Saturday, 25 January 2014

Penn & Teller debunk anti-vaccinationists

One thing I love about medicine is that it uses a lot of science. Science is nice because it requires strict testing regimes before anything can be declared as medically accurate. And only things that are true can be used to create medical procedures. And on this blog we're all about life after being cured of a serious disease. So we like medical procedures that work.

One thing I hate about medicine is The Lancet. In the late 1990s its irresponsible editor named Richard Horton published a totally false story that linked vaccinations with an increase of a specific childhood disease. Good mothers listened to the false story, and followed the bad advice.

So thanks to well-intentioned chowderheads, diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough are on the rise again in the west. Thanks, Lancet.

I've long wanted to blog on this topic, but every internet posting only results in more misinformation being spread.

Here's Penn & debunking the anti-vaccinationists with a clever video. Being Penn & Teller they do use some potty mouth language. So consider this video NSFW

And thanks to Bill & Melinda Gates for chipping in $1.8 billion toward global immunization campaigns in countries that cannot afford to eradicate disease on their own.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Syme of the Tymes

150 Symes Road is by design in an out-of-the-way place. It was purpose built to handle solid waste for the City of Toronto, Canada starting in the 1930s. No one would want to be anywhere near the joint during its 70-odd years of operation.  But now that the operation has been decommissioned a new perspective appears...

... And here we have a rare view of municipal courage as the City's own staff have made an eloquent case for a heritage preservation designation.

I think what's most important is to admire its beautiful clean lines as an early 20th Century Deco building. Since it's built during the early 1930s it is Art Deco to period, with Art Moderne elements. But, as executed, its own architectural flourishes are by definition Streamline Moderne. The entire second story of speed-line highlight brick and round porthole windows places an ocean liner's bridge structure on a waste handling facility.

... Fortunately, a Muni agency called "Build Toronto" has munificent powers that will let it, above all other realtors, somehow cleanse the property of taggers, ravers, squatters and its brownsfield landfill to provide a heritage building in pristine state to any interested parties.

Hipsters too have embraced the space with both hands, as a breathless report in "The Grid" shows.

And naturally, those west-end busybodies at "The Junctioneer" provide a snapshot of the project status as of June, 2013.

And I'll assume we have Build Toronto to thank for this leasing brochure offering high-tech space in the squat... er, digital media campus... Metropolitan Commercial Realty Brokerage.

Finally, we have Grant Patten's UrbEx infiltration student video.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Eglinton-Mount Pleasant- House for rent.

I am posting this on behalf of a dear friend who has a place to let.

Newly Painted 4 bedroom house for rent. 2 bathrooms. Laundry included. 2 car parking. Separate entrance to a finished basement. In-ground Pool. Access to a back yard. Available Furnished or Unfurnished. Close to all amenities. Walking distance to TTC. $3800/month. Short term lease will be considered. Available April 1st.

View the listing

Thursday, 16 January 2014

In The Fight: Episode 82

"In the Fight" is a video program of the DVIDS - Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. Although it is true I am probably a dove rather than a hawk, with our men and women in harm's way it seems appropriate to share the story of those on the front lines.

On this episode, a de-mining crew searches for hidden dangers throughout Afghanistan, a crisis action team helps bring aid to the people of Tacloban, we see how partnerships are critical to the research of the earth's atmosphere, Marines give us a glimpse of the future, and a 1st lieutenant applies her civilian job to her military duties.

I hope it's not trite to end with "Semper Fi"

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Goodbye to Auld Yonge Street

Click to enlarge- it's worth it

You don't have to travel to Detroit to photograph images of people living in dilapidated and collapsing buildings. You can find the same thing in Toronto!

On Canada Day 2013 I journeyed to the former North York area of the city of Toronto to document for the last time a stretch of 2 story postwar retail buildings. Due to development pressures, these buildings will be demolished and Condos will rise in their place.

Click to enlarge- it's worth it

The journey begins with this cute cluster of buildings that have not only survived, but are thriving.

Sapporo Sushi/ Academy of Excellence- 5469-Yonge St, North York, ON
Click to enlarge- it's worth it

I've heard they make good sushi!

Laneway at rear of 5469-5437-Yonge St, North York, ON
Click to enlarge- it's worth it

For the true urban romantic (psychogeographer, as Guy Debord would have said), a dirt laneway in such a metropolitan location presents great charm.

Mister Transmission- 5437 Yonge Street, North York, ON
Click to enlarge- it's worth it

I was drawn to this building for reasons I cannot fathom. I think partly because of the precise calibration of its dereliction... That perfectly-centered missing decor panel. The fact that a building that is going to be torn down is getting a new roof?!

It's been up for sale for over one year.

Future Condo Complex- 4917-4975 Yonge Street, North York, ON
Click to enlarge- it's worth it

Stewart Brand writes that over time, buildings learn. I would say this building has learned it's going to die. Slowly. The Conservancy Group has applied to build a complex that includes the Platinum Tower, Platinum XO, and Pearl Residences. According to Urban Toronto it has been in limbo since Jan 2009 as the developer applies for different zoning variations.

Riviera Travel Agency-5376 Yonge St, North York, ON
Click to enlarge- it's worth it

The Riviera Travel Agency is the jewel that motivated my excursion in the first place. It's such an optimistic streetfront. The beautiful typography of the signage. The obsolete logos. Vitrolite tile!

And yet that aged and decrepit roof indicates the building is being neglected..

Click to enlarge- it's worth it

Flickr member “John Fitzgerald in Toronto” had this to say about Riviera travel...
"I love the top sign. Some classic 50s-style calligraphy and some nice old fonts. I'd guess the sign is from the late 60s or early 70s, though, because the blue trim at the bottom is more characteristic of that period than of the 50s. An interesting transitional piece, as we say the Design Critics' Union meetings."

Future Centrium Condo and Hotel Complex- 5220 to 5254 Yonge Street, North York, ON

Click to enlarge- it's worth it

The City of Toronto website provides this information on the development: 

"The development, known as Centrium at North York, would consist of a 14- storey (49 metre), 150 suite hotel and a 30-storey (100 metre), 258 unit residential tower on a multi-level base building. The 5-storey (23 metre) base building would contain retail and service
commercial uses, as lobby and amenity uses for the proposed hotel and residential towers, as well as 7 rental replacement units."

How this area looked in April 1955...

Future Centrium Condo and Hotel Complex- 5220 to 5254 Yonge Street, North York, ON
Click to enlarge- it's worth it

This building was originally the North York & Weston Family Service Center. Now it's going to be the Centrium condo and hotel complex. I hope families in need still have a support organization.

Closed - 5015 Yonge St, North York, ON

The building is sloughing into a rather beautiful ruin. It's sure to be an eyesore for years to come, as no re-development plan has yet been filed with the City.

Vic-Tone Dry Cleaners- 4866 Yonge St, North York, ON
Click to enlarge- it's worth it

And we end our tour admiring a lovely sign at a classic 20th Century storefront, still surviving in the 21st Century.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Stewart Brand - How Buildings Learn

How Buildings Learn

This six-part, three-hour, BBC TV series aired in 1997. Stewart Brand presented and co-wrote the series; it was directed by James Muncie, with music by Brian Eno.

The series was based on Stewart Brand's 1994 book, How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built. The book is still selling well and is used as a text in some college courses. Most of the reviews on Amazon treat it as a book about system and software design, which tells us that architects are not as alert as computer people. But Stewart knew that; that’s part of why he wrote the book.

Historic note: this was one of the first television productions made entirely in digital--- shot digital, edited digital. The project wound up with not enough money, so digital was the workaround. The camera was so small that we seldom had to ask permission to shoot; everybody thought we were tourists. No film or sound crew. Everything technical on site was done by editors, writers, directors. That’s why the sound is a little sketchy, but there’s also some direct perception in the filming that is unusual.

Presenter/writer: Stewart Brand
Brian Eno, original music: James Runcie, Producer

©left; Anybody is welcome to use anything from this series in any way they like. Please don’t bug me with requests for permission. Hack away. Do credit the BBC, who put considerable time and talent into the project.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

11 Lost Wonders of 2013

Delicious photo of Northwestern University Former Prentice Womens' Hospital by Flickr user "htomren"

2013 was a bad year for modernism as we lost historic masterpieces to the condo wrecking ball. 

The Pan Am Worldport at JFK Airport, Brutalist masterpiece Prentice Hospital (Chicago) and Frank Lloyd Wright's Hoffman Showroom (Manhattan) are now just entries in the photo archives.

Read the rest of the story at Atlas Obscura