A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for April 2015

[CAT] Shakespeare, looking up from bed

Shakespeare, looking up from bed #cats #caturday #catsofinstagram #shakespeare

Written by Randy McDonald

April 18, 2015 at 11:42 pm

Posted in Photo

Tagged with , ,

[PHOTO] On a sky that was a Derek Jarman blue

Yesterday was a glorious spring day in Toronto. I was out early in the morning to do my laundry, and was walking around my neighbourhood. The warmth was glorious, as was the return of life, but the sky stood out. It was perfect, cloudless, what I called on Instagram and Twitter a “Derek Jarman blue”.

Sky of Derek Jarman blue #toronto #dlws #weather #spring #blue #derekjarman #Derek Jarman’s last film was the 1993 Blue, completed as he was dying of HIV/AIDS. Visually, the film was a constant blue, “International Klein Blue”, a manifestation on film the deterioration of filmmaker Jarman’s sight worn away by cytomegalovirus.

The words, spoken by actors including Jarman himself and the later-famous Tilda Swinton, are beautiful poetry, preserved at the website of the Queer Cultural Centre.

Blue Bottle buzzing
Lazy days
The sky blue butterfly
Sways on the cornflower
Lost in the warmth
Of the blue heat haze
Singing the blues
Quiet and slowly

Blue of my heart
Blue of my dreams
Slow blue love
Of delphinium days

Blue is the universal love in which man bathes – it is the terrestrial paradise.

Jarman has appeared on A Bit More Detail before: he manifested in a 2006 post looking at a poetic passage from Terry Eagleton’s script for Jarman’s Wittgenstein; a 2009 celebration of the video for Annie Lennox’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”, to which he contributed; a somewhat silly 2010 meditation on a photo that did not quite turn out; a <ahref=”https://abitmoredetail.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/photo-purchased-at-word-on-the-street-toronto/”&gt;2014 celebration of a Derek Jarman biography I bought at Word on the Street. (The Ke$ha book also photographed there was extra, free.)

I like the poetry of Jarman, his art. His life is also a wonderful example of struggle and survival despite everything. Yesterday morning, his blue mattered particularly to me. It was a hard winter, and I’m glad to be rid of it, and more glad to have proof of it.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 16, 2015 at 7:17 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Lesbians lead the way when it comes to neighbourhood gentrification, research shows”

Zosia Bielski’s interview last week with sociologist Amin Ghaziani about the different roles played by gay men and lesbians in different stages of gentrification is fascinating. A sample is below:

You found that – like artists – lesbians are early gentrifiers in cities. They’re the trailblazers in frontier neighbourhoods, not gay men. How do they start to gentrify areas?

The idea that gay people instigate urban renewal is widely known, but it’s imprecise. Lesbians actually come first. In a 2010 interview with The New York Observer, sociologist Sharon Zukin offered a provocative image of lesbians as “canaries in the urban coal mine.” The idea here was that lesbians were actually the urban pioneers.

Gay women create a “girl’s town” for themselves. It’s a stage of incubation or pre-gentrification; there isn’t widespread awareness that the area is a gay district. Women are motivated by feminism and counter-cultures. This is why lesbian neighbourhoods often consist of a cluster of homes near progressive – but not flashy – organizations like co-operative grocery stores, coffee shops, alternative theatres, bike shops, secondhand bookstores and performance spaces.

That sounds like a hipster’s dream.

Gay women plug into existing progressive facilities in affordable neighbourhoods. The effect is that lesbian neighbourhoods, if you even know about them, will feel quasi-underground or hidden.

What’s the difference between a lesbian enclave and a gaybourhood?

Men are much more influenced by sexual transactions and building new commercial establishments like bars, big nightclubs, saunas and trendy restaurants. As property values increase, because women make less than men, gay women will feel priced out, before straight people arrive and push out the gay men. Straight households come last in the advanced or late gentrification stage.
What’s the difference between a lesbian enclave and a gaybourhood?

Men are much more influenced by sexual transactions and building new commercial establishments like bars, big nightclubs, saunas and trendy restaurants. As property values increase, because women make less than men, gay women will feel priced out, before straight people arrive and push out the gay men. Straight households come last in the advanced or late gentrification stage.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 16, 2015 at 1:04 am

[URBAN NOTE] On a park crisis in Toronto, after Spacing

Over at Spacing, John Lorinc and Alex Steep have begun an extended series (1, 2, 3, sidebar) about the impending shortage of park space in many of the city’s most rapidly growing neighbourhoods.

The demographics tell the tale. Between 2001 and 2012, Toronto’s population jumped by more than 10%, or 226,000 residents, to 2.7 million – a trajectory that puts the city well ahead of growth projections set down as part of the official plan in the early 2000s. At the time, planners figured the City would add 540,000 people in 30 years. In just over a decade, however, we’re now 41% of the way to hitting that target.

Much of that growth has been concentrated in high development precincts, like the Bay Street corridor, King West and Liberty Village, which saw its population leap by 143% between 2006 and 2011, according to census figures. (The overall population of Niagara, which encompasses both Liberty and King West, grew 83% between 2001 and 2011.)

The City likes to boast about its open spaces, citing how its 1,600 parks and 600 km of trails encompasses 8,000 ha, or 13% of Toronto’s area. As every park entrance sign duly notes, Toronto is “a city within a park.”

Yet it’s become apparent that there simply aren’t enough parks within the city, or at least certain parts of the city. In areas of high growth, and the dense older neighbourhoods that abut them, the City of Toronto has largely failed to create new networks of parks and substantial public open spaces sufficient to accommodate the needs of tens of thousands of new apartment dwellers.

The 1.1 ha of park space in the middle of Liberty Village is almost comically inadequate for an area with an estimated 6,000 residents and thousands more day-time office workers. The City, meanwhile, has neglected to properly maintain the 3.1 ha Canoe Landing Park on the City Place lands. David Pecaut Square and College Park have limped along for years with no improvements, despite increasing density all around both and calls for revitalization from residents and local landowners. And there appears to be no money, or political will, to transform marginal spaces – e.g., the string of parkettes known as The Green Line that run along the midtown Toronto hydro corridor or extensions to the West Toronto Railpath – into viable parks and trails.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:43 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Gardiner Debate Sheds Troubling Light on Infrastructure Investment Priorities”

Torontoist’s David Hains writes on how the ongoing debate about what to do about the Gardiner Expressway overshadows other, arguably more important, issues with public infrastructure.

What to do with the Gardiner will come down to council’s priorities. As the City pushes up against its debt ceiling while facing a growing number of projects that demand attention, City Hall will have to make some tough choices. If council’s recent track record is any indication, Torontonians have cause for concern.

Those looking for troubling indicators of council’s current leanings don’t have to look further than the TTC budget. The City is all too willing to find $910 million for the Scarborough subway extension while maintaining a massive state of good repair backlog, all while falling short of the $240 million to make the transit agency accessible by the legislated date.

In the most recent budget, council was willing to speed up repairs on the Gardiner to the tune of $443 million while other needs, like Lower Don flood protection and the ongoing crisis in social housing, continue to receive more lip service than action.

What doesn’t get represented in the City budget is the squandered opportunity cost, year after year, as difficult but good decisions get deferred in favour of easy sells that may not be the best use of funds.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:36 pm

[LINK] “More bad news for Alberta Tories in latest election poll”

The Edmonton Sun reports on the collapse in Progressive Conservative support in Alberta polls as the province prepares for election. I’m sure I’m not alone in being surprised by the strength of the Wildrose Party, so soon after it had seemingly been gutted by the defection of its leader Danielle Smith.

The Alberta Tories continue to slide, while the NDP surges and the Wildrose maintains the lead, according to the latest election poll released Tuesday morning.

The NDP is dominating Edmonton at 51%, according to the survey, and is in a three-way race in Calgary.

The telephone poll of 3,121 Albertans conducted Monday showed that compared to a week earlier:

•Wildrose is flat with 24% support
•NDP increased to 23% support, up 3%
•The PCs dropped to 18%, down 3%
•Liberal support is down a point, to 8%
•The Alberta Party is up a point to 3%

The survey was conducted by Mainstreet Technologies.

“One thing is becoming clear at this stage of the campaign, the effect of the budget and residual anger to the governing PCs will have a lasting impact on the outcome of this election,” said Mainstreet’s Quito Maggi.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:33 pm

[LINK] “TV subscriber losses increased last year and will keep growing, report says”

CBC’s Pete Evans reports on the accelerating collapse of traditional television and telephone service, as streaming media and cell phones take over.

The Convergence Consulting Group says about 95,000 fewer households had a cable TV or satellite subscription in 2014. That’s a huge increase in TV subscriber losses from 13,000 the previous year. But it’s less than the 97,000 the consultancy forecasts will cut the cord in 2015.

Between 2007 and 2011, cable subscriptions grew by about 220,000 per year.

But today, more and more Canadian households don’t have a conventional TV subscription. The report says the number of Canadian households that did not have a traditional linear TV subscription grew by 163,000 in 2013, another 240,000 last year and are that figure is poised to increase by 242,000 this year.

Brahm Eiley, president of Toronto-based firm that completed the study, said many of those customers are turning to Netflix. He estimates the streaming service ended last year with 3.9 million Canadian subscribers, up from three million the year before.

[. . .]

Television isn’t the only cord that Canadians are cutting. The report also shows Canadians are ditching their home phone lines at an escalating pace. By the end of 2015, the authors expect 31 per cent of Canadians will have no land-line telephone, and will instead only have one or multiple cellphones for their telecommunications needs.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:28 pm

[LINK] “Two Authors Withdraw Their Work From This Year’s Hugo Awards”

io9’s Charlie Jane Anders reports that two authors whose works were apparently nominated for the Hugo Awards as part of the Sad Puppies campaign, independent of their works’ literary merits, have turned down the nominations.

Marko Kloos, who was nominated for his novel Lines of Departure, writes:

It has come to my attention that “Lines of Departure” was one of the nomination suggestions in Vox Day’s “Rabid Puppies” campaign. Therefore—and regardless of who else has recommended the novel for award consideration—the presence of “Lines of Departure” on the shortlist is almost certainly due to my inclusion on the “Rabid Puppies” slate. For that reason, I had no choice but to withdraw my acceptance of the nomination. I cannot in good conscience accept an award nomination that I feel I may not have earned solely with the quality of the nominated work.

Meanwhile, Annie Bellet, who was nominated for the short story “Goodnight, Stars,” says:

I am withdrawing because this has become about something very different than great science fiction. I find my story, and by extension myself, stuck in a game of political dodge ball, where I’m both a conscripted player and also a ball. (Wrap your head around that analogy, if you can, ha!) All joy that might have come from this nomination has been co-opted, ruined, or sapped away. This is not about celebrating good writing anymore, and I don’t want to be a part of what it has become.

I am not a ball. I do not want to be a player. This is not what my writing is about. This is not why I write. I believe in a compassionate, diverse, and inclusive world. I try to write my own take on human experiences and relationships, and present my fiction as entertainingly and honestly as I can.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anthropology.net notes the discovery of some Neanderthal skeletons showing signs of having had the flesh carved off of them.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the messages carried by the New Horizon probe.
  • Crooked Timber makes the case for the continued relevance of Bob Marley.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at recurrent streams on Mars carved by perchlorate-laced water.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh argues that Spain is still digging out of the long crisis.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the story of a Louisiana trans man fired from his job for not detransitioning.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that China is not really a revisionist power.
  • Justin Petrone looks at ways in which young Estonian children are demonstrating and developing a fear of Russia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the failure of the Dragon rocket.
  • Towleroad notes that the Russian-language version of Siri is quite homophobic.
  • Understanding Society looks at the criticial realist social theory of Frédéric Vandenberghe.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at trends in violence in the North Caucasus and warns of Central Asian alienation from Russia.

[ISL] “Police act to keep lid on P.E.I. feud after death threats shouted during sentencing for revenge murders

More from the National Post. I sincerely hope I will not see, in some months or years, news of a McGuigan killing one or two more more Vuozzos in reprisal for last year’s crime.

The ill will between the two families dates back to Nov. 19, 1970 when Brent McGuigan’s father struck the Vuozzo family’s van. Cathy Vuozzo, 9, was killed. Her younger brother, Alfred Guy, and father survived the collision.

“I just seen lights coming and a vehicle coming,” Vuozzo’s father, Alfred Sr., told a coroner’s inquest in 1971, according to a transcript obtained by the National Post.

Motorists who came upon the scene found the lifeless body of nine-year-old Cathy lying in a ditch. The driver of the half-ton truck, Herbert McGuigan, was unconscious on the floor of his cab with a few beer caps around him.

“There was a strong odour of alcohol and his eyes were watery and he gave me the impression that he knew little of what happened,” a police constable testified at the inquest.

Herbert McGuigan was convicted of causing Cathy’s death “by driving a motor vehicle while his ability to drive a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol.” He was sentenced to nine months in jail and banned from driving for a year. He has since died.

[. . .]

There are few other records showing any animosity between the two families — save for an incident at a local Legion in the 1990s, when Cathy’s mother allegedly hit one of McGuigan’s sons.

“She hit me and that was it,” Ivan McGuigan told the Post Tuesday. “It’s over with now.”

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 5:01 pm