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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ex- Maple Leaf Wade Belak passes away

3rd NHL enforcer to die this offseason

Friend of The Edge 102.1 morning show with Dean Blundell, NHL enforcer Wade Belak was a huge fan favourite in Toronto and a regular on Blundell's show even after he was traded. As Wade Belak's reported suicide or accidental overdose was the third death of a National Hockey League enforcer this summer, much attention will be paid to that specific career opportunity, and the role is worth examining. An era when players are limited to a certain amount of fights per season may not be far off.

The primary issue of head injuries will remain the hottest topic, as it affects all types of players at all positions. The players are bigger, faster and stronger, yet playing on the exact same size ice surface. Things we need to encourage include:

- higher standards for helmets

- new mandatory shoulder pads with padding outside and in

- no-touch icing

- more disciplinary measures for intentional and accidental head shots, with repeat offenders getting 10, 20 and 40 game suspensions

Belak was 35, Rick Rypien (August 2011) was 27, and Derek Boogaard (May 2011) was 28. I grew up in a central Ontario hockey family, watched Bobby Orr play since he was 14, saw Wayne Gretzky play four full games (literally; his coach would put him on defence when he was tired) in his ten-year-old season, the year he scored 400 goals (averaged 5 per game over 80 games including tourneys and playoffs). There has never been this many young players die in one summer, with a possible exception of car accidents, though I can't even remember three of those in one year.

Wade Belak (1976 - 2011)

Rick Rypien (1984 - 2011)

Derek Boogaard (1982 - 2011)

As far as the Toronto Maple Leafs go, Wade Belak is to me the 3rd in a line of fan faves to die young: Brian "Spinner" Spencer, John Kordic, and now, the much-loved Wade Belak. We will examine the theme of the ex-Toronto Maple Leafs that died young over at our Horses and Hockey blog.

Every time I heard him on the Dean Blundell Show, he seemed like a genuinely good guy who truly loved hockey, and his role in it. My hope is that Dean and the boys do everything they can to raise money for a worthwhile foundation to be established in Wade Belak's name. People close to him will know what he most believed in, and the foundation can do some work in those areas.

May his loving soul rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beijing a soul-less nightmare crying for re-invention

Chinese artist / architect Ai Weiwei examines capital city

In the following article from Newsweek, outspoken artist and architect Ai Weiwei looks at how life in Beijing crushes human aspirations.

Beijing is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.

Schizophrenic Beijing: cold capital of China

by Ai Weiwei

Beijing is two cities. One is of power and of money. People don’t care who their neighbors are; they don’t trust you. The other city is one of desperation. I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope. They can’t even imagine that they’ll be able to buy a house. They come from very poor villages where they’ve never seen electricity or toilet paper.

Every year millions come to Beijing to build its bridges, roads, and houses. Each year they build a Beijing equal to the size of the city in 1949. They are Beijing’s slaves. They squat in illegal structures, which Beijing destroys as it keeps expanding. Who owns houses? Those who belong to the government, the coal bosses, the heads of big enterprises. They come to Beijing to give gifts—and the restaurants and karaoke parlors and saunas are very rich as a result.

Beijing tells foreigners that they can understand the city, that we have the same sort of buildings: the Bird’s Nest, the CCTV tower. Officials who wear a suit and tie like you say we are the same and we can do business. But they deny us basic rights. You will see migrants’ schools closed. You will see hospitals where they give patients stitches—and when they find the patients don’t have any money, they pull the stitches out. It’s a city of violence.

The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it’s like a sandstorm. You don’t see yourself as part of the city—there are no places that you relate to, that you love to go. No corner, no area touched by a certain kind of light. You have no memory of any material, texture, shape. Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else’s will, somebody else’s power.

To properly design Beijing, you’d have to let the city have space for different interests, so that people can coexist, so that there is a full body to society. A city is a place that can offer maximum freedom. Otherwise it’s incomplete.

I feel sorry to say I have no favorite place in Beijing. I have no intention of going anywhere in the city. The places are so simple. You don’t want to look at a person walking past because you know exactly what’s on his mind. No curiosity. And no one will even argue with you.

None of my art represents Beijing. The Bird’s Nest—I never think about it. After the Olympics, the common folks don’t talk about it because the Olympics did not bring joy to the people.

Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing, designed by Ai Weiwei

There are positives to Beijing. People still give birth to babies. There are a few nice parks. Last week I walked in one, and a few people came up to me and gave me a thumbs up or patted me on the shoulder. Why do they have to do that in such a secretive way? No one is willing to speak out. What are they waiting for? They always tell me, “Weiwei, leave the nation, please.” Or “Live longer and watch them die.” Either leave, or be patient and watch how they die. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.

My ordeal made me understand that on this fabric, there are many hidden spots where they put people without identity. With no name, just a number. They don’t care where you go, what crime you committed. They see you or they don’t see you, it doesn’t make the slightest difference. There are thousands of spots like that. Only your family is crying out that you’re missing. But you can’t get answers from the street communities or officials, or even at the highest levels, the court or the police or the head of the nation. My wife has been writing these kinds of petitions every day, making phone calls to the police station every day. Where is my husband? Just tell me where my husband is. There is no paper, no information.

The strongest character of those spaces is that they’re completely cut off from your memory or anything you’re familiar with. You’re in total isolation. And you don’t know how long you’re going to be there, but you truly believe they can do anything to you. There’s no way to even question it. You’re not protected by anything. Why am I here? Your mind is very uncertain of time. You become like mad. It’s very hard for anyone. Even for people who have strong beliefs.

This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Musicians performing at Jack Layton's funeral

State funeral for NDP Leader Jack Layton, Saturday 2 pm, Roy Thomson Hall

From what I've been able to glean from the web and other media, Saturday's funeral for Opposition Leader Jack Layton will be filled with music and poignant memories. Some highlights are sure to include:

Eulogy - To be delivered by Stephen Lewis

Officiant - Pastor Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes will deliver a couple of specific messages Jack wanted to be read at his funeral.

Rise Up - Parachute Club singer / writer Lorraine Segato will sing her anthemic tune.

Hallelujah - Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies will perform this haunting, melancholy, yet uplifting song.

Quebecois singer Martin Deschamps met Layton several times and is planning on traveling from Montreal to Toronto to perform at Roy Thomson Hall.

The service is intended to be religiously and politically inclusive, and will have readings from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other traditions.

On Saturday night the CN Tower will glow with orange light in honour of Jack Layton and his affiliation with the NDP (whose main colour is orange), a really kind gesture and symbolic of Toronto's love for this passionate, thoughtful man.

Monday, August 22, 2011

DOA news: 20 date tour across Canada and the U.S.A

Joey Shithead and DOA: Summer / Autumn 2012 North American Tour

Canada’s punk rock legends DOA are ready to rip it up, as they announce a 20 date tour across Canada and the U.S.A. this fall. As always D.O.A. shows equal: good times, activism and sheer rock power but this time there’s even more. The tour will be in support of Canada’s punk godfather Joe Shithead Keithley’s new book: TALK – ACTION = 0. The book is an amazing combo of posters, photos, single and album covers that includes narrated details to go with the 1000 plus images by the man himself. As the tour proceeds, Joe will be playing acoustically at record stores along the way, where you can have a first hand look at TALK – ACTION = 0. Shithead promises to take the D.O.A. shows to new heights, aided by his ultra able henchmen: Dirty Dan Sedan (bass) and Jesse “The Kid” Pinner (drums).

DOA North American Tour - August to October 2012

Saturday August 20th – Legion Hall, Tofino BC
Wednesday September 7th - Pogue Mahone, Kamloops BC

Thursday September 8th - acoustic in store @ Permanent Records, Edmonton, AB 7-8 PM
Thursday September 8th - The Pawn Shop, Edmonton AB
Friday September 9th - Palomino, Calgary, AB
Saturday September 10th - acoustic In store 2:30-3:30 PM, Sloth Records, Calgary AB
Saturday September 10th - TBA
Sunday September 11th - Canmore Hotel, Canmore AB

Wednesday September 14th - Triple Rock social Club, Minneapolis, MN
Thursday September 15th - The Crunchy Frog, Green Bay, WI
Friday September 16th – The Cobra Lounge, Chicago, IL
Saturday September 17th – Tattoo City Underground Festival, Plainfield IN

Tuesday October 4th - The Casbah, Hamilton, ON
Wed. October 5th - Call The Office, London, ON
Thur. October 6th - Chainsaw, Waterloo, ON
Friday October 7th- The Horseshoe, Toronto, ON

Saturday October 8th - Katacombes, Montreal, QC
Sunday October 9th - Cabaret De La Derniere Chance, Rouyn, QC
Tuesday October 11th - L'Agitee, Quecbec City, QC
Wednesday Oct. 12th - Le Bunker, Saguenay, QC

Friday October 14th - Mavericks, Ottawa, ON
Saturday Oct. 15th - The Mansion, Kingston, ON

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Suzuki bemoans decline of science in North America

So there's no simple explanation
for anything important any of us do
and yea the human tragedy
consists in the necessity
of living with the consequences
under pressure, under pressure.

Courage, my word, it didn't come, it doesn't matter,
Courage, your word, it didn't come, it doesn't matter,
It couldn't come at a worse time.

- The Tragically Hip

Science Must Be Free From Political Interference

by David Suzuki, Founder, David Suzuki Foundation

From HuffPost Green:

While doing salmon-genetics research at the Pacific Biological Station on Vancouver Island, federal fisheries scientist Kristi Miller discovered that a virus may be killing large numbers of Fraser River sockeye before they reach their spawning grounds.

The research was published in the prestigious journal Science, but Miller wasn't allowed to speak to the media about it. The government's Privy Council Office said this was to avoid "influencing" the ongoing federal inquiry into the Fraser sockeye decline. But it's hard to believe the Cohen Commission wouldn't want to encourage discussion about its area of inquiry. And it's in the public interest for the science to be available to a wide audience.

This is just one sign that science is playing second fiddle to political concerns in Canada and the U.S. Recently, we've seen more "muzzling" of scientists, funding cuts, and an increasing disregard for science in policy-making and public conversation. The U.S. has seen calls to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency and the rise of climate change deniers in national politics.

Last September, the head of the Canadian Science Writers' Association, which represents science journalists, spoke out against the "unacceptable political interference" in how government science is communicated. Now, everything federal scientists say to the media must be approved by political staff. They are not allowed to deviate from approved "media lines."

The government has also slashed funding for climate change research, jeopardizing our ability to assess risks to human health, infrastructure, and the environment. And in early August, it announced that more than 700 Environment Canada employees face the axe in the coming months. According to the Hill Times, the affected workers include "100 physical scientists, 19 meteorologists, 45 computer scientists, chemists, biologists and engineers." Fisheries and Oceans Canada and National Research Council staff have also received layoff notices. The cuts seriously jeopardize the ability of government departments to provide effective leadership and public science when it's needed more than ever.

Our blinkered approach to science at home is bad enough, but we're also gaining an unenviable reputation abroad. Canada has been criticized in recent years for hindering rather than advancing global efforts to combat climate change. In June, Canada opposed a plan to classify chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance at the UN Rotterdam Convention, despite admitting that the science is sound. We are, of course, a major exporter of this deadly material. Fifty countries have banned it for domestic use, including Canada. And the government has spent millions removing it from buildings, including Parliament.

This scientific antipathy could not come at a worse time.

As global ecosystems decline, and with them our air, water, soil and energy, we face many serious decisions about the fuels we use, the food we eat, how we get around -- perhaps every aspect of the way we live. But powerful interests from all quarters are making themselves heard. We are told one thing and then another, and in the resulting confusion we sometimes throw up our hands and don't know who or what to believe.

We need all the options on the table, and some way of evaluating which ones are credible and will serve us best as a society and as a species. Good science is the best available tool we have to do this. It knows no political allegiance or cultural sympathy. It must withstand rigorous evaluation and testing. It is always being modified or even tossed out because it is constantly tested and replaced when better science emerges.

When we combine these strengths with foresight, ingenuity, and reason, we are best prepared for the challenges ahead. Attempts to control or limit public science are not just ideologically suspect, they are often counterproductive and can be hugely destructive.

When we're making decisions that may call for compromise and sacrifice, when we're asking people and nations to change their habits, when we're trying to wean ourselves off the dirty, unsustainable energy that fuels our consumer society, we want and need to know our leaders are committed to acting on the best information available.

At the very least, that means letting scientists talk about their work. But it also means giving our experts the resources they need to do their jobs. It means a frank and open discussion about problems and solutions. And it means putting the public interest above political concerns.

Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation communications coordinator Kealy Doyle.

Learn more at Official David Suzuki Foundation website

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bob Marley song helping feed the starving in Somalia

High Tide or Low Tide sales to benefit East Africa famine victims

In high seas or in low seas
I'm gonna be your friend,
I'm gonna be your friend.
In high tide or in low tide,
I'll be by your side,
I'll be by your side.

(I heard her praying, praying, praying)
I said, I heard my mother,
She was praying (praying, praying, praying)
And the words that she said (the words that she said),
They still linger in my head (lingers in my head),
She said, "A child is born in this world,
He needs protection,
God, guide and protect us,
When we're wrong, please correct us.
(When we're wrong, correct us).
And stand by me." yeah!

In high seas or in low seas,
I'm gonna be your friend,
He said, "I'm gonna be your friend."
And, baby, in high tide or low tide,
I'll be by your side,
I'll be by your side.

I siad I heard my mother,
She was crying' (I heard her crying'), yeah! (crying', crying'),
And the tears that she she'd (the tears that she shed)
They still linger in my head (lingers in my head)

She said: "A child is born in this world,
He needs protection,
God, guide and protect us,
When we're wrong, (when we're wrong), correct us.

And in high seas or low seas,
I'm gonna be your friend,
I'm gonna be your friend.
Said, high tide or low tide,
I'll be by your side,
I'll be by your side.

Bob Marley's High Tide or Low Tide is the musical 'face' being used as part of a global social media campaign to help stem the hunger crisis that is increasing in the Horn of Africa.

The campaign called 'I'm Gonna Be Your Friend,' was launched recently and features more than 150 stars. Some of the names involved include Lady Gaga, U2, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney who are utilising their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to urge fans to donate money to help the numerous families starving in the region. Other stars participating include Sting, David Beckham, Eminem, Rihanna, Annie Lennox, Bruno Mars, Madonna, Ricky Martin and Lily Allen.

The campaign can be found at www.imgonnabeyourfriend.org. The website shows a video of footage of the crisis filmed by Oscar winner Kevin MacDonald, with Bob Marley and The Wailers' 1973 song, High Tide or Low Tide playing throughout and an image of the singer used at the end. The song includes the line "I'm Gonna Be Your Friend" which is where the campaign got its name. MacDonald is the director of the upcoming documentary 'Marley', about the singer.

According to www.hollywood.com, celebrities involved have promised to promote a short film about the crisis on their widely viewed Facebook and Twitter accounts in hopes of encouraging their dedicated fans to donate to the cause.

On the official Somali relief campaign website I'm Gonna Be Your Friend Rita Marley was quoted as saying, "Not one child should be denied food nor water. Not one child should suffer. Along with Save the Children, we (must) stand up together as friends to put a stop to this, to feed our children and to save their lives."

From each download of Bob Marley's High Tide or Low Tide, US$1.29 (J$109.59) will go to the Save the Children appeal for east Africa and used for food, water and medicine. The song was reportedly chosen by the Marley family for the resonance of the single's lyrics.

Horn of Africa region in peril

United Nations reports that approximately 3.6 million people are at risk of starvation in Somalia and 12 million people across the Horn of Africa, including in Ethiopia and Kenya. The drought-hit Horn of Africa urgently needs funds to rebuild agriculture and fight famine. The United Nations food agency has called for a high-level meeting to help overcome the worsening crisis.

The 'I'm Gonna Be Your Friend' campaign estimated it would reach over a billion people with partners such as Universal Music Group, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, MSN, YouTube and Twitter and the power of celebrities' reach. The campaign through its Facebook and Twitter pages alone, hope to reach 730 million people.

Sources: Jamaica Star, Reuters

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