Bob Ross Day

July 4, 2020

That odd little wannabe dictator south of us is mouthing off all day about a Memorial to Great Americans. He could do a lot worse than rename today Bob Ross Day.

Bob, who has brought happiness to more people than Trump could even conceive of, died on this day in 1995. His memory goes on.


Coming Soon — the Britannia Library!

July 3, 2020

It was announced today that Britannia will be one of the five branches that Vancouver Public Library system will re-open on July 14th. Hooray!

The other four are the Central Library, Kits, Renfrew, and South Hill; and several other branches will be opened for take-out service only.

It seems to have been a long time since March 16.


Sports Photography

July 3, 2020

The First Annual World Sports Photography awards have been announced.  The overall winner was this action shot from a world heavyweight title fight

Image: Richard Heathcote

I also liked these two:

Image: Scott Barbour

 

Image: Filope Amorin


The Amazon Phenomenon

July 2, 2020

Most of us almost subconsciously know that Amazon is just about everywhere, that it is such a natural part of our lives that we do not give it much more thought. Thanks once again to Visual Capitalist, we now have a useful visualization of just how powerful Amazon has become, and how swiftly it has overcome all competitors.

[Image: Visual Capitalist] Select image for a better view

There seems little to stop further exponential growth. Bezos can keep spinning off more and more multi-billion dollar corporations in emerging markets for as long as the aggregate cash flow is counted in the trillions. This will eventually lead to “trust busting” populists breaking it up, like Standard Oil and Bell, I guess.  But I think any unravelling of Amazon-Bezos will be far more wrenching than any of the historical parallels.


Happy Tau Day!

June 28, 2020

I have for many years enjoyed celebrating each 14th March as Pi Day, in honour of pi = 3.14….  However, I have been persuaded that Tau Day is at least as important if not more so.

The value of Tau = 2pi and is thus celebrated on 28th June (6.28).  Why this is important is explained in this good short piece from ScienceNews.

“The simplest way to see the failure of pi is to consider angles, which in mathematics are typically measured in radians. Pi is the number of radians in half a circle, not a whole circle. That makes things confusing: For example, the angle at the tip of a slice of pizza — an eighth of a pie — isn’t π/8, but π/4. In contrast, using tau, the pizza-slice angle is simply τ/8. Put another way, tau is the number of radians in a full circle.

That factor of two is a big deal. Trigonometry — the study of the angles and lines found in shapes such as triangles — can be a confusing whirlwind for students, full of blindly plugging numbers into calculators. That’s especially true when it comes to sine and cosine, two important functions in trigonometry. Many trigonometry problems involve calculating the sine or cosine of an angle. When graphed, the two functions look like a series of wiggles, shaped a bit like an “S” on its side, that repeat the same values every 2π. That means pi covers only half of an S. Tau, on the other hand, covers the full wiggle, a more intuitive measure.”

So, Happy Tau Day to you all!


Nat Geo’s Best Photographs

June 18, 2020

National Geographic has a web page full of its best photographs of the last decade.  Some remarkable images there.  A couple of favourites of mine:

Photographer: Joel Sartore

 

Photographer Jimmy Chin

 


Hot War In The Yard

June 3, 2020

Image: stock

We are lucky enough to have a patio or porch that is more than twice the size one would expect for an apartment. We get lots of visits from crows, squirrels, and smaller birds that we happily feed with peanuts. The early morning is usually a busy time for them, crowding the platforms, but this morning I hadn’t seen a solitary critter before 8:30am.

I wandered out to see what might be happening and there in a flowerbox was a large raccoon. snoozing perhaps.  I happen to like raccoons and was pleased to make its acquaintance. It looked at me blearily and decided, I guess, it was time to move on.  So he waddled off to the west, climbed out of our patio and onto a small roof and then onto the neighbour’s wall which he proceeded to follow until he was out of my sight.

From the moment he left our patio until he disappeared from view, no less than five large crows showed up and dive-bombed him constantly. They have nests in the nearby trees and I guess they were protecting their young. The crows were furious and noisy and took turns throwing themselves at the raccoon. He just ignored them, and waddled off.

It is now just gone 9 and the squirrels have still not shown themselves. I hope they are OK.


Changes on the Drive #106

June 1, 2020

It was an interesting walk down the Drive yesterday afternoon. It seemed a lot like a December day — the weather was overcast, most of the stores seemed to be open, but there were far fewer people on the street than one might expect on a late Spring day. However, it did feel a lot more like home than, say, last month’s rather desolate walk.

There were at least five new closures this month — Tino’s at 2111 Commercial, Mark’s Pet Store at 1875, Carthage Cafe at 1851, Flower Box at 1319, and Spank Clothing at 1027 Commercial — so the vacancy rate has exploded.  And frankly I doubt we have seen the full extent of the damage yet.

We are in phase two of the pandemic recovery process and there are still discussions to be had about re-opening bars and live music venues. That means that places like Bar Corso at 1608 Commercial, which literally just opened before it was shut down, still have a less than certain future. Lots of sunk costs wasted there.

Looking for good news, what is now the former Carthage Cafe has a sign saying that “BC Donair” will open soon. Also, the former Starbucks at 1752 has a sign saying “Leased”, so we can look forward to something new on that corner.

Grounds Coffee at 2086-2088 Commercial has a new patio-type area out front of both their storefronts.

For many years Coastal Food Market occupied the large storefront at 1961 Commercial. In the spring of 2019 it changed into ShipRite 2 Smoke Shop.  Now, I see, the sign proclaims it is the Vapester Smoke Shop.

 

I noticed that Dr. Vigari’s gallery at 1816 Commercial was empty. I have decided not to call it vacant yet as they may just be storing the art works elsewhere during the plague closure. I’ll try to track down more information.

It was good to see a number of restaurants re-opening, with restrictions. I wrote last week about my pleasure at being able to eat at The Dime once again. And Havana at 1212 Commercial makes the Hive’s list of Best Patios in town.

 

Vacancies on the Drive this month:  Listings in bold are those businesses that have announced their closure this month.

2277 Commercial (vacant 11 months), 2270 (2 months), 2233 (15 months), 2137 (4 months), 2111 (1 month), 1875 (1 month), 1851 (1 month), 1752 (4 months), 1740 (10 months), 1728 (2 months), 1608 (5 months), 1319 (1 month), 1305 (2 months), 1303 (8 months), 1027 (1 month), 1012 (8 months), 1003 (4 months), 935 (4 months).

The New York Times has an interesting article on what the collapse of restaurants can do to a neighbourhood.  Thanks to Penny for the heads up.

 

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Wise Words

May 27, 2020

 

 

The first step in making your dreams come true

is to wake up and get on with it.

 

 


The History of Typography

May 20, 2020

This is a wonderful animated history by Ben Barrett-Forrest that I was directed to on Twitter some years ago now.


We Need A Ward System in Vancouver

May 20, 2020

Vancouver municipal politicians are always complaining about the lack of turnout at civic elections (although, you will notice, they still claim that the tiny minority of electors that voted for them gives them a mandate to change the City in any way they want!)

There are, of course, several reasons why municipal turnout is so low (not one of which includes the VAST sums of campaign money spent by the major parties every three years), but one of the major ones has to be a feeling among electors that those who run don’t represent the people in their neighbourhoods.  We can solve this — by re-establishing the Ward System of government that we used to have in Vancouver and which is standard in every other major City in Canada.

A ward system allows each neighbourhood to elect their own chosen representative rather than to have to rely on someone else who is supposedly representing the entire City but who, historically at least, actually works for the west side money machines.  A ward system allows floating coalitions of neighbourhood representatives to work together on specific proposals.

This would be even better and more effective if we banned parties from municipal elections (as is the case in most other Canadian cities) and every Councillor was an independent, bound to represent their voters rather than a party — but one step at a time.


Early Urbanism

May 16, 2020

For those interested in the earliest histories of urbanism, new discoveries in Scotland require a whole new focus.

Archaeologists have discovered that perhaps as many as 4,000 people in 800 huts were living on a single hill at Tap O’North village between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD.

“Their discovery means that the area, which today is a quiet village home to just a few hundred people, once had a hilltop settlement that at its height may have rivalled the largest known post-Roman settlements in Europe … the huge fort dated to the fifth to sixth centuries AD and that it was occupied at the same time as the elite complex in the valley at Barflat farm. Dating shows that settlement on the hill extended as far back to the third century, but both hut platforms excavated also had fifth to sixth century AD phases…

At 16.75 hectares, it is “bigger than anything we know from early medieval Britain – the previous biggest known fort in early medieval Scotland is Burghead at around five and a half hectares and in England famous post-Roman sites such as Cadbury Castle is seven hectares and Tintagel around five hectares.

“The Tap O’ Noth discovery shakes the narrative of this whole time period. If each of the huts we identified had four or five people living in them then that means there was a population of upwards of 4,000 people living on the hill. That’s verging on urban in scale and in a Pictish context we have nothing else that compares to this.”

 


Back2Basics Sounds Like A Tory Trap

May 16, 2020

There is a petition circulating right now called Back2Basics. It seeks to cut back on the services provided by the City of Vancouver with the express aim of relieving home owners of any additional burdens placed on property tax.

It seeks to use the covid-19 crisis as the cover for what is, in reality, a major Tory-like austerity rollback. And we all know from bitter experience gained across so many jurisdictions, that the only people who suffer during such an austerity squeeze are the poorest and most vulnerable.  Their services are the first to be cut in austerity and — should the crisis ever be declared over — their services are always the last to be restored.

We should not be cutting services during a major crisis. In fact, progressive economists will say that now is the time we should be spending more. Governments need to step in when needs are greatest, and step back when good times are here.

The promoters of the petition will not remind you that Vancouver already pays the lowest property tax in North America based on tax per $1,000 value. Their petition does nothing but attempt to guarantee that unsustainable position into the future.

The petition says: “The city must stop pushing their out of control spending onto tax payers.”  We do have out of control spending but it is not because we are spending too much, but rather that we are spending so unwisely.

The failure of the Stewart administration in this crisis has been a failure to prioritize spending where it can do most good. Steered by City staff inherited from the woe-begotten Vision Vancouver years of build for greed and headlines not for genuine need, Vancouver city’s budget is top-heavy on administration and “world class” projects, and sorely lacking in a vision for the most needy half of the population. And any advantage extra staff may have provided is completely lost in the ridiculous byzantine world of delays in development approvals for local projects.

The best thing John Horgan in Victoria could do for the City right now is to free them up to move parts of the huge and unwieldy capital budgets into operations. Put those capital projects on hold for the time being, and plough money into services on the ground where they are most needed. Keeping transit free beyond the virus crisis would be helpful, too:  if we can afford Site C, we can afford free transit!


The Art Business Evolves

May 16, 2020

When last I wrote about the art market, in November, it was buoyant and looking forward. Since then, of course, the world crashed to a halt; museums, galleries, artists, and auction houses have been shuttered like the rest of us.  Some old fortunes were lost, and some new ones found. How that has affected the upper end of the world art market is about to  be revealed, as Christie’s leads the way to a possible new future.

On 10th July,

“[u]sing streaming technology, ONE will be the first auction of its kind, taking place in consecutive sessions in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York. Alex Rotter, chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s, says of ONE that, ‘with our virtual and physical worlds rapidly merging, we felt it was vital we meet this new reality with an innovative platform.’

Offering a range of exceptional 20th-century works, it will be staged by a leading auctioneer in each location (starting in Hong Kong) for a live and an online audience simultaneously. The new format aims to create a cutting-edge, adaptable, highly engaging platform for bidders around the globe, while also capturing the drama and excitement of a gala sale.

We’ll see if that is possible with the technology.  What is for certain is that they have laid on a masterpiece as their main lot: Version F of Picasso’s Les femmes d’Anger series.  Version O sold at auction for $179 million in 2017.

“Each of Picasso’s 15 canvases is a marvel of invention. What makes Version ‘F’ stand out is the way it marks a bridge between the first phase of the series (of regular-sized canvases) and the second, final phase (featuring much larger works).  Version ‘F’ is the culminating picture of the first phase, both brilliantly coloured and spatially ingenious, a composition so fully resolved that Picasso now felt ready to tackle bigger canvases. His palette is scorching, comprised principally of saturated red and gold tones. The airy white passages found in his previous versions of Les femmes d’Alger  are gone, replaced by a dense, expressive weave of Matissean pattern and colour. More than any other painting in the series, it conveys the hothouse atmosphere of a harem.”

This isn’t one of my favourite Picasso’s, but then again I was never going to be laying down $200 million to own it even if I loved it. But it is certain to attract a lot of interest and indirectly assist the rest of the Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary, as well as Design, lots.

Most of the really rich buyers phone it in anyway, through their agents, so going online should not be too much of a novelty.  It will be an interesting experiment.


New Rules For Restaurant Eating

May 15, 2020

Thanks to Scout Magazine, we have a first look at Worksafe BC’s dining in protocols for restaurants.

We’ll get used to them, I am sure.


Zooming In On The Cash

May 15, 2020

For all of the security concerns, the China concerns, and the techno hiccoughs, Zoom is coining it when it comes to corporate valuation.  As shown in this chart from Visual Capitalist, it is now more valuable than the seven largest airlines in the world.

What this really shows is the flippancy of stock markets.

The full article has a lot of detail comparing these industries.  Well worth the view.


Wise Words

May 15, 2020

 

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are only consequences.

 

 


Nakba Day

May 15, 2020

On Nakba Day — the day of the catastrophe — we remember the millions of Palestinians violently displaced from their homes at the creation of Israel in 1948.


The Land of the Free?

May 14, 2020

The so-called Land of the Free just got a little bit less free.  The US Senate approved amendments to the Patriot Act that allows law enforcement agencies to search your internet browsing history without a warrant.

“The power grab was led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell as part of a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which gives federal agencies broad domestic surveillance powers …

Dayton Young, director of product at Fight For the Future, told Motherboard. “Any lawmaker who votes to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act is voting against our constitutionally-protected freedoms, and there’s nothing patriotic about that.”

Moves like this are just the tip of the iceberg. Fascist-leaning dictators and institutions around the world have used the covid-19 pandemic as a cover to vastly increase their powers over ordinary citizens. While this movement is overt in such countries as Hungary, Turkey, and Brazil, it is no less prevalent in the US, the UK, and Canada where subtle (or not so subtle) shifts in the dynamics of power tend to happen without a lot of fanfare.

We are on a slippery slope to totalitarianism.


Changes To Media Consumption, By Generation

May 13, 2020

From Visual Capitalist comes this fascinating dissection of how each generation is changing its cultural habits during the covid-19 crisis:

Select image for a much larger, clearer view.

The article also includes this breakdown of “Internet Activities” which shows some definite trends, by generation, that should keep social scientists busy for a while:

The full article has a lot more detail on trust, and media subscriptions. I recommend the read.