- Hi, my name is Andrew.
- This is
So yes, I’m headed to Turkey for a two-week vacation that will take us to three cites: Istanbul, Goreme, and Kas. Though I’m sure I’ll be tempted to Tweet and Instagram the whole way through, I’m going to try and contain myself to simply taking pictures, and then posting a single daily update. This will allow me to spend more time actually being there rather than on my phone, which I’m sure my wife will appreciate, and, hopefully, not annoy people on social networks as much, either. If you care to follow along, you can find it here (I’ll probably post a highlights post back here when I’m done, too).
Earlier this week, the body of a three-year-old boy washed up on the shores of Turkey.
His mother and brother also died in those waters, as have countless others seeking a better life after being forced out of their own homes and homelands.
This family, in particular, had been trying to get from Turkey to Canada. They had left their home in Syria, and in desperation paid a human smuggler in the hopes of joining their family in Vancouver. They will never make it.
Later today, I will get on a plane to Vancouver. I will then fly to Toronto and on to Istanbul.
It’s a vacation we’ve been planning for a while, putting a bit of money aside here and there so we could see a country rich with human history and natural beauty. I’m looking forward to it.
For the price of a few paycheques and a few hours, I will travel the distance that this family never will. Then I will come back to Canada, a country that is mine by default alone. I didn’t earn my birth here. I didn’t make some grand decision that I would become a citizen of this country, though I certainly would if given the choice. It is pure luck that I have been given the opportunities I have, the right parents in the right place and the right time. People don’t choose to be born into privilege, and they don’t choose to be born into desperation. You are simply born, and wherever you happen to be when that happens sets your life on wildly different courses.
When I was three, I never clung to my father’s hand as the waters ripped us apart.
Soon, I will sit in a cushioned seat and fly across the water that took that child’s life.
* * *
This isn’t meant to be a “woe is me” post, or a “holy cow, I’m just waking up to these problems and so should you!” one, either. There is so much wrong with the world that it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of it all, or trying to decide how best to help. Everyone just do what you think is best, I respect that.
But this intersect, of the differences between my fortune and this family’s tragedy, has made a distant situation feel less distant and much more personal.
It’s not guilt at my privilege. It’s a stark awareness of it.
I will take my vacation, and I will enjoy my family and marvel at how amazing the world is, and how interconnected we are. And then I will come home and think of how lucky I am to be able to do so, and how I should never take it for granted, though I inevitably will. And I’ll try to help, a little more, with the efforts underway to give more people a safe home and family and a life that isn’t lost in the waters in an attempt to have just a little of what I have. I’ll still be privileged, and I still won’t do all that I could possibly do, and I’ll still spend money on frivolous things while other people struggle. I’m not trying to scold myself for anything and I’m not trying to absolve myself, either. It is what it is what it is. I’m lucky to be where I am in the world today. I wish more people could be so lucky.
Tonight in Prince George, city council will vote on whether or not to ask staff to prepare a report on how best to come up with some new rules aimed at making it so bike lanes are left clear for bikes. At the moment there are no such rules, so oftentimes bike lanes are full of parked cars, causing bikers to have to have to ride on the road between the parked cars and traffic.
In the ever-reliable comments sections, there are a number of people saying this is pointless because of the lack of people they see riding bikes in the city. For example:
“Bottom line is that all day long as I drive around Prince George I see very few bikers. So where are they.???”
“Why pander to less than 1% of vehicle traffic? Why not do a count of how much the bike lanes are used before wasting so much money?”
“I personally do not see a big need for bike lanes to begin with. I see very few bike riders utilizing these bike lanes.”
The problem with all of these is they assume the current number of people riding their bikes is the maximum number of people who would ever ride their bikes, or at least close to it.
I can tell you right now that is not a fair assumption, because of the number of people I’ve had tell me they would like to ride their bike around town, but don’t feel safe doing so because of the lack of infrastructure.
Here’s the thing: many of this city’s main roads still don’t have bike lanes. Those that do often have parked cars, garbage cans, or a buildup of gravel in them. There are very few routes in this city where you can spend your entire time riding in a bike lane or bike-friendly roads. There are many places where you are just inches from traffic. For the most part, we don’t have bike lanes in the sense of lanes you can bike to and from places in, we have a random series of disconnected spaces where bike lanes may or may not exist, depending on whether people are parking in them.
If you REALLY wanted to measure the demand for bike lanes, here’s what you might to do: shut down all the roads. Choose just a few of them that cars are allowed to use – not direct routes, but roundabout side roads. All the rest belong to bikes. If cars want to use those roads, they have to wait for bikers to go by first. Or they can drive along train tracks where the trains may or may not stop for them. After a few years of this, see how many people are still driving cars, and there’s your demand for car-friendly roads versus bike-friendly ones.
Of course, it would be absurd to artificially decrease demand for roads that cars can use this way. But that’s basically what we’re doing with bikes if we think the current use of bike lanes represents how much use a properly designed bike system would have.
Note: this is “thinking-out-loud” post – if you think I’ve missed something, let me know
One thing I’ve been curious about for a while is how important it is for federal candidates to win the city of Prince George if they want to become a Member of Parliament. Even though Prince George is the largest city in the north, it’s divided into two for purposes of electoral boundaries. That means the roughly 71,000 people here are thrown into a pot with a bunch of other towns and cities, giving the city as a whole less weight than you might expect.
2015 is going to be the first election with the newly distributed ridings, so I decided to take a look at how it adds up.
Prince George – Peace River – Northern Rockies
The big change here is the addition of the Northern Rockies (ie Valemount and the Robson Valley) alongside the rest of B.C.’s northeast (Fort St John, Dawson Creek, Tumbler Ridge, Fort Nelson, etc). It is described on the federal electoral district page as:
- (a) the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality;
- (b) the Peace River Regional District; and
- (c) those parts of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George comprised of:
- (i) that part of the City of Prince George lying northerly and easterly of a line described as follows: commencing at the intersection of the westerly limit of said city with the Nechako River; thence generally southeasterly along said river to the Cariboo Highway (Highway No. 97); thence southerly along said highway to Massey Drive; thence northeasterly along said drive and Winnipeg Street to 15th Avenue; thence easterly along said avenue and Patricia Boulevard to the Queensway; thence southerly along the Queensway to Patricia Boulevard; thence generally easterly along said boulevard and its production to Yellowhead Highway (Highway No. 16); thence southeasterly along said highway to the Fraser River; thence generally southerly along said river to the southerly limit of said city;
- (ii) the District Municipality of Mackenzie;
- (iii) the villages of McBride and Valemount;
- (iv) subdivisions A, D, F, G and H;
- (v) Fort George (Shelly) Indian Reserve No. 2.
The overall population given for the riding is 107,382.
If the whole of Prince George were in here, it would be the majority. But it isn’t – just the north part of it. I’m honestly not sure how to figure out what the population of just that part of the city is (if you have an idea let me know), but I can start adding up the rest of the region and take a guess.
Using numbers from the 2011 census I can start adding this up. There’s a lot, so I’m only going to count the places with over 100 people.
Northern Rockies Regional District: 5,290 (revised count)
Fort Nelson 2: 457
Peace River C: 6,398
Peace River B: 5,552
Peace River D: 5,479
Peace River E: 2,764
Fort St John: 18,609
Dawson Creek: 11,583
Tumbler Ridge: 2,710
Hudson’s Hope: 970
Pouce Coupe: 738
At this point we have 54,168 – over fifty percent of the riding. That’s even before adding Valemount’s 1,020, McBride’s 586, Mackenzie’s 3,507, and the various parts of the regional district of Fraser-Fort George. The city of Prince George represents somewhere in the realm of 40-45 percent of the riding, depending on how you’d like to characterize “the city”.
This riding consists of 108,252 people, divided up like so:
- (a) those parts of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George comprised of:
- (i) that part of the City of Prince George lying southerly and westerly of a line described as follows: commencing at the intersection of the westerly limit of said city with the Nechako River; thence generally southeasterly along said river to the Cariboo Highway (Highway No. 97); thence southerly along said highway to Massey Drive; thence northeasterly along said drive and Winnipeg Street to 15th Avenue; thence easterly along said avenue and Patricia Boulevard to the Queensway; thence southerly along the Queensway to Patricia Boulevard; thence generally easterly along said boulevard and its production to Yellowhead Highway (Highway No. 16); thence southeasterly along said highway to the Fraser River; thence generally southerly along said river to the southerly limit of said city;
- (ii) subdivisions C and E;
- (b) that part of the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District comprised of: Subdivision F; the District Municipality of Vanderhoof; and
- (c) Cariboo Regional District, excepting: subdivisions G, H and L; the District Municipality of 100 Mile House.
So once again, let’s start adding it up:
Williams Lake: 10,832
Cariboo A: 6,250
Cariboo B: 4,006
Cariboo C: 1,225
Cariboo D: 2,988
Cariboo E: 4,129
Cariboo F: 4,564
Cariboo I: 1,511
Cariboo J: 600
Cariboo K: 494
Bulkley-Nechako F: 3,702
This is 55,033, just enough to tip us over the 50 percent mark. Unlike the Peace River regional district, where the north alone is enough to overwhelm Prince George without even throwing in the east, this one requires both the south and west to do it. Still, the city of Prince George itself once again consists of less than 50 percent of the overall riding.
What does it mean?
Probably not a lot – I don’t think you’re going to see a candidate campaign on an explicitly anti-Prince George campaign to win over all the voters in the rest of the riding. You still need to appeal to people in northern B.C.’s capital if you want to win northern B.C.
But that’s not enough. Unlike more metropolitan ridings where you can focus on a single city or area in your attempt to win, I can’t imagine a successful candidate taking the risk of focusing solely on Prince George without paying a few visits to the rest of the region.
This is particularly pronounced in the Peace. While Prince George acts as a service centre for Quesnel and much of the Cariboo, the bulk of the population in the Peace River-Northern Rockies riding is focused in the northeast – the cluster of communities surrounding Dawson Creek and Fort St John. If you were to focus on one part of the riding in an attempt to win, it would be the northeast over Prince George.
In practice, this situation has already played out a few times. For the bulk of the nineties and the 2000s, the rep for Prince George-Peace River was Jay Hill of Fort St John. When he stepped down, the race to replace him in the Conservative party was between Cameron Stolz, a businessman and city councillour in Prince George, and Bob Zimmer, a shop teacher in Fort St John. Despite having no previous electoral record and no real connections to Prince George, Zimmer won. Similarly, when Dick Harris said he would be leaving his post as the Conservative rep in the Cariboo, Shari Green- who had already won one term on Prince George council and then defeated an incumbent to become mayor – failed to win support of the party base. And just this past week, another previous city councillour, Deborah Munoz, lost her bid to represent the NDP to Trent Derrick. This despite the fact that Munoz had bested Derrick twice in the number of votes received in their runs for council in Prince George.
There are far too many other factors at play to draw simplistic lessons from this, but the one thing I take away is electoral success in Prince George does not translate to success on the federal level, and the relative weight of Prince George compared to the rest of the riding may have something to do with that.
Maybe it was the winter games. Maybe it’s the centennial. Maybe it’s the fact that the Cougars have a new set of owners. I don’t know what it is exactly, but somehow it feels like the city of Prince George has changed this year.
For whatever reason, there seems to be a general sense of “yeah, we got this” going on. Last night I went to an art opening that was devoted to exploring Prince George’s visual identity. And it was packed! People were interested in the city’s culture. Then after that I went to Nancy-O’s and it was packed, too! And it was a Thursday!
I think that’s a big part of it. Just a few years ago, event organizers were always lamenting how Prince George was a “last-minute town”, meaning that you could never tell if something was going to be successful until the day of because people were so unwilling to commit to actually going to anything.
That is no longer the case. When the Kiwanis Club decided to hold an AleFest, tickets sold out months in advance. Judy Russell’s production of “The Sound of Music” was so popular they added extra shows, and they sold out, too. I got the last two tickets to a Saturday matinee of a musical in the middle of the summer – and I bought them a week early. It’s a hard thing to get your head around, if you’re from here – people are enthusiastically going out and supporting things to the point that “sold out” and “packed” seems to be more of a norm than an exception. The idea that you could hold two successful artistic endeavours in a single night was basically unheard of. Now it’s just another Thursday.
And it’s not just that. I’ve been working downtown for about five years now. Used to be I would go for a walk on a break and see virtually nobody. Now it doesn’t matter where I head, there are people there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re in Toronto or something, but the city streets aren’t lifeless. People are eating on patios. The revamped Canada Games Plaza more often than not has kids playing there, or someone sitting on a bench reading a book or sketching. There’s public space, downtown, and it’s being used.
If I had to put a word to it, I’d say there’s a sense of maturity. In various things – the name change of the park being the most prominent – it seems like a critical mass of the city’s populace has moved to a certain level of thoughtfulness about what kind of place we want to be and what it will take to get there. It’s an acknowledgement of flaws while still agreeing that there is good reason to be here and the solution is not to complain or abandon the city, but adapt it.
This image from last night’s Hometown Project captures what I’m trying to say:
For better or worse, the defining characteristic of Prince George to the outside world remains the smell associated with the local industry. There has been a long and at times heated battle between people who’ve wanted to improve the air quality and the people who are more concerned with the jobs that might cost. “That’s the smell of money” was a shorthand way of dismissing the debate – to the people saying it, a sense of “what ya gonna do?” To the people hearing it, a roadblock thrown in front of their hoped-for improvements. And to the outside world, the smell is a shorthand way of dismissing the city as a whole.
This image captures all that. It acknowledges the smell and the associated problems, but also embraces it as something that makes here here. It’s not against getting rid of the smell, but it’s not against the smell, either, if that makes any sense (there’s a reason why I’m not an art critic). The point is: this image showcases a love of the city by exploring one of its major flaws. And it’s fun, too.
* * *
I mean, I’m sure this has always been here, to an extent. Probably the critical mass that I’m feeling has been felt before. And, no doubt, there are people who think I’m completely out to lunch and this place is terrible.
But I don’t know. I’ve always liked it here. But this year, for whatever reason, I like it better than ever.
I’ve been riding the Carly Rae Jepsen bandwagon pretty hard, and this review by Tom Breihan on Stereogum is the best explanation of why:
“There’s this new narrative in which would-be pop stars find their voices by venturing outside the studio system, working with indie auteurs and finding themselves whole new audiences on the festival circuit. And that setup has produced some truly great music, like Solange’s True and Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time. But E•MO•TION isn’t that. From a distance, it seems like it should be that. Jepsen worked with Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid on the shimmery, quick-dissolve ballad “All That” and with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij on the burbling “Warm Blood.” But E•MO•TION doesn’t play like critic-bait — or, for that matter, like festival-bait. Instead, it plays like gleaming mall-pop turned way up past 11.”
I’ve listened to the Japanese leak of this album pretty consistently since it came out and unless something dramatic happens (like Kanye West) this is going to be my album of the year. Highly recommend.
A comment from a story about the city of Prince George considering making it illegal to park in bike lanes:
“I personally do not see a big need for bike lanes to begin with. I see very few bike riders utilizing these bike lanes.”
People aren’t using bike lanes that often have cars parked in them, are often poorly marked, and at times are disconnected from any other bike lanes in the city (meaning getting to/from them requires you to ride in areas without any form of bike lane).
“I personally do not see a big need to fix the potholes on that road. I see very few drivers utilizing that street.”
“I personally do not see a big need to pave that highway. I see very few people utilizing high speeds along that road.”
“I personally do not see a big need to build a bridge. I see very few commuters utilizing the river.”
I write this in the context of Stephen Marche’s recent treatise against Harper in The New York Times, but this certainly isn’t new. Every once in a while the Times or the Guardian or some other international paper will publish a piece about Canada and then I see it all over Facebook and Twitter with people going “Wow! The [[major paper name]]’s take on Canada!”
Except it isn’t the Times‘ (or the Guardian‘s or the Economist‘s or whomever’s) take. It’s a Canadian writer’s take, written in an international publication.
It’s not that I don’t think there’s any value in reading what intelligent Canadians have to say about the state of Canada. It’s just that there’s nothing unique about it. You can do it literally every day in any number of Canadian magazines, newspapers, blogs or even Tweets.
But those don’t get attention the way an op-ed in the Times will because, I don’t know, this is still Canada and we apparently still crave the attention of Americans. As another Canadian writing in an American publication puts it, “The New York Times is likely more influential in Canada than it is in New York.“
Zeynep Tufekci on the problem with Facebook likes:
“We cannot like refugee kids wading among dead bodies. And we cannot directly tell Facebook’s algorithm that we still care about this, or find it important.”
“At the moment I thought it was kind of a joke, then I stepped in your shoes, that’s when I kind of realized that it all was not a joke at all. That’s your career — obviously it’s also your body and you have complete control of that and without anyone else’s consent, they do not have the right to do anything to anyone.”
Good for him. He recognizes what many other don’t, based on the comments, Tweets, and calls calling Batchelor any number of things.
For people who think female journalists should just let it slide if a strange dude comes up and kisses them– transpose that onto other professions. Like, a woman working retail. Would we be OK with customers running up and kissing her? Or a patient kissing a doctor unannounced? Just because a woman is on TV doesn’t mean she isn’t doing a job. If it isn’t appropriate in other contexts, it isn’t appropriate.1
A few weeks ago, I took part in a night of short talks on the subject of the city of Prince George’s identity – what it was, is, and might be.
It gave me the chance to explore an idea I’ve been playing with lately about the stereotype of Canadian history as boring, and how in reality that’s a convenient way to ignore the more troubling parts of our past. Some of the darker parts of who we are are erased from our collective memory in order to present a more pleasant, bland narrative.
The full talk (just over five minutes) is below. You can find all the talks from the night (there are some good’uns) on the PechaKucha Prince George website.
Every year I take a trip somewhere new, and every year I plan to post about it but never do. So I’ve decided to do something different, which is just write a few things I saw/did that I would recommend. This is by no means comprehensive, it’s just things I will personally say I enjoyed. You can also save the list in Foursquare, if you desire.
1. The Royal Tyrell Museum
Obviously (I assume this is why you’re going?). But here’s a couple of pointers:
- If you want to do one of the hikes, book them for as early in your trip as possible. This is because if any rain happens, they will be cancelled, so this will give you more of a chance to reschedule.
- There is a two-day pass option. If you are going as an adult or with older kids, probably don’t need this, but we were with a four-year-old. She quickly lost interest/got tired the first day, but the second day was far more into it. It was worth the extra $6 to get more enjoyment out of the whole experience.
- If you want a cheap/interesting souvenir, they have a $5 book about the history of the museum that has more information about how the dino-rush got going, how the place works, and that. Good value.
2. World’s Largest Dinosaur
This is one of those things that seems dumb, is dumb, but is just so dumb it’s awesome. Basically, it’s a giant T-Rex and you pay $3 to climb up it. That’s it. But it’s got that kitschy roadside appeal, and the views are great. Akso, there’s a free waterpark right beside it, so, again if you have a kid, yeah, worth it.
Yes, just go to them, they are awesome, bring a good camera and plan to explore.
4. The Fossil Shop
I wouldn’t call it essential, but it’s on the way to/from the museum so worth a quick stop just to take a look. Some interesting things – we picked up a couple of souvenirs.
5. Bernie & The Boys Bistro
Lots of options, friendly, home-style food. Bonus points, again for with the kid: it’s across the street from a playground.
If you want something else, I enjoyed the Vietnamese Noodle House. Again, non-essential, but worthwhile if you’re in the mood.
6. The Star-Mine Suspension Bridge
I like suspension bridges. This one was nice, and it also goes to a cool viewing area and has the remains of an old coal mine on the other side. So again, probably non-essential, but not much of a timesuck, either.
Again, there’s quite a few things we didn’t get to such as historic sites, the Passion Play, some of the hikes and restaurants. Maybe they are better than the things I did! I don’t know! But I did these things, liked them, and maybe you will, too.
Save the full-list in Foursquare.
“Here are 10 openers I’ve heard again and again from public radio producers and podcasters. They’re easy. They’re appealing. They’re overused.”
Oh, God, I’m guilty of all of these. And yes, they are all clichés.
If you aren’t regularly reading Ta-Nehisi Coates, you are missing out on the opportunity to read one of the great thinkers of our time. He tweeted out this older piece today, and it is a brilliant take on the “if black people can say n*****, why can’t I?” argument:
“I have never called my father Billy. I understand, like most people, that words take on meaning within a context. It might be true that you refer to your spouse as Baby. But were I to take this as license to do the same, you would most likely protest. Right names depend on right relationships, a fact so basic to human speech that without it, human language might well collapse. But as with so much of what we take as human, we seem to be in need of an African-American exception.”
I don’t know about “worst advice of all time” but Chelsea Fagan certainly hits some points about travel and privilege that are well made:
“It’s a way for the upper classes to pat themselves on the back for being able to do something that, quite literally, anyone with money can buy. Traveling for the sake of travel is not an achievement, nor is it guaranteed to make anyone a more cultured, nuanced person. (Some of the most dreadful, entitled tourists are the same people who can afford to visit three new countries each year.) But someone who has had the extreme privilege (yes, privilege) of getting out there and traveling extensively while young is not any better, wiser, or more worthy than the person who has stayed home to work multiple jobs to get the hope of one day landing a job that the traveler will assume is a given. It is entirely a game of money and access, and acting as though ‘worrying about money’ on the part of the person with less is some sort of trivial hangup only adds profound insult to injury.”
Andray Domise on racism in North American generally, and Canada specifically:
“Despite the appalling lack of diverse representation in our politics and business, and overrepresentation of people of colour in our penal system, Canada is especially susceptible to the myth that we have outgrown racism. Many will be quick to tell you that here, racism claims a much lower body count than it does down south. That myth has permitted white Canadians to look the other way while we’ve had to deal with the worst of them. A couple of years back, in Georgina, Ontario, a black teenager was beaten by his white classmates while others crowded around shouting, “Pound the nigger!” The assault happened in the same school where the Confederate flag waved so freely that complaints from black parents forced the local school board to ban it. It happened in the same city where Asian Canadians were being swarmed by white mobs and thrown off fishing docks with such regularity that the practice was given a name: nipper-tipping. But to hear white residents tell the story, all of this can be excused by the feeling that they are now minorities in their own country. I spoke about this story often with white friends at the time, and I can’t remember one conversation I had where someone didn’t pitch the refrain, ‘Well, at least we’re not as bad as the States.'”
Claiming moral superiority to a different country is not an acceptable response to racism in our own backyards, and yet it’s a route Canadians often take when hearing uncomfortable things about both our past and our present. Just the other day I was going through the #YouMightBeARacist hashtag on Twitter, and saw a (white) Canadian proudly proclaiming our country didn’t need it because we don’t have racism. That’s a dangerous attitude.
Highly, highly recommended read.
I’ve been a happy Rdio user for years now, and it has been the primary way I listen to music, old and new. But danged if I didn’t get excited for Apple Music, which promised to offer all the streaming convenience of Rdio, only with a wider catalogue, exclusives, Beats 1 Radio, and the ability to merge your personal collections with the cloud. I fully expected to make the switch.
One day in and I’ve completely changed my mind.
While Rdio feels like a seamless merger between the collection and the cloud, Apple Music is a confusing mix of streaming, store, online and offline, different playlists, radio, Match and I don’t even know what else. I mean, full disclosure, I haven’t used iTunes much for years, but this thing is a mess.
Let me use just one example: favouriting songs.
OK, so here’s Rdio. I log in.
There’s all my stuff. The music I’ve most recently been listening to is front and center. Over on the left-hand side I can navigate through a few things, including my personal playlists and friends’ profiles. Today I’m going to check out the new releases.
I like Miguel. I’m going to listen to that. Click on it, it starts playling.
I like this song. Click on it, and a list of options come up, including adding it to one of my playlists, sharing (on Facebook, Twitter, Rdio, links, or embeds), and favouriting. I’m going to favourite it.
I know I succeeded because there’s a red heart beside it.
OK, now I want to go back and hear some songs that I know I liked. No matter where I am on rdio.com, that “Favourites” tab is there. Here’s what happens when I click on it.
All the songs and albums I’ve favourited, in reverse chronological order! I can access this from any computer, as well as from the app on my phone.
OK, so now let’s do the same thing with Apple Music. I open iTunes, and go to the “New” tab. Hey, look, it’s Miguel again!
Alright, so so far it’s about the same. Click, it starts playing, hover on the song I like and I get some options.
Here’s where it starts to fall apart. I hover over “add to” and nothing happens. I have playlists, but they are for my personal iTunes so maybe I can’t add streaming songs? OK, I’ll favourite it instead.
I clicked on the heart, so I think I succeeded? But for some reason Apple’s decided that different shades of grey are the best way to indicate whether a song has been favourited or not.
Let’s find out. I’ll head over to “my music” to find my favourite songs.
It’s not here. Maybe there’s a favourites tab in my playlists?
And here’s where I have to spend ten minutes trying to Google an answer, and eventually piece together that I have to make a new “smart playlist”. How do I do this? Way over in the bottom left hand corner.
Now I need to manually make a playlist that will add any song or album that I “love” to it. Make sure it matches “any”, not “all”!
Here’s my new playlist of “loved” tracks. That Miguel song will be here, right?
Nope, just a classic Weezer tune that I guess I loved a while ago. Incidentally, I tried to remove it from my “loved” tracks for the purposes of this demonstration, but had no success. I love it forever.
Alright, so back to Google. It turns out that before you can have a track you “love” in Apple Music streaming appear in your Apple Music collection, you need to first add it “My Music”. So go back to the artist tab.
This is insane. Why would you give people the ability to “love” tracks without those tracks automatically being added to the “my music”? What is the point? I guess something to do with the algorithm, but now I spent time listening to new music and hitting “heart” only to have it disappear into the ether. I have no idea if there’s anywhere I can see those tracks. I also can’t figure out if I have the ability to share playlists, browse other people’s playlists, or even share this information between iTunes on my Mac and the phone apps. Yesterday when I tried to add tracks to my collection from a phone, I kept winding up on a purchase screen.
This is, I think, the problem with Apple Music: it’s a streaming service built on top of a store with radio stations on the side. Or a radio station in a store with streaming options. I don’t know. Regardless, it’s confusing as heck. While listening to Zane Lowe yesterday I tried multiple times to favourite or collect or whatever a song he was playing, only to give up and add it to my playlist on Rdio.
Here’s how it works on Rdio’s $9.99/month plan:
- browse music
- if you like a song, use it. Add it to a playlist, share it with a friend, download it to your phone. If it’s in their collection, it’s in your collection
Here’s how it works on Apple Music’s $9.99/month plan:
- browse music
- if you like a song… well, make sure it’s not an exclusive track that they can play on the radio stations, but you can’t do anything with. Because I encountered a few of those
- OK, great! It’s in the iTunes store. So now you can:
- like it, but it won’t show up in your collection anywhere. If you want to do that
- add it to your collection, or
- um, add it to your collection even more by purchasing it?
There’s all these weird tiers and getting between them is not at all intuitive. On top of that, I can use Rdio on any computer with a web browser, because it’s entirely browser based. So if I’m working on the road, my collection is completely accessible to me from remote computers, and I’ve done this.
Apple Music, on the other hand, lives in iTunes. So you need iTunes. And once you have it, you need to authorize the computer or whatever junk that is to get into your stuff. And you can only authorize so many computers. And if you want to access your collection from someone else’s device, well, that’s a problem because you can only authorize a new account every 90 days or whatever. I don’t know. Just like the music itself, it’s this weird hybrid of something that lives online and something that actually takes up space on your computer that really feels archaic at this point.
And that’s just the start of it. I enjoy being able to browse other people’s collections and playlists on Rdio. Like this one. Rdio even lets you add your own cover art and descriptions, making it a lot more like sharing mixtapes. I mean, maybe that’s not a killer feature for everyone, but it is for me and I really thought Apple, with it’s history of iPods and playlists and this new focus on “curation” would have that baked in but as best I can tell you get the “recommended playlists” made by various Apple folks, and that’s it. And those playlists are pretty good, actually, but I can’t even seem to explore them, instead being limited to the few they choose to show me.
I mean, hey, it’s like day two of this thing, so it’s bound to be rough. Apple is a big company and has the resources to change. But I really hope Rdio manages to hang in there, because it has a far better product and I’d hate to be forced into switching for this.
@zip on Medium:
“I always knew this day would come. The day that Facebook decided my name was not real enough and summarily cut me off from my friends, family and peers and left me with the stark choice between using my legal name or using a name people would know me by.”
The reason? Zip is a a pseudonym, adopted during a gender transition, and Facebook wants real names only. In the wake of all those rainbow profiles, this does feel hypocritical:
“I chose my Facebook name six years ago, as I began my transition. Every person I’ve met since then has generally known me by that name, and in part this is precisely because I use it on Facebook. I so strongly identify with and am identified by that name that when I took a job at Facebook I put it on my badge.
“Worse still, they allow people to report each other for using “fake” names. People know this, and they use it as a mechanism to kick each other off the site. If you’re a marginalised person, such as a trans person, you may be left with no way to get back on. Facebook have handed an enormous hammer to those who would like to silence us, and time after time I see that hammer coming down on trans women who have just stepped out of line by suggesting that perhaps we’re being mistreated. In fact, it happened to me shortly after commenting on a Facebooker’s post that Facebook needs to step up on this issue.
“By forcing us to change our names on the site, Facebook changes the names we are known by in real life — whether we like it or not.“
My two favourite artists so far this year have been a couple of Rae’s – British Columbia’s very own pop chanteuse Carly Rae Jepsen, and Mississippi hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd. Given the shared letters in their names, and the fact they have a couple of massive hits, I figured it would only be a matter of time before someone made a mashup- and I wasn’t alone.
But as weeks and months went by it became increasingly apparent it wasn’t happening, at least not as quickly as I’d like. So I decided to do something I’ve been wanting to try for a while: I made my own mashup.
This is a first go, so it’s not great and there’s a few things that I’d like to do better (for example, find an acapella of “No Type” or do a better job of removing the bass), but hey, it works, and maybe someone will take my idea and do a better job of it, which would make me extremely happy. Meanwhile, here’s my own version. Enjoy, or don’t, it’s your life.
download | alt download | buy Sremm Life | pre-orderer E•MO•TION
Space Jam, the 1996 team-up between Michael Jordan and the Loony Tunes came out when I was eleven years old, so of course I loved it, as I loved the movie’s soundtrack, one of the first CDs I remember owning, possibly the first. Apropos of nothing, here are those ranked based on the opinions I formed of them when I was eleven.
14. “The Winner” by Coolio
13. “I Found My Smile Again” by D’angelo
12. “Givin’ U All That I’ve Got” by Robin S.
11. “All of My Days” by R. Kelly feat. Changing Faces and Jay-Z
Despite listening to this album countless times, I cannot for the life of me remember what these songs sound like. They get ranked by the order they appear on the album, because presumably I would have heard the earlier songs more, so forgetting them is even worse. “The Winner” is the second track and I could not tell you a thing about it.
10. “I Turn To You” by All-4-One
9. “For You I Will” by Monica
I do remember these songs. But I was also eleven years old and they were slow jams, so… eh. One of the advantages of CD players over records and cassettes was the skip track button, and I made use of them here.
8. “Upside Down (Round-N-Round)” by Salt-N-Pepa
I vaguely remember this being funky. Probably not a skip.
7. “That’s the Way (I Like It)” by Spin Doctors feat. Biz Markie (KC and the Sunshine Band cover/remix)
6. “Fly Like An Eagle” by Seal (Steve Miller Band cover)
5. “Basketball Jones” by Barry White and Chris Rock (Cheech and Chong cover)
I didn’t know at the time any of these were covers. They were just cool new songs I’d never heard before. I distinctly remember buying a Steve Miller Band compilation from a gas station on a road trip, and being blown away that “Fly Like An Eagle” was on there.
4. “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly
A simpler time when I knew nothing of R. Kelly except he believed he could fly.
3. “Buggin'” by Bugs Bunny
I’m super curious about this one, because I loved it, but then I also loved a movie about the Loony Tunes kidnapping Michael Jordan to play in a game of basketball against aliens. So was it good? Or was my taste just that bad?
2. “Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars’ Anthem) by B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man
OK, I’ve heard this song since and it still holds up, so I am entirely confident with its high ranking here.
1. “Space Jam” by Quad City DJ’s
Today, I’d probably put this in the number two or even lower slot but as a kid this was my jaaaaaaam. This was track three, but track one in my heart. It acted as a self-commentary on the album itself: “Y’all ready for this? You know it! And you wanna know why? Cause this is the Space Jam!“