Return to Wonder(land)

Though I’ve posted about it a bunch, including reminiscing about my earliest visits when the park was still young, I hadn’t actually visited Canada’s Wonderland since 1995 or so.  But a few weeks ago I got a chance to do just that!  Visiting home during the more summerly months there was no way I wasn’t going to go and see what was new… and, of course, ride every coaster I could as often as I could.  DO NOT STAND UP! Continue reading

Philosophy Tuesday

Everything you know about the three laws of motion is a lie.  Not all things follow Newton’s laws.  When objects approach the speed of light… or when they get close to a black hole… or when we are dealing with atoms or sub-atomic particles… everything falls apart.  Fool on you for believing that one!

Except… of course… those are pretty damn small exception cases.  We’re unlikely to find ourselves doing any of those things anytime soon.  Newton’s laws have both predicted the motion of planets and let us build rockets to get to said planets.  They are invaluable in biomechanics.  They have let us build impressive structures.  Really, there’s so much of our current daily life that Newton’s laws have made possible.  Even if they don’t perfectly describe sub-atomic lightspeed black-hole surfing.

For us to stop using Newton’s laws for these everyday uses would be foolish.

And so I submit that it is equally weird for us to do the same in the philosophical realms.

Look, as noted before, many insights do come in the form of “bad news insights”, so perhaps it’s not such a surprise that our identities and calculating selves can go onto full alert before their dirty laundry is revealed.  They’ll see it as a threat.  And the last-ditch defense is to engage our mighty capacity to be dismissive, using a small nit to ignore the whole.

But using minute exception cases – or, more commonly, some nebulous or borderline case – to avoid insight and new possibilities is, if we are interested in transformation, self-cultivation and growth, just as misguided as abandoning Newton’s laws just because they eventually break down at the edges.

 

(And if we ever do need to address those edges, then so be it!  They can be addressed just as Relativity and Quantum Mechanics did/do.)

Architecture Monday

Check out this adaptive reuse to create a new library in Brooklyn!

The library is a sweet insertion into an old industrial building.  Cutaways and separations from the wall make it feel like an independent body nestled within the rugged frame.  Even better, these same cutaway elements expose the old brick walls and board-formed concrete ceiling, their textures highlighted in contrast to the smooth white surfaces of the insertion.

The curves of the new also play against the linear of the old, brought to a culmination by the curvaceous pavilion in the centre.  Here the wood exterior and bold colours of the equally curvaceous openings again enhance their presence by playing off the more subdued surroundings.

Very cool.  In a way it is very “simple”, and probably economical, but done with great panache to create a very compelling space to be in, a perfect library environment.  Nicely done.

The Adams Street Library by WORKac

The Rangers Return

I am a longtime fan of Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers. During the Disney Afternoon era I saw each episode dozens upon dozens of times (since they repeated every 3 months or so). When I discovered them on the French station, I was most excited as it was like watching them anew. I collected the comics and wrote in to the letters page.* Various figurines and plush still grace my shelves. And no question, getting a photo with them in their RR garb made me giddy with delight.

So into that comes the new CDRR movie released on D+. When the first trailers for it dropped, I certainly had my reservations: If they wanted to make Roger Rabbit 2, why don’t they just do that? Will the world building be poor? Aren’t the washed up actors and estranged pals tropes already heavily mined? And haven’t we already passed both peak meta and peak nostalgia pandering? Not to mention this was being made by Walt Disney Pictures, the branch of Disney that has spent the past years producing nothing but retreads, remakes, or retellings of some sort of previous IP that have often ended up being soulless, uninteresting, or even disastrous takes on them.**

That said, I also could see that if the relationship between C&D and their interactions were well handled, it could make for something compelling and powerful. If they could tap into facets of the original series with a spirit that rings true, it could be a great new take with real rescuing and ranger-ing. There could be a path forward. Maybe!

Perhaps strangely… in the end all of the above came to pass. (Potential spoilers ahead.) Continue reading

Philosophy Tuesday

When I got a paper route as an early teenager, I learned one of those things that makes complete sense in your head but is somewhat impossible to grok on a complete level until you experience it first-hand:  A single newspaper hardly weighs a thing.  You don’t even think about it.  But stuff 30 to 60 of those things in a bag and sling it over your shoulder?*  HOLY THE COW that’s heavy!

Which is just a positively visceral way of learning (and getting) that maybe there is no such thing as a “little thing,” for many little things quickly add up to something quite large.

Which, perhaps not surprisingly, applies all over the place.

Often, we think about in terms of making a difference.  Much like the pulling of the Trojan Horse, this means that even though we may put in a little bit of effort towards something, when we collectively pursue a grand intention even giant things can be brought into being or (even easily) moved.

However, it is equally important to remind ourselves that this applies equally to the destructive side of things.  When we collectively pursue poor intentions, whether consciously or not, whether individual or shaped by the systems we’re surrounded by, or whether by callousness, great things can be destroyed.  This includes, by the way, instances of not taking action.

The seductive thing about it is that our thought on it does, in a narrow sense, have some truth to it.  “If I do this/don’t do this, it’s just me in a big sea.  It won’t make any difference.”  Sure.  Except it’s almost never really just you, or one person.  It’s multiples.  And the more who do/don’t do it, the more who also get on that same boat and do/don’t do it, until the impact is downright deleterious and far worse than just a sore shoulder.

And so the “newspaper bag” effect applies both ways.  The game, therefore, is to remain present and recognize that our actions (or inactions) do matter and do have a greater impact on the whole.  And from there, choose who we are going to be, and what we are going to create.

 

* Interestingly, and fortunately, I had come across how some of the First Nation communities carried things in backpacks that weren’t supported in the “usual” way, but rather by a strap around the forehead.  This is because, as it turns out, the neck is one darn strong muscle.  So that’s how I carried my paper bag, slung down my back with the strap around my forehead, pulling it to the side only every few houses to grab a handful of newspapers.  No sore shoulder for me!

Architecture Monday

Coming upon this the cube house (that I visited couple of weeks ago) in Toronto is bound to launch some question marks into the air.  In the middle of a pretty industrial area, surrounded on many sides by busy roads and freeway bridges (though one side of this triangular property does face old-style connected houses), with nary a front yard or even mailbox… is this really a house?  Does someone even live there?

Yes, and yes.  And, while it looks in rough shape for its mere 26 years of age, and despite its very odd and rough location, it’s quite cool.

Built back in 1996 and inspired by Piet Blom’s complex of Cubic Houses in Rotterdam, it is only one of the gaggle of them originally planned buildings that was built.  As an aside, today its Rotterdam counterparts are super well known and popular and have become a tourist attraction in their own right.  But for what’s likely a myriad of reasons it, unfortunately, never took off here.  While the base is a bit inelegant, with awkward siding and windows below the cube, it still manages to create a nicely sheltered private balcony, leaves more of the site as open space, and creates an intriguing skyline.

But oh my, the interiors!  The pure cubistic form of the exterior belies the space within, as each 42’ cube is split into three floors.  And with each cube balancing on its point the space inside is decidedly sculptural, accentuated by the light from the corner windows.  This explodes to the extreme on the top floor in each cube, where the ceilings soar upwards to a luminous point.  It is not unlike how it would be living in the upper gallery Liebeskind’s addition to the Royal Ontario Museum!  (Though this house predates the ROM addition by some years…)

I really dig it, especially those dramatic upper floors.  There’s been a redevelopment proposal recently entered into the city for the property, and I really hope that the house will be moved and preserved rather than simply torn down.

The Cube House by Ben Kutner and Jeff Brown.