Night Music: Handle With Care

December 20, 2020

Image: Corner Suites

December 19, 2020

Night Music: Different Drum

December 18, 2020

Image: Flocks #1

December 17, 2020

Happy 250th Birthday Ludwig!

December 17, 2020

The glorious Ludwig van Beethoven was christened on this day in 1770 in Bonn.

When both Napoleon and Wellington and all the Popes and Kings disappear into legend, the maestro’s music will continue to enthrall us and feed our souls.

Night Music: Come Down In Time

December 16, 2020

How We Spend Our Time

December 16, 2020

Once again, Visual Capitalist has come up with another fascinating slice of sociological statistics, this time on the ways people spend each 24 hour period in different countries.

The heavy hitters in each category were:

Previous Social History posts.

The Apple Pie

December 15, 2020

The Everloving made the most spectacularly delicious apple pie today.

It won’t last long!

Best Sea Views 2020

December 15, 2020

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society 2020 Photography awards have been handed out. The winner is this fine work:

Laurence Hartwell, Beam Trawlers Landing … At Night”

And I enjoyed these two especially …

Katie Vincent, Into The Mist
David Jenner, Under The Stars

Fake Commuting

December 15, 2020

Did you know that fake commuting is a thing now?

Apparently, you get in your car and drive aimlessly for a while and then pull up back at your home. You do this before you start your home-based work as it simulates the personal alone time you would have had had you driven to work. Does wonders for carbon emissions too, I bet.

Others do the same thing with a stiff walk or even a run. When I was a younger man we called those things ‘going for a walk’ or ‘jogging,’ but now it is fake commuting.

“Commuting was a great legitimate experience to set up a barrier between the outside world of work, family, [or] social life and demanding your attention,” explains clinical psychologist Dr. Jeannette Raymond. “‘Fake commute’ time is about setting up personal care boundaries — emotional oases and a guilt-free space [and] time to check in on themselves.” The real commute, she explains, created those boundaries artificially; now people have to do it for themselves in a world where those boundaries are increasingly blurred.”

Hmmmm. If I were a cynic I might think that sounded a lot like 1980s psycho-babble. But your mileage may vary, as we used to say.

Image: Shavings

December 15, 2020

Night Music: Champagne Problems

December 14, 2020

Poem: Mayfly

December 14, 2020


the autobiography of a mayfly

would be as short as a page

and as dense as perfect memory


the madness of dashing hither and yon

across the summer’s blue distance

to seek the one mate of perfect desire


the need to avoid the bloodletting wars

of birds and trout at cool water’s edge

to arrive in one piece at the perfect location


the keenness of invention, of new hieroglyphics,

to tempt her away from the maddening crowds

to sing her, to win her with this perfect dance


the sense of fulfillment, slowly drifting to earth

with all power spent, all duty completed

to remember, to listen to the end of this perfect life



Image: Coaster #5

December 13, 2020

Night Music: I Can See For Miles

December 12, 2020

The Cost of Gentrification

December 11, 2020

Salon has an interesting column on the costs of gentrification.  The writer is talking of American cities but the relevance to Vancouver’s situation is clear and obvious.

“The not-so-hidden message of gentrification is that there is always plenty of money to go around, even public money, for the whims of the rich. But for low-income folks — whether they’re the residents pushed out by development, the city employees shafted as priorities shift, or building workers brought in for the new jobs — those resources are a mirage. The private development of mass gentrification, made way for by public policy including public financing, not only systematically ossifies but intensifies the economic inequality within our nation’s cities.

As Ta-Nehesi Coates once wrote for the Atlantic,

[W]hen we talk about gentrification, understand that we really are talking about the result of actual policies endorsed, not simply by shadowy interests group, but by actual Americans, erected with the explicit intent of making sure that another group of Americans remain a permanent peon class.”

The writer calls gentrification’s methods “brutal” and the end results “truly tragic”. That is probably true. But I see genuine benefits from the kind of change that comes direct from residents. I think of this not as gentrification (which always comes from outside) but rather as a necessary and healthy renovation (always coming from within), regardless of whether this change is in form or in use.  Gentrification and renovation are not two sides of a single coin, they are each a distinct currency.

This piece is worth reading, even several years after it was written.

Image: Business of Fishing

December 11, 2020

Night Music: Spanish Harlem

December 10, 2020

Chanukkah Sameach!

December 10, 2020

How Eco-Density Ruined Planning In Vancouver

December 10, 2020


In January 2014, I quoted Planner Wendy Sarkissian on the history of Eco-Density, the Sam Sullivan/Brent Toderian planning paradigm that Vision Vancouver vigorously opposed to win their first electoral success in 2008 but which, upon taking office, they vigorously adopted and expanded giving us the unaffordable and almost unlivable city we have today.  As I see a new group of community activists beginning to take arms against the determinism of CoV Planning and their developer cronies, I thought it would be worthwhile to reprint that article as a reminder that we have been fighting this fight for a very long time.

* * * *

One of Australia’s leading urban planning theorists, Wendy Sarkissian, has been looking at Vancouver’s planning system, and she has little good to say about it, especially Eco-Density:

It is now widely accepted that the [Eco-Density] Charter misrepresented community views and did not adequately address issues raised in the public process. There were strong community complaints of misrepresentation by Council officers (and senior planners) of the contents of community submissions; there were serious weaknesses in the analysis of submissions about the draft Charter. In meetings to work out the Charter, it was observed that the moderator skewed public comments.
In the community’s view, the 2008 EcoDensity Charter represented a “battering ram” approach to densification. Considerable discretionary power was eventually granted to Council by the Charter, thus undermining well-established policies of community engagement and implementation. Despite the extensive publicity campaign, the community hated and distrusted the policy. It sank Sam Sullivan politically. Shortly after he announced it, his popularity went into steep decline and, despite thirteen years as a City Councillor, he lost candidature after only one term as Mayor …
Research reveals that even the City of Vancouver planners were not convinced that the policy would work. Brent Toderian was quoted in 2007 as saying: “EcoDensity won’t provide housing that meets average incomes. I don’t think we would affect housing supply to the point that prices would go down.”
* * * *

Groups such as AHV would have us keep on that Vision pathway of build for the sake of building and for the sake of corporate profit. If only they would understand the recent history — say the 30 years from 1990 to today — they might understand that their path leads to an even more ruinous future than the one already bequeathed us.