Saturday, January 27, 2007

Capitalism - As it was meant to be

I spent an enjoyable hour browsing the antique shops of West-west-Queen West near Roncesvalles. We're looking for a piano bench to replace the crappy factory piece that came with our Yamaha and is now disintegrating.

The antique stores in this area are basically capitalism in its purest form. The marketplace matching goods and services with demand. I need something; I go out to a number of shops, compare prices and service, and then find what I need. It's too bad we can't distill more of our economic activity down to the antique store model. Cut out all that corporate bullshit - overmarketed, overfranchised, centrally controlled, coercive, monopolistic rapaciousness.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Income Trust Anger II

Income trust investors are taking their case for special tax breaks to Parliament Hill this week. Expect to hear about lots of sob stories about the poor little energy trusts that could no longer meet ends meet when their favored tax status was eliminated. All those impoverished international investors who are pulling their money out of Canadian income trusts and putting them into Australia and the United S- oops those countries eliminated their income trusts a long time ago. Never mind.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saturday night cookery

On the menu, quick black bean soup from epicurious. Black beans, tomatoes, red peppers, and celery(my addition).

Gates of TBP

The gates of Trinity Bellwoods Park, have finally been restored. Construction had been halted temporarily last year when the fire marshal realized that the restoration impacted a fire route to an institutional building backing on the park. The gates were previously the gates of Trinity College, until 1925 when the college moved to its current location at the University of Toronto.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Urban Adventuring

This is fascinating. Teams of urban adventurers illegally and dangerously exploring Southern Ontario's deepest urban caves. Read dsank's account of a spelunking expedition in the gigantic century old tunnel deep below an abandoned power station in Niagara Falls.

Vanishing point has more accounts and descriptions of urban adventures in Toronto and upstate New York.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Christmas Skating

Families at Nathan Phillips Square enjoy a post-Christmas outing.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Sheriff in Town

Nancy Pelosi, the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives takes her seat earlier this week. Early indications are that the Democratic majority plans to hold the Bush administration accountable for its disgrace and failure in Iraq, and to provide oversight going forward.
From Face the Nation on Sunday morning:

If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request we want to
see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now.
The American people and the Congress support those troops. We will not abandon

But if the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have
to justify it. And this is new for him because up until now the Republican
Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no
conditions. And we’ve gone into this situation, which is a war without end,
which the American people have rejected.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I've managed our family's compost heap for a few years now. It's one of my favorite jobs; part science project, part animal care, part good deed I suppose. The idea that you can take garbage and turn it into clean earth in a few months has a powerful appeal. A couple of years ago we seeded our compost bin with some red worms and the bin has taken off since. As a Christmas present to myself I purchased the Rodale Book of Composting from Lee Valley. Rodale publishes Organic Gardening magazine and this 1992 book is the bible of composting. It covers the basics, and then delves into all sorts of obscure and highly technical details about composting: ideal temperatures, green-brown mixes, alternative techniques such as 'compost in a bag', and even how to set up a farm-scale compost operation. I have no doubt that my efforts are low on the skill scale, but I'm having fun nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

toy factory

The loft go up in Liberty village, the old Massey-Ferguson lands. These photos taken only one year ago and the place was all but deserted. See the present day slick marketing at and Liberty Market. This location is a media and design hub (and was also named Toronto's "Internet Porn Alley in a 2005 broadcast of Dateline NBC.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Read: Fiasco

Just finished Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. This book is difficult to put down; a devastating critique of the Bush administration and senior military establishment from a star journalist at the Wall Street Journal. The book adds substantially to the debate on Iraq: it is not simply a rehash of available public information. As the Pentagon correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Ricks has filled the book with candid interviews and research from inside the military.

Fiasco describes the disgraceful history of the invasion of Iraq, from 2002-2006. He briefly covers the false premises that led to war: the bogus linkage between Saddam and al-Qaeda; the false claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was cooked up by pressuring the intelligence community for worst case scenarios. However most of the book is devoted to the occupation.

Ricks describes in riveting detail the results of an administration of incompetent neocons. Having sold the war as a cakewalk, the Bushies and their pets in the military establishment then proceeded to hamfistedly botch the occupation: by wasting piles of money and time looking for nonexistent WMDs, by not providing sufficient troops on the ground to prevent the country from slipping into looting and chaos; by appointing an incompetent civilian administration of Republican loyalists; and by enraging Iraqis with a brutal, torture filled occupation.

This book is important because it shows that elections do matter, even if you don't like both choices. This should put to bed the conventional wisdom that generally conservatives are generally hard headed, whereas liberals are pie in the sky idealists. Republicans and Democrats are not the same, despite the fact that they both slosh in massive donations and are both beholden to moneyed special interests. An Al Gore administration most definitely would not have disgraced and endangered the United States with this trillion dollar quagmire.