On Monday the Sun printed a map depicting the routes Holly Jones and her friend took, walking up Symington Avenue, as well as the route Holly took to go home, down the next street west, Perth Avenue.

In 2001-2002 I dated a girl who lived on Symington, and the two girls would have walked right past my ex's house (according to the police map). So I know the area very well. There are back alleys between Perth and Symington, big enough for a car, and lined with the type of tiny, dingy garages you seem to only find in Toronto.

If she had walked south on Perth and wanted to take a shortcut back over to the crosswalk at Symington and Bloor, which is less than a block from her house, there is an alleyway that crosses between the streets just a few steps north of Bloor. We always tell kids the dangers of strangers and back alleys and all that, but I remember when I was a kid I loved to take little shortcuts through back-routes. In a normal world.. well I guess it's not really a normal world when there is at least one person at large in this city who has grabbed a child a few blocks from her home, and done unspeakable things.

Visiting my friends this weekend, their son overheard us discussing Holly Jones, and asked what we were talking about. How do you explain something to a six-year old kid, when it's something that gives even grown-ups nightmares?

To W, and to all Toronto parents: Have courage.

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to flight better,
Sleep to wake.
Robert Browning (Epilogue--Asolando)
If you see the following post twice, I'm sorry, I have no idea what's up.

Oh, got it fixed. Guess there's no reason to post this now...
The spin is on; the reactions are coming in. Heather MacIvor over at the Star had some things to say about the Tory by-election win in Perth Middlesex earlier this week, in an article entitled "Whither Tories sans Joe?"
Interestingly enough, she doesn't try to answer the question that the title of her article seems to ask. Rather, she writes a long and misinformed tirade against the PC Party. So I've decided to take it upon myself to write some more crap on the subject. What's that, a rebuttal? Of course you'll believe what I say and realize that she's just plain wrong, because you are getting verrrry sleeeeeepy. OK, ready? Here we go (serious mode: on). She should have had someone proofread it prior to sending it to her editor, because some parts of her article seem to (I'm sure unintentionally) prove the case that the Tories are a national party still in a position to govern.

For instance, when she discusses candidate reimbursement (getting your deposit back), she says "Only 3 in 10 Tory candidates qualified for reimbursement after the 2000 election". From what I remember from my involved days, to get your deposit back, you need 15% of the vote in your riding. That is a figure that would be hardly worth mentioning, were it the NDP or the Bloq or the CA in question, because those parties have always been strong in the ridings they've won, and weak in most of the others (the NDP and Tory votes are more uniformly spread than the other two, which partly explains the low number of seats returned). But that is not normal for the PC Party of Canada, just as it would seem absurd if the Liberals only got such a small number of their depoisits back. I should mention here that the one third figure seems a little low to me, but I'm not posting frrom home so I don't have the resources with me to verify her numbers, and I'm using dial-up here, so I'm not going to go searching the net.
The Natural Law Party has run candidates, and I'm sure they haven't gotten any of their deposits back. So what Ms. MacIvor is really saying, is that only one third of Tory candidates got their deposits back, which is a remarkable fact only because the PC Party is one of the country's governing parties.

"the Tories' financial situation is so dire that they had to liquidate the Bracken House Trust in 2001"
This is true. However, what Ms. MacIvor neglects to mention is that since 2001, the party has paid off it's debt and is now building a warchest. When I say "paid-off", I don't mean in the way that the CA did it, by taking the money from it's riding associations with promises to pay it back at the end of 2003. While Stephen Harper may have declared his party debt-free, he still has loans for the same amount of principle as before, however with a slightly lower interest rate. And at the end of this year, he is going to have to borrow from the banks again to pay back the money owed to the riding associations. What a tangled web....

"Of the 10 by-elections since November, 2000, the Tories have won precisely two. If there's a Tory resurgence here, I can't see it."
Ms. MacIvor may or may not be right. At least she's honest when she says that she doesn't know. Without a crystal ball how could she possibly be expected to see the future of the Party?
And 2 out of 10 by-election victories may not, at first glance, seem like a victory. The thing is, that is 20% of the by-elections since the last general election. But when you consider that the Party only has 5% of the total representation in the house, that's a victory in itself. And it's here that she really begins to play around with the numbers.

"Schellenberger actually won fewer votes in his by-election victory than he did when he lost to the Liberals in 2000, although his vote share jumped from 30 to 40 per cent because overall turnout dropped by one-third."
By-elections always have a smaller voter turnout. Stephen Harper won his riding by less than half of the votes that his predecessor, Preston Manning, won in 2000. It's normal.
But what Ms. Macivor wants you to believe is that those almost all of those who didn't vote in last week's by-election in Perth Middlesex, but did vote in 2000, were Liberal and Alliance supporters. She tells you that those two parties were the only ones affected by the lower voter turnout, and that is the reason for the result. In fact all of the parties were affected by the lower turnout, and the only way to compare the numbers with 2000 properly is by the percentages.
Yeah, no if you want those numbers you've come to the wrong website. I'm too lazy to open up Internet Explorer and go to Yahoo. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
And the one thing that stands out in this particular by-election, even perhaps above the Tory victory, is the NDP vote, which rose from 6% to 15%. I read an article last week that suggested that the reason for this is that the "I hate everybody" vote is moving from the CA, and back to the NDP, where that vote has traditionally been parked. These are the people who distrust politicians and all parties, but still get out to vote.

There are always ways to spin political events, but playing spin doctor with numbers is usually dumb. It's just too easy to get called on it by someone who knows the facts. Better to resort to sloganeering (Reform Party), consistent name-calling (Liberal Party Ontario), or wedge-issues (Liberal Party Canada).

Mike Wilson is a freelance moron, with a degree in something from Carleton university in Ottawa (he forgets exactly what). He has written for the diary of Mike Wilson, in which he once begged his future self to send money back to the year 1980, once time machines are invented, so he could attend a concert by the band "the Monks". Other writings include various assignments from 1972 through 1987 when he was based out of the Fenelon Falls Public School, and later the Fenelon Falls Secondary School.
Have a safe May two-four weekend.

I'll be thinking of all of you, when I'm relaxing at the cottage for 3 days....

Tonight we might get to find out who kidnapped Zoe.
The Season Finale of the West Wing is on tonight (7PM not 9), and it's Aaron Sorkin's last episode. I haven't heard if the series will continue under someone else, but here are some suggestions:

-Quentin Tarantino. More swearing, more blood, snappier lines and dancing. Toby finally gets to take out his inner angst by slowly killing off his co-workers, one-by-one, execution-style, while telling pithy jokes about how useless life is. Tarantino is featured as the new Vice-President.

-Michael Eisner. The show becomes a semi-musical. Whitney Houston and Elton John hired on as permanent songwriters. The new Vice President is a talking tea-cup.

-Joss Whedon. A gate to hell opens up under the White House. Teenage girls roam the halls fighting evil creatures. Josh has a mid-life crisis. The new VP is a British punk-rock vampire with a soul named Spike.

-George Lucas. Fires the whole cast and makes a show about the previous administration.

-Steven Spielberg. The USA is governed by two mice. One is a genius, the other's insane. They're laboratory mice, their genes have been spliced. They're Pinky, they're Pinky and the Brain Brain Brain Brain.
President Brain and Vice President Pinky try to take over the world by night, starting with Iraq. Every episode ends with the lines:
"What are we going to do tonight, Brain?"
"Same thing we do every night. Try to take over the world!"
Salam Pax is writing his Dear Raed blog from Baghdad again. It appears they have internet in Baghdad again, if that was the problem. It seems he continued to document the entire war from his perspective, and posted the whole thing when he had internet available. I'll have to wait for a day when I have lots of spare time to get caught up.

Excerpt from March 24:
In the [oh-the-irony-of-it-all] section of my life I can add the unbelievable bad luck that when I wanted to watch a movie because I got sick of all the news, the only movie I had which I have not seen a 100 times is “the American President”. No joke. A friend gave that video months ago, I never watched it. I did last night. The American “presidential palace” looks quite good. But Michael Douglas is a sad ass president.

And in conclusion, he writes:
We didn't do no liberatin' and pullin' down statues to be told, "get in the kitchen and fry those felafal balls, bitch."
Get ready for a wild ride, Iraq.
Well, here's some news that's a bit better.
We won the by-election in Perth-Middlesex tonight.

Congratulations to Gary Schellenberger, the newest Tory MP. Here's the early Globe story.

This by-election was marked by the discovery that Canadian Alliance candidate Marian Meinen had written a letter to an Alberta newspaper, in which she called Ontarians "unthinking masses", because she was unhappy with the lack of CA representation in the province. Vancouver Scrum did a little thing on "the Meinen Affair" earlier this week. If you really want a good commentary on the story, I'd recommend that you go look at his site, because I've got nothing interesting to say about it.

Interestingly, Kent over at Torydraft had this to say about tonight's victory: "We're back". Interesting because I remember David Small uttering exactly the same 2 words while riding the elevator to the Tory shindig on election night in 1997. So it's sort of one of those touch wood things.

Once again, congratulations Gary what'syername.
I got this in my e-mail today, it's quite brilliant. Of course when you're as dumb as I am, even Stephen Harper seems brilliant.
It seems Andy Rooney doesn't like telemarketers or junk mail, and he has some ideas to irritate the companies that are responsible. I wonder if he's given any thought to battling spam e-mail?

By the way, this is Andy Rooney, from the television show 60 Minutes. Not to be confused with Mickey Rooney, the short fat guy from the television show "The Black Stallion", and crappy movies going back to the beginning of the Great Depression.

Andy Rooney's tips for telemarketers and junk mail ...

Three Little Words That Work!!
1. The three little words are: "Hold On, Please ..."
Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.

Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep" tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.

2. Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end?

This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system.

Since doing this, my phone calls have decreased dramatically.

3. Another Good Idea:
When you get "ads" enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these "ads" with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.

When you get those "pre-approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 37 cents postage "IF" and when they receive them back.
It costs them nothing if you throw them away.

The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.

One of Andy Rooney's (60 Minutes) ideas.

Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express.
Send a pizza coupon to Citibank.
If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back!
If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them.
You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing!
Eventually, the banks and credit card companies will begin getting their own junk back in the mail.

Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it ... Twice!

Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea!

If enough people follow these tips, it will work --- I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.
Boy this blogger thing is slow tonight. In the time it's taken for the page to load up so I can write this drivel, I've visited a whole assortment of other people's pages, and started loading up a page with some Honda Flash video advertisement.

I've had my nose buried in the books getting ready for an interview tomorrow, and it seems I've missed quite a few things. Apparently there was a leadership debate tonight on Ontario's PBS (I forget the name of the network). But there is going to be a replay tonight. No time though, unless I tape it and watch it...whenever. And tomorrow night at 8pm (EST) there will be another debate on Newsworld. Likely it will be replayed at 11PM.

Still waiting for the Honda page to load up.

I got some bad news tonight though. I checked my e-mail, and I had several queries from people asking my opinion on Andre Bachand's pulling out of the leadership race.


So, I browsed my way over to the Bachand campaign website, and yes, Andre Bachand seems to have dropped out of the race today. Well, what's a poor Bachand delegate to do now?
After I finished picking my nose in disgust, I decided to log on to my blog. And that just about brings you up-to-date on what I've been up to for the past hour. How've you been?

OK, it's been half an hour, and that Honda ad still hasn't come up yet. It still says it's loading up though. Try here. Much faster, unless you like to wait for hours. It's up to you.

Anyway, as I said at the beginning of this incredibly dull and useless addition to the internet, I've been extremely busy, and probably don't have time tonight to comment on Bachand's retirement from the race.

But since Ian asked, I'll go over what happens with my delegateship. On the first ballot my vote is still dedicated to Bachand, since he didn't pull out in time (we've all been guilty of that). However on the second ballot, I am free to vote for whomever I wish. Which, come to think of it, is what would have happened if Bachand had stayed in the race. Nothing changes at all, except that my first ballot vote is wasted.
Realistically though, there is one important thing that changes (for me). Paul Martin... errr I mean Peter Mackay is going to be crowned leader of the party, he's just too far ahead for even a combined effort by the other candidates to conquer him. So I will probably save myself 600 bucks and watch the coronation on TV for free. Maybe I'll spend the money on that great SONY PDA I've been looking at. The only difference is I can't write off an $800 (US) toy like that on my taxes like I could with the convention fees. Or can I......?
Here's an interesting Report on Business article on the subject of spam e-mail.

Speaking of which, here's a website that all Yahoo Mail users should look at. Apparently Yahoo is responsible for a lot of that spam you've been getting, and this page lets you turn the Yahoo-generated spam off.
I don't want to keep picking on Paul Martin about his blog (which he has begun writing to again), because really blogs are personal and probably not fair game for the type of criticisms I've lobbed his way on the topic of his blog.

But I do have one last thing I want to say, and that has to do with a post back in March. March 14 to be exact. On that day he wrote this sentence on his blog:
"I’m also going to try and show better form: shorter blogs, more casual subjects and so forth.".

He hasn't really gotten any more casual in his writing, but he's in the middle of a leadership race, so I'll let him have that one. But instead of shortening up his posts, it seems that his posts have doubled in length since he wrote that sentence.

Not that it really matters. Paul, your blog is a great place for you to get in touch on a more personal level with your constituency. Your April 28th posts seems to suggest that is one of your aims. So why don't you use your blog to tell us about your personal feelings about these "town halls". Were there any questions you were unprepared for? What did you have for breakfast?
I just finished watching the movie Moulin Rouge starring Obi Wan Kenobi (the younger).

Wow. Visually it was just amazing, with a lot of dancey sequences. It's a story(A) about writing a story(B). It gets a bit complicated, as Story B is actually about Story A. And the people in Story A are trying to influence what happens in story B. Basically it's a fun musical, set in Paris in the year 1900. Enough about that.

If you liked the thing they did in the movie "A Knight's Tale", where they threw modern music into an old-timey story (remember the dancey song that morphed into a Bowie song?), then you'll love Moulin Rouge, where the whole movie is full of modern songs, like "Roxanne" by the Police. Some of it was brilliant, like Ewan MacGregor singing Elton John to Nicole Kidman:
"I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world"

Some of it was less brilliant, for instance the part where two guys were singing "Like a Virgin", horribly, to each other.

Anyway, next time you are having trouble picking a movie to rent, this is my recommendation. I promise you won't be disappointed. I haven't loved a movie like this in a very long time.

"So exciting, the audience will stomp and cheer!
So delighting, it will run for 50 years!"
I'm cleaning up my computer, wiping the hard drive and reinstalling everything. I try to do this once a year at least, because while Windows is a lovely operating system, it can become bloated over time, and funny things can start happening. Especially when you abuse your computer the way I do.

Anyway, I may not post much in the next few days while I get all of this done.

I have got one thought to leave you with. What the heck is up with the World Health Organization? I was no happier than anyone else about the travel advisory to this fair city, but it's something they felt needed to be done to control the spread of SARS, and I respect that. What I don't respect is that they allowed a politician to influence them to lift the advisory. Tony Clement is a fine man, and I don't want to knock his contribution. I introduced him to the movie "Bulworth", which he loved. But political considerations should not have been a factor in their decision-making process. Now everytime that the WHO places a travel advisory...