A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for November 2015

[ISL] “Google Doodle celebrates Lucy Maud Montgomery”

This charming image, Google’s celebration of the 141st anniversary of the birth of Lucy Maud Montgomery, was reported by the CBC.

Google is marking what would have been the 141st birthday of Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery today with a Google Doodle.

Montgomery, the P.E.I. author of the famous series of books featuring the charming orphan Anne Shirley, was born Nov. 30, 1874.

The doodle features three videos, one of which will load randomly in place of the Google logo.

* Anne and kindred spirit Diana Barry with books in the grass.
* A series of scenes in front of Green Gables house.
* Anne makes a cake with liniment instead of vanilla.

The others are cute, too. Good job!

Written by Randy McDonald

November 30, 2015 at 11:56 pm

[PHOTO] Warehouse, waiting, on Dupont Street

Warehouse, waiting #toronto #dupontstreet #dovercourtroad #dovercourtvillage #warehouse #bellwoodsbrewery

This striking glass warehouse at 950 Dupont Street, on the northeast corner of that street’s intersection with Dovercourt, will soon house new production facility for Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery. Soon, apparently: Jacques Gallant’s Toronto Star article from last August said the owners hoped to have this be a going commercial concern by summer of this year.

Visually, I’d recommend for further engagement Lori Whelan’s panoramic September 2014 photo of the complex. Textually, I would point readers to Alfred Holden’s Christmas 1998 Taddle Creek article, “Dupont at Zenith”, which uses this location as an anchor for an exploration of Toronto’s lost industrial district on Dupont Street.

On October 17, 1994, Donald Weston drove from his North York home to the industrial plant on Dupont Street in central Toronto where he had been employed since 1952. He brought with him a borrowed video camera and, just outside the main door, switched it on, briefly photographing an iron plate identifying the premises as Hamilton Gear, 950 Dupont. With the camera still rolling, he mounted a couple of steps, opened the door and went in.

Room by room, Weston, aged sixty-two, proceeded through the factory, letting the tape run. He walked down a long, fluorescent-lit corridor of shelves loaded with the tools, materials, and equipment of twentieth-century machine-making. He went through a workshop where men standing on a floor sprinkled with metal shavings were attending whirring, spinning lathes cutting teeth into gear blanks—disks of metal sliced, in another process, from heavy rods of tempered steel or bronze. Weston climbed down stairwells with his camera on his shoulder, recording walls displaying framed photographs of company products. He paused at one picture of a gear about the size of a very large round of cheese. Its hefty teeth are engaged with those of a “worm drive,” a tube-shaped gear resembling a giant piece of fusilli. The assembly has a satiny, silvery sheen, and in the film is being inspected by a thoughtful-looking man in glasses and overalls.

Weston made his way through the company’s administrative offices on the second floor along the Dupont Street side of the plant. Telephones warble now and then, voices can be heard, and a lone secretary says “smile.” Weston moved along, recording jerky glimpses of floors and drop-ceilings and hallway drinking fountains. He went into the company’s vault where, he later recalled, nothing more or less valuable than the details of client orders from the last eighty-three years were stored on reels of microfilm and in thick paper files.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 30, 2015 at 11:03 am

[VIDEO] You Spin Me Round at Honest Ed’s

Touring Toronto with my visiting parents today, in the basement of Honest Ed’s I came across Jessar’s Disco Spinlite in action, a sphere 15 centimetres in diameter and using a 25 watt bulb, UPC 6211396706320.

"You spin me round" #toronto #honesteds #disco #spinlite

I also took a video of it, playing below now on automatic loop for full effect.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 29, 2015 at 10:45 pm

[PHOTO] Sunday morning selfie

Sunday morning selfie #me #selfie #bathroom

Good morning.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 29, 2015 at 11:42 am

Posted in Non Blog, Photo

Tagged with , ,

[FORUM] Are decaying infrastructures a problem where you live?

This afternoon’s post about the sinkhole on Yonge above College made me curious. In Canada, as elsewhere in the world, decades of underinvestment in infrastructure–roads, bridges, power, sewerage–has led to slow-motion decline, even collapse. Is this the place in your part of the world? How bad is it?


Written by Randy McDonald

November 28, 2015 at 5:39 pm

[PHOTO] Sinkhole at Yonge above College, Toronto, closed for repairs

Closed for repairs #toronto #yongestreet #collegestreet #sinkhole

The sinkhole that opened up earlier this week on Yonge Street above College is still being repaired today, as it was being repaired yesterday when I took these photos.

Sinkhole, guarded #toronto #yongestreet #collegestreet #sinkhole

Written by Randy McDonald

November 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

[CAT] Shakespeare, looking

Shakespeare, looking #shakespeare #cats #catsofinstagram #caturday

Written by Randy McDonald

November 28, 2015 at 9:50 am

Posted in Photo

Tagged with , ,

[DM] “Four links on Ukrainian migration futures”

At Demography Matters I link to four articles looking at recent changes in Ukrainian migration, particularly the turn away from Russia towards the European Union.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes that the Union-Pearson Express is offering big discounts to attract riders, and observes that free WiFi in the TTC has been extended to Sherbourne and Castle Frank stations.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting hot Jupiters can form in situ.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Japan wants Australia to buy its naval vessels.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks back at eight years of output, and suggests it shows the broad scope of sociology.
  • Far Outliers notes the rate of mental illness among Soviet Afghanistan veterans.
  • Geocurrents looks at the very late settlement of Kiribati’s Line Islands.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Cyprus has approved civil unions.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money shares on the shallow roots of the Non-Aligned Movement in the Third World.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that highly-educated people keep dropping out of the army.
  • Steve Munro notes the relationship between development charges and transit planning in Toronto.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer suggests unlikely ways for a Republican to take Democratic-leaning Michigan.
  • Savage Minds shares an ethnographic perspective on the history of Pilgrims in New England.
  • Transit Toronto notes that CP will be sending in trains filled with food to promote food banks.
  • Window on Eurasia warns about the vulnerability of Belarus to integration with Russia.

[LINK] “How China Conquered France’s Wine Country”

The New Republic‘s Nic Cavell has a wonderful long-form piece looking at how China has wholeheartedly embraced the idea and the culture of French–or, domestically produced French-style–wine.

In 1996, Chinese premier Li Peng surprised his audience at the National People’s Congress by toasting the Ninth Five-Year Plan with red wine: “Drinking fruit wines is helpful to our health, does not waste grain, and is good for social ethics,” he announced. For China’s rapidly growing underclass, this gesture signaled a commitment to rein in the fraud and waste epitomized by party banquets, where officials were known to drink each other under the table with bottles of Moutai Flying Fairy and other spirits derived from grain. For the elites in question, it was an unmistakable signal that business as usual required a new currency. Within a few years, they were using bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild to gain favor and ease transactions.

As Suzanne Mustacich relates in Thirsty Dragon: China’s Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World’s Best Wines, representatives from Bordeaux, France’s largest wine-growing region, saw Li’s endorsement as an invitation to “conquer” the Chinese wine market. It was a goal that they believed themselves uniquely positioned to accomplish. Bordeaux’s wines—such as Château Haut-Brion, Château Latour, and Château Cos d’Estournel—communicated luxury, and Bordeaux’s official classification system, which dates back to Napoleon, was easy to sell as a lengthy gift catalog “ratified by pomp and history.” Although Bordeaux’s 1855 Classification rules created for the Exposition Universelle de Paris in that year were never meant to be permanent, the rankings they generated were considered so successful that only a few changes have been made in the century and a half since. In Mustacich’s words, what began as a price list for visiting tourists became a “calling card” and “an immutable promotional tool” for businessmen seeking to introduce Bordeaux wines into new markets.

Although the Chinese market was just a fraction of a percent of the country’s population, châteaux and their middlemen moved huge quantities of product by offering entrepreneurs a very clear hierarchy of the finest wines already ratified as international status symbols. The precise rankings of each wine could be easily mapped onto the numerous positions within the Chinese bureaucracy, allowing gift-givers to save face by offering the appropriate wine at each level of officialdom. At the time, few Chinese had a taste for wine, but the social liquidity of a First Growth like Lafite—which in China is widely considered the best—was rated sublime. One real estate developer was inspired to commemorate a bottle of the château’s 1982 vintage in verse as both “the greatest treasure” and “the moment of death”—“the appreciation of which is greater than the desire to taste it.”

As well as importing wines and their prestige, China is also building its own formidable wine industry. According to industry analysts, within five years, China will bottle more wine and devote more land to vineyards than any other country. For instance, the government of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region announced its plans to construct 50 new châteaux and a regional classification system modeled on Bordeaux in November 2013. To qualify for a listing, a château must not only meet industrial production quotas but build a four-star restaurant and hotel for guests. The vineyards are to be staffed by ethnic Hui, the Muslim farmers and herders the government has arranged to relocate or “move out” of rural poverty. “In fact, this is incorrect,” Grape Flower Industry Development Bureau director Cao Kailong tells Mustacich. “We have plans to develop one thousand châteaux.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm