2017-10-24 Tue


Christopher Greaves Home_IMG_20170924_104359371.jpg

Ever sit behind someone whose tag is out, and you just ache to tuck it back in?

What do you suppose I should have done in the case of this gentleman?

Green Cars and Pedestrian Deaths

I am bloated from cups of tea consumed while wading through a backlog of newspapers as I wind down this apartment before heading off on a vacation of indeterminate length. Well, OK, four weeks TOPS, but that does mean emptying the fridge and changing the bed-sheets, even though it is only October ...

Green Cars

This gets us into electric cars, really, powered by “non-polluting electricity”, but if you are honest you’ll admit that you have no idea from whence the latest kilometre of electricity you drove. Was that kilometre of electricity generated by hydro-electric power sources, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, gas-fired or coal-fired? And don’t tell me that Ontario no longer has coal-fired sources of electricity. Every time Ontario imports electricity, some of it is from coal-fired generating stations.

I’m not an expert, so I can’t predict the future, but I’ve known since high-school that the wind blows courtesy of sunshine, and that our opportunity for sunshine is limited to twelve hours a day (on average) and even that is under a cloud from time to time. So Solar-sourced and wind-sourced electricity can never be mainstream providers of electric power.

I am all for local windmills and solar panels squeezing out electrical power. I lived in Australia for years. Looking back, covering a roof with solar panels would have diverted almost all of the sun’s direct rays from the roof, leading to a cooler house AND providing a source of income for what? Gasoline for the car?

Using home-based solar and wind power to reduce the burden on the main system is commendable and demonstrably achievable. Good for it.

But for the next fifty years it seems as if hydro and nuclear sources are the main source of dependable electrical energy.

And if we get rid of oil-burners and switch to electric vehicles, trust me on this one: We ARE going to need dependable sources of electricity, otherwise all movement of people will cease, and not just because the Toronto Transit Commission has shut down another section of the subway to make repairs that should have been made fifty years ago.

So, what’s to hate about electric cars?

Mainly that they are practically noiseless.

Latest reports show forty-three pedestrians killed on Toronto’s roads so far this year (That is Toronto, I believe, not the GTA or the GTHA).

As the number of electric cars rises, expect pedestrian deaths to rise on two counts:-

(1) We will not hear them coming (“He never knew what hit him”)

(2) Their acceleration outstrips oil-fueled vehicles. This fact is borne out by the “Wheels” section of each weekend newspaper, and a comparison of riding the diesel choo-choos of GO Transit and the electric trains of the RER/SNCF of France’s Transilean system.

So, if you are getting used to walking to the corner store, you will not have as much audible warning of a predator, and just when you thought it was safe to cross (that car is a good hundred yards away), you’ll be flat on your back looking like a badly-used pepperoni pizza.

If, like me, you have spent the past five years walking around (mainly “over”) Toronto, you’ll already have experienced an electric bike sailing past you. Unannounced.


Of all the books I own, the one I’ll miss most on my holidays is my 1,700 page Canadian Oxford Dictionary. I use it frequently, especially when writing as I use a word I would use in conversation, but then am arrested by the thought that while it is easy to toss a word into the air, it is harder to write it out and be certain that it is the correct word. Without checking the definition, my language is debased.

This morning gives an example: Two words, “satirical” and “sardonic” popped into my mind. As I walked to the dictionary, a third word “sarcasm” reared its head. I believe that it is no freak accident that all begin with the letters “sa”; I suspect that that happens because of the way my neurons are linked in my brain; it might be something to do with years of doing crossword puzzles. Only the linguists know.

I made notes:-

(1) Sardonic: bitterly mocking or cynical; bitter or scornful laughter.

(2) Sarcasm: bitter or wounding (ironic) remarks; (from “tear flesh” and/or “gnash teeth”)

(3) Satirical: use of ridicule, irony, or sarcasm to expose folly or vice, or to lampoon an individual; cynical observation of others. Humorously critical.

I note in passing that the definition of satirical suggests an individual and several individuals (“others”)

I met this 25 years ago coaching English in EFL (English as a First Language) classes. Lady worked as quality control on an assembly line, printing labels on plastic containers. Should she write in her report “smudge” or should she write “smear”? We looked in a dictionary and found something like seven, or seventeen different words starting with the letter “s” that reflected various problems in the inking on plastic of words and images.

It seems to me that English is so powerful, has so many fine points that could be represented as paths towards a goal, that it is made too easy to take an inferior path and still end up at the goal! That leads to a more heavily travelled path that becomes a major route, and so an inferior word becomes the accepted word, partly because of it novelty.

Much has been made in the press of the word “dotard”, suddenly back in use after an absence of two or three hundred years. Last night, of course, I read an article that uses the word in Pick Of Punch albumn from 1984, hence from an article printed between June 183 to may 1984.

Writers who report that the word “dotard” is suddenly back in use after an absence of two or three hundred years are themselves dotards, IMHO!