In wi-fi's electric shock (now, March 9-15), Adria Vasil uses the recent [decision] by Toronto Hydro to install Wi-Fi throughout the downtown core as an excuse to lament all uses of electricity and RF (radio frequency) energy. Not all electromagnetic fields (EMF) are the same, and the ways they propagate and affect organic material are very different. And as much as I might not agree that Toronto Hydro should be using unlicensed Wi-Fi channels to blanket downtown for their (eventually) non-free Wi-Fi service, the problem is really more one of bandwidth congestion and politics than of RF exposure.
Wi-Fi uses very low power levels compared with almost all other commercial uses. There are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of watts of RF coming out of the CN Tower continuously, not to mention the top of First Canadian Place, two very popular transmitter sites in the downtown core.
The RF noise in our urban environment may be greater now that cellphones and computers are more popular. But the major culprits were here decades ago. The solution is to live outside the city. As anyone who has taken a decent shortwave radio to a cottage up north knows, the difference between city and country radio noise really is like night and day!
Street furniture terror
I just finished street furniture Fix Is In, by Mike Smith (NOW, March 9-15). While I agree that the new garbage bins are poorly designed and obviously focused on advertising, I can't help thinking about the old aluminum bins for garbage and recycling. I just returned from Paris and London. They seem to be far more pragmatic in their approach to waste bins. In fact, they've been removing some of them in London, in the Underground, for example, due to the terrorist threat.
In Paris, bins have been replaced by a simple structure to hold see-through plastic bags. This seems to facilitate surveillance by dog patrols, etc. Not only do bins conceal potential threats, but they can actually become part of a bomb and cause even more damage.
Not to sound paranoid I know we haven't experienced anything like this in Canada, and hopefully we never will. It just seems naive not to consider these issues when designing for public spaces these days.
Bloor bike lane inevitable
Thanks to photographer darren Stehr and NOW for the great picture of the Take The Tooker event (NOW, March 9-15). How apt that the name of the late Tooker Gomberg is associated with another seemingly innocuous stunt that may yet inspire all Torontonians to face our own apathy and irresponsibility when it comes to the environment.
The installation of active transport (bike) lanes running parallel to the Bloor/Danforth subway line is inevitable.
Sure, many self-serving politicians won't jump to it immediately, as it's perceived as a vote loser. And ill-equipped bureaucrats are too busy rearranging street furniture.
But the medical community holds sway over these ditherers, and so do the courts. At some point we all will have to deal with the health damage caused by motor vehicle use. This could be big, eh?
And, in further keeping with Gomberg's philosophy, fun, too.
Brigadier gets his oats
I would just like to say bravo for sinking to a new low. How disgusting your little tirade against the supposedly undue attention to fallen police horse Brigadier (NOW, March 9-15). This horse gave its life serving the city. His only reward was some oats, the odd brushing and the love and companionship of his partner. I find your anti-police slant disgusting. How would your editorial staff feel if some right-wing rag made light of your enviro golden boy, Tooker [Gomberg] offing himself?
Anyway, I expect vile vitriol from your rag, but this is a new low.
And, yes, I imagine pro-police forces would've been upset with Mayor Miller had he not attended [the service for Brigadier], and rightfully so, for you see this horse was a serving member of the Toronto Police Services.
Rights of eaters vs. animals
Re basketful of woe (now, march 2-8). Wayne Roberts mourns our dysfunctional corporatized food system and the "degradation of food into commodity," yet fails to mention anything about the merciless degradation and murder of the 700 million or so animals raised for food each year in Canada.
I share his concerns about "the rights of eaters," but what about the rights of animals?
Forgetting hard-drinkin' set
Nice job on the bar & pub guide (NOW, March 9-15). An inspiration to venture out beyond the regulars. Just a little qualm. Why not include a rating and, most crucially, a price factor for every bar?
Representing the hard-drinkin' but penniless university set, I have to admit that price is the key factor in determining whether or not I can attend any of said fine establishments.
Lights out at Underground
oops, someone made a mistake in your Bar & Pub Guide! It's Antonella Sigismondi, not her sister Floria, who is the artist of the beautiful metal sculptures at the Velvet Underground. The other shame is the Velvet's tacky addition of Christmas lights. Antonella, like Michael Snow of the infamous geese at the Eaton Centre, should demand that those lights be taken off her gorgeous sculpture.
Too much talk trap
The headline of your review of Voices Forward: A Festival Of Israeli & Palestinian Film & Culture (NOW, March 2-8) - Keeping The Dialogue Alive - implies that the path to a just peace lies in more and better gabfests between the Zionist regime in Palestine and the indigenous Arabs. Why didn't that occur to Mandela when he set out to dismantle the apartheid regime in South Africa, I wonder?
CJC in denial on slave trade
letter writer len rudner of the Canadian Jewish Congress tries very hard to discredit Afua Cooper's research on the Atlantic slave trade (NOW, February 23-March 1) by suggesting Jewish involvement in this "tragic episode of human history" was negligible. In fact, he goes as far as to resort to a tactic the Jewish community normally fights diligently against: minimizing/denial.
He suggests that it is impossible to determine the extent of Jewish involvement in the slave trade, since there is no way to confirm who was actually Jewish (due to false confessions of Jewish identity). What BS! It is not difficult to uncover historical research written by many different sources (including Jewish academics) outlining who settled in the Americas. This includes sound documentation of Jewish settlement in Brazil (where most African slaves were taken), Curaao and Surinam, among other places.
Rudner conveniently omits mentioning Dutch historical records. It is (as far as I know) a well-known fact that the Dutch West India Company at its height was financed by investors who made their living in the maritime trade, of which Jews made up a fairly significant number.
As an African Canadian, what really pissed me off about Rudner's comments is that he chose to minimize Jewish involvement in the slave trade instead of engaging in something much more meaningful, like apologizing to the African diaspora on behalf of the Jewish community for any Jewish involvement in the slave trade.
Rhubarb hot picks no gems
I just wanted to write in regard to the review of Buddies in Bad Times' Rhubarb Festival (NOW, February 23-March 1). This article makes me wonder if anyone at the paper actually attended this festival, or, more specifically, if anyone sees the shows written by anyone other than people who are already popular and expected to be great.
I find it funny that the shows that were noted as "the hot things to check out" were the same shows that made the "most surprising gems" of the festival.
What about the other shows, made by unknowns, that were truly surprising gems? I know I saw a few myself during the three-week festival.
My intention is certainly not to dismiss the power of the people who have worked hard to build names for themselves, and who continue to live up to their reputations.
But we should also be acknowledging and supporting the energy of those writers who are carving out fresh paths with the same strength and integrity.
Otherwise, the public will never gain a sense to watch for them in the future.
The review of lenni jabour's work (NOW, January 9-15) was totally despicable. She is a brilliant artist who has a wonderful sense of style and individuality. I think it's terrible to let your reviewer's uneducated opinion taint the work of a brilliant independent artist.
Thick with eco hypocrisy
you're adding to the serious problem of deforestation and global warming with this continually bloated weekly that is so, so thick with... consumerism. Hmm. Let's see. Clear-cut a big space, use lots of other natural resources to create paper, print a crapload of "special" features on stuff to buy, and then insert a few earnest articles every week on eco this, humane that, and remember to add a good measure of feel-goodness to the "eco-friendly" newest cool thing. NOW. That's hip-ocrisy.
Editor's note: NOW is printed on 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper using vegetable-based inks.