Philosophical Musings | All Fired Up In The Big Smoke

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Maybach W1

All Fired Up In The Big Smoke

On Self-Justification

11, 2014

Earlier this as part of our Municipal Election Wards To Watch series, we a few words about Ward 17 councillor, Cesar Palacio. certainly not flattering, it could’ve so much worse, in our judgement, we were writing about, Cesar Palacio. Still, we a couple forceful replies in the defence (here and here ), calling us out for being fact and suggesting we try to employ a little called ‘research’.

One (which may or may not come from a former of Councillor Palacio’s; we’re waiting for a response to our enquiry that) asked a very question: This is journalism?

Is journalism.

Of course it isn’t. As as I understand the term which is kind of interesting because I we all have a slightly different of what constitutes journalism. pornography, we might not be able to ‘journalism’ but most of us recognize it we see it.

[Stops. Eyes narrow at the of the above analogy. Continues

What this is, what always imagined it to be, may go back than our notion of journalism, to the very roots of modern if my grasp of the history can be trusted.

A story.

Back in 2009, deep into my epic phase, I was reading a biography of Milton. Best known as the of Paradise Lost, during his he would’ve been seen as a political prose writer, a defender of republicanism, divorce and a between church and state. views almost cost him his when Charles II returned to the and was looking to exact some on those seen as responsible and to the execution of his father 11 years

At this time, I was getting of my political news, especially political news, via the interwebz. Not from big name online like Salon and such but these things the kids calling blogs. Hullabaloo and No! were a couple of my favourites. Mencken remains one of my favourite a tradition, for all you anonymous haters out that goes back even before the advent of all computer gadgetry.)

2009, the of it in fact, was also when you remember Toronto enduring the and tumult of a municipal outside strike. Some things me at the time. Firstly, we as a society had incredibly soft, easily at being in any way slightly inconvenienced. How they put upon us so! Garbage in our The stench! Won’t someone of the children!

Secondly, at the strike’s we were immediately told the administration had caved to the unions, them the keys to the vault, blah, blah. The fact this wasn’t quite seemed to have no bearing on the and frequency with which it was It’s a sound bite reverberating today, 5 years on, an undeserved fiscal bump of to many who hardly deserve it.

it became clear to me that mayor David Miller was ridden out of town on the rails in a orchestrated fashion. I was, and a fan of David Miller, and still it to be a travesty how his record and legacy has wilfully and deliberately distorted, to the detriment of this city. that mean I think he and his were perfect? I won’t dignify that possible man of a question with a response.

In the wake of Miller’s political All Fired Up in the Big Smoke was born.

why am I telling you this, spooling out our story, as the kids like to say their fancy colouring superheroes? Journalism. We ain’t Especially not the narrowly defined and misguided version of it media like to trot out. He said but then he said. The is always somewhere in the middle.

not even the truly good and form of journalism that has a lot of in its newspapers, radio, online. you’re reading is a political All subjectivity and polemic, based, we and endeavour, on the facts we’ve along the way, the observations we The opinions we have about how city is being governed, and the ways to go about doing

This isn’t anything new or the of modern technology. Hell, if you that somehow sites these, all internetsy and free editorial oversight, have degraded the public discourse, you been following along for the I don’t know, 500 years. has rarely been courteous or or, ultimately, objective. Expressed opinion even less so.

We at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke welcome and disagreement. Encourage it, even. don’t pretend or expect us to be we’re not. Something in fact, might not exist or ever existed in the first

– mea culply submitted by Cityslikr

The Public Transit Blues

9, 2014

What is it with politicians and their loathing and of public transit?

Granted, I’m out at the far end of the political spectrum and south of the referring to the comically diabolical but frighteningly real Koch – equal parts Montgomery and Lionel Barrymore’s Henry F. – and a bunch of southern Republican Together they set out to push a Nashville plan. where 2% of daily commutes are made by transit. for a Bus Rapid Transit

The Tennesse state senate a bill with an amendment read:

This amendment metropolitan governments and any transit created by a metropolitan government constructing, maintaining or operating any bus transit system using a lane, or other separate dedicated solely to the use of such bus transit system on any state or state highway right-of-way the project to do so is approved by the legislative of the metropolitan government and by the commissioner of This amendment also such entities from or discharging passengers at any point the boundary lines of a state or state highway right-of-way not to the right-hand, lateral curb or in the absence of curb lines, the lateral boundary line or of the roadway.

None of your dedicated bus lanes in these you stinkin’ communists.

Now we get the Koch angle. Oil industrialist types, vehicle use fuels their Politicians taking donations them or their arms groups like Americans for or simply those relying on for information, such as it is, will do legislative bidding.

That’s straight forward.

But the otherwise conservative attitude toward transit couldn’t be on better than in this interview William Lind. director of the Conservative Center for Public From a fiscal, free-market the upside to public transit is Mr. Lind also notes the more people you get onto transit, the less cars are on the roads and, thus, congestion.

On the other hand, buses race. Seems the whiter of the middle class don’t to darken the doors of a bus because… you know where this

Race and class are never too far a transit debate. In the battle the Nashville BRT, some were concerned about bringing the ‘riff raff’ their neighbourhoods. An invasion of flippers’ needed to be guarded

In Los Angeles, the wealthy enclave of Hills has fought off a subway and peak hour bus rapid only lanes along Boulevard. Swimming pools, stars. But we certainly don’t the help messing with the of the place, getting here quickly and easily. There is a whole of nothingness on the city’s map in much of the north-west side of LA the rest of Los Angeles’ subway, rail and bus expansion fears to go.

Up I think, such issues are not so the question of race not so fraught history. Still, there’s about the push for subways as ‘1 st transit’. The whole Scarborough fight was underpinned by a certain status anxiety. If downtown a subway, why not Scarborough. Vaughan is subway? Why not Scarborough?

Anything even those sleek, iPads of transit. LRTs not be good enough. (Even a fide, bike riding can get all caught up in transit envy.) It be an indignity, a slight, a civic in the face. What, Scarborough good enough for a subway?

Of a certain conservative faction at council grabbed hold of the for not only political reasons ultimately, as a way to kick building transit even further the road. Promise subways, subways everywhere and, the is, you won’t have to build anywhere, at least not in the foreseeable A subway on Sheppard. A subway on A subway in every backyard. The ridiculous the claim, the better the less likely it will be built.

Back in 2010, how subways did the mayor promise to built by now, 2014? And how have been built? and repeat.

The conservative leader of the at Queen’s Park has taken a tack, promising subways to throughout the GTA, LRTs to When’s that going to When the provincial deficit is Uh huh. And how’s he propose to pay for Finding efficiencies and waste.

So Don’t be counting on subways any soon.


It’s these days to reconcile politics with sound policy especially when it to public transit. Maybe because their base has to regions where public remains negligible, in rural and areas. But I think the harder is the conservative movement has been by those who simply believe is no such thing as the greater We’re all just self-interested making our way alone in the world.

are no free rides, just rides. If you want to get anywhere, you do it, sitting at the back of bus.

– fed submitted by Cityslikr

We And Our Cars

6, 2014

Earlier last I was in the car, on my way to the airport. For those of you with the route, you’ll the drill. Westbound on Lakeshore, for the Gardiner, stop at a red light. four lanes, I believe. On the two continue along Lakeshore on the right one exits north to Ave. The one lane with all the takes you onto the Gardiner

Now, I’m not saying the layout is designed. It was just intended to a lot fewer vehicles than use it Inevitably, at almost any time of it seems that interchange is a Traffic snarled, taking to get from Lakeshore onto the

Of course, such a frustrating can’t help but lead to conflict. Drivers frequently up the less occupied lanes on the and push, sneak or dart way into the on-ramp lineup of the more patient ones. is what happened to us while we sat dutifully waiting our turn.

A car down right beside us and eased its way right in front of No indicator. No wave of thanks the driver as we let them in. No acknowledgement we even there, in fact. eyes front, carrying on as if no big That’s how we do.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so but it just seems to me that few of us would behave that way of our vehicles. How many times are you in line for, I don’t a coffee or at the post office (if it 1996) and somebody just steps in front of you? in without so much as a please or you and continues going about day. This line wherever I put myself.

Our cars made monsters of us. Entitled, sociopaths believing only our to be worth anything. Aggressive Pushy pricks.

Allow me hyperbole (more so than for a moment here. If you want to a finger at what ails us days, the root of all our unhealthy choices, the lack of civic and engagement, there’s no better than at our auto dependence. “We can a city that is very to cars or we can have a city is very friendly to people,” Peñalosa said. “We cannot both.”

By prioritizing vehicular human traffic, we’ve our capacity to act in even the most of respectful ways. As we spend and more time behind the we become more and more drivers and less and less people. Can I just get that at a

Whoa, whoa, whoa, I you saying. Extreme much? (I you about the hyperbole, didn’t I?) It all rainbows and lollipops before the Model T rolled off the assembly St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre wasn’t out by a bunch of minivan driving Small town America not be considered a model of tolerance and back in the days when and the horse and buggy reigned. even the rise of the Nazis pre-suburbia sprawl.

Sure, but me those 30s vintage Maybach didn’t foreshadow the evils and to come.

Hmmm. I’m not sure but I I may just’ve Godwinned myself.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is not do we scar our streetscapes and hamper our to move the most people the efficiently when we buy into the car pitch that the automobile is the key to our we promote an unhealthy and anti-social With a [insert favourite here], you can get anywhere, anytime, you want. Just like There’s no one else on the road. zoom.

Where I ended up when I was my way to the airport last week was Florida. From the airport you can drive two hours west the state to St. Petersburg to Tropicana home of baseball’s Tampa Bay without leaving a freeway. You pull off into the parking lot of the a stadium surrounded by an asphalt

Beware any sporting arena boasts kick-ass tailgate It usually means the primary way of there is to drive. Tropicana pretty much in downtown St. but the area around it is fairly We had time enough to park our car at the and walk the 20 minutes to the stadium would be great except for the it was an uninteresting walk along seemed to be mostly retail trying to grab a drink to be oddly difficult. Isn’t the land of the big gulp?

To be fair, are strips of the city that for a pleasant stroll. Boutique and a couple restaurant rows. I get St. Petersburg isn’t a mega-metropolis. But the between the more pedestrian areas are pockmarked by parking a lot of parking lots, both and covered structures. The main are wide but built mainly for with plenty of, you guessed it, for parking.

Bike lanes pop up and there, some even protected, but I couldn’t get a grasp of any of network.

I might not have seeing the place at its best some of the area closer to the was still cordoned off for the — wait for it – car race that had roared town the previous weekend. We’ve got all this road We should definitely figure out to put more cars on it.

On the trolley we took around town, the guide told us that the St. area was known as God’s room, in reference to all the retirees there. It didn’t strike me as a built for old people. The broad didn’t make for leisurely Not sure I came across a store during my travels. was that one mall I didn’t go so it was quite possible I missed a few of the

Come to St. Petes. The weather’s Don’t forget your

After the game and dinner and on the way back to the hotel, we came a movie theatre. It was late-ish, for a night, but we checked to see what was Happily, we found a movie we to see and our timing was perfect.

It’s kind of pleasant accidents occur when you’re not at 25 miles an hour. They happen in a place designed for where speed and distance are matters. I mean, you’re already. What’s the rush?

Maybach W1

On the way to Orlando, the clip was a little leisurely, relatively speaking we were still driving. I to notice the massive amount of new construction going on. Just the area needed.

This in a where you have to pay exorbitant to get into a theme park in to experience any sort of public aside from buses. more roads for more because, well, just That’s the way it’s always Since the 1950s.

There be no turning back now. were Florida’s future. have always been future. Everything else, a destination, a place to get to. See the Sunshine from behind the wheel of a car the way God intended.

– unfriendlily submitted by Cityslikr


February 24, 2014

Can we along now?

After than 2 weeks I have Lord knows I have to keep quiet out here in with my disinterest and disdain of the Winter Olympics. It’s 17 days, I said. (Not the year long media leading up to it). Head eyes averted. It’ll all be quicker than a polar cold snap.

I don’t always being this when it comes to the Olympics over dinner a couple ago, I was reminded otherwise. that’s true. All the chest-thumping makes me a little queasy. something Americans did.

Of perhaps that had more to do sour grapes. Americans had something to thump their about. 1980. Lake A ragtag bunch of U.S. level hockey players and NHL stunned the mighty U.S.S.R. Red team. The team Canada over since it was obvious were clearly made up of players. And it was the Americans who beat

Canada, well. It always like moral victories, in unexpected 2 nd place finishes. Joy. Elizabeth Manley. Ben Kudos for just showing up and your best. That was the spirit, right?

But I have to you, since we went and the elite, at least in terms of athletics, with the whole Own the and We Are Winter, the nationalism is just as CA-NA-DA! CA-NA-DA! doesn’t a whole lot sweeter than U.S.A! A tribal chant is a chant is a tribal chant.

identity defined by the prowess of a few athletes. Hey world. Bow down us. We Are Winter, don’t you know.

But then again, we aren’t And the outcome of the Peloponnesian War does not on the fitness of our warriors.


It’s a bunch of games in the snow and ice. Fun to watch for a bit but worth pinning our national on.

Wouldn’t it be great if we showed enthusiasm, if governments and corporations the same kind of attention and on solving our looming environmental our homeless crisis or growing inequality crisis. Infrastructure. debt. Worldwide poverty.


I know. I know. I it trite to even be writing Apples to oranges. Can’t just exist, free politics? Let us just enjoy for what it is. Uncomplicated, easy-to-follow and sides, us-versus-them, root, root for the home team. for two weeks, every other

But…But…None of this is free politics, is it. Nationalism never is. this time around. If the Olympics weren’t driven by then the word politics is

We all know this by now.

The authoritarian regime in Russia. anti-gay legislation and detaining of protesting against it. The suppression of in general there.

And, of the Ukraine, and Russia’s indirect in the chaos and killing going on While we are celebrating golden at the Olympics, people are getting down in the streets in Kiev. So that it even managed to Olympic news from the or at the top of the TV news hour. For a couple or paragraphs. Then it’s to Sochi for the ice dancing competition!

We somehow miraculously separated one of nationalism from another. You can for Canada. You can root against when they compete Canada. But do not meddle in the politics the two. Do not impose your opinion into this arena.

We’ve arrived at a point people, influential people state with a straight that politics has no place in an sporting event like the With a straight face. all about the athletes. It’s not politics.

The Olympics have been devoid of politics. African countries boycotted the summer Olympics in Montreal to the inclusion of New Zealand in the games their rugby team had apartheid-era South Africa in the year. An apartheid-era South that had been banned participating in the Olympics because, apartheid. The U.S. led boycott of the summer games in Moscow to Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. The Black Power salute by sprinters Tommie Smith and Carlos on the podium in Mexico 1968. Jesse Owens in 1936.

Exactly, right! Owens goes over to wins a bunch of medals, the finger to the Nazis’ Aryan of some master race. Up Herr Hitler!

Yeah what the fuck did we just Vladimir Putin by showing up in (Check out Andrew Wheeler’s Had A Circus and You Bought A Balloon for a more thorough analysis of point.) By giving him an international to smooth out the jagged edges of his totalitarianism and return to Soviet-style What notice did we just giving the world? Hey everybody! are absolutely no repercussions to any of the actions you no matter how brutal or anti-democratic. At as far as the IOC and medal loving people are concerned.

The Games must go on!

about the athletes, often the argument. What of their efforts and determination in becoming the that they can be, and their to compete with the world? Why they be punished because of our differences?

That’s like to paint critics of a war as somehow against the troops. Direct the to only one aspect of a much issue in order to shut that larger, more discussion.

We’re told the encompass more than sports, aren’t we? Our drive to medals and stand atop the to hear our national anthem stands for something greater and than simply being the at hockey or going fastest a hill, doesn’t it? Otherwise, it seems worth the rah-rah we put it. The glory fleeting and limited, the to defend it the only lasting four years hence.

I Olympic athletes were to represent all aspects of a country’s and aspirations not just the fun, side. What’s that say us that we simply shrug off any implication of sending our delegates, our ambassadors to perform for tyrants, and thugs without so much as a of dissent? Core values? core values?

Owning the doesn’t mean much if you even claim to own a conscience.

– submitted by Cityslikr


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