Archive for the ‘Breaking News Dept.’ Category

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.”

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.

Eastern Avenue bikelanes block Mitch Goldhar’s driveway: Paula Fletcher claims victory; OMB to preside. Relax, Mitch, just park in the bikelane like everyone else.

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Our silence speaks volumes. Meanwhile the Allder-blobdingnagian bile has been building up in pus-filled pouches all over the body politic, building up and building up, ready finally to burst and ooze and spread the vile stench and diseased thought and repressed anger wherever the hooded and blobbish gaze wanders.

It wanders toward Eastern Avenue in Toronto.

We were roused to consider Eastern by the erstwhile “Kwazy Biker Chick,” Tanya, who poked us with a knitting needle over the installation this past week of Bikelanes on Eastern Ave. in Toronto, between Leslie and Carlaw in Ward 30 Bikelanes on Eastern Avenue.

[Tanya: a bit of advice. Clean your knitting needle with something powerful. Do not get the bile on your woolen garments.–ed]

In the past we have commented on this foolhardy scheme. The fact is, except for the skateboard kids at the bottom end of Pape avenue (Pape dies at Eastern, where it’s super wide, and super dead, with a painted median like that on the much busier Danforth Avenue, but one which here provides only a hangout spot for kids on skateboards all night long), no one will use the Eastern Ave bikelanes. No one except for cars idling while they “run in” for a quick purchase at the soon-to-open Walmart down there.

(Please cars, do not forget to put on your Expose yourself to Art “four-way-flashers.”)

Sorry, did we say Walmart? A possible Walmart, but a Walmart-style power centre indubitably, one with some 2,000 cars parked at its heart. Two thousand cars in and two thousand cars out in a typical 10 hour period means one car either coming or going every 9 seconds (you do the math: 10 hours = 10 x 60 minutes/hour x 60 seconds/minute = 36,000 seconds, divide by 4,000 cars (2,000 cars in plus 2,000 cars out) = 1 car every 9 seconds, on average).

The fact is, the Eastern Avenue Bikelane plan was a transparent ploy by our favourite Toronto Councillor, the former head of the Manitoba Communist party, Paula Fletcher (do Communists support bikelanes? Of course! The Proletarian Revolution needs free parking for its cars too after all–but we digress), to stay the course of Mitch Goldhar’s Smart Centre bid for a Walmart in Leslieville.

Of course, Mitch got ritch not by listening to the neighbours, most of whom will whine about the blight but will shop for cheap Chinese-made crap regardless. He knows that. So for Mitch, former Manitoba Capitalist Party Chairman, it’s off to the Ontario Municipal Board pronto, in a bid to defeat the community in its quest to keep Leslieville “free of big boxes.”

Problem: What is the Loblaws power centre at Leslie and Lakeshore? What is the PriceChopper across the street? What is the 700-parking spot Canadian Ire store on the southwest corner there? Canadian Ire at Leslie and Lakeshore

Lawyers can spell P-R-E-C-E-D-E-N-T as well as the average 5th grader, and no that is not a typo for “president.” Fact is, South Leslieville is larded with “big box stores.”

In any case, the bikelane bid will fail to prevent Mr. Goldhar’s scheme. Indeed, as our friend at Toronto Cranks has noted, bikelanes can be sure of the support of car-owners across town, because they provide convenient temporary parking spots at all times, night and day. You don’t have to hunt for the parking lot driveway after all. And now, add those cruddy little cheap-ass electric motorbikes with their whiny helmet-headed drivers (or is that the engine), who somehow have gained the right to drive in the bikelane as if they were regular bicycles, all of whom will indubitably shop for their next bargoon at Mitch’s Phancy Emporium.

Mr. Goldhar’s been smart. He enlisted the help of clever Antarctic penguins, perhaps even the emperor variety, in his publick relations campaign. He’s coined a name, the “Phancy Emporium” [don’t you mean the Foundry District,“? –ed.] which will have true blacksmiths grunting with disdain all across the city. He’s garnered the help of skilled advertisers and other “artists with nothing to say,” to paint a picture of bliss: never mind the five lanes of cars coming and going from the parking lot (forced to enter from Lakeshore Blvd. instead of Eastern, where they so easily blend with cyclists and strollers on the Martin Goodman bikepath).

Paula Fletcher, give up! Just like the Allderblob, which will no doubt soon be flying Porter air out of Toronto “because it’s just so much work to get to Pearson,” we know you are a secret Walmart shopper. We suspect you love them bargoons, just like the rest of the pitiful swine Mitch Goldhar looks down on all across Canada.

On the other hand, we are still in support of bikelanes on Leslie, From Queen to Lakeshore, where they will really make a difference. Where they are needed. Where cyclists will want to ride. Paula, if you get bikelanes on Leslie, we will stop calling you a former Communist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But we digress as usual.

For now we must be off, to bandage our oozing sores.

UPDATE: We apologize if it appears we think Mr. Goldhar thinks Toronto bargain hunters are “pitiful swine.” The fact is, we can’t remember his exact words.

UPDATE 2: Some Russian spy has posted what is suggested to be a photograph from Mitch Goldhar’s living room window in Caledon Ontario. We looked, but we could not see any Wal-Mart in sight. What’s up with that?

Silent Blob no more

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Here at the ALLDERBLOB we pride ourselves [which goeth before a fall –ed.] on our up-to-the-minute tracking of all things hep and kul [umlaut! get me an umlaut! –ed.] in this strange burg known as TO-RON-TOE. [ Â¨ now, imagine that over the u. –ed.]

We take pride in the fact that we alone blob about the lonely Phinn Park, as if no one else has ever noticed its existence. We take pride in the fact that a search for the Molson Indy logo turns up our site every time.

Am I Abu Graihb? drink beer, drive fast

We imagine the recent news of the potential return of the Molson Indy to Toronto is going to bring a lot of searches for the logo. Use it with care, bow-tie boys! Pasty car advertisers

We read Scott Feschuk in today’s Toronto Star and Car Advertiser pussy-foot around the delight he takes in the rush, the roar and the barely controlled twitch that Indy Car racing brings him. Believe it or not, the column was in the “Sports” pages, as if there is anything sportive about car racing anymore. Why not on the “Health” pages, or for that matter, “business,” since either category is just as germaine to the topic of this crummy donut-fest returning to terrorize the residents of West-end Toronto. Don’t get us wrong–Feschuk made some good points–notably his observation that the Indy’s claim to be “green” on the basis of its taking corn from the mouths of starving kids rather than oil from the blood of middle-eastern ones is so much bumf.

But while we appreciate Feschuk’s candour about his lowbrow enjoyment of the promotion of “beer-drinking and fast driving,” we’re waiting for the observer who will note the irony that while the city that gave the Indy its name, Indianapolis, is moving on in its quest to be a sustainable city by building its first streetcar line, wanna-be “world cities” [there’s a phrase we thought was deep in the dustbin –ed.] like Toronto still act like having an “Indy” here to call our own is some kind of mark of cosmopolitanism.

Toronto Transit Commission rejects contract; strike imminent: Who Cares? –ALLDERBLOB

Friday, April 25th, 2008

The Toronto Star and Car Advertiser is reporting on its website that the TTC has rejected the contract negotiated by its union boss Rob Kinnear and Toronto Mayor David Miller. Yeah, that contract–the one that “saved” Toronto from a crippling transit disruption just a couple days ago (Sunday night). It was to give them a 9% raise over three years, and some other goodies, but for some reason that didn’t wash with them as drive our buses and trains. After all, they gotta train for what, a couple weeks? Don’t they deserve to earn as much as a nurse or a medical technician?

So by the time you read this they’ll be on strike. It’s not going to be pretty.

Unless you ride a bike.

For cyclists, the bump in bike traffic just as the weather’s getting nice could do wonders for our culture. Already, plans are in place to reserve the curb lanes of the Dundas Street bridge over the Don River (yeah that bridge, the one that will cost Toronto Star “Fixer” Jack Lakey his job yet) for bikes, in both directions.

Between the wreckage of higher gas prices, the need for exercise, and the joy of riding a bike, a Transit strike at this time can only throw more people into the arms of the most rational form of transportation, cycling. Here at the ALLDERBLOB we’re cheering the clods in maroon. You think they wouldn’t go on strike if they had less dorky uniforms? You think they wouldn’t go on strike if they had less dorky uniforms?

Strike away, boys and girls.

As for cyclists, enjoy your strength in numbers. Let’s all work for a world where everyone can safely ride a bike.

A world where everyone rides a bike? Singer drawing

UPDATE: Strikers were forced back to work by the province. And in the meantime, NO enforcement of the carfree lanes on Dundas East or Queen’s Quay or any of the other special provisions that were supposed to be established. Pity.

Earth Hour(tm) passes with nary a peep from North Korea

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Here at the ALLDERBLOB(tm) we try to keep abreast of the news at all times and at all costs.

Take the other night, for example, in the latest example of “feel-goodism” generated from the bowels of corporate sustainability: Earth Hour(tm), a 60-minute palooza of branded “do your bit for the betterment of the world.”

Of course, the climate change deniers were all over this one: you can read all about their smug refusal to go along with the attempt to reduce electricity consumption. To climate change deniers, reducing any kind of consumption is futile and smacks of communism.

The National Post and Car Advertiser, for example, had a field day with Earth Hour(tm). They carried on as though it was all a goofy plot to instill North Korean-style government the world over.

Fact is, for astronomers and just plain folks who like to see the stars at night, North Korea’s probably a pretty nice place to live.

earth hour, north korea style (ca 2000)

Too bad it takes a despotic government and an economy of dire poverty to create these conditions. Too bad we in the west can’t seem to figure out how to make good things (darkness at night) come with other good things (enough food to eat, decent jobs, and healthy citizenry).

Introducing our newest contributor

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Is This Is?

Although not yet on her own two wheels, we have high expectations for this little girl. Born just a couple days ago, Isabel Howland Allderdice is already practicing chopsticks with those piano-sized hands, drinking from a cup and speaking fluent Cantonese [it’s all Cantonese to me –ed.].

She’s also shown herself capable of producing remarkable blobs, any one of which would put our own best efforts to shame.

If the ALLDERBLOB of late has shown itself full of the dead and dying, we are happy to speak for a moment of the live and living. Isabel, we dedicate ourselves to the cause that you will one day live in a better world.

Festival of Driving: who’s in charge of irony around here?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Here at the ALLDERBLOB we remain acutely conscious of the fact that Irony is Dead.

As our breaking news competitors at TIME magazine and car advertiser put it, “Are you looking for something to take seriously? Begin with evil.”

Of course, the irony is they thought they were talking about the evil of the attackers from “outside:” Al Qaeda, 9/11, etc. When in fact the evil was at the heart: Al Greenspan, 7/11 and so forth.

But maybe that’s more like tragedy. The fact is, mainstream media (defined as “car advertisers” in our blinkered universe) our blinkered universe: hampered by irony have made no attempt to look closely at the facts they profess such sincere concern with.

So the death of irony has been “greatly exaggerated,” after all. What we’re looking forward to is the death of tragedy.

Tragic: the actor has a fate he knows not, but all around him know it all too well.

Ironic: the actor acts his lines despite his knowledge of the dire outcome.

Marx Marx who? –ed. is said to have summed this up as “history repeats itself: first as tragedy, then as farce” [More pithy Marx quotes found here –Ed.].

Last year at this time, for example, we wrote about the so-called “driven to quit” campaign run by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Arr, them as what wanted smokers to quit the cancer sticks and suck on something more sophisticated: the tailpipe of an automobile.

It wasn’t funny the first time.

It’s still not funny.

Singer cartoon: suicide freedom

Dead People

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

As we near the coldest day of the year ride on Jan. 30 (statistically: the temperature is supposed to be above freezing that day this year) we find ourselves thinking of death and dying: the closing, the ending, the coming to terms.

Is the ALLDERBLOB kicking the bucket? Is that what we’re saying? So close to ALLDERBLOB day?

No, not yet. But we’ve been mighty quiet lately, and thanks for asking. We’re just struggling with the winter blahs. We’ll be fine.

But the dead. The dead. Robert James Fischer comes to mind. “blobby” bobby fischerYou will know him as “Blobby” Bobby Fischer, the undefeated U.S. chess champion who died last week, age 64. Blobby was a hero to many, although not to us. We never liked chess. We prefer go. If you want to read about Blobby, turn to Wikipedia, or this stunning obituary from the BBC:

“He did enjoy humiliating his opponents. He could sense when his opponent was crumbling before him,” says David Edmonds.

We suspect it’s the crumbling of an opponent he was “sensing” when he made those oft-quoted statements following the Events of September, 2001: “This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all.”

Time will tell whether his judgment was correct or not.

Of course, folks in the U.S. are fickle: they liked ol’ Blobby when he was doing their work: defeating the (then) evil empire at its own game (chess, we mean). After all, “Lenin was a keen chess player, so was Trotsky – even Karl Marx himself played chess” (from the BBC story). So the Blob was a hero in the U.S. when he took the title from the Russian Boris Spassky in 1972. Apparently though, his skills at chess did not save him when it came time to play go.

Go: now there’s a game. black blobs, white blobs, and a grid of crossing points. go boardLenin, Marx, Trotsky, Mao, sit down.

Go is to Western chess what philosophy is to double entry accounting.

There are Oriental folk tales reminiscent of Rip Van Winkle in which people have been stopped by an old man [one of the Immortals], played a game of Go, and upon getting up from the board have found a hundred years have gone by. This purely mental aspect of the game is in its intellectual dynamic. These Chinese had seen it as encompassing the principles of nature and the universe and of human life, as the diversion of the immortals, a game of abundant spiritual powers.

Who else is dead?

Well, Hans Monderman, for one. He also died this past month, on Jan. 7. The news slipped past us, although we were sure to have been wearing black that day black blob(we always wear black). Who was Hans Monderman? Faithful readers of the blob-of-blobs will recall this item, from October of 2007, when we had the opportunity to kick Mr. Monderman’s tires at the Walk21 conference here in Toronto.

Fact is, Monderman was a traffic engineer, a profession not likely to win our favour. With Jane Jacobs, we view traffic engineering as a pseudo-science, a profession that only discredits itself by its unwillingness to embrace the experimental method of its supposed brethren, the real engineers. Case in point, the situation at the Dundas bridge over the Don River, where the road was closed to all traffic for several months while under repair. Jack Lakey, the so-called “fixer” at the Toronto Star, rumbled about the Dundas bridge some time ago, and we rumbled about Lakey in a subsequent lob. Lakey is the perfect lackey to the traffic engineers of this world: anything that slows “traffic” (cars and trucks, that is) must be removed. The world must be streamlined.

But Monderman would have given Lakey pause, we believe. Monderman refused to blindly accept the claims of the traffic engineers. He chose to dig into things. He chose to examine evidence. As a result, he realized remarkable things. His work in the Netherlands and in Germany is deep and broad. He will live on in the work of those who have the courage of their convictions. His story is an inspiration for anyone who chooses actual evidence over anecdotal wishful thinking.
From Wikipedia:

Ben Hamilton-Baillie, who is putting some of Monderman’s ideas to work in Britain, has written: “What is so remarkable about the man is that he has achieved such a transformation in thinking from the basis of a traffic engineer (not a profession famed for its profound thinking and original analysis).