A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for April 2016

[URBAN NOTE] Chris Selley of the National Post on Toronto drivers and shortcut apps

In “Apps promise to cut through gridlock, now if only Torontonians would learn how to drive”, Chris Selley looks at Toronto drivers and how technology can help them improve, among other things.

Heading out of city hall on Wednesday afternoon shortly after five, the Swiftly transit app revealed that I had just missed a Bay Street bus. But as it turned out, I hadn’t: walking north at a leisurely pace, I soon caught up to it. And then passed it.

Then I stood on the corner of Dundas, for perhaps eight minutes, mouth agape, watching as eastbound motorists blocked the intersection over and over and over again. At one point not a single northbound vehicle made it through for three consecutive green lights. If you had been quick about it, you could have had a jolly picnic in the middle of Bay Street, anywhere between there and Gerrard.

There are many reasons for gridlock in this city. Some could be ameliorated if politicians had the courage to risk motorists’ irrational anger for the greater good: more restrictions on turns and parking; ending the ludicrous mixing of streetcars and cars; towing away illegal parkers even more mercilessly, and raising fines even more, than has been done under Mayor John Tory’s crackdown; a James Bond-style helicopter magnet that picks up intersection-blocking automobiles and drops them into a junkyard from a great height.

As such courage is not in overabundance, it is all the more satisfying to see private enterprise doing end runs around the problem. Using open data about transit vehicle locations, transit apps now compete to navigate you better through the gridlock. Some offer Toronto Transit Commission, Uber X, Car2Go and bike-share options on the same screen. Swiftly claims it can predict the next vehicle’s arrival better than its rivals, using its own algorithm.

And for motorists, there’s Waze — a free, advertising-supported GPS navigation app that routes and reroutes you, as necessary, based on other users’ speed (passively monitored as they go), and any reports of accidents, constructions or gridlock they enter into the app (hopefully not while driving). The more users there are, the more data there are to optimize your commute.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2016 at 3:35 pm

[ISL] “First cruise ship of season arrives in P.E.I. Monday”

CBC News’ Shane Ross reports on the beginning of the tourist season on Prince Edward Island.

Cruise ship season on P.E.I. begins Monday with the arrival of Veendam in Charlottetown.

Port officials say 58 cruise ships are coming this season, down slightly from last year because a couple of ships were redeployed elsewhere.

Eight of the cruise ships are visiting the Island for the first time, including a Japanese vessel in June that’s making Charlottetown its only stop in Canada.

“It’s called the Peace Boat-The Ocean Dream, and it’s a really different type of vessel,” said Corryn Morrissey, the business development manager for Port Charlottetown.

“It is predominantly Japanese passengers on board. It is a world cruise and they do a lot of educational seminars.”

There are a number of improvements to the seaport this year, including more vendor space and an expansion of the cafe. The visitor information centre has been moved from Founders Hall to the old Stonehouse on Water Street.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • Atlas Obscura looks at the 18th century British tradition of installing hermits in gardens.
  • Bloomberg looks at Brexit proponents who say the United Kingdom can arrange a better deal with the European Union than Switzerland, notes continued anger after the housing collapse, and studies prospects for light rail in Los Angeles.
  • CBC notes the death of K-Tel founder Phil Kives and looks at fracking damage in Oklahoma.
  • MacLean’s notes that a former PQ minister who blames Liberal strength on English and Allophone voters does not know demographics.
  • National Geographic looks at Pripyat as a modern equivalent to Pompeii.
  • Open Democracy looks at the particular dynamics behind right-wing populism in Estonia.
  • Quartz notes the rise of the megacity.
  • The Toronto Star notes lessons Toronto can take from New York City on building better streets.
  • Vice looks at how the ability to learn does not require a nervous system.
  • Wired looks at the reason for the odd roads of Kansas.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes how Ryerson University has launched an incubator for the local music scene.
  • Crooked Timber notes the high minimum wage in Australia.
  • Dangerous Minds shares a video of Keith Haring getting arrested from 1982.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on a study of hot Neptunes.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that a search of WISE data did not produce Planet Nine.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Beyoncé has produced merchandise calling for her own boycott, to the anger of her detractors.
  • Languages of the World wonders how anyone could argue that Yiddish comes from Turkey, never mind argue so badly.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen is pessimistic about Greece.
  • Neuroskeptic notes a new brain study tracing human thought.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at how Republicans are coming to accept Trump.
  • Towleroad notes that Timothy Conigrave’s Holding the Man is set to be adapted for the movies.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Chernobyl’s impact on the Soviet Union, considers which Russian federal subjects might be next for merger, and notes Russia’s acceptance of a Chinese railroad built with international gauge on its territory.

[PHOTO] On Sunnyside Beach by the Palais Royale

On the beach #toronto #lakeshore #lakeontario #palaisroyale

The Palais Royale dance hall overlooks Lake Ontario at Sunnyside.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2016 at 8:57 am



IMG_0859 Mid-day pick me up/Janel/Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

IMG_0875 Sad sock monster/Gail/Townsend, Massachusetts, USA

IMG_0873 We reserve the right/Lori/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

IMG_0856 Kerryanne/Delft, the Netherlands

image1 Lion Dance/ Cheryl/ Hong Kong

Ambush in the Garden Ambush in the Garden/Ariel/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

photo Susie/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

IMG_0874 Rhotographic/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

IMG_20160428_091432 Digging in the dirt, Westmoreland at Dupont/Randy/Toronto Ontario, Canada

IMG_8140 Contemplation/Katie/Wells, Maine, USA

20160424_124020 Lobster boat arrives/Ellen/Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA

IMG_5748 Sooo Singaporian, East Coast/ Helena/Singapore

photo Danger/Krista/Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

FullSizeRender Amsterdam at dusk/Tom/Amsterdam, the Netherlands

IMG_0877 My cat Jip!/Minh/Delft, the Netherlands

IMG_0879 My cat Jip’s tail!/Shen jie/Delft, the Netherlands

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Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2016 at 8:53 am

Posted in Assorted

[MUSIC] Some thoughts on the legacies of Prince

Even a week later, it’s still hard for me to understand that Prince is dead. The idea of such a talented person no longer being around is something I should be used to, this the year that David Bowie died, but I’m not used to it. I don’t think I should. The man’s skill, as a songwriter and a musician, is astounding.
Dangerous Minds’ Christopher Bickel linked to this 1985 punk version of “When Doves Cry”, “When Doves Scream”, noting how Prince could do whatever he wanted and at least make it interesting.

I love “When Doves Cry”, remembering the first time I saw the video on MuchMusic, and of course own the genius Purple Rain album on CD. My first significant encounter with Prince was probably in 1989, with the soundtrack album for that year’s Batman. Joker’s trashing of the Gotham Museum would never have been so effective without “Partyman” playing on his lackeys’ boomboxes.

And there’s his influence on others. “Why Should I Love You?”, a collaboration with Kate Bush (if, apparently, a fraught one), is one of my favourite songs off of her 1993 album The Red Shoes.

The music of Prince is something I’ve always enjoyed. That the genius behind the music is gone just seems wrong. We were lucky to have had him, but I still think we were unlucky that he could not stay longer.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 28, 2016 at 11:57 pm