Andrea Horvath, I like you. But you and the Ontario NDP have stepped into some serious eye-rolling territory here. Folks, read on:
NDP wants to name TTC station after Nelson Mandela
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath proposes new station be named after South African icon
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wants one of the yet-to-be-built Scarborough subway stations to be named after South African liberator Nelson Mandela.
She introduced a surprise motion in the Ontario legislature to name the first stop in the proposed new subway line in honour of the recently deceased Mandela. Her motion received unanimous support.
Christening the station after Mandela would be a break with the Toronto Transit Commission’s typical naming conventions. Most of the current stations are named after streets, buildings or other geographic identifiers.
Where have I heard this before? Oh, yes: when Princess Diana died.
TTC CHAIR PROPOSES NAMING STATION IN MEMORY OF DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES
TORONTO, Sept. 4 _(1997 —jb) /CNW/ - At the next TTC Commission meeting_
(September 9), TTC Chair Paul Christie will propose the naming of the Sheppard Line Station at Sheppard and Yonge, as Princess station.
“As a living memorial to the compassion and humanitarianism of the people’s princess, it is only fitting that we honor her life and legacy in this special way,” said Chair Christie.
Princess station would be the first station on the new Sheppard line, located one level above the existing Sheppard station on the Yonge line. The station will be opened in the year 2002 with the completion of the Sheppard Subway program.
The station will be dedicated with a memorial plaque and appropriate art work in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and will be signed Princess station.
Of course, if you look at a TTC subway map today, you’ll see that this proposal didn’t happen. Why? Because it’s a stupid idea.
Look, subway station names have a critical function: they allow you to determine, with (hopefully) decent accuracy where you are and where you are going. Because you can’t really see much when you’re underground. Station names need to be descriptive, conveying at least the street or intersection it is beneath, or the neighbourhood or major tourist attraction it is near. Throwing out that convention to honour individuals, no matter how meritorious, is a gimmick that most transit riders will not appreciate in the years to come.
If you want to change the name of a subway station to honour Nelson Mandela, here’s my suggestion: change the name of the street it connects to. This is an honour that has been done in many centres (including Rue President Kennedy and Rue Rene Levesque in Montreal), and one which doesn’t complicate the map. And, really, who wouldn’t want to follow in the path of Nelson Mandela, rather than pay a quick visit to his station?
I’ve never understood the paranoia some politicians have about voter fraud. In the past five years, I’ve heard dozens of news stories about politicians trying to “tighten the rules” around voting. Measures have been brought forward to try and force people to take off their veils, or force people to show a narrowing list of relevant ID, denying people the right to register on voting day, or forcing people through so many hoops to ensure that their contact information is current and, if it isn’t current, denying them the right to vote.
I find it ironic that in countries which supposedly care about freedom and democracy, politicians spend so much time telling people what they have to do before they are allowed to vote. And it makes so little sense. All studies show that the number of fraudulent votes in any election in the United States and Canada is minuscule — and almost impossible to have any impact on the final result. Having been a Deputy Returning Officer for a number of Canadian elections, I know for a fact that, however lax the old system was supposed to be, it was impossible to stuff ballot boxes without it becoming very obvious very fast. A far more effective way of twisting an election result, in my opinion, is not to try and stuff ballot boxes, but to do everything you can to keep them empty — that is, discourage people from voting.
So, one wonders if that’s the motivation in Texas for their new restrictive voter registration law. This petition here discusses changes to the Texan law which now requires “Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name instead of IDs like a birth certificate.”
As the petition notes, this is fine and dandy for all men, whether they are married or single. Women? Well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. A married woman’s legal name is often different from her birth name. Does she have a piece of voter ID with her new name on it? According to this source, as many as 33% of women voters do not have documentation that would satisfy the Texas law.
It’s bad enough that, in a state with 254 counties, there are less than 100 offices where one could get proper ID. The hoops that some of these people will have to go through to get a card that affirms their right to vote will keep people out of the democratic process, and high portion of those will be the poor and other disadvantaged groups. That is simply undemocratic.
This is no small thing. It seems likely that if Erin and I were in Texas in the years after our wedding, she might not have had the ability to vote. Even up here in Canada, there was confusion surrounding our married name. We had a marriage certificate (which is not sufficient on its own for getting a voter ID card), but Erin did not have a birth certificate. We are well acquainted with the bureaucratic headaches this caused. When Erin was working at the University of Waterloo, she received pressure from Human Resources to clarify her married name because she was known as E. Bow, but her employee records were under her maiden name of E. Noteboom, and it was screwing up the staff directory. Well, to change the employee records meant changing her social insurance card. To change her social insurance card meant changing the documentation she received when she arrived as a landed immigrant to Canada. To change her landed immigration documents meant changing her American passport. Changing her American passport meant accessing her birth certificate, which was among the files that were lost when the Des Moines county courthouse burnt to the ground in 1975.
Finally getting this corrected (which we did after we had our passports stolen from us in 2009) took years, but Erin would have braved that if this is what she needed to do to vote. Fortunately in Canada, that level of work wast needed. The ID we were able to show was enough to get us on the voters’ list, and no voting fraud happened in our house. It is abhorrent to even think of making average citizens jump through these hoops in order to exercise an inherent and critical right.
Voting is a right, not a privilege. It’s a key factor in our democratic freedoms. If we value our freedoms and our democracy, we should be making it easier to vote, not harder. And one cannot help but be suspicious when lawmakers like those in Texas — who are facing a spirited challenge by the Democratic candidate for governor, Wendy Davis — goes against this very clear and simple principle. You have to ask yourself: what are they hiding? What are they really afraid of?
- On American Voter Fraud - Relevant quote: “Out of the 197 million votes cast for federal candidates between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for voter fraud, according to a Department of Justice study outlined during a 2006 Congressional hearing. Only 26 of those cases, or about .00000013 percent of the votes cast, resulted in convictions or guilty pleas.”
Spoilers follow, of course. Mind you, at this point, if you haven’t seen this episode yet, you’re probably not interested or you deserve to be spoiled.
It took me three tries, but I finally wrapped my head around Tom Baker’s cameo appearance at the end of The Day of the Doctor. It was Baker’s line that (paraphrased) “in years to come, you may find yourself revisiting some old faces. Well, some of the old favourites, at least (wink!).”
That’s when it hit me (on the third time, anyway): the Curator explicitly tells the Doctor who he is: he’s his future self. Sometime in the future, the Doctor will regenerate into an older version of the fourth Doctor — at least, in terms of appearance.
Of course, fans who know the mythology of Doctor Who know that Time Lords are only supposed to be able to regenerate twelve times. We saw thirteen Doctors freeze Gallifrey moments ago (including the War Doctor and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor). This point was emphasized by the Time Lord high command themselves when one of them said, “no, Commander: all thirteen!” It’s a big moment: the Doctor’s entire life is on display here. Every single Doctor that can be gathered has been gathered for this monumental undertaking.
Tom Baker’s cameo as the Curator hints that the twelve regeneration limit isn’t just going to be sneaked past, it’s going to be blown past. We are presented with a universe hinted at by Matt Smith in the funny teaser at the beginning of the episode’s theatrical release: the hundredth anniversary special will have guest appearances by “all 57 Doctors.”
And while we’ve no idea, yet, how Moffat or whoever will rewrite this rule (not that I’m surprised that this rule will be rewritten), the thought still gives me comfort: that, no matter who, and no matter what, the Doctor is still out there.
All 57 of them.
Quite by accident, Erin and I have ended up seeing two movies in 3D this past month. There was the theatrical release of Doctor Who’s The Day of the Doctor, and there was Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Neither was by choice. In the case of Doctor Who, we were looking at a one-time release, and we took what we got. In the case of Gravity, Cuarón’s film is on the way out of the theatres. It was down to a single showing a night when we saw it, and only in 3D.
I’m no fan of 3D. I consider it a gimmick, and the glasses are annoying if you already have glasses. But between the two films, it’s clear that not all 3D was created equally. The Day of the Doctor is a 2D movie that the producers quickly rendered 3D for the sake of anniversary hype. Cuarón clearly built 3D into the production and design of Gravity.
Still, I was surprised at how much Doctor Who’s 3D made previously believable special effects look… fake. The helicopter scene at the beginning was a prime example. In 2D, it’s integrated in the vista. In 3D, it stands out and looks like a toy. This is partly the result of a lack of time to render everything in 3D; the buildings in the background seem to occupy one plane. But still, it’s ironic that a technology that’s supposed to produce an immersive movie-going experience ended up kicking me out of my suspension of disbelief.
On the other hand, the 3D wasn’t so blatantly obvious in Cuarón’s Gravity. It was multi-layered, and individual things didn’t stick out at us. It was, I think, the best use of the technology I’ve yet seen. It didn’t kick me out of my suspension of disbelief, which means that it might have worked in enhancing the immersive experience.
Might. Given that others have told me that Gravity works just fine as a 2D movie, I’m not convinced that I can call 3D as anything more than a gimmick. And we still have those darn annoying glasses.
A busy week has kept me off the blog. I’ve been active in other areas, however. Have a look at my most recent column in The Kitchener Post. I’ve also done a lot of work for my real estate broker client, and edits to The Night Girl.
Fortunately, Erin and I were able to spend some time with Doctor Who around its 50th anniversary. We watched the dramatization of the early years of the program’s production in An Adventure in Space and Time (quite good!), we watched the 50th anniversary special on iTunes on Sunday, and we watched it again in the theatre on Monday evening.
Yes, we saw it twice and, yes, we paid good money to watch it a second time in a theatre, while wearing uncomfortable 3D glasses. Are we insane? Maybe.
But the experience was as much about community as it was anything else. The thrill of being among people in a movie theatre — people dressing up as their favourite characters on the program — the thrill of hearing that the theatre started to fill up an hour before the showing, the thrill of hearing the audience cheer as their favourite Doctors came on the screen… that’s what Monday was all about.
But the nature of this episode and the circumstances surrounding it make it difficult to review. How can I possibly treat something like this objectively? That’s a hard ask. But let me give it a try.
Please be warned that spoilers follow.