NOT MY FAULT


For some Reason the Blog is listing all the posts as mine not those from Stephen and or Michael or Abdul. I think this may have happened when I changed the format. My apologies I will try and fix it.

Bill Arends

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Democracy In Blogging Are You Serious?


This post is just to point out that Blogs are not entirely democratic nor should they be. Like democracy Blogging has its limits.

Assuming you are the typical blog reader you will undoubtedly have read miles of comments on posting. In your reading you will have either seen a person banned from commenting, banned someone, or been banned. Swim in this pond long enough and you will bump into this log some time or other.

The general reasons that will get you banned on most blogs are as follows;

1. Being abusive to any poster
2. Spamming
3. Abusive language
4. Too many comments
5. Unusually long comments

While the last two generally won’t get you banned they often get you a warning but if you ignore the warning then you might get banned. I apply this to only the most active of the blogs I edit, most of the time I will ignore verbose posters for the sake of content.

Spamming is offensive plain and simple it is the internet equivalent of tele-marketing and billboards. Those that do this are determined to make the world an ugly place, and don’t care as long as it gets them a few more bucks in their pocket and who cares if it works (which it doesn’t) some one will still pay you to do it.

On my blogs I generally ignore abusive language, unless it is vulgar for the sake of being vulgar and serves no purpose to the comment. Swearing or cussing is an integral part of ranting it is an emotional expression that has its place. That said I rarely allow swearing at a person. If you say something like “that is B—-S—” I don’t mind but if you say “you’re an A–H—“ you will likely find yourself banned.

The main reason that I will ban some one from posting a comment is personally attacking some one. It is an issue of respect. I accept that not everyone will like everyone else. I had two bloggers get into a fight on my social issues blog, and I banned both. If one of the two parties had waited for me to ban the other, only one of them would have been banned, but NOOOO you had to get just as nasty as your opponent and you know who you are both of you children. (Side note – If you decide to apologise I will let you both back in to play in the Sand Box.)

That said there are two Bloggers I know do not get along and have banned each other from posting on their respective blogs, but I let post and debate on mine. I don’t stop people from fighting I just wont let you scratch each others eyes out.

I have one more reason for banning people and many won’t like this (I have rarely used it).

6. Because I feel like it.

This is a catch all just to point out that the Blog owner is God and in the case of multiple editors part of the pantheon of Blog Gods.

Respective of this point I don’t use this reason on “The Art of the Rant” Blog as I have co-editors fellow Immortals who must agree before some one is banned.

Here are a few arbitrary reasons that I have banned people.

I used to have a blog on Blogger.com that was on health issues (by invitation only) and there was one issue I would not allow to be debated, abortion because the topic is so emotionally charged that fighting and abusive behaviour was inevitable. (It is the reason this blog is gone).

If you posted a comment on the topic pro or con I banned you, no questions asked. That said the pundits did not listen and so I had to shut it down. In that pond if the sharks don’t get you the piranhas will so I don’t swim there any more.

Another reason is because the person posting posted comments unrelated to the article in question. I banned a guy for posting on hockey during the play offs, I let him back on when the play offs were over.

A typical posting from this guy went something like this (paraphrased)

– “I agree there needs to be control over bidding on public contracts…. Hey did you see the Sens v the Pens last night Alfredsson kicked ass that was an amazing goal in the second period, but Grapes got it all wrong in his view of the goal etc… (and three more paragraphs on hockey)”

If you are going to write a response a three word comment on the topic followed by a 2000 word essay on needle point, hockey or navel lint is not appropriate, unless you are discussing needle point, hockey or navel lint.

So as you can guess this post was really to lay out the rules of debate on my blogs.

I am posting it on the Art of the Rant as an example – If the pantheon (Mike Abdul or Jim) disagree let me know.

And even with all these rules over the 7 or 8 years I have been blogging I think I have banned less than 6 people (not counting spammers)

I tend toward a referees position on blogging, I get the parties in the ring have them join hands in the middle and yell fight as they break and head to their respective corners. A fair fight is all I ask.

"Shoefiti" Star?


This is cross posted from my own blog:

Yorkregion.com – News – ‘Shoefiti’ leaving footprint on telephone, hydro lines

So apparently a local newspaper reporter visited my blog entry on “Shoefiti” and then writes an article based on my blog entry.

Here’s where the hillarity starts:

1. I read an article in the Toronto Star about Shoefiti and start making connections between the article and my life in New York City and Aurora. I provide some random thoughts and presto I get quoted by a local newspaper reporter.

2. The newspaper reporter, trying to get an interview with me, calls my parent’s house looking for an interview. I don’t return the call because I can’t believe that the reporter, Joan Ransberry, hasn’t noticed all I’m doing is making connections between the Toronto Star article and Aurora. It’s really not the far fetched. In fact, it must have been a slow newsday for her just to quote my article as evidence shoefiti is alive and well in Aurora.

3.Now here’s the fun part. The Toronto Star is owned by Torstar. Torstar owns Metroland. Metroland prints local community newspapers. Metroland publishes the Era-Banner and other newspapers appearing at yorkregion.com. What a small world.

For now I will take the compliment that someone in the field of journalism actually thinks I’m an expert on this subject. This is despite that all I know on the culture of shoefiti I learned about by reading the Toronto Star article and speculating a bit via a few random thoughts that I came up with while writing the blog entry.

Perhaps this might lead to a disclaimer having to be posted on the blog…”Mike is not an expert in anything but random thoughts…”

UPDATE!: Further coverage of my original blog entry is quoted at Shoefiti.com and the post can be found here. I wonder if this is how Joan Ransberry of the Era-Banner found my blog entry? Apparently I’m a “Shoefiti star” after all even though I was providing only random thoughts? Go figure….

talk talk: Let’s Compare the TTC to US Cities


talk talk talk: Let’s Compare the TTC to Canadian and American Cities

This blogger takes a look at the differences in cost between the TTC and other Canadian and American transit systems. Lets take two examples from his posting.

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Toronto: Fares, per token (cheaper than cash, the same as Metropass if you travel 10 times per week) are $2.00, going up to $2.10. Start stocking up! Revenues from fares are 80% (this is generally known and stated in many places, but according to my calculations from the TTC’s 2004 Annual Report, it’s 92.8%, unless you factor in their separate operating subsidy, which makes it 69.2% — can I just say the TTC’s annual report is the most amateurish piss-poor document I’ve seen.) . The city and advertising pays the rest of the TTC’s revenues. This year we will receive $132 million in gas tax from the province. That’s 13.3% of total expenses, zero percent of capital expenses. Wow!

New York City: This comprehensive transit system, the most equivalent to Toronto’s as it’s the biggest system in the US and ours is in Canada, gets 57% of operating expenses from fares, 17% from local, 20% from state; 71% and 29% of capital expenses from local and federal respectively.

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The blogger goes through percentages that the farebox contributes to the overall operating and capital costs in operating the respective transit system as well as a bunch of other figures. Looking at each transit system in terms of an accountant is all well and good.

However what this blogger fails to note is value for money. A businessman and customer understands the concept of value for money. A good businessman will provide a very good product or service at a highly competitive price. Customers see this everyday when they shop. Duracell is a well known company that provides well made batteries that a customer knows will last a respectable time length for the amount a customer pays for it. The customer could choose another battery, but Duracell has proven to be good value.

In terms of transit lets take a look at the two transit systems noted above.

TTC: Two main subway lines (Bloor-Danforth-Scarborough RT and Yonge-University-Spadina line) and one stub line (Sheppard Subway) that provides local service only. This system is complimented by overcrowded buses and streetcars running within mostly mixed traffic. Cash fare $2.50 Canadian (as of today).

Distance Travelled: Finch Subway to Union Station via Yonge-University-Spadina Line local service 30 minutes.

MTA New York City Transit: Several subway lines with both express and local service during the day. Also at least some local service operates 24 hours a day. This system has more trackage than all other transit systems in North America combined! This service is complimented by many buses that operate in mixed traffic. These buses, depending on their route, can be overcrowded in some areas depending on the time of day. Cash fare is $2.00 U.S. (far less than $2.50).

Distance travelled: Borough Hall (Brooklyn) to Times Square-42nd Street (Manhatten) via 2 Express Train (approx 20 kilometres) in 15 minutes.

As a transit rider that has experienced both Toronto’s and New York City’s transit systems, I much prefer New York’s for a couple of reasons:

1. New York system moves over 10 million people a day and makes it look effortlessly in most cases. This is probably perhaps you can go practically anywhere in the 5 boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens & Staten Island) on one single ticket. Toronto, in contrast, requires you too walk for a couple of blocks in order find a bus or streetcar. Most of Toronto’s transit system tends to be servicing the downtown core with only a few routes, mainly on arterial roads, operating in the outer areas of the city.

2. New York’s train cars and buses are newer than Toronto’s. New York’s train cars, on some routes, even announce upcoming stops and other transit lines you can transfer too automatically in both audible and visual forms. Toronto’s transit cars now has conductors who announce upcoming stops. Toronto’s buses date from the late 1980s mostly while the New York buses date from the 1990s and onwards.

The value for money points towards New York’s system as being far superior in terms of miles of track (and thus speed to get to and more areas of the city served) in comparison to Toronto’s. Yet Toronto’s cash fare keeps increasing. New York’s fare does too but at least their is value for money being seen by the transit user in New York City in terms of renewal of infrastructure (e.g. track replacement, new train cars, etc.) which is in sharp contrast to Toronto. In Toronto, the TTC on a yearly basis cries out for more money just to maintain services it already has. The TTC is crying for money in order to keep the lumbering streetcars in mixed traffic and older overcrowded buses struggeling to stay on the road. Value for money? Sorry TTC you lose!