Link: “Not In Service” from the Toronto Star

With “Not In Service: Inside Bombardier’s Delayed Streetcar Deliveries,” the staff at the Toronto Star have done a good investigation into Bombardier’s delays with streetcar and LRT deliveries across the GTA.

It’s a great article and everyone in the city should read it, but in sum:

  • Bombardier gave the city a low-ball offer that it couldn’t refuse.
  • Bombardier undoubtedly knew they wouldn’t be able to keep its promises.
  • Globalization and the international outsourcing of labour are real things, in that while Bombardier could’ve built the TTC’s new streetcars in Thunder Bay without any problems and on time, it was far cheaper for them to do the primary construction work in Mexico.
  • The delays themselves were caused by a combination of out-of-specification parts from Mexico, wiring problems, and a shortage of usable parts for assembly.
  • Bombardier North America does not practice “just-in-time” manufacturing.
  • While workers at Bombardier’s Mexican factory seemed simply out of their technical depth, Bombardier management seemed both incompetent, lazy, and desperate to wring as much time and money it could from the city.
  • Toronto is no closer towards getting all of its new streetcars by the promised deadline.

Link: “Keep ‘newcomer high’ at Greenwood, students plead”

As reported by Kristin Rushowy for the Toronto Star, today:

Greenwood is unique in that it caters solely to newly arrived teens, offering numerous English-as-a-Second-Language course offerings, as well as settlement and social supports until the students are ready to move into a mainstream high school. Newcomers typically stay for one to three semesters. The school has nurtured waves of immigrants, from Hungarian Roma to, more recently, teens from Syria.

Mike Gallagher, the area superintendent, said the board is under orders from the provincial government “to make better use of our space.” As enrolment declines, that means “the status quo isn’t an option.” The committee, comprising representatives from all schools, met many times and held six public meetings.

However, unlike the other schools involved in the review, Greenwood is not under-enrolled — in fact, it is at almost the ideal 80 per cent capacity, with a small alternative school also housed in the building. Danforth, by comparison, is not even half full, at 41 per cent capacity.

[…] Greenwood students wonder why they weren’t deemed just as vulnerable a population, given that many have fled war-torn countries and are adjusting to new lives in an unfamiliar country.

Afshar also pointed out the Greenwood students’ safety concerns, given ongoing disputes that included a carful of Danforth [Tech] teens coming to the school looking to fight.

And here I was thinking that school boards exist to serve the people….

Link: “Toronto travel bookstore’s trip is finally over after 40 years” (G&M)

As Mark Medley reported for the Globe and Mail today,

For the last 40 years, Open Air Books and Maps, which is currently housed in a cramped basement at the corner of Adelaide and Toronto streets, on the edge of the financial district, has been a lighthouse guiding travellers, a library for adventurers and the wanderlusty, a refuge for explorers and seekers. It will, at the end of this month, be closing its doors for good.

This morning at work, two undergraduates chatted in the elevator I took to the seventh floor about their weekend plans. One of the students couldn’t contain herself that she was jetting off to the UK after class. As the day continued, I would learn that many more of my students would be jetting off somewhere for March Break.

That flying across oceans, even among struggling university students, is as simple as turning a page now doesn’t surprise me. That book stores are shuttering across the planet doesn’t surprise me. The printed page is an endangered species today in this age of quick but summated e-answers, fast but scathing e-ratings, and instant but ruthless e-reviews. But it doesn’t need to be for sometimes a good indexed book and few maps are all you’ll ever need.

When Mr. Axler was preparing for his around-the-world odyssey, which took him through Africa and the Indian subcontinent, among other places, “it was just so hard finding stuff” about the places he was planning on visiting. “You’re in places like Liberia, in all likelihood, once in your life. It’s nice to know as much as you can.

“A book, as a percentage of your travel costs, is so negligible,” he says. “I always tell people: If you can enhance your trip by just one or two things, that’s worth the price of the book.”

Ain’t that the truth?

Protected: “The Atomic Age” (3,164 words)

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