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For Better or for Worse Winding Down

fbofwLynn Johnston's comic strip, "For Better or for Worse", is winding down. She says the larger For Better or for Worse story will wrap up at the end of August, and the final new Sunday strip will reveal what the characters get up to in the years to come.

I've written quite a bit about this strip as it's the only one I read daily and I've been reading it for almost 25 years. I'll never forget the heroic death of Farley and the controversy surrounding Lawrence's homosexuality. Lynn wrote a touching, interesting story and I'll be sorry to see it end.

I'm wondering what that final Sunday strip will tell us about the characters we've seen age these past few decades. I'm sure John will retire and work on his trains, Elly will enjoy her grandchildren and see her father pass away, Michael will become a successful author, Liz will enjoy married life, become a school principal and have children of her own and April will study Veterinary Medicine at the University of Guelph.

We'll see how I did.

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Nobody Saw This Coming

fbofwI'm shocked. I checked in on The Pattersons this morning and caught Elizabeth and Anthony sharing a kiss. I just didn't see this coming, did you?

Here's the For Better or For Worse strip, if you missed it. And yes, I'm being sarcastic, if you missed that. The final frame in the final strip will be the words "for better or for worse" at Elizabeth and Anthony's wedding.

You can take it to the bank.

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April and Eva Perform Everybody's Different

fbofwI've written about For Better Or For Worse in the past. It's the only comic I read daily, and today's strip has a new layer we could only dream about back in the day.

April and Eva are performing a duet at this telethon and along with the lyrics that appear in the strip we're presented with an MP3 of their song. It's a brave new world, and Lynn Johnston is all over it.

I know you're anxious to hear this masterpiece. Here's April and Eva performing "Everybody's Different". http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/everybodys_different.mp3

Bring the noise.

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The FOOBiverse

fbofwI'm a For Better or For Worse fan, and I recently discovered a great blog for fans of the strip. It's called The FOOBiverse! and every day the strip is discussed in a very snarky and hilarious manner. It's the kind of blog I wish I had started.

Speaking of For Better or For Worse, Grandpa Jim had another stroke and is in bad shape. Lynn Johnston is doing a hybrid of old and new strips these days, and it's working out well. We just revisited a younger Grandpa Jim from the days when Michael was a baby and then we came back to the current day to see him suffer another stroke. The juxtaposition of the younger, vibrant Jim with the unresponsive, elderly Jim was pretty jolting, and damn effective.

Note to Self: You may feel fit right now in your youth, as if you can take on the world and accomplish anything, but one day, if you're lucky, you will get very old and die.

TGIF everyone!

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FBOFW to Stop in Fall 2007

newspaperLynn Johnston's "For Better Or For Worse" is my favourite comic strip by a very large margin. It's the only strip I read daily and I've been reading it since I was a little whipper-snapper.

Not only is it well written with a great balance of humour and reality, but the characters have aged in real-time. Sadly, the end is near. Lynn Johnston will freeze the characters' ages next fall when she takes a well deserved break from it all. "I feel I've done the best I can do for as long as I can do it," she said. "It's time."

It saddens me to think there will soon be mornings when I can't check in on The Patterson's. For the first time I will age while Michael Patterson stays in his early 30s. The long rumoured ending for the series will be Elizabeth marrying Anthony and uttering the words "for better or for worse" in the final panel. However Lynn decides to end things, I'll be there reading.

Other entries about For Better or For Worse:

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Lynn Johnston Concludes Her Story

FBOFWThe final daily For Better or for Worse strip was published today. If you read the strip in the Toronto Star, you'll see this strip in tomorrow's paper. This concludes Lynn Johnston's 29 year story about the Pattersons in fictitious Milborough, Ontario.

Forever I assumed the story would end with the words "for better or for worse", but I assumed they'd be said by Elizabeth at her wedding. I'm guessing everyone thought that so Lynn threw a little curve ball by having Iris say them about her and Jim. I was also pretty sure Jim would pass away, but as we learn in the final Sunday strip, he lives another two years.

I just realized I have a whole bunch of For Better or for Worse entries so it's time they get their own category. On the day this 29-year ritual ends for me, someone who started reading them daily only a few years after they debuted, I introduce you to my Foob entries.

For Better of For Worse

Update: I went downstairs to check out my copy of today's Star. That let me see what happened to the characters. It seems, everything works out for the Pattersons. Elly and John retire, Grandpa Jim dies at 89, Elizabeth teaches and has a son, Michael signs a film contract, Deanna begins a sewing school and April works with the Calgary Stampede.

This final insight into For Better or for Worse reminds me a great deal of the final ten minutes of the Six Feet Under series finale. I loved that show and thought the final ten minutes were stunning. April is the Claire of FBOFW and the only difference is Six Feet Under showed us the death of each member of the Fisher family where Lynn wisely stuck to the life. To see the final ten minutes of Six Feet Under and that amazing scene, shoot over to this entry.

It's over.

The FInal FBOFW

Update #2: It seems we Toronto Star readers didn't get the whole story! They edited the final destiny strip for space so my scan above doesn't show the first row. Below is the actual unedited final new strip of For Better or for Worse.

FWOFW

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy favourite comic strips

  1. For Better Or For Worse
  2. The Far Side
  3. Herman
  4. Dilbert
  5. Sherman's Lagoon

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Linkin Park's Bleed It Out

slsI just submitted a song for SLS18 consideration. I submitted Linkin Park's "Bleed It Out".

Linkin Park is a band I don't think I should like, but I always end up liking. Every album is good for two or three awesome singles and "Bleed It Out" is an awesome single.

The video hasn't yet been released, but here's an uncensored version of the song complete with subtitles. For better or for worse, my ears dig it.

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I Don't Get It

HumourI've been reading Lynn Johnston's "For Better Or For Worse" for as long as I can remember. It's the only comic strip I read daily. After reading thousands and thousands of FBOFW strips, this weekend was the first time I can honestly say that I didn't get it.

Here's the strip. Am I missing something? I don't understand why John is upset that April had a great day with him. He seemed to be enjoying himself in the boat. Will someone please explain this one to me...

I Don't Get It!

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Lynn Johnston Not Retiring

newspaperWe already knew Lynn Johnston was freezing the For Better or For Worse characters' ages next fall, but we now have more details. The strip isn't actually being retired, there will be new material that would include revisiting storylines from the past and expanding on them. Everyone will stop aging, however.

That Star article discusses Elizabeth's three suitors: former high school boyfriend Anthony, new love interest Paul, a policeman, and Warren, a helicopter pilot. It also reveals Warren's full name, Warren Blackwood. I recently wrote about another Warren Blackwood.

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Riddle Me This

HumourIt doesn't happen often, but it happened today. For only the second time in recent memory, I'm unsure about a For Better Or For Worse strip.

If you read today's strip, you'll see the final frame is Elly's employee staring at a telephone book that appears to have been bitten. There's a chunk of the phone book missing with teeth marks indicating someone chomped into it. In the previous frame, Elly is sensably acknowledging that "the key to successful salesmanship is not to take rudeness personally".

Are we to believe Elly was so frustrated by the rudeness of the two women loitering in her store that she took a bite out of the white pages? Is it even possible to do this without losing your teeth? As I did last time, I'm reaching out to you for some answers. What's the joke here?

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Thank You, Farley

SunI'd like to thank Farley, the Patterson's sheepdog who passed away a few years ago. It's no secret that I read For Better or For Worse every day and have since I was a very young lad. Lynn Johnston's strip has that perfect blend of realism, humour and Canadiana and the characters age in real-time enabling fans to literally watch the Patterson's age and grow.

Farley was a member of the family, always there. He'd play with Michael, Elizabeth and April, get into mischief and perform general dog duties. When April was four, we were witness to a heart wrenching story line that elevated Farley to martyr status. April was playing by the river and fell in. Farley jumped in to keep her above the water until help arrived. Farley saved her life, but the exertion and cold was too much for the old dog. His heart stopped and John ended the strip by saying "I didn't think that a heart so big would ever stop beating".

This story line might be my all time favourite in the series, and there have been some exceptional ones. Thanks again, Farley.

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She Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best

fbofwI only read one comic strip on a daily basis. I check in on the Patterson's and see what's new in the For Better or For Worse universe.

I'm confused by today's strip. Read it below and we'll continue this discussion around the bend.

To laugh or to cry?

April and Elizabeth are clearly having a little sibling tiff while both rush to get to where they need to be. April loses it and calls Elizabeth "LARD BUTT!" and then I get awfully confused.

Lizzy is giving April the evil eye while April cries and says "She who laughs last, laughs best." What exactly does that mean in this context? Who's laughing? Why is April crying? Did Lizzy smack her in the head in a frame that got deleted? Am I missing something?

Help!

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Destroying Those Mutant Popups

FirefoxI read "For Better Or For Worse" every day. A little while ago, the United Media site that hosts this comic started using annoying mutant popups that manage to outwit Firefox's popup blocker. I hadn't seen a popup since I switched to Firefox a year ago and this new breed of popup was really starting to annoy me.

It turns out it's really easy to configure Firefox to block these too. This fix is stolen from here and works like a charm.

To block pop-ups from plugins, open your Firefox 1.0 or 1.0.1 browser, type about:config in the address field. Right-click in the resulting config page somewhere and select New -> Interger. Type privacy.popups.disable_from_plugins in the resulting dialog, hit OK, type 2 in the next dialog and you're all set.

You're very welcome.

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This Storm's Gonna Rage!

BaseballIn about 24 hours I'll be preparing for the third game in our best of three slo-pitch semi-final series against RobArts Rage. This is a season I wish could keep going. I think our 2007 campaign, well documented here, is our most fun season to date.

I've never liked the nickname "Raging Storm". Earlier this year, we agreed to change it and bring in new uniforms. We even held a vote with "In The Face" winning out. As much as I dislike Raging Storm and our boring blue jerseys, it's our name and our brand. We're Raging Storm, for better or for worse, and I can't see this same group coming back next season with any other moniker. I'm even looking forward to coming back to this same crappy league in those same ratty uniforms.

If we win tomorrow night, we extend the season one more week, and that's incentive enough to kick some ass. I'll leave the final word to Mr. T.

Mr. T

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Has Jim Passed Away?

fbofwThe Leaf game was breaking my heart, so I pulled out today's Toronto Star and checked out For Better Or For Worse. The Toronto Star runs the Sunday strip on Saturdays, so this strip hasn't appeared online yet. I could be wrong, but I think Jim just passed away.

Jim was just foreshadowing his imminent demise by suggesting this may have been his last Christmas. Then, surrounded by friends and his loving Iris on New Year's Eve, there's this:

Has Jim Passed Away?

For the record, my wife doesn't think Jim passes in this strip. What make me think he's gone is the look Iris gives him in the second last frame. It's her realizing he's gone while the party sings "and who knows when we'll be all together again". Then, the final frame with Jim in the same peaceful pose and Iris giving him a kiss and silent message "Happy New Year, Jim".

This could easily be Jim having fallen asleep during the party, but wouldn't this make for a wonderful death? I'm hoping Lynn has finally let Elly's dad go.

Is Jim dead or just sleeping?

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Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3

LeafsThat was fun. All three games have been entertaining so far this season, but last night's effort against the Habs finally gave us the result we were waiting for. Vesa Toskala made game-saving stops down the stretch, carrying us into overtime where Tomas Kaberle hit paydirt.

In Look at the Hate We're Breeding I begged Paul Maurice to start Toskala last night in the hopes he'd have a strong game and lead us to victory. That would earn him another start on Tuesday and clarify the goaltending situation. It's all about what's best for the blue and white and what gives us our best chance at victory. His name is Vesa, for better or for worse.

A tip of the cap to Alexei Ponikarovsky who potted a couple and the entire Leafs team for coming back in the NHL's first ever must-win game three of an 82 game season. Some of us don't want to Wait 'Til Next Year if we don't have to.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
1-1-1
3 points
Tied for 2nd in Northeast
4-3 Win vs. Montreal
3-2 Loss vs. Ottawa
4-3 Loss vs. Ottawa
M. Sundin - 6
N. Antropov - 3
A. Ponikarovsky - 2

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When Mary Worth Was an Apple Selling Grandmother

appleAn interesting comment was left earlier today on this entry about Lynn Johnston's retirement from writing For Better Or For Worse. A fellow fan of the strip who goes by the handle T. K. Niland left Lynn a message, in the hopes that Lynn Johnston will find her way to my site. Here's what T. K. Niland had to say.

Dear Ms. Johnston,

I certainly understand your desire to “lighten” your load; but I will certainly miss the current format. I am a 75 year old comic strip “Junkie.” I’ve been reading comic strips since I’ve been able to read. I can remember when Mary Worth was an apple selling grandmother during the depression and have watched her grow younger to become a hot babe in Vietnam chasing a middle age Doctor.

I don’t look forward to losing the anticipation of finding out how the plot thickens; but I do understand and wish you God’s Speed.

Sincerely,
T. K. Niland

I love that line about remembering Mary Worth when she was an apple selling grandmother and then watching her grow younger to become a hot babe chasing a middle aged doctor. Heck, I love the whole thing. And I whole heartedly agree.

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Is The Saturday Star Too Much To Digest?

newspaperThe Toronto Star has redesigned their Saturday Star. The Saturday Star is the biggie and has always had the most sections, but is it too big?

I counted 14 sections in yesterday's Star. The first thing I do is sort the paper into two piles. One pile I'll actually look at, the other pile I won't even open. The piles are usual of equal size. Here are the 14 sections from yesterday's Star and what I did with each of them.

  • The First Section - I actually read this section. It's the news, and if you don't read the news in your newspaper you're really just reading a paper.
  • World and Comment - I go through this section and read the articles that capture my fancy.
  • Entertainment - I read this section. I find it entertaining.
  • Classified - I don't read this section at all.
  • New in Homes - I used to check out this section but I haven't opened it in a while. I'm sure I'm missing out on many wonderful home maintenance and decoration tips.
  • Ideas - I enjoy this section.
  • Weekend Living - This is sort of the old Life section and I'll breeze through it and read the interesting stuff.
  • Sports - I have always loved this section.
  • Puzzles and Comics - I just read the For Better or For Worse on the front page and that's that.
  • Condos - I don't read this section at all.
  • Travel - I don't read this section at all.
  • Wheels - I don't read this section at all.
  • Wheels 2 - I don't read this section at all.
  • Business and Careers - I don't read this section unless there's a really interesting business article screaming at me on the front page.

It takes a while to wade through it all and I usually don't wrap it up until some time on Sunday. Luckily, the Sunday Star is far lighter fare.

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Jesus Christ Pose

crossWhen I listed my five favourite comic strips a couple of years back, coming up with number one was easy. Lynn Johnston's "For Better Or For Worse" is the only strip I read on a daily basis and I've been doing so for as long as I can remember. A couple of times I didn't get it, but it's been consistently funny, moving and thought provoking for almost thirty years.

The oldest son, Michael, has been a character I've paid special attention to. We have the same name, are about the same age, live in the same city with a wife and two kids and both love to write. Over the past few years I've noticed a disturbing trend with Michael's character. I call it the Christification of Michael. Sure, he's a good guy, but Lynn has him evolving into a Christ-like figure of glorious holiness. Occasionally they give him a flaw, but it's always something positive such as the fact he works too hard. Usually he's acting as a saint and being worshipped by others.

Today's strip, which happens to be yesterday's stip if you read it in The Star and not online, shows Michael committing yet another grandiose act of kindness. Take a look at the second last frame. Thorns and shroud like it's the coming of the Lord. Cue the choir of angels singing Hallelujah!

I want to like Michael, but isn't one saint per family enough? Of course, it's not Michael's fault, he's just drawn that way.

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Random Spot Check of Toronto Mike Traffic

mouseI just took a peek at traffic to this site from 11:30am to 12:30pm. During this random hour, a few visits were rather interesting.

Crocs

Crocs

Yes, the good people at Crocs were interested in my Crocs conundrum. As you can see, they actually visited the entry twice. They're likely confused as to whether I was trashing their shoes or not. I called them very uncool, but I admitted they're comfy and convenient.

Ask Jeeves

Ask Jeeves

Ask Jeeves is a pretty big company, so this is likely just an employee checking out my blog. But, maybe Ask Jeeves is looking to buy this site... This may just be a scouting mission as they seek to enhance their online content. Is Ask Toronto Mike coming soon?

The Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune is interested in what I have to say about Elizabeth and Anthony, but who isn't? Elizabeth and Anthony reuniting in For Better or For Worse is the biggest thing to happen in comic strips since Charlie Brown unsuccessfully kicked that football. The Chicago Tribune is one of the ten largest daily newspapers in the United States, I'll have you know.

There you have it, a quick peek behind the curtain. I'll let you know if Crocs offers me free shoes, Ask Jeeves makes a bid or the Chicago Tribune quotes me in their Lynn Johnston expose.

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The Sopranos Series Finale

sopranosI intentionally waited a couple of days before writing this entry. Immediately following The Sopranos series finale on Sunday night I posted this entry which featured the song that played during the pivotal closing scene. In the comments, there was a discussion about the episode and I revealed some of my thoughts. Two days removed, I'm ready to go on the record.

Anger
When the episode cut to black suddenly, with Meadow walking in the door and the word "stop" heard in Jorney's "Don't Stop Believin'", I was ready for the credits to roll, but I wasn't happy about it. I was angry at David Chase, royally ticked that he would do this to us. There was no resolution, no closure, no sense of finality. It was total SNAFU and it will all continue to unravel, only I won't be able to watch. I was disappointed.

Acceptance
About twenty minutes later, I started to come around. To quote a comment I left on that entry at 10:17, "It's not what I was looking for, but it's probably what I needed." Part of what I liked about the Sopranos was that it didn't do things just to do things. It's a well acted, well written show and very difficult to predict. I never knew where we were headed, and I could accept that I'd never know.

Beauty
Two days later, I love the ending. I intend to watch that episode again in its entirety and I'll probably watch that closing scene a half dozen times on demand. Every shifty looking character in that diner had me on the edge of my seat. Every time Meadow hit the curb parking her car, my heart rate increased. This series had me riveted and that final scene was no different. The fact nothing happened is brilliant. Tony never paid for his chosen lifestyle. My boy Paulie Walnuts is still kicking. It is what it is, and why should it be anything else?

I've read theories as to what really happened in that diner. Some claim it's the Lady or the Tiger conclusion. Did Tony look up because he saw Meadow or did he see his killer? I have no doubt he saw Meadow. Tony, his wife and his two children were united for a typical family dinner out. Paulie Walnuts is probably breaking someone's gonads right now. I'm just sorry I can't hear the crack.

The Sopranos, it turns out, was never about mobsters and violence and organized crime. That's the family business, but this show was about Tony and his family. Tony's prime concern was keeping his family together and safe and at the end they're in tact and unified, for better or for worse. Perhaps that is closure...

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Complete Guide: How to Get Started in Forex Trading

If you've never traded Forex before, the idea might be daunting. But you can start Forex trading today, with no prior experience. Yes, the internet has made it easy. And with platforms readily available online, nothing is standing in your way.

Here is what you need to know to start Forex trading.

The broker

You need a broker through which to trade Forex. The broker processes all of your trades, making it possible for you to access the markets. There are two important considerations when choosing a broker:

  1. Regulations: Financial trading is a regulated activity in almost every country. This is especially so in financial centers such as the UK, USA, Japan, etc. You should make sure to choose a broker with a government license. This ensures that you're protected in the case that something goes wrong.
  2. Order execution: Find out what type of model to use. The two options are brokers with a dealing desk and brokers without. A dealing desk simply means that your money is not actually traded. It is kept by the broker who loses that money if you lose, and pays you out his own if you win. Without a dealing desk, the order is done straight through the broker.

The account

To start Forex trading you need to select a trading account. A trading account is similar to a regular bank account. The difference is that you can use these funds to trade on the financial market. Brokers will offer a variety of trading accounts to choose from. Pay attention to minimum deposits, leverage, financial instruments available, and charts and analyses provided.

As you become more attuned to the way the Forex market works, you'll be able to make more informed decisions on what will serve you best in future.

Financial leverage

For better or for worse, Forex brokers offer higher leverage than any other. Leverage allows you to trade with far more profit potential than the actual amount you are trading. In other words, if you are offered leverage of 1:100, it means that you can trade $1 and make $100. However, it also means you can lose an equal amount, and not just what you traded.

Trading capital

No matter what, when you start Forex trading you should have trading capital set aside. This means that you trade with funds you can afford to lose. Because ultimately you probably will face failure before going on to make big money.

If you're trading with the money you need for day-to-day living, you will inevitably crumble under the pressure, making bad decisions when things start going wrong.

Trading software

Finally, you need to learn to use Forex trading software. The trading platform is what creates contact with the broker, and will usually be offered by the brokers. The industry standard is MetaTrader 4, and is offered by Admiral Markets, as well as most other brokers. It is easy to use and has complete functionality.

Start Forex trading today

Forex trading is so accessible nowadays that there are few reasons not to start Forex trading. Just make sure that you are responsible, and only trade with money you can afford to lose.

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Links To Informative External Web Sites

Podcasts I Produce

Toronto Mike'd (My podcast)
Your Blog Sucks (My podcast that's on hiatus)
She's So Young (My daughter's podcast)
Fantasy Sports Hookup (My brother Ryan's podcast)
In Her Shoes (My wife's podcast)
Humble and Fred Radio


News

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Google News Canada
The Toronto Star
BBC News | World | Americas
Yahoo! News
CNN.com


Music

Stereogum
Edge 102
Grooveshark
MTV News
Rolling Stone
Spin


Humour

Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week
For Better or for Worse
Herman
The Onion
National Lampoon
Mark's Friggin Howard Stern Page

Sports

ESPN
TSN
Sportsnet
Hockey Database
The Legend of Bill Barilko


Movies

Internet Movie Database
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Miscellaneous

Wikipedia
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Buds

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MarkCarey.com
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coreFusion
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This page is brought to you by New Start America. Break free from credit card debt.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Regarding Mona's rant and Boon's justification of her nearsighted and racist post, let's be reminded that the identity or race of the shooter who's bullet struck Creba have not been identified. It's important to withold one's conclusions until all the evidence is on the table, because anyone with a modicum of life experience will tell you, assumptions frequently turn out to be incorrect.

What man calls "me" is nothing more than a collection of sensate experiences gathered throughout their lifetime. Put another way, if you experience shit you'll spread shit. And that's not regarding the hue your skin gives off in the light. One who is in conflict creates conflict -- it begins from within. Turn out the light and a conflicted white youth is just as conflicted as a black one, and both carry the same potential to carry out what happened downtown this past Boxing Day.

When unfortunate circumstances like this manifest, we want to compartmentalize the problem -- find a specific cause for a specific result, and above all, we want to put a name (or skin colour) behind the cause. For starters, we must put an end to this sort of materialistic thought process.

It never occurs to people that some things may not have clear causes, if any at causes at all. Sure life appears to be driven by a degree of predictability, but I believe that every occurrence in the universe was manifested by the full weight of the universe -- our task is to grow from those occurrences whether they be pleasant or unpleasant. No amount of analysis, theory or parrotting dead cliches like "enough is enough" will address this issue satisfactorily.

What is my stance on the issue? Indifference. That's not to say I hold no concern for what happened, but the world is our teacher and man doesn't have his attenae tuned. The clues for human growth exist as much in a blade of grass as it does in a wild Yonge Street shootout, but we don't look for them.

We don't know how.

You won't hear any plaintiff cries of "stop the violence from me," because I am perceptive enought to recognize the futility of that. After the Cadougan boy was caught in the crossfire of a housing complex shootout last summer, I even said more four year olds need to be caught in the middle of gun battles if that's what it will take for people to wake up. Controversial sure, but it may be the best cold shower that'll make these punks come to their senses.

Proton out.

      Proton

You're right, I gave Mona an easy out. Initially my response was going to be quite a bit harsher, but then I felt my tone was going to be too judgmental so I gave her the benefit of the Chris Rock doubt. If I close my eyes and visualize the person who fired the bullet that killed Jane sometimes it's a white male, sometimes it's a black female, other times I see a black male or even a white female. Always it's a lawless, fearless punk.

You're right about something else. We don't know. That's why there's so much frustration. If I can do nothing else at least I can give everyone who has an opinion on the subject a forum to express it, for better or for worse. My greatest fear is the spread of further indifference.

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