(link)Street View, Toronto 1876 edition.

Seriously beautiful, especially the border sketches which to me a lot like historical Hong Kong (or probably any British colony of the era).
CAMH-trin U of T is basically part field, part park, save for Spadina Crescent (then Knox) and UC (then Provincial College, apparently).  North-east of the big CAMH complex on the left is Trinity in its original site (now Trinity-Bellwoods).  Vic was still in Coburg at the time; not sure where St. Mike’s was (yes, technically I’m an alumnus).

You can spot St. Stephen’s-in-the-Fields near the Spadina-College intersection; that’s the only part of Kensington I recognize.  This was a couple of decades after the area was subdivided from an estate, but before it became home to waves of immigrants.  And the Grange is further south, before it was split by Dundas I guess.

Osgoode South-east of that, is the palatial Osgoode Hall, at the foot of College Ave.   The surrounding area is pretty much unrecognizable, and I think this was before it became Chinatown.

StLawrenceSouthSouth east of St. James (that biggest church on Church), you can see the North Market in its original form, and the (relatively) tiny thing across from it was the City Hall and jail.

This map is really worth checking out, but it is a 76mb JPG, so you may want to use a lab.
You can also see it in The Historical Atlas of Toronto, though it’s a bit harder to pick out details in a physical copy (this thing is serious huge).  Also, the amazon link is for reference only – buy it at Book City or any other local bookstore if you can, because it’s kind of weird to celebrate this historical bookish dedication to the city then failing to support its contemporary form.

Not Amused

We are not amused

We are not amused

The President, while listening to a ‘question’ from Sen. Lincoln.  Were he ever to look at me like that, I’d really just stop talking.

Also true were he ever to look at me (sigh).

Hey Liberals

Hey Liberals,
I know this should make me happy, but it doesn’t really.  You’ve finally caught up with the cons, but it’s not like you’ve made any real effort or taken any real risks of your own.  Hell, I’m subscribed to your email list and I don’t know what you’d bring us.  And you’ve never mentioned the anti-prorogation rallies, let alone helped organize them.

Look, you’re going to get my vote. I just wish I could vote for you.

(link) Papyrus

With the proliferation of Macs, millions of people now have access to beautiful typefaces like Helvetica and Futura, Gill Sans and Optima.  But even though they have these fantastic tools, they do not choose them, no.  What do they choose?


Is this what you're doing?  THEN DON'T USE PAPYRUS.

Is this what you're doing? No? THEN DON'T USE PAPYRUS.

If you are not Joss Whedon merging East Asian influences in to Western culture, you have no place using papyrus.  No, not even you James Cameron (especially not you, James Cameron.  Weren’t your bluefolk vaguely First Nations?)!  This is not a beautiful font signifying tranquility and transcendence.  IT IS LATE 90’s CALIFORNIAN YOGA FROU FROU MASQUERADING AS AGE AND EXOTICISM.  At least Chalkboard isn’t vague cultural appropriation!
Remember, friends don’t let friends use papyrus – friends mummify friends who use papyrus.

(link) The effects of objectification

This study uses a darn clever way of quantifying the effects of objectification, something that seemed strictly qualitative.  The blog post (and, I assume, the paper too) implies that reactions were gender innate, I think that might be an over-reach. I’d be curious whether (in a different experiment) the camera positions might actually embolden some participants and whether the effects remain over time.

Under the Covers

“Would you please welcome to the stage… Sloan!”

That line is not on the latest album of Sloan songs, but then neither is Sloan.  It can be strange listening to Take It In – like any cover of old favourites, there’s a Being Erica level of time-travel, becoming a past self.  I absolutely loved One Chord to Another as a kid (somehow I had the U.S. version with the ‘party’ CD), and To The Power of Three’s version of Anyone Who’s Anyone made instantly awkward and happy.

The best tracks took well-known songs and made them feel current again (“breathe life into a song that’s long lost its lustre,” as Torontoist said of Winter Gloves’ cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit).  Creepy Finger’s drone Take It In, Lonnie James’ Nick Drake style proto-emo* The Good In Everyone, Fuck Montreal’s lo-fi People of the Sky and To The Power of Three’s Anyone Who’s Anyone are great, and that’s just from half of the first album (Chenemies G Turns to D also stands out on the second album for turning a rockout in to a beautiful acoustic strumfest).

Even the straight-up covers though, the tracks that weren’t much re-interpreted, were fun (for a while).  Except there was one pretty common change: on most tracks appears the ubiquitous female backup vocal (and that includes Fuck Montreal and To the Power of Three, and The Guthries’ damn good cover of Coax Me).  And its weird – is this real progress because women at least have a role in these bands?  There’s no doubt that in the Canadian indie scene, singing in heavily male bands has made a woman’s career (see: BSS alums, Neko Case), but its strange that women are almost a necessary component to make a song sound contemporary, but are generally in the background.

And then there are the songs where women come to the fore: listen to The Light Brights’ The Rest of My Life or Laura Borealis’ Bells On and see if slowing it down and adding a woman’s voice doesn’t make that whiny heartbreak seem more sincere and defiant (protip: yes, it does).  Mary Stewart’s People of the Sky turns the whole thing on its head – it’s actually damn similar to the original, but song by a woman with male backup.

Most of us have memories (and opinions!) of Sloan, this band that’s been around for almost as long as most of us, made music to which we grew up, and now hits on/makes out with our friends (anybody who can’t tell this story to the third degree needs to make more friends in Toronto).  You won’t necessarily love Take It In if you love Sloan, and you might love it even if you hate Sloan, but this is absolutely about them, and us, after almost two decades.  “What could you both possibly share other than the colour of your hair?”  I guess we both learned to stop fearing women?

Canada, Bitches

Hey New York, we got you cake but it'll probably last until you're ready to recognize fundamental human rights

Hey New York, we got you cake but it'll probably last until you're ready to recognize fundamental human rights

I made this the day New York’s Senate voted down their equal marriage bill, then forgot about it.  California’s law is actually not too unjust but they got downgraded for Prop 8.  Yeah, that’s right, taking away minority rights by referendum is extra uncool, Rhode Island.

Anyway, yes we’re being total jerks in Copenhagen, and yes our government did dismantle the Court Challenges Program which helped fund the Charter cases which eventually led to equal marriage, but we have equal marriage in this country.  And that’s golden.

Note: Most of the graphics I post are vector graphics, which means I can scale them up or down to any resolution.  If you like something I made and you need it in a certain size, just ask and I’ll try to get it to you.

Yeats Infection

Dear friends,

Please do something with the name Yeats Infection – gaellic metal, memescape strategy game, a book of zombie poetry, a meditative poem, anything.

Thank you.

Love, Senning

People are Pretty Great

people are pretty great

From time to time, I get obsessed with the Dawkins humanist bus ads, the ones that read “There’s probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life.”  And that’s great, and fair enough, but there’s more to humanism, isn’t there?  Of course there is: humans are pretty awesome, normally.  We like to launch things and probe things and discuss things, and out of that we get new pictures, new data, new ideas.  Us!  Slow, fleshy, awkward things who can’t survive three days in the winter without whisky and comforters!  Every person around you is part of a species that knows how to build the LHC and mille-feuille and e.e. cummings!

All those people sitting beside you on the subway are humans.  Do you see what I’m saying?  What I’m saying is that these people are capable of ridiculous things.  Right beside you!  That person is a human!  Turn your head!  Go, turn your head and say hi!