Sunday, November 27, 2005

Beer Hunter

It's Saturday 6pm and you need liquor. Quick, what do you do? has a map of Toronto beer & wine stores with real-time updates. This site is put together by BadMath, a local Toronto design/development shop.

There are an increasing number of 'Google mash-ups', sites that leverage Google's map and earth imaging technology in innovative ways. For example, this site which allows you to view the storm track of hurricanes and cyclones.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Quirks special on climate change

CBC's science program hosted a special show on climate change today. Download and real media stream available here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Corporation

In his 2004 book, The Corporation, Joel Bakan provides a searing indictment of the corporate form. His thesis is accessible, concise, and devastating
1. The corporation enjoys the powers and rights of a person
2. The personality of the corporation is generally that of a sociopath: amoral, egotistical pursuit of self-interest
3. Since the corporation is a creation of governmental laws and treaties, it is time to re-establish control over this entity.

The book is well documented and footnoted, but not as dull or lengthy as Fast Food Nation. The story of the Bolivian city of Cochabamba is particularly chilling. In an effort to employ market solutions, to a public policy problem, the government of Bolivia privatized the water system of Cochabamba. The water company raised rates to up to three times the previous rate, and even charged peasants for water they drew from their own wells. In complicance with its contract with the company, the government prohibited people from even collecting rainwater and local river water. After a bloody confrontation between citizens and police, the water system was de-privatized.

Urban Vancouver has an interview with Bakan. The movie of the same name has their own site with a Get Involved Link.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Drive Clean program to be adjusted

Ontario's Drive Clean program is being adjusted to target older cars. 4-5 year-old cars will no longer be tested - testing starts after a car is 5 years old. Light-duty trucks (read SUVs) older than 20 years old will now be tested.

The maximum limit for repairs will be increased from $450 to $600. 600? This is of course, a bizarre subsidy to the worst polluters. Your car fails the test? Fix it or get it off the road. It's not the government's job to make it easy for you to drive. Can't afford it? I can't afford an i-Pod - is the state going to cap the costs of an i-Pod for me?

It's reasonable to exempt 4-5 year old cars. This change is likely due to pressure from research by the Hamilton Spectator and others showing that the vast majority of 4-5 year old cars passed their test with flying colors. This research is giving strength to claims that the billion or so-dollars that Ontario vehicle owners have spent on Drive Clean was 'wasted'.

Reforming and cutting the fat in the Drive Clean system will reduce the program's vulnerability to political attacks. Drive Clean is a powerful and revolutionary idea because it channels the responsibility and costs of curbing pollution on the individual, not the state. The claim that 98% of cars pass Drive Clean, therefore the program is a waste, is a specious argument at best. The 2% of cars that fail are the problem; they are exactly what the program was targeted against.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Larry David special on Climate Change

Larry David, one of the creators of 'Seinfeld' is hosting a special on climate change. The special will air on Nov 20 at 8pm EST (TBS). It's about time somone injected some common sense humor into a serious topic

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Profile of a sunny afternoon

If you spent the afternoon outside today, it was a blissful November afternoon. Half the city was walking around outside at about 3pm, or so it felt. There was no Christmas rush on anyone's face yet. What else could you ask for?

New subway line for Toronto?

Pressure is building to build a subway to replace the aging Scarborough RT. The TTC needs to replace the obsolete rapid transit system by 2015. The RT carries 43,000 riders a day, which is more than the Sheppard subway and more than the ridership to York University.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Sausage of Hardwood

Just installed a tongue-in-groove mix of hardwood from Timeless Materials in Guelph, ON. This company salvages wood from condemned factories and barns in Southern Ontario and re-mills the wood into flooring. Each board is a different wood, kind of like sausage (everybody likes sausage). As long as you distribute the different varieties sufficiently randomly it looks good. The spouse and I wanted to use recycled materials if possible and we were able to get this stuff for slightly more than a new batch of hardwood. Pretty exciting that the wood may be from a hundred year old building

We just finished oiling it with Tung oil and are very pleased with the results. The Tung oil was rosemary-scented and non-toxic. It gets applied using a brush and three coats were enough to protect the floor Posted by Picasa