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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Trees held us in on all four sides so thick we could not see / I could not see any wrong in you, and you saw none in me.
— Woody Guthrie, Remember the Mountain Bed
March 28, 2009

Isn’t Religion Supposed to be About Compassion?

If there was a single argument for the absolute separation of church and state, this fits.

Amid Abuse of Girls in Brazil, Abortion Debate Flares

The doctors’ actions set off a swirl of controversy. A Brazilian archbishop summarily excommunicated everyone involved — the doctors for performing the abortion and the girl’s mother for allowing it — except for the stepfather, who stands accused of raping the girl over a number of years.

“The law of God is above any human law,” said José Cardoso Sobrinho, the archbishop, who argued that while rape was bad, abortion was even worse.

In more than 80 percent of the cases, fathers or stepfathers committed the sexual abuse, doctors at the clinic said.

Posted by skooter at 4:45 PM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Human Rights, South America, Women's Rights

March 27, 2009

Tina Fey as a Muppet

Tina Fey as a Muppet, 30 Rock Season 3, Episode 16 Tina Fey as a Muppet, 30 Rock Season 3, Episode 16 Muppets are, without a doubt, one of my favourite things. Combine them with Tina Fey and it’s hard to describe the sheer joy of the moment.

Posted by skooter at 1:22 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: 30 Rock, Muppets, Television, Tina Fey

March 24, 2009

On the List of Things Not Likely to Help…

An agreement to share information seems unlikely to stop people from shooting each other in the streets of Vancouver. Presumably, the information to be shared was relevant several months ago.

Oppal and Mexican officials join forces to fight gangs
DIRK MEISSNER, The Canadian Press, March 24, 2009 at 3:52 AM EDT

VICTORIA — Criminal gangs don’t pay attention to international borders, a fact that spurred a meeting yesterday between the attorneys-general of British Columbia and the northern Mexican state of Baja California looking for ways to fight the transnational gang network.

Baja California’s Rommel Moreno Manjarrez and B.C.’s Wally Oppal signed a statement of intent pledging to share information to fight drug-trafficking gangs who kill to protect their turf.

The information-sharing statement could ultimately lead to B.C. justice officials working in Mexico to help catch and jail gang members, they said.

Posted by skooter at 1:14 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: Gangs, Guns

Whatever You Have to Say About Lance…

It’s been a long time since cycling’s been covered in the New York Times, and an even longer time since any even outside of Le Tour has been mentioned (with the occasional North American event garnering coverage.)

Lance fell down and went boom.

Posted by skooter at 1:28 AM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Cycling, Lance Armstrong

March 23, 2009

I Can’t Believe I Missed This on St. Patrick’s Day


I blame the Guinness.

Posted by skooter at 4:58 AM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Muppets, Television

The Phrase “Swedish Rocket” Becomes Less Confusing

Every once in a while when I refer to my car as the Swedish Rocket people ask me if I have a Saab. Another reaction I get on rare occasions is that it sounds like a foreign exchange girlfriend.

The most common reaction, of course, is just one of confusion. I’m used to that though (and frankly, it’s not only when talking about my car…)

Sweden is somewhat wisely deciding not to bail Saab out. This may result in a bankruptcy, but it does seems more rational than the American strategy of propping up businesses that have a failing history.

I do hope Volvo doesn’t die. I like that new XC60.

Sweden Says No to Saving Saab, a National Icon
By SARAH LYALL, Published: March 22, 2009

TROLLHATTAN, Sweden — Saab Automobile may be just another crisis-ridden car company in an industry full of them. But just as the fortunes of Flint, Mich., are permanently entangled with General Motors, so it is impossible to find anyone in this city in southwest Sweden who is not somehow connected to Saab.

Which makes it all the more wrenching that the Swedish government has responded to Saab’s desperate financial situation by saying, essentially, tough luck. Or, as the enterprise minister, Maud Olofsson, put it recently, “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.”

Posted by skooter at 3:49 AM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Cars, Economics

March 20, 2009

If the Chair of the Republican National Committee Say So, It Must Be True…

Nerts. The sad thing is this guy is part of the Republican leadership. People actually look up to this guy. I’m especially fond of his warming being part of the cooling process logic. That’s just brilliant.

Michael Steele: ‘We Are Not Warming’
March 20, 2009, 11:39 am, By Kate Galbraith

The Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steele, has weighed in on climate change.

In a March 6 radio appearance that is only now percolating through the blogosphere, Mr. Steele apparently fielded a skeptic’s question about global warming. As transcribed by the liberal blog, the Huffington Post, Mr. Steele thanked the questioner and replied this way:

“We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? No very long.”

Posted by skooter at 8:30 PM This entry is filed under America, Politics, Science.
Tags: Environmentalism, Politics, Republican, Science

Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn? / Remember how she said that / We would meet again

Dame Very Lynn turns 82 today, my mother another year older in her early 60s, it’s the first day of spring and the anniversary of Einstein’s publication of his theory of relativity.

Battlestar Galactica goes off the air in one last finale and apparently tonight’s episode of Dollhouse is the best yet by a wide margin (as promised by Joss Whedon since day one.)

It really is quite a day.

Posted by skooter at 1:22 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Family, Science.
Tags: Music, Science, Science Fiction, Television

March 19, 2009

Vancouver’s Loss, Delta’s Gain

This move makes sense. It’s always better when politicians represent the ridings they live in, or as close as possible. It’s a loss for Vancouver though. Wally was a good MLA.

Oppal to run in new riding in May
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | 7:03 AM PT, CBC News

Attorney General Wally Oppal made it official Tuesday night that he would be running as a Liberal candidate in the Delta South riding during the May 12 provincial election.

Oppal’s move from his current riding had been anticipated, since Delta South’s current MLA Val Roddick said she would not seek re-election.

Posted by skooter at 2:34 AM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: BC Liberal Party, Politics

Are Mandatory Ski Helmets Coming?

There’s not much information here so it’s truly hard to know what happened. That’s done little to ease rampant speculation on the part of the media.

Nonetheless, you should always where a helmet when you ski. You’re probably wearing a hat anyway—why not wear one that just might save your life?

Natasha Richardson, Actress, Dies at 45
By BRUCE WEBER, Published: March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson, a Tony Award-winning actress whose career melded glamorous celebrity with the bloodline of theater royalty, died Wednesday in a Manhattan hospital, where she had been flown suffering from head injuries after a skiing accident on Monday north of Montreal. She was 45 and lived in Manhattan and Millbrook, N.Y.

Ms. Richardson, who was not wearing a helmet, had fallen during a beginner’s skiing lesson, a resort spokeswoman, Lyne Lortie, said on Monday. “It was a normal fall; she didn’t hit anyone or anything,” Ms. Lortie said. “She didn’t show any signs of injury. She was talking and she seemed all right.”

Posted by skooter at 2:30 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: Articles, Hollywood

March 18, 2009

Stephen Harper Moves to Cement his Control

Lost in the wilderness for years, the Conservative Party of Canada’s success can be largely attributed to the grass roots populist Reform movement started by Preston Manning (with a young Stephen Harper serving as the party’s first formal director of policy.)

Part of this populism meant putting a lot of power into the hands of riding associations. These associations did fund raising, community activism and had virtual carte blanche to choose candidates.

Candidate races are good for attention, sometimes. They also provide an incentive for people to get involved. They also, over the years, became not much more than popularity contests: basically the candidate with the most friends would convince them all to sign up for a modest commitment of $10 or so, and in return he’d lock up the race. Great for fund raising, but not great for true involvement.

Everyone was subjected to this, current status notwithstanding. It meant that anti-choice candidates like Russ Hiebert could launch campaigns to unseat sitting MPs. These were ugly fights, and caused fissures in the party. They gave opposition candidates great fodder for critique.

It appears that Stephen Harper has abandoned his populist beliefs, and these ugly fights are no more. From now on, sitting MPs won’t have to justify their seat to the local membership.

Conservative Party’s plan to acclaim incumbent MPs draws criticism
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | 4:15 PM ET, CBC News

The federal Conservative Party is moving ahead with reforms to its process of nominating candidates for elections that will mean incumbent MPs won’t have to fight for nominations in their ridings.

The proposal would declare incumbent MPs acclaimed as candidates in the next election unless two-thirds of members in their ridings ask for an open nomination contest.

Continue reading "Stephen Harper Moves to Cement his Control"

Posted by skooter at 1:44 AM This entry is filed under Canada, Politics.
Tags: Conservative Party of Canada, Elections, Stephen Harper

Peering into the Dollhouse

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse airs episode six this Friday, and according to Joss it’s the hook: the one that once you watch, you won’t be able to stop watching.

Dollhouse’s premise is programmable memories: the actives have personalities that are downloaded for engagements and when they return to the Dollhouse their memories are wiped…erased…completely forgotten (although it appears that an imperfect wiping process is the central premise of the plot.)

Scientists now appear to be advancing research into the technology, making it seem like the future of Brave New World’s Soma is not so much ingested medicines, but applied treatments.

A world without painful memories is not a complete world.

Should painful memories be erased?
Toronto researchers have been able to do it in traumatized mice
Mar 13, 2009 04:30 AM, JOSEPH HALL, HEALTH REPORTER

Something horrible happens. A child is lost. A bomb goes off. A car goes out of control.

And deep in the brain, in the lateral amygdala region, a scattered set of neurons come to life and begin to vibrate with fear.

Through an ingenious set of experiments, a group of researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children have not only located these terror-laden brain cells in mice, but erased them—along with the frightening memories they stored.

Posted by skooter at 1:14 AM This entry is filed under Science, Technology.
Tags: Articles, Joss Whedon, Science Fiction

March 14, 2009

Richard Florida in the Atlantic Monthly

The March 2009 cover of the Atlantic Monthly featured a series of “regional” covers highlighting an article by Richard Florida called How the Crash Will Reshape America. Apparently, the Atlantic considers Canada one region as the Vancouver area edition featured not Vancouver (mentioned in the article) and not even Seattle (the economic hub of our region) but Toronto. Yes…Toronto. 4000km away.

Although my feelings on Florida are mixed, the article isn’t bad. He addresses some good points and every time a hole in his logical circle poked up he managed to plug it like a good little dutch boy. Some excerpts.

How the Crash Will Reshape America
Richard Florida, The Atlantic Monthly, March 2009

“The world’s 40 largest mega-regions, which are home to some 18 percent of the world’s population, produce two-thirds of global economic output and nearly 9 in 10 new patented inventions…Cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Raleigh, and Boston now have two or three times the concentration of college graduates of Akron or Buffalo…as globalization has increased the financial return on innovation by widening the consumer market, the pull of innovative places, already dense with highly talented workers, has only grown stronger, created a snowball effect…successful cities, unlike biological organisms, actually get faster as they grow older.”

“Perhaps no major city in the U.S. today looks more beleaguered than Detroit, where in October the average home price was $18,513, and some 45,000 properties were in some form of foreclosure.”

Continue reading "Richard Florida in the Atlantic Monthly"

Posted by skooter at 4:06 AM This entry is filed under Politics, Technology.
Tags: Articles, Economics, Politics, Technology

March 13, 2009

Great Headlines

As with many aspects of life, journalism has gotten faster in the internet era. Publications that would have once been embarrassed to print a story with a typo barely notice them now, blaming the need to “publish quickly.”

In this speeding up the quality of journalism has changed as well. I can’t help but think that a headline like this one never would have appeared only a few years ago. The point of jail being to keep people in sort of implies that any escape (brazen, or otherwise) shouldn’t have happened.

Brazen escape from Regina Jail shouldn’t have happened: report
Last Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2009 | 6:21 PM
CBC News

A heavily censored report on a brazen escape by six inmates of the Regina Jail in August 2008 says it wouldn’t have happened if the managers and staff were doing a better job.

The report, released Thursday, said that it is possible to deceive corrections staff from time to time, but the nature of the August escape revealed serious operational concerns.

That first paragraph is pretty good too.

Posted by skooter at 1:16 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: CBC, Journalism, Technology

March 7, 2009

David Byrne in Vancouver

The night David Byrne played in Vancouver I was at local hero A.C. Newman’s show at the Biltmore Cabaret. Loyalty and budget won out over fame.

Apparently, I should have been riding my bike around the city because that’s what David Byrne was doing.

Posted by skooter at 9:19 PM This entry is filed under Cycling, Music.
Tags: Cycling, Music, Vancouver

March 6, 2009

Going Meekly Into the Good Night

John Tory is a man who hasn’t found an office he wasn’t willing to run for yet, has hopefully for for his last office. I’m kind of surprised he’s waiting “…until Friday…” to discuss his future, although it’s only a day. After losing the general election and failing to win his seat in that election, it’s pretty clear what has to happen here.

Tory defeated in by-election
KAREN HOWLETT
From Friday’s Globe and Mail, March 6, 2009 at 12:13 AM EST

LINDSAY, ONT. — Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory was defeated in a by-election race Thursday night, leaving his political career in tatters.

“Obviously, I am very disappointed by the results today, but the voters can never be wrong in what they decide and I respect their decision,” Mr. Tory said in conceding defeat.

The sense of disappointment was palpable among his supporters, who had gathered in a Lindsay restaurant for what was to be a victory party. Mr. Tory, 54, was counting on a victory in the Lindsay-area riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock to pave the way for what was to be his triumphant return to the Ontario Legislature. With those hopes now dashed, he will have little choice but to bow out, marking a bitter end to his 41/2-year reign as leader of the party.

After delivering his speech, Mr. Tory abruptly left the podium without answering questions from the media. He plans to discuss his future at a news conference Friday.

Posted by skooter at 1:31 PM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Ontario, Politics

March 4, 2009

So Much For Arrests

Just yesterday, Vancouver police arrested members of the UN gang and crowed about it loudly:

“We caught the bad guy,” said Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu at a joint news conference with the RCMP on Tuesday morning.

“To be clear, this is not your average run-of-the-mill bad guy. He is one of the top threats to public safety in the Lower Mainland,” said Chu. “This is a major blow, to the gangs generally and to the UN gang specifically.”

Last night, more people were killed. This time, just up the road from where I work.

It doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the police.

Posted by skooter at 2:41 PM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Gangs, Guns, Police

March 3, 2009

The Same Old Conservative Story

I’m not sure when the Harper government is going to figure out that they need to have ideas instead of just taking everyone else down. This strategy—the only one Harper’s strategist Doug Findlay officially opens up a clear path for Michael Ignatieff to walk to “24 Sussex Drive:google.

Ignatieff to be target of Conservative attack ads
Last Updated: Monday, March 2, 2009 | 11:29 AM ET

It appears Michael Ignatieff’s brief honeymoon with the Tories is over.

The Conservatives are preparing a series of attack ads targeting the Liberal leader by going through hundreds of hours of video clips of his speeches and interviews, according to the Canadian Press.

They hope to glean more fodder for their campaign by mining a lifetime of Ignatieff’s musings from his career as a public intellectual.

Posted by skooter at 1:42 PM This entry is filed under Canada, Politics.
Tags: Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal, Michael Ignatieff, Stephen Harper