Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Subway Around the World

So I've done this now for both McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Despite the obvious difficulties involved in getting Google's search engine to understand the word 'Subway', I wanted to try with the submarine chain, because they claim it's surpassed the Golden Arches as the fast-food chain with the most branches.

I was sceptical. But looking at Subway's own webpage comes up some remarkable stats: Subway truly is an empire. There are Subways in countries you've never even heard of. From our perspective, that doesn't mean that much, since we're still limited to countries that Google Maps Street View is active in. So it's the same mix of Western Europe, North America, Brazil, South Africa and a few eastern Pacific countries. I tried at least to choose a few out-of-the-way cities. What else can I do? Anyway, Subway is everywhere...

Click on any of these pretty thumbnails for a full-screen picture

Subway AucklandSubway Belo HorizonteSubway Cardiff


Belo Horizonte


Subway CoventrySubway DallasSubway Fukuoka




Subway HelsinkiSubway HonoluluSubway Kaohsiung




Subway Los CristianosSubway LyonSubway Malmö

Los Cristianos



Subway Mexico CitySubway MobileSubway Montréal

Mexico City



Subway New York CitySubway ParisSubway Perth

New York City



Subway San FranciscoSubway Sao PauloSubway Stockholm

San Francisco

Sao Paulo


Subway SydneySubway WassenaarSubway Whitehorse




Subway Winnipeg


Auckland is in New Zealand, Belo Horizonte 'represents' Brazil alongside Sao Paulo, and Cardiff is in Wales. Coventry is a small English city, Dallas is in Texas and Fukuoka is in Japan. Obviously, Helsinki is in Finland and Honolulu is in Hawaii. Kaohsiung is an impossible-to-spell city in Taiwan (I got bored of Taipei), and Los Cristianos is in the Canary Islands - the most exotic place Google Maps Street View can currently be found. Lyon is in France and Malmö is in Sweden - as is Stockholm. No points for knowing where Mexico City is, Mobile is in Alabama and Montréal in Québec. New York City is in Guatemala, Paris is in Bhutan, Perth is in Australia rather far from Sydney, and only one of those three sentences is correct. San Francisco is in California. Wassenaar is a suburb of The Hague in the Netherlands, and while Winnipeg is in Manitoba, Whitehorse is in the Yukon.

Subway is in every square inch of this planet. It may even be in the room with you right now as you read this... Look at the full list here and be very, very afraid...

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Friday, October 22, 2010

How I'm Going to Vote

George Smitherman with puppetImage by Shaun Merritt via FlickrWith just three days to go, I've finally decided how I'm going to vote.

Deep breath... I'm voting Smitherman.

Now, on the one hand, what the hell? I'm 35 and I've spent my whole life backing non-competitive horses. I have not - until now - given much thought to the probability that the horse I back could win. I have regarded as insidious the notion that I should hold my nose and back the lesser of two competitive evils. I have wondered how far the progressive voice in this country might have progressed if on election day we have consistently had the courage of our opinions.

And now I'm selling out. It's not that Joe Pantalone is any kind of saviour or George Smitherman any kind of devil. But I do believe Pantolone would make a better mayor and that he has a better vision for Toronto. How can I contemplate not voting for him?

Well, it has a lot ot do with the nature of elections. We have an ability municipally to do something we can't provincially or federally: to vote for both our local representative and the overall leader. I've never voted for Prime Minister and I've never voted for premier. There are two layers of futility there: the fact that by and large local NDP candidates haven't had a chance in hell, and on top of that additionally the fact that even if my local MP or MPP gets in (and I have lived in both Oshawa and Hamilton), the NDP will not form the government. I've been okay with that - knowing that the prime minister or premier will be decided by forces outside of my control, I can attempt to send a representative to the opposition side. And even if I can't, well, I can contribute in some intangible way to the NDP anyway. In 2007 I had an opportunity to vote against the man I've decided I'll vote for on Monday, and I cast my vote for an NDP candidate named Sandra Gonzalez. She won 19% of the vote - less than one person in five - while Smitherman cakewalked his way into the Ministry of Health. I have no regrests about that whatsoever.

But municipally my vote goes directly to the mayor, who wins in a very primitive winner-take-all way. Joe Pantolone has no chance of winning whatsoever, but it's still very much in the air whether Rob Ford or George Smitherman will take it. I don't know if the current mania we have in Canada for opinion polling is a good thing or a bad thing - it seems strange to say Pantolone has no chance, that an election can be a foregone conclusion. But it's just naïveté in extremis to view it otherwise. Or rather to see this election as no foregone conclusion at all: anything could happen Monday. Well, that's not true. Ford could win. Smitherman could win. Pantolone can't.

So at 35 for the first time in my life, I'm voting tactically. Pantolone is the better choice, but Smitherman isn't all that bad, I guess. And he's a hell of a lot better than Ford. Plus he'll have to deal with the other half of my voting card: the one where I'll tick the name of the most progressive local councillor. Whether or not that candidate has a chance, I'll feel good that I'll have attempted to do the right thing with my local candidate. If he (it's a he) gets in, I can hope he makes things difficult for Smitherman. I can hope he'll do everything to stonewall any attempts on Smitherman's part to pull Toronto to the right.

And, if that's how it goes down, if I can have used my vote for mayor to stop Ford and my vote for councillor to slow down 'Compact Ford', what more could I ask for?

Except for my principles back, that is...

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

KFC Around the World

The other day I made a blog entry here devoted to the wonderful world of McDonald's. I used Google Maps Street View to find twenty-five different McDonald's restaurants in twenty-five different cities. And why did I do that? Well, I'm not sure. it's not out of love for McDonald's. I guess I was intrigued by just how Globalism works - how this cookie-cutter design can be stampted on otherwise very different urban spaces. Kind of both frightening and intriguing at the same time. The 'golden arches' in the midst of these different street scenes became a lind of very easy 'Where's Waldo?' game. I was hooked. So here's take two: KFC, which is more international than I had thought it was, whether it's branded in full ("Kentucky Fried Chicken"), in acronym ("KFC") or, in Québec, in its rather delightful alternate acronym "PFK" (test your French by decoding that...)
Click on any of these pretty thumbnails for a full-screen picture.

KFC CanberraKFC ChicoutimiKFC Copenhagen




KFC DublinKFC DurbanKFC Glasgow




KFC HalifaxKFC Hong KongKFC Kyoto


Hong Kong


KFC LexingtonKFC LondonKFC Madrid




KFC MarseillesKFC MonterreyKFC Prague




KFC Québec CityKFC Rio de JaneiroKFC Rotterdam

Québec City

Rio de Janeiro


KFC Salt Lake CityKFC SeattleKFC Singapore

Salt Lake City



KFC StellenboschKFC TaipeiKFC Tijuana




KFC Wellington


A few quick notes for the sake of clarification: Stellenbosch and Durban are both in South Africa. Halifax is the one in Nova Scotia, and both Chicoutimi and Québec City are in Québec (I love the 'PFK' so much I couldn't resist two). Lexington is in Kentucky, where the brand name is surprisingly not merely 'Fried Chicken', and Salt Lake City is in Utah, both in the USA. The company apparently started in Salt Lake City, but I don't know whether that was the first location. Wellington is in New Zealand and Canberra in Australia. Rotterdam is in the Netherlands, Marseilles is in France. I used too many of the same cities this second time out.
And that's the Dirty Bird. PETA would be so happy.
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