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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for June 2021

We missed two-thirds of the COVID19 deaths

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“The pandemic has exposed many uncomfortable truths about Canadian society, among them, the limits of our healthcare system, tragic flaws in long-term care, our systemic racism, and our inability to protect the most at risk when an infectious threat arrives in our midst. As our multi-faceted study finds, it appears that we failed to notice two-thirds of all those who died of COVID-19 outside of the long-term care sector, most likely in financially precarious, racialized communities. It’s critical that we now work urgently to protect those most at risk with intensive, frequent, and accessible testing, public health outreach and information, and ensuring these communities are among the highest priority recipients for both doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Too many lives are at stake to delay action, as our report raises the possibility that at this moment there may be twice as many people dying than we know.”

Excess All-Cause Mortality During the COVID-19 Epidemic in Canada

How is it possible to miss so many deaths? There are of course multiple reasons, but the one that stands out is a failure to recognize that deaths for other reasons than COVID declined during the pandemic. For instance, when a lot of travel is avoided there is less traffic and thus fewer collisions. There is also the difficulty of recognising symptoms correctly, especially when you not do anything like the number of tests that other countries did/do. But the one that stands out for me is “the country’s slow system for reporting causes of death, [which] left Canada without a crucial warning system to alert officials to the worrisome number of deaths happening outside of long-term care.”

It turns out that other countries are much better at tracking causes of death. They also suffer from the current constant attacks on government bureaucracy as unnecessary, expensive and meddlesome when in fact regulations and their enforcement came into being because the lack of them, which caused issues, like death. As long as the politicians in charge of the system insist that the only policies that they will adopt reduce the size of government and its “burden” on the people then we will be plagued. The recent building collapse in Florida, which so far appears to have killed ten people, has yet to be allocated a determined cause. But at the same time as that investigation is going on you can bet that developers are bleating about the delays of their profits due to the need for inspections and permits on construction and renovation.

A similar problem is evident right now. People are dying due to the heat wave. Some police forces were a bit quicker off the mark of reporting these deaths than others. ‘The province’s chief coroner says there have been 233 sudden deaths during the “heat dome.”’

But that isn’t the real problem. The real problem is that we have known for a certainty that this was going to happen. Anthropogenic climate change due to trapped gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and methane in the atmosphere due to burning fossil fuels has been an established scientific fact for a long time. Not that you would have noticed that at the time thanks to the oil, gas and coal industries and their tame politicians and mass media companies.

In exactly the same way Public Health and Statistics Canada – and lots of other agencies – have been under constant pressure to cut costs and reduce the “burden of taxation”. The people making the most noise being those who long decided that they weren’t going to pay any tax at all.

So end of my rant. Return to the report in question – which you can download for free as a full report or summary.

“Established by the President of the Royal Society of Canada in April 2020, the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 was mandated to provide evidence-informed perspectives on major societal challenges in response to and recovery from COVID-19. 

“The Task Force established a series of Working Groups to rapidly develop Policy Briefings, with the objective of supporting policy makers with evidence to inform their decisions.

“It is widely assumed that 80 per cent of Canada’s deaths due to COVID-19 occurred among older adult residents of long-term care homes, a proportion double the 40-per-cent average of peer countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). But an indepth analysis of all deaths that have so far been reported across Canada during the pandemic casts doubt on this estimate. It reveals evidence that at least two thirds of the deaths caused by COVID-19 in communities outside of the long-term care sector may have been missed.”

Authors of the Report

Tara J. Moriarty (Chair), Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto

Anna E. Boczula, Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto

Eemaan Kaur Thind, Independent public health professional

Janet E. McElhaney, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Health Sciences North Research Institute

Nora Loreto, Independent journalist

Written by Stephen Rees

June 29, 2021 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Transportation

Kits Beach Pictures

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Once upon a time I would have posted these pictures to Flickr. They now claim that this is some kind of perversion. You can read more about this at the earlier post. It being a nice day I took myself down to Kits Beach and took pictures of some of the ships at anchor, a tug from Seattle and a mysterious unnamed Coast Guard boat. I was hoping for some ice cream from the Gelato store but though their door was open they were not about to serve anything for at least an hour. So I sat on a bench and took some more pictures.

I do not accept the accusation that taking pictures of people in public places is in any way “creepy”. Nor do I think that there is any justification for Flickr to require such images to be removed, given the wholesale availability of pictorial pornography on that site. Something you can easily confirm by doing searches without the usual “safe” restriction. Much of which I find quite revolting. Your mileage may vary.

On Flickr I use a Creative Commons license. Here I am more restrictive and I assert my copyright on all of these images which may not be used at all without my express permission in writing.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 23, 2021 at 7:41 pm

Trip Planning

with 6 comments

I have to go get my second vaccine shot today at the Vancouver Convention Centre at Canada Place. So I used Translink’s trip planner to examine the alternatives.

So it would appear that the quickest way to get a bus to the Canada Line. But the comparison is flawed. When you look at the diagram the walking route from our buidling’s front door to the nearest #16 bus stop is remarkably indirect on this map. That is because a footpath, shown on this map as a very thin green line, is missing. The reality looks more like this.

I estimate that the direct walk out to Arbutus at Nanton NB bus stop is at least 3 minutes less than the trip planner shows. And actually the only really awkward thing is that I have to get across Arbutus at a push button activated crosswalk. It is remarkable how often I am still waiting for that to show the white walking figure as the bus I want to get on blasts by.

Actually that happened again today. As I got to the crosswalk the bus was in the intersection. Fortunately traffic was light so I ran for the bus and the operator waited for me. I was downtown in 30 minutes.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 18, 2021 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Transportation

Tagged with ,

More about flickr

with one comment

This is not about flickr as an organisation, it is about my experience of it. I saw the tweet I have copied above this and it moved me to write a blog post. I can’t do this in a tweet. I may not even be able to do it in a blog post.

What I really need to be able to do is to reach out to someone. Someone I do not know in real life. But he comes from the same part of the world I do and shares at least some of the same enthusiasms. But on flickr he has decided to block me. When that happens flickr doesn’t tell you right away. You get “Contact Notifications” when someone follows you, but not when they block you. You find that out when you try to comment on their post. Or when you want to add one of their images to your gallery.

I blocked someone because they accused me of being creepy, and frankly I don’t see anything to be gained by arguing with someone who does that. I wasn’t expecting the subsequent “revenge”. But then no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

So why did I get blocked by someone else? Interesting that, so I have to explain a bit. I wasn’t fighting with him. I just thought the word he used to describe a municipal transportation service to be inappropriate. East Ham Trams were not a company.

Now the person I am talking about actually encourages this kind of communication. Under every picture he posts to flickr it says “If there are any errors in the above description please let me know. Thanks”

So yes, calling the Tramways Department of the County Borough Council of East Ham a “company” is an error.

So I let him know. And he blocked me!

I happen to be the Administrator of the flickr Transportation group. There are other groups on flickr where I have seen the clear message “Block the Administrator and you will be removed from the Group”. Mine don’t say that. As long as the pictures meet the definition of Transportation then I have no concerns. But, for goodness sake, say you want to know about errors and then block the people who tell you …

One other thing. Not especially relevant or important. But he didn’t take the pictures. He has been buying old photographs and then – because they are in black and white, almost inevitably – he colorises them. And does a pretty credible job. And then puts his copyright on the colorised version.

“(if you want to use it, at least credit me and link to this description!) “

So would you like to see one of his pictures now?

No?

Didn’t think so.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 8, 2021 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Transportation

Who decides what is “creepy”

with 4 comments

Someone recently added this label to a picture of mine on Flickr. I did not like that comment so I deleted it. It was quickly replaced so I blocked that user.

Today I got this message by email

Hi Stephen Rees, Your account was brought to our attention and upon review, we determined that your voyeur content is in violation of the Guidelines and Terms of Service. You can also read the following help forum discussion about voyeur content on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/95223/ Specifically this comment from staff: https://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/95223/#reply625343 Please delete all content in violation immediately. You have 3 days to remove the content or your account may be terminated without further warning. Note: Since these images are not allowed on Flickr marking them as private is not enough, they need to be deleted. Regards, Flickr Staff

No reply to this message is permitted. No further discussion of the subject in the forum is permitted either.

I have to assume that if I delete every picture taken at a public place of a woman or women wearing a bikini that I may be allowed to continue to have an account on Flickr. Flickr staff do not provide any information as to which pictures they decide are “creepy”. There are currently over two million pictures on Flickr which are found by using the search term “bikini”.

Apparently from looking at the comments thread 95223 cited about what is problematic is that the pictures are said to be taken “secretly”. Well I use a pretty large point and shoot camera

Purple-Bikini-original
This isn’t my image so I could not delete that but apparently this isn’t creepy.
bikini beach hot girls
This isn’t my picture either but it might be creepy since they didn’t know Eduardo was taking it
Canon SX730HS triptych

This is my current camera. I like it because I can literally slip it in my pocket. But as you can see “secret” isn’t really an option. And I do like “street photography” or as it is sometimes called “candid”. This is one of my favorites

Accidental candid portrait

The subject was unaware, as were these people

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/5721082544/

No I don’t know why that shows up as a clickable link and not a picture – but when looking for that I found this

Lydia?

Now she is well aware that I took her picture – but am I also cleared of the accusation of posting “voyeur content”?

I did not delete this one either

If you're going to San Francisco ...

There’s not a lot of skin on show – but there are some people who have a thing about wetsuits. Rubber fetishists who slaver over swimming hats. No, really. And then there is this comment on the thread that is picked up approvingly by the member of Flackr’s staff who then closes discussion

posting them to Flickr for the purposes of sexual gratification

Exactly how is that determined? Especially when there are swathes of images which are overtly sexual but are hidden through various devices but are allowed to remain, however for “voyeur content” the standard shifts “these images are not allowed on Flickr marking them as private is not enough”

No I don’t understand, but then flickr also got excited about

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/51039299698/

But backed down when I told them it was in the sculpture garden of the New Orleans Museum of Art and was publicly available for free – including groups of schoolchildren.

Since Flickr did not provide any list of what they thought was objectionable I made a link between what someone else had labelled “creepy” and what prompted their message. “Your account was brought to our attention” again, no mention of who did that but dollars to donuts it’s the ill mannered lout I blocked.

Venus Victorius

When Renoir made this sculpture – from the same collection referred to above – can we be absolutely assured that he got no sexual gratification from it? Or was the fact that he probably paid his models enough to escape censure by Flickr’s anonymous staff? No one could accuse him of secrecy. But then I have always felt that photography was not a crime, and that if you were in a public place you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. If I can see something, I can take a photograph of it. That does not mean I am a voyeur, nor that I am seeking to satisfy the sexual tastes of voyeurs. But then when Ira Levin produced his novel “Sliver” it was promoted with the tag line “You like to watch, don’t you?” Which is another way of saying that all humans share the same pleasure from people watching.

Is it at all reasonable to demand that no one must ever take pictures where there are people sunbathing? Or rather they can take them but they mustn’t post them to flickr even if they are marked private.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/13905505416/

I didn’t delete this one. Was I supposed to? If it only included the figure at the right end of the row, would that be sexually gratifying anyone?

This is a cut and paste from Flickr’s “Community Guidelines”

  • Don’t be creepy.You know the guy. Don’t be that guy. If you are that guy, your account will be deleted.

If you think that is an adequate explanation please leave me an explanation in the comments below.

I do not want to lose my flickr account. I am doing my best to comply, but frankly the way that the policy is worded is worthy of Humpty Dumpty. “When I use a word it means what I want it to mean, no more or no less.”

Please, do not go to flickr and enter the search term “naked” or “sildenafil” – and of course before you do that you will need to turn off “safe search”

UPDATE June 11, 2021

I have now created a 20 page softcover book. When I deleted what I thought were offending pictures, I did not keep track of them and my memory is not what it was once. But I think I probably got them. I still have a flickr account so it seems I must have guessed right. None of the offending pictures are in this post.

If you would like a copy of the book please write to me at rees dot stephen (a) gmail dot com

I only ordered one copy for myself as a proof and, of course, found a typo as soon as opened it. The price varies quite a bit based on the numbers ordered. It can also be made available as a pdf file or a proper ebook. Both would be considerably cheaper than an actual paper book. If you express an interest I will be able to quote a price based on volume – and then I would have to add something for post and packing.



 

Written by Stephen Rees

June 3, 2021 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Transportation