Monday, November 30, 2009

Toronto Then and Now: Bloor and Islington

Then
Islington and Bloor Street West Legion Looking East 1958Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, in front of the Legion hall, facing east. (1958)

Now
Islington and Bloor Street West Legion Looking East 2009Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, in front of the Legion hall, facing east. (2009)

It's amazing how much this intersection has changed over the last fifty years. Only the former Legion Hall, the general facade of the Pizza Pizza at Islington and Monkton, and electric towers—which I actually used to orient several of my shots—have remained the same.

When Islington station is renovated in 2010, the old Legion building will be demolished to make room for a new development by SNC-Lavalin. (The Legion is now located in an old warehouse on Jutland Avenue.)

It's also interesting to note that Islington Avenue was once divided by Bloor into Islington avenues north and south.

More images after the break.

Then
Islington and Bloor Street West Looking West 1958 Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, facing west. (1958)

Now
Islington and Bloor Street West Looking West 2009 Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, facing west. (2009)

Then
Islington and Bloor Street West TD South East Corner 1958 Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, facing southeast. (1958)

Now
Islington and Bloor Street West TD South East Corner 2009 Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, facing southeast. (2009)

Then
Islington and Bloor Street West Dick Jupp Motor Ltd 1958 south west 2 Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, Dick-Jupp Motors, facing northwest. (1958)

Now
Islington and Bloor Street West 2009 South West 2 Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, Islington station, facing northwest. (2009)

Then
Islington and Bloor Street West Dick Jupp Motor Ltd 1958 south west Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, facing northwest. (1958)

Now
Islington and Bloor Street West Dick Jupp Motor Ltd 2009 south west Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue, facing northwest. (2009)

Then
Islington and Bloor 1958 Pizza Pizza Bloor Street West and Monkton Avenue, facing southwest. (1958)

Now
Islington and Bloor 2009 Pizza Pizza Bloor Street West and Monkton Avenue, facing southwest. (2009)

The 1958 photos of Bloor Street West and Islington Avenue come from the City of Toronto Archives. The 2009 photos are by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: Toronto Then and Now: Bloor and Islington

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ordos: China's Empty City



"Who wants to be the mayor that reports that he didn't get 8% GDP growth this year? Nobody wants to come forward with that. So the incentives in the system are to build, and if that's the easiest way to achieve that growth, then you build."

From Infectious Greed. Via Andrew Sulivan's Daily Dish.

> Continue Reading: Ordos: China's Empty City

Map: Annual Expenditure on Newspapers in Toronto and the GTA

Toronto Star Newspaper
According to the Toronto Star's latest map, newspapers have become a luxury good that only Toronto's wealthiest residents are willing to pay for.

Here's a link to the story.

Photo by bennylin0724.

> Continue Reading: Map: Annual Expenditure on Newspapers in Toronto and the GTA

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Are Film Blurbs Fake?

Newspaper Ad Mr Fantastic Fox
Sort of.

This week, Slate's Christopher Beam tackled this question and discovered that movie studios frequently fudge, condense, and in some cases completely rewrite reviewers' quotes in order to produce the best possible blurbs. For instance, an ad in Now Magazine called the Fantastic Mr. Fox "Beyond Fantastic. The Best Animated Film Of The Year, And Maybe The Best Film Period." But the actual quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer is: "Fantastic Mr. Fox is beyond fantastic—it's the best animated film of the year, and maybe the best cussin' film, period."

Film blurbs do not have to be verbatim quotes. According to Beam, "There's no official check on running a misleading movie blurb, aside from the usual laws against false advertising." So, studios are free to change and mashup quotes almost anyway they want.

Here are some more examples.

In a review of the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It in Rolling Stone Magazine, Peter Travers said that "watching his struggle is illuminating, unnerving and unforgettable." Traver's quote was changed in a newspaper ad to: "Illuminating and unforgettable."

In 1995, Entertainment Weekly gave the film Se7en a "B," but called the opening credits "a small masterpiece of dementia." The newspaper ads for the movie applied that quote to the entire movie, stating that Entertainment Weekly called it "A Masterpiece." (The ad was later changed after the critic who wrote the review complained.)

I wonder if critics knowingly insert adjectives like magnetic, illuminating, or fantastic into their reviews, because they know they'll be quoted (regardless of the context).

Check out Slate's full article here.

Photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: Are Film Blurbs Fake?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Make Your Own Ontario License Plate

Make-Your-Own-Ontario-License-Plate
Honestly, this is a pretty lame web app that I was bored of in about three seconds.

> Continue Reading: Make Your Own Ontario License Plate

The TTC's Bloor-Yonge Platform Experiment

TTC Bloor-Yonge Experiment
This week for Torontoist, I wrote about the TTC's traffic management experiment at Bloor-Yonge station. Overall, I was pleased with what I saw. This is a rational, low-cost solution to a real congestion problem.

If you're a transit nut, I also highly recommend reading transit guru Steve Munro's article on the subject.

Photo by Torontoist's Joel Charlebois.

> Continue Reading: The TTC's Bloor-Yonge Platform Experiment

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Toronto's Ghost Signs

Toronto's Ghost Signs Coca-ColaTaken August 3, 2000. Broadview Meat Market. (Lost to gentrification in 2006.)

Before billboards became practical, companies and shops used to paint their advertisements straight onto brick walls. Although most of Toronto's ads have been washed away or covered up, there are a few still around. For years, Dave Till, an amateur photographer and blogger, has been working to catalogue what's left of these fading "ghost signs."

The following four are still standing. (Several of Till's photos were taken over ten years, so I've included images from Google Street View to show what the ads look like today.)

Tip Top Tailors - 260 Richmond Street

Toronto Ghost Signs Tip Top TailorsTaken November 27, 1999.

Toronto Ghost Signs Tip Top TailorsGoogle Street View, 2009.

Weston Credit Jewelers - 1962 Weston Road

Toronto Ghost Signs Weston Credit JewelersTaken December 1, 2002.

Toronto Ghost Signs Weston Credit JewelersGoogle Street View, 2009.

Ingram Bell - 286 McCaul Street

Toronto Ghost Signs Ingram BellTaken September 14, 2006.

Toronto Ghost Signs Ingram BellGoogle Street View, 2009.

Reliance Engravers - 100 Bond Street

Toronto Ghost Signs Reliance EngraversTaken August 14, 2000.

Toronto Ghost Signs Reliance EngraversGoogle Street View, 2009.

You can check out Dave Till's full collection here.

From Dave Till's Toronto Ghost Sign Set. Via Toronto Mike.

> Continue Reading: Toronto's Ghost Signs

Is Tony Clement Ignoring Search Engine?

Canadian Industry Minister Tony ClementTony Clement, Canada's Industry Minister and MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka.

Earlier this month, Jesse Brown, the host of TVO's Search Engine asked Industry Minister Tony Clement to come on his show to speak about the discrepancy between Industry Canada's plans for a public copyright consultation and its recent closed door ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) copyright summit in South Korea. According to Brown, "there's a contradiction there that Minister Clement needs to speak to, and hasn't. To anyone."

Although Clement's office has been evasive, they haven't actually declined Jesse's interview request yet—they've just stopped returning his emails.

Here's what Brown had to say:
It's rare for a journalist to get a flat-out rejection of an interview request from a public servant. Their press secretaries don't want us journalists to be able to say that so-and-so "refused" to comment on matters they are directly responsible to the public for.

Instead, we'll be told that a politician is unavailable or out of the country. Sometimes we just won't receive a response at all.

I've received all of the above from Minister Clement's office. After his press secretary informed me that the Minister was abroad and unavailable (for a ten-minute phone interview), she sugested that I propose alternate times in the upcoming week for the interview. When I did so, she stopped returning my emails.
Brown's interview with former Industry Minister Jim Prentice on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was one of his most interesting—in the interview, Prentice lies about the DCMA ends up hanging up on Brown. An interview with Clement on Canadian copyright law would probably be just as informative (and entertaining).

Photo by Carrie Musgrave.

> Continue Reading: Is Tony Clement Ignoring Search Engine?

Obama Is Melting T-Shirt

Hope is Fading Fast Obama Melting T-Shirt
I have to admit, this is pretty clever.

From Medialite.

> Continue Reading: Obama Is Melting T-Shirt

Sarah Palin Tells 22 Minutes's Marg Delahunty that "Canada Needs to Dismantle Its Public Health-Care System"



Since Rick Mercer left the show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes has been rather irrelevant. But every once in a while, the CBC comedy news show manages to capture some of its former glory. This week, Mary Walsh's character, Marg Delahunty, travelled to Ohio and confronted Sarah Palin at a book signing. Walsh doesn't get nearly as close to Palin as Mercer did to George W. Bush in 2000, but the results are just as funny.

The clincher is at the end when Palin tells Walsh that "Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit."

"It was great fun, but also very strange," Walsh told the Canadian Press. "We're in a bookstore, at a public event, in a place one would think was a bastion of free speech. And no one was allowed to ask questions. What are they afraid of?"

Video from This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

> Continue Reading: Sarah Palin Tells 22 Minutes's Marg Delahunty that "Canada Needs to Dismantle Its Public Health-Care System"

Blogging For Pennies

Canadian Pennies
Since I turned on Adsense ten days ago, I've earned a whopping nineteen cents (or $0.019/day). At this rate I'll earn a hundred dollars in 14.4 years. Though I imagine I'll be sick of staring at Sarah Palin's face long before then.

I wonder if we'll still have blogs in fourteen years...

Photo by steveleenow.

> Continue Reading: Blogging For Pennies

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sizing Up The TTC

North American Subway Systems

Although the TTC is the third most heavily used transit system in North America, its design has more in common with the continent's low traffic systems than its high ones. To illustrate this point, let's compare the TTC's subway and streetcar system to several of Bill Rankin's to scale transit maps.

Toronto's TTC
Type: Subway
Size: 4 Lines, 69 Stations, 700 subway cars, 68.3 km of track.
Customers Per Day: 1.2 million (third most heavily-used urban mass transit system in North America).
Fare: Current cash fare: $2.75 (set to increase to $3.00 on January 3, 2010).
Toronto Subway System

Vancouver's TransLink System
Type: Elevated Train
Size: 3 Lines, 47 Stations, 298 subway cars, 68.7 km of track.
Customers Per Day: 354,000
Fare: Zoned system. One zone: $2.50 Two zones: $3.75 Three zones: $5.00
Vancouver Transit System

New York City's MTA
Type: Subway
Size: 26 Lines, 468 Stations, 6,332 subway cars, 1,056 km of track.
Customers Per Day: 5.2 million (largest system in North America).
Fare: $2.25 US ($2.37 CND).
New York Subway System

Montreal's STM
Type: Subway
Size: 4 Lines, 68 Stations, 759 subway cars, 65.33 km of track.
Customers Per Day: 1 million.
Fare: $2.75.
Montreal Metro

Chicago's CTA
Type: Elevated Train, Surface, and Subway
Size: 8 Lines, 144 Stations, 1190 subway cars, 170.8 km of track.
Customers Per Day: 640,000
Fare: $2.25 US ($2.37 CND).
Chicago Subway System


Mexico City's STC Metro

Type: Elevated Train, Surface, and Subway
Size: 11 Lines, 144 Stations, 451 km of track.
Customers Per Day: 3.8 million (the second largest metro system in North America).
Fare: $0.15 US ($0.15 CND) (Not a typo).
Mexico City Subway System

Compared to New York or Chicago, the TTC's rail network is relatively sparse with few overlaps. And like most North American transit systems, the TTC is designed around a hub (the "U" of the Spadina-Yonge line), with spokes extending into suburbs. The only systems that buck this convention are New York's and Mexico City's, which are both more like transit nets.

For its size, the TTC's rail network covers a relatively small area with few stations. In terms of population, Chicago is about the same size as Toronto, but the CTA's rail network is almost three times the size of the TTC's, and it only has half the daily ridership.

To see how the TTC compares to other North American transit systems check out Bill Rankin's full map collection. [PDF]

Images by Bill Rankin.

> Continue Reading: Sizing Up The TTC

Monday, November 23, 2009

More From The Palin Idiot Brigade



This video is a tad unfair. Palin's supporters may not be the brightest bulbs, but they're not all racist rednecks either, as this crafty editing job seems to suggest.

From New Left Media. Via Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.

> Continue Reading: More From The Palin Idiot Brigade

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Googling Myself

Googling Google Will Break the InternetMy Googling Toronto article is starting to catch on. A Pittsburgh-based blog called That's Church has already borrowed my idea and applied it to the Steel City. I don't know much about Pittsburgh, but Google's suggestions for Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguin's captain, are pretty damn funny.

> Continue Reading: Googling Myself

Visualizing Empires Decline



The dates in this visualization are extremely flawed. But with better information, this idea could be retooled into an interesting analytical lens.

From Information visualization et al. Via Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.

> Continue Reading: Visualizing Empires Decline

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sarah Palin's Lies

Sarah Palin's Lies
Andrew Sullivan compiles a list of Sarah Palin's disturbing lies.
The lies of Sarah Palin are different from any other politicians'. They are different because they assert things that are demonstrably, empirically untrue; and they are different because once they have been deonstrated to the entire world that they are untrue, Palin keeps repeating them as if they still were true or refuses to acknowledge that she was wrong.

...Go through them. See if you think they are Clintonian type parsings of the truth or artful political hedging or anything like what we find in most pols. They really are not. They are functions of delusion and a worldview that wants things to be a certain way and cannot absorb that they are not.
From Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.

> Continue Reading: Sarah Palin's Lies

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Palin Idiocracy



"You get a sense of some of Sarah Palin's supporters here. They feel a connection with Sarah Palin. They just can't be specific in some cases about the issues."

Spotted at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.

> Continue Reading: The Palin Idiocracy

Toronto Then and Now: Toronto's Skyline

Then
Toronto's Skyline 1930sToronto's Skyline. (1930s)

Now
Toronto's Skyline 2008Toronto's Skyline. (2008)

The only buildings that are still visible are the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and the Queen's Quay Terminal.

The 1930s photo of Toronto's skyline comes from the City of Toronto Archives. The 2008 photo is by po.fortin.

> Continue Reading: Toronto Then and Now: Toronto's Skyline

Sarah Palin Gets Famous

Sarah Palin Going Rogue
- This biography of Sarah Palin came out awfully quickly. It's not even about her!

- Sure it is! Look at the cover.

- But inside it's mostly about Ross Perot, and the last two chapters are excerpts from the Oliver North trial.

Image from the Chicago Sun-Times

> Continue Reading: Sarah Palin Gets Famous

Google Ad-Cents

Canadian Coins
Three days ago, I added Google Adsense ads to my blog to see how much money I could make. The result: about a cent a day! Google only pays its Adsense users after they've collected $100.00, which will take me about about 27.4 years to reach.

Ca-Ching!

Photo by Chealion.

> Continue Reading: Google Ad-Cents

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bell Doubles Its Profits by Throttling and Gouging

Bell Canada Logo
According to a news post from Broadband DSLReports.com, Bell Canada is double dipping to keep its profits high. In the third quarter, the telecom giant's profits more than doubled, which suggests that if Bell has the cash, then its plan to impose UBB (usage-based billing) on its wholesalers is a thinly disguised attempt to eliminate competition, rather than a strategy to fund network expansion, as Bell argues. Wholesalers are already throttled by Bell. Broadband DSLReports.com concludes that if Bell implements UBB, then wholesalers would "be paying for bandwidth on both ends (smaller Canadian ISPs lament this as double dipping and a tactic designed to drive them out of business)."

Via SaveOurNet.ca. Image by Michiel2005.

> Continue Reading: Bell Doubles Its Profits by Throttling and Gouging

In Memory of Cheaper Days on the TTC

TTC Token Prices 1961
Yesterday, the TTC voted to increase fares, effective January 3, 2010. (You can see the new fares here.) To mark the occasion, I thought I'd post this photo of fare boxes from 1961, when tokens were only fifteen cents, and you could buy four for sixty cents.

In today's dollars, a token would only be $1.09, if inflation were the only thing affecting costs. Of course, there are more factors at work here. Since 1961, the TTC has greatly expanded its routes and services, while contending with diminishing support from the federal and provincial governments. Last week, Torontoist's editor-in-chief, David Topping, put together an interesting article on the rising cost of fares that's worth checking out.

Broken Down TTC BusA broken down bus on Islington Avenue, just south of Bloor Street West.

These fare hikes seem to have come at a time when the TTC is falling apart. Over the last two weeks I've seen six broken down buses, eight inoperative ONESTOP monitors, and then today, damage to the Yonge line forced the TTC to stop subway service between Eglinton and Bloor-Yonge.

"We've got to pay $3 and take a shuttle?" said one angry commuter to The Star today. "I'm not happy."

Oh, how things have changed. When Transit City was announced in 2007, it seemed like the dawn of a new day for the TTC.

The first image is from the City of Toronto Archives, but was discovered by Jeff Low (Mustapha), an amateur photographer who recreates historical photos of Toronto in his spare time. I interviewed Low about his hobby several months ago in an article for Torontoist. The second image is by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: In Memory of Cheaper Days on the TTC

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Google Suggests That Toronto's Awesome

Googling Toronto
This week for Torontoist, I applied the popular Google Suggest auto-complete meme to Toronto and discovered that our blessed city is full of cold celebrity stalkers.

I find humour hard to write. I had to play with the jokes in this article a few times before they were satisfactory, and even now, some of them feel a little weak.

Google Suggest Toronto
I was also surprised at how quickly Suggest's results change. On the weekend, if you typed in "Toronto Hates," Google would have suggested "Toronto Hates Vince Carter." Now, it doesn't suggest anything.

Image from Torontoist.

> Continue Reading: Google Suggests That Toronto's Awesome

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Wire's Most Memorable Quotes



Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit!

Via Toronto Mike.

> Continue Reading: The Wire's Most Memorable Quotes

A Time-Lapse Trip Around Toronto



Very cool.

Video by Adam @ Unit3.

> Continue Reading: A Time-Lapse Trip Around Toronto

Awesome Bootlegged DVD Covers

DVD Bootleg coversThis is actually the tag line of a 1976 movie called Drum. But it makes sense here too.

More excellent DVD covers from Flickr's bootlegged DVDs pool after the break.

DVD Bootleg coversEven Arnold couldn't save this movie.

DVD Bootleg coversGreat. I always wanted to know more about Mar.

DVD Bootleg coversHarry Potter and the Curse of the Two Towers?

DVD Bootleg coversPerhaps a little too candid.

DVD Bootleg coversMel Gidson just can't seem to catch a break these days.

DVD Bootleg coversIf you ask me, it's a much more accurate title.

From MetaFilter (via Andrew Sullivan's blog). All images are from Flickr's Crappy Bootleg DVD Covers Pool.

> Continue Reading: Awesome Bootlegged DVD Covers