Monday, October 30, 2006

Calamity Jane's Loaded Gun

Or: I may have to hold my nose to vote for David Miller, but the alternative stinks worse.

I was thinking about the municipal election in Toronto, and one thing struck me about Pitfield's campaign - her stance (eighth paragraph) on incineration is enough to make me oppose her.

I am not an expert on incineration, though I distrust it for the simple reason that its proponents are always soft-pedaling it. You know what I mean, they are often calling it "new technologies" or a "technological" solution, as if a computer or a robot would just eat the garbage.

While we all yearn for the garbage-eating robot, alas, that is not what incineration is. I'm not sure how much the so-called "new technology" is able to improve the age-old technology of setting garbage on fire, but I do remain a skeptic.

Now let us say that the new incineration technology does work like magic, the only emissions from the smokestacks are pixie dust and warm fuzzies. Swell. Still, I would have to oppose Pitfield on this incineration business.

While she has not said so, the implication from her campaign is that an incinerator could be put inside Toronto. She has never said where. Where is the incinerator going, Jane? What neighbourhood? While lots of garbage can be burnt, I am sure it cannot be burnt all at once. Where is the garbage going to be staged prior to burning? Now even if the incinerator is far from any kind of residence, how will the trucks get to it? Will garbage be trucked through certain neighbourhoods constantly?

Where is the incinerator going? I feel that I could not buy property in this city knowing that Pitfield was set on putting an incinerator somewhere. Being near it, or even on a route that trucks take to get there, would ruin property values. Right now the incinerator project hovers over the city. Like a loading gun being pointed at everyone, Torontonians are faced with the threat that Pitfield may want to build an incinerator next to anyone.
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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The haze clears from your eyes, on a Sunday...

...with apologies to Jimmy Eat World of course. Actually Sunday is often the haziest day to me, and I'm not quite sure why. Not the whole thing either mind you, I had a very enjoyable time for most of this Sunday, coffee at Mercury Espresso Bar was followed by brunch at Bonjour Brioche (superb omlettes!). I generally had an agreeable time this Sunday, I drilled Lesley on some stuff she needed to know for her new job (I hope you passed the test, babe).

So yeah, my Sundays are often rather pleasant affairs, the haze (or reverie, or whatever) hits usually when I'm alone, some time in the afternoon or evening. Another week is over. Another week is over, and....


And what? I've another week less to live? What did I fill the past week with? Another week gone, and I have to wonder. Driving up the DVP at 4:15pm and the sunlight's pushing through the clouds at strange angles, this is what film makers call "magic time" about an hour before sundown. It's hitting the Bloor Viaduct, and it's hitting the fiery fall colours of the valley below. It's enough to make me pause in wonder between lane changes.

Sunday afternoon always seems to be the time when I notice these wonderful artistic contrivances in nature. Maybe it's the only time that I really, really look, I don't know. I don't know what to make of it either. Another Sunday, another week gone. What have I done with this week? Have I made the most of it? What about the next one? Except I never feel that focused when I reflect on a week. It's more of a feeling, of the inevitability of time. Another week comes, another week goes. A week from now I'll be one week older, never able to do anything about that passage time.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Books! I need books!

I was at Chapters tonight, and it hit me, I really miss reading. Now, I have lots of reading to do these days, but it's all connected to teaching. I miss reading for reading's sake. I miss looking at a book, saying to myself that it looks interesting and then buying it - all while not caring if it's handy to my content area or not. I think I am going to make time to read here on in. Even if it's just 15 minutes a day, I need something to retain my sanity.
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Sunday, October 22, 2006


Okay, so I haven't made any changes yet, I guess, I like this theme more than I thought. That, and it's been a busy time this past week. At least the blogroll issue didn't come back to haunt me.

There's so much to say, but it always hits me on the highway when I'm away from the computer... sigh...
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Saturday, October 14, 2006


I'm thinking of another look change for this here blog. I'm wondering whether I can do something graphics-wise with the "Notes" theme - you know, make it look more like a spiral-bound notebook or something.
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Thursday, October 12, 2006

RightGirl is in the wrong city...

Once in a while I take a peek at the Shotgun - Canada's repository for ultra-right bric-a-brac. Today I saw a post endorsing anyone other than David Miller in Toronto's mayoral race. Okay, no big deal, I expect that from the right. Something did get to me though:
Or Jane Pitfield (who would be my choice)? Pitfield (the most photogenic of the three) is currently City Councillor for East York. Her website says she kibbutzed when she was in university. In Jew-hating toronto, that might work against her, but who knows?
Jew-hating? Ummmm... Who was mayor before Miller? That's right, our pure Aryan friend, Mel Lastman! (Sarcasm!) Seriously folks, the whole entire city selected Mel Lastman as our mayor - not once, but twice! And he was a popular mayor too, something impressive given that he was in denial about homelessness, made ethnic slurs about Kenya, shook hands with the leaders of a major crime gang, spent most of his term of office in Florida, was sued by two illegitmate children, and managed to make us laughingstock by calling in the army for snow!

So yeah, endorse any and all mayoral candidates you'd like, but this is a slur against me and my whole city. No serious element of the city's political or media machinations has attacked Pitfield on this basis. As a Torontonian I am disgusted to be called "Jew-hating" for having 416 as my area code.
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A Severe Case of the Emperor's New Clothes

I've posted my opinion on the Israel-Lebanon fiasco already (several times). In short, I subscribe to the Juan Cole opinion that there is clear evidence that both sides committed war crimes. So today Ignatieff is in trouble for saying so?! I was more upset with his "not losing sleep" comment personally.

As for the Liberal leadership race, I don't really have a dog in that fight, as the saying goes. I do have reservations about Iggy (I think there's no question that he would have put us in Iraq had he been at the helm in 2003), but this is one of the more sensible things that he has said. Dropping cluster bombs on civilians is a war crime! The emperor has no clothes!
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You Sank My Blogroll!

No seriously, it disappeared, what happened to it? Like is in trouble. Criminy! I may have to it all by hand again, like in the olden days.

Edit: Okay it came back, that's a relief!

Re-edit: ...and it's gone again!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Intellectual Curiousity

In the public sphere there really seems to be a lack of that these days. I'm tired of so many talking points. You can pick them out too, I don't know what it is, but you can. There is something about the delivery that gives away someone repeating a script versus someone who has actually considered their response and is putting a component of their own thought into it.

I can't be bothered to find the link, but I think that Andrew Sullivan may have posted on this subject. Regardless, Dennis Perrin has a great post on the matter today. And Mr. Perrin was the one to get me thinking on this matter today.

I don't want to call the problem partisanship (though it certainly relates to partisanship) because there is always going to be parties and party loyalties. It's something else, I want to say groupthink, except that I don't think there's all that much thinking involved either. These days, it's just a matter of bolting together prefabricated debating points in the right order.

One of the reflexes to this critique is to be relentlessly middle-of-the-road. After wearying of talking-points-debate, people stake out a very firm position in the mushy middle. In some circles I get the sense that this passes for a mark of intellectual sophistication. Except that it isn't.

So what position are okay? Well, any of them - if that is, in fact, what you actually believe. If you believe one thing or another about a particular issue that's fine and good, you can even be in the middle. What I tire of though is the reflexiveness of it all. If you think about your opinion and the way you narrate it makes it sound exactly like a press release from a political party or and interest group, then you need to stop and think.

I think I learn the most about my own opinions when I can have a serious discussion - not a shouting match - with someone with different ones. Sometimes I learn that I'm mistaken or even wrong. Sometimes all I learn is a more nuanced way to formulate or express my understanding of the world. But at least this is learning.
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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Another Season...

This weekend marks what is probably the last time I'll make it up north for another year. At least in the context of cottage season, the time for that is over till next May. My family never had any kind of vacation property while I was growing up, so I suppose I have always approached them with a sort of outsider view.

The central idea behind a cottage is a sort of escape. Really good vacation spots are able to make you forget. Afghanistan? Iraq? "Steve" Harper? Whatever...

Even my own life is forgetten! Lesson plans? Marking? Bills? It's all been left somewhere that you have managed to transcend by looking at trees with coloured leaves and some sort of gentle lakescape.

It all tempts me to want to live the escape, find a place up north and just live there. But this is an illusion, because if your escape is permanent it's not your escape, is it? Get set up in one place and all your responsibilities will eventually track you to it. So I escaped for a day, now I am back.
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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I have no life...

After spending the weekend drifting through the haze of a cold and cold medication, I still find myself waste-deep in lesson plans. Hence I have not had much to say about anything. I feel slightly guilty neglecting my blog, not as guilty as I do for never having time for real-life human beings these days, but a little bit bad all the same. Next weekend I might just have time to do something productive. In the meantime I have been trying to keep the blogroll fresh and fun, so look up something else to read. As for me, I have to be off to bed, then back to the education mines tomorrow.

PS: I think I will hit the next person who informs me that teaching is all about living a nice easy life with the summers off.