Archive for the ‘pot calls kettle dept.’ Category

The Angry Ones

Monday, October 18th, 2010

It’s not you who’s angry. Oh, no, you’re the mild-mannered sort. But you see them, the angry ones, out there. You see them, and you know they know who they are, because if they catch you looking at them they stare back, or they gesture rudely, or they lunge at you. You don’t want to aggravate them further, so you keep your eyes down. You look past them, at a distant bird, or a tree branch waving. You wait until they look the other way, then you watch them. The angry ones. You look at them and try to understand what drives them.

And they are drivers, usually. Most of them are in cars, at least part of the day. If they live in cities, they spend hours looking for parking spots near home. If they live in the country, their trucks kick up clouds of dirt on back roads they rush along to reach town for supplies or to get to work. They drive above the speed limit on residential roads, and they sit bumper-to-bumper on high-speed freeways. Either way, they’re damn angry about it. People on bikes, they better stay out of the way. People on foot, you’ve had fair warning.

But you don’t own a car. You chose your home well–a short walk for groceries, a cafe nearby. You ride a bike here and there, or if you have a long way to go, you take a combination of streetcar, subway and bus. Your commute to work is an hour and a half each way, but you use the time wisely. You study for the exams you have to take, or you read a novel, something you can hold tight to your chest in a crowded vehicle. If there’s a seat free, you study your exam material, or you sharpen your brain against a cryptic crossword or the sudoku puzzle.

If you drove, you’d be there sooner, it’s true. You’d have an extra hour every day to decompress and spend time with your family, or maybe that hour would be set aside to study for your important exams. But you’ve done the drive. You’ve sat beside a friend in a carpool for the hour it takes to get home from work. You’ve put your foot on the imaginary brake on your side of the car, you’ve clutched the seat-rest on a sharp corner. You’ve dealt with the glare from the setting sun, if not from your friend, or the people in cars around you. You saved a half-hour on your commute that day, it’s true, but all you could think about when you got home was having a drink–more than one. The word “decompress” never felt more apt.

Your friend does the drive every day. She’s used to it. But you, no thanks. You don’t mind the extra half hour in transit, if it means you get home unfrazzled. You’ll put the time to good use. After that one time, you find a reason to stay late when she’s ready to leave. After a while she doesn’t offer any more.

No, it’s not you who’s angry. You’re easy-going. You ride a bike across town. It takes you twenty-two minutes, door-to-door, not breaking a sweat, to get to your class. It’s true, in a car you could do it in 17 minutes. Maybe 16. But then there’s parking to find, and a walk to the door. Eight minutes parking, four minutes walking…meanwhile, your bike’s locked to the fence by the door and you’re inside. Never mind the days when the car-drive takes longer. If a main road is under repair, or if there’s a crash, in a car they grit their teeth and wait in line. Sixteen minutes becomes a half-hour, no sweat (and that’s the day they had an important presentation to make, damn it!). On a bike you’d step onto the sidewalk and walk past the obstruction, carrying the machine that carries you. On a bike your 22 minutes is sometimes off by thirty seconds, but you’ll get there when you planned. And you’re still not sweating.

If the city’s shut down for one of its annual marathons, car-drivers freak out. The city’s daily papers fulminate. One mayoral candidate’s entire transportation platform is based on the plan to put runners and bike-riders in city parks, taking them off the street. Bikelanes and residential street-calming strategies get branded the “War on the Car.” It’s all about the driver, and what might slow him or her down.

Drivers are angry, but you’re not. You’re the one they’re angry about. You walk on a green, but that means the drivers have a red. They gun the engine. You slip past them on your bike, in the gutter, but the driver ahead stops only inches from the curb. No biggie. You just pass on the other side. They gun the engine. You better keep your head down. They seem to think if you weren’t there, their day would go faster. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. Doesn’t that piss you off?

In fact, you should be the angry one. Those car-drivers are using up the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate, and for what? They’re doing the same thing you are, only you’re on foot, or you’ve taken transit, or you’re on your bike. What gives them the right? What about the future? You’re doing your part to reduce climate change. You’re doing your part to preserve non-replaceable resources for future use. You’re doing your part to lower demand, which lowers costs for those other people, the angry ones, the ones in cars. Your small footprint leaves extra room for their super-sized one. What do they have to be angry about?

But maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you. Maybe your conservation masks intransigence. Maybe you’re just stubborn. Maybe you really are in the way, pressing the button and holding out your hand at the crosswalk. Maybe you could move a little faster if you were in a car, too, even if it just took you to the next red light a little sooner. Maybe your “thoughtfulness” is a mask for inaction. Maybe it’s not that you believe in a “slow” movement, but that you’ve got your back up at being bullied, even if you daren’t say as much. No, you won’t look at the “angry” ones, but you won’t rush out of their way, either. Maybe you secretly like the thought that you’ve slowed them down, even by a second or two. Maybe it pleases you that the person who’s stupid enough to drive, when they could bike or walk just as easily, gets caught in traffic on the day of the marathon and takes an hour just to cross an intersection. The same intersection you slip across on foot, or sail under on the subway. Are you laughing? Are you enjoying their misery? You’re smug, that’s clear. But are you also angry, and taking it out on those idiots?

Maybe it’s time you got a car of your own, and joined the human race.

How Why is Guy Giorno trying to wreck Canada?

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Guy Giorno, like a weeping pustule, burst onto the front page of the local paper the other day.

To put his eruption in context, one has to remember Canada’s recent election, called by the sitting Conservative Prime Minister, Steve Harper, just 7 weeks ago. In that election the Conservatives won a plurality: 143 out of 308 seats in the House of Commons, with the three other political parties splitting the other 163 seats (plus two independents):

Conservatives – 38% of the popular vote: 143 seats (would be 117 seats if we had proportional representation [pdf –ed.]

Liberals – 26% of the popular vote: 76 seats (would be 81 seats if we had proportional representation)

NDP – 18% of the popular vote: 37 seats (would be 57 seats if we had proportional representation)

Bloc – 10% of the popular vote: 50 seats (would be 28 seats if we had proportional representation)

Greens – 7% of the popular vote: 0 seats (would be 23 seats if we had proportional representation)

Under Canada’s parliamentary system, this result was enough to put Steve back in the PM’s residence, assuming he retains the “confidence” of a majority of the other MPs. No one in Canada can be said to be truly happy with this arrangement, but it works okay as long as the party in power doesn’t act too brashly.

But Brash is Steve. He (or rather the troika of Harper, Baird and Giorno) put forth a proposal to eliminate the right of civil servants to strike, to limit the ability of women to sue for pay equity, and to strip the federal payout to minority parties (currently set at something like $1.75 per vote earned in the election), among other contentious moves. Guy Giorno, the former ALLDERBLOB correspondent and now Harper’s chief of staff, has been in the thick of the fray.

What did he expect? Perhaps he thought the other MPs would take in on the chin, the way they have throughout his minority rule. But this was the most brazen of his power grabs to date, and the other parties finally got some backbone.

Actually, it’s as if the other three parties, emboldened by the “hope” that has saturated our southern neighbour in the past months, dared to ask “Why not?” as they faced yet another blustering attack from the right wingnuts. The leaders of the three other parties, who had until the past week been at each other’s throats as often as at the throat of the rightists, clued in that if they worked together they could throw out the dastardly Steve.

Harper has been able to run away from the democratic rule of the new coalition, for the time being. First by putting off the vote of non-confidence for a week, and then by requesting the Governor General prorogue Parliament, he has taken a “pro-rogue” position, and fastened his name to a rogue government, that will stand until the end of January. It remains to be seen what happens in the interim, and afterwards.

But it’s the rhetoric Harper’s chosen, refering to “socialists” and “separatists” and “deals with the devil” that have the hair rising on the back of this blobbist. Where is this rhetoric coming from?

We have our suspicions.

From a November 29, 2008 story in the Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser:

What a Guy.

What a Guy.

Mr. Giorno’s message included very detailed scripts MPs are expected to follow while delivering radio interviews that include the following lines:

* We’re not even two months removed from the last election, and a group of backroom politicians are going to pick who the Prime Minister is. Canadians didn’t vote for this person. We don’t even know who this person will be.
* Not a single voter voted for a Liberal-NDP coalition. Certainly not a single voter voted for the Liberals to form a coalition with the separatists in the Bloc.
* This is what bothers me the most. The Conservatives won the election. The Opposition keeps saying that the Conservatives have to respect the will of the voters that this is a minority and so on.
* …how about Liberals, NDP and Bloc respecting the will of the voters when they said “YOU LOSE”.
* And what’s this going to do to the economy. I’m sorry, I don’t care how desperate the Liberals are — giving socialists (Jack Layton) and separatists (Gilles Duceppe) a veto over every decision in government — that is a recipe for total economic disaster.
* But how more phony could these guys be?
* I mean, I follow the news, virtually every single day you have Harper or Flaherty out there telegraphing exactly what they plan to do with the economy. And not once did you hear the Liberals, NDP or separatists talking about toppling the government in response.
* No — do you know what set this off. When Flaherty said he was going to take taxpayer-funded subsidies away from the opposition. Now there is a reason to try and overturn an election— because the Conservatives the audacity to say “Hey, it’s a recession, maybe you should take your nose out of the trough.”
* And I wish the media would be more clear on this point — the opposition aren’t being singled out by this fact the Conservatives stand to lose the most money of all. The only difference is that Canadians are voluntarily giving money the Conservatives, so they don’t need taxpayer handouts. The only reason the opposition would be hurt more is because nobody wants to donate to them. They should be putting their efforts towards fixing that problem.
* I don’t want another election. But what I want even less is a surprise backroom Prime Minister whom I never even had the opportunity to vote for or against. What an insult to democracy.

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.

Guy Giorno uses reference in ALLDERBLOB as springboard to top job

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a regular follower of all things Allderblobdingnagian, has selected one of our more frequent correspondents, Guy Giorno, as his new chief of staff. Just a couple blobs
one of these blobs is not like the other

In our “research” into the story, we came across this strange insinuation from the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser: “…Giorno is also friends with Environment Minister John Baird…” Elsewhere, the Star is careful to note that Mr. Giorno, the former “choir boy,” is now married with a child. So whatever “insinuation” they were making, it’s clearly not that Guy Giorno is a closeted homosexual. So what is the insinuation?

Could it be that the ravages inflicted on Ontario by Giorno, Baird, Harris, et al, in the hilarious “least common sense revolution,” may now be enjoyed by the entire country as Giorno joins “environment minister” Baird at Harper’s hip?

Giorno failed to support Harper in his leadership bid for the Conservative party, so Harper is taking a big risk now. On the other hand, against an anaemic opposition who can’t seem to form two coherent sentences on why a carbon tax might be a long-term benefit to the country, even this new troika of Harper, Giorno and Beard will probably manage to maintain its weak Frum-like control of Parliament.