OPINION: On crokinole and dark riders

The game of crokinole was invented in southern Ontario more than 150 years ago. Photo courtesy of Danielle Brain

George Mathewson

As a kid growing up in Sarnia I used to play a lot of crokinole on a round, wooden board that had been in family forever.

So I was surprised to read in the Toronto Star recently that “Crow-kin-o,” which I’d assumed was an ancient and universal game, was invented around 1860 in Tavistock, Ont. near Stratford.

The game, in which players flick wooden discs while trying to land in the higher-scoring central area, apparently caught on as an after-dinner pastime during the long, dreary Canadian winter.

It was especially popular in Mennonite communities, where it was seen as a wholesome alternative to cards and gambling.

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Speaking of alternatives, does it seem like a lot of cash stores have appeared lately?

At last count there were 773 payday lenders in Ontario, which means the number of cash stores in the province is now greater than the number of McDonalds restaurants, the Hamilton Spectator reports.

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Everyone knows commercial airplanes carry a flight recorder, known as a “black box,” to record flight information and cockpit audio and allow investigators to determine the cause of a crash.

But did you know most cars also have a black box?

Vehicle black boxes first appeared in 1994 on certain makes, and in the U.S. they are now mandatory on all new vehicles.

The device tracks and records vehicle speed, throttle position, whether the brakes were applied or the seatbelts worn in a collision – 15 variables in all.

Black boxes only store information for 20 seconds around the crash. The data has been used in some U.S. court cases, but retrieving it is difficult and expensive.

Nevertheless, privacy advocates worry the recording length could be increased, and that hackers will one day be able to control and manipulate the data.

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Finally, Ontario brought in new rules last week that should jar awake those motorists who act like they own the road.

Drivers are now legally required to leave a one-metre distance when passing a cyclist, or risk a $110 fine and two demerit points. This is new.

And the fine for “dooring” a cyclist is now $365 plus three demerit points.

Dooring occurs when the inattentive driver of a parked car opens the door on a passing biker, often leading to injury.

As a cyclist, I like these new rules of the road.

And as a driver, I love the fact cyclists can now be fined $110 for not having proper bike lights, front and back.

Finally, police have a tool to crack down on those reckless fools who tool around in the dark with no lights on.