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Japan's Disposable Workers
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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
i wanna hold you in the bible black pre-dawn / you're quite a quiet domino
— Wilco, I am Trying to Break Your Heart
February 27, 2008

America in Isolation

In a world where America seems increasingly isolated and alone, it’s hard to imagine this advancing the economic cause:

Clinton and Obama vow to reopen NAFTA
Both Democrats make commitment in final debate before next week’s crucial primaries
JOHN IBBITSON
February 27, 2008 at 12:15 AM EST

WASHINGTON—Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would withdraw the United States from the North American free trade agreement with six months notice after becoming president, unless the deal were completely renegotiated.

Posted by skooter at 4:25 PM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: Barak Obama, Campaign '08, Economics, Free Trade, Hillary Clinton

Maybe George Lucas Should Have Consulted This Girl

Posted by skooter at 12:59 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: Movies, Star Wars

February 25, 2008

Tina Fey Hosts Saturday Night Live

The first post-writer’s strike of 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live aired last night, with Tina Fey hosting. I’m not sure how I knew about this in advance, but I stayed up to watch it anyway.

It’s never been more obvious to me how far the show has fallen: guest appearances by Steve Martin and a remarkably self-deprecating Governor Mike Huckabee were definite highlights, but the general skits were just…blërg.

Back to Cormac McCarthy for me, I think.

Academy Awards tonight. I’ve said it before but I’m hopeful for No Country for Old Men to win Best Picture. I’d like to see Tommy Lee Jones win Best Actor—he’s nominated for the excellent and underwatched In the Valley of Ellah but also gave a stellar performance in No Country for Old Men. I suspect Daniel Day Lewis will take it, but that’s where my personal loyalties lie.

Posted by skooter at 1:30 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Words.
Tags: SNL, Television, Tina Fey, Writing

February 24, 2008

Spring Skiing…

in Vancouver is great not just because it’s only a 60 km. round trip from home, but also because of the view through your sunroof during the drive.
View through the Volvo's sunroof A few more weeks of this I think.

Posted by skooter at 3:13 AM This entry is filed under Camera, Sports, Vancouver.
Tags: Cypress Bowl, Skiing, Volvo

February 21, 2008

My New Favourite Email

I regularly get email from a bunch of different places, one of which is Microsoft. Many of these messages get ignored, or filed, or sometimes just skimmed but I loved this particular message, which arrived today in my inbox.

Subject: Collaborate like it’s 2007 with Microsoft Office SharePoint
Server 2007
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008 11:56:57 -0800
From: Microsoft Canada

The emphasis is mine.

It being 2008, the prospect of collaborating like it’s 2007 has a certain lack of appeal.

Posted by skooter at 8:10 PM This entry is filed under Marketing, Technology.
Tags: Editing, Marketing, Microsoft, Proofreading

February 20, 2008

Wilco, Riviera Theatre, Chicago, Illinois

Wilco at the Riviera Theatre, Chicago

Posted by skooter at 7:20 PM This entry is filed under Music, Travel.
Tags: Chicago, Concerts, Music, Wilco

February 19, 2008

I Want My Family Day!

It was Family Day in a whole bunch of places today (and Louis Riel Day in one) and i want my holiday!

It took me a while this morning to figure out why I didn’t get any mutual fund update yesterday, and why my monthly withdrawal didn’t happen. It turns out, Family Day in Ontario means the Toronto Stock Exchange was closed, so no trading.

Blërg. I think this thing should be national, just so that we don’t lose track of these things.

Posted by skooter at 1:51 PM This entry is filed under Canada, Family, Vancouver.
Tags: Holidays

February 18, 2008

Top of the World, Callaghan Valley, Whistler, BC

Whistler Olympic Park is open, with a huge network of new (and spectacular) cross country ski trails.

The Norwegian ski team was testing skis on the Olympic trails when we were there. A brief chat with the coach was fun, and I offered him a business card “in case you need an extra for 2010.” His smile and laugh were characteristic of what turned out to be a most amazing day.

Posted by skooter at 2:02 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Nature, Sports, Vancouver.
Tags: 2010, Skiing, Vancouver Olympics, Whistler

February 17, 2008

Blame Canada

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: The hotter it gets, the larger the water crisis is going to become. When you ask people who are promoting development how we can go on, they think we’ll end up getting water from Canada, that these huge engineering projects are going to rescue us. That just isn’t realistic. If you had to go to Las Vegas and place a bet that we can rely on the Canadians to save us—well, it’s not a good bet.
—“Outside Magazine”:http://www.outsidemag.com/, March 2008, pp. 107

Kennedy’s right that there’s not going to be an engineered solution to the water problems of the American south (at least not one that involves transferring water, as opposed to preserving it) but at some point, sometime in the near future some senior American elected official will blame Canada for this, and push for a NAFTA related water transfer requirement.

Count on it.

Posted by skooter at 8:31 PM This entry is filed under Nature, Politics, Technology.
Tags: Articles, Conservation, Environmentalism, Water

February 16, 2008

Lessons for Translink?

Could a regional (as opposed to municipal) transportation strategy for the TTC work? Could an increase in service levels increase ridership by creating a better experience?

Maybe. Could it work for Translink? It seems worth a try.

Premier backs TTC takeover
McGuinty’s vision: A regional authority operating ‘seamless’ transit across GTA.
Feb 15, 2008 04:30 AM
ROBERT BENZIE , TESS KALINOWSKI, STAFF REPORTERS

The TTC should be taken over eventually by the province’s new transportation authority to provide “seamless” public transit in the Greater Toronto Area, says Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Posted by skooter at 2:25 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: Public Transit, Toronto, Vancouver

February 13, 2008

Decades of Human Rights Abuses? No Problem.

I’m tempted to admire Spielberg for this, if there weren’t so many better (and long standing) reasons not to support the Chinese government in pretty much anything.

Spielberg quits Olympics work to protest Chinese inaction
By Helene Cooper Published: February 13, 2008

WASHINGTON: The movie director Steven Spielberg has said he is withdrawing as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing after almost a year of trying unsuccessfully to prod President Hu Jintao to do more to try to end Sudan’s attacks in the Darfur region.

I wonder if he’ll protest the Vancouver Olympics because the Canadian government lacks the same level of slavish devotion to Israel that the U.S. demonstrates?

Posted by skooter at 1:58 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Sports.
Tags: 2010, Olympics

The Problem with Data Is…

It can be easily copied and transmitted while leaving the original in place.

Saying that they’ve recovered stolen data is completely useless information.

Bell recovers stolen data on 3.4 million customers
‘No indication data used improperly,’ Bell says
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | 7:10 PM ET

Bell said Tuesday it has recovered data on 3.4 million of its customers in Quebec and Ontario that was stolen more than four weeks ago.

Montreal police searched two locations Tuesday and arrested one person, the company said. The data was recovered.

Posted by skooter at 1:23 AM This entry is filed under .
Tags: Bell, Data, Databases

February 12, 2008

The World’s First Web Server

Tim Berners-Lee’s old NeXT Cube, as shot by Robert Scoble.

Posted by skooter at 6:11 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: NeXT, Steve Jobs

Representing Kingston, The Tragically Hip

Reality TV never ceases to amaze me with its strangeness, although I’m surprised this idea came out of the United States.

Rock stars courted for curling reality show
Bon Jovi, Springsteen, said to be closet curlers, courted for NBC series that could lead to Olympics
Feb 11, 2008 04:30 AM
CHRIS ZELKOVICH , SPORTS MEDIA COLUMNIST

Move over American Idol and make room for Rockstar Curling, a reality television show that may indeed have a rock-star connection.

NBC confirmed yesterday it has an exclusive option to air a 10-episode sports reality show that will give the winners a shot at competing in the U.S. championships and even going to the 2010 Olympics.

And one aspect that would make this a draw to the button for NBC is a plan to land closet curlers Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi as part of the show, assuming the rockers aren’t worried what being connected to a sport with brooms might do to their images.

Posted by skooter at 1:59 PM This entry is filed under Music, Sports.
Tags: Curling, Music, Sports

February 10, 2008

Indigestible Bits of Anachronistic Gristle

An Evening with William Gibson The Vancouver Insitute sponsored a lecture with William Gibson last night. I’ve seen Gibson speak a few times, and he’s always an interesting guy.

He read an introduction to H.G. WellsThe Time Machine that he had written but had rejected by his publisher. Gibson calls this the first work of modern science fiction, published in 1895. It was preceded by both Frankenstein (1831) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The former is considered, by many, to be Victorian or Gothic in nature, and thus not modern. I didn’t get a chance to ask Gibson why he didn’t reference the latter.

No matter. The night was interesting.

Continue reading "Indigestible Bits of Anachronistic Gristle"

Posted by skooter at 8:05 PM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: William Gibson

February 5, 2008

Yes We Can

Beautifully executed. I still think Hillary Clinton is the right choice for a democratic nominee, but moments like thist are rare in modern politics. Will.I.Am’s notes on the video are worth reading.

Whatever happens today, and in the next year, the Democratic Party will be making a historic choice: forging a new path forward. I only hope that all of my American friends vote, no matter who they vote for.

Posted by skooter at 3:45 PM This entry is filed under America, Politics, Words.
Tags: Barak Obama, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Politics

Oh, This is Not a Good Thing

I’ve been watching season two of The Muppet Show and it’s as fresh as it ever was. I’d forgotten about Veterinarian’s Hospital stuff:

Nurse: What kind of dog is it, Dr. Bob?
Dr. Bob: Ask him what time it is.
Nurse: Why?
Dr. Bob: Because he might be a watchdog!

and I’d forgotten how much I learned about cooking from The Swedish Chef.

This is definitely not helping my home productivity.

Posted by skooter at 3:41 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: Elton John, Jim Henson, Muppets

February 4, 2008

There Is Nothing In This World That I Want More Than…

the reopening of Moderne Burger.

Posted by skooter at 11:08 PM This entry is filed under Food, Vancouver.
Tags: Food, Moderne Burger, Vancouver

February 3, 2008

Web Sites are Getting to Know You

Web Sites are Getting to Know You
A wealth of e-customer data is being mined to aid custom marketing.
By Esther Stein, 11.20.1998

…companies such as CompareNet are augmenting their businesses to resell incoming customer data to Internet marketers looking to cash in on new prospects.

Generally, there are two ways companies leverage information collected from Web sites, according to Staff. The first is the personalize approach…information from the CompareNet site might alert a television manufacturer that 20 percent of all women who buy television sets want a 27-inch or larger screen.

Officials at heavily trafficked transaction-based sites such as Expedia, Microsoft’s online travel business, and package carriers United Parcel Service and DHL say they are leveraging incoming customer data for internal purposes only.

Alan Boehme, DHL’s director of business planning, in Redwood City, Calif., is studying leveraging information in the aggregate, since he believes it does not make sense to market to people on a one-to-one basis.

Posted by skooter at 7:36 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Databases, Marketing, Privacy

I Want My Smart Card!

The Smart car has made it’s way over from Europe, but the smart card has not. Given the highly centralized nature of Canada’s banking community, this is surprising.

From Edge magazine (bundled for a while with the Globe and Mail, as I recall) in May of 2004.

the [Royal Bank’s] Avion card with chip technology has been launched to an established client base that travels overseas where the technology to read the chips already exists, says Sean Amato-Gauci, director, card product development RBC Royal Bank.

According to the Canadian Bankers Association, in 2002 VISA and Mastercard wrote off more than $128 million in fraudulent credit card accounts and 136,500 cards were used fraudulently.

Studies show that in the first year chip cards were issued in France, card fraud was reduced by 50 percent.

This was five years ago, and not much has changed.

Posted by skooter at 4:50 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Financial Services, Privacy, Security

The Searchable Soul

From Harper’s Magazine, January 2000 issue. An interview with Mark Costello, Michael Moynihan, Ron Sege, Alan Westin and moderated by Colin Harrison

Michael Moynihan: …technology has miniaturized what’s needed to store immense amounts of information, and…linked up those repositories of information all around the world.. Now information can be pulled together from diverse sources very rapidly. Today, for example, the tax returns of the entire country could be placed on several CD-ROMs.
pp. 58

Continue reading "The Searchable Soul"

Posted by skooter at 4:12 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Articles, Privacy

February 1, 2008

Guy Lafleur Turns Himself In

Guy Lafleur Twenty years to late to help the damn Toronto Maple Leafs. Where’s Ken Dryden to make the save when you need it, huh Guy?

Posted by skooter at 6:21 AM This entry is filed under Sports.
Tags: Canadiens, Hockey, Maple Leafs