Wednesday, November 30, 2005

For the birds

No - this isn't about David Miller's mayoralty. It could be, but it isn't. Instead, I thought I'd give an update on the avian visitors taking advantage of my hospitality.

A couple of months ago I spotted an example of a species that I'd never noticed before. It occured to me that it would be beneficial to actually know what I was looking at. Mt edification was not the only anticipated benefit; I also wanted to be able to tell my parents. After messing around looking for internet sites, I decided that the only practical method of identification was to purchase and study a book.

There are a number of bird books out available. After thumbing through different options at my local Book City, I settled upon The ROM Field Guide to Birds fo Ontario (Author: Janice M. Hughes). This is a robust, larger pocket-size guide. While not a perfectly comprehensive book, it's been fine for identifying those species that have been kind enoug to pay me a visit.

Without further ado - here is my list:

House Sparrow - Yes - not exactly exciting - but cute and reliable. Oh - and voracious.

House Finch - Almost as frequent as the House Sparrow.

Northern Cardinal - Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal come and go. They prefer to feed off the ground - so are most likely to make an appearance when there is a good sized debris field below the main feeder. One day, I had two pair.

Downy Woodpecker - I have three or four as regular visitors. They feed from the peanut filled metal cylinder. The tube is perforated so as to allow the woodpeckers to feed, whilst keeping sqirrels and racoons from vacuuming them all.

White-breasted Nuthatch/Red breasted Nuthatch - Very pretty little birds. I've spotted these every few weeks. I'm told that they should be availing themselves of the peanuts in the tude - but I've only seen one alight on it for a brief peck.

Blue Jay - The Jays have only recently discovered the feeder.

Black-capped Chickadee - Spotted every week or so. Today, I had a pair flitting in and out. They like to spoop in and carry off.

Dark-eyed Junco - a cute ground feeder - probably around every day. I wish I could stay and home to keep a better eye out.

Robin - yes, I had Robins - in the tree no less. I'd always thought they stayed on the ground.

Brewers Blackbird - I spotted this only today. He was feeding from the debris field below the feeder. Per the guide, he's migrating - as the Toronto area is shown as such.

Starlings - Oh yes - I have Starlings

Well - that's all thus far. It's fund watching the birds flit and hop about - much better that TV. I'll be staying tuned to the birds.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bono didn't know but he knows now

Bono - the Irish rock musician of U2 fame - is now expressing his disappointment with the Prime Minister. According to reports he is:

Mystified - The Star - Nov 25th

"I'm mystified, actually, by the man," the U2 lead singer told a news conference Friday. "I like him very much, personally.


Crushed - The Star again

"The bad news is ... we don't feel any closer to a deal. I'm personally not just disappointed, I'm crushed, actually, because I really believed the Prime Minister would do that," he said. "I felt as a former finance minister he would be able to make the numbers work, it's a surplus economy and the only country in the G-8 that is a surplus economy with this kind of moral conviction."

Disappointed - The Globe and Mail

Well, aside from feeling all that, Mr. Bono should be feeling foolish. I don't mean that he is foolish for proposing that wealthy nations commit more to help the developing world - although personally I'm very skeptical of aid programs run by the state. He was foolish to believe that Mr. Martin would follow through on whatever promises and sweet-talking he used to convince Mr. Bono to become the poster boy for the Liberals over the last few years.

It's interesting that the online discussion attached to the Globe's article is full of commentss roundly denigrating Bono - telling him to butt out of Canadian politics. Funny, I didn't hear them complain when Bono spoke at the Liberal's convention.

Bono may have been foolish to believe Martin - he's in the company of many Canadians in that regard. However, he's smart enough to know that the time is ripe to aim his criticism at the bullseye on the PM's rather flabby derriere.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 - Top court upholds pesticide ban

It seems that perhaps Toronto isn't so poweless after all! The esteemed ( cough sputter!) Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the City's ban on pesticides:

The Star's Coverage

With discussions about a new City of Toronto act having been in the news recently, it makes me wonder what the fuss is all about. The new act is supposed to allow Toronto to do such things as:

- ban pesticides (already done)
- decide when and where to install speed bumps (they seem to have no real problems with this)
- appoint a city auditor general (seems that this office already exists)

The new City of Toronto act will be nothing more that politcal show-boating; and there is absolutely nothing new about that in this City.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

French reporting on French riots reported as slim

Shocking! The French media are downplaying the riots.

Fox report on Paris Riots


The relatively thin coverage by the French media of the riots — one of France’s equivalents to Time Magazine devoted only four pages to the troubles Monday. Time itself devoted six! Compare that to the wall-to-wall (concealed glee) coverage of Katrina, and it makes you wonder. Does France really want to come to terms with all of this?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Paris - where have the smuglefties gone?

The smugleft Canadians and Euros I remember cackling about all the bad things that supposedly happened in New Orleans ensuing from Hurricane Katrina seem to have taken a collective vacation - I don't hear them saying anything about the events in Paris:

Paris is a riot

According to these folks, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina proved that the heavily statist model in countries such as France was superior.

This assertion, of course, flew in the face of events in recent years - such as the heat wave in France a couple of year ago that killed 10 - 15 thousand - that should remind us that Mother Nature will exact its price on us at times. Sometimes we will be prepared, at others she will overwhelm us.

This having been said, only one-thousand or so perished as a result of the hurricane. Americans chipped in and helped the government organizations rescue tens of thousands. Community and religious groups have donated massive amounts in terms of dollars and the time of volunteers. My own university has welcomed over 75 Tulane students.

Despite the liberal-media hype at the time, it appears now that the rescue operation was a success - and that reports of all manner of thuggery at the Superdome and N.O. Convention Centre have turned out to be false.

People pull together in the face of a natural disaster. What is facing the French is more of a man made problem - the long-term disaster of statism/socialism; one that is much more difficult to recover from. Americans have the personal resources and energy to pitch in. The French, so burdened by taxes and deferential to state apparati, may not.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Out-of-towners offer their 2 cents-worth on the ROW

It seems that in transit-related matters - especially where the possibility of establishing a "light-rail system" is concerned, there is a constituency that can't seem to resist poking their noses into places where one could argue that they shouldn't. Most of these seem to be current students in various university city-planning departments.

For example, here is:

Greg D. Morrow two cents-worth

which somehow made it into The Star. Now Mr. Morrow is a PHd student - but he's not from Toronto. He makes a good point to begin:

The recent debate over the future of St. Clair Ave. is a classic case of entrenched positions and a bad planning process leading to an unnecessarily contentious battle.

an assertion that no lucid person would refute. However, as the column evolves, it becomes clear that perhaps Morrow hasn't followed the debate that closely:

...The city is not advocating turning St. Clair into an arterial roadway...

Well - St. Clair is a major arterial roadway as far as The City of Toronto goes. That is why City Council as a whole had to vote of the proposal. Changes to smaller arterial roads - such as Dundas East - are decided at the community council level.

...By reducing the carriageway from six lanes to four and adding trees on either side of the right-of-way, traffic will slow down and the scale of the street will be reduced, which invariably makes for a more pleasant place to shop...

Well - there will be many trees lost to this project. The sidewalk narrowing will mean that many of the older trees will likely be removed - as they sit at the edge of the sidewalk. I would think it likely given the rebuilding (should it proceed) that many other trees will suffer/perish due to root systems being damaged.

And since the streetcars stop at virtually every corner, shopkeepers need not worry about losing business. In fact, retail streets with smaller carriageways and effective transit universally outperform those located on wide streets carrying relatively high-speed car traffic.

I guess it depends what is meant by effective. Queens Quay W (a.ka. Harbourfront) is a retail wasteland. I've been told that the owners of the Queens Quay Terminal have given up on trying to make retail work - and there really wasn't anything else to speak of from a retail perspective. Of course, this street has exactly the type of set up that Morrow is touting. Hey - shopkeepers at QQT don't have to worry about losing business because there wont be any left!

Then there is the example of the Waterloo student from Edmonton who set up a blog to promote a boycott of St. Clair Avenue. I must say that the U of W has fallen in my estimation. What exactly does such a person know about the area, the people, and their hopes and aspirations?