Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

Now Reading: The Machine in the Garden

Leo Marx’s book tells us that, even from Virgil’s time, the rural idyll was far from the reality.

(book details: The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, by Leo Marx. Oxford University Press; ISBN: 019513351X)

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

learning about wind turbines

If you want to learn about wind energy, you might want to visit the Danish Wind Energy Association, the British Wind Energy Association, the American Wind Energy Association, the Centre for Alternative Technology, or the Canadian Wind Energy Association. All these folks have been proposing and living energy generation solutions for years.

wind-farm.org, however, is a hilarious mess of nonsense. It has been put together by a very few antis who managed to scrape up hosting and a CMS package. They also use that Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world… Margaret Mead quote that coincidentally appears on many pro-renewables sites. I’m half tempted to post to the forums under an assumed name, but I’m minded what Big Fred N. said: Battle Ye Not With Monsters, Lest Ye Become A Monster.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

malicious deomnibusation of maternal relative’s maternal relative strictly forbidden

culled from memory, and several versions floating about on the net:

YE CANNAE SHOVE YER GRANNY AFF A BUS

Tune: She’ll be coming round the mountain
Lyrics: possibly by Matt McGinn, or Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor

Oh ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Oh ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Ye cannae shove yer granny
For she’s yer mammy’s mammy,
Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.

chorus:
Singing: I wull, if you wull, so wull I
I wull, if you wull, so wull I
Singing: I wull, if you wull
I wull, if you wull
I wull, if you wull, so wull I

Ye can shove yer ither granny aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer ither granny aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer ither granny
‘Cos she’s yer faither’s mammy
Ye can shove yer ither granny aff a bus.

Ye can shove yer Uncle Wullie aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer Uncle Wullie aff a bus,
Uncle Wullie’s like yer faither
A harum-scarum blether,
Ye can shove yer Uncle Wullie aff a bus.

Ye can shove yer Auntie Maggie aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer Auntie Maggie aff a bus,
Auntie Meg’s yer Faither’s sister,
She’s naethin’ but a twister,
Ye can shove yer Auntie Maggie aff a bus.

But ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
O ye cannae shove yer granny,
‘Cos she’s yer mammy’s mammy,
O ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.

Glossary
blether: gossip
harum-scarum: scatterbrain, random
twister: liar
ither: other
naethin’: nothing

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

eggs with carpet

I’m reliably informed that “kiwi fruit” in Farsi translates to “egg with carpet”.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

tearin’ out a tonsil

My throat may never recover, but it was fun to almost completely lose my voice last night at a singing circle. Yep, we’re a bunch of hairy old folkies, clutching our battered copies of Sing Out!. I don’t care what you think.

I did introduce two songs to the group, I wish I was a Mole in the Ground (Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s subterranean wishes explained in a how-not-to lesson about the subjunctive), and the perennial Glasgow favourite, Ye cannae shove yer Grannie aff a bus. I kind of had to busk it with the lyrics for the latter one.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

4 beeeeeeeeeeeellion dollars?!

Yup, it’ll cost $4,000,000,000 to restore the Pickering nuclear power station to full operation. Oh, and five years, too. And all because of bungling management.

This isn’t just a day late and a dollar short. In 1997, the refurb was estimated at $780m and five years. Now, they’re saying more than 5× the cost and twice the time. Someone please nominate ousted OPG chair Bill Farlinger — author of such classics as The Commonsense Revolution and How to Privatize Hydro for Fun & (my) Profit — for the Giller Prize, since it’s Canada’s Premier Literary Prize for Fiction.

Look, I’ll make Ontario a deal. Give me the CAD 4bn, and I’ll give you enough renewable energy to make Pickering history. And I’ll only bungle on my own time. Deal?

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

mid summer, 1987

In UK exams, a “No Mention” was basically where you did so badly in an exam that they didn’t bother to mark it, and you weren’t actually listed as ever taking it.

I got a No Mention for my A-Level Special Maths. I got talked into sitting it by my mate Matthew, who is a maths genius. It was on my 18th birthday, my last day at school, and a gorgeous day.

When I opened the exam paper to see proofs of things involving frictionless pulleys and light, inextensible strings, something snapped. I wrote my name, then:

1) I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it is silly.

I sat for a few minutes, watching the dust motes groove about in the light from the library windows, then walked out.

Matthew got a special distinction, by the way.

I would have liked to add that I went home and listened to “A Can of Bees” by The Soft Boys on my brother’s hi-fi. But I think he’d already left home by then, taking his record collection with him.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

ottawa pictures

The lawn chair whale from the National Gallery

national gallery whale made from lawn chairs

Some Group of Seven symmetry:

national gallery canoe symmetry

Ottawa from (nearly) Hull, Qubec:

ottawa from hull

The Peace tower, and flame:

peace tower flame

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

car free in canada

It’s fairly easy to do without one if you make your housing and
working arrangements around it. I’ve been car-free since 1996, but
we’re mostly urbanites, so this may not work for everyone.

Most of my ideas come from a great UK magazine called AtoB.

  • We live very near a TTC subway station
  • I cycle during the summer, take transit at other times. A TTC
    pass for $90/month for an annual subscription just can’t be
    beat.
  • I have a Brompton folding bike (amongst far too many others, to
    Catherine’s eternal dismay) which rides well, and plays well with
    others on crowded transit.
  • Catherine can use rental cars (I don’t have my Canadian licence
    yet, for various annoying bureaucratic reasons). They’re cheaper
    than running a car if you only need them now and again.
  • Taxis work for getting big stuff from stores. (Unless you’re
    buying an eMac computer, which comes in a box too big to fit in a
    taxi …)
  • All of our furniture was delivered, at less cost per trip than
    even hiring a U-Haul.
  • We get most of our groceries delivered from Grocery Gateway
  • We’ve considered signing up for AutoShare, a car sharing service in Toronto. A few of our friends use it, and find it convenient and
    reasonable.
Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

pathologically polite

It’s 9am, TTC subway southbound at St George. The train is packed (the crowd roared like a lion… no, wait, that was Wesley Willis). It’s the usual crowd — UofT students, Queen’s Park parliament types, downtown suits — not an elderly, infirm or pregnant person in sight. Everyone’s muffled in their winter gear, and there’s no room to move.

And there are two empty seats. No-one will sit in them, ‘cos they’re too polite, or too passive-aggressive to let anyone sit in them.

To compound this, they are window seats, and there’s someone in the aisle seats. AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Am I a really bad person for wanting to sit down?

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

snow, man

It’s here. We’ve had dustings before, but this looks like it’s here to stay. Hello, winter!

Wish I could make like a groundhog, and see y’all in April …

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something

how the blog got its name

We showed this film to an audience and asked them what they had seen, and they said they had seen a chicken, a fowl, and we didn’t know that there was a fowl in it! So we carefully scanned the frames one by one for this fowl, and, sure enough, for about a second, a fowl went over the corner of the frame. … The film was about five minutes long. …

Wilson: We simply asked them: what did you see in the film?

Question: No one gave you a response other than “We saw the chicken”?

Wilson: No, this was the first quick response— “We saw a chicken.”

— from “Film Literacy in Africa”, by John Wilson (Canadian Communications vol.1 no. 4, summer, 1961, pp. 7-14), cited in McLuhan’s “The Gutenberg Galaxy”.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

The Remarkable Bob Levitt

Bob Levitt — on a budget of $0 — has built one of the most remarkable and useful websites I’ve ever seen: Toronto Tenants. If you’re a tenant in Toronto (as more than half of the city’s residents are), Bob’s site is a gold mine.

He’s taken the time to build a comprehensive site, with no concessions to commerciality. He’s even researched Google’s linking algorithm to make sure that his site ranks way up there. His attention to detail — including providing common typos, such as tennant, as search keywords — goes far beyond that of most sites.

In short, it’s a labour of love. Talking to Bob, it’s clear that he wants tenants in the Megacity (and beyond) to be safely and happily housed, and to know their rights.

Just as I thought that the web was turning into a global electronic Wal*Mart, Bob restores my faith in humanity. Keep up the good work, Bob!

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

Props

Thanks to Paul Hart, who pointed me to 1&1 in the first place.

Massive thanks to official man o’ pairts* Jeff Walker, who helped me set up Movable Type, and who hosts my existing blog.

If this had been back in Amiga days, I’d definitely write a demo with greets in a scrolly sine-wave message …


*: Scots for mensch.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

everyone else is voting, why can’t I?

It’s municipal election day here in Toronto. I’m a Toronto resident, homeowner, and taxpayer. Yet I can’t vote, because I’m not a Canadian citizen.

I can understand not being able to vote in federal or provincial elections, but I’m as much of a citizen as anyone else living in Toronto. Toronto has such a vast immigrant population that many people are disenfranchised. Perhaps that’s why the city is failing to provide for its citizens.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

so long, emusic

I left emusic — despite me originally saying this — because they changed. Unlimited downloads went away.

I did download a ton of good music before unsubscribing. But they let me down — they shouldn’t have promised what they couldn’t sustain. Just like Bigfoot For Life, who promised free, unlimited e-mail forwarding for life, only to turn around and start charging.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

yay, go nettwerk!

After writing this, I emailed Nettwerk about the essentially broken CDs they were selling. Very quickly, they said they could send me a non-copy-controlled one. And a week later, it arrived. I now have happy CD players, happy MP3 players, and a happy me, ‘cos it’s a good album.

Someone at Nettwerk hinted to me that they’re dropping copy-controlled CDs because of all the bother. Good.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

only in canada

Flash animation: Best management practices for water quality from Agriculture & Food Canada: ROBOCOW

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

found sound

Hauling my bike up the stairs up the Queen St viaduct over the Don this morning, I found a beat-up discarded demo CD for Estella Fritz. Being an avid fan of the 365 Days Project, I hoped this would be a demented demo for some superannuated wedding singer.

On hauling it into the office, I was disappointed. It’s generic overly-angsty rock from Windsor, ON. They have a website, alas: estellafritz.com.

Dang.

Categories
General goatee-stroking musing, or something

i think i like emusic …

Just signed up for emusic.com. US $10 per month for unlimited download of some excellent artists, encoded as decent MP3s.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve downloaded so far:

  • The Dickies
  • The Fall
  • Ewan MacColl
  • Jah Wobble
  • Gorp
  • James Taylor Quartet
  • Daniel Johnston
  • Holy Modal Rounders
  • Wesley Willis
  • Boards Of Canada
  • Perez Prado Orchestra
  • Young Fresh Fellows
  • Mayor McCA
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Dressy Bessy
  • The Fugs
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Maybe I don’t like them all, but at least I haven’t paid extra to find that out.