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Stamp out ads on transit art

CBC reported this morning that the Toronto Transit Commission has been putting ads up on top of an abstract mural called Sliding Pi, by artist Arlene Stamp. Spokesperson Brad Ross confirmed they’ve been doing it for years, and the artist apparently doesn’t have much of a problem with the ad on her mural. It only made the news because a commuter complained.

The TTC has plenty of space for ads. They commissioned the mural and now they should respect it and not deface it with advertising. If they want to use the space for ads, they need to remove the mural first. It doesn’t matter how little regard they might have for the work they commissioned. The art should be respected.

CBC quoted Ross: “There are certain pieces of art that we couldn’t or wouldn’t cover but there are others that are more conducive to allowing for it temporarily.” I would like to know their criteria because this practice unacceptable.  Why do they think it’s reasonable to cover some art with ads but not other art? That’s absurd.

Here’s an alternate suggestion: sell ad space on sandwich signs to be worn by TTC CEO Andy Byford and spokesperson Brad Ross wherever they go.

This reminds of of the time I played in a Go tournament many years ago. The tournament was organized in rounds and after each round, the results were posted along with the new pairings. The organizer of the event posted the results by pinning them to a huge painting hanging on the wall by Montreal artist Guido Molinari. He didn’t realize the striped canvases were art. I said, excuse me but do you realize you’ve posted the results on a valuable painting by one of the best known artists in the country? He looked at me like I just flew in from another galaxy, looked at the painting, looked at me again, then silently took the pins out of the painting.

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Uncle Gene

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Tuffy P came across this. It’s a photo spread about my Uncle Gene – who was an ace violin maker in the Chicago area – in the Chicago Sunday Tribune November 11 1951. When you click the link, click the “story jump” blue button at the bottom of the page and the piece comes up. You can also see a post I made a while back about Uncle Gene on this blog.

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So long, Sweet Memphis

Last night we lost our sweet Memphis to bloat, a condition not uncommon in larger breed dogs in which their stomach becomes twisted. We took her to the vet emerg in Oakville and they performed surgery, but there was already irreversible damage done and we were advised she would not be able to recover.

Memphis, who was a Landseer Newfoundland, was a wonderful companion. She loved car rides, wandering through forests while I looked for mushrooms, and especially swimming. She was our pal and a member of our family and we loved her dearly. She was just short of 8 years old.

Here are a few pictures of Memphis over the years.

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I’ve been playing the game or Go more or less once each week with my friend Vox and we’ve been doing this for some 30 years. We have had quite a fierce competition over the years, and the more I play, the more I realize how little I know about the game.

Recently I’ve watched some commentary around professional Go games on YouTube. I’m fascinated with how edgy their play is. Go is a game of few rules and maddening complexity. Playing efficiently is so important. You don’t want to take more time than necessary establishing a group. However, if you fail to take the time to make it secure, it is open to violent destruction.

I thought it would be fun and interesting to really study some high level professional games, and to play them through on a go board, considering what I would do for each move and trying to figure out the reasoning for what the pros actually did. To this end, I ordered up a book put together by the folks who run the Go Game Guru website, called Relentless.

The first part of the book examines in great detail a 10 game match (called a jubango) played between Lee Sedol and Gu Li throughout 2014, each game in a different city. These are two of the top players in the world, slugging it out over the board. The second part of the book provides shorter reviews and game records of every other game these twos players have played  up to the end of 2015. It is a mammoth volume in which the authors use analysis of the games to illustrate principles and ideas about the game.

My plan is to take this one game at a time. First I’ll try playing out the game over the board without reading the commentary, then I’ll do it again, this time considering the commentary and looking at variations. I think it’s going to be an illuminating project, and maybe it will even help me strengthen my own weakling game.

Filed under: Go
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Transit Woes?

Apparently our local transit system is having some financial difficulties. The Mayor was on the radio today blaming fare-skippers for the problem, suggesting public shaming as an option.  I heard one commentator suggest the solution was more transit cops to catch the ne’er-do-wells avoiding their fares. Paying for more enforcement just seems wrong to me.

We need transit right? It’s in our collective best interest to have a successful transit system. We’re not going to let the system fail. Why not then fund it from provincial taxes paid by Toronto residents and stop wasting money on inspectors hired to catch people who avoid paying. Why spend money on an expensive fare collection system? Let’s all simply pay for the system and convert it into zero-fare transit.

Would this work? I bet ridership would go up significantly, which might relieve some of the traffic pressure in Toronto, another issue our Mayor has been trying to get his brains around (back when I was working at Canada Post, he had police tagging and towing postal vehicles in the downtown during rush hour). I suppose drivers would object saying if they don’t use the system, they shouldn’t have to pay, and everybody screams anytime they have to pay more taxes, and people living on the edges of the GTA would moan and shout bloody murder.

I wonder if anybody has crunched the numbers on this? What would it cost each Torontonian to fund the system without ever collecting fares? Is there a reasonable way to go about this? I’ve read there are some cities in Europe who have adopted some version of a fare-free transit system.

For those of you who would like to beat me up about this idea, comments are free.