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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
It's my father's voice dreaming of / Sailors sailing off in the morning
— Wilco, Poor Places
January 29, 2008

Snow in Vancouver

It’s snowing in Vancouver, so I’m getting in on the real estate boom and becoming a developer.

Posted by skooter at 3:52 PM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Igloos, Snow, Weather

January 28, 2008

Lego Turns 50

January 28, 1958 marked the birth of the Lego brick. Gizmodo has a great timeline.

Business Week have a wonderful article that includes a slideshow on the making of the little bricks that created an entire chidhood.

Posted by skooter at 4:28 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Technology.
Tags: Lego, Technical Communications, Technology, Toys

January 26, 2008

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood has been nominated for innumerable awards and honours, among them Best Picture and Best Actor. Daniel Day Lewis’ performance certainly fills the screen, but is saddled by a script I found only somewhat engaging and other performances that are weak and lacklustre.

No Country for Old Men is a better movie than There Will Be Blood, although the latter may deserve the acting award: Javier Bardem’s performance as Anton Chigurh is riveting, but may not be as virtuoso.

The story of oil reminded me of this, however, from 2001.

The New Old Economy: Oil, Computers and the Reinvention of the Earth
by Jonathan Rauch

“Knowledge, not petroleum, is becoming the critical resource in the oil business,” the author writes in this firsthand account of how technology is stretching the bounds of finitude

Posted by skooter at 4:42 PM This entry is filed under Science, Technology.
Tags: Articles, Atlantic Monthly, Oil

The Reinvention of Privacy, The Atlantic Monthly

From the March, 2001 issue of the Atlantic Monthly

The Reinvention of Privacy
It used to be that business and technology were considered the enemies of privacy. Not anymore

BY TOBY LESTER

A relatively unsung virtue of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is that its database can be viewed collectively as a sort of cultural seismograph, registering interesting spikes of entrepreneurial enthusiasm. A patent application files on January 10, 1995, is part of one such spike. Issued as U.S. Patent 5,629.678 (“Personal tracking and recovery system”), the patent is summed up in an abstract that begins,

Apparatus for tracking and recovering humans utilizes an implantable transceiver incorporating a power supply and actuation system allowing the unit to remain implanted and functional for years without maintenance…Power for the remote-activated receiver is generated electromechanically through the movement of body muscle.

A lot has changed since 2001, and not necessarily for the better. Worth reading.

There’s a general sense, too, that businesses in the modern free market are indifferent to the threats their new technologies pose to privacy. That sense seemed powerfully confirmed in early 1999, when Scott McNealy, the chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems, was asked whether privacy safeguards had been built into a new computer-networking system that Sun had just released. McNealy responded that consumer-privacy issues were nothing but a “red herring,” and went on to make a remark that still resonates. “You have zero privacy anyway,” he snapped. “Get over it.”

Posted by skooter at 4:15 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Articles, Atlantic Monthly, Privacy, Technology

January 22, 2008

Like a Child in a Cookie Jar

Yet another long time Liberal with a culture of entitlement. It’s embarassing, frankly, and reflects badly on the party, the Senate and the legal community of which Mobina Jaffer is a part.

Law society opens investigation into Liberal senator’s accounts
Last Updated: Monday, January 21, 2008 | 9:24 PM ET

Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer is under investigation by the Law Society of British Columbia for allegedly overbilling one of her legal clients, including charging for 30 hours of work in a single day, CBC News has learned.

Jaffer has been called before the law society to account for more than $6 million in legal bills charged to her former client, a Catholic missionary order known as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

CBC News has obtained forensic accounting reports filed during the lawsuit showing that Jaffer, on one occasion, billed 30 hours on a single day. Twenty-seven of those hours were for “finalizing accounts” — which means preparing bills.

The emphasis is mine.

Posted by skooter at 8:46 PM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Articles, Liberals, Politics, Senators

January 21, 2008

Lynn Canyon in the Snow, December 2007

Lynn Canyon from the Suspension Bridge 30 Foot Pool, blanketed in snow

Posted by skooter at 1:59 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Vancouver.
Tags: Black and White, Lynn Canyon, Photos, Vancouver

January 20, 2008

Win South Carolina, Win the Nomination

So goes the Republican maxim, and John McCain looks to be winning South Carolina, according to Campaigns & Elections

McCain Wins S.C. Primary

Sen. John McCain is the projected winner of the South Carolina Republican primary besting rivals Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. With 82 percent of precincts reporting, McCain has 33 percent of the vote, Huckabee 30 percent, and Thompson 16 percent.

The win holds the potential to put McCain on a serious roll heading into Florida Jan. 29 and then on to the 20 plus states voting Feb. 5

There’s a great line from an old episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon says:

“There is an 80% chance in the next election that I will tell all my friends that I’m voting for Barack Obama but I will secretly vote for John McCain

and therein lies the problem. McCain gives left leaning republicans a home, and has a lot of appeal to right leaning democrats. He trumps Obama on experience, is certainly seen as a man who speaks his own mind and is probably the only real threat to a Democratic win in 2008.

It’s a good choice: if you’re a Republican.

Posted by skooter at 4:40 AM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: America, Barak Obama, Elections, John McCain

January 17, 2008

These Eyes Watched You Bring My World to an End

If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes!

I will be first in line for these, although I always thought that the implants imagined on William Gibson’s Molly were interesting.

Jan. 17, 2008
Bionic eyes: Contact lenses with circuits, lights a possible platform for superhuman vision
By Hannah Hickey

Contact lenses with metal connectors for electronic circuits were safely worn by rabbits in lab tests. The lenses were manufactured at the microscopic level by researchers at the UW.

Movie characters from the Terminator to the Bionic Woman use bionic eyes to zoom in on far-off scenes, have useful facts pop into their field of view, or create virtual crosshairs. Off the screen, virtual displays have been proposed for more practical purposes — visual aids to help vision-impaired people, holographic driving control panels and even as a way to surf the Web on the go.

The device to make this happen may be familiar. Engineers at the UW have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights.

Posted by skooter at 8:21 PM This entry is filed under Science.
Tags: Articles, Bionics. Cybernetics, Contact Lenses, Eyes, Science Fiction

Ok Lance, We Get It…

You’re the man. Point taken.

Lance Armstrong to run in Boston Marathon
Associated Press / January 17, 2008

BOSTON — Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong plans to run the Boston Marathon in April to raise money for his foundation.
more stories like this

Armstrong, 36, qualified for Boston by finishing last year’s New York City Marathon in 2:46:43, good enough for 214th place among men. The Boston qualifying time for men ages 35-39 is 3:15.

Posted by skooter at 6:41 PM This entry is filed under Cycling, Sports.
Tags: Cycling, Lance Armstrong, Sports

January 16, 2008

John Cleese and the Muppets

I can’t possibly see how the discovery of thousands of old Muppet Show clips on Youtube is going to help me be more productive at work. Nonetheless….

Continue reading "John Cleese and the Muppets"

Posted by skooter at 4:38 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: Jim Henson, Muppets, Television

January 13, 2008

Striking it Rich circa 2002

Falling into the category of the more things change, the more things stay the same an article by John Cassidy from The New Yorker’s January 14, 2002 issue titled Striking it Rich: the rise and fall of popular capitalism..

It wasn’t until after the First World War that Americans returned to he stock market in large numbers…In 1927, Barron’s, the financial weekly, hailed a “new era without depressions.” (In September, 2000 the same publication would carry the front-page headline “CAN ANYTHING STOP THIS ECONOMY? DESPITE RECENT SIGNS OF A SLOWDOWN, EXPECT THE ECONOMY TO REMAIN ROBUST, WITH NO RECESSION IN SIGHT.”) The mood of optimism spread to the stock market, and millions of people bought shared for the first time—only to be caught out in the stock-market crash of October, 1929
— The New Yorker, January 14, 2002, pp. 63

One by one, most of the bears either changed their views or found themselves being shunted aside. Whenever the stock market took a tumble, as it did several times, it came back stronger than ever. Anybody who questioned the market’s ascent was seen as hopelessly antiquated…In April, 1996 Warren Buffet…warned that neither he nor his longtime partner, Charlie Munger, “would buy shares” in Berkshire Hathaway at prevailing prices, “nor would they recommend that their families or friends do so.”
— The New Yorker, January 14, 2002, pp. 65

Continue reading "Striking it Rich circa 2002"

Posted by skooter at 5:17 AM This entry is filed under America, Technology.

January 11, 2008

“Because It’s There”

Sir Edmund Hillary passed away yesterday, a loss to the mountaineering community and the world of exploration.

Hillary was one of the first two men to stand atop Everest, never revealing whether it was himself of Tenzing Norgay who achieved the summit first. True class.

A long time ago—not one, but two lifetimes ago—I went to see Hillary speak on a first date. Hillary was asked about the famous “Because it’s there” quote at the event: he never said those words, and it’s one of the great misquotes of history…the truth hardly matters anymore.

Spending time in the mountains this weekend seems like a great way to remember the man.

Posted by skooter at 2:13 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Travel.
Tags: Exploration, Obituaries, Outdoors

January 10, 2008

Decaying Infrastructure

Remember this the next time your government (federal, provincial or municipal) tells you that privatizing assets such as highways or bridges will help to maintain infrastructure better.

Streets closed after sign blows off Toronto skyscraper
Last Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2008 | 7:24 AM ET
CBC News

Sections of downtown Toronto were closed to traffic early Thursday morning after high winds blew parts of a sign from a highrise building.

Portions of a sign near the top of the CIBC building blew off during the wind gusts, falling 58 storeys onto Bay Street on Wednesday evening.

No one was injured.

Posted by skooter at 2:14 PM This entry is filed under Canada, Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: Infrastructure, Urban Development

January 9, 2008

Hillary in New Hampshire

Were it not for California, New Hampshire would be my favourite state. What little time I’ve spent there has always been somewhat charmed by nature. Its mountains are granite, tall, spiky and snow covered (by contrast, Vermont’s mountains are rolling in nature.) Fall is beautiful and alive with the colours of leaves, winters are cold and crisp, spring offers the luxury of watching the world come to life again and summer presents hardwood forests to explore.

If that’s not enough, there’s those licence plates with that great Live Free or Die slogan, so at odds with the cliche image of New England liberalism.

And they appear to be voting for Hillary.

Results are still early, so we’ll have to wait and see. I’m hopeful on this one though: it’s an issue of electability, ultimately. Left leaning Republicans are more likely to go to Hillary, in my view, than Obama. The whole game changes if the Republicans choose McCain, who will give them the home they’re so badly looking for anyway.

Posted by skooter at 1:23 AM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: Barak Obama, Campaign '08, Hillary Clinton, President

January 6, 2008

Funny, HD-DVD is a Much Better Name

Seems like all those Playstation 3 sales might have paid off after all. I think I might skip this generation of tech and just embrace digital downloads, myself, but we’ll see. This could be an excuse to buy a PS3 when the price comes down a lot.

January 4, 2008 6:52 PM PST
The party for HD DVD is over, literally

The HD DVD Promotional Group had scheduled a cocktail party and a press conference this Sunday evening in Las Vegas to tout the “progress” it has made in high definition video and the ongoing format war with the Blu-ray consortium.

On Friday, however, the group sent out a note terminating the event because Warner Home Video earlier in the day said it would switch exclusively to the Blu-ray format.

Ironically, HD DVD players have outsold standalone Blu-ray players. At Ceatec last October, Blu-ray execs said that their group would become more aggressive in late 2007 in promoting the format and try to gain an advantage by the first quarter of 2008.

Posted by skooter at 1:57 AM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Digital Downloads, Digital Media, DVD, Technology

January 4, 2008

Is Obama Electable?

Iowa results are in, with the New York Times reporting the following results with 91% or polls in.

Election Results—Iowa

DemocratsVote%
Obama82137%
66830
Clinton65930
Richardson482
Biden201
Dodd1
Others2

91% reporting

Clinton in third is very very bad: she will probably start to shed support slowly, although a solid performance in the next primaries could reverse it. Things don’t look good.

The main question with Obama in first (by a wide margin, it should be noted) is will the broader American public vote for him? Riding a wave of hype including the Oprah endorsement, the surge in votes is no surprise: I’m not convinced that anybody who voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 election will change their mind and vote for Barack Obama as much because of his lack of experience (a legitimate complaint) as the colour of his skin (which should be irrelevant, but unfortunately will not be.)

The world needs a Democratic victory, not another Republican one.

Posted by skooter at 3:03 AM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: America, George Bush, President

January 2, 2008

Top of Red Mountain, January 1, 2008

Top of Red Mountain, January 1, 2008 it’s cold up at the top of Red Mountain. Fast, packed snow and a steep hill made for a fun day.

Posted by skooter at 7:18 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Family, Narcicism.
Tags: Me, Snowboarding

January 1, 2008

Red Mountain

Off to Rossland, BC tomorrow to snowboard at Red Mountain: my first outing of the season. It should be fun, although there’s no new snow forecast.

Pakistan continues to be a frustrating situation: that a woman who fought to advance the cause of democracy felt it necessary to appoint her son as a successor is a contradiction worth noting.

Politicians, of course, are noted for being hypocritical and contradictory. Benazir Bhutto is no exception, as evidenced by past and present actions. That she was Washington’s most recent choice is little cause to celbrate either.

That she was better than the current regime is the real problem.

Posted by skooter at 1:22 AM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Pakistan, Snow, Snowboarding, Vacation