province is paying a more reasonable rate.

For the province it means extra energy and for IKEA it means their store has an extra source of revenue and free electricity forever. Initially IKEA will get $684,000 in annual revenue from the investment of $4.6 million spent on the solar panels. As the price for the electricity will drop later as more and more companies get on the bandwagon eventually lots of buildings will have their own solar arrays and be putting electricity back into the grid.

Better yet, its cheaper to transmit electricity locally over short distances. Building power lines over long distances is expensive and the amount of electricity that is lost transmitting electricity over long distances is very wasteful.

IKEA is also planning to install geothermal units to make their stores cheaper to heat and cool.

IKEA says its solar installations are the biggest to be owned and operated by a commercial retailer in Canada.

But wait IKEA, you may not have that title for very long. Wal-Mart is also planning to get into the green energy business and as typical of the American goliath Wal-Mart wants to do in a big way.

Wal-Mart`s proposal right now is to build a wind turbine on top of its environmental demonstration store in Burlington. They still need approval from the Burlington Town Council, but if it goes ahead it could signal many more companies doing the same thing and Wal-Mart expanding that idea to put wind turbines on every store they own across North America... pending approval of course.

But the approval will likely get the go ahead because its on commercial land, not residential land or farms. Plus there is a 2nd turbine already being built nearby.

In this case the wind turbine is more for show than actual energy production. Burlington isn`t known for being particularly windy and the turbine will only be making about enough to power a couple houses.

Wal-Mart is also planning to get into the solar business and install geothermal in their stores to save money on heating and AC.

Just imagine is all the companies and corporations in North America realized the energy and money they could be saving by switching to green energy. People have no excuse not to explore their options.

October 7, 2010

New Ontario power planted axed

CANADA/ENVIRONMENT - The Ontario government has axed plans to build a dirty and controversial gas-fired power plant in Oakville. Community activists banded together to oppose the dirty power plant, threatening to overthrow MPP Kevin Flynn during the next election if the power plant went ahead. Flynn himself was against the plant and fought his own party over the divisive gas plant.

The new plant would have been next door to the Ford factory and close to homes and schools, but thankfully the plans to build the plant have been cancelled.

More so the power plant will not be built anywhere in Ontario. Period.

Instead the province will have to build more solar and wind projects to make up the difference... which means the windmill hating NIMBYs will just have to suck it up and remind themselves it could have easily been a gas-powered plant in their neighbourhood instead.

Some people just don't get it yet. Ontario has a power shortage. We need more electricity. We are either importing expensive electricty from the USA (which means your electricity rates will go up) or we have to build new sources of electricity... which means dirty coal, dirty gas, over-budget nuclear plants or lots of windmills and solar panels.

The proposed new gas plant would have provided 900 megawatts of power, but now that will be replaced with new supply and conservation efforts.

Residents opposed to the plant gained a lot of attention earlier this week when famed California activist Erin Brockovich, who successfully fought a polluting California power company, attended several fundraising events to help fight the plant.

October 6, 2010

2 Degree Temperature Increase in Canada

CANADA/ENVIRONMENT - Canada has a lot to lose if the global mean temperature rises by 2 degrees, according to a new climate change report released in Ottawa Tuesday. See "Degrees of Change".

Up north, Canada’s Arctic sea ice will be halved, runoff in the Saskatchewan River basin would be reduced, and shipping through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway would cost more.

The report is the first ever comprehensive illustration of expected climate change in Canada, a joint project of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

The details of the research is covered in depth on the website above, as well as in the October issue of Canadian Geographic.

The 2 degree temperature increase will also have an effect on Canadian resources, Halifax’s rising harbour, and an impact on health care.

The website also has a detailed poster/map that looks at what would happen to Canada if the temperature increases between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius.

Other changes include:

Western mountain glaciers losing 50 per cent of their volume;

More deaths from heat waves;

More deaths from poor air quality;

Loss of boreal forest and tundra;

Polar bear populations at risk of extinction;

Exposure to vector borne diseases;

Compromised water quality;

More water-borne disease outbreaks.

"When will we ever learn from our mistakes?"

October 5, 2010

The Four Deadly Business Sins

POLITICS - When you're in business you want to make money. That is a requirement. But you don't want to lose sight of the fact that you're still beholden to your customers who keep coming back to you and help to maintain your reputation.

1. The Sin of Sloth

If you're too lazy to do your homework and learn the ins and outs of your business, what things to invest in, what things are a waste of time/resources and just expect somebody else to do all the "real work" while you sit on your butt and expect the dollars to roll in then you deserve to go bankrupt when the market suddenly shifts and you're no longer needed.

If you're working for a boss then its important your boss sees your hard work and knows you aren't a lazy-good-for-nothing.

One of the primary reasons people are lazy is because of lack of time. The answer to this is to prioritize your goals, make a list and then JUST DO IT. Schools in North America don't focus much on financial and business education and its no wonder many people the lack common business sense of:

HARD WORK = STRONG PAYOFF

Sloth is often a sin you can get away with over the short term, but if you seriously want to earn the trust/respect of your clients, your boss, whomever is paying you then you need to do hard work.

2. The Sin of Pride

Feeling like you're better than your competitors or thinking you have entitlement to something doesn't mean you really are the best in your field. You just THINK you are and your delusion will be your own undoing if you're putting money into something and then lose your shirt because you lacked the common sense to realize you aren't as great as you think you are.

Humility therefore is a good business virtue. There is no need to brag. Let other people brag for you.

Pride can often come back to haunt you in a business. Refusing to serve a customer, thinking you're smarter than your financial advisor, bragging about how much money you make and the loss of face when people realize you're a phoney.

Pride can make you do stupid things, like investing all your money in one thing because you're certain it will go up in value.

Pride also means you don't know when to cut your losses, like thinking Nortel stock will go back up to $120 / share and instead riding it down all the way until you lose everything.

3. The Sin of Envy

Just because someone else is doing well in a particular field of expertise doesn't mean you will too. That kind of thinking can cause you to take risks when its quite clear you don't know as much as that someone who "just made a killing" in that field.

Its human nature to want your fair share, but you're only going to get it if you earn it. Some people do get lucky, but thats extremely rare. Lucky people are usually only lucky temporarily and they lose that luck later down the road. Some days you're riding high and other days you're in the gutter.

The more practical solution is to ignore the winnings of others and focus on what you know, what you can learn, how you can improve your business and then take improve your lot in life. Trying to copy what someone else did is more likely to backfire.

4. The Sin of Greed

All businessmen are greedy, but the difference is whether that greed is driven by necessity or lust for power. Necessity = Money for food, mortgage, family, etc. Lust for Power means you just want to show off to all your friends and throw your weight around when you haven't really earned it.

Stock markets are driven by fear and greed. Usually greed wins out and the lack of fear (the realization that you should sell that stock before its worthless) goes back to the pride issue again. But sometimes its not all pride. Greed trumps pride, greed says that the potential winnings is worth the risk and you forget that you are more likely to lose. Fear at least means you're being cautious and want to avoid losing everything. Greed can cause you to ignore your fears on the slim chance you win big.

Greed is ultimately unrealistic. It expects that your investment of time or money will lead to a huge payoff instead of a modest one.

Some people are so greedy they invest their life savings, their retirement, on the slim chance they could retire as millionaires. But instead they just lose everything and end up living with their children or in a bargain-basement home for the elderly.

Greed can also cause people to wait too long when cashing in for a profit when the wisest solution is to cash in early while its still high: “No one ever went broke taking a profit.”

Greed can also lead to people leveraging their homes in an effort to invest in something. This can have dire consequences when the market goes belly up and your house disappears.

Greed can cause you to charge too much for a product even though its not worth that much. Do your research and sell it at a reasonable level, thereby insuring you will sell more of them to a wider audience.

"Never forget that business stands for busy-ness. If you are busy at working hard then your business will thrive."

Stem Rust threatens Global Wheat Production

HEALTH/TECHNOLOGY - A virulent form of fungus / stem rust known as Ug99 (it was first discovered in Uganda) is now threatening the world's wheat production. Wheat in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Iran and South Africa are already infected.

Scientists fear the fungus will show up in India and Pakistan soon and eventually travel to North America, effecting wheat production in Canada and the United States.

The good news is that wheat farmers in North America at least have the option of buying stem rust resistant breeds of wheat, and scientists are working to genetically create new breeds of wheat which are even more resistant to stem rust. We also have access to fungicides to combat the stem rust.

But overseas such stem rust resistant wheat doesn't exist yet and the seeds are expensive, and the fungicide and the machinery needed to spray fungicide isn't really available. As it currently stands 80% of the world's wheat production is vulnerable to Ug99.

Ug99 is a strain of stem rust fungi that eats its way into the tissues of wheat and barley, eventually killing the plant by sucking nutrients and water from the plant. The plant shrivels, shrinks and then dies. The fungus spores germinate quickly and it only takes 10 to 14 days for a single spore to reproduce and make thousands of more spores.

Since its discovery and spreading chaos scientists are in “a race against time” to develop new strains that are resistant to the fungus because the spores easily spread due to wind patterns.

Scientists working at the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat Project at Cornell University say it will likely take between 8 to 10 years to create a new line of genetically modified wheat and have it ready for farmers.

The real worry say scientists is the possibility of a wheat shortage, skyrocketing wheat prices and “geopolitical repercussions”.

The last time there was a stem rust outbreak it was 1916, during which wheat prices skyrocketed to $3 USD / bushel (approx. $60 USD today).

Grain prices are already pretty high due to the biodiesel industry, which has sparked food riots in North Africa and the Middle East.

Condom use highest amongst teens

SEX - If you thought teens were reckless about sex, you thought wrong.

According to a new study released yesterday American teens are not as reckless as some people might think when it comes to sex, and are the most likely age group to use condoms. People over the age of 40 are the least likely to use condoms.

The study of 5,865 Americans aged 14 to 94 by Indiana University sex researchers is the most comprehensive look at sex behaviors in the United States in the past 20 years and is not limited to just condom use. The peer-reviewed results can be found in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Some of the other findings include:

1 in 4 vaginal intercourse involves condom use; amongst unmarried people its one in three.

Condom use is highest among black and Hispanic Americans.

Only 14% of 14-year-old boys report any sexual interaction with a partner in the previous 3 months.

For 17-year-olds it is 40%. Findings were similar for women.

The study discovered many teens reach age 18 with no sexual experience, and for those who do have sex, condom use is routine (between 70 and 80%).

Vaginal intercourse is no longer considered the norm. Researchers discovered there are 41 common sexual practices, including oral and anal sex, and these have become more popular in the last 20 years.

“While vaginal intercourse is still the most common sexual behavior by adults, many sexual events do not involve intercourse,” says researcher Debra Herbenick.

85% of men say their sexual partner experienced orgasm during sex, but just 64% of women say they did. (21% of women therefore must be faking their orgasms.)

7% of women and 8% of men surveyed said they are gay, lesbian or bisexual, but the number of people who have had same-gender sex is actually a lot higher.

33% of women say they experienced pain during their most recent sex encounter, compared with 5% of men. More research is needed to understand why women more often experience pain during sex, but its believed to be caused by a lack of lubrication AFTER orgasm.

Men are more likely to experience orgasm when sex includes vaginal intercourse, while women are more likely to when they engage in a variety of sex acts and when oral sex or vaginal intercourse is included, the survey found.

“In order for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals to provide sexual health information to their patients, they must first have the understanding of what the sexual behaviors are in the community and how they are manifested,” says former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders.


In related news...
All men look at porn



See Also:
Sex Trivia
Double Standards & Sexuality
Virtual Sex Games

October 4, 2010

Unicorn sighting in Toronto?

CANADA/RELIGION - Amateur video by a birdwatcher in Toronto's Don Valley captured what appears to be an unicorn. Local birdwatcher Peter Hickey-Jones spotted the elusive and legendary creature and captured it on film. The video in question shows what appears to be a white horse with a single horn on its head emerging from the trees in the Don Valley wetland.

The video is being examined by the experts at the Ontario Science Centre, where it is reviewing the footage frame-by-frame to determine whether the video is genuine.

However this seems to be nothing more than a publicity stunt by the Ontario Science Centre itself, which has an upcoming exhibit about mythical creatures beginning October 9th.






The Ontario Science Centre is asking people to use caution if they see a unicorn and not to make any sudden movements or use flash photography. The OSC has even setup an Unicorn Hotline # at 416-696-3260 for people to report unicorn sightings... which is probably a clever ploy to invite people to visit their mythical creatures exhibit.

Unicorn Books




Unicorn Facts / Beliefs

Unicorns avoid contact with humans and prefer to remain unseen.

Unicorns myths are more common in European cultures.

Unicorn horns are believed to have curative properties.

The Asian unicorn, described as being scaly coated with the body of a deer and a flesh covered horn, was claimed to have been seen by the Chinese philosopher Confucius.

The 1620 edition of Historiae Animalium, a book describing all the animals living on Earth, includes a description of unicorns.

October 2, 2010

Shanghai Ponzi Scheme

POLITICS - Investing in real estate in Shanghai China probably sounds like a good investment right? You couldn't be farther from the truth.

According to investigations into Shanghai's real estate market the city is chock full of business towers and condominiums that are sitting empty because there isn't enough people in Shanghai who can afford to live or work in those buildings.

So instead those buildings are just sitting empty, but the real estate developers who built them are just building more and more because there is no shortage of stupid investors who are giving them money. If anything there is too many stupid investors, hence why so many of the buildings are empty.

According to independent investigations by economists and reported by the CBC (see CBC's Doc Zone: MELTDOWN #4) approximately 40% to 50% of Shanghai's office space is sitting empty. Another 50 to 60% of Shanghai's condiminiums are also empty. They measured this by tracking electricity usage in the buildings during different hours of the day and determined that the majority of these buildings don't even bother to turn the lights on.

So there's no money coming in from people renting or buying these buildings, they're basically just taking up space and collecting dust.

But to keep investors happy the real estate developers in Shanghai just keep building more and more, taking money from stupid investors. They then use that money to pay off their other investors in one gigantic Ponzi scheme that makes Bernie Madoff look like an amateur.

When Shanghai's real estate bubble eventually collapses (and history suggests this is inevitable) everyone who invested in real estate there is going to lose their shirts (regardless of whether the company they invested with was legitimate or not, because the prices will collapse).

And Shanghai isn't the only city in the world doing this. Many cities in China, Dubai in the UEE and other cities around the globe have been this for over a decade now. They're all going to collapse eventually.

Anybody with money in these Ponzi real estate schemes, regardless of whether they're a stock broker or just a pensioner with a pension fund, is going to lose their shirts when the collapse happens.

This is proof that the only real estate people should be investing in is their own.

October 1, 2010

Kim Jong Un's first appearance

POLITICS - Kim Jong Un, the young man who is being groomed as the eventual leader of North Korea, made his first public appearance Thursday. The chubby young man looked a bit bewildered but serious was picked as his father's replacement to lead North Korea because of his hardline against the United States and the western world.

His father, Kim Jong Il, suffered a stroke in August 2008 and since appeared in public looking significantly thinner and is now believed to be dying of cancer. His believed-to-be-28-years-old son Kim Jong Un is the only person being groomed as a replacement.

The impoverished country of North Korea has been conducting nuclear and missile tests in recent years and has developed the technology to launch nuclear missiles as far as Hawaii or Alaska when fired from mainland North Korea.

As part of Kim Jong Un's grooming process he is now in charge of domestic affairs within North Korea while his father continues to handle foreign affairs.

Meanwhile South Korea is still fuming about the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel back in the Spring which was sunk by a North Korean torpedoe. The USA and South Korea have been staging war games in recent months to ready for a possible war against North Korea.

Kim Jong Un was recently promoted to a four star general in the North Korean People’s Army, but photos were not released until after the affirmation of North Korea's new political elites in the biggest meeting of NK's Communist Party members in 30 years.

His two older brothers, Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong Chol, have fallen out of favour and were considered to be incompetent and/or too curious about western culture.

Kim Jong Il took over as North Korea’s leader in 1994 when his father (Kim Il Sung) died of heart failure in what became the first hereditary succession in the communist world. His son will be the third in succession to rule over North Korea with an iron fist (a somewhat chubby one).

The Ethics of Pacifism

RELIGION - Granted, pacifism is not a religion, but it is a philosophy, a belief and a code of conduct that many religions promote. Indeed even atheists promote pacifism and admonish religious war.

Quakers, Mennonites, Hare Krishna believers... the list of pacifistic religions is pretty long. The word "Islam" for example actually means "Peace".

But these religions also frequently allow for the possibility of war and violence, for the purpose of defending ourselves.

"The central principle of Pacifism is to avoid unnecessary violence, which by its very definition means that violence is sometimes necessary to defend the weak and the innocent." - Charles Moffat.

At its core Pacifism is all about not being a bully, a brute and a savage who just takes what they want and does what they want. Pacifism is about being honourable, courageous and choosing not to fight when there is no need to fight.

In Pop Culture we can refer to the Superman principle: "Superman doesn't kill." Ever. Oh sure, he may have wrecked a robot or several in his time, but they were always unintelligent automatons. Superman has never actually killed a living / thinking entity.

But that hasn't stopped him from fighting crime and super villains. The Pacifism principle isn't limited to Superman either, it is a trait common to many principled superheroes in comic books (althought obviously not Wolverine).

The 9 Principles of a True Pacifist

#1. Never kills or attacks an unarmed foe.
#2. Never harms an innocent.
#3. Never tortures for any reason.
#4. Never kills for pleasure.
#5. Always defends the weak and innocent.
#6. Works within the boundaries of the law when possible.
#7. Avoids breaking the law except in rare desperate circumstances.
#8. Believes in self-discipline (ie. controlling your temper).
#9. Never deliberately abuses their position or other people.


Contrary to what some people might think however, this doesn't mean a pacifist should be ignorant of the martial arts. Quite the opposite, if you look at #5 pacifists are expected to defend the weak and innocents and thus a knowledge of how to defend oneself and others is necessary.

Bodyguards, peace keepers, anyone who works in the defense of others should be respected as pacifists, but most importantly they must not abuse their authority (ie. police brutality).

Civil rights leader Malcolm X for example is a good example of pacifism at work. He believed people should behave with honour and integrity, but he also believed people have the right to defend themselves and others.

Some people might think this means pacifism is all black and white. For the most part this is correct, but there is some grey areas... for example torture could be seen as a necessity in dire circumstances, but only if it can proven that the person being tortured actually possesses the knowledge which can be used to save people. Torturing someone without proof that they possess such knowledge, torturing for the purpose of pleasure, and likewise torturing someone out of anger and revenge is contradictory to the principles of pacifism.

“My pacifism is an instinctive feeling, a feeling that possesses me because the murder of men is disgusting. My attitude is not derived from any intellectual theory but is based on my deepest antipathy to every kind of cruelty and hatred.” - Albert Einstein.

Double Dip Recession in 2010?

CANADA - According to Statistics Canada the Canadian Economy shrunk 0.1% in July 2010, signaling the possibility of a double dip recession. If the economy shrunk in August as well, it will mean we really are in a double dip recession.

Meanwhile consumer spending in the United States is also down, suggesting the Americans aren't doing much better.

The Canadian economy did grow 5.8% in January to March 2010, so Canada's GDP is still up for the year, but the danger of a double dip recession is that Canadians are already suffering under high unemployment so a second round of layoffs could be devastating to the economy and cause a spiral effect.

Only the mining and finance/insurance sectors in Canada posted a gain in July. All other sectors were down. The biggest decrease was forestry and logging, down 4.6% due to a drop in exports.

The Bank of Canada has hiked short-term interest rates by 0.75% since June in three separate 25-point increases and many economists think it was too early to be making those increases when the economy is still fragile.

The only bright side is that the Christmas shopping season is coming up, which should loosen up wallets and spur growth. However we should note it only helps the North American economy when you buy things made in Canada or the USA. Buying things made in Japan or China isn't helping.

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