January 2012 Archives

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Ronnie James Dio(n)

ronnie-james-dion

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Rob Ford Loves Subways

cityhallIt's all about subways. Just ask our mayor Rob Ford.

From the National Post:

The power struggle over what transit to build in Toronto continues at City Hall, with Mayor Rob Ford telling reporters, at his weekly weigh-in: “It’s all about subways.” An excerpt of the scrum follows.

Reporter: Mr. Mayor, some people at 11 o’clock are discussing the legal standard of scrapping Transit City and they are saying you may have overstepped your boundaries. What do you say?

Mayor: I didn’t overstep my boundaries, I did what the taxpayers want. They want subways, that’s it. They don’t want streetcars. I was out in Scarborough over the weekend, people came up to me and said, they want subways. That’s it.

Reporter: Is there any wiggle room for you on this issue?

Mayor: It’s the taxpayers. The taxpayers want…I was elected on subways, they want subways, I was out on Saturday, people want subways. That’s it.

Reporter: Do you think you’ll win this vote? It doesn’t seem like you have the votes.

Mayor: It’s all subways. It’s all about subways.

Reporter: What are you going to do though if council votes against that?

Mayor: All about subways. So, it’s the taxpayers that elected me to get the subways in and that’s what we’re going to do.

Reporter: So, you think that gives you authority to, if council votes against that.

Mayor: It’s like winning an election. So if they voted me in, that means [stutters a bit] I don’t win an election? It doesn’t make sense.

That makes sense. I'm so proud of our mayor when he argues so eloquently. Really, you can't argue with his logic, which clearly proves he had the authority to cancel Transit City.

By the way, on Rob Ford's first day in office, I wrote that he did not have the authority to cancel Transit City. He's one vote out of 45. That's it.

But you can't deny his love of subways. Rob Ford loves subways.

Update:

All About Subways (Don't Make Sense) rap remix!


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Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11 (SOPA With a Canadian Eh)

canadaWe might have won the battle against SOPA, but we in Canada have another fight on our hands. It's called the Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11 and it's an awful lot like SOPA and the DMCA. Bill C-11 is currently under review in Canada’s House of Commons.

Why should we be concerned about Bill C-11? Just ask Michael Geist.

Citing a document that appears to be a set of proposed amendments to the legislation from a music-industry representative, Geist makes the case that the same lobbying groups that backed SOPA are laying the groundwork for SOPA-like rules in Bill C-11.

“While SOPA may be dead (for now) in the U.S.,” Geist writes, “Lobby groups are likely to intensify their efforts to export SOPA-like rules to other countries. With Bill C-11 back on the legislative agenda at the end of the month, Canada will be a prime target for SOPA style rules.”

In particular, Geist says the idea of blocking sites from the Internet — or at least the Internet in Canada — is on the list of proposals. The note, dated March 1, 2011, suggests that the bill should “permit a court to make an order blocking a pirate site such as The Pirate Bay to protect the Canadian marketplace from foreign pirate sites.”

Besides that, the proposals would incentivize Internet service providers to terminate users who infringe copyrights more than once. Geist points out that there’s no mention of due process or what sort of proof would be required. Also under consideration is an “enabler” provision, which would target sites that aren’t necessarily pirate havens, but are primarily used for piracy.

If you like the idea of the internet as a police state, then don't complain to your MP. If you embrace the internet as the last truly free market, send a letter to Ottawa to stop Bill C-11.

Seriously. Do it now. Click that link and send a letter in less than 2 minutes.

I believe it is in the best interest of Canadian consumers and creators alike to amend Bill C-11 to clearly link the act of circumvention to infringement, remove the all-encompassing ban on circumvention tools and to establish a new TPM labelling provision.

Sincerely,

Mike

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Mad Men and The Falling Man

I love Mad MenI love Mad Men. To promote the new season that kicks off March 25, they've released artwork showing a man in a suit falling.

madmen

If you've ever watched Mad Men, you know that falling man is from the title sequence. Here it is:

Some are suggesting the new Mad Men poster is too reminiscent of The Falling Man from 9/11. The Falling Man is a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

The_Falling_Man

This is much ado about nothing. The Mad Men promo is pure Mad Men, and pretty cool. I don't believe it's trying to mimic 9/11 imagery. What do you think?

I can't wait until March 25.

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Leaving My Blackberry Behind (Or How I learnt to Leave BBM and Love the Web)

phoneMcNulty is a regular commenter on this blog, and I think he's been participating for at least five years now. McNulty once lent me his DVD collection of The Wire, earning him a special place in my heart for all eternity.

On McNulty's blog, he wrote an entry on why he stopped using his Blackberry.

Then the internet was on the phones. I realised that surfing the internet on my Blackberry was slow and pathetic. I grew tired of it pretty quick and I didn’t even bother. It was weak and sad. I saw a friend with an iPhone viewing YouTube videos and surfing the internet and my Blackberry seemed like that old Nokia flip phone that I gave to the boys to smash in the street. As time went on and I learned about apps and other benefits of the iPhone, I began to hate my Blackberry.

Like McNulty, I loved my Blackberry four years ago, but in 2011 it seemed more than a step behind. iPhone and Android phone users were doing all this cool stuff like watching YouTube videos, and using cool apps and surfing the web without delay or issue. Those smart phones seemed a great deal smarter than my Blackberry.

Three months ago, I switched to a Samsung Galaxy S II. I missed BBM for about six hours, then moved on to enjoy a phone that never needed its battery removed to reboot it, accessed the web like a speedy tablet, and had great mission-critical apps like Skype that truly made it a smart phone. I understand iPhone users feel the same way.

I'll leave the last word to McNulty.

I will make one final comparison. If you liked a local restaurant and served great food and the service was great, you would keep going back to that restaurant. However, if the food became a little dull, the service was weak you make question returning. And then a new place opened up that was a little further but the food was better, they gave you more for your money and the service was fantastic. Where would you eat? Keep going to the place that gave sub-par food and service or the new place that wanted your business and made great food?

I've left Blackberry behind and don't miss it in the least. Are there any other former Blackberry users out there with a story to tell? Any regrets?

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Robert Hegyes, Dead at 60

In MemoriumRobert Hegyes was 69. He portrayed Epstein in the 1970s television series Welcome Back, Kotter.


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Do You Smoke?

Do You Smoke?There are over 1.6 million smokers in Ontario. And while Toronto’s smoking rate is typically lower than that of the Ontario population, the population is very dense, which means there are more smokers in this city than elsewhere in the province. I'll bet at least a few of you smoke.

My friend works for the Canadian Cancer Society and she's like me to mention their Driven to Quit Challenge. If you stay smoke-free for the month of March, you’ll be eligible to win amazing prizes (like your choice between a brand new Ford Fusion Hybrid or a Ford Edge, a $5000 vacation getaway, or one of seven $2000 cash prizes).

Not a smoker? That’s cool, challenge a friend to sign up and sign up as their support buddy. If they win, then you win $200 (and the proud feeling of helping someone quit)!

C’mon people, sign up. Get your friend to sign up. With over 13,000 deaths in Ontario related to tobacco this is something you should take advantage of.

Registration ends Feb 29, so be sure to sign up before then. And if you have any questions or want free help quitting, you can call their toll-free quit line at 1 877 513-5333 or go to their site.

1201_DrivenLaunch_2999

p.s. If you are in the vicinity of Yonge-Dundas Square this Saturday between 2-6pm look for the Driven to Quit street team - they’ll be handing out swag and stuff.

Confession time: Do you smoke?

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Berlin Blackface Makes You Cringe

thumbs downI was just reading about U of T banning a poster promoting The Black-Jew Dialogues, a comedy show "designed to build inter-racial bridges and shatter cultural stereotypes".

In Berlin, they seem a little less sensitive to perceived racist posters. A few weeks ago, while walking the streets of Berlin, I saw a poster promoting Ich bin nicht Rappaport at the Schlosspark Theater. I did a double-take when I saw the poster, because it featured a white man in blackface.

IMG_2244

Forevermore, when I see someone in blackface, I think about the Montreal Subbanator fans and the awesome discussion it sparked. The history of blackface conjures up an immense amount of all-to-recent racist history. Blackface has a racist history, and when white people paint their faces black, it is always racist.

U of T may have overreacted. Berlin prefers to underreact.

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Goalie Madness

leafsI've always been fascinated with goaltenders. There are goalies who score, our love of unproven goalies, and an exhaustive list of every goalie to wear the blue and white in the NHL.

Ever since Ed Belfour, it's been a little sketchy between the pipes in this city. Ok, it's been a lot sketchy, which may explain why Ed Belfour played the last playoff game in this city almost 8 years ago. Holy shit, has it really been 8 years?

Let's just look at the last two seasons. This was Jean-Sébastien Giguère's team, then James Reimer took the reigns to close out last season. We loved Reimer, we still do, but earlier this year we flirted with Ben Scrivens before being surprised by The Monster, a player we were all ready to trade for a bag of pucks.

Who saw this coming? Our season rests on the shoulders of Jonas Gustavsson, signed from Sweden to great fanfare back in 2009, who is an awful lot like Reimer, Scrivens and the lot in that he's unproven.

But at least he's not Vesa Toskala. We can do this...

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Volleyball Week One Redux

volleyballDeath From Above's week one was rather successful. Maybe too successful...

We've been bumped from Intermediate to Intermediate Plus, where we started anew with a clean slate. This time, we went 1-2.

Week One's Results:

Death From Above - 11, Flying J's Gas Bar - 25
Death From Above - 25, Flying J's Gas Bar - 16
Death From Above - 19, Flying J's Gas Bar - 25

vball

We've got some work to do...

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Best Original Song One-on-One

Best Original SongThere are only two nominees for Best Original Song at this year's Academy Awards. The Oscar will either go to the folks behind Real in Rio or Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie's pretty awesome Man or Muppet.

It's pretty bizarre that only two songs were deemed worthy of being nominated, but it's pretty cool that Bret might actually win an Oscar.

Here's that Real in Rio song that doesn't stand chance.

And here's your winner, Man or Muppet.

If you want to read more of my Conchords entries, click here.

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Shit Drake Says

videosOk, I'm done with the "Shit X Say" video fad. Well, I'm almost done.

We'll wrap it up with Shit Drake Says.

That is all.

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Humble and Fred Join Rogers Radio

humble and fredI probably teased this one a little too early, but the big announcement from Humble and Fred has just been made on Breakfast Television.

Humble and Fred have signed a very cool distribution deal with Rogers. Humble and Fred will continue to podcast but will be promoted by Rogers as a 56th station of sorts. Here's a bit I stole from some pr document:

Rogers Radio now offers listeners free access to Humble and Fred Radio.com, available on 19 Rogers Radio websites – granting unrestricted access to the popular podcasts, 24 hours a day. With just the click of a button, fans can tune in and catch up with Humble and Fred on the following Rogers Radio station players: Jackfm.com, 1031Jackfm.com, Sportsnet960.ca, Jackfm.ca, Rock977.ca, Rock979.ca, Rock106.ca,92CitiFM.ca, Sportsnet590.ca, 1023bob.com, Chez106.com, 923Jackfm.com, KRock1057.ca, foxradio.ca, Q92Rocks.com, Q92Timmins.com, 680News.com, SONiC1029.com, and Rock1053.ca.

Also available on the exclusive Rogers Radio app, Humble and Fred Radio.com can be caught on-the-go with this all-access pass to their made in Canada podcasts. App users can browse by station, location or genre, connecting instantly with stations nationwide. At the tip of their fingers, listeners can check out recent playlists, request songs and directly link to station websites.

Aw heck, here's the whole press release.

(TORONTO – January 24, 2012) Rogers Radio today announced the debut of Humble and Fred Radio.com across 18 Rogers Radio websites and on mobile devices through the Rogers Radio app.

"We are thrilled to partner with Humble and Fred and are very excited and proud to be able to offer this unique, innovative show to our Rogers radio listeners." says Julie Adam, VP Programming. "It's like having a 56th station... it's just that this radio station lives solely in the digital space."

Humble and Fred Radio.com is an uncut, uncensored and irreverent podcast baked fresh daily and delivered to listeners around the world. “Humble” Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson offer up a variety of special guests, hot-topic discussions and very funny content.

“We’ve never had so much fun” says Patterson, “And to have Rogers recognize our efforts and want to give us access to their millions of listeners is flattering. Rogers vision of the future is very impressive.

“We’re very happy to be part of the Rogers Family” says Glassman, “In fact from now on we’re going to call Bob McCown dad, and Erin Davis can be our mom.”

There's more to it than just availability from Rogers digital property. There's also regular on-air bits with Bob McCown on Primetime Sports and a neat little thing with 680 News. But most importantly, this is the beginning of something bigger.

Not bad for a couple of guys rolling their own in Etobicoke.

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E.T. Video Game for Atari

RewindI was perusing Retrontario's YouTube channel when I stumbled upon this commercial for the E.T. video game Atari promoted heavily back in 1982.

Back then, I had an Atari 2600 clone called the Gemini (not my award) but I never found E.T. under the tree in '82. Looks like I dodged a bullet there.

Negotiations to secure the rights to make the game ended in late July 1982, giving Warshaw only five weeks to develop the game in time for the 1982 Christmas season. The end result is often cited as one of the worst video games released and was one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming history.

E.T. is frequently cited as a contributing factor to Atari's massive financial losses during 1983 and 1984. As a result of overproduction and returns, millions of unsold cartridges were buried in an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill. The game's commercial failure and resulting effects on Atari are frequently cited as a contributing factor to the video game industry crash of 1983.

atari-et

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Spookey Ruben - These Days are Old

musicWho else remembers Spookey Ruben? If you don't know the name, you might recognize this:

If you were watching MuchMusic in the mid-90s, you likely remember Spookey Ruben. I hadn't heard his name in years until Rob Pagetto mentioned Spookey was a bud.

Hi Spookey! These Days Are Old is still a fun tune.

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Monster Jam at Rogers Centre

Monster Jam at Rogers CentreI took the kids to see the Monster Jam this afternoon at the stadium formerly known as SkyDome. Say what you will about the monster truck shows, but it's 3 solid hours of entertainment. There's the monster truck race, the freestyle competition and a demolition derby to top it all off. Oh yeah, and there's motocross freestyle and quad racing sprinkled in the mix.

If you've ever been to a monster truck show (this is my third event with my son) then you know that Grave Digger is the Hulk Hogan. He gets all the praise and attention, even though he didn't win anything today. The fastest truck on this day was Mohawk Warrior. Here he is edging out Monster Mutt to win the title.

Mohawk Warrior wins!

The freestyle event was thrilling, with Avenger winning the crown. The hyped Canadian entry, Northern Nightmare, underwhelmed all afternoon.

Here's my review of Monster Jam 2008. If anyone can tell me what happened to Bigfoot, I'd love to know.

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Leafs Practice at MasterCard Centre For Hockey Excellence

leafsYes, the MasterCard Centre For Hockey Excellence should change its name. There's been very little hockey excellence from this franchise over the past 30 years, I'm all too aware. The MasterCard Centre For Hockey Mediocrity would be more appropriate, but I digress...

On Friday, MasterCard was kind enough to send me to a Maple Leafs practice there. They literally picked me up and dropped me off when it was over. It was pretty cool watching a full official practice in such an intimate setting.

Leafs practice facility at MasterCard Centre #pricelessTO

Leafs Practice

Leafs Practice

This was a part of Mastercard's #pricelessTO initiative, and they made it easy for this life-long Leafs fan to check out the action. Here's a few videos I took.



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Joe Paterno, Dead at 85

In MemoriumJoe Paterno was 85. He was head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years from 1966 through 2011, accumulated 409 wins, the most in NCAA Division 1 history.

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Free Drink and Food Tonight at Molly Blooms

emailI know Anthony as iLLvibe, but he's also an Anthony. Anthony iLLvibe Craparotta wants to buy Toronto free drinks tonight.

The following is an event I am managing, it's something that might appeal to your readers. It's the launch of an insane new app @ Molly Blooms and free food/drinks for everybody.

Any shot at getting you to post it up?

Much thanks,
Anthony

Press Release ::

A revolutionary new app for your smartphone is being launched in Toronto this Saturday night.

The Toronto launch party for "Clik" will be Saturday Jan 21, 5-7:30pm at Molly Blooms, 191 College St. We would like to invite you and your readers to the launch party, open to all.

The app allows the user to take control over any web-enabled screen with their smartphone. You have to see it to believe it.

There will be free food, drinks and prizes. While you're there, you'll get an advance preview of Clik and Android users will have a chance to download a beta version of the app. Anybody can put yourself on the guestlist at www.clikguestlist.com.

Clik was designed by Kik interactive who currently have 8 million users sending more than 1 billion messages every month. Come be a part of the launch of an exciting new app that will change the way you use your smartphone.

Anthony

Got that? Tonight between 5 & 7:30PM anybody who walks into "Molly Blooms" pub @ 191 College St (College/University) in Toronto will get a free drink and free food.

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10 Years of Fatherhood

10 Years of FatherhoodI'm going to make this as short and unschmaltzy as possible.

Ten years ago today, this happened.

Mike and James

With a decade of fatherhood behind me, I think I've got the hang of it. My goal was always to raise children who aren't assholes. I have assholic tendencies I blame on my father, so everything I do with my son and daughter is designed to make them kind, thoughtful, hard-working, and modest but confident citizens.

This is my beloved son James who turns ten today. He's kind, thoughtful, hard-working and modest but confident and I'm so friggin' proud of him.

James' championship season

Love ya, James. Happy Birthday!

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Etta James, Dead at 73

In MemoriumEtta James was 73. Her powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs, most indelibly in her signature hit, “At Last.”

For my money, nothing beats "I'd Rather Go Blind."

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Leafs Alumni Roster

leafs alumniA Winter Classic featuring the Leafs means we're getting an alumni game. That's got me thinking about who I'd like to see out there.

Between the pipes, for example, I don't need to see Cujo or Belfour. Give me Bester, Wregget and Potvin, please. Up front, I also want to go heavy with the '83-'93 teams. Yes, it's all about me.

Here's a laundry list of the Leafs I'd like to see considered for our Alumni team. The only slam dunks would be Wendel, Dougie, Darryl, Borje and Mats, right?

  • John Anderson
  • Dave Andreychuk
  • Bryan Berard
  • Allan Bester
  • Nikolai Borchevsky
  • Wendel Clark
  • Russ Courtnall
  • Vincent Damphousse
  • Dan Daoust
  • Bill Derlago
  • Dave Ellett
  • Tom Fergus
  • Mike Foligno
  • Miroslav Frycer
  • Todd Gill
  • Doug Gilmour
  • Al Iafrate
  • Peter Ihnacak
  • Dave Keon
  • Chris Kotsopoulos
  • Gary Leeman
  • Jim McKenny
  • Ed Olczyk
  • Felix Potvin
  • Gary Roberts
  • Borje Salming
  • Darryl Sittler
  • Mats Sundin
  • Steve Thomas
  • Rick Vaive
  • Ken Wregget
  • Dmitri Yushkevich

Who do you want to see suit up for the Leafs in the alumni game next season?

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Sarah Burke, Dead at 29

In MemoriumSarah Burke was 29. She was a Canadian freestyle skier and four-time Winter X Games champion who was the first woman to land a 1080 in competition.


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Lana Del Rey Can Sing

musicI missed Lana Del Rey on Saturday Night Live last weekend, but judging from my Twitter feed she was terrible. Most people were probably hearing her name for the first time, and from what I've read she was a little nervous and had an off night. People love to hate, so the Lana Del Rey jokes started to fly.

I like Lana Del Rey, and she can sing. Trust me, she's far more talented than the usual top 40 slop folks are inundated with. Here she is performing live on German television.

I take it her SNL performance wasn't as good as that...

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Volleyball Week One

volleyballFor shits and giggles, I'm going to publicly track my volleyball team's performance this season. We're Death From Above and we play Monday nights at Victory Volleyball Academy.

Week One's Results:

Death From Above - 25, Go for The Kill - 11
Death From Above - 25, Go for The Kill - 10
Death From Above - 25, Go for The Kill - 6

vball

So far, so good...

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Am I A Leafs Jinx?

leafsI should preface this entry by stating that I don't believe in jinxes. I don't believe that anything I do can influence my team's play on the ice, despite the fact I used to send my 'vibes' to Maple Leaf Gardens in the early-to-mid 80s and I'm sure that may have helped the Leafs sweep Chicago in '86.

So I don't believe in jinxes or karma or any of that, so this entry is actually about coincidence.

Early in 2012, I went to Germany. With the 6-hour time difference and lack of Leafs games on my hotel cable TV package, I didn't see a minute of Leafs action. When I returned, the Leafs were on a 4-game win streak.

Since I've come back, I've watched 3 games. We lost all three in regulation.

jinx

Am I a Leafs jinx? Of course not. I'm not the reason they haven't made the Stanley Cup finals in my lifetime. It's just a coincidence, trust me.

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Muhammad Ali Turns 70

Muhammad Ali Turns 70There are only a handful of athletes who manage to transcend their respective sports to become true global icons. Muhammad Ali tops that list, and today he turns 70.

This is the perfect excuse to share my favourite picture of Ali, taken by Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated. This is Ali after knocking down Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine back in 1965.

ali

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The Problem With Religion

religionI saw this on Reddit today. The title was "When people ask why I have a problem with religion, it's hard to come up with a single answer..." and I thought it packed a pretty good punch.

religion

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Hello



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Somebody That I Used to Know

Somebody That I Used to KnowWalk off the Earth's YouTube video for Somebody That I Used to Know is everywhere these days. I'm sure you've seen and heard it by now, but if you haven't, here it is.

It's a fantastic tune. I love it, and can't get enough of it, but it doesn't belong to Burlington's Walk off the Earth. It's a cover of Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know, featuring Kimbra.

Here's the original, because it's highly unlikely you've seen this.

Gotye's from Australia and this tune won him a few ARIA awards. ARIA is the Australian Juno or Grammy, I gather. Thanks to Walk off the Earth, this cool tune is finally getting heard on this side of the world.

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10,000 Years Near the Black Sea Region...

10,000 Years in the Black Sea Region...I have blue eyes. All blue-eyed people can be traced back to one ancestor who lived 10,000 years ago near the Black Sea.

According to a team of researchers from Copenhagen University, a single mutation which arose as recently as 6-10,000 years ago was responsible for all the blue-eyed people alive on Earth today.

The team, whose research is published in the journal Human Genetics, identified a single mutation in a gene called OCA2, which arose by chance somewhere around the northwest coasts of the Black Sea in one single individual, about 8,000 years ago.

The gene does not "make" blue in the iris, instead it turns off the mechanism which produces brown melanin pigment. Originally, you see, we all had brown eyes.

Whattyaknow... many of you are family.

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Vaccination Myths Compromise Herd Immunity

Vaccination Distrust and Herd Immunity CompromiseI blame Jenny McCarthy for carrying the erroneous torch and Oprah for giving her a pulpit. Jenny McCarthy decided her son's autism was caused by vaccinations, buying into a paper by Andrew Wakefield that was based on manipulated data and fraudulent research. She then preached this junk science on any show that would have her, including Oprah, whose influence is well documented here.

Since this 2008 celebrity pseudo science smorgasbord, I've met a few people who didn't believe in vaccinations or were convinced vaccinations cause autism. I'm not referring to folks who don't believe in the flu shot, as there are plenty of them, but vaccinations for smallpox, polio, measles and the like. I just had a debate with a staunch believer in the mythical dangers of vaccines that was akin to banging my head against a brick wall incessantly.

Hey Mike, why the passion? The motivation is two-fold.

It's unfair to the children. Parents who don't get their kids vaccinated are needlessly putting their kids in harm's way. Those kids can't make the decision for themselves and it's grossly unfair to them. I feel for the little stinkers.

Herd immunity is compromised. Herd immunity is the foundation upon which I base my yearly flu shot plea. It's a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. In other words, parents who do not get their children vaccinated put the entire neighbourhood's children at risk, not just their own.

Penn and Teller do a better job explaining why the anti-vaccination movement is bunk.

Parents: stop compromising herd immunity. Thanks.

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A Week in Toronto

cn towerRegular guy Alvin sent me a nice note about a video he made about his trip to Toronto. Here's his note and video.

Good morning Mike,

My name’s Alvin and I’m just a regular kid from Toronto. I don’t get to spend too much time in the city anymore but came back over the holidays to spend time with friends and family. During that week I also made my first video to show appreciation for the festive season and the city that I’ve grown to know and love. You can check it out at http://vimeo.com/34939656. Repost if you like it (which I secretly hope you do). If not, thanks for taking the time to watch it anyways.

From the West End to the Bluffs,

Alvin


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24/7 Leafs Thanks to Winter Classic

leafsIt's sure sounding like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wing will play in next season's Winter Classic. ESPN says they'll play at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Of course, as a participant in the Winter Classic, the Leafs will also be featured on HBO's 24/7.

That's what has me most excited. I love 24/7, and I can't wait to see my favourite team profiled. This will be awesome.

HBO-24-7-Logo1

And yes, I'm aware our 4-game winning streak only became possible when I fled the country for a bit. I'm back now, so if we lose tonight in Buffalo, I'll admit that I've been single handedly holding us back my entire lifetime.

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Blunts and Roses

Blunts and RosesAbsent Minded & iLLvibe are Blunts & Roses. The album is a mash up of Legendary Classic Rock tunes by The Eagles, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Queen and more, and I've been playing it all week.

Oh yeah, and it's a completely free download here. Glove tap to Kicster for the tip.

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January Open Mike - Ask Anything / Share Anything

microphoneI've been busy travelling and stuff, and nothing big seems to be happening, so I want to know what's on your mind.

Use the comments of this entry to discuss anything you want. Or ask me anything... anything at all.

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The Funeral is Aging Well

the funeralBand of Horses' The Funeral is aging very, very well.

It was released almost six years ago, yet when it came my iPod earlier today, it sounded better than ever. Like a fine wine, I'd argue The Funeral is getting better with age.

Damn that's good.

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Dinner in the Reichstag

picturesThe Reichstag in Berlin is where German parliament (the Bundestag) meets. When they reconstructed it, they added a large glass dome at the very top of the building.

I was lucky enough to have dinner in the Reichstag and that gave me a chance to climb this dome and check out the city from above.

Here's what it looked like inside. Those seats belong to the Bundestag.

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Here's what the Reichstag looks like from outside.

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This was the first time I needed my passport to get into a restaurant.

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Daily Photo: Evil Empire

picturesPatrolling the Brandenburg Gate these days is a leader from a truly evil empire.

Here's the photographic evidence before you jump to conclusions.

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I certainly thought twice before crossing over.

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Habs Hatred Goes international

LeafsHatred for the Montreal Canadiens isn't just a Canadian thing, it's spread all the way to Germany. I saw this poster during my walk in Berlin yesterday.

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I'll translate that for you. It reads "Habs are Icky".

Icky indeed....

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Brian Henderson from CHUM: Where He's At and What Happened

brian hendersonI'm frequently asked what happened to Brian Henderson from 1050 CHUM. Brian Henderson, or Henny as he's called, was a part of the 1050 CHUM Morning Show as you'll see in this ad from 1987.

I awoke this morning to a note from Brian with an update about what happened to him at CHUM and where he's at today.

Since I have no idea what "URL" and all that other computer mumbo-jumbo means, I'll skip straight to the meat.

Yes I have had, and to a lesser degree, continue to have health issues. The reason I was terminated at CHUM however had nothing to do with health.

I was fired because I was too old, making too much money. FULL STOP! In the meantime, I have grown quite comfortable in retirement. Comfortable because of the age old advice, "always marry a younger woman, so that even when you're downsized, at least one of you is working. All of the children have finally left home.

Oldest Gillian is back in school in Vancouver taking her masters. Youngest Erin has crossed the street and is now working for TSN, while Kyle, "The Wonderkid" has graduated with his teaching degree, right in the middle of an era when there are no teaching jobs, Just like his father, he too has a supportive wife with a good job, and so we're all doing fine. Except for the job part.

Anyone know of any teaching possibilities for Kyle? He lives in Burlington, but will eagerly travel.

HENNY

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Sightseeing in Berlin: Meine Fotos

Sightseeing in BerlinI spent some time last night planning my sightseeing in Berlin, mapping my route and making sure I hit as many historical sights as possible.

I wanted to do it all by foot. No sightseeing tour buses or taxi cabs for me. After a big breakfast, I hit the pavement at exactly 9am, armed only with my Canon PowerShot. Here are some of the highlights.

Brandenburger Tor / Brandenburg Gate

This is the only remaining gate of a series through which Berlin was once entered. Regan made his "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" speech here.

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Sowjetisches Ehrenmal / Soviet War Memorial (Tiergarten)

This memorial commemorates the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in 1945.

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Reichstag / Parliament Building

The German Empire stopped using this building in 1933 when it was severely damaged in a fire.

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Siegessaule / Victory Column

This commemorated the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War.

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Ehmalige Kongresshalle / Former Congress Hall

This is now known as the Haus der Kulturen der Welt where they have concerts and other cultural stuff.

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Bundeskanzleramt / Chancellor's Office

This new Chancellery building is eight times the size of the White House. That's a fact, you can look it up.

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Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer / Berlin Wall Memorial

I walked the farthest to see what's left of the Berlin Wall. You can't visit Berlin without checking out the wall.

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Topographie Des Terrors / Topography of Terror

This was pretty chilling. it's the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era.

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Checkpoint Charlie

This was the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

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If you want more, I documented the entire walk here:


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What the Snowman Learned About Erotica

picturesIn Berlin, there's a thin line between wholesome and seedy.

I wandered the streets tonight, exploring the Berlin underbelly. As you'd expect, there's an active street walker scene and numerous options for those craving the erotic.

What's interesting is how seamlessly you walk from the Erotik-Museum to giant kid-friendly snowman. They're side-by-side.

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For the record, I didn't purchase services from either the prostitutes nor snowmen, but I can't pass by a museum without going in!

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Daily Photo: Zum Haxnwirt

picturesWhile in Germany, I wanted to enjoy some of that Bavarian culture we know from Oktoberfest. At Zum Haxnwirt, it's all about the beer and huge hunks of pork.

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I sense wild boars were captured on the streets of Berlin and baked into schweinshaxe for my benefit. The knuckle of pork on my plate was absolutely massive. I think I ate this guy.

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Oh... and they sold these out of a vending machine.

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In Berlin You Park Wherever You Can Jam Your Car

picturesIn Berlin, parking is scarce. People will park anywhere they can fit their car.

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No wonder there are so many Smart cars. You can park them in the tightest of spots.

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Oh... and Batman is here.

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Daily Photo: Berlin

picturesI haven't done a very good job posting my daily photo, but I should have more luck this week. Today's photo will give you a clue as to why.

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I took this photo just before landing in Berlin, Germany. It was a connector flight from Frankfurt full of turbulence and chocolate. That's right, Lufthansa was unable to give us our usual snacks so they placated us with awesome German chocolate.

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My Son on Ukulele

methinksMy son seems to have inherited my musical ability. Here he is playing Jingle Bells on a ukulele.

I can't believe my boy is almost ten years old.

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PayPal Destroys $2,500 Violin and Gives the Owner Nothing

paypalThis story from regretsy is both upsetting and mind boggling. Before we dive in, I should state that I'm a PayPal user, and have been for years. I receive money via PayPal and I buy things via PayPal, and I haven't had an issue yet. But then again, I've never sold anything that's been disputed by the purchaser....

Here's the email sent to regretsy.

Dear Helen Killer,

I love your site and was thrilled to hear of your “win” against PayPal. I recently had a heartbreaking experience of my own with them.

I sold an old French violin to a buyer in Canada, and the buyer disputed the label.

This is not uncommon. In the violin market, labels often mean little and there is often disagreement over them. Some of the most expensive violins in the world have disputed labels, but they are works of art nonetheless.

Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back. They somehow deemed the violin as “counterfeit” even though there is no such thing in the violin world.

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The buyer was proud of himself, so he sent me a photo of the destroyed violin.

I am now out a violin that made it through WWII as well as $2500. This is of course, upsetting. But my main goal in writing to you is to prevent PayPal from ordering the destruction of violins and other antiquities that they know nothing about. It is beyond me why PayPal simply didn’t have the violin returned to me.

I spoke on the phone to numerous reps from PayPal who 100% defended their action and gave me the party line.

Erica

Wow.

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Mountain Dew vs. the Mouse

justiceIt's tough to skip over a headline that references Pepsi and mouse carcasses. Pepsi has an interesting defense in a case from a guy who claims he found a mouse in his Mountain Dew.

Pepsi Co., facing a lawsuit from a man who claims to have found a mouse in his Mountain Dew can, has an especially creative, if disgusting, defense: their soda would have dissolved a dead mouse before the man could have found it. An Illinois man sued Pepsi in 2009 after he claims he "spat out  the soda to reveal a dead mouse," the Madison County Record reports. He claims he sent the mouse to Pepsi, which then "destroyed" the remains after he allowed them to test it, according to his complaint. Most shudder-worthy, however, is that Pepsi's lawyers also found experts to testify, based on the state of the remains sent to them that, "the mouse would have dissolved in the soda had it been in the can from the time of its bottling until the day the plaintiff drank it," according to the Record. (It would have become a "jelly-like substance," according to Pepsi, adds LegalNewsline.)

On a related note, I no longer drink any pop or pop-like beverage in the house. I used to swill a lot of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, but no more. I won't buy it. I quit.

Jelly-like substance be damned!

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Jim Huber, Dead at 67

In MemoriumJim Huber was 67. He was an Emmy Award winning journalist and essayist with Turner Sports and PGA.com. I remember him co-anchoring CNN Sports Tonight with Nick Charles, Fred Hickman, Vince Cellini and others in the 90s. His work was always top notch.

His tweets the last few days tell us how quickly he passed. His leukemia diagnosis came on December 28th.

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Here's Jim Huber on the last NBA season.


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It's All In The Game

the wireIt's been almost two years since I finished my first viewing of The Wire, a.k.a, The Greatest Show On Television, Ever™.

A couple of days later, I was asking where the hell I go from there. Watching The Wire pretty much ruined television for me. Since then, I've found exactly two series that came even close: Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I refer to Breaking Bad as The Greatest Show On Television Next To The Wire™.

Over the Xmas holidays, I dove back into The Wire. I'm almost done season two. It's just as good the second time around, even knowing exactly what's going to happen. It's like going back to life school, as you can easily map the political bullshit oozing from the Baltimore police department and corners to your own cubical jungle. My 2011 was The Wire without the guns and drugs, but you won't read about that in the archives.

Omar, my favourite television character of all-time, said it best. It's all in the game, yo.

After all, a man's gotta have a code.

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Cee-Lo Butchers John Lennon's Imagine While I Wire and Mario Kart

partyWhat year is it? I've been on a steady diet of The Wire and Wii Mario Kart and am just now coming up for air.

I hear Cee-Lo performed John Lennon's Imagine just before midnight on TV last night. I also hear he changed a lyric. Here's what he sang:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And all religion is true
Imagine all the people living life in peace

That sort of changes things, doesn't it? I mean, what's the point?

For shame... Happy New Year, all.

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