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Posted by on 24 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Food and Wine, Home and Garden, Media

Re the link to the new beekeeping site:

You might find this interesting — David Yassky, an up-and-coming Brooklyn city councillor, has taken up the crusade to legalize urban beekeeping.  Apparently there are quite a few underground (or more precisely rooftop) apiculturists operating in the shadows of the city.  Two links below — the second is to a local TV news story:

P.S. I tried to post this comment on the site itself, but that was apparently beyond my technical capabilities…

Again with the housework and the bad science reporting

Posted by on 24 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: Media

I’m sure this headline isn’t unfamiliar, as it’s been everywhere for the past couple of weeks:

Just 20 Minutes Of Weekly Housework Boosts Mental Health

Let’s have a bit of a look at the study behind the headline.


any form of daily physical activity was associated with a lower risk of distress, when other influential factors, such as age, gender, and the presence of a long term condition, were taken into account. (emphasis mine)

They’ve made the usual error, confusing correlation with causation. Does the study show that physical activity causes increased happiness? No; it’s just correlated with it. The more active you were, the lower were your odds of being classified as depressed in this observational study. It could be that exercise causes happiness, sure. But it could also be that happiness leads us to be more active. This is a very basic point and it makes me crazy that even a science-oriented publication such as ScienceDaily regularly falls for it.

And second:

The range of activities, which proved beneficial, included housework, gardening, walking, and sports, although the strongest effect was seen for sports, which lowered the risk of distress by 33%. (emphasis mine)

So why the focus on housework? Oh, right: if we focused on sports as the most beneficial, we wouldn’t be able to get in that not-so-subtle dig at women — “See? Do housework, be happy!”. And to that I say pthththtthththbtbbbbt.

The first rough draft

Posted by on 02 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: Media


It was Glaukos who spoke first, dude…

Posted by on 09 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: Books, Humour, Media

Here’s an entertaining and very weird website, with a whole new take on the Iliad. I ran across it in a review, in New York Magazine, of a book called Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks From the Wild Web, by one Sarah Boxer (review also linked below).

Ah yes, Canada’s huge movie piracy problem…

Posted by on 06 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: Current Events, Media

Five months after the law came into effect, after “weeks of private investigation,” Canada has arrested exactly one person for videotaping a movie in a theatre.

One arrest. One.

If the cinema owner in that story is correct that it’s put a major dent in the level of piracy in Montreal, and the movie distributors’ association rep is also correct that the legislation is now working, it appears they’ve arrested the one guy who was Canada’s piracy problem.

Well, phew.

Well, that’ll piss off the generals

Posted by on 18 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Current Events, Media

Prime Minister Moves to Grant Honourary Canadian Citizenship to Leader of Democracy Movement in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi

Interesting move. I approve (since I’m sure Stephen Harper’s decision-making hinges on my approval…).

Note the language, too: in news articles and press releases including this one, I’ve noticed an almost total switch from “Myanmar (also known as Burma)” to plain-jane “Burma” over the past six months or so. Nobody seems to care about humoring the generals anymore.

Oh dear

Posted by on 16 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Media

Headline in my RSS this morning:

Canada’s New Government Increases it’s Commitment to Enhancing Girl’s Education in Afghanistan

Me! Me! It’s all about me!

Posted by on 12 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Current Events, Media

Summary: Blowhard hack indirectly kills decent kid; hack wonders if he should feel conflicted about this, but settles for navel-gazing.

Full story here.

Hitchens seems to sense that the appropriate response involves a) some level of genuine humility, as opposed to a pose du jour that involves faking humility, and b) a true focus on the person he is writing about, rather than turning him into a way of talking about himself, but isn’t temperamentally capable of doing it.

Totally Toronto (2)

Posted by on 06 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Media, The nine-oh-five

It’s an easy target, but:

The Current on Friday morning had a long segment on roundabouts, hooked to Case Ootes’s proposal that Toronto should have some. There aren’t any at the moment.

The main interview was with the City of Toronto’s transportation manager, who discussed them intelligently enough from theory – he’s not responsible for any real ones, there being none in the city, and none really contemplated. Roundabouts are hard to retrofit into an existing urban landscape, since they’re so space-intensive. Not impossible, but the expropriation is expensive.

Usually, new roundabouts are installed as a traffic-control measure in rural and suburban areas, which brings us to Ontario’s busiest roundabout, right here:

View Larger Map

in scenic Ancaster, well within CBC Toronto’s listening area.

It’s sort of an interesting application of the idea, designed as a transition between an 80k rural highway, which many motorists drove at 100 km/h, and a 50k suburban arterial. Drivers were supposed to sharply cut their speed at a certain point, but not all of them wanted to. Signs and speed enforcement didn’t do the trick, but physical changes to the road actually did. Residents were resistant at first, but accepted it after it became clear it solved the problem.

Not far away in rural Ancaster, roundabouts may be the key to the life-and-death question of how to make Hwy. 52 less lethal. 52 has become very dangerous since it became connected to the new 403 extension for much the same reasons that Hwy. 2 was dangerous when I was growing up: a mixture of cars and trucks acting as if they were on a 400-series highway, school buses, pedestrians and slow-moving farm vehicles. Counting from the 403 extension opening in 1998, road deaths come to more than one per mile. You can read all about it here.

The Hamilton planners haven’t really solved it, beyond posting an oddball 70 km/h speed limit, but are proposing five new roundabouts in rural Ancaster, three of them on 52. I’d install them every mile and a quarter at each concession, but it’s a start. This may actually turn out to be the solution – physical changes to the road will always be a better way of controlling behaviour than enforcement.

There’s lots of room for them, as you can see. Here’s 52 and Jerseyville Rd., one of the proposed locations:

View Larger Map

Now there’s an interesting story, if the CBC ever wanted to do a piece on roundabouts – a well-established and articulate community group, planners who have studied the issue in detail, local residents who have watched the road for years – everything you need, really. Pity it’s so far from the end of the subway.

Cheese, Gromit!

Posted by on 03 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Media

The BBC says:

Trouble at’ Mill is a murder mystery that sees Wallace and Gromit running a bakery business – with their house converted into a granary with ovens and robotic kneading arms.

Some details on (where else), which is a thoroughly silly and entertaining site.

Wallace and Gromit

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