Archive for February, 2013


John LeBlanc | Feb 22, 2013 8:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Feb 22, 2013 1:36 PM ET

The production version of the Volkswagen XL1 scores a ridiculous 0.87 L/100 km fuel-economy rating.

VW to build 270 mpg XL1  When we first saw Volkswagen’s XL1 on the auto show circuit in 2011, we thought the futuristic, hyper-mileage, bullet-on-wheels was a mere one-off from the German automaker; a showcase of what VW could do. But now, amazingly, VW says it will build about 1,000 copies annually of the XL1 two-seater for sale to the public starting later this year. The XL1′s showstopping 270 miles per U.S. gallon (or about 0.87 L/100 km) rating is achieved via groundbreaking aerodynamics, the use of lightweight materials and a gas-electric, plug-in hybrid powerplant that marries an 800-cc two-cylinder diesel engine and an electric motor rated for a combined 74 horsepower. Yet, VW says the XL1 needs just 8.3 hp to drive steadily at 100 km/h. Confirmed for Europe, VW hasn’t said if the XL1 will come to North America.

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Employer forced to pay out $218K after worker dies from drinking windshield washer fluid from a stolen vodka bottle


Tristin Hopper | Feb 15, 2013 7:07 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 15, 2013 8:17 PM ET

Following a 2012 episode in which a worker died after stealing a bottle of windshield washer fluid and drinking it over the course of two days — including on the job — the company that runs Ontario’s Beer Stores was fined $218,000 for what regulators deemed was a workplace safety violation.

“Brewers Retail Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to acquaint a worker with a hazard in the handling, storage or use of a liquid chemical agent,” read a Friday afternoon statement by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

The employee in question, who was not named, worked for Brake Mobile Wash, a contractor charged with washing Beer Store delivery trucks.

On April 8, 2012, the man was washing trucks at the Beer Store’s Brampton, Ont., distribution centre when he and another employee discovered a 1.5 litre plastic vodka bottle filled with a light-blue liquid that investigators later determined was Ultra Clear-brand windshield washer fluid.

Found behind the seat of a truck, the still-labeled bottle was there due to a since-discontinued practice of Beer Store truck drivers taking empty liquor bottles and filling them with windshield washer fluid dispensed from a large vat.

The two men each took several swigs of the washer fluid before wrapping up their shift.

The one who passed away took the remainder of the bottle home

“The one who passed away took the remainder of the bottle home and over the next two days drank the remainder of the liquid,” said Matt Blajer, a spokesman with the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

The worker lated died in hospital of methanol poisoning while his coworker underwent dialysis treatment to clear his system after being warned by York Regional Police.

As Brewers Retail noted, the two employees were only tasked with cleaning the exterior of the trucks: There was no reason for them to have entered the cab of the vehicle where the bottle was stored.

In a statement of facts, the Ministry of Labour acknowledged that the workers had stolen the bottle. Nevertheless, Tuesday’s judgement declared that their “unauthorized possession” of the poison did not negate the “negligent actions,” of Brewers Retail.

Brewers Retail did not fight the charge and pled guilty when the case came up for Occupational Health and Safety review. “We do accept the court’s ruling on this issue and our most sincere condolences go out to the loved ones of the deceased,” said Ted Moroz, president of Brewers Retail.

He added that in the wake of the incident, Brewer’s Retail hired a third-party auditor to scour all of the company’s six distribution centres and “ensure there are no other opportunities for this type of error.”

The company’s last major Occupational Health and Safety violation was a $50,000 fine for a 2009 incident in which a forklift operator in Stoney Creek, Ont., jostled a storage rack, causing several cases of beer to fall to the ground.

National Post

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I’m pretty sure the person who lives here (yes this is actual photo of his bedroom) has a mental illness.  There is an interesting concept about a “snitch hotline” in the article below.  Maybe it is time I snitched on this person before their mental illness destroys not only their life (which frankly seems beyond repair at this time) but the lives of others around them.  What do you think?
…………..by Diane Weber Bederman, Chaplain

When I first wrote about my mental illness in Convivium magazine, in letters published in the newspapers, and broadcast my radio series, “The Many Voices of Mental Illness,” I was told that I was brave as if “coming out” would be self-destructive. But, that is the problem with “coming out.” Too many of us fear the response of others to our illness. And with good reason

Forty-six per cent of Canadians think people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour; only 49 per cent said they would socialize with a friend who had a serious mental illness; only 12 per cent of Canadians said they would hire a lawyer who has a mental illness.

The stigma that is still associated with mental illness keeps so many hidden away. Fear is our biggest enemy: fear of receiving the diagnosis; fear of accessing care; fear of others finding out; fear of those with mental illness. Twenty-seven per cent of the population are fearful of being around people who suffer from serious mental illness.

It just isn’t cool to have a mental illness. You don’t see the famous or the infamous proudly wearing a bracelet identifying them with the needs of the mentally ill. In Canada mental illness is the second leading cause of human disability and premature death.

Matt Gurney, a columnist at the National Post, wrote after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that to prevent such horrors from happening again we should establish a “snitch hot line” to report people we suspect might be mentally ill.

Wilhelm von Humboldt said in the18th century, “Language is, as it were, the external manifestation of the minds of the peoples. Their language is their soul, and their soul is their language.”

Snitch is a word we associate with criminals. If we employ that language then we unconsciously criminalize the mentally ill and follow through with criminal protocols instead of providing health care. We don’t call the police for any other disease. Suggesting that we snitch on those we suspect of being mentally ill will lead to more suspicion, isolation and silence and the mentally ill will continue to retreat into the shadows.

I have written before that words and labels matter. Dr. David Koczerginski, Chief of Psychiatry: Medical Director, Mental Health and Addictions: William Osler Health Centre told me:

Psychiatric Illness and mental Illness have a pejorative meaning for many, reflective of a lack of understanding of such illnesses and continued societal stigma. Psychiatric illness also has similar biological/neurochemical underpinnings and similar predisposing risk factors as one finds in other areas of medicine, however they are less easily understood and this has sadly contributed to diminished empathy and ultimately diminished investment of health care resources. There are many ways to educate and attack stigma. Whether we re-label psychiatric illness or whether we re-educate on the nature of psychiatric illness is an interesting question.

I do wonder, though, if we were to refer to those who are disconnecting from reality, whether it is depression or schizophrenia as dealing with a brain disorder, would people like Matt Gurney suggest a snitch hot-line?

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The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Feb. 14 2013, 6:00 AM EST

The other day I gave a talk to a parents’ group at a boys’ school. It was a big group. I asked them if they’d ever known a boy who hadn’t made a pretend gun with his fingers and gone bang-bang. Not a single hand went up.

No surprise there. Boys have been fighting with pretend weapons since the dawn of time. Mock battles and mock violence are a normal part of boyhood. But in the age of zero tolerance and Sandy Hook, society is in a panic. Some parents won’t allow water guns in the house. Even Nerf Blasters aren’t okay. “[Parents] think it’s innocuous because it’s a cartoon,” one critic of toy guns told The New York Times. “But they’re buying something that is reinforcing shooting.”

The punishment of boys for being boys proceeds apace. But what happens to them on the playground is the least of it. What happens in the classroom is worse.

New evidence suggests that boys are penalized from the day they first set foot in school. A new study (whose findings were first reported by Christina Hoff Sommers, writing in The New York Times) finds that boys get lower grades than girls across the board – not because their schoolwork is inferior, but because they don’t behave like girls.

The study, which was published in The Journal of Human Resources, compared the standardized test scores of thousands of kids in kindergarten through Grade 5 with the grades their teachers gave them. Overall, girls outperformed boys on reading tests, boys outperformed girls on science tests, and boys and girls scored about the same in math. But no matter what the subject, the boys’ grades did not reflect their test scores.

“Boys who perform equally as well as girls on reading, math and science tests are graded less favourably by their teachers,” the authors write. Why? Because of differences in “non-cognitive development” – that is, behaviour. In general, girls are much better at sitting still, paying attention and co-operation – all the traits that teachers value. Boys lose points because of that. And the bias against boys, the study found, begins in kindergarten.

Why does this matter? Because how you do in school increasingly dictates how you will do in the world. And teachers’ grades strongly influence grade-level placement, high-school graduation and university admission prospects.

Some people argue that it’s only fair to mark boys down for deportment. To me, that’s gender bias. It’s like saying that women aren’t as promotable as men because they don’t behave the way men do in the workplace.

It’s no surprise that schools subtly discriminate against boys. After all, they are increasingly run by women – women who, as girls, were extremely good at sitting still, paying attention and co-operating. The schools have become more and more hostile to boys’ inclinations and interests. They have abolished competition in favour of co-operation – even though boys thrive on competition. They’ve outlawed rough-and-tumble play (too dangerous) and even cancelled recess altogether. In high school, they bore boys to death instead of teaching them how to make and build stuff.

One of the most successful schools today (also cited by Ms. Sommers) is New York City’s Aviation High School, whose students are mostly minority boys from low-income families. Students spend half the day in standard classes and the other half studying technical subjects such as aviation hydraulics and aircraft engines. They wear coveralls and get to practise on real planes. The school day is extremely long, and graduation rates are exceptionally high.

We have a good community-college system in Canada. But that comes too late for a lot of boys. We need a massive reinvention of vocational schools, turning them from dumping grounds into places where boys can learn and thrive. Boys will be boys. Work with it.

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A 45 year old painter has an affair with a 17 year old.  That is somehow too acceptable a word; let’s say he is fucking her.  Many years later one of his paintings of this “muse” sells at auction for $49 million.  He has many other paintings that are in the most prestigious galleries and collections in the world.  All worth $millions.  We revere and admire this painter and call him one of history’s best.  A true revolutionary in his style.  His name is Picasso.  Now tell me this.  If a 45 year old painter today was found to be fucking a 17 year old what do you think society’s reaction would be?  Next time you “admire” one of Picasso’s works of art give a little thought to Picasso the man and ask yourself if the accolades are deserved or should we instead revile the man and his art?


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