Housing for hamsters
Re Mystery Cubes (NOW, October 14-20). Like Piet Blom, I also got stoned and played with my Lego in the 70s. Unlike Blom, I didn't feel the need to inflict the product of my bong-fuelled Corbusian wank on the rest of the world. This is another sad example of a "machine for living" that is so at odds with common sense. If it's space you're worried about, why build something that won't easily allow for two or more units to be stacked on each other - you know, like a traditional apartment?
As any grade school kid who has tried to stuff his building blocks back into the box can tell you, a cube takes up far less space when its faces touch, not its edges or tips.
Take a look at Blom's Rotterdam project, completed in 1984, and tell me it's more compact and less expensive than an "upright" approach would have been.
Blom's "cubist forest" is more about cool-looking contrarian stuctures than a practical solution for housing people. It's a self-indulgent toy in which you can't hang a picture or put a bookshelf against a wall.
These things matter to people. Especially those who have few options and just want to live with dignity - and not like hamsters in a giant Habitrail.
Buses better than light rail
Re Subway's last hurrah (NOW, October 14-20). I see the options for green travel reduced every year, and projects like a dedicated streetcar line along St. Clair may not be the answer. More reliable and flexible transit stock like the new low-pollution buses would probably go a longer way to improving the surface fleet and flow of transit. (Buses can move to the curb at stops and can get around a disabled bus.)
It also amazes me that the city will be making a major change to the shape of the street without adding European-style bicycle lanes, separate roadways running parallel to the road but not accessible by cars.
The city could have done something like this with the dedicated streetcar lane on Spadina, or thought about the concept for College before they started tearing up the streets to replace the tracks.
Mary Jane Pender
S&M with strangers stupid
Anybody who knows anything about S&M knows it's extremely unsafe and unwise to practise it as described in last week's Love & Sex column by Sonya Cote (NOW, October 14-20). Engaging in S&M (or BDSM as it is increasingly known) without knowing your partner and without plenty of frank and honest communication is just plain stupid. Contrary to popular fantasy, BDSM players are not crazy and dangerous. Play is negotiated and agreed upon by all players before a scene starts. For your own safety, read up on it before you start acting out.
To all those guys who are continually "falling all over themselves to meet" Sonya Cote? Sounds to me like she's not one for using protection, especially during romps in strange lands with even stranger people. You've been warned.
Homeless numbers game
Re Shelter Sweepstakes (NOW, October 14-20). It's always hard for a journalist to accurately portray the nature of homelessness, but Steve Jones's assertion that 5,000 to 6,000 homeless people "await winter on city sidewalks" suggests that this number of people are living and sleeping on the streets. In fact, it more accurately depicts the number in shelters and Out Of The Cold programs.
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
Students, no need to run
Matthew Mernagh is right to focus attention on the severe and growing problem of student-loan insolvency (NOW, October 14-20). But his suggestion that Canadian students follow the example of some of their New Zealand counterparts by leaving the country to escape their obligations is neither necessary nor practical. Last November, the Senate banking committee recommended changes to the Bankruptcy And Insolvency Act to ease the plight of student debtors. Debtors who declare bankruptcy could potentially be discharged from their student loan debt five years after leaving school, rather than the current 10 years. They would also be eligible for earlier discharge if they can demonstrate "undue hardship" to the bankruptcy court.
Unfortunately, inquiries at a policy level in Ottawa have led us to believe that there is little interest in changing the current regime.
Given the magnitude and urgency of the student loan issue, the federal government should place reform of the bankruptcy and insolvency laws high on the agenda of the minority Parliament.
William A. Courage
Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals
Woody's raw words inspire
Re Your Organic Toronto issue, most notably Woody Harrelson's article (NOW, October 7-13). It was very inspiring to read that Canada's largest urban conglomeration is, in Woody's opinion, "ahead of most cities when it comes to organic consciousness." Also, the many options throughout the issue will definitely facilitate a newcomer's integration into Toronto's organic/vegetarian subculture.
However, I was taken aback upon visiting the St. Lawrence Farmers Market Thanksgiving weekend. In this delightful mecca of colourful local produce, organic pumpkin pie and even free-range meat, an unbelievable number of plastic bags and paper cups were being used by shoppers.
Reusable bags and coffee cups, as well as fair-trade coffee, would be simple, invaluable steps to augment environmental and social sustainability.
I noticed your feature on organics, with a special section on spas/skin care. I'm the owner of the first spa in Toronto to use truly 100 per cent synthetic-free and food-grade organic skin care products. I was very disappointed that we were not included. Oh well.
Elixir Spa & Manicure Bar, Toronto
I'm writing this as an Australian-Canadian who has just returned from Sydney. Amused as I was by Robert Priest's article (NOW, September 30-October 6), I must comment. Most Australians don't know that under the Australian constitution it's legal to discriminate. And all those UN human rights codes? They're classified as "international" and don't apply domestically. After all, the South African government used the Australian model. So much for those "gum trees" that remind the writer of maple trees.
In his article on the naming of Toronto streets (NOW, October 7-13), Greg Gatenby suggests Tom Longboat Crescent as a possible choice. As far as I know, there are only three Toronto streets named after native Canadians, those being Longboat, Tecumseth and Brant. Interestingly, three streets are named after Brûlé, the first white man to see Toronto. Why is it that all the natives in Canada's history only get three streets, and this one white dude gets three just to himself?
High stakes on Great Lakes
Your article on the great lakes, The Last Glass (NOW, September 30-October 6), is truly excellent. You zeroed in on the fact that our waters, like other renewable natural resources, remain sustainable. Of course, the preservation of water is one aspect of the challenge. The other is the need to effectively and regularly remove pollution.
A useful proposal on how this can be done is through natural purification processes. For example, froth - air bubbles attached to polluting particles pushed to the water's surface - is an indication of pollution.
Mobile collecters can be used to help concentrate the pollutants in the froth to make removal easier than trolling entire rivers and lakes.
Let's get this straight, ok? Factory farming is not comparable to Nazi concentration camps, for one major reason (NOW, September 16-22). However, some other animal slaughters compare very well with what the Nazis did to the Jews. Right here in Ontario, the McGuinty government ordered the shooting of more than 6,000 cormorants this summer at Presqu'ile Provincial Park.
The McGuinty government does not kill coromorants for meat or profit. The McGuinty government kills cormorants because they are intent on using the black bird as a scapegoat for dwindling fish stocks. Jews were similarly turned into scapegoats.
Villains you're trying to out
Re High on methane (NOW, September 2-8). Never in my experience have I encountered such bias. To say that my quote was completely out of context is only a minor ethical lapse. To not include my many repeated assertions that Admiral Bay has undertaken a baseline study to determine the environmental impact of our potential outcomes is downright dishonest, dishonourable and a detriment to the cause you are trying to promote.
The ends to your means shall never be accomplished when your publication is less ethical than the "villains" you are trying to "out."
Admiral Bay has acted and will continue to act in a responsible, protective fashion for the communities we have both a direct and indirect relation with. I wish the same could be said of your publication.
Admiral Bay Resources Inc., Toronto
I was reading your review of Franz Ferdinand (NOW, Ocotber 7-13). It's a great review that really captures the night. The one thing I want to point out is an error regarding our Dynacord Alpha Concept sound system. It wasn't being used that night, and several of the main stacks had in fact been taken out of the main room to increase capacity. The system being used that night was a rental, an Adamson rig that's more appropriate for concerts. Yes, it did cut out for a few seconds, but it wasn't our system. Just wanted to pass that on. Not upset, just nitpicking.
Docks Entertainment Complex Toronto
Stiffing the circus
Re Sloppy Circus (NOW, October 14-20). It's unfortunate that Glenn Sumi's evidently impoverished childhood didn't include a trip to the circus. That's the only explanation for his bemoaning the Shurum Burum event as confusing because the audience wasn't told where to look.
With three stages plus the jazz band, the rest of the audience felt like delighted little kids. I guess looking up is hard to do, even to admire trapeze artists, when you have a neck as stiff as Sumi's. My pity for the reviewer's disadvantaged past, however, ends with his gratuitously nasty remarks about the beautiful Roula Said's anatomy.
Had he been able shift his focus with more ease, he might' ve noticed her performance rather than fixating on one part of her body.
Look up, look down, look around, Glenn Sumi. I think you might require more than a "post-show neck massage" to loosen up.