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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
There's a fortune inside your head / All you touch turns to lead / You think you might just crawl back in bed
— Wilco, Misunderstood
October 29, 2007

Millions of Canadian Taxpayer Dollars

Millions of taxpayer dollars go to Bombardier every year…you’d think they could building landing gear that would stay on a plane.

Scandinavian Airlines drops Bombardier Q400 turboprops
It’s ‘very safe,’ Montreal-based Bombardier says of aircraft assembled in Toronto
Last Updated: Sunday, October 28, 2007 | 4:38 PM ET
CBC News
Scandinavian Airlines System has decided to permanently stop flying Canadian-made Bombardier Q400 turboprops after a string of crash landings blamed on landing gear malfunctions, the airline’s chief executive said Sunday.

Posted by skooter at 1:31 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Quebec.
Tags: Aviation, Bombardier, Conservative, Liberals, Politics, Subsidies

The Times, They Are(n’t) a Changing

Last year at this time, our clocks were falling back. According to my Filofax this would be the weekend to have done so.

There was, of course, the little matter of a little law that changed and delayed it by a week. As a result, computers everywhere were thrown into a state of confusion.

Or not.

My Mac is ticking along nicely, fully aware of the correct time. Older versions of Windows that update by network it seems, have not.

Nowhere is this more obvious than on my cell phone: I have a new one (it’s a Nokia N80) and for the first time in ages I set it to pick up the network time. Fido didn’t support network time, but now that we’re on Rogers it’s there as an option.

And it’s still off by an hour as of 18:40hrs.

Rogers is just that poorly managed that millions of Canadians are walking around with the wrong time on their phones, despite the fact that a simple patch to any modern version of Windows would have updated their servers.

Sigh. Who says we don’t need more competition in the Canadian cell phone industry.

Posted by skooter at 2:36 AM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Cellular Phones, Rogers, Windows

October 27, 2007

“I’m just a photographer; I don’t know anything”

Twice this week, I’ve mentioned the killing fields. I have a friend who’s visiting Cambodia as part of a long period of traveling.

A chilling reminder of what happened there in today’s New York Times.

“‘Look straight ahead. Don’t lean your head to the left or the right.’ That’s all I said,” he recalled. “I had to say that so the picture would turn out well. Then they were taken to the interrogation center. The duty of the photographer was just to take the picture.”

Posted by skooter at 2:55 PM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Articles, Asia, Killing Fields, Politics

October 23, 2007

The Darjeeling Ltd.

The Darjeeling Ltd. is the new film from Wes Anderson, who’s previous work includes The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou. Both were well written and cinematically interesting. Tenenbaums is one of my favourite movies of recent memory, actually. I love that film.

The Darjeeling Ltd. is a bit slower in pace, but shares a plot with the same quirky nature. All of Anderson’s films include children estranged from their parents, in various flavours. In virtually all of his films, the incredibly beautiful Anjelica Huston plays the estranged and aloof mother. She does so here, and her brief moments on film are a highlight, as well as a climax to the loosely defined plot.

Continue reading "The Darjeeling Ltd."

Posted by skooter at 5:57 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: Movies, Wes Anderson

Nobody Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM

Uh huh. As noted on Macintouch

During after-hours trading, Apple’s market cap passed IBM’s: $162 billion versus $156 billion. What a long strange trip it’s been!

What a good time to own a Macintosh. Where were you all in the mid 90’s? Where were you all!

Posted by skooter at 4:44 AM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Apple, IBM, Investing

October 21, 2007

Not For The Season

The carbs have been drained, the battery is out and being stored indoors and Sparky, my much maligned 1982 Yamaha Virago is in the garage for the year.

I didn’t ride as much this year as last, but next year looks like it should be a blast: a convention in Vegas in June means a long trip. There is, after all, only one way to get to Vegas.

Posted by skooter at 5:29 PM This entry is filed under Narcicism.
Tags: Fall, Motorcycle, Virago

User Interfaces at the Globe and Mail

It’s been a couple of weeks since I complained about the Globe and Mail in this space, so it’s about time for a new one. This time I was doing some mutual fund research at Globefund

Confession: I built many sites the competed in some way with Globefund. You may take this as a bias if you choose.

I was using the Fund Filter, as part of considering adding a new mutual fund to my portfolio. This is the Fund Filter start page:
Globefund Fund Filter Home Page I never liked the name Fund Filter by the way. It has no style. I’m not sure if I ever told them that, but I always hated it. (That’s a biased opinion.)

I was presented with the interface I’ve been using for years…too many widgets, not very clean, and difficult to use to be sure. It’s grown familiar over the years though, so I ignore 90% of it.

For the first time, I noticed the items I’ve circled in the screenshot above.

Continue reading "User Interfaces at the Globe and Mail"

Posted by skooter at 4:00 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Globe and Mail, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Investing, Mutual Funds

October 19, 2007

The New York Times Review: Rendition

The New York Times somehow has managed to review the new film Rendition without mentioning the name Maher Arar.

This seems just…strange. You can read the review here

Posted by skooter at 12:59 PM This entry is filed under America, Entertainment, Politics.
Tags: America, Articles, Media Bias, Movies, Terrorism

Playing on the Stairs

Ben on the Stairs at Bowen Island Stairs, as it turns out, are quite the little game at 15 months old.

Posted by skooter at 4:03 AM This entry is filed under Camera, Family.
Tags: Benjamin, Children, Stairs

October 17, 2007

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a long, poetic, wonderfully shot and beautifully told film. Clocking in at a bit less than than three hours, the movie is moved along by a third person narration that manifests itself at regular intervals. The narration is not a voice over, and works nicely by filling in relevant details.

Much has been written about the film’s cinematography, and the early train robbery scene in particular. My favourite shot has Brad Pitt’s boot on the rail of the train track as it starts to rumble with the vibrations of the approaching train. The gravel piled closely against the rail starts to fall, until the camera cuts away to the wider shot of the train approaching in the dark of the night.

Will Brad Pitt win an Oscar for this role? Maybe.

Continue reading "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Posted by skooter at 6:43 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: Brad Pitt, Movies

October 15, 2007

Penguin Loyalty

From the New Scientist

Penguins take fishing trips with their buddies
10 October 2007

Penguins make bosom buddies and they like to team up with them when going on fishing expeditions.

Little penguins, the smallest penguin species, go on long fishing trips to feed their chicks. Like many other penguins they cross the beach in groups of five to 10 birds, as being in troops helps protect individuals from predators. The suggestion is that these groups fish cooperatively, in which case you might expect the birds to seek out good teammates rather than form groups at random.

Posted by skooter at 12:45 AM This entry is filed under Penguins, Science.
Tags: Fishing, Penguins, Science

October 14, 2007

Blue, Baby, Blue

When I was at the University of Toronto and all my friends were at the University of Waterloo, the Waterloo football team was so bad that they were all trying out. Not that they were horrible players but, you know, we were all math guys…not athletes. Cycling was our favourite form of exercise: not the stuff that football greats are made of.

How depressing to find out that the University of Toronto now holds the record for the most consecutive losses in Canadian university history.

Posted by skooter at 3:06 AM This entry is filed under Sports.
Tags: Football, University of Toronto

October 13, 2007

Information R/evolution

Thanks to Donna Mauer for pointing this out.

Posted by skooter at 5:03 PM This entry is filed under Technology, Words.
Tags: Data, Information Architecture

Recipe for Political…Success???

  1. Criticize your opponents for offering tax cuts and jeopardizing Canada’s social safety net.
  2. Promise to staunchly defend that safety net if elected
  3. Promise tax cuts if you’re elected

I’m not quite sure what Stéphane Dion is smoking these days, but this just seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Dion says he’d cut corporate tax rate
CAROLINE ALPHONSO
Globe and Mail Update
October 12, 2007 at 6:39 PM EDT

TORONTO—Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is offering deeper tax breaks to Corporate Canada to maintain the country’s global competitiveness, but won’t say how much until the next election campaign.

Posted by skooter at 4:50 PM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Liberals, Stephane Dion

Hypodermic Shrimp

Shrimp Syringes

These are the shrimp hypodermics I wrote about at the art show I attended last Thursday.

Posted by skooter at 3:48 PM This entry is filed under Food, Vancouver.
Tags: Downtown Eastside, Pretentious, Shrimp

October 12, 2007

Before Live 8 there was Live Aid

Before Wilco, there was U2. One of the most famous performances of the greatest rock and roll song of the 1980s (despite that silly CBC 50 Tracks survey that chose With or Without You from the The Joshua Tree.)

Continue reading "Before Live 8 there was Live Aid"

Posted by skooter at 4:25 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Vancouver.
Tags: Downtown Eastside, Heroin, Irish Music, Live Aid, Rock and Roll, U2

If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Does Anybody Hear?

Ancient Cedar falls in Stanley Park

This is good. This is why they call it nature. Let’s hope that the local Vancouver hippies don’t star a protest to get this thing propped up again.

Ancient cedar falls in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Last Updated: Friday, October 12, 2007 | 1:35 AM ET

A red cedar tree believed to be almost 1,000 years old and reputedly the largest of its kind in the world uprooted and toppled from natural causes in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

On Thursday, a part of the tree’s root was exposed and clearly saturated with water and rotten. The top of the tree lies so deep in the forest it can’t be seen.

Posted by skooter at 2:13 PM This entry is filed under Nature, Vancouver.
Tags: Forest, Stanley Park, Trees

Is This Even a Question?

John Tory didn’t win a seat in yesterday’s election.

John Tory didn’t win the mayor’s job in T-dot, despite spending quite a bit of money trying to do it.

John Tory considered running for the federal Conservative party’s leadership, but didn’t when he figured out that Stephen Harper was pretty much guaranteed to win.

John Tory has nothing left to run for.

Tory’s defeat ‘a tough blow’ to party
KAREN HOWLETT and PAUL WALDIE AND SIRI AGRELL
Globe and Mail Update
October 11, 2007 at 11:11 PM EDT

OTTAWA, TORONTO, FORT FRANCES, ONT. — Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory’s bitter election defeat this week leaves him facing an uncertain future as the soul-searching begins over how he squandered an opportunity to thwart a Liberal majority.

Posted by skooter at 6:16 AM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Conservative Party of Canada, Ontario

October 11, 2007

Why Tina Fey is the Best Writer on Television

30 Rock is the most underwatched show on TV. It will disappear at the end of this season, as all comedies that I truly love do. Sports Night did.

This year Sports Night’s creator Aaron Sorkin and Tina Fey faced off on the same network with shows that were set behind the scenes of a weekly live comedy show. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip came out of the gate strong, but quickly withered—perhaps a victim of unrealistically high expectations. 30 Rock is the little show that could, and the only show that I schedule TV around.

(Ok. Not really…it can be downloaded after all.)

Here’s why.

Continue reading "Why Tina Fey is the Best Writer on Television"

Posted by skooter at 5:20 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: 30 Rock, Joss Whedon, Serenity, Television, Tina Fey, Writing

Is There No Shame?

I can understand manufacturers cutting costs by using the cheapest components possible when making toys for kids, but this time they’ve crossed the line. Don’t mess with the monkey!

Marvel testing Curious George dolls for lead

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | 4:27 PM ET

Marvel Entertainment Group Inc. said Wednesday it was testing Curious George dolls after a consumer advocacy group warned that the dolls contained unsafe levels of lead.

Posted by skooter at 2:35 AM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Articles, China, Curious George, Manufacturing, Toys

Beautiful Things in Incredibly Small Packages

Wired presents a gallery of microscopic images chosen by Nikon.

Posted by skooter at 2:13 AM This entry is filed under Camera, Science, Technology.
Tags: Articles. Technology, Photography, Science, Small World

October 9, 2007

Some Things Americans Just Don’t Get

Hockey is one of them, although they keep winning that damn Stanley Cup.

Nike abandons hockey
Oct 09, 2007 04:30 AM
RICK WESTHEAD
STAFF REPORTER

Nike just couldn’t do it.

Thirteen years after it skated into the hockey industry with its purchase of the world’s largest hockey company, Nike is abandoning Canada’s national game.

Posted by skooter at 1:47 PM This entry is filed under Sports.
Tags: Articles, Hockey, Nike, Sports

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts to help some of the poorest people on the planet. His book is well worth reading.

Yunus points out what should be obvious, in my opinion: money need not be the only motivation for business. Businesses can be driven by social consciousness and impact as well.

Continue reading "Muhammad Yunus"

Posted by skooter at 4:30 AM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Economics, Nobel Prize, poverty

October 8, 2007

Michael Ignatieff Speaks Like a Dodo

Michael Ignatieff was hand chosen by Paul Martin, one of the most forgettable Prime Ministers in the history of the nation. Mr. Martin led a Liberal minority government that was ridiculously ineffective, short-lived and turned the Liberal Party of Canada into a shell of its former self.

This makes Mr. Ignatieff’s comments here all the more surprising:

Harper doesn’t want minority to work, says Ignatieff
Canadian Press
October 7, 2007 at 3:32 PM EDT

OTTAWA—Deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he doesn’t believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper really wants the minority Parliament to work.

Mr. Ignatieff told CTV’s Question Period Sunday that if Mr. Harper was prepared to make Parliament work, it would be easy—just work with the Opposition to get Conservative legislation passed.

“All he has to do is pick up the phone and call the leader of our party and say, ‘Look I’ve got a number of bills, I’ve got a number of measures. How far will you come with me?’” Mr. Ignatieff said.

The Martin government was uncooperative and arrogant to the extreme, eventually leading to its downfall. Leveling these criticisms at the Harper regime seems disingenuous at best.

Posted by skooter at 6:49 AM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Liberal, Michael Ignatieff, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper

October 7, 2007

Right…well…if Jim Carrey said it…

So now that Jim Carrey’s said this, I suppose people are supposed to start taking it seriously?

Jim Carrey calls for UN embargo against Burma
Last Updated: Saturday, October 6, 2007 | 7:51 PM ET
CBC News

Canadian comedian Jim Carrey has urged the United Nations Security Council to slap an arms embargo against the military junta in Burma.

“This is a government that uses its weapons not in self-defence but against its own citizens,” said the 45-year-old performer, star of movies such as Bruce Almighty, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show and The Mask.

Two questions come to mind, given the source of the information:

  1. When did Jim Carrey become politically active? This seems like a sudden rebirth.
  2. Did the star of Ace Ventura Pet Detective make his feelings about Burma known from his ass, or by more conventional methods?

Posted by skooter at 11:42 PM This entry is filed under America, Entertainment.
Tags: Burma, Hollywood, Hypocrisy, Politics

October 5, 2007

My Name is Skot, and I’ve Never Played Halo 3

Bungie Studios developed Halo and Oni, and took over the world. When I first played Halo for a week, I didn’t do much else. I mean I cooked dinner, and cleaned the house, and walked the dog (I was house sitting) but that was all after Halo time.

Halo’s world debut was on PowerMac G4 tower. Steve Jobs introduced it. I’ve still go the video saved, if you don’t believe me. I downloaded it on dial up and it took A Very Long Time™ so it’s sort of precious to me.

When Microsoft bought Bungie I cried. I knew…I just knew…this meant Halo wasn’t going to come out for the Mac. It was horrible. It also meant Oni was massively delayed. We did get Halo eventually, but it took a while. When I bought my PowerBook G4, I bought Halo. It was awesome.

This means this is either very good news, or very bad news depending on your perspective on my game playing time. Perhaps we’ll see the return of good Mac games again.

Halo developer separates from Microsoft
REDMOND, Wash.

Software company Microsoft Corp. said Friday that Bungie Studios, developer of its blockbuster “Halo” video game franchise, plans to become an independent company.

I actually much prefer console games anyway, but I’ve been too cheap to buy one lately. Maybe next year…

Posted by skooter at 7:25 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Apple, Games, Halo, Microsoft

October 1, 2007

Wasn’t This Entirely Predictable?

The government encourages farmers to grow a new crop, with the promise of a more stable future. Farmers plant that crop en masse. One year later, so many farmers have planted the crop that an oversupply problem means prices are low and that many farmers who moved to that new crop will be unable to recoup their investment.

Let’s not forget about the rapid rise in corn prices this particular boom caused and the hardship that resulted in Mexico, where corn is as much a staple of the diet as wheat is here.

Governments are supposed to learn from past mistakes, not repeeat them until they finally work.

Ethanol’s Boom Stalling as Glut Depresses Price
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Published: September 30, 2007

NEVADA, Iowa, Sept. 24 — The ethanol boom of recent years — which spurred a frenzy of distillery construction, record corn prices, rising food prices and hopes of a new future for rural America — may be fading.

Only last year, farmers here spoke of a biofuel gold rush, and they rejoiced as prices for ethanol and the corn used to produce it set records.

But companies and farm cooperatives have built so many distilleries so quickly that the ethanol market is suddenly plagued by a glut, in part because the means to distribute it have not kept pace. The average national ethanol price on the spot market has plunged 30 percent since May, with the decline escalating sharply in the last few weeks.

Posted by skooter at 1:54 PM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: America, Economics, Environmentalism, George Bush, Politics

The Kingdom

The Kingdom is a well made political action film set in Saudi Arabia against the backdrop of international terrorism. It’s worth seeing, even if it makes it’s point (and it does have one) a bit too literally for my taste. This is Hollywood after all.

Onw of its better moment is the opening credits, the backdrop of which is a brief two minute history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

That point, by the way? The good guys often have much more in common with the bad guys than people think. This isn’t always a good thing.

Posted by skooter at 6:02 AM This entry is filed under America, Entertainment.
Tags: Hollywood, Movies, Terrorism