Sunday, November 30, 2014

Horrible Regional Signage is Causing Construction Chaos

The Ion LRT is going to take three long years to build, three years of construction and traffic jams, three years of mud, three years of inconvenience and unpleasantness. The process started a few weeks ago, and I live in the epicenter of it. The Region has got to improve their signage.

Here is an example: Caroline Street is torn up from Allen to Erb. Park Street has no construction. However, there are signs along Park Street saying, "ROAD CLOSED LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY". Here is Park at Union (construction starts three blocks away from here):

The signs on Park should not say "ROAD CLOSED LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY". They should say something like "Caroline Street closed from Erb to Allen". Here's another confusing "ROAD CLOSED" on Park, this one near Allen:

You might think that the arrow is supposed to show that the road closure is to the right, but look at this signage on Alexandra at Euclid, which is showing that the road behind the sign is closed ahead:

In fact, the arrow directions (up, down, left, right) used in the road closed signs are inconsistent and confusing. I'm not sure about the placement of the signs in the road either. On Alexandra, they blocked the east-bound lane with a "ROAD CLOSED" sign and traffic cones, even though I have to turn there to get to my home. (A local resident kindly moved the sign to the curb so we can get by.)

Here is another example. Alexandra Street is not torn up, but it is blocked at Caroline. At the next intersection to the west, there are three ROAD CLOSED signs. Any law-abiding person driving east on Alexandra will think, as they approach Euclid, that they have to turn around and go back. On Euclid heading to the left and right there are signs saying "ROAD CLOSED LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY" and straight ahead on Alexandra there's a sign saying simply "ROAD CLOSED". It's a little difficult to see, but here's a photo taken from Alexandra looking east at the intersection with Euclid, showing "ROAD CLOSED" signs in every direction:

I have to drive past the "ROAD CLOSED" sign on Alexandra at Euclid every day, because I live on Alexandra between Euclid and Caroline. That sign should also say "LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY". People living on Alexandra and Short Street have to drive through there.

The Euclid signage saying "ROAD CLOSED LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY" appears all along Euclid even though there is no construction on or near Euclid - the signs were put up in an attempt to keep cars from cutting through on Euclid. When I complained to the Region about it I got an email saying it was required by community safety. Fair enough, but the signage should NOT say "ROAD CLOSED" when the road is not closed. When a motorist drives on a road that has been signed as closed, their insurance can be denied if they have an accident. They can be stopped by the police. The Region could put up signs saying "LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY" but it is madness to tell us that the road is closed when the road is not obstructed.

Strangely, on Caroline at Allen, where the Caroline road closure begins, there is no signage at all. Same thing at Caroline and Alexandra: there's nary a "ROAD CLOSED" sign, and in fact confused drivers have been driving along Caroline on the dirt track the construction trucks use.

Finally, here's a map showing the current construction.

  • The yellow line shows where Caroline is closed.
  • The yellow line with red dashes shows where a road is partially closed.
  • The red X's show where there are "ROAD CLOSED" signs. (I missed quite a few: for example there is also one at William and Westmount, nine blocks from any construction.) Note that these red X's are places that say "ROAD CLOSED", implying that the current road is closed.
  • The blue X shows where I live.
It is going to be a long, long three years. Currently, the Region is tearing up Caroline to move the pipes so they won't be under the LRT tracks. Then they'll repave. Then they'll tear up the road to lay the tracks. I think my new mantra should be, "Where do you live?" "I live at You-Can't-Get-There-From-Here".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wearable tech

Forget the eye glasses, the arm band, the watch, the ring. What I want is a smartphone in a narrow stick about 18" long, and I want the controls to be based on gestures (moving the stick through the air) and voice commands. C'mon.... we have got to have wands.

Buffalo's wall of snow

Here are some photos of the blizzard that rolled into Buffalo a couple of days ago dropping five feet of snow in one day. I've seen similar photos of snow squalls around here, but none that high. Gadzooks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It was a joke, ya dummies

At the remembrance day ceremonies in Ottawa, CBC interviewed a guy dressed like a soldier. Later on CBC discovered that the guy was not really a soldier. CBC used print and video to condemn the guy, adding in lots of outrage from real veterans, calls for criminal prosecution, and dark speculation as to why he was impersonating a soldier.

But CBC is still in the dark: the outfit is obviously a gag. Maybe it was a dare. In the background of a CBC video you can see the man and his wife trying to keep a straight face. At one point she is laughing so hard that she wipes tears from her eyes.

This reminds me of the April 1 interview Michael Enright gave to an obviously fake Jimmy Carter, and the front page article in the Globe & Mail that Just Didn't Get the Joke.

Update: Some time later I read that this guy was convicted for this act. I'm not sure what the charge was. I can see that we might not want people pretending to be military personnel on duty, but impersonating a veteran seems to be a harmless prank. Throwing the book at this guy, or even being outraged at his act, smacks of patriotic hysteria.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Framing sadism

[This post is inference and speculation based on reports that have not been fully vetted (especially the claims in the @BigEarsTeddy account). In this post I wander down a line of thought that is a bit "out there".]

So what is a sadist anyway? In Jian Ghomeshi's case, it seems to be a guy who gets off on beating up women. He apparently calls this "rough sex" and "BDSM lifestyle" and "kinky sexual preference". Once we call something a sexual preference then a lot of people, myself included, feel they should be accepting – but I’m not sure that this case merits tolerance.

There are, apparently, clubs where sadists meet masochists and have fun together consensually. If Ghomeshi belongs to any of those clubs, he seems to have also strayed beyond them.

One might argue that Ghomeshi’s dating life is one long quest for the perfect girl who will let him beat, humiliate and dominate her. In that sense, you might see his alleged assaults on women as try-outs, or as mistakes based on miscues. But along with unsuspecting dates, the BigEarsTeddy account also alleges that Ghomeshi hires prostitutes to beat up, and that he lures women to his house under false pretences.

It seems odd that in some of the women’s recountings there’s no sex involved and the beating was brief. Ghomeshi seems to like to attack women on his own turf, which might simply be for sound-proofing and isolation, but might also be related to photographic equipment. There is evidence that he records his attacks. In an attempt to prove that his sadism was consensual, Ghomeshi gave CBC brass a video of himself injuring a woman, and the police now have that video. Also, the Twitter account BigEarsTeddy posted, last April, that “@jianghomeshi keeps an impressive anthology of videos and photos of the young girls he chokes out.” So the real turn-on might be watching himself hurt women.

In his Facebook post a week ago, Ghomeshi was able to get out in front of this story and frame it. He says the story is about his kinky sexual preferences. I think a lot of people, even while reviling him, are still thinking in those terms. But if you throw out the BDSM aspect then what you’re left with is a sexual predator – less a Pee-Wee Herman and more a Colonel Williams. That’s what really haunts me about this story: is what we have heard so far all there is? What if a woman fought back? What if his compulsions escalated?

It is possible that the master manipulator is still manipulating us – misdirecting, framing the story, keeping his liberal fanbase worried about sexual intolerance so they aren't sure if it's wrong. It is possible that what we know now is just the tip of the iceberg.

...or not. I am certainly not claiming the guy is a murderer, but it seems that there are kinky, consensual role-playing sadists and then there are narcissistic, sociopathic serial-assault sadists. And Ghomeshi might be trying to confuse us as to which type of sadist he is.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Ain’t love grand

“Happy Monday!” he gushed to me in an early morning tweet. He told me that he wanted a family and that I was “the one”. He was smitten with me. His eyes lit up when he saw me. He couldn’t keep his hands off me.

Those memories were recounted by women who dated Jian Ghomeshi, some of whom he allegedly beat up and some of whom he didn’t. He certainly didn’t marry any of them.

One of them recalled a bizarre, hot and cold relationship with Ghomeshi. She concluded, “Jian was grooming me for the same violence he inflicted on other women. I think he was pursuing and encouraging me because of the existing power imbalance, creating a level of emotional intensity as a preface to his “big reveal” so that I would ether acquiesce or never tell. He trained me to feel sorry for him, to feel guilty about not giving enough of myself to him, to believe I was special to him.”

Some insight might be gleaned from research on pedophiles. In a 2012 New Yorker article, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about how child molesters ingratiate themselves into communities, create a persona that makes sexual abuse seem unlikely, get access to a large pool of potential victims, and then start the selection process. Gladwell writes about “standard child-molester tradecraft”:

The successful pedophile does not select his targets arbitrarily. He culls them from a larger pool, testing and probing until he finds the most vulnerable. Clay, for example, first put himself in a place with easy access to children—an elementary school. Then he worked his way through his class. He began by simply asking boys if they wanted to stay after school. “Those who could not do so without parental permission were screened out,” van Dam writes. Children with vigilant parents are too risky. Those who remained were then caressed on the back, first over the shirt and then, if there was no objection from the child, under the shirt. “The child’s response was evaluated by waiting to see what was reported to the parents,” she goes on. “Parents inquiring about this behavior were told by Mr. Clay that he had simply been checking their child for signs of chicken pox. Those children were not targeted further.” The rest were “selected for more contact,” gradually moving below the belt and then to the genitals. ... The child molester’s key strategy is one of escalation, desensitizing the target with an ever-expanding touch.

Ghomeshi, so cool in some ways, was remarkably uncool in others. Were the overly-strong cologne, the creepy grab-hand way he first approached women, the corny pickup lines, the early hair pulling, all part of a cull? Was there method in his uncoolness? The alleged assaults have occurred for over a decade without anyone reporting Ghomeshi to the police, so it seems he was doing something right.

To grossly paraphrase Gladwell, "When monsters roam free, we assume that their victims ought to have reported them. But that might be wishful thinking. A sexual predator is someone adept not just at preying on women but at manipulating, intimidating, deceiving, and charming them."