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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Meanwhile in the forest / In a parliament of trees, The ink will crack and dry all up, But the compass will swing anyways. And we don't need mathematics / And we don't need submarines
— Rheostatics, Northern Wish
April 28, 2009

A Crack in the Armour

There’s not much doubt that the B.C. Liberals will win the next election, but John van Dongen’s essentially forced resignation shows a lapse in judgement on the part of Gordon Campbell and his team.

B.C. solicitor general resigns over speeding tickets
Delayed resignation reflects poorly on premier, says NDP leader
Last Updated: Monday, April 27, 2009 | 1:00 PM PT

British Columbia’s top law enforcement official has resigned from the provincial cabinet following revelations that his driver’s licence has been suspended for excessive speeding, adding a new twist to the provincial election campaign.

Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety John van Dongen announced his cabinet resignation in a statement released Monday morning, but said he will continue to run as the B.C. Liberal Party candidate for Abbotsford South in the May 12 election.

The problem here is that van Dongen’s infractions related to his responsibilities. As the minister responsible for ICBC and driving safety, he should have resigned by choice the moment a court of law took away his driver’s licence. If he’d been (for example) the Environment minister…well, that would show terrible judgement but not create a conflict with his responsibilities and a resignation might be an option.

Posted by skooter at 1:13 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: BC Liberal Party, Gordon Campbell, Politics

April 26, 2009

Peace Arch at Sunset

Peace Arch border crossing at Sunset, April 26, 2009

Posted by skooter at 5:44 AM This entry is filed under America.
Tags: America

April 23, 2009

Bionic Penguins

Say no more!

Posted by skooter at 1:08 AM This entry is filed under Penguins, Science.
Tags: Penguins, Robotics

April 21, 2009

Too much Photoshop?

Photography: the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or a CCD chip)

For years submitting photos to magazines meant submitting slides. Why slides? Quite simply, the slide is the picture. A print from a negative can be manipulated, and negatives aren’t really viewable (although in black and white it’s doable.) Slides were, generally speaking, unmodified (though you could get them duplicated easily.)

In the digital age (to which I do not yet belong in a photographic sense) it’s far easier to manipulate things. Digital cameras with white balance and easy exposure bracketing settings make it easier and cheaper to shoot more, which is what most people wind up doing. I know photographers with great eyes for composition who know nothing of basic concepts such as depth of field. Take the shot, put it on the computer, edit it in Photoshop and print it…somewhere.

There’s nothing wrong with it, but at some point an excess of manipulation makes it not a photograph anymore. It may not decrease an image’s relevance, or impact, or cultural significance…but it’s not a photograph anymore.

The international press is confronting the issue of how much manipulation is too much manipulation in its annual awards presentations.

Too much Photoshop? Judge for yourself

Three photographers were told to deliver their RAW-files for closer inspection, when the three judges in January were assembled to select the winners in Picture of The Year in Denmark. This is the first time in the competition’s 35-year history that it has happened. One of the photographers, Klavs Bo Christensen, has accepted to show his RAW-files for the readers of pressefotografforbundet.dk. You can also hear a recording of the conversion between the judges about the photographer’s story.

Photo journalist Klavs Bo Christensen just landed at Kastrup Airport after a long travel abroad, when his cell phone rang. It was a representative from the Danish photo contest Picture of The Year, who asked him to submit his RAW-files from his Haiti story to the judges.

Posted by skooter at 4:14 AM This entry is filed under Camera, Politics.
Tags: Photography

April 20, 2009

Another Cool Bike Parking Solution


This is a slick solution to secure bike parking, similar to another proposal from Japan. The advantage of this is that it doesn’t require underground storage, though there is a slight decrease in the level of security provided as a result.

Posted by skooter at 5:44 AM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Cycling, Urban Planning

April 18, 2009

Tyler Hamilton & Helmets

Two stories on Outside Magazine’s blog were interesting today. First comes the news that Tyler Hamilton has tested positive for a banned substance…again. He says he’s retiring from professional cycling. (Velonews has more detailed coverage, of course.)

Whether this test was due to a prescribed medication or not, Tyler should be smart enough to make sure that he doesn’t test positive again. His first positive test resulted in a ban which Tyler fought vigorously. As part of his defense he claimed that the genetic markers for the drug were the result of an unborn twin residing in his body. Ridiculous.

If Tyler had admitted fault and not put forward such a ridiculous defence, it might be possible to have sympathy at this point. It’s not.

Vail Resorts will be requiring its on mountain employees to wear helmets while working and skiing or snowboarding. This is a very good thing. As helmets become more common on ski hills, the ridiculous social stigma that prevents people from wearing them will disappear. It can’t happen soon enough for my taste.

Posted by skooter at 11:28 PM This entry is filed under Cycling, Sports.
Tags: Cycling, Helmets, Skiing

April 14, 2009

Apparently Mats Sundin had never SEEN the Canucks Play

Of course the likelihood that he’d ever get this chance with the Toronto Maple Leafs might be even more remote. I’ve got more faith in Brian Burke than I do in the current Canucks management though.

The Canucks get the post-season jitters more than any team I’ve ever seen. Out goalies play phenomenal regular seasons and then just seem to forget that they’re suppose to stop the damn puck when the post-season comes around.

‘I wanted … a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup’: Sundin
BY BRAD ZIEMER, VANCOUVER SUN, APRIL 13, 2009

It is one rather glaring omission on an otherwise impeccable resume.

And as Mats Sundin began contemplating his future last summer, a long and deliberate process that continued deep into the fall, he kept coming back to the one thing that would complete his hockey-playing life.

He could not get the Stanley Cup out of his head.

Posted by skooter at 1:23 PM This entry is filed under Sports.
Tags: Hockey, Vancouver Canucks, Yeah Canucks Rule!

April 12, 2009

Portland Proposes a Cycling Tax

This is almost silly just on its face. When you consider the fact that the proposed registration fee is as expensive as vehicle registration it’s so ridiculous it’s almost sublime.

Oregon Proposes Bicycle Tax

Oregon’s spandex-clad cyclists are splitting at their seams in anti-establishment anger after Republican state Representative and non-hipster Wayne Krieger proposed a bill in the state’s House that would charge bike owners a $54 bike registration fee every two years. The bill proposes a handful of other small fees for licensing transfers or tampering with a bike’s serial number.

Posted by skooter at 4:47 PM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Cycling, Portland, Taxes

April 7, 2009

No Tour de Gastown for 2009

The good news here is that White Rock and Delta have both managed to hold great bike races year after year, over a variety of terrain. The bad news is that the urban cobblestone run Tour de Gastown with the hairpin turns is canceled.

It’s a fun event that draws a huge crowd, larger than the suburban ones. Here’s hoping it’s back next year.

Posted by skooter at 1:47 PM This entry is filed under Cycling, Vancouver.
Tags: Cycling, Vancouver

April 4, 2009

The Relentless Shift to Asian Manufacturing

A couple of years ago, Cannondale was acquired by a Canadian company. Cannondale had always been a proudly American company, and it was seen as a triumph of Canadian business. A relatively small manufacturer of frames, Cannondale had broadened from its history of pure aluminum to include other even lighter materials. They were hugely innovative, particularly in the area of front suspension. The Headshok system put the suspension mechanism in the headtube, eliminating leg flex and resulting in a lighter mechanism (albeit at the cost of custom, proprietary headsets); The Lefty system was even more radical, eliminating one half of the front fork altogether.

The road frames were beautiful too. They were light, and stiff, and strong. When Miguel Indurain retired and had to buy a bike he chose a Cannondale.

The only mountain bikes I’ve ever owned were Cannondales, and I used to beat the hell out of those things. I still have my last one, though it’s retired as I’ve moved back to the road. It’s in the garage, and basically gets used for neighbourhood cruising by others when they need it.

In a move that’s surprising only because it comes so long after the acquisition, Dorel Industries has announced that they’re shifting production of Cannondale frames to Asia. While this may be completely unsurprising, it’s sad. It’s what happens when a company built on passion becomes a company run for profit…a notch in a portfolio, a cog in a machine.

Posted by skooter at 3:49 PM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Cannondale, Cycling

April 3, 2009

Vancouver Police’s Grasp of the Obvious

This is such a sad story. It’s nice to see the VPD on top of things as usual. (Sarcastic emphasis added by me, not the Globe.)

Body of infant found in bag in East Vancouver
WENDY STUECK, April 2, 2009 at 5:29 PM EDT

VANCOUVER—The body of a dead infant was found in a plastic bag between two houses in East Vancouver on Thursday morning, Vancouver Police said.

Yellow police tape cordoned off the 2500 block of Charles Street, a tidy street of Vancouver specials and older, modest homes. Investigators were going door-to-door, talking to neighbours.

The body was found between two houses on the north side of the street. Police are treating the baby’s death as suspicious.

Posted by skooter at 1:52 AM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Crime, Vancouver

April 2, 2009

Wilco: Austin City Limits

Probably my favourite blog is Aquarium Drunkard which just feels more…blog like than Paste Magazine or the newly updated No Depression. It has more personality, while the others have a publication kind of feel to them.

Plus they post lots of music, like today’s awesome Austin City Limits show that Wilco played last year.

Grab it here.

Posted by skooter at 3:06 AM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Music, Wilco

Surely They Saw This Coming?

I never really played around with Second Life, prefering this real world to any virtual facsimile. There is, to me, a difference between Second Life and even the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft or the Lord of the Rings. I can see the appeal of those, but spending my online time in a facsimile of the real world never seemed that interesting to me.

It was trendy for a while, and the marketing departments of real world corporations got very excited about setting up shop there. I’d be curious to know what a well run marketing department learned. A great experiment for some, it seems to be winding towards its inevitable close. I’ve added emphasis to my favourite quote.

Second Life’s span is virtually over as firms decide to get real
By Rupert Neate, Last Updated: 9:12AM BST 31 Mar 2009

While the site is still beloved by geeks and the socially awkward, Deloitte’s director of technology research, Paul Lee, says it has been “virtually abandoned” by “normal” people and businesses.

In 2006 multinational companies, including BT, Coca-Cola, Adidas and Toyota, were scrabbling to create “in world” presences to profit from what was expected to be the next great internet cash cow.
 
But today the Second Life high street is mostly deserted, as businesses have realised that despite management claims that the site has 15m members, far fewer people actually play the game. Research for The Daily Telegraph shows just 580,000 people logged on to the game last week.

Matthew Brotherton who runs BT’s presence on Second Life, says most major businesses “have gone cold” on the game as they “can’t see how it is possible to make any money out of it”.

Posted by skooter at 2:39 AM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Marketing, Online Marketing, Virtual Reality