The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

January 24, 2010 at 1:31 am | In arts, free_press, heritage, johnson street bridge, links, newspapers | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Surprised to see that Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge made it into the “Journal of Commerce – Western Canada’s Construction Newspaper” (Jan.25/10) …for its heritage value (not its potential as a mega-replacement construction project)! Right on. (Would love to know the story behind JSB’s entry into the the Journal of Commerce…)

    From the article:

    QUOTE
    “The main opening span is 148 feet in length and when in the open position is balanced over a 45-foot fixed span. The Strauss Bascule Company Ltd. prepared the design for the bascule spans and the operating machinery.

    The superstructure of the bridge was fabricated in Walkerville, Ontario and contains 100 tons of steel. “

    UNQUOTE

    tags: johnson_street_bridge, victoria, journal_of_commerce, heritage, preservation

  • Would really like to view this film. The paintings by Nicolas Poussin and by Jacques Louis David are both such powerhouses, one can’t help but think that only film-video artists of overarching ambitions would tackle this subject. This interpretation by Eve Sussman sounds very intriguing:

    QUOTE

    “The Rape of the Sabine Women is a reinterpretation of the Roman myth, updated and set in the idealistic 1960’s. Filmed on location in Athens and Hydra, Greece, and in Berlin, Germany, the 80 minute video was directed by Eve Sussman with an original score by Jonathan Bepler, choreography by Claudie De Serpa Soares, and costumes by Karen Young.\n\nThe Rape Of The Sabine Women was conceived as allegory based loosely on the ancient myth that follows Romulus’ founding of Rome. Re-envisioning the myth as a 1960’s period piece with the Romans cast as G-men, the Sabines as butchers’ daughters, and the heyday of Rome allegorically implied in an affluent international style summer house, this version is a riff on the original story of abduction and intervention, in which Romulus devises a plan to ensure the future of the empire. While the Roman myth traces the birth of a society, this telling suggests the destruction of a utopia. The intervention of the women is fraught, and the chaos that ensues transforms the designed perfection into nothingness.\n\nThe Rape… is a video-musical conceived in an operatic five act structure that opens in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, moves to the S-Bahn and Tempelhof Airport, Athens’ Agora meat market, a classic modern 60’s dream house overlooking the Aegean, and finally, Athens’ Herodion Theatre. Forgoing the compromise of the original, the Rufus Corporation’s re-imagining pits mid-twentieth century ideals against the eternal themes of power, longing, and desire. A modern process piece created in improvisation-a product of 180 hours of video footage and 6000 photographs-the video with 7.1 sound installation features compositions by Jonathan Bepler, recorded live on site , incorporating a bouzouki ensemble, a Pergamon coughing choir, and a chorus of 800 voices.
    UNQUOTE

  • tags: video, films, rape_sabine_women, eve_sussman, rufus_corporation

    • Beautiful video of Aakash Nihalani creating his “tape art” interventions in New York City’s public spaces. By taking us with him (through his tape interventions) I think Nihalani is really re-imagining and re-seeing space, and that’s an amazing gift to the rest of us.
      QUOTE
      “When artist Aakash Nihalani moved from the suburbs to NYC he was compelled by its symmetry. As an organic response he started laying down tape on the streets and on buildings, creating brightly colored sticker tape boxes framing aspects of the city he wanted to show people, creating tableaus from real life. Both uncomfortable at potentially defacing property by using permanent materials, and enraged at the continued treatment of public artists as vandals, we join him as he brings 3D to his work for the first time, via use of mirrors and passers-by, and discuss why impermanence is important to the acceptance of street art.”
      UNQUOTE

      tags: art, aakash_nihalani, street_art, video

    • A rather amusing look at history according to Victoria’s mainstream media (in this case by Times-Colonist reporter Bill Cleverley). Wow, this is quite the ellipsis…

      If there’s one thing I’m learning from the whole Johnson Street Bridge issue and process is that one apparently can’t trust our media to get the stories right.

      tags: johnson_street_bridge, media, newspapers, times_colonist, bill_cleverley

    Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

    Quiet days in cliche. But…

    May 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm | In ideas, innovation, newspapers | 2 Comments

    It’s no doubt a sign of mental rot when one writes entries (or anything) with puns for titles, but there you have it: I’ve hit a wall. Until I manage to break the cliche (by smashing the mold, say), the pun I’m sorry to say will have to stand in for what should pass muster as enthusiasm.

    Which isn’t to say that I’m not enthusiastic about some things I’m reading, mostly online. Yesterday, for example, 1889.ca – who is a real live neighbor of mine (Mike literally lives across the street and around the corner, but I didn’t even know he existed until we met through Twitter) – wrote a brilliant blog post called My Book Industry Blueprint (v0.2a1). This article really does break the mold, bust the cliche, and I encourage anyone interested in publishing (including not just book publishing, but all other categories as well) to click through and read the entry in full.

    From the first sentence (“The publishing industry is broken, and not just in a ‘that glass is chipped but if you drink out of the other side you’re fine’ sorta way.”) you know this is going to be a great read.

    Go. Read. It. Now.

    And in the meantime, I will try to peel myself off that wall I’ve hit – it’s not very comfortable, it ruins my perspective, and it does nothing for my writing.

    News that skews

    November 22, 2008 at 12:15 am | In free_press, local_not_global, newspapers, times_colonist, victoria | 3 Comments

    This is an entry about a story of local interest, but its implications are broader. It is also about truth in newspaper reporting, about credibility, and the problems that develop under a media monopoly.

    The other day I came across two versions of the same article, published by two different papers in the Canwest newspaper empire, about Susanne Butscher, the woman in Britain who recently was able to give birth to a baby because her twin sister, Dorothee Tilly, donated one of her ovaries to her almost two years ago. The article was by Ian Austin, and was sent out by the Canwest News Service: it appeared in my local Victoria paper, The Times-Colonist, and presumably was sent out multiple times to the other newspapers in the Canwest chain. The second version I read appeared in The Calgary Herald.

    Normally I don’t go hunting for multiple versions of the same story, but I read the Times-Colonist version first and was intrigued to know whether the story had had much additional exposure. So I googled the names (Susanne Butscher and Dorothee Tilly). While lots of other articles turned up, I was immediately struck by the headline in the Calgary Herald version: Vancouver woman becomes aunt and mother. Why did that seem noteworthy?

    Well, living in Victoria, I’ve become a tad over-sensitive to how my city is made to disappear off the national stage, as though out here on the We(s)t Coast only Vancouver existed. Because, you see, the Times-Colonist version reported that Dorothee Tilly is from Victoria, yet it’s a detail that was dropped from the national version (which also didn’t list Austin as the author).

    Here’s what the hometown version looked like (I bolded a couple of lines for special emphasis):

    Donated ovary allows sister to give birth

    Ian Austin, Canwest News Service

    Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Dorothee Tilly became both an aunt and a mother last week when her twin sister gave birth to baby Maja

    Maja was conceived using an egg produced by Tilly’s ovary, which had been transplanted into her identical twin Susanne Butscher.

    “It’s a miracle,” Tilly said yesterday. “We have the twin telepathy thing. I feel like I’m a part of her, and she’s a part of me.”

    Dorothee Tilly, with her children Johanna, 7, and Lars, 5, is also an aunt of a special nature to her sister's child.View Larger Image View Larger ImageDorothee Tilly, with her children Johanna, 7, and Lars, 5, is also an aunt of a special nature to her sister’s child.
    photocredit: Debra Brash, Times Colonist

    Tilly, 39 and from Victoria, already had two children, but her sister gave up hope of having kids of her own after she went into early menopause.

    Then Butscher’s gynecologist told her of groundbreaking research at the Infertility Centre of St. Louis, Mo.

    “The doctor told my sister, ‘You and your twin sister are ideal candidates for this surgery,'” said Tilly.

    Tilly said her sister’s request initially made her feel “a little awkward.”

    “With two children, I counted my blessings,” she said. “My major driving factor was to help her.”

    The transplanted ovary helped Butscher’s battle with osteoporosis, and let her stop taking hormones that had their own negative side-effects.

    Her daughter’s birth in England almost two years later was an unexpected surprise.

    Despite her genetic contribution, Tilly said she’s not Maja’s parent.

    “She’s my niece,” said Tilly. “I don’t think I’m the mother.”

    Tilly is planning to visit her sister and baby Maja in England sometime soon.

    “It’s the gift of life,” she said. “My sister is super happy. She’s trying to get some rest after the whole ‘miracle thing.’ It’s just amazing the attention she’s getting from around the world.”

    Compare that to the version in The Calgary Herald (which I’m guessing is also how it looked if it ran in any of the other Canwest papers):

    Vancouver woman becomes aunt and mother

    Canwest News Service

    Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Dorothee Tilly became both an aunt and a mother last week when her twin sister gave birth to baby Maja.

    Maja was conceived using an egg produced by Tilly’s ovary, which had been transplanted into her identical twin Susanne Butscher.

    “It’s a miracle,” Tilly said Tuesday. “We have the twin telepathy thing. I feel like I’m a part of her, and she’s a part of me.”

    Tilly, a 39-year-old Vancouver Island resident, already had two children, but her sister gave up hope of having kids of her own after she went into early menopause.

    Then Butscher’s gynecologist told her of the groundbreaking research at the Infertility Centre of St. Louis, Mo.

    “The doctor told my sister, ‘You and your twin sister are ideal candidates for this surgery,’ ” said Tilly.

    Tilly said her sister’s request initially made her feel “a little awkward.”

    “With two children, I counted my blessings,” she said. “My major driving factor was to help her.”

    The transplanted ovary helped Butscher’s battle with osteoporosis, and let her stop taking hormones that had their own negative side-effects.

    While there isn’t a huge difference between the two versions, there is enough of one to make me worry about the veracity of what I can read in the papers. Yes, Victoria is on Vancouver Island, so it’s technically not a lie to say that Dorothee Tilly is from Vancouver Island – but why the change in Austin’s text from “Tilly, 39 and from Victoria” to “Tilly, a 39-year-old Vancounver Island resident”?

    And what about the headlines?  The first version has an accurate, non-sensational headline, and the article specifically includes Tilly’s disclaimer about not feeling like she’s the “mother” of the new baby.  The second version not only leaves out the disclaimer (which was an affirmation of science – “She’s my niece” – and appropriate kinship – “I don’t think I’m the mother”), but in fact offers a headline worthy of The National Enquirer.  With that headline, most readers will probably miss the point of the transplant, which was to help Butscher in her battle with osteoporosis: “[Butscher’s] daughter’s birth in England almost two years later was an unexpected surprise.”  That sentence was left out of the national version.

    When I set out to write this post, I was most concerned by how the national version of the article managed to erase Victoria from the map. I’m still concerned by that – it’s a serious issue in my book since it happens too often.

    But compare the two versions and decide.  From where I sit I conclude that the locally reported story is stronger, more vivid and accurate; and that dissemination via a media monopoly results in stories that are bereft of complexity and therefore realism, and are skewed to grab eyeballs (perhaps through some level of sensationalism).

    Diigo Bookmarks 07/17/2008 (a.m.)

    July 16, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In comments, newspapers | Comments Off on Diigo Bookmarks 07/17/2008 (a.m.)
    • Much to think on in this great interview by James Bash with Douglas McLennan, the founder of ArtsJournal. “Curation” is definitely my word du jour — I’ve seen it come up again and again recently, in relation to *very* different products and businesses (clothing & retail, for example).

      It leads me to think that “curation” is something that’s evolving out of “filtering,” which in turn was something that sort of / kind of evolved out of (or related to) “gatekeeping.”

      The latter always struck me as something almost hateful, in the sense that gatekeepers protected the various walled gardens to which access was limited or even forbidden. Gatekeepers weren’t there for me, they were there for “them.”

      Filtering in turn proposed the notion that users (me, we) should set their own parameters — it’s potentially democratic, anyway, provided we don’t let overlords filter for us. DIY filtering can be smart, letting us develop efficiencies in how we access and consume information. But filtering done by censors is bad.

      Curation can be equally two-edged (like filtering), but it now introduces another aspect: perhaps trust? Some sort of acknowledgement of expertise, or sophistication? Good curation, however, done on a digital platform, is open, accessible, democratic, and transparent.

      Perhaps curation is an open, acknowledged re-insertion of the human aspect — which “filtering” can strive to eliminate via automatic settings and controls.

      tags: crosscut, artsjournal, douglas_mclennan, blogging, business, curating, curation, filtering, hyper_local

    Diigo Bookmarks 05/03/2008 (p.m.)

    May 3, 2008 at 5:30 am | In links, media, newspapers | Comments Off on Diigo Bookmarks 05/03/2008 (p.m.)

    More notes on Brandon Rosario, school reaction, and media fall-out

    April 27, 2008 at 12:06 pm | In education, media, newspapers, victoria | 7 Comments

    Doc Searls added to the threads on Brandon Rosario’s performance with the wonderfully titled entry, Think softly and punish a big schtick. We know where the soft thinking is…

    Doc found a bonus link, Meet Brandon Rosario by Red Tory, a local blogger I hadn’t seen before. (His profile picture is of Francis Urquhart, or “FU,” as he was known to staffers, of House of Cards — a very funny BBC series worth watching.)

    Red Tory’s comments board includes an extended discussion of the effect of Brandon’s remark about the physical attributes of a particular teacher. I added a comment to my own April 24 Brandon Rosario entry, partly in response to some of the Belmont students who expressed ambivalence about the “rack” remark. The teacher could use any fall-out that might occur as a teaching opportunity (teachable moment).

    There have been a couple of follow-up reports — if one can call them that — in the mainstream media. They’re really laughable — except for the fact that the pot they’re stirring is the pot of stupidity. To see them all, please go to the Facebook group page, Support Brandon Rosario’s fight for Free Speech. There you’ll find not only all the relevant media items (including tv clips), but also the voice of the students and other youth themselves.

    The main thing that comes through in those voices is this: Fuck the media.

    Every single person on the Facebook comments board is upset by the way the mainstream media are blowing this thing up, and turning it every which way, to create a sensation. Of course the media always manage to find fools to do their bidding — case in point, the class-A fool (a professor of rhetoric) featured on A-Channel’s second report who calls Brandon’s performance totally inappropriate. Professor?

    The really “totally inappropriate” thing here is just how incredibly stupid the media assume people are.

    They’re digging their own grave, and as far as I’m concerned they can’t fall into it quickly enough.

    A case of loose cannon remorse

    March 5, 2008 at 6:03 pm | In arts, newspapers, victoria, writing | Comments Off on A case of loose cannon remorse

    Well, that’s it: I will in future refrain from using a feature called “sound off,” which is appended to some online articles in our local paper (The Times-Colonist, part of the Asper media conglomerate). The “sound off” acts as a kind of comments board, but it doesn’t seem to allow for any sort of formatting, previewing, or immediacy. Unlike Crosscut, which allows readers to comment instantly, a submitted “sound off” is held for hours — sometimes days, it seems — before an editor approves it. This means that you can’t really follow a conversation, because everything is so slowed down and filtered.

    The other issue is that, should you criticize (in however a politic — or in my case: impolitic) fashion some flaw in the article, the article might be edited to fix that flaw, but your comment stays — which might magnify an apparent irrationality on the part of the commenter.

    I submitted a most impolitic sound off last Saturday evening. It was already fairly late in the day when I read the article, Giant canoe will hang over Bastion Square, by Carolyn Heiman (a very good reporter), about a public art piece that apparently was just approved by …”the city,” although it beats me what the process was by which (and by whom) the decision was made.

    Aside from that, Heiman’s article mentioned a well-known city councilor, yet didn’t introduce her as such, and simply quoted her (…’We just announce the winner in consideration of the privacy of the other artists, [sic] said XYZ.), seemingly out of the blue.

    I bet the New York Times, when quoting a well-known city politician (let’s say the mayor?), would do it like this: “Blah, blah blah,” said Mayor Bloomberg. At least then you know, ah, he’s the mayor: you’re informed as to who (or what) he is. If only his last name is mentioned, and the reader doesn’t have the entire council and mayor roster of names at his or her mental fingertips, the reader might be left in the dark. But if the reader is literate enough to read the paper, he or she will know what a mayor or a councilor is. The rest is deduction, of a relatively easy sort.

    I’m no Lynn Truss, but I have certain issues that really push my buttons, and one of them is clarity in newspaper articles. I know Heiman is a good reporter, but I also suspect that there are many sloppy editors who get careless when they cut the reporters’ submitted texts to fit the column space available. I’d bet that the article originally did identify the speaker as a city councilor, but that this was edited out (for space reasons?). So I first commented on that, impolitically because I charged the editors with not doing their job.

    (As an aside: nothing drives me up the wall faster than the colloquial use of the “is” contraction to replace “has,” as in “It’s been a while since he attended.” It is been a while…? What does that mean? It seems that newspapers are constantly bleating about the evil bloggers diluting standards, yet they’re in the front ranks of offenders themselves. When a blogger blogs colloquially, it’s one thing — but when the “official” and usually printed media get all sloppy like that, it’s not ok. And still it happens all over every newspaper, and all the time. “She’s got the experience to make it work.” She is got the experience…? That might work in conversation, but can we keep it off the written page, please? Where are the editors? I think the reporters/writers are doing it to cut their word count. “It has” is two words, “It’s” is just one. Use contractions of all sorts often enough and you can really shave the word count, which I suppose might be important when you know editors are going to whack your pieces to fit the space.)

    But, to return to Carolyn Heiman’s otherwise excellent report, what has also really infuriated me for well over a year is this: it is impossible to find out anything online about some of the city’s boards or committees. There’s an Advisory Design Panel — who is on it?, when does it meet?, why are its minutes and agendas so out of date? There’s an Advisory Planning Council — again, same questions. There is also a Public Art Project Advisory Committee, which seems to be dormant and whose domain (according to the city website) “is currently under review.” So who made decisions regarding the winning public art proposal which has been chosen for installation in Victoria’s Bastion Square?

    Well, that was the other button. The night before, I managed to catch a short video clip posted to the same newspaper’s website, from CHEK-TV, which showed an interview with a local artist who appears to be part of some committee — one that has done the jurying. He just talked about the winning artist, but said nothing about the committee or the process.

    Furthermore, Heiman reports that the two runner-up candidates will remain anonymous:

    A seven-member jury trimmed the 21 submissions to three finalists who where given $1,000 to create maquettes to show in more detail how their art would look. Gallant’s maquette is now on display at the B.C. Maritime Museum in Bastion Square.

    The city will not disclose who the other two finalists were or describe what their work was like. [emphasis added]

    But if these two runner-ups were also each paid $1000 of taxpayer monies to produce maquettes — which the public won’t see — shouldn’t the public have a right to know who they were? (* See “Edit” addendum, below.*)

    Why the shroud of secrecy? Why does the city create this fundamentally undemocratic, secretive climate?

    And so, while I regret my tone — holy cow, I was incensed when I wrote the “sound off” — I stand by my basic questions.

    Yesterday I submitted a second comment to the same “sound off” board — but the editors don’t seem to want to publish this one — at least it’s not up yet, well over 18 hours after I submitted it. It read:

    At the risk of digging myself a deeper hole here after my somewhat vehement comment above: I know that in the first version I read, Mrs. Madoff was NOT introduced as a Victoria councilor (otherwise my quoted text, in my first comment above, would have shown this). That suggests that the article was edited *after* I commented. I still maintain that bringing someone into an article without a proper introduction is a breach of standards, even as I’m appreciative of the fact that the TC must have fixed this initial error. Also to clarify: my criticism was directed at the TC editors, not at Carolyn Heiman, who I think is a very good reporter. Finally, I’m still totally in the dark however as to what or who this “city of Victoria selection committee” is (which clearly involves Mr. Porteous, as per the CHEK-TV video clip — see above — but which isn’t in any other way identified). That’s not the reporter’s fault, if it’s a case of the city making the information nearly impossible to track down. I’m still annoyed that the City of Victoria’s website doesn’t have up-to-date information on many of its committees, including the ADP (Advisory Design Panel), APC (Advisory Planning Committee), or the apparently dormant (or not?) Public Art Project Advisory Committee. I don’t think that transparency should be so difficult to achieve in our digital age. Put the information online and put it out in *real time*, not with a delay of months. Many City of Victoria committee websites are inexcusably out of date.

    Perhaps they’re not comfortable letting this one through because I claim that they can edit articles after the fact. Or perhaps it’ll magically appear later?

    Whatever, but I’m done with this silly method of “reader interaction.” The invitation to “sound off” isn’t an invitation to conversation. It’s really just noise, in my case of cannons going off. And while I hate being a loose cannon, being a cannon shaped to the restrictions of a media conglomerate’s “sound off” is even worse.

    **Update** Sometime between my blog post from late this afternoon and now (it’s 10pm), that second “sound off” comment of mine made it through the filters and is up on the website.

    Now, let’s see… How else can I tick the city off? Hmm, how about by asking why people who live in the municipalities of Oak Bay, Saanich, Esquimalt, or elsewhere in the CRD, who can’t vote in City of Victoria elections, can nonetheless run for and be elected either to council or even as mayor of the City of Victoria? Does this mean that someone from Langford could become mayor of Victoria, …and vice versa? If that’s the case, why not let those folks vote in City of Victoria elections?

    If memory serves, in Boston you can’t even work for the city as staff — never mind be a city councilor or mayor — if you don’t live in Boston.

    Why does the City of Victoria staff its city hall with staff bureaucrats and elect politicians and officials who don’t actually live in the city, yet simultaneously have political elections that exclude those folks?

    (Edit, March 6: the chosen art work itself will be paid for by funds raised by the Bastion Square Revitalization Association, which means taxpayers aren’t paying for this. Presumably the $1000 paid to each of the 3 finalists was also provided by the BSRA fund. However, my point that public — and publicly appointed — committees should be transparent, their roster readily available, their meetings posted and open: that still stands.  Furthermore, the sculpture will occupy public space, and therefore it’s the public’s business.)

    How Victoria’s Monday Magazine gets it wrong

    February 2, 2008 at 10:16 pm | In free_press, homelessness, local_not_global, media, newspapers, NIMBYism, scenes_victoria, victoria, writing | Comments Off on How Victoria’s Monday Magazine gets it wrong

    Victoria has a weekly tabloid newspaper called Monday Magazine, which, starting as an alternative publication ~35 years ago, has somehow managed to stay mired in the worst sort of “us and them” thinking that feeds into (and off) the roiling Schadenfreude of the perpetually resentful.

    Lately, one of their old writers from some many years ago, Sid Tafler, returned to roost. He is riding the resentment wave, in particular with an article published a week ago Wednesday (Jan.23), when the Jan.24-30/08 edition hit the street, with Tafler’s “Faulty Towers; Empty condos a tragedy of urban planning failure.” The article — full of errors and shoddy thinking, was promptly posted to Victoria’s best online forum for urbanism, Vibrant Victoria, where it received both a thread of its own, Monday Article – Faulty Towers – by Sid Tafler, as well as lengthy critiques.

    Some Monday Magazine articles are online, while others aren’t. Tafler’s wasn’t, but the forumer who started the thread posted a scanned version to the thread — if anyone wants to read the article, click through to the thread. Note that the columns of text in the scans run vertically, and you have to finish the first column on the first scan in the first column on the second scan, and so on…

    In the next issue of Monday, the magazine printed 3 letters strongly in support and 1 conditionally in support of Tafler’s junk analysis, with one by former architect Roger Smeeth taking the prize for suggesting silly and impossible things. (Again, see the forum thread for really incisive critiques of Smeeth’s letter.)

    I too sent a letter to Monday Magazine, dated Jan.26, but since I was critical of Tafler’s odious column, the editors perhaps didn’t see fit to publish it. And so I’m publishing it here on my blog — because I want to make sure that a record of the opposition and criticism that Tafler’s cheap shot provoked never fades from the Google record.

    Here’s my letter:

    Dear Editor:

    I sincerely hope that Sid Tafler’s ears started burning on Thursday Jan.24, when he, with “Faulty Towers” freshly published, attended Charles Campbell‘s UVic lecture on conglomeration in the Canadian press and heard Campbell specifically and vigorously castigate Canadian journalists for their slovenly habits of retailing untruths. “Faulty Towers” is certainly and thoroughly corrupted by untruth and exaggeration, to the point that one wonders whether Tafler’s exercise in demagoguery veiled another purpose. But maybe he is just being jejune.

    It’s difficult to know where to begin setting Mr. Tafler straight, because of course he’s just clever enough to appeal to legitimate concerns around affordability, which breathe enough life into his straw man (or is “Condoria” a woman?) for his article to appeal to the credulous.

    But let’s just remember that practically all the condos he so abhors sit on what used to be surface parking lots, and they didn’t displace anybody’s “comfortable single-family home with a back yard.” Really, Mr. Tafler: you appear to be concerned about social and environmental ills, yet advocate a hackneyed suburban vision.

    Mr. Tafler writes that “the city of Victoria approved 3,000 condo units in the last five years — 800 in 2007 alone, more than any other year” — as if that were a bad thing. I’d argue it’s a great thing: that’s 3,000 fewer “units” going to suburban sprawl; that’s 3,000 more “units” contributing to the city’s tax base (even if some of the owners are absent some of the time, they’re still paying property taxes, which happen to fund a vast part of the city’s budget); and that’s 3,000 potential “units” of people downtown, shopping, recreating, adding life to those streets.

    Believe it or not, there are people living in many of those “units.” Good friends of mine live in Shutters, although, since they travelled for the past 2 months, their “unit” is dark. Likewise, you’ll find many empty-nesters who leave Victoria at this time of year to catch some sun. Their “units,” too, will be dark. In the lower price range, you will find investors buying “units,” but guess what? They rent them out, which helps alleviate Victoria’s rental crunch.

    What would Mr. Tafler do instead? Have all these “units” to move to Bear Mountain? Would that be preferable? Incredible as it may seem, some of us cheer every time we can wrest some “units” back to our downtown.

    Nor did these projects derail some magical solution to homelessness or affordability. It’s not the case that anyone was willing to step up to donate a building to that cause, nor is it the case that city councils can somehow magically wave a wand and make affordable housing appear.

    Which brings me to my last point: you have to love the armchair quarterback, second-guessing all those lazy, incompetent city councilors, don’t you? Really, judging from Mr. Tafler’s grasp of economics (a simultaneously shallow and flaccid grasp it is), I’d hate to see him in a councilor’s seat, because I’m sure he’d go mad at the workload and the demands on his attention by every citizen who knows everything about anything better than he, the councilor, does. Those folks, as Mr. Tafler’s own example shows, are a dime a dozen, and when you’re in that seat, they’ll have you for breakfast. I wonder how Sid Tafler would like being made a meal of.

    Sincerely,
    Yule Heibel

    Tafler was at the Charles Campbell lecture (about which I’ll have more to blog later), and my use of the word “jejune” specifically points to a rather acid comment Campbell was making about Conrad Black v. the Asper family.

    Hand-made links (for a change)

    January 26, 2008 at 12:03 am | In cities, free_press, ideas, innovation, links, newspapers, resources, social_critique, urbanism, web | Comments Off on Hand-made links (for a change)

    Why is it that some of the most salient material presents itself — and in the greatest quantities — when one already has a mountain of mental meal on one’s plate, with nary a cranial cranny remaining into which the new material may be stuffed?

    I’m at the point where even bookmarking to Diigo isn’t good enough, because I can’t summon the energy to write a cogent annotation!

    Therefore, in no particular order, some links of prime importance (in my world, anyway):
    Regine at We Make Money Not Art posts two entries (Part I and Part II) on the DLD (Digital, Life, Design) conference held last month in Munich. Not only that, she includes specific references to other bloggers (Ulrike Reinhard, for example) who have posted more information (more than what’s already on DLD’s websites? Muss das sein?! …sigh…) and projects (like 192021) that I definitely need to follow up.

    Part II includes way too much stuff for me to process right now — just this little picture/ diagram from one of the pages she references has me spinning:

    Alert, alert: I’m thinking local local local, which starts to sound like “loco loco loco” after a while….

    …Gawd, and don’t even get me started on Regine’s references to Patrick Schumacher (just a taste from WMMNA:

    Patrik Schumacher mentioned that the challenge today for architects is to be able to comprehend and reflect in their work the increase in society complexity. Order and lack of complexity bring disorientation. A quick look at the way urban areas were built in the 50s brought us makes the case clearer.

    “Order and lack of complexity bring disorientation.” Vraiment! It’s fatal to confuse order with “un-complex” organization. What our brains want is “ordered complexity” or “complex order,” which appeals to every person’s innate sense of pattern recognition (which, pace, is more than only “a subtopic of machine learning”).

    …All this, and I haven’t even touched on several entries that rocked my world yesterday — outside.in‘s announcement of a brilliant win-win deal with the Washington Post, or their VC’s most interesting blog post, Rethinking The Local Paper

    …All this, and this being the mere tip of the iceberg. Let’s not forget the links my husband sends — he tells me I have to watch Paulo Coelho (brilliant, from what I’ve heard, absolutely paradigm shifting) as well as Edward Tufte (ditto), and more… My inbox is overflowing…

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