Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 27, 2010 @ 11:05 pm


Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 26, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

Today I seriously considered buying one of the new Amazon Kindles. I had never really wanted one before, but the new ones are relatively cheap, and seem like they could be useful. is advertising them on the front page, so I clicked and went through the steps of ordering one, until I got to the shipping part. Then I realized that I wasn’t purchasing it from, I was purchasing it from, which means that the 139 they were advertising it for on was not 139 Canadian dollars. False advertising, kind of? Also, there is no free shipping as is advertised when you click on the link, and you gotta pay duty, too. I sent the following message to

Why do you have the new Kindle listed on the front page of the website, advertised as costing $139, but then switch me to when I click on it, where it tells me I qualify for free shipping, only to then tell me that I have to pay not only shipping but also duty when I’m actually about to buy it? Didn’t you guys just open up a real shop in Canada? Why do you hate us?

Not that long afterwards, I got the following reply:

Thank you for writing to us at

I apologize for any misunderstanding regarding the Kindle listed on the home page of our website.

“kindle” is currently not available through our Canadian web site and is only available for purchase with our partner site

To make purchase of Kindle convenient for our customers from, we have listed kindle on our home page by which when you click on it, you will be directed to our partner site where you can place order for kindle to a Canadian address.

However, I have passed your message about your interest in “Kindle” to the appropriate people in our company for their consideration. It is always important for us to hear how customers react to all aspects of shopping at

Since Kindle is shipped from (US fulfillment centers), the purchase to Canadian address is considered as International order.

International orders are subjected to custom duty. Since, Amazon Kindle and associated digital content can only be purchased on, we are unable to provide further information about the shipping charge and custom duty.

For more information about purchasing kindle, shipping charges and customs duty, I request you to contact our partner site using the following link.

Our international websites operate independently of each other and don’t share order information or customer service representatives.

We are always expanding our selection, so you may want to check back occasionally to see if we have added kindle to our offerings. Any updated information we have will be listed on the website as soon as it is available.

I’m sorry again for not being able to provide you further help.

Thank you for your interest in


Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 22, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

helmet laws

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 17, 2010 @ 11:07 am

Something that really upsets me is when people are so cavalier about taking away the freedom of another person, especially when the freedom in question has no effect on them. Same-sex marriage, for instance, is opposed by many people for whom it does not affect, including some people who call themselves “libertarians.”

Something else that seems to be coming up a lot lately is the argument that Toronto (or Ontario, or any jurisdiction that does not have it already) should implement mandatory helmet laws. This morning on the radio, I listened to yet another debate over this. As a cyclist who usually chooses not to wear a helmet (but sometimes chooses to wear one), this idea particularly upsets me. It usually seems to be proposed by people who aren’t cyclists, as a sort of punitive measure, similar to recent-ish musings by a Toronto city councilor that all bicycles should have to be registered and that riders should pay a licensing fee. The radio show featured a debate between a traffic officer who was in favour of helmets, and the head of the Toronto Cyclists’ Union (who I don’t usually like, but who was pretty good today). The host was unabashedly in favour of helmet laws, even though he kept pointing out that he is a cyclist. I generally cringe whenever I hear him talking about cycling in Toronto, because he’s always going on about how dangerous it is. While there are a lot of bad drivers out there, I don’t think that cycling in Toronto is particularly dangerous. I hear a lot of people who don’t ride bikes talk about how dangerous it is, though, which tells me that our culture of fear is working. Let’s stop spreading it, people. Cycling in general is pretty safe, and would probably be safer if people actually obeyed the rules of the road (including bikes). Far more people die every year in automobile accidents, or from the air pollution that cars create, but nobody in the mainstream is talking about banning cars.

Bicycle deaths are pretty rare. There hasn’t been some huge epidemic of them or anything to bring on this discussion, so I don’t understand why we have these moral panics.

A cliche that often creeps into the debate is that cyclists who do not wear helmets should be forced to pay for their own healthcare costs. On the radio, the police officer brought it up. I’m not exactly sure where it started, but it’s a pretty scary argument if you think about it at all.

Basing health care coverage on somebody else’s assessment of the personal risks you take is an incredibly dangerous precedent to be setting. It’s also completely arbitrary, when it comes to cycling. Why should cycling without a helmet be considered any more dangerous and worthy of punishment than:

– rock-climbing

– skating without a helmet

– tobogganing without a helmet

– playing hockey

– playing any contact sport

– eating “unhealthy” food

– breathing polluted air

– being lazy

– smoking

– etc.

I could obviously go on. All of these things can all be shown to lead to injury and death. There are already people who would want deny health care coverage to smokers. The point of a public health care system is to ensure equal access to health care, not enforce a code of morality, and a system that uses your behaviour to judge whether or not you get medical treatment would be just as scary as the American system. I don’t see how it could be enforced, either.

Wear a helmet if it makes you feel safe. I personally choose to wear one when I’m going “road biking” or when the ground is slippery, such as after a snowstorm. From a safety standpoint, though, it’s much more important to avoid getting hit by cars in the first place. A helmet isn’t going to protect you much if you actually get hit by a car, and it wasn’t designed to do so. Be visible, follow the rules of the road, don’t ride directly next to parked cars, and take the lane if you have to. And keep your lousy nanny state laws off of my body.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace