Author: oliveridley


My kid loves statistics and 15 minute cities

My kid’s transport goals for the year

We have started this simple diary where my 7 yo tracks each of her trips and categorizes them as car or not car. I find the analog simplicity of this approach to be appealing and I’ll be helping her keep this updated. I am also resisting temptation to add more data to this survey for myself (her project, not mine!) My movement goals are the same as hers, walk and bike as much as practicable leaving driving only for the “it’s too far or I don’t have even 10 minutes to spare or I have to carry something that won’t fit on my cargo bike, or it’s not safe to bike with a kid”.

Our life for the most part now fits the 15 minute city model, the concept that “Everyone living in a city should have access to essential urban services within a 15 minute walk or bike.”. Other than my once a week commute to work, almost everything we do is in that 15 minute walk/bike window and while our all age and abilities bike network is still work in progress, the trend is clear (thanks Dave Thompson Victoria City Councilor for the graphic from the CRD transportation survey)

Choices for 2024

When your phone does a thing

I’m not much of a resolver, resolutioner, whatever the word may be. But my phone did show me these very interesting choices of app first thing this morning when I unlocked it and was looking for some app or the other, So I’m going to find the Madonna in this toast and overinterpret 🙂 The left two choices are the new Journal app on my phone versus Bluesky, which means I choose to prioritize writing for myself (or my group chats I’m going to extrapolate here) over social media. On the right, it’s streaming versus WordPress, which means I get to prioritize writing (and creating) over consuming. So, be it resolved for 2024!

Also, the icons for Journal and Bluesky are both butterflies and that’s lovely.

Big Wool and Fast Fashion

Cute sheep or not, factory farming is always impactful


According to one analysis of wool production in Australia, by far the world’s top exporter, the wool required to make one knit sweater is responsible for 27 times more greenhouse gases than a comparable Australian cotton sweater, and requires 247 times more land.

Source: Big Wool wants you to believe it’s nice to animals and the environment. It’s not.

This is an interesting article in Vox on the outsized impacts of large-scale factory farming wool impacts. The article goes into further detail comparing wool to synthetics on impact (Both big, but different), and why plant-based alternatives like Tencel and Hemp and recycling have not taken off. It also discusses the increasing trend of wool blends.

Widespread cheap synthetics have enabled fast fashion, making it possible for brands to produce stupefying volumes of disposable fabrics. These are now very commonly combined with wool to create hybrid garments. According to the Center for Biodiversity and Collective Fashion Justice’s recent analysis of 13 top clothing brands, more than half of wool items were blended with synthetics, giving them in-demand properties like machine washability

Of course when you blend a wool and a synthetic, it is now landfill material. The issue with clothing (same as the issue with most scaled up factory production) is scale and economics. Fast fashion makes clothes that fall apart in 6 months and are impossible to fix. So whatever the raw material used, this trend ensures high production, quick profit, large impact and large waste. In addition, factory-scaled animal production is not really compatible with animal welfare.

Unless the system changes, which will require a massive re-examination and re-jigging of our financial systems and reward/responsibility mechanisms, we will always have this issue.

Leftover milk solids chocolate balls

Leftover milk solids chocolate balls

When you make ghee, and are careful enough not to burn the batch, the milk solids that are filtered out are great to use up. This site has a bunch of ideas . The one I do most often is a variation of the sweet my grandmother used to make and has my kid asking why I haven’t made ghee recently.

  • Mash and mix the milk solids with a spoon till smooth and any of the larger particles or clumps are gone.
  • Mix in some rice flour for structure, and sugar and cocoa powder and continue to mix till you get a smooth consistent thick paste. No proportions, it’s a feeling.
  • Ask your kid to taste it and adjust the sugar and cocoa as needed, or taste it yourself 🙂
  • Shape and roll with your hand into a long cylinder and cut into equal portions
  • Make each portion spherical (or whatever shape) and transfer to a container to refrigerate.
  • Once the residual ghee in the mix solidifies in the fridge, you’ll get a very tasty bit of chocolate dessert!
Roasted rutabagas are awesome!

Roasted rutabagas are awesome!

This week unlike other weeks, I picked up that rutabaga I usually avoid at the grocery store and it paid off 🙂

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F
  • Cut into 1.5 cm cubes
  • Transfer to a bowl and add salt, mix to coat evenly. Be generous, didn’t measure but it was more than a tsp
  • Add spices of your choice, I added 1 tsp kitchen king masala, 1/4 tsp turmeric and 3/4 tsp red chili powder. Mix to coat. Amounts are guidance only
  • Add your oil of choice depending on the spices used, I used canola as a neutral oil and mix to coat
  • Spread evenly and bake in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes stirring halfway till they get golden brown and toasty
  • Garnish with something green to finish, I didn’t have any cilantro or green onion on hand, so I used some dried fenugreek leaf which is also tasty

It’s so good! And the right amount of salt (thank you Samin Nosrat)

Why Deport Jaskirat Singh Sidhu?

A federal judge has dismissed applications from the truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan and was fighting deportation back to India.

Source: Federal judge dismisses latest bid to stay in Canada by trucker who caused Humboldt Broncos crash | CBC News

I find the practice of involuntary displacement (deportation) of Canadian residents for crimes committed to be unjust and cowardly regardless of the crime.

  • Firstly, the concept that the consequences you face for your actions as a resident of Canada depends on your papers is unjust. We would not be deporting a Canadian born citizen for any of their actions. See for example, Tenessa Nykirk. She hit someone who suffered serious injuries while speeding and texting, but she’s not going to deported. Deportation for offences committed is a holdover practice from citizenship laws that were enacted to act as gates especially for “undesirable” immigrants. Yes, I’m aware that Sidhu’s crime violated the Terms and Conditions of his residency, those T&Cs are unjust!
  • Secondly, I find the concept of outsourcing Sidhu’s longer-term rehabilitation and restitution for victims to another country to be cowardly. The problem happened in Canada, the victims were Canadian residents, and the restitution needs to happen here (how one family “forgave” Sidhu). He’s not “somebody else’s problem”.

American Caste and ’90s flashbacks

Always like when I’m validated for something I said 25 years back

Wilkerson rigorously defines eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, heredity, and dehumanization. She documents the parallels with two other hierarchies in history, those of India and of Nazi Germany, and no reader will be left without a greater understanding of the price we all pay in a society torn by artificial divisions.

Source: Isabel Wilkerson

I moved to the United States in the late ’90s and my growing up “high-caste” in India meant I was fairly clueless around understanding discrimination/racism directed at me. I do remember many conversations I had with white people around stereotypes, and one of the FAQs in these conversations was around “Oh you have a caste system in India, here in the US we’re all mixed and it’s different”. Even in my relative cluelessness at that time, I remember responding with “Oh, FFS you have a caste system, it just looks different and not enough people call it that, and then if I was a couple of drinks in, would go on to discuss slavery, African-Americans, class as connected to money and more”. I’d go on to state “your racism is the same as our (I identified as Indian at that time) casteism”. So, I’m glad this book came out and was very highly regarded. I hope to read it sometime.

To Read! Dark PR by Grant Ennis

In his new book, Dark PR: How Corporate Disinformation Harms Our Health and the Environment, Grant Ennis — a lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia — identifies the “nine devious frames” that corporations such as automobile manufacturers and road builders use to advance their interests, manipulate the public and maintain a status quo that harms human health and the planet. 

Image Book cover of Dark PR by Grant Ennis
The War on Cars Podcast on Dark PR

I love the War on Cars podcast for its great content detailing how cars and cities aren’t BFFs. And I specifically liked this podcast with Grant Ennis the author of a new book Dark PR as it connects the much larger and universal public relation framing on every important issue to the specific subject of cars. While I have not read the book yet (my desire to read non-fiction is not always matched by action), you should listen to the podcast, and here are the 9 frames divided into 3 themes 🙂

  • Big Lie – Serves to deny, obfuscate and redirect
    • Denialism: Deny deny deny.
    • Post-Denialism: It’s happening, it’s not bad, it’s actually good!
    • Normalization: This is inevitable, deal with it.
  • Pseudo-Solutions: Solutions that are anything but
    • Silver boomerang: Here’s an amazing solution that won’t solve the problem and will rebound into profit for us!
    • Magic: Ooh look, if y’all do this one thing that will be available tomorrow, the problem will be solved, so don’t worry about it today
    • Treatment trap: Sorry your air quality sucks, but here’s a great air purifier for only 399.99
    • Victim blaming/individualism: It’s all your fault, if only you’d composted more…
  • Complicated frames
    • Knotted web: This is such a difficult problem, here are 10000 different aspects blah blah blah, oh good, you’re asleep!
    • Multifactorial framing: To solve this problem you have to do x, y, and z all at the same time, all of the above! Dilute dilute dilute!

As you look at various issues affecting us like housing, climate change, city planning, wars, drug poisoning, you name it, you’ll see one or more of these frames in use.

Anyway, listen to the podcast, it’s edifying.

This post is thanks to my friend Sherwin who updated my website yesterday and reminded me that low-expectation writing can be fun! As he just messaged me, “CLOSE YOUR EYES AND TYPE” (caps all his).

Stuff I read 04-Sep-2023

An occasional roundup of news I found interesting, with even less occasional commentary!

How a mere 12% of Americans eat half the nation’s beef, creating significant health and environmental impacts

A new study has found that 12% of Americans are responsible for eating half of all beef consumed on a given day, a finding that may help consumer groups and government agencies craft educational messaging around the negative health and environmental impacts of bee

Particularly important due to the enormous climate change and land use consequences of beef production and consumption

Read How a mere 12% of Americans eat half the nation’s beef, creating significant health and environmental impacts

Who Needs Meta or Google for News? Use ‘Really Simple Syndication’

Meta is ramping up its blocking of news in Canada in resistance to a passed bill requiring news outlets be compensated for links shared on Facebook and Instagram.

Back to the golden age of blogs and 2005 we go with RSS!

Read Who Needs Meta or Google for News? Use ‘Really Simple Syndication’

The true cost of climate pollution? 44% of corporate profits.

What if companies had to pay for the problems their carbon emissions cause? Their profits would plunge, according to new estimates, possibly wiping out trillions in financial gains.

Profits: Primarily uncompensated takings from the future and everyone else to benefit a few

Read The true cost of climate pollution? 44% of corporate profits.

– – – – –

New Data Confirms: Forest Fires Are Getting Worse

New data on forest fires confirms what we’ve long feared: Forest fires are becoming more widespread, burning nearly twice as much tree cover today as they did 20 years ago.

Read New Data Confirms: Forest Fires Are Getting Worse

More people than expected are dying in Canada in 2023 for reasons that are not yet clear

COVID-19 case counts are down dramatically from a year ago, according to federal data. Hospitalizations are higher than during the first two pandemic summers, but are hovering around their lowest point since December, 2021.

Is this excess death really a mystery or a result of covid revisionism?

Read More people than expected are dying in Canada in 2023 for reasons that are not yet clear

This N.L. man spent 20 years addicted to opiates — and says forced treatment laws would have killed him

Keith Fitzpatrick’s addiction story starts like so many others: with a prescription for painkillers. It would be two full decades, and several brushes with death, before he was ready to detox.

Why oh why aren’t punitive treatments for people who have issues with substance use treated with the disdain they deserve?

Read This N.L. man spent 20 years addicted to opiates — and says forced treatment laws would have killed him

Canada issues travel advisory for LGBTQ+ residents visiting US

LGBTQ+ citizens are at risk when traveling to the US due to numerous discriminatory laws passed at state level, the Canadian government has warned. “Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons.

Feel this hard 🙁

Read Canada issues travel advisory for LGBTQ+ residents visiting US

Canada has underestimated non-permanent resident count by almost one million

A gross underestimating of Canada’s population growth, specifically the number of non-permanent residents in the country, is having immense ramifications on the housing affordability and supply crisis.

I mean, we’d have a housing crisis without this counting crisis, but it makes things worse

Read Canada has underestimated non-permanent resident count by almost one million

How BC Could Tax Soaring Property Values for the Public Good | The Tyee

The vast majority of B.C.’s residential property wealth — $1.5 trillion — is in the value of the land rather than in the buildings on it. Unlike the value created by constructing or improving a building, increases in land values are not the result of any effort or expense by property owners. Rather, the land value is a social creation in that it reflects what makes the use of a particular location attractive to people.

Source: How BC Could Tax Soaring Property Values for the Public Good | The Tyee

Alex Hemingway has a great post on one part of our housing puzzle, how to fairly tax people on their unearned land wealth. Our property tax and incentives are setup to reward already wealthy land owners at the expense of everyone else. Given how unaffordable and unreachable housing is for many in BC and rest of Canada, every policy lever needs to be pulled. I have little faith that our landowner-heavy governments will act with the level of urgency and scale needed though 🙁