In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

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Cab drivers gone wild!

I was just watching Diana Swain on the CBC News Network. She was reporting on the large cab-driver protests against Uber that took place this morning in the Toronto downtown core. In particular, a CBC cameraperson managed to record1 a cab driver beside a white Honda, claiming “This is UberX,“2 as he gestured at the car. The cab driver then started pounding on the driver’s window, and then tried to open the driver’s door. The Honda driver, seeing the clearly aggressive actions of the cab driver, took off. The cab driver somehow managed to hook his arm forward over the side mirror and got it to bear his weight so he went along for the ride. Perhaps twenty metres later, the Honda driver stopped for a red light, the cab driver let go, and the Honda took off through the red light, leaving the cab driver standing in the middle of the street. Frankly, I don’t blame the Honda driver. I would have done the same thing.

A reporter talked to the cab driver and when asked about his ridiculous and dangerous behaviour, he explained it by saying,

We are trying to get a point across, that’s what we’re trying to do3

I’d suggest that his means of getting the point across is entirely inappropriate.

Swain also interviewed a taxi company owner. In particular, she said to him that she was in traffic downtown for two hours because of their protest and asked if this was the way to get support from the general public. His answer, and I kid you not, was “I’m sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused you.” I call bullshit. The whole point of the protest was to cause inconvenience. Like Swain, I question the means they used because I wasn’t even in the traffic, but what they did lessens any small feelings of sympathy I may have felt for the cab drivers.

They’re not doing themselves any favours as Toronto Mayor John Tory asked cab drivers to “stand down.” He went on,

There is no excuse for putting the safety of the public at risk, for blocking ambulances and first responders, for police officers being knocked to the ground.4

Sajid Mugha, of the iTaxi Workers Association said “If someone was stealing your food, how would you feel?“5 This is the crux of the drivers’ argument, but they’re attacking the problem in the wrong way. Consumers who use Uber see it as more convenient and cheaper. People want value for their money and the employees behind the more expensive entrenched system will find no sympathy by claiming the new service is stealing their food.

This is just the beginning of the problems for the taxi drivers. The taxi industry will be fine, but once self-driving cars make their debut, it’s only a matter of time before taxi companies have them outfitted with payment systems and dispense with drivers entirely.


  1. Taxi driver confronts Uber driver” video posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015.
  2. Cab driver pounds on Uber car, dragged 20 metres in Toronto protest” by CBC News, posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015
  3. ibid
  4. Anti-uber taxi drivers’ tactics ‘not acceptable,’ Mayor John Tory says” by CBC News, posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015
  5. Cab driver pounds on Uber car, dragged 20 metres in Toronto protest” by CBC News, posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015

Winter Driving

…you can read every online tip on winter car control, but be honest, all the theory in world won’t make you as handy on ice as your average Finnish racer. Finns are born with frost in their blood, and vodka in their glovebox. They do not fear snow, or ice, or moose, or awkward silences.

Sam Philip
Top Gear’s Very Sensible And Practical Winter Driving Tips,” November 24, 2015
topgear.com

8‑series

I’m currently watching Lie to Me on Netflix1. In the episode “Exposed,” one of the guest characters has a killer automobile.

It’s clearly a BMW, and the front end looks just like an M1, which exceedingly unlikely. The M1 was produced from 1978 to 1981 and it’s a two-seater mid-engined sports car. Only 453 were built. In fact, the only reason the car was offered for sale was because they wanted to race it, and the rules require that a certain number are offered for sale to the public as a homologation special.

It’s both rare and old, and if I may say, beautiful, so it doesn’t come cheap. Values I’ve seen hover around the $500000 range. It’s certainly not a real M1. Maybe it’s a kit?

But then later in the episode, we see it from a different angle.

As a bonus, it’s a night scene, so we see the pop-up headlights in operation. But clearly, that’s not a mid-engine two-seater! It looks like they took a 5‑series and grafted an M1 front-end on it.

I know what you’re thinking…but it took some time for my brain to come up with the truth of the matter. It is actually a BMW 8‑series:

Isn’t she a beauty?

The 8‑series was available from 1989 to 1999 and came equipped with either a 5‑speed automatic or a 6‑speed manual transmission, and a V8 or V12 engine. In fact, it was the first car available with the combination of a 6‑speed manual and a V12. It was an upscale GT but it seemed not to have worked out as production ended after just ten years, and to date, I’ve never seen one in person. The base price of about $70000 was a lot of money in the early ’90s! Total production was 31000 and only 7200 of those were sold in North America.


The first two photos are from the Lie to Me episode, “Exposed,” ©2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Third photo by The Car Spy and used pursuant to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

  1. Thanks for the suggestion, Claire!

About this whole Volkswagen scandal…

…throughout the world, in countless firms big and small, any suggestion to bend the rules, dilute quality, or deceive the public will be silenced by cries of “Volkswagen,” German for “only idiots lie to customers.”

National Post View, “VW hits a wall
September 23, 2015
National Post

This sums it up quite nicely.

I have a VW, though it was manufactured before this ‘problem’ was designed into their cars. Right now, I feel like there’s no way in hell that I’ll buy another Volkswagen product. Over time I’m certain this view will soften because there are no other real options in diesel cars. What about the Chevy Cruze diesel, you say? Like I said, there are no other real options in diesel cars. I doubt my view will soften enough to engage in such a large purchase from a company that straight-out lied so egregiously. It’s shameful and they don’t seem terribly shamed.


Image © Volkswagen 2018

Hawaiii

I present you with the cover of the Said the Whale album, Hawaiii. Why it’s spelt with an extra ‘i’ is a mystery to me.

I find the photo absolutely striking. It shows a Harvard trainer at an altitude of about ten feet, with a bunch of military personnel scattering at its approach. The minimum rated flight level of the Harvard is 200 feet, so this is indeed a recklessly dangerous flight altitude.

What surprised me is that despite the surreal image, this isn’t a digital creation. It’s an actual photograph. I have no doubt that it’s been ‘adjusted,’ but it’s still a photo.

I learned of the image and the story from this week’s Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio.

Tyler Bancroft, one of the band members of Said the Whale, found the photo on-line and immediately knew he wanted it to be the band’s next album cover. Of course you don’t just take photos and use them as you please, especially when there’s money being made, so he tracked down the photographer.

Quentin Mouton posted the photo on-line, but he wasn’t the photographer. He’s the pilot of the aircraft in the photo. It was taken on October 2, 1964 on the coast of South Africa. For the rest of the story, allow me to quote Stuart McLean:

The night before the photo was taken, Quentin was in a bar, drinking with some friends and a bunch of other soldiers, and one of those soldiers, those ducking boys on the beach, came over to his table and laid down a challenge. “You think you can fly low?” he said, “You could never fly low enough to make me lie down.”

That was all Quentin needed. He knew where those soldiers were going to be marching the next day, and he went out looking for them…in his plane. When he found them, he did what the guy had been egging him to do…he flew low…really low. The photo was taken just as Quentin was about to pull his plane up to avoid hitting those boys on the beach. One of the soldiers, and a friend of Quentin’s, took the picture.

And what about the guy who said Quentin couldn’t make him lie down? He told Quentin afterward that as the plane was approaching, he was saying to himself, “I won’t lie down, I won’t lie down, I won’t lie down.” But as it passed, he found himself flat on the ground.

Quentin Mouton still flies today, although a little but higher than 200 feet. He’s the chief pilot for Mango airlines in South Africa.


Hat tip to The Vinyl Cafe. Hear the story for yourself in the September 12th, 2015 podcast.

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