Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Kudos to the Post?

Oh yeah, you read that correctly: this week, the cranky ol’ Spectator is congratulating the Cape Breton Post on its new website, which is crisp and clean and mercifully free of the clickbait ads that used to cover its home page like measles on the faces of Jenny McCarthy’s children:

Click to enlarge.

The design seems to be in use on all the former Transcontinental Media properties, although I only checked two others — The Telegram and the Truro Daily News — because what am I? Made of time? It’s not in use on the SaltWire Network’s flagship publication, the Chronicle-Herald, which has opted instead for a design that makes it look like somebody left a copy of the paper behind on another company’s website:


Click to enlarge


Of course, there is lots of white space around the Post’s front page and it may be only a matter of time before it, too, is filled with distracting, full-screen images, but for now, it looks pretty sharp.


Car-Free (Not Care-Free) in Belgium

Car-Free Sunday, Brussels., Belgium. (Photo via City of Brussels web site

Car-Free Sunday, Brussels., Belgium. (Photo via City of Brussels web site)

Okay, this is truly random — but also quite curious.

An acquaintance of mine who lives in Brussels, Belgium, wrote to me recently (an actual pen-on-paper letter, it took me a week to figure out what it was) describing an annual event in that city known as “Car-Free Sunday.” If you’re thinking, “Oh, why can’t we be as green as the Belgians?” hold that thought until you’ve read what my eye in Brussels has to say about it:

It’s “Car-Free” Sunday here in the Belgian Capital, an annual and what should be anodyne event in which all cars are banned within the city limits. Because it is administered by Belgians, however, it manages to annoy everyone from progressive environmentalists to car fanatics.

Many in my office actually leave town to avoid it and dread its approach. In reality, the Bruxellois pour forth from their homes and, because there seem to be few organized activities, roam randomly down the middle of the streets in eerie silence – a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie — occasionally dodging a ban-breaking driver trying to sneak from one location to another undetected.

Meanwhile, the…creaky public transport system remains on a Sunday schedule, meaning it’s overcrowded and even more unpleasant than usual to move around the city for those who, like me, are car-less every day, all year. Unaware visitors are halted outside the city limits and forced to wait for hours, until the ridiculous exercise comes to an end [at] 7PM or so.

I was having a good laugh at the Belgians’ expense when it suddenly struck me that not only does the CBRM not have a “car-free” day, it doesn’t have public transport on Sundays. That shut me up tout de suite.


Pastor Postponed

The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium has done what the CBC never managed to do: cancel Peter Mansbridge.

This item was brought to my attention by a relative who knows my feelings about the former anchor of The National and occasionally indulges my schadenfreude.

In case the details have escaped you, Mansbridge was to have toured the country this fall telling “personal stories” he’s “collected over the decades.” The October gig at the Cohn was to be his only stop in Nova Scotia and tickets were priced between $41 and $101.50, leading me to wonder who would be willing to pay that much to listen to Peter Mansbridge. The answer turns out to be: pretty much no one.

Turns out, it’s not just the Cohn appearance that was canceled — the entire tour was. Live Nation, the company selling the tickets, offered no reason for what it’s terming the decision to “postpone” the tour:

Live Nation has decided to postpone Peter Mansbridge’s speaking tour and new dates will be announced in the new year. Tickets already purchased will be refunded automatically and buyers will be advised when new dates are set.  Meanwhile Peter is working on a series of documentaries and their air dates will be announced in the new year as well.

Until that series of documentaries airs, I’m going to bask in my renewed faith in the taste of the Canadian public.


Mary Campbell: Computer Program?

Since I’m basically letting other people write Fast & Curious this week (why didn’t I think of this earlier?) I’m going to end with a link shared with me by a friend in Hamburg, Germany.

He sent me an episode of NPR’s Planet Money (a podcast I highly recommend) in which I figure prominently. Or rather, some Mary Campbell figures prominently. Much as I wish it were me who had figured out how to arbitrage the second-hand textbook market (the very esoteric subject of this episode), I think anyone who knows me knows I couldn’t arbitrage my way out of a brown paper bag (and that it even occurs to me I could shows you how problematic my understanding of “arbitrage” is).

The episode isn’t long (and it is interesting) so hang in there because this mysterious Mary Campbell doesn’t appear until near the end…





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