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July 29, 2012

Legally Blind Korean sets Olympic record in Archery

A South Korean man who is legally blind has set a new record in Olympic archery.

In Friday’s ranking round, Korea’s Im Dong-Hyun broke the 72-arrow record he had set in Turkey in May by three points with a score of 699 and combined with teammates Kim Bub-min and Oh Jin-hyek, smashing the record for 216 arrows with a total 2,087. That was 18 better than the mark South Korea set in May.

Not bad for an athlete who says he just aims for a “blob of yellow colour” 70 metres away because he’s considered legally blind with 10% vision in his left eye and 20% in his right.

“It’s just the first round so I won’t get too excited about it,” he said.

Meanwhile Canadian Crispin Duenas had a score of 678 and came in 8th place in the opening round. If he can stay in the top group as the eliminations continue he will have a shot at a medal.

“I accomplished the underlying goal of today,” said Duenas, who will face Egypt’s Ahmed El-Nerm in the round of 32 on Monday. “The main goal was just to do my shot, which I’m going to say I did about 80 per cent of the time, the other 20 per cent would have put me up in the top five.”

Learn more about Crispin by reading Canadian Archers at the Olympics.

July 21, 2012

Understanding Gun Crime in Canada

The recent gun violence in Toronto has been in the news a lot lately, mostly the result of gang vs gang violence.

To put this in perspective here is some interesting statistics for gun crime in Canada.

In Canada in 2010 firearms were used in 1501 assaults, 673 threats, 2973 armed robberies, 55 sexual assaults, 187 attempted murders and 154 homicides.

The most common weapon used in homicides is a handgun, followed by a rifle or shotgun, a sawed off rifle or shotgun, and less common types.

Canada's gun crime rate per capita has been dropping steadily since 1975.

Now to put this in perspective compare to the USA, where gun crime has spiked since the recession in 2007-2009 and where homicides are listed in the 10s of thousands, attempted murders are pretty common, and assaults? Pff. America has so many assault victims annually it could fill a Canadian city.

The USA is apparently the kind of place where a gunman will open fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of the new Batman film. The shooter, James Eagan Holmes, killed 12 people and injured 58 others, making it the largest number of casualties during a shooting spree in American history.

Now here is an interesting point: Most shooting sprees are conducted by young men. James Eagan Holmes is 25.

Eric David Harris and Dylan Bennet Klebold (the Columbine High Massacre in 1999) were both 18.

Kimveer Gill (Dawson College shooting in Montreal) was 25.

Marc Lépine (École Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal) was 25.

The lions share of firearms homicides in the USA are by people between the ages of 16 and 25.

Seeing a pattern here?

It would make logical sense that if we simply didn't allow people under the age of 25 to purchase guns that the firearms crime rate in both Canada and the USA would drop significantly. It is self-evident that young men don't have the emotional maturity to have guns.

However preventing gun sales to people under the age of 25 would only solve part of the problem. What about guns that are stolen and unregistered? Most guns that are used in crimes are stolen and unregistered. That means people who own guns legally aren't doing enough to protect them from thieves.

The Benefits of Gun Safes

By Robert Lobitz.

Perhaps you have considered investing in a gun safe for your home or business but are not sure whether it is a worthwhile venture. Learning about some of the advantages of gun safes can help you decide if one would be a sensible purchase and a valuable addition to your gun collection, no matter the size.

We have all heard those tragic stories of a child accidentally shooting himself or another little one, or a teen despondent over a breakup getting ahold of a parent’s shotgun. Of course, if you own guns, your children should be taught at least basic firearm safety from a very young age. Keeping guns locked up in gun safes is an extra measure that will help protect your children, grandchildren and visitors, providing you with an added sense of security.

Another benefit of gun safes is that they safeguard your weapons from would-be thieves. If a burglar breaks into your home and is able to find your guns in a closet or simple cabinet, chances are good he will smash the glass front of the cabinet and take them without a second thought and either sell them in an illegal deal or use them to commit other crimes, which could ultimately be linked back to you. A thief who cases your house or burglarizes you only to find a sturdy, impenetrable safe will not even bother to try.

Gun safes can also protect your firearms from damage. If your home should be the victim of a fire, flood or other disaster, a high-quality safe can prevent your guns from being harmed or completely lost. They can also protect your guns from more minor damage such as dents, dings and mars. In addition, a gun safe may lower your homeowner’s insurance, as the insurance company is less likely to be required to pay for damaged firearms or injuries caused by misuse or mishandling of your guns.

Finally, gun safes can be quite attractive and affordable. If you decide to purchase a gun safe after learning the advantages of owning one, you are sure to find something that suits your style and budget.

July 13, 2012

Toronto hires new fire chief, but still short 100 firefighters

Do you know what a dozen is? Its 12, correct?

Well what if you went to the grocery store and bought a dozen eggs, came home, opened the carton and only found 8 eggs where there was supposed to be 12?

Well that is the situation for Toronto's Firefighters.

Toronto is missing 100 firefighters thanks to Mayor Rob Ford's budget cuts in 2011 (which came into effect in 2012). A lot of firefighters lost their jobs.

And now Toronto is getting a new fire chief. City staff announced yesterday (July 12th) that James (Jim) Sales had been hired as the new fire chief for Toronto. His previous 27 years experience includes serving as the general manager of community operations for the City of Barrie for 2008 - 2012, and the commissioner of community and fire services in Markham from 2001-2008 and previous to that, the fire chief for Markham from 2000-2001... And last but not least fire chief for the City of Edmonton from 1998-2000. Sales started off his career as a firefighter and EMS responder.

And we wish Jim Sales the best of luck (today is Friday the 13th) at his new job because he is going to need it. With a shortage of 100 firefighters what happens when there is a huge emergency?

eg. A huge fire like the 200 Wellesley fire or the huge Queen Street West fire?

Lets take for example the 335 Yonge Street fire from January 2011. It was a 6-alarm fire that took the manpower of 125 firefighters... and it was only a 3-storey building.

200 Wellesley was also a 6-alarm fire and was only a single apartment building. The problem was the firefighters weren't prepared for the size of the building because of how underfunded the Toronto firefighters are.

And now they're even MORE underfunded. Yes, okay, they have a new fire chief. Whoop-dee-do. He was probably hired for his experience in laying out pink slips and cutting back on "the gravy train" as Rob Ford likes to call it.

Yes, it is true that Toronto doesn't have as many fires as we did 100 years ago. People have become smarter, equipment better designed, etc so we have less accidental fires now. More brick and cement buildings helps too. But lets not dwell on the past.

We're talking about right now.

Toronto's fire service is underfunded, understaffed and just to make a quick prediction it wouldn't take much for a disaster to happen.

The 200 Wellesley fire got started due to a cigarette in an overcrowded apartment belonging to a hoarder (you know, the type of person who doesn't throw out old newspapers).

So lets imagine for a moment the same thing happens again. A hoarder leaves for the weekend. They leave a cigarette burning in an ash tray. It slips onto the floor and lights the carpet on fire... next thing you know the stack of newspapers is on fire...

And depending on when anyone notices the fire it could spread pretty quickly.

Now under the current plan being pushed by the city then Toronto's firefighters will just have to work overtime to replace people who were fired and not replaced (yes, the irony of firing firefighters). But consistently working overtime means a tired out workforce. Accidents happen. Higher chance of overworked firefighters being sent into dangerous situations they can't handle.

So taking all of this account what happens when you have understaffed, underfunded, overworked and exhausted firefighters?

Well here is some historical examples:

1906 - San Francisco USA earthquake + fire. The entire city is pretty much destroyed.

1917 - Halifax Canada, the largest man-made explosion before the atomic bomb. Killed 2000 people, injured 9000, burnt most of the city to the ground.

1923 - Kantō Japan earthquake + fire. Over 140,000 people killed in the blaze.

1945 - Tokyo Japan, WWII bombing raid caused the largest urban conflagration in history. Over 100,000 killed.

1947 - Texas City USA ship explosion + fire. 600 people killed.

1948 - Fukui Japan earthquake + fire. 46,000 buildings and houses destroyed.

1953 - Shek Kip Mei Hong Kong fire. 58,000 people homeless.

1961 - Bukit Ho Swee Singapore. 16,000 people homeless.

1988 - Lisbon Portugal fire. Seven square blocks of houses destroyed, 1000s homeless.

1995 - Kobe / Hanshin earthquake + fire. 6,400 people killed.

2003 - Canberra Australia fire, over 500 homes destroyed, 1000s homeless.

2011 - Manila Philippines fire, 8000 people left homeless.

2011 - Kesennuma Japan earthquake + fire. The entire city is pretty much destroyed.

Now admittedly Toronto isn't in a region known for earthquakes like Japan is, nor are we at war, and most of the city is spread out.

But that doesn't mean we should cutback on our firefighters, overwork them and hope that a disaster won't strike. Its the same reason why people get insurance. Firefighters are our insurance in the event a serious fire ever happens.

And it doesn't have to be a huge city wide fire to be a disaster. Even several city blocks would be enough to leave thousands of people homeless and Toronto's infrastructure would be sorely tested.

"Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone." - Jack London after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

July 9, 2012

Toronto Police arrest and beat up black man for playing basketball

In the video below you will see James Bishop being arrested and beaten with batons and attacked by 5 Toronto police officers. The silent security camera video shows that James Bishop was not behaving violently and that the police officers forced him to the ground, pinned him, and then proceeded to beat him a baton.

While three officers hold him down a fourth officer delivers six baton blows and three elbow jabs to the man’s body. A total of seven officers were involved in the incident.

Other players on the basketball court, including James Bishop's son, are visibly troubled by the violence they are seeing and several document what happens on their cellphone cameras. One of the officers then seizes and examines the cellphone after a confrontation with one of the players.

The incident happened in January 2011 and the video was uploaded in July of 2011, but it has taken another year before it started receiving media attention.

James Bishop is now suing Toronto Police and the YMCA, alleging he was the one assaulted while playing basketball with his son, then 11, and was arrested over a “civil dispute” over the status of his YMCA membership which never should have resulted in an arrest.

In a statement of claim filed in June 2012, Bishop, 43, and his family are seeking $2.3 million in damages and name eight officers and an unnamed ninth as defendants, as well as the YMCA and Toronto Police Services Board.

His arrest was a “brutal display of force” and it was “obvious that the intent was to inflict maximum pain" says the suit. James Bishop begged the officers to stop at one point because he could not breathe.

Medical records show he suffered a minor heart attack during the time of the arrest.

The suit also says police seized onlookers’ mobile phones and erased images of the arrest, which “strongly suggest that the police knew that their conduct was illegal.” The security video shows this happening.

Police claim Bishop resisted arrest but the video tells another story.

In the video a YMCA staff can be seen attempting to block one onlooker from documenting the arrest on a cellphone. This suggests the YMCA staff knew what was happening was wrong and were attempting to prevent footage of it.

Although not easy to see in the video, it is revealed in court documents that Constable Glen Espie, the officer who delivered the baton and elbow strikes, used pepper spray on Bishop as well.

All charges against James Bishop for trespassing were later withdrawn when it was revealed that his YMCA membership status was apparently fine and dandy. (The YMCA suspended his membership over a friendly bet on a basketball game, but refused to hear his side of the story.)

The police response for a trespassing call was overblown and has left an entire family “traumatized” says Bishop’s lawyer Osborne Barnwell.

After the incident an officer approached James Bishop's son and deliberately poked him hard in the side with a baton “with intent to hurt” states the suit.

At 43 Division station, Bishop was having chest pain and asked repeatedly to be taken to hospital. A desk sergeant told him “he was fine,” the suit alleges. After a shift change, a black officer took over and following another request by Bishop, an ambulance was called.

Medical records show Bishop had suffered a mild heart attack. He spent two days in hospital under police guard.

Months after the incident the arresting police officers also intimidated James Bishop in a hallway outside court, standing in a “bravado manner” and had their hands “positioned next to their guns,” states his claim, and orchestrated a second arrest against him.

James Bishop was given a copy of the YMCA security video as part of disclosure. He had a friend upload the video, with a title of “Toronto Police Thugs Gang Up & Beat Guy Senseless,” to YouTube.

The incident is remarkably similar to what happened in 2007 when RCMP officers tasered Polish immigrant Robert Dziekański to death by repeatedly and simultaneously shocking him until his heart gave out. Police like to use the excuse that people are resisting arrest and use that as a green light to victimize and brutalize the person they are arresting.

Robert Dziekański was lost and confused. His death could have been prevented if a Polish interpreter had been made available and if police had simply tried to talk calmly to him, but instead they chose to "taser first and ask questions later". The officers were very trigger happy with the taser however and ended up shocking him to death.

July 6, 2012

How to Destroy your Company's Reputation and its Profits

There are many ways to destroy a company from the inside.
  1. One way is to overspend on advertising.
  2. Another way is to package the product improperly so it ruins the product.
  3. A third way is to take on debts that you can't possibly repay.
  4. eg. Disgraced brewer 'Steelback Brewery' did all three of these thanks to its incompetent and shamelessly self-promoting CEO and drove the company into the ground in 2007.
  5. Another way is to not evolve with the times and changing technology and then fall into debt and eventually bankruptcy. eg. Nortel Telecom.
  6. Another way is to make faulty investments in real estate and other things (and in some cases running a Ponzi scheme) and then try to get a bailout from the federal government.
For fun check out the list of the biggest failed banks on Wikipedia:

Note that they're losses were in the billions. $307 billion for the Washington Mutual in 2008.

Lastly another way to destroy a company is to slowly, piece by piece, destroy a company's quality and reputation. This is what now known as the "the Schlitz mistake" and you can read all about it in the article we've attached below:

The Fall of Schlitz: How Milwaukee's Famous Beer Became Infamous

By Martyn Cornell

You might think it would be good to have your company held up in business schools as a famous example. But that wouldn't be the way the people behind the Schlitz brand feel about it. Because Schlitz is held up as a dreadful warning of how not to do it.

Indeed, the company that now owns Schlitz, once "the beer that made Milwaukee famous," is currently telling drinkers that "our classic 1960's formula is back," the sub-text being that it "now tastes the way it did before we started disastrously mucking about with it 40 years ago, ruining the beer and wrecking the company along the way."

Schlitz's roots were in a Milwaukee restaurant started by 34-year-old August Krug, an immigrant from Bavaria, in 1848. Two years later Krug hired Joseph Schlitz, another German immigrant, from Mainz, to be his bookkeeper. When Krug died in 1856, Schlitz took over the management of the brewery, marrying Krug's widow Anna two years later and changing the name of the business to his own. That same year Krug's 16-year-old nephew, August Uihlein, began working for the brewery. Over the next two decades the brewery grew to be one of the two or three biggest in Milwaukee. Then in 1875 Schlitz was drowned after the ship in which he was travelling on a voyage back to Germany struck rocks off the Scilly Isles. Control of the brewery was inherited by August Uihlein and his three brothers, who had joined him in the business.

The brewery prospered considerably under the Uihleins, springing back after Prohibition, and late in the 1940’s Schlitz became the best-selling brew in the United States – the Wisconsin brewer wrestling the title from Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser, the self-styled "King of Beers." The 1950’s saw a continuous assault from Anheuser-Busch to win back the crown of America's favorite. The two brewers swapped the lead between them until 1957, when Budweiser went ahead permanently. The decisions taken by Schlitz's owners, the Uihlein family, to cope with their rival's dominance would eventually "salami slice" their company to death.

By 1967 the company's president and chairman was August Uihlein's grandson, the polo-playing, 6-foot-4–inch-tall Harvard graduate Robert Uihlein Jr., then 51. Robert decided that if he could not sell more been than Anheuser-Busch, he would at least make his company more profitable than his St Louis rival. The first step in Uihlein's plan to save money was a new brewing method Schlitz called "accelerated batch fermentation," or ABF. This cut the brewing time for Schlitz beers from 25 to 21 days, and then from 20 to 15 days, compared to the 32 to 40 days of storage – or "lagering" – used for Budweiser.

The result was that Schlitz was now getting much more beer out of the same amount of plant, with all the boost in margins that meant. At the same time Uihlein instructed his brewers to begin cutting costs by using corn syrup to replace some of the malted barley used to make the beer, and by substituting cheaper hop pellets for fresh hops. The ingredient alterations were meant to be made incrementally, Uihlein's belief apparently being that drinkers would not notice each slight change to the product. Unfortunately, as commentators later pointed out, the steps from A to B and from B to C might have been tiny and unnoticeable, but the steps from A to M added up to a big leap.

At first all seemed to be working. In 1973 Schlitz was able to boast that it had the most efficient breweries in the world, and it was carrying out a rapid expansion of its production capacity. Its profits-to-sales ratio and its utilisation of its plant – in terms of capacity against actual production – were both substantially above the industry average. Market share was growing faster than at either of the other big two American brewers, Anheuser-Busch and Miller. Rivals tried to trip Schlitz up by claiming that its ABF brewing method meant it was selling "green," or too-young beer. Schlitz responded by changing the meaning of ABF from "accelerated batch fermentation" to "accurate balanced fermentation."

Uihlein had already been given a warning about what could happen if drinkers felt a brewer was messing about with beer quality, however. In 1964 Schlitz had acquired the Primo brewery in Hawaii. By 1971 Primo accounted for 70 per cent of all beer sold in Hawaii. Then Schlitz stopped full brewing at the Primo plant, instead shipping dehydrated wort from its brewery in Los Angeles for fermentation in Hawaii. Islanders said the taste of their favorite beer had been altered for the worse with the change, and Primo's market share dropped like a brick to just 20 percent in 1975. Schlitz started full brewing in Hawaii again that year, but sales of Primo never recovered to their previous high.

Back on the mainland, Schlitz had attempted to respond to the growing success of Miller Lite, the first successful low-calorie beer, with the launch late in 1976 of Schlitz Light. But perhaps because drinkers were already suspicious about what went into ordinary Schlitz, Schlitz Light was a failure in an otherwise expanding sector.

Meanwhile Schlitz was running into trouble with its mainstream brand, after an attempt to disguise to consumers what it was putting into its beer. Because it aged its beer less than other brewers, Schlitz had to add silica gel to the product to prevent a haze forming when it was chilled. In 1976 the company began to worry that the United States Food and Drug Administration would compel brewers to list all their ingredients on bottles and cans. Its use of silica gel would show up in harsh contrast to its rivals such as Anheuser-Busch, who aged their beers longer, allowing the protein to settle out naturally, and therefore did not need to use artificial anti-haze products. Anheuser-Busch was sure to point up Schlitz's use of an "unnatural" product in its beers and contrast this with the "all-natural" Budweiser.

Schlitz decided to use another beer stabilizer instead, one that would be filtered out of the final product and thus would not have to be listed as among the ingredients. Unfortunately, what Schlitz's brewing technicians did not know was that the new anti-haze agent, called Chill-garde, would react in the bottles and cans with the foam stabilizer they also used, to cause protein to settle out. At its best this protein looked liked tiny white flakes floating in the beer and at its worst it looked like mucus, or "snot," as one observer bluntly called it.

For months Schlitz kept quiet about the problem, with Uihlein arguing that the haze was not actually physically harmful to drinkers, and in any case not much of the beer would be kept at temperatures at which the haze would form. However, drinkers did complain, sales began to drop and Schlitz had to make a secret recall of 10 million bottles of beer, costing it $1.4 million.

Around the same time Robert Uihlein was diagnosed with leukaemia, dying just a few weeks later. An accountant, Eugene Peters, became the company's CEO, and a geologist, Daniel McKeithan, who was the divorced husband of a big Schlitz shareholder, was appointed chairman.

All Schlitz's problems with its image, caused by Robert Uihlein's tampering with the quality of the beer, were causing the company to start losing its second place in the American beer market to its Milwaukee rival, Miller. Even though Schlitz had increased its share of the U.S. beer market from 7 percent in 1950 to 14 percent in 1977, Budweiser and Miller had grown faster. Peters and McKeithan pushed Schlitz's marketing department to go for a new "high impact" advertising campaign featuring an aggressive-looking boxer who demanded, when asked to swap his Schlitz for another brand: "You want to take away my gusto?" Instead of amusing viewers, the ad put them off: Consumers found it "menacing," and it became known as the "drink Schlitz or I'll kill you" campaign.

By the end of 1977 Schlitz was on the slide, with profits, market share and capacity utilization dropping. Peters resigned after only 11 months and was replaced by Frank Sellinger, the former brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch. Sellinger returned to traditional brewing methods and improved the product. But Schlitz was now operating in the red, and by 1980 its sales had been passed by another Milwaukee rival, Pabst, with a third Wisconsin brewer, Heileman, not far behind.

The end came quickly. In June 1981 Schlitz closed its Milwaukee plant to try to solve what was now an overcapacity problem. In October of that year Heileman made a takeover offer for the still-struggling Schlitz, only for Pabst to put in a rival bid. Both bids were vetoed by the Justice Department on competition grounds, but in June 1982 the Justice Department allowed a $500 million bid by the Detroit brewer Stroh to go through. One analysis has estimated that the Schlitz brand lost more than 90 percent of its value between 1974 and that final year of independence.

However, the debt Stroh took on to pay for acquiring Schlitz was ultimately too much for the Detroit company to carry, and it collapsed in 1999. Ironically, in the fire sale that followed the Schlitz brand was acquired after all by Pabst.

The disastrous effect of deciding to reduce product quality salami slice by salami slice is now known in business circles as "the Schlitz mistake." It has been argued that Robert Uihlein's response to the increased competition from Anheuser-Busch and Miller – cutting costs to increase short-term profits – was a rational decision, and if there had been anything of a strategy of "management of decline" about it, then the complete collapse in shareholder value of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s might have been avoided.

It would have been realistic for Uihlein to conclude in 1970 that the medium to long-term future of the American brewing industry would be one where only two or three big brands would command the vast majority of sales. This is, after all, exactly what did happen, with Anheuser-Busch InBev, SAB Miller and MolsonCoors dominating the picture today. It would also have been realistic for Uihlein to conclude that, whatever Schlitz's position was in 1970, there was no guarantee it would end up as one of those surviving two or three beer giants, and it was better to go for maximum profits while allowing the company to run down gently.

However, what Uihlein tried to do was have his brewery cake and eat it too: cut costs, boost short-term profits and still maintain a long-term future for the company. The result was what the airline business calls a "controlled flight into terrain." Cost-cutting cost the company its reputation, something almost impossible to repair for a consumer goods maker, and it destroyed a concern that had once been the biggest in its field.

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