Friday, February 29, 2008

Has Jane left Transity City?

hmm - the TTC may have chopped some routes from its Transit City plan. Reports the National Post's Peter Kuitenbrower:

From In a rush? Get off and walk - Feb 28 2008

Longer term, the TTC has its Transit City light-rail plan - outlined in some detail at yesterday's meeting. It plans longer streetcars in dedicated lanes on Eglinton, Sheppard East, Finch West, Don Mills and the Waterfront West.

Mr. Stambler went through a slideshow of sexy streetcars in Barcelona, Paris and San Francisco, "to remind us of what Toronto will look like at some point in the future."
But not only is that future at least five years and $7-billion away, it does nothing to solve the problems of streetcars that fight mixed traffic on east-west routes downtown.

There is now no mention of the Jane or Malvern lines - and the price has been 'chopped' from $8.3 billion to $7 billion. Maybe the TTC will get smart and use the money to build heavier lines with the needed cuts under intersections to make the scheme slightly more viable.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Climate scientist disgraced

One of my business-school classmates stated in jest:

"Give me Lotus 1-2-3, and 2 hours and I can make any company look profitable."

I think this was at least partly in jest.

Now it seems that the same is true in climate science. It looks as if one of the "foremost" scientists behind the global warming (or is it climate change) parade has been found fudging the data.

Dr. Michael Mann - the academic behind the now infamous 'hockey-stick' of rising temperatures - has been caught playing with the data. Researchers looking to reconstruct Mann's calculation came across archived data that was labelled 'censored'. It seems that Mann had tried to cover his tracks - but wasn't smart enough to fully clean up the archive.

So why would a scientist - especially one involved in such a controversial field:

1. Delete the active data
2. Label data as 'censored'
3. Be so cagey about his methods.

The obvious answer is that Mann was the bagman for solving the IPCC's (the UN commission investigating climate change) big problem - the fact that the Earth's climate changes due to natural factors. A great deal of research money was at stake if they couldn't blame human activity for a few warm years.

Enter climate bagman Michael Mann. His assignment - to rig a model that would 'eliminate' the Little Ice Age (LIA) and the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). It looks like Mann did this by over weighting a few data points from tree ring measurements.

Mann is like my B-school classmate - give him a computer and a few hours and he can make any planet look warm!

Based on the 'hockey-stick' graph, the LIA and MWP have been deemed by the IPCC to be localized to Europe. Tell this to all the researchers looking at the climactic change in the North American Southwest during that period!

Here is a quote from one abstract:

Recent tree-ring reconstructions of summer drought over most of North America have
revealed unprecedented periods of elevated aridity and megadroughts, particularly in the western United States (the “West”) prior to A.D. 1600, with three particularly intense periods of drought occurring between A.D. 1021-1051, 1130-1170, and 1240-1265. These megadroughts fall within the time period variously described as the Medieval Warm Period or the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA). The MCA is also a period of overall increased aridity that lasted roughly 400 years (A.D. 900-1300) in the West.

EDWARD R. COOK Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Palisades, New York 10964

Aw shucks - what does an Ivy League professor know anyway? Let's all bow to Mann's fraud and the Kyoto sham. Science is passe.

(Will Dr. "Fruit Fly" David Suzuki want to put me in jail for writing this?)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More white stuff

After a number of false starts, today's promised allotment of snow is finally arriving. I find watching a gentle snowfall grace my street in the evening to be the best part of winter.

Of course, we still have a great deal of snow from the earlier storms. The city was supposed to be biting-the-financial-bullet to remove the banks of snow encumbering traffic on our narrow side streets.

I was away for almost a week - and I expected to see the snow removed when I returned late last night. However, I saw no evidence of this. Neither my own street (which has parking on both sides), nor even the main thoroughfare, have seen snow removal. The East-side curb lane of Woodbine between Queen and Kingston Rd. is still a series of ice humps.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dutoit gets an A - TTC streetcar a big fat F

Saturday evening I attended the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will guest conductor Charles Dutoit deliver Brahms Double Concerto (for cello and violin) and Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique.

Mr. Dutoit was the long time music director for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO). He put his stamp on the MSO, and put the MSO on the world's musical map. A couple of years back, the MSO musicians union got stupid (ok more stupid than the usual union c++p) and Dutoit bid the morons adieu.

It was a pleasure watching Dutoit conduct the TSO. The Symphonie Fantastique is one of the most exciting pieces to see and hear delivered live - and Dutoit is obviously one of its masters.

I also enjoyed the Brahms concerto - which by remarkable coincidence is a key part of the score of the movie "There Will be Blood" that I attended Sunday night!

Anyway, Dutoit and the TSO get a grade of A from me - even if the tuba sounded a bit off. (I'll blame the acoustics on RTH - which must have been playing tricks.)

My GF was away, so I TTCed it to the RTH (she WILL NOT take the TTC period, full stop). The journey downtown was great - 37 minutes by bus and subway from my front door to being seated in the mezzanine - 29 of these minutes being from me getting to the stop to getting off the subway at St. Andrews.)

On the way home, I decided to give the TTC streetcar a try. Per reports I've been reading while lurking on, the TTC has been taking measures to try and make the service work. "Why not give it a try?" I thought.

All went well for the 1st 15 minutes. Within three minutes, I was boarding the 504 King in front of RTH. There were no people getting on - i.e. other than me. Twenty people were waiting for taxis. As I walked towards the streetcar, someone said "that's mine". She thought I was taking her cab. It didn't occur to her that someone would get on the streetcar.

I got off the 504 when it got onto Queen and took my spot (alone) in the shelter to await the 501. 20 minutes passed - nothing.

After 25 minutes, a 501 came along. Wait though, it's not slowing down! It was a CLRV towing a disabled ALRV.

"Great" I thought. That explains it - there should be three or four 501s in 'hot pursuit'. (Ok the 501 and TTC streetcars in general are never in hot pursuit - but you know what I mean.)

Another 25 minutes later - after 50 minutes of waiting - a 3/4 full ALRV pulls up. I board, glaring at the conductor.

I can understand that a breakdown will cause service to be disrupted - and this happens very frequently. However, five or so Kings cars had gone by Eastbound and at least four Queen cars had gone by Westbound. Surely the TTC could have rerouted one of these to pick up the shivering people waiting on Queen for the Neville Park-bound service????

A big fat F for the TTC streetcars. It will be a cold day below before I try that again. Obviously all those waiting for taxis were the smart ones.