Archive for August, 2008

dandyhorse gallops; Obama speaks; Gustav surges: ALLDERBLOB snorts and whinnies

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Last night we participated in the Toronto Cyclist Union’s coming out party, where the new Magazine Dandyhorse was launched. This was the party we were waiting for, the one Mez promised us over a year ago. It was worth the wait. Everyone was there. Even Sally’s mom.

Well, not everyone. Some were home by the hearth, mesmerized by the flickering image of Barack Obama
igniting the 75,000 85,000 spectators who swarmed the Denver Bronco’s football stadium. They all hoped, perhaps, to hear as memorable a speech as the famous “I have a Dream” of Martin Luther King, Jr., given on the same day on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 45 years previous. Obama would have been two years old. He’s younger than that now.

And then there were the folks in New Orleans, on another anniversary–the one where Hurricane Katrina delivered devastation and forced a rather more sordid gathering at a different NFL football stadium. Yesterday they were eyeing the horizon for signs of Tropical Storm Gustav, which threatens to gather force and crash as a hurricane just west of where Katrina made landfall three years back.

Meanwhile, here at the blob of blobs, we’ve grown introspective of late. Googling ourselves, we’ve been. Turns out the majority of our readership is in Kurdistan.

Eh? Guess they liked our post linking Nochiya with the Toronto pedestrian who hexed the face and neck of a driver who came too close to him… Or was it something else?

Regardless, greetings to our Kurdistani fans. Welcome. If we may, allow us a turn of phrase: “Greusome, wa?” and “Djagedennyonya?”

Stay with us as these stories and more bear fruit in the coming days. Dandyhorse gets a rubdown, Obama gets examined, and Gustav does exactly what it wants, regardless of our paltry pecking and scratching down here on the face of the planet.

NIST on WTC7: “The obvious stares you in the face.”

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

You gotta love the optimists of the old school who people the business of issuing “official reports” intended to explain away the weird stuff that everyone knows demonstrates corruption or crookedness at the heart of everything. The latest example of this is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report on the collapse of WTC7 (Building Seven of the World Trade Centre in New York). The collapse happened at around 5:20 pm on Sept. 11, 2001, so the report comes after some seven years of relative silence on the topic.

We’re not sure why they bothered.

But in an AP story authored by Devlin Barrett on the report release, The Toronto Star and Car Advertiser quotes one Dr. Shyam Sunder, the lead NIST investigator: “The reason for the collapse of World Trade Center 7 is no longer a mystery.”

Relax, people, they say. It was just a prolonged fire, coupled with a failed sprinkler system, that dropped the 47-storey steel-framed building and all its secret offices into the ground. There was no explosion or controlled demolition, as some have claimed.

Yet questions remain: what was the meaning of the building owner’s claim that “We decided to pull it” in describing the moments leading up to the collapse? Why was the building reported to have collapsed on BBC television some 20 minutes before the event happened? How is it possible that any building could fall so neatly into its own footprint

The real world, in real time

The real world, in real time

unless there was an engineered failure? How could the building have collapsed at “freefall” speed unless the structure was compromised at multiple points simultaneously? What explains the molten steel found in the ruins of the building (six weeks later)?

The Star and Car Advertiser article concludes,

Sunder acknowledged some may still be skeptical, but said, “The science is really behind what we have said,” adding: “The obvious stares you in the face.”

Yes, NIST, questions remain. Some may still be skeptical. What is “obvious” is that the truth is still “out there.”

Albert Fulton, we hardly knew ye

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Everyone loved ol’ Albert, apparently. Over at Heritage Toronto he has a fan in one Rebecca Carson. She writes how she liked the view of Toronto Island from his library high over the Toronto harbour. And our colleague Sarah Hood expressed dismay on hearing of his demise: “[it’s] a terrible loss to anyone interested in Island history, and I really liked him too.”

Here at the ALLDERBLOB we hesitate to cast aspersions on the dead. And now that Fulton has departed this mortal Daewoo Lanos, his body dragged from Toronto harbour at the foot of York Quay, we recall the words of our grandmother Eleanor, who, like Fulton, had an ancestor who came to Amerika on the Mayflower: “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.”

Long Silence.

We liked old Albert for one thing, we’ll say that much. We liked his collection of Toronto Island archival materials that he made available to the public at his weekend house on Algonquin Island. We used to send our students to examine that collection and to talk to him about the zoning by-laws peculiar to the residential communities of the Toronto Islands. Fulton provided them with a hand-typed page that laid out the required setbacks, maximum heights, and other absolute measures which would forever guarantee that no one would build something “out of character” with that charming place. Fulton really had a thing for making sure no one stepped out of line, apparently.

We never visited his other house, the one he spent weekdays at. The one in lovely Wychwood Park.

But we heard about it, and we wondered. Do some people have too much of a good thing? How was it that this guy, who prided himself on protecting the character of his island community, managed to bend the rules that said

Under the Act, anyone who holds title to an Island home must use that house as his/her principal residence and declare it as such for Income Tax purposes. The homeowner’s land lease stipulates that you cannot use an Island house for a part-time or “summer” home, or as rental property. ?

But it appears Fulton had a streak of Yankee independence in him. It appears he felt rules were made for lesser folk, perhaps those not descended from Mayflower-variety immigrants. So he had a house in Wychwood park for the week, and a house on Algonquin Island for the weekend. And from Carson’s entry above, it appears he had a place in a harbourfront condo tower as well.

But it was Fulton’s alleged activities in Wychwood Park that brought him to York Quay in his fancy car. Distraught, he was. His good name had been sullied. The previous week, he had been charged by police with a variety of crimes including slashing the tires of automobiles parked on the picturesque winding roads of the residential enclave. The sad irony was that Fulton was a self-appointed protector of those winding roads. He was the co-founder of the enclave’s Neighbourhood Watch.

Of course: and on the Toronto Islands he had taken on the task of policing the zoning by-laws.

Boy, this city’s full of boy scouts, ain’t it.

And we mean that in the nicest way.

Igor Kenk, Boy Scout

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

We read in Canada’s Other Newspaper and Car Advertiser of Record, The National Post, a front page story by Peter Kuitenbrouwer on the boy scout activities of one Igor Kenk. You know the saying, “Be Prepared?” Apparently Mr. Kenk, who is well known among Toronto cyclists and weary police as the “go-to guy” for stolen bikes, is not merely a pedlar of stolen pedals. He is a practicing boy scout.

Is anyone surprised? Consider for moment his known activities over the past 15 years or so. As owner of a Queen Street West pawn shop-slash-bike repair “clinic,” He purchases bikes from people (and other junkies) on an as-is basis, records the serial numbers “in case they might be registered with the police as stolen,” and at some point soon after puts the bikes in “storage.” Mr. Kenk, at latest count, had close to 3,000 bicycles in scattered storage rooms across the city. Sometimes he would sell a bike, sometimes he would repair someone’s bike if they brought it to him, but mostly he collected and hoarded bikes.

It is not the boy scout’s famed “one good deed a day” that brings Mr. Kenk into Sir Baden Powell’s fold, although we have no doubt his mother likes him. Instead, it is his planning and “preparation” for the dark future we at the ALLDERBLOB occasionally wonder about. The one James Howard Kunstler constantly warns of. The one where Peak Oil meets Climate Catastrophe meets Economic Meltdown. The Long Emergency.

Peter Kuitenbrouwer’s front page story is only one among many that have regaled front page readers and viewers and listeners of national media and car advertisers about the activities of Igor Kenk in the past few weeks. What makes the story newsworthy, of course, is the fact that the cops are finally seen to be doing something about a crime that nearly everyone in Canada experiences or will experience at least once in their life. Kenk was arrested, finally, when a police sting with a so-called “bait bike” left unlocked near his shop is said to have observed him directing a colleague, the lesser alleged scoundrel Jean Laveau, to cut the lock of a bike parked near the bait bike.

Kuitenbrouwer reports “Arresting officer Consable [sic] James Rowe, who arrested Mr. Kenk on July 16, says the man is cogent and focused.” However, Kenk told Toronto Police Detective Constable Aaron Dennis, “The apocalypse is coming.”

The apocalypse?

While this suggested to the good detective that Mr Kenk needs psychological attention (“I want to get him looked at,” Kuitenbrouwer reports him saying) we see in Sr. Kenk’s words a resonance with certain fundamental tenets we hold true. “Be prepared.” In a world where we take for granted the slave labour of many thousands of man-hours per year provided by the oil economy, but one in which oil is creeping into the mystery zone of post-peak costs, how will we smelt the iron to make new bicycles? Or as Kuitenbrouwer puts it, “In the future when we have run out of oil, we will all need bikes to get around, …and Mr. Kenk will have a few in storage to offer us.”

Be prepared. With his deep wells of bikes to draw upon, Igor Kenk was poised to be the Rockefeller of the post-peak era. What a boy scout. What an entrepreneur.