A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • 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

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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

[URBAN NOTE] “Neighbourhood Watch”: Asma Malik of The Walrus on neighbourhood sousveillance

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In The Walrus, Asmaa Malik writes about how a Facebook group that she joined on moving to her new neighbourhood managed to disabuse her of the idea that racism in Canada was confined to Québec. It’s much more pervasive than that.

Before I moved to the east end, I joined two east-end Facebook groups. One was public and the other was not. I joined the invite-only “Pocket” community group hoping to learn more about the area and the people who share my streets, my grocery store and my subway station. The neighbourhood borders my own and is defined by its closed-loop streets that end at the ttc streetcar yard. It is located within the economically and ethnically diverse Blake-Jones corridor, and in 2012, Toronto Life listed the Pocket as one of the city’s ten hottest real-estate neighbourhoods. The volunteer-run community group is known for its work to beautify the local park and to rename an alley after the late street musician and long-time mayoral candidate, Ben Kerr. It organizes several events for residents, including movie nights for charity and block parties.

When I first joined the Pocket group, I was pleased to get useful insider information about local daycares and eavestrough-repair services. The tone of the comments on the Facebook group seemed friendly and appeared to come from well-meaning neighbours who took pride in their community.

[. . .]

On a sun-dappled summer afternoon, a member of the Pocket Facebook group posted photos of black teenagers biking on a residential street as a warning, saying that she had seem them “snooping” into private laneways and pegging them as potential suspects for a recent bike theft. As I read the comments below the pictures, I was alarmed to find that a majority of Facebook group members appreciated her alert.

Again, the assumptions about the membership of the Facebook group were evident. The poster and her supporters were not concerned about the potential consequences of uploading photos of teenagers without parental consent. Implicitly, the move pre-supposed that the parents couldn’t possibly have been members of the group. These youth were black and allegedly up to no good. Never mind that the teenagers were not guilty of doing anything but being teenagers. What was worse, the Pocket Facebook group membership included a local community police officer, who now had access to images of these targeted teens.

My earlier misgivings about the nature of the neighbourhood group quickly returned. Under the neighbourly chatter, the local recommendations and friendly swaps, lay a layer of racial assumptions, coded messaging and micro-aggressions ready to be expressed but later vehemently denied at the first provocation.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 28, 2016 at 7:47 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “High Park cherry blossoms at risk due to cool spring”

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blogTO noted that this year, the cherry blossoms are likely to bloom somewhat late, between the 5th and the 12th of May. CBC reports that the cool and erratic spring is likely to threaten the blossoms.

High Park’s beautiful cherry blossoms will bloom late this year, if at all, according to one expert.

Jennifer Halpern, an outreach co-ordinator at the High Park Nature Centre, told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning that the cold spring is to blame for the delay.

“Because of the mild winter weather and the cool spring now, we’re feeling very certain that we’re not going to have such a full show of the cherry blossoms,” Halpern said.

She continued by saying many of the buds could turn directly into leaves instead of flowers and there could be far fewer blossoms this year.

“What we are seeing now is the buds are staying very tight. The tips have turned to green, but some of them have not widened, and instead they have elongated, and that’s how we know they are turning to leaf.”

Written by Randy McDonald

April 28, 2016 at 6:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto library workers say they’re heading for strike”

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Metro Toronto reports.

More than 2,000 library workers will strike Monday, shutting Toronto’s 100 branches, unless the city gets serious about negotiating a new contract, their union says.

With a strike or lockout possible at midnight Sunday, talks are at a “crisis point,” Maureen O’Reilly, president of CUPE Local 4948, told reporters Wednesday.

“I am extremely concerned about the state of negotiations right now,” O’Reilly said, and if they don’t improve library staff will be on picket lines Monday instead of opening branches.

A settlement is still possible, she said, but the city is offering nothing to address the “crisis” of precarious work. Fifty per cent of the membership works part-time under unstable working conditions.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 28, 2016 at 6:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The Bloor Bike Lanes Pilot Should Be a Council No-Brainer. Here’s Why It’s Not.”

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Torontoist’s Daren Foster writes about the controversy behind bike lanes on Bloor Street West.

In his closing remarks on the proposed Bloor Street bike lane pilot project on April 25, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee member and Councillor Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) suggested that cycling advocates were “trying to build a wall” around downtown—to keep certain people out, I guess. People like Councillor Holyday, who clearly wasn’t on board with the proposal.

As a fortification, might I suggest, this wall has been something of a bust. A tunnel burrows right beneath it, bringing undesirables from all four corners of the city directly within its confines every three to five minutes during peak times. It’s so porous that it can’t even keep the likes of Holyday from a successful incursion to set up shop right in the heart of things at Queen and Bay.

There really should have been little to no debate about this 2.5 kilometre bike lane pilot project running along Bloor Street West from Shaw Street to Avenue Road. It had overwhelming support from local residents and businesses. The two city councillors representing the wards the project would run through, Joe Cressy and Mike Layton (Ward 19 and 20, the Trinity-Spadinas), were big proponents. This should have been a slam dunk.

But that’s not how things work here, not in Toronto, not for more than five years now. Change, especially when it comes to allocating road space, must always be challenged, contested. Drivers’ time is the most valuable time. A three- or six-minute delay while behind the wheel of a car is like 45 minutes stuck on a bus. You just don’t mess around with drivers and their cars without expecting serious pushback.

That driving might not even be negatively affected, as study after study shows of places that have provided more room to other road users, did not faze pro-car skeptics. The most succinctly dismissive was former chief of staff for Rob Ford, Mark Towhey. When confronted on social media with this possibility, he simply and succinctly responded, “Bullshit”.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “When Haileybury burned, Toronto sent streetcars”

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Spacing Toronto’s Chris Bateman shows how Toronto’s surplus streetcars helped save the survivors of a fire-wrecked northern Ontario town in the 1920s.

The town of Haileybury sits on the shore of Lake Timiskaming, a serpentine body of water on the northern reaches of the Ottawa River that marks the border between Ontario and Quebec. From the town’s little main street, it’s almost two hours drive south to North Bay, and another hour to Sudbury.

Today, Haileybury is a picturesque if unremarkable community that amalgamated with the nearby towns of New Liskeard and Dymond to make Temiskaming Shores in 2004. But in 1922, the entire town of several thousand people was reduced to rubble and ashes—burned to the ground by a ferocious wildfire that still ranks among Canada’s most severe natural disasters.

“It is the worst disaster that has yet overtaken Northern Ontario,” Globe reporter Frank Phillips told a stunned province on October 6, 1922.

“Outstanding is the destruction of Haileybury. Where the county town of Timiskaming stood looking over the blue shores of the lake—a community of fine homes and splendid public buildings—there is now nothing but a waste of charred ruins.”

Whipped by 96 km/h winds, the fire blasted through the town in the early afternoon. Around 3:30 p.m., a general alarm was raised when the flames leapt across the town’s rail tracks. Within minutes, the entire business section of the city and the cathedral were alight.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 28, 2016 at 3:39 pm


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