Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Inspirational photography

While suffering through my 9-5 work week, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a more interesting career, such as that of a pro athlete, a comic book artist or a photographer. Photography is something that I've long been interested in but have never really pursued. It's hard to make any sort of money at it, especially if you aren't willing to commit to a life of wedding photography. (I value my weekends!)

Sometimes, though, I'll come across a website or news story about really cool photography and I second-guess my 9-5 existence.

I came across one such link via Boingboing. (where else?)

This is photographer Brian McCarty based in California. He has a book coming out collecting some of his very nifty work involving placing toys in real backgrounds to create a sort of "optical illusion" style of art. I kinda like the underwater ones, myself.

Seeing this makes me question whether sitting in front of a f***ing computer is really what I want to be doing with my life.

I wonder what the stork would say... (warning: this is quite possibly the most depressing commercial EVER.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

CRAZY GUN-TOTING COP!!! ...Not so crazy?

Boingboing strikes again.

So I'm perusing the site, which is usually pretty interesting, and come across this post that seems to relate the story of a crazy, gun-waving cop caught on video pointing his firearm at a motorcyclist who was speeding. The story goes on to tell of the crazy lengths the DA is going to to back the officer.

The DA part of the story is one thing, and yes it sounds a bit out of touch with reality ("wiretapping"? Really?) but what pissed me off was the way the officer was portrayed and the way the biker's actions were overlooked.

The picture seems damning, but watch the video. In it, we see the biker speeding and driving recklessly. We even see him pull a wheelie. That's f***ing insane. Right there, this guy loses any sympathy from me. The guy should have his licence revoked for life. Honestly. WTF?

The video shows the speeder passing a police car, and the bubble pops up: "69 MPH" as if that was the speed he was doing when the cop caught him on radar. Less than half a minute earlier he was doing 127 MPH.


That's some 205 km/h for us Canadians.

So do you really think the cop caught him at only 69 mph? Do you think radar only works the moment you are passing the cop car? Really?


The guy starts checking his mirrors repeatedly, then speeds up to at least 82 mph (132 km/h), and takes the first exit he can. At this point, he knows he could be in trouble and he's CLEARLY trying to elude any police vehicle that may be pursuing him.

Now we don't know if he knows the cop is chasing him because there's no sound and we can't see what he sees in the mirrors. But once he gets on the ramp, we see him check his mirrors and then turn his head - that's when we can see the police vehicle in pursuit, lights flashing (notice there's still no sound at this point). Does he pull over immediately? Nope. He rides up to the light where the traffic is stopped and then stops.

This is where we see the unmarked cruiser (a gray sedan) pull up alongside. The officer gets out and unholsters his gun as he says "get off the motorcycle". What was the biker doing at the time? BACKING UP. So even before the cop can get out and say anything, the biker is making a move away. Where the heck is he going? Is it possible the cop sees this as a potential fleeing manoeuvre? Could that be why he draws his weapon? Notice that at no point does the officer actually raise his firearm at the biker. He puts his hand on the bike to arrest the biker and identifies himself.

Crazy cop? I dunno. Seems pretty calm and in control to me, especially since he's facing a biker who was endangering the lives of others.

And let's get something straight: this guy was not just "speeding", he was stunt driving and weaving dangerously around traffic. The guy is lucky the cop had that much patience with him. Had someone been hurt the public would be asking for the biker's head on a stick.

But who is the bad guy here? The police officer. The "out of control" cop. Are you kidding me? This guy was super calm.

I watched the video again, trying to find where the unmarked car might have seen the biker. Look back at the car in the passing lane next to the bus at the 0:34 mark. Think that might be him? I don't know where else it might have been. So was the cop really pulling his gun out for a guy doing a measly (?!) 69 mph on a highway, or had he been trying to catch up to the idiot who had passed him doing a wheelie at 127 mph?

Check out this news story about the incident. Regardless of the recording felony charge, the "victim" makes the disingenuous statement that he thought someone might be stealing his bike or trying to shoot him when the officer unholstered his weapon. ...Really? You KNOW you are being pulled over by a vehicle with flashing lights and you figure maybe you're being mugged? Really?

But the media outlet eats it up and paints the cop as the bad guy.


Friday, July 16, 2010

This and That - July 16, 2010

Just some thoughts on things I came across today:

Beaver kills dog, beaver to be killed
There's something missing in this story, surely. I mean, why is there an off-leash in that particular spot? Why not just move the off-leash area instead of killing the beavers? And I don't buy the "if we move the beavers they'll just fight to the death with another beaver for their territory" argument. I mean, surely there are places suitable for beavers where there isn't already a beaver. WTF?

New Superman to be made, without Brandon Routh
This is too bad. I can understand not casting Routh if they want to completely re-boot the franchise again, but Routh was terrific in Superman Returns, I thought. He channeled Christopher Reeves and was a suitable Man of Steel, physically. Making a feature with Tom Welling would be another option, but I guess he comes with the baggage of the tv series - see re-boot of the franchise idea. Casting Chuck's Zachary Levi would be bizarre, though, seeing as Routh had an extended run on the series and Levi comes with the comedic baggage. I can't see him as Supes.

Bionic legs allow paralyzed man to walk
Wait...why hasn't this happened before? Some guys in a garage came up with this? Seriously? Is there not enough money to be made in the development of this device that it hadn't been created before? I'm confused. Great for this guy, though. Great friends. If enough of these can be made and the system improved, I'm sure the price will come down even from the $150K projected price. I wonder what insurance companies think of this? These devices would have their own issues, but if it saves people the cost of special houses, ramps, etc, maybe that price tag doesn't seem so high?

Mel Gibson's lawyers say tapes were doctored
If the tapes were edited, ok, then that's a pretty serious charge. But unless they were doctored in such a way as to make it sound like he said things that he didn't, well, I'm not sure it's gonna matter in the public eye. I'm thinking of things, like, I dunno... "If you get raped by a pack of n***ers", you know, that sort of thing. Still, you gotta wonder about someone who would record and leak phone conversations. Use 'em in court, sure, but making them available to the public? Maybe they deserve each other.

Jarvis losing a lane to bikes
Not sure how I feel about this yet. I’m all for bike lanes, don’t get me wrong, but I question whether Jarvis is really the right street for them. It’s a major arterial road for cars, that’s for sure. But if you wanted to get around the city on a bike, would Jarvis really be your street of choice? First of all, it runs from Rosedale to east downtown; who is riding their bike down from Rosedale? For those coming from north of Rosedale, that’s probably not your route of choice since Mount Pleasant (Jarvis north of Bloor) likely won’t be getting a bike lane and is very hilly. So who is this for? How much will it be used? If you really wanted to be daring, you’d convert Yonge Street into a route for bikes, pedestrians and delivery trucks only. It could be converted into a terrific shopping strip. Who drives on downtown Yonge Street really? But the point is this: bikes, unlike cars, don’t converge on major arterial roads. That’s the beauty of a bike – it can go anywhere there’s pavement at roughly the same speed. Bike lanes are great, but one major development on one street that’s off the beaten path is not gonna cut it. I’d suggest separate lanes, with a curb, much like some streets in Montreal. And put them on LOTS of streets, not just one or two. Cyclists aren’t likely to go out of their way to take a bike arterial road – they’ll just take the shortest route. So let’s accommodate bikes everywhere.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Awesome journalism

I read those "commuter" papers on my way to work. They're convenient and free.

But, man, do they suck.

24 is by far the greatest offender, but Metro is filled with errors, omissions and nonsense every single day. I fear for the minds of those who take this stuff at face value.

This may or may not be related, since I saw the same story reported in The Star, but I thought I'd share this interesting tidbit of info that I came across and made me shake my head.

There was this study, see (you know how much I love those!), and in it a bunch of would-be researchers looked at immigrants to Canada versus those born here to see how they compared in terms of water safety. The headline reads: "Research compiled by the Lifesaving Society shows a strong need for water safety education targeted at Canada's immigrants."

Followed by stats.

Issue #1: "The Lifesaving Society’s survey polled 433 Canadian-born adults and 599 Canadian immigrants from the Chinese, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Muslim communities." So, basically, not immigrants from the other 70% of the world. That's thorough. I'm not sure this really represents an accurate reflection of "immigrants", but ok...

Issue #2: Metro, who published the story on their front page, says, "Even though 20% of immigrants said they cannot swim, 79% reported to the study that they planned to spend time around or on the water this summer." *GASP!* Someone warn these people!!!

...Hold on... 20% can't swim... 79% plan to be around the water... that means 21% won't be even near the water... 20% can't swim...


Wow. Way to be alarmist. This, ladies and gentlemen, is front page news.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cory Doctorow misses the point again

I haven't been over to Boingboing in quite a while. I blame the twitchy bookmarks feature on my browser since they updated the servers at work.

Did I say work? I meant home. Since they updated the servers at home.


Anyway, it didn't take long to come across a post by my fav contributor, Cory Doctorow, in which he aimed his vitriol at "The Man" and missed completely.

In this article, Cory links to another article wherein the author claims that the recording industry in America is wasting its money suing peer-to-peer users who download/share music files, presumably at the expense of CD sales. See, the numbers suggest the RIAA is spending way more in lawyers' fees ($16M) than they recoup in litigation wins ($400K). Bad investment, right? Losers, right?

Uh...not so fast. Do you seriously believe the primary objective of the RIAA is to get their money back via litigation? Come on...

Of COURSE it's "litigation terrorism" as one comment poster put it. The RIAA clearly thinks it's worth it in deterrence or they wouldn't be doing it. These guys are all about profits, remember?

Piracy may still be thriving (as many comment posters seem to be pointing out with glee), but I'm sure that there is SOME portion of the population out there that is just a bit freaked out by the threat of being singled out - maybe even $16M worth? Hell, even the UFC is jumping on that bandwagon.

The fact is that as long as the internet exists, piracy will exist. There are tons of people who feel they shouldn't have to pay a dollar for something they can potentially access for free (legal or no). Does that mean these rights holders should lie back and take it? Hell no. Is it good PR? Hell no, but they're banking on the fact that you like the artist on the front of the CD enough to ignore the name in the small print on the back of the CD.

Now stop stealing shit! Geez...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Michael Bryant - Darcy Sheppard Incident Follow-up


I was out of town on Tuesday, so I missed this bit of news. Seems the charges against former Attorney General Michael Bryant were dropped when the prosecution decided it had no reasonable chance of conviction.

See, back in September of aught-nine, I posted this. It got the most comments, I think, of anything I've posted on this blog. I was trying to make the point that everyone should take a deep breath and wait for the facts to come out before passing judgement (not just in this case, but in all cases) and holding pro-cyclist/anti-car sit-ins. Seems some folks missed that message, though, and accused me of supporting Bryant and being a car-loving douchebag.

Although I'm sure many will doubt the story (I have my own questions), it seems that some facts have indeed come to light that helped get Bryant off the hook. You can catch most of the story here, but here are some highlights:

- Sheppard was drunk. He had a blood alcohol of 0.183, over twice the legal driving limit (not sure how that limit applies to impaired cycling).

- He had been acting somewhat oddly (to be kind) moments before the incident, throwing traffic cones and junk onto the street and doing figure eights in front of a car.

- He cut in front of Bryant's car at a light, passing on the driver's side.

- Bryant did not, as the video suggested to many, deliberately lurch at and then strike Sheppard with his car, but rather this sequence was the result of the car stalling and Bryant nervously attempting to restart it. (Bryant should have realized the danger when the car lurched the first time, but, hey, I didn't interview the witnesses.)

- The car did not speed off at a rate of 60-100 km/h, but rather hit about 35 km/h.

- Sheppard struck Bryant in the forehead as Bryant drove in a panic.

- Forensic evidence proves Bryant did not mount or touch the curb at all (as some had suggested, in an effort to squish Sheppard like a bug) but rather Sheppard's outstretched body struck a fire hydrant no more than a foot from the curb and caused him to fall off, strike his head on the curb or roadway and suffer fatal injuries.

- Sheppard had a history of outrageous behaviour involving vehicles, including one caught on camera that shows that Sheppard also had a history of latching onto cars. The story is here.

As for all the other stuff regarding violence earlier in the evening, it seems that was neither proven nor dismissed.

The bottom line is that Sheppard's own father accepts the decision and applauded the thoroughness of the investigation.

Did Bryant err that evening? Obviously. He apparently couldn't get this car started and then tried to do so in a not-so-safe manner. But the story goes that he panicked. Was Sheppard justified in being pissed at what appeared to be a reckless if not aggressive act? Of course. Was Bryant equally justified in fearing for his safety and that of his wife in the face of Sheppard's reaction? I'd say so. Was this an example of human failures and unusual circumstances coming together with tragic consequences? You bet your ass.

Is this the rallying cry for cycling advocates? Not on your life. People who want to see more bike lanes should be distancing themselves from "troubled" folk like Sheppard. "Bad month" or not, this was not the poster-boy for bikes in the city.

I'm hoping that now that the facts are out, people will make their arguments in a more intelligent manner, rather than simply jumping to conclusions and breaking out the pitchforks and torches, all the while lauding Sheppard as an angel.

That's the end of this post. Bike lanes will be another post - just as it should be.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Something Immediately

Let it never be said that I don't listen to my future wife.

Happy now?

Now let me get back to work! I have to work twice as much if I'm gonna give you half my sh*t! :P


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bogus Air Miles

I don't have the time nor the inclination to get nto this too much today, but thought I'd comment on this link I noticed today.

When the whole Bonus Air Miles thing was launched (which, to me, was back in university, I believe) I was left scratching my head. How can this possibly work? If everyone starts collecting air miles and getting free flights, well, won't the airlines lose revenue and be forced to add crazy restrictions? If enough people earn enough points to start seriously redeem them, won't they just jack up the number of points needed to get a flight? What's to stop them once they have all these people invested?

Looks like I was right. Although this is supposedly the first increase in 5 years, the fact of the matter is that the air miles you've been collecting over x amount of time are simply not as valuable as they once were. Oh, but keep collecting, dear loyal customer - they'll pay off EVENTUALLY.

And when you want to redeem your BAM points or whatever other loyalty point card thingamabopper, we have this one ticket on this one flight at this one Orlando. Congrats!

That's why I've never been one to look for BAM deals. I whip out my card as a matter of course when I hand over my credit card to pay for groceries, but that's about it. I am NEVER lured by an offer that promotes BAMs. In fact, when I see ads that say "earn 50 BAMs with every purchase" it just turns me off more. If they can just hand out 50 points just like that, what's the point of me earning 1 or 2 points every time I buy groceries? (If that) I've been whipping out my card as a matter of course for some 15 years now and the last time I looked I had squat for points. Yippee.

Forget the BAM offer. I'll take 10% off the sticker price every time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Au revoir, Le Marche

On my lunchtime stroll I noticed that Le Marche, a long-standing restaurant at the corner of Yonge & Wellington, had closed. It caught me - and a number of would-be lunchtime patrons - by surprise. There was a sign in the lobby thanking customers for their patronage.

Guess it's gone for good.

Now I'm not exactly shedding a tear for the place. I hated eating there. It was an overpriced buffet that actually charged an automatic 15% gratuity. (WTF?)

I also didn't like the social aspect of it. You get seated, then have to get up and walk around looking for food. It was like a giant menu that you had to walk through and you and your friends would have to go your separate ways to get your stuff (unless you happen to be eating the same thing). Then you get back to your table with your food, possibly minutes apart, and eat. This means there's no time between ordering and being served to talk with your meal partner(s). That's crap.

Then, when you check out, they charge you the gratuity for the pleasure of having served yourself. Thanks. If it's automatic, why not simply add it to the posted price of the food?

So, yeah, I hated the place. But it was a bit of an oasis in the midst of the downtown core. It looked nice, at least, and it often played French music - particularly Joe Dassin - inside the restaurant and out on the street.

I wonder what's going to take its place?

UPDATE: Spoke too soon? Yes and no. What will replace the Marche? Well, a Marche, of course!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Wedding Blog

Sorry I've been ignoring you so much, blogosphere, but, you see, I've been very busy this Christmas season.

I even (gulp) got engaged.

Zoinks, yo.

No, to be honest, I haven't been sweating it in the least (yet) because my bride-to-be is so incredibly utterly fantastic. I know that we're gonna have a great time together.



Zoinks, yo.

We've been discussing various wedding options/details and first up seems to be venue (which, of course, is paired with guest list, since the size of the wedding considerably narrows the list of suitable venues). It appears we're looking at about 150-200 guests. And that would be just family and close friends.

Zoinks, yo. (@ 8:07)

To help us on our journey and in order to capture advice (mostly) in one place, we've set up a wedding blog. You can find it here. We thought about sites like eWedding, etc, but they either cost money or expire. Eff that.

So, please, faithful reader, drop by the new blog and give us your two cents.

Or, better yet, enough to cover the cost of your plate.