Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Electrical Enlightenment II - Canada to Go Florescent

By way of follow up on our post last week about Ontario's pending ban on incandescent light bulbs, Yahoo! News reports today that the entire nation will be going florescent by 2012:

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will ban the sale of inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2012 as part of a plan to cut down on emissions of greenhouse gases, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said on Wednesday.

Canada is the second country in the world to announce such a ban. Australia said in February it would get rid of all incandescent bulbs by 2009.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

School Shootings and the "Culture of Mean"

A thoughtful article from Canadian Press on bullying, Simon Cowell, the "culture of mean," and school shootings:

There is a shift to a "culture of mean,'' says Barbara Coloroso, and she believes today's youth are swimming in it.

Coloroso, an internationally recognized parenting expert and author of "The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander,'' was in the small town of Black Diamond, 80 kilometres west of Calgary on Saturday, to conduct a workshop on bullying....

With teens learning to laugh at others' pain, it's little wonder that bullying is running rampant in North American schools, she said. And as in many other cases, the shooter at Virginia Tech and those at Columbine were what she calls "bullied bullies.'' After being the target of bullying, eventually the victim becomes what he fears the most.

"The bullied bullies not only strike back but they do it with that utter contempt, that cold look on their face. They have become themselves what they hated,'' explained Coloroso. "Just as he was treated as an `it,' he treats other human beings unmercifully.''

According to, Coloroso is "a former Roman Catholic nun, mother of two and parenting expert with four bestsellers to her credit."
Personally, I think it is fair to say that this past week's tragedy at Virginia Tech was essentially an event driven by one individual's psychotic break.
No cultural or sociological analysis can ultimately deliver any complete or satisfying understanding of this kind of extreme, homicidal violence - it is just too far off the rails.
Having said that, while deranged characters have emerged throughout history, their scripts securely targeted on the cultural fault lines of the day, the increasing frequency of schools as a modern location for such violence needs a much closer look.
I think the author above is onto something.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Talk about "hauling your neighbour's ass into court..."


(h/t Raw Story)

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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Electrical Enlightenment Coming to Ontario

From Yahoo! News:

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Ontario will ban the sale of inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2012 as part of a broader effort to cut energy use, provincial officials said on Wednesday.

Replacing all 87 million incandescent bulbs in Ontario households with more efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescent bulbs, would cut electricity demand by 6 million megawatt hours annually -- enough to power 600,000 homes, the provincial government said.

Compact fluorescent bulbs use about 75 percent less electricity than old-style incandescents. From now on, the Ontario government will only purchase energy efficient bulbs for its own buildings, it said.

"This action alone represents a huge step forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- it's the equivalent of taking 250,000 cars off the road," Environment Minister Laurel Broten said.

-Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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BC Robber Wins Damages Award against Store - Injured by Security Guards During Theft

From Yahoo! News:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A Canadian man who admitted shoplifting C$106 in razor blades has been awarded C$12,000 ($10,645) for injuries he suffered when he was tackled by store security guards.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

PM Harper Snubs Charter 25th Anniversary

From CBC News:

PM's snub of charter anniversary 'shocking': Chrétien:

Jean Chrétien says he is shocked that the federal Conservative government has no plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"We're celebrating the 25th anniversary this week and they don't want to have anything to do about it. It's just kind of shocking," the former prime minister told CBC News on Monday."

"... I hope they will not put the flag at half-mast [Tuesday] because it will be the anniversary."

Harper and critics have complained in the past that judges have used the charter to undermine the powers of Parliament.

Harper was barely a month into office when he suggested judges should show greater deference to Parliament and "apply the law, not make it."

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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Monday, April 16, 2007

US Attorney Purge Scandal Heats up

So now it appears President George W. Bush and Karl Rove were both directly involved in the firing of a New Mexico US Attorney, David Iglesias.

Friom TPMmuckraker:

The firing of U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias continues to smoke....

So we have two different streams of complaints from the White House -- the first in October about voter fraud and then another in November, stemming from Domenici's concern at Iglesias' failure to move certain cases. Of course, both of them at their base were about Iglesias' failure to prosecute enough Democrats. [Emphasis added]

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Employment Law: Is Online "Adult" Activity Relevant to the Workplace?

This will be an interesting topic for a Saturday.

Wired has an article today, Sex and Nudity Aren't Good Reasons to Fire Someone, discussing recent incidents in which U.S. employees have been terminated after their online, "adult" alter-egos were discovered by their employers:

An Ohio teacher was fired last month after his private nude photos were posted online without his knowledge and then discovered by administrators. In February, Michelle Manhart was demoted from Air Force staff sergeant to senior airman and then reassigned to the Iowa National Guard, simply for posing in Playboy without first obtaining the Air Force's permission.

A New York Post article about how online activities affect a job hunt cites an example of a manager who was fired after his bosses found his pictures on an erotic dating site. Not because he was using company time to update his profile, but because "he showed extremely poor judgment by making such a personal matter public."

It makes you wonder what the bosses were doing at the dating site.

While we have acted (successfully) for individuals who have been wrongfully dismissed after their employers contended that workplace usage of company email and internet facilities was improper, the Wired article documents a clear escalation of online spying activity by employers, beyond the confines of the workplace itself.

It seems at first glance that under Ontario law, this type of online extra-curricular activity would in most cases be simply irrelevant to employment performance, barring blatant online illegality or other workplace-related posting that would directly impact the employer.

There would be no grounds whatsover for job action by an Ontario employer, in most circumstances, from this form of online expression.

Beyond that, in certain instances, the Ontario Human Rights Code might well prohibit discriminatory employer action on the basis of indiscreet online activity alone.

But, legal considerations aside, the Wired story does highlight the reality that online personnas are eminently searchable - if you don't want something to be seen by co-workers, mothers or others, you probably would be well advised against posting it.

You may have some entitlement to privacy - but you cannot prevent others from finding that which you have knowingly put "out there." Therefore, play as you may, but be aware - consequences may follow.

Caveat emptor.

Addendum - April 17, 2007 - This related, cautionary note comes from The Journal of the Business Law Society, University of Illinois College of Law:

Make sure your Facebook and MySpace profiles do not have/reveal anything incriminating about you. Employers will check before an interview.” Come again? The hiring partner of a Vault 100 firm is going to “friend” me?

As incredulous as I was, I began to see this advice echoed throughout a variety of mediums. As The New York Times reported: “…recruiters are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy.” More than one recruiter admitted to denying a candidate based on what the candidate’s online profile had revealed.

Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Quote of the Day

Balloon Juice:

The only idea so pernicious that its expression threatens America, is the belief that such an idea exists.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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John Cole gets it right.
I agree, wholeheartedly.

'Nuff said. Really.
For comparative context, see Media Matters, which presents an extensive catalogue of the "bigotry and hate speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity" of right-wing media personalities Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, and John Gibson."
Not to mention Ann Coulter, of course.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Leafs 6, Habs 5

My final hockey post of the weekend, for some special friends in La Belle Province:

From TSN:

The Toronto Maple Leafs stayed alive and knocked out their biggest rivals, too. Trailing the Montreal Canadiens by one entering the third period, the Maple Leafs got two power-play goals and held on for a 6-5 victory on Saturday. The Leafs need the New York Islanders to lose at New Jersey on Sunday to claim the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

UPDATE: April 8, 2006 - Now that the Leafs' golf season has also officially begun, due to the Islanders' clutch, shootout victory this afternoon over New Jersey, I am almost ashamed at the degree to which last night's elimination of the Habs somehow has made this season seem... well...
... almost worthwhile.
And sooooo satisfying...
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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TSN: Alan Eagleson Pardoned in 2005

Continuing with our hockey motif, TSN is reporting that former NHL Players Association head Alan Eagleson was pardoned in 2005 by the Canadian federal government for a 1998 conviction arising from embezzlement charges:

According to a report in the Calgary Herald, disgraced hockey agent and promoter Alan Eagleson was pardoned in 2005 by the Canadian government on his 1998 conviction and imprisonment on three counts of fraud and embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars of Canada Cup earnings.

...Eagleson avoided a five-year prison sentence in the U.S. in a 1998 plea bargain that allowed him to serve just four months of an 18-month prison sentence in Canada...

"I am very surprised," Hockey Hall of Famer Brad Park told the Herald. "I can't believe that this was never made public knowledge. Down here (in the United States) pardons like this are public and done by the President. I think that's a better system. I guess the message to the hockey players he cheated all those years is 'roll us over and do it again.'”

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

N.J. Zamboni Driver Cleared

With the NHL playoffs just around the corner, Zamboni drivers everywhere may (or may not) be breathing a sigh of relief.

From the Associated Press:

It is not drunk driving in New Jersey if it involves a 4-ton ice rink-grooming machine. A judge ruled the ice-rink machines known as Zambonis are not motor vehicles because they cannot be used on highways and cannot carry passengers.

Zamboni operator John Peragallo was convicted of drunken driving in 2005 after a fellow employee at the Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown told police the machine was speeding and nearly crashed into the boards.... Peragallo appealed, and Superior Court Judge Joseph Falcone on Monday overturned his license revocation and penalties.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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