Post-Christmas goings-on

It's been an incredible week both in Bermuda and abroad of course. I think the entire country was stunned by the violent activities here over the holiday (as reported first by BNN). I imagine that the local police here are going to face even deeper scrutiny even though they weren't the ones provoking things, of course.

It may be time to increase the firepower of the police here (i.e. firearms), to be honest, as well as bringing in even stronger measures to eliminate the presence of such weapons on the island.

At a world view, the assassination of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto is a damaging blow to the prospects of stability in Pakistan and possibly the Middle East and India as well. There's already some serious controversy brewing over the government's response.


Now it's Barbados's turn for elections

Well, my second home of Barbados just declared elections, right after Bermuda's one concluded.

Situation there is widely different in many aspects. The incumbents currently have a stranglehold on the number of seats in Parliament, and they're likely to lose quite a few. Both of the main parties have "Labour" in their titles.

While in Bermuda the PLP just won their third consecutive term in power, in Barbados the BLP is looking for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term, all with Owen Arthur as Prime Minister. Will be following things closely in an election that actually will be about the issues (with a scandal thrown in of course).

How many policemen does it take to direct traffic?

And yes, at the intersection of Reid and Burnaby Streets yesterday we had a total of 7 police officers standing around. Two were at opposite corners trying to direct traffic and pedestrians, the remainder were standing around looking idle.

There were 3 more at the Reid and Queen intersection, and a further 2 on bikes having a chat. And then there was one in between, at the pedestrian crossing to Washington Lane. Despite all of this, there was an "accident" as the driver of a large Chevy minivan reversed into a parking bay, scraping the side of a car.

More of the same tomorrow and Monday, I suspect.


Online Election Fallout

Even before the election was over, some of the local bloggers indicated that they'd be taking time out because of all the time put in, which is understandable. I can only imagine the amount of research and analysis that Denis Pitcher put into getting those recent ones about employment figures, for example. Politics.bm looks to be taking a temporary hiatus as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if Limey and others took a breather what with the holiday season and young families to spend time with. So there probably won't be too many online discussions about the election results and the new government just yet.

What I have noticed so far is that there's quite a bit of bitterness among UBP (or anti-PLP) supporters in the blogs and forums. They seem flabbergasted that a party tainted with scandal and unwilling to address issues of transparency and accountability could win another term as the governing party. We have topics titled "A victory for ignorance". On BermudaIsAnotherWorld one contributor said that he's packing his bags! The frustrations are quite visible for many people; whether those on the other side see it (and acknowledge it), is another story. Catch-A-Fire has also spotted this trend and has a viewpoint similar to mine.

I think that there's a feeling in some quarters that black Bermudians were sheep in this election, following blindly the "stay solid" mantra of the PLP and falling for the rants of "The UBP will lock us up" and "UBP will return us to the plantation". Way too thick a brush to paint with, of course. Sure there are many who will vote PLP even if they slept with your wife, threw you out of your house and kicked your dog, but it's definitely not the majority. Many voted because simply put, the UBP didn't do enough to sway their vote. I know people who don't like what the PLP's done in recent years, but weren't impressed enough with the UBP's tactics to change their vote.

The strategy of focusing on the issues and not delivering personal attacks was the correct one to take, no doubt. They'd never win a battle in the pits. However they failed to convince the electorate that they were running a clean campaign. I believe that the UBP had nothing to do with creating the Tony Brannon YouTube videos. I believe they didn't create those nasty cartoon strips. But the UBP needed to drive home the point to any UBP or anti-PLP supporters that they are not looking to trash their opponents. That wasn't done and by affiliation, the UBP was deemed responsible for those ads.

The UBP needed to produce their manifesto long before the PLP. There's a belief among many that the PLP are the innovators and the UBP the reactionaries. This goes back to when the PLP was formed and the UBP created in response. By going first, the UBP's message would have been in the minds of voters without any other alternative messages to compare. Then when the PLP's agenda came out the UBP could be the first to counter-attack.

Finally, the Long Term Status scenario. While it may be constitutionally proper to effect that policy, it was a bad move to highlight that in their campaign manifesto. The majority of Bermudians are not going to look at that in a good way. Heck, they left off other unpopular items such as Human Rights so why they kept the Permanent Residents issue on the board was bizarre. Rightfully (from a political point of view), the PLP seized that message and used it to stir up their support. Knowing that the PLP may try to spin such a message, the UBP should have left that off the table.

That's three reasons why I think the UBP lost the election. They needed to run a perfect campaign to offset what the PLP were doing and they didn't.

Meanwhile, something's seriously wrong with the Progressive Minds blog. The PLP won the election and yet the first story published was *another* bash of UBP leadership. I know that they're the youth wing but I think some maturity at the administrative level needs to be utilized. People can win with grace and humility, you know.


Post-election motorcade?

Town is awfully quiet this morning. I'm walking along Church Street to get birthday office goodies, but town seems relatively subdued. Which probably means that the PLP victory motorcade is getting ready...

22-14 to the incumbents

So in the end, no net change in the composition of Parliament. Each party won 2 new seats but lost 2. There were a few surprise results, but the net gains were zero and I'd have to say that the PLP won even more comprehensively because:
  • The Opposition party leader was given a hiding by the PLP incumbent in the interesting Smith's North constituency (which may or may not be renamed "Dame Lois country").
  • The PLP held the majority of the popular vote (about 2,000?). Voter turnout was high again so they can easily claim a mandate from the people.
The candidates who lost their battles on both sides appeared to show grace and humility in interviews, which was impressive.

With a retained majority of seats, I don't expect much shuffling of Cabinet posts. Maybe Dr. Brown will shift one of his own big portfolios, but I doubt it as I think he has a few more initiatives he'd like to roll out. For example, he unveiled a minibus to serve along a 'feeder route' just before the election, the details of which I'm looking forward to seeing.

The UBP, they'll have to figure out where they went wrong. I think they made a few mistakes during their campaign (and in the months before) that didn't serve them well in gathering more of the undecideds or PLP frustrateds over to their side (e.g. BHC). They have the matter of reorganising their Shadow Cabinet and picking a new Opposition leader.

There's also the matter of choosing new Senators. UBP will have to make at least one change. PLP may stick with their current group (two Senators ran, both lost) or make a shift or two.

I may mention items from the UBP's agenda that I think the PLP ought to look at in a future post, but right now, I'm celebrating, and it's not because the election's over ^_^...



I really enjoy the actual voting, when it comes down to it. There's a sense of empowerment, a feeling of control, when you get that ballot paper and get to decide on which candidate will represent you in Parliament. This morning I got to greet and shake hands with the two men running in my constituency (as well as their assistants), and after casting my ballot, came out feeling quite proud. Good luck to each gentleman and to all the candidates. As Marilyn Steede said in the Gazette today, everybody who actually ran ought to be commended.

If it does snow on Front Street, I'm outta here

Got a cute e-card from BF&M today. A little strange that they're effectively spamming all of their customers, but I don't mind it too much. What's a little funny is the imagery used. If there really is that much snow falling in Bermuda on Christmas like their animation suggests, then they'll have to close school and the offices for a good three weeks! Heh.

If I whack somebody in the back of a head with a hammer

You'd think that I'd be facing a long prison sentence for assault, attempted murder, etc. if I was to strike a man from behind in the back of his head with a hammer.

However, for some reason the assailant got a suspended freaking 12-month sentence, on the basis of it being a first-time offense!

Something's wrong with the legal system where vicious assaults where there's a serious risk of permanent injury or death, get such weak treatment. I've never committed a crime, so would I get off if I just walked up to somebody and whacked them in the back of their head? Preposterous!

Time to vote!

No more debate (or lack thereof)! No more campaign ads! No more guessing!

The Bermuda Sun will have running counters on the vote-count through the day and we'll have a new government in place tonight. Predictions? I have no clue. I'd bet on the PLP retaining a majority in Parliament but there are several chances of constituency shocks that could have every pundit biting their teeth (and the daggone pollsters bopping their heads).


Reading the manifestos in-depth

It's amazing how coherent these political party manifestos appear once you get past the subtle (and not so subtle) digs at the opposing parties. Both have really pledged some interesting initiatives on improving Bermuda for Bermudians and to a lay person, they should show some promise.

I've been interested to read the feedback from both sides on the agendas. Good analysis of the agendas online can be found at Catch-A-Fire and Vexed Bermoothes. Catch-A-Fire gets right down to a bullet-by-bullet run-through of most of the items up for discussion. Props!

As for the parties themselves; the PLP claimed that the 'Three Strikes' proposal would lock up Bermudians. They've also said that their housing policy is superior to the UBP's. They've criticized the Permanent Residents proposal with some spin. And they've followed up with some nasty insert-words-in-mouths piece just now. With all due respect, the PLP ought to cut out the snide crap.

The UBP has challenged the PLP's proposals on the basis that no cost estimates have been provided. They've attempted to clarify their statements on Permanent Residents and trimming the Civil Service which was attacked by the PLP. I'm not sure how they responded to the PLP's free public transportation pledge.

Right now, both parties have bought prime-time TV ad space on local TV, which I'm sure ZBM and VSB greatly appreciate and they're broadcasting more speeches even now. They're all trying their hardest now to get the votes out.

Time will tell if the PLP's more fiercely attacking campaign or the UBP's stand-and-bear-it campaign will work best here.

Leave the kids out of this

Whether it's the PLP's pouring out that little kid talking about "keeping the PLP in power" or the ROI group getting that girl on-screen talking about how Dr. Brown is going to ram Independence down our throats, it's too much. We shouldn't be exposing preteens to this negative campaigning stuff.


Disturbing sentiments

From an article on TheKingofAllKings:
"He reportedly shouted, 'Let those n***ers vote the UBP back in and see what happens! Watch what we do!'"
Now, we know that many Bermudians just give big talk, but the fact is that there are a lot of men who are angry. They seem to be upset at white folk as well as black folk, and I'd bet that right now they're ready to take their frustrations out on anybody.

Are civil disturbances on the horizon? I don't think any more than usual, but hopefully the police are on alert considering that it's a fierce election and that we're in the Christmas season.

Things I haven't seen

Crap, so I forget to take my manifestos home this weekend to study in depth. However, I'm a little disappointed that some of the issues that I am interested in were not highlighted by either political party as far as I know. Denis Pitcher brings up his own outlooks on the highlighted items by the Gazette.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation being added or not included to the Human Rights Act has been avoided like the plauge. I think that all of the politicians are conscious of losing support by taking a stand in either direction. Although, it also exposes them as being soft-bellied and incapable of anything besides party-speak. Yes, it's likely that most Bermudians are against the amendment because being gay is still taboo in the island. Therefore you'll probably lose votes because you want to make the amendment. Also, it's politically incorrect to say you're against it because we're living in a society where there is freedom of religion, etc. So it's convenient to stay silent until you get the feeling that the support is strong in either direction. Bleh. What I do remember, is the pathetic non-debate that happened when it was brought up by Renee Webb not long ago. A sad day all-around.

Conscription to the Bermuda Regiment is another one that the parties don't address. I remember when I was in Barbados reading a Gazette article that showed the Regiment campaigning for volunteer women (but not men!). It reminded me of the fact that the Regiment are more than happy to continue to pluck at random a batch of guys and force them to undergo military training. Again, I think that the majority of Bermudians either don't care (because it doesn't affect them - remember half the population would never be forced to serve) or support it on the basis of "we had to do it, so should you". Politicians are avoiding this issue for the most part. Again, the current policy is biased and sexist and the politicians aren't bothered. Great blog post on this issue, Denis.

Finally, the UBP has pledged to bring in speed cameras (aren't they already on-island in a warehouse or something ^_^) while the PLP will trumpet their introduction of the licence points demerit programme. Neither has appeared to want to clamp down on Bermuda's culture of reckless driving. Whether it be by increasing traffic wardens in town and nailing those double-parkers along Queen and Reid Street, or having more officers to book the folks doing their dangerous weaving on their bikes, people seem to be happy with our "accident" rates which are quite high for such a small country.


How expensive are these campaigns?

As I rode home and passed banner after banner and signpost after signpost, after reading every full-page ad in the newspapers, after seeing every manner of web banner ad on sites from the Gazette to Vybez Alliance to even Google, and hearing about unlimited TV and radio ads airing on every local station and the YouTube network I wonder how much freaking dollars are these guys putting up for elections? Surely it's a record.

Waste of money? I'm sure it probably seems that way to the people struggling to avoid living on the streets this Christmas period.

Bringing in 8000 voters?

Came back from vacation, then swamped by work, now have a sore throat and ought to be in bed. But I want to throw this one out quickly.

I heard that at a recent PLP rally in Somerset, the PLP attacked the UBP's plan to bring back offering long-term residency status, claiming that this is a gesture to make certain types of expat workers into citizens, and with a natural leaning towards the UBP party. I.e., more white voters. The follow-up from the PLP was that this would guarantee that blacks would never be able to lead the country again.

I don't know if this issue is yet in the newspapers or discussed currently in the blogosphere, but I'd imagine that the point was effectively made by the PLP to its core supporters and unless the UBP can set a solid and believable counter-argument (such as insisting that the policy is only applied to people such as spouses-of-Bermudians, 20 years residence, et al.), they'll lose a few more of the undecided and currently disenfranchised voters who struggle as it is to get attention.


Oh no she didn't (PLP candidate)

Wow. Candidate Lovita Foggo dredged up the ol' "don't vote yourself back to the plantation" speech. I really hoped that it would have been dead and buried but nope, here it is 4 years later and just as nasty.

Issues, guys! Talk platforms! Stop the freaking scaremongering!

Okay sometimes the Gazette does well

Today I noticed a RSS feed icon on the Gazette's website. This was long overdue (the Bda Sun had this feature long ago), but nevertheless I will give credit where credit's due.

This will be a great benefit to many online readers of that newspaper.

Gazette dealing with cute child contests

For over a day and a half the Gazette home page is showing a banner for a company (I've heard it's owned by the Gazette's editor-in-chief's wife, which makes things very weird) and its cute kids contest winners.

And because all URLs for the Gazette's pages are long and ugly instead of something useful like /news/, your best bet to getting actual content may be in your browser history.

Digihell and Cap G should be demanding a refund on their whopping inline ads :-) Lord I'm tired of finding things to complain about this newspaper...


Manifestos out in Bermuda

Glad to hear that the PLP's election manifesto is now out and that the UBP's one is coming soon. Looking forward to reading it although the commentary I've read so far seems to indicate that it's a lot of promises without an explanation of how they will be achieved.

Of particular interest to me will be the free bus and ferry proposals (I don't see this as an incentive for people to ditch their cars, still and have yet to see a study/poll that proves it), the first-time homeowners getting interest-free downpayments (nice, I think, but will that make a home affordable to me even if I was one of those fortunate 500?), and the environmental Green Paper (as NewOnion says, this could be initiated now or in the past, and really is a very blah promise in comparison. The duty breaks for 'green' initiatives, is good though).

More later. Barbados for its part is in a vigorous political battle as again, an election is due soon and the incumbent party is dealing with allegations of government money going to private enterprises behind the scenes.


Idealogically speaking

Take racial issues out of the equation. What distinguishes the PLP and the UBP from an idealogical or a goals-focused view?

I raise this after reading Zane DeSilva's comments in the Gazette today where he calls on whites to join the PLP to heal the undercurrent of racial tensions as well as Calvin Smith's featured piece dealing with PLP accomplishments.

For many potential voters, they seem tired of race, race and 'they'e out to get ya if you vote them in' speeches. I think they'd rather hear about how the two parties will improve education, housing, crime, etc. Right now both parties are saying similar things. They'll both increase housing stock. They'll both get St. George's police station refurbished. Both of them are avoiding the gay rights topic. But it's hard to pick out why Party A's plans will work better than Party B's, as it gets shunted aside to be replaced with the bickering.

Why is the PLP's tourism strategy better or worse than the UBP's? Why is the UBP's plan for Bermuda College admissions better or worse than the PLP's?

Why should a person, regardless of race, support the PLP or the UBP?


Independence, the TV ad

I'm with Denis Pitcher. Why did that CURE stats stuff highlight B.A. Degrees and not other undergrad degrees? That seems weird. B.Sc and LL.B should count there, right? Anyway.

The PLP blog throws an interesting question regarding the mysterious RCI group and their strange TV ads warning the public that Independence could get forced down their throats.

I don't think that the group is affiliated with the UBP (although I bet that all members will vote that party), but the message they're sending out is clearly scaremongering for something that could be a red herring. There's really no indication so far that Independence would be sought by the PLP if they won the election. I'm no legal mind but if it's not in their official manifesto (which for all I know may get released December 18 at 8pm), they probably won't be able to use the results as a mandate to go independent against the will of the people.

That ad, UBP-funded or not, will not win any votes for the party that the RCI is tying to draw towards and may easily do the opposite.

Blogging mobile

It's not easy blogging and reading blogs from mobile devices but it's worth it, particularly now that every day somebody's blogging new content, whether it be VB, Politics.bm, Prog Minds, 21 Sq. or whoever.

Regading the blogs themselves, I'm interested in the studies done on 21 Square with the CURE numbers. Also the commentary on the cement situation which contrary to my earlier musing, is an issue front and centre now. Government appears to be taking on a large heap of projects now, which seems rather presumptuous of them. Apparently some PLP supporters have responded to the nasty cartoons with trash of their own. Peachy.

Bermuda Broadcasting, another walkout? Sheesh. Maybe Gov't should buy them and merge it with Gov TV and then things can move on. No, I'm not serious.

BermudaSucks have relaunched their site and forum using the cool Joomla tool, as seen on other local sites. Problem is that navigation is worse now for mobile users, heh.

More later.

Family and Sesame Street

So I'm in Barbados chilling and on TV is Sesame Street. Shoot me, it's a monsoon here and people are panicking over rumour of another earthquake coming... Yep Bermudians aren't the only ones who are subject to getting tricked when it comes to natural disasters.

Anyway. The subject of the episode was families. They then did a montage of families and one of them showed briefly two men flanking a kid, all of them eating ice cream.

I thought that was quite interesting. There's probably something on the Web addressing this but I wonder if people both in Barbados and Bermuda, places dominated by the church at times, this will be noticed. Suffice it to say the issue of gay rights has been prominent in the news.

In fact there was a news story in the Nation News where a prominent Catholic priest said that the Church has to fight against legislation that excludes people because of lifestyle or sexual habits.

It's an opposite path to that taken by many leaders in Bermudian churches.

Right now this issue in Bermuda is on the back-burner even during election season, thanks to the usual party dick-measuring games. I'm guessing that since both parties avoid the issue that's why it doesn't come up. Maybe in the New Year the topic will arise again.


Clayhouse Inn

Not long ago, I was making the ride into work. Passed by a big UBP/Dunkley banner in Flatts. Then another hanging from a house near Terceira's Shell in North Shore. And later I would pass by an enormous banner for Patrice Minors (and if I must say, she looks absolutely gorgeous in her campaign photo).

But anyway I reach this large building and think to myself, this would be prime real estate to hang a big political banner from.

This building, which has fallen into an unsightly condition, used to be the ClayHouse Inn, once a popular place for entertainment and I assume hotel-like lodging. It's sat in a disused and abandoned state since 1999 at least, yet it seems as though people are content to let this building blight an otherwise beautiful strip of coast.

From what I've heard, the current property owner isn't concerned with renovating or selling. And, I don't know if Government has the capability to take over the property in the public interest. But surely there's value in taking such an unwanted property, and making a set of accomodation, even emergency housing, out of it?


It gets nastier

A large batch of Photoshopped images making fun of Premier Brown and other PLP MPs were making the e-mail rounds recently. Many of them would be considered extremely offensive, particularly one that depicted Dr. Brown alongside Hitler, Mussolini and others.

It's nasty stuff. The Bermuda Sun addressed the responses to these images from representatives of both main political parties.

Two points. The PLP chairperson plays a bit of a political game here, calling on the UBP party leader to issue a public condemnation of those images, however saying that the images were deliberately done at the request of the UBP in the first place. Which, come on. Either give the benefit of the doubt or make the accusation, don't try to do both. It's like he's trying to put the UBP in a no-win situation, which is indeed politics, but not really necessary here.

The UBP leader makes a poor response by claiming that doctored images of himself are making the rounds as well, which screams of deflection and an 'aw shucks' kind of attitude instead of focusing on the images currently being discussed. He didn't come off as disgusted with the images, which to many will seem like he's not too bothered by this issue. Remember, Bermudians generally take offense more easily than our North American friends so I expect people will believe that the UBP leader is completely out of touch with the mainstream based on his comments.

We may never know if it was an anti-PLP group, a UBP directive, a bunch of kids with too much free time on their hands, or even a PLP job to make the Premier et al. a martyr figure, but I do recall the effects of the 1998 election newspaper ad that slagged former MP Delaey Robinson because he had dreadlocks. This too could be a turning point come election day.

More arguments over Gov TV

There's a debate on the worth of CITV, the government-owned and produced cable channel, taking place at the Progressive Minds blog. There's much support for this TV station from most of the people posting there, claiming that it adds much value to our society. The general protest against it is that Government (a) spent too much money, (b) should not be involved in broadcasting.

I even posed a question there but it got lost in the debate over what Government should and shouldn't be doing. My personal opinion is that there are currently three TV stations, not counting Fresh TV, that have the capability to show local programming produced by local organisations including Government itself.

That said, I have no problem and think it's commendable for a Government area to produce local TV programmes that cover history, culture, education, environment, etc. But I don't think that Government needed to create a whole new TV station to broadcast those programmes. VSB, for instance, doesn't really show much of anything on Sunday mornings. ZBM is usually idle during that Oprah Winfrey timeslot on ZFB. As someone pointed out, there are cable channels LookTV and OnionTV which may be of use in showing local programmes.

Speaking from the Barbados experience and my favourite channel of all time, one CBC (inside joke), which has come along leaps and bounds in recent years, they're a government-funded (as opposed to government-run) TV station which provides local programming throughout the day. The situation is a bit different there because they're a monopoly in local TV and operate in a nation with great national pride (each probably influenced the other), but I think that rather than spend money on a brand new channel Government could have used less funds, guaranteed itself daily or weekly airtime on the public TV (and radio) channels of its choosing and still provided the country with the programmes of choice. From all accounts on the Prog Minds blog, the shows themselves are of high quality compared to Bermuda Broadcasting's in-house shows, so they ought to get an audience if they were moved to local TV.


Barbados at 41

Happy Birthday, Barbados, my second home. Don't let the tremors put y'all off. I'm looking forward to spending a little time there next week, seeing friends and family, and possibly witnessing some of the political intrigue going on down there.


Polls, Damn polls and statistics

One poll comes out. PLP ahead.
Another poll comes out. UBP ahead.
Each side claims the other poll is flawed.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

This election in Bermuda is going to be close on the basis of percentage of votes. Shouldn't be greater than say a 45-55% ratio, not counting the independents (wow that ABC thing sure worked out, didn't it?).

But because of the nature of our electoral system we could see the composition of the house being anywhere between 29-7 to 7-29 but more likely something in the middle. It's really about the constituency-by-constituency battles more than anything, which these polls aren't really able to achieve, no fault of their own. And of course, the large number of first-time eligible voters, and which way will they turn. I don't think anybody can take their seat for granted.

Yes I'll talk about the fishies too

I was planning to review all the recent TV ads showing during that crucial Oprah Winfrey timeslot (8-9pm) in Bermuda, and actually some are pretty interesting and or very snark-worthy.

But anyway, this morning I was directed to an animated ad designed by the UBP. Oh, it's pretty sad. Not great quality, but is probably superior to most local TV ads in terms of structure. But that's another topic. It's gotten comments through the blogosphere including Limey and Devil's Island, and naturally garnered commentary on the official PLP blog. I do think that the PLP commentary in terms of claiming the ad is offensive, is over the top. In fact even addressing the ad is somewhat bizarre of them.

(Crap Limey beat me to the punch)

Anyway, and not just because I'm doing all kinds of cross-selling, 21 Square has come up with a very humourous alternative ad proposal in quick time.


Newspaper sources

Just an observation, but I've noticed recently that many news stories produced by our daily newspaper, the Gazette, are using as source material blog postings and Facebook entries. Does that mean that the 'traditional' news media is indeed embracing online technology for their news (in spite of the slam put on them in earlier articles), or that staffers are just enjoying having their jobs done for them?

Campaigning and Pedestrian crossings

Y'all know I'm tired of idiot drivers who don't obey the traffic code, right? So anyway Sunday I'm at the bus stop near Warwick Academy looking to cross the street at the zebra crossing. Typically, I have to wait for a few cars to fly through before there's a gap where I can safely cross. This time, a couple of cars zoom through but one slows down and allows me to cross.

I look over and in a car flanked by PLP flags is what I believe to be Zane DeSilva, who's one of the more controversial figures in the upcoming election. I wave warmly at him and cross. Well done, sir. That's immediate bonus points if I was in his constituency. The little things sometimes really do matter.


Gazette sports reporting

How sad is it when the Gazette publishes an article written by two reporters and contain such a bad inaccuracy:

"... Trinidad and Tobago became only the second Concacaf nation to appear in football's premier showpiece..."

I mean, how can Trinidad and Tobago be only the second CONCACAF nation to make the World Cup? That's a pathetic gaffe.

I think that Canada, Mexico, the U.S., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica and others have also raised their proverbial hands to protest...


Not good takeout service

Usually, ordering takeout from L'Oriental goes pretty smoothly but you know how the bad experiences are the ones that you make more noise about? Well that was me and I'm very reluctant to call them again or go to the restaurant.

Last week I called to make a takeout order for our team at the office. When I indicated I'd like to place a takeout order, the guy on the other end said that they aren't doing takeout orders. Me, I'm thinking, wait it's only 1:45, there's no reason for them to not be doing this, and am about to ask what the deal is, and I'm cut off.

In retrospect, I'd like to think that a more appropriate response from them would be to ask me the customer if there's anything else they can do for me, but anyway.

My colleague called them back and was able to get a takeout order, so something's not quite right with that establishment.


Thanksgiving holiday solution

Since half of Bermuda sort of celebrates American Thanksgiving anyway, with turkey dinners and stuffing as well as travelling to the U.S. for the post-holiday sales, I figured that Government should perhaps take advantage.

Let Thanksgiving Day become Bermuda's National Heroes Day. Then everybody's a winner. Heck, even the businesses would be okay since half of them observe the holiday anyway. Heck.


Cement situation seems scary

Now I haven't been giving as much attention as perhaps should be applied to the local cement situation thanks to all the other vast important local issues, but reading through some of the latest news in which it appears that we're slated for a rough go as far as the construction industry is concerned thanks to a bad situation with the Bermuda Cement Company.

With that in mind I refer the intriguing New Onion blog entry that ponders if this action is part of a scheme to 'get back' at an old-Bermuda family in order to instill in its place someone tied to the ruling Government.

I guess that after the election is over and the euphoria (and disappointment) dies down a little, this issue will be raised over the Christmas week and become something that gets much more attention as New Year's approaches.


Cyclone in Bangladesh

You know we're on this island blogging about local politics and events and news, and I'd like to offer my condolences to those who knew the teacher that died from a motorcycle collision this past weekend by the way, as I'm taking a different tack here.

Bangladesh was just struck hard by a tropical cyclone (the equivalent of a hurricane in those parts). As of now, over three thousand deaths, with the official number certain to rise greatly. I cannot imagine such a sudden loss of life. We in the western world really need to appreciate our standard of living. We have for the most part sturdier accommodations available to us and facilities like clean water and electricity that we take for granted - we're unlikely to ever experience that kind of decimation on that kind of scale in Bermuda. It's very humbling.


No live debates

I'm pretty disappointed. In a country where the political parties are using the Web to broadcast their messages to the public, nobody wants to participate in a simple TV debate about the issues at hand.

How sad is that? People don't want to debate the issues?

This probably show that indeed, the political parties are more focused on scaremongering, convincing us that the real issue is that the opposing party is going to take the island down a path of ruination rather than discussing topics and gaining political leverage.

Dr. Brown's response is that it would only be entertaining but no political value. WTF? So all those TV debates going on in the United States have no value to people considering who to vote for, etc.?

The Opposition leader wouldn't even commit to a yay or nay on it, which is even worse. Sheesh.

Both political parties suck. And they claim to be concerned about voter apathy. Bull.


Selective bias by the media?

As many locals know, the news media, namely the Gazette and the Mid-Ocean News, have been under attack from the Progressive Labour Party and accused of being biased against that political group.

With that in mind, shouldn't the party be calling for a boycott of that newspaper? Also, why are they still referencing articles from the Gazette? If the party believes that the Gazette is biased against them then they should not be quoting articles by them on their website. They can easily use the Bermuda Sun. They also can utilize Bermuda Network News which is at the least, affiliated with one of their political candidates (although they're also affiliated with Bermuda Broadcasting which I think is also not on the good guys' list). Potentially, they have avenues through the Workers' Voice and with hott fm affiliated with another political candidate, can utilize transcripts for any sound bites they wish to utilize.

Basically, the gist is that if you don't like a newspaper, you shouldn't quote them and drive traffic towards them, right?


How will undecided black voters go?

In the local blogosphere, which admittedly is dominated by white males (through nobody's fault, just the way it's been), the political talk as relates to the General Election deals a lot with corruption allegations and BHC scandals.

However, these issues, huge as they may be, perhaps are overblown when it comes to how relevant it is to the black population overall. I was speaking with friends recently and the impression I get is that many black folks are tired of hearing about BHC and court costs and cedar beams. To them, it doesn't matter. It could be a matter of apathy or that they're really more concerned about getting truly affordable housing or how their kids are educated.

To the swing voters, who'll be majority black with fair amounts of whites and other racial groups, they're going to vote for their UBP or PLP candidate based on the more concrete issues, I think. Regarding the current Premier's reputation, that's going to matter more to the diehard supporters. Just my opinions early on.

Car parking abuse

I completely agree with Limey's sentiments on the Corporation of Hamilton's car clamping policy and barriers. Reading the accompanying Gazette article, I was thinking, how lazy and irresponsible are these motorists? Park your car appropriately and pay the parking fee. Lord.

Some guy actually said that "This is an island, we just need to relax, man." WTF?

If you park illegally, you should be prepared to face the consequences. That applies to those who like to double-park too. They ought to get an immediate ticket from the wardens.

Of course we need more parking options. We also need to catch the dang buses and ferries more often. Then again the amount of buses on the roads hasn't increased yet.


Signs of an election

Yep, that's when things like roads getting paved happens. After a few years of chopped up asphalt everywhere you went, within the space of a couple weeks South Road in Devonshire as well as Middle Road near Tee Street got a spanky fresh upheaval. Well done. Who knows, maybe they'll even pave up Palmetto Road or something in the next couple weeks.

Just one of those interesting observations.


Return of the Limey

No, not a new blockbuster movie coming to theatres near you; the local blog that started it all, Limey In Bermuda, is back. It's great to have this voice back in the Bermuda online community and I for one look forward to reading his musings particularly as the general election approaches.

Like Politics.bm, the 'relaunched' blog won't be taking comments; which is a little unfortunate, but there are still avenues out there for interactive discussion anyway whether it be through the current Bermuda online forums or through Facebook groups. Let the fun times continue.

Back at the GovTV website

I promised myself I'd avoid overt criticism of a government-owned cable TV station but I decided to visit their website today to see if they put up any useful information since my first visit on launch day.

  • they now have an uninspiring photo gallery of the 'launch party'. People in suits posing and whatnot. No text or anything.
  • there's a 'message from the Premier' which is a JPG scan of a press release. Almost as annoying as a PDF. Like I'm going to print this off or something.
  • Current shows list continues to be mundane in description. I wonder if the BermudaSucks people are going to sue over the name "Bermuda Rocks" as that's an alternative name of their own website.
  • There's a "Who's Who" bit which again is uninspiring photos of behind-scenes stuff. Again, no content whatsoever.
And that's really it. And as of now I haven't heard much regarding the usefulness of the currently broadcast material that warranted its own TV station to host when ZBM, ZFB, VSB or even FreshTV (despite their own shortcomings) have plenty of broadcast room available.

Digihell, what the devil...

Just got a piece of spam to my cell phone:

"Congrat,your GSM number won €1,000,000 in the NETHERLANDS Mobile Promo,your money is ready to be sent yo you,for details contact Mr Van at vanbakker@aol.com From: PROMOTION"

How does this happen? Hmph. Oh yeah. Nobody contact that email address please.


Bermuda's Election Day announced

In a very strange turn of events today, the Premier called for the dissolution of Parliament and for a new election on December 18th. It was really strange because the Throne Speech was given earlier in the morning. Therefore there's potential for everything in that Throne Speech to be completely null and void (and a big waste of time). It's quite odd.

ZBM said that the announcement was made on the YouTube internet site as well as the PLP website, which perplexed me since something of this magnitude deserved a formal announcement to the mainstream media. I know the Gazette sucks and the TV media are still in the 1980s, but still.

The timing is pretty interesting from the PLP's point of view as it gives them something to highlight in their banquet dinner this Saturday. The UBP probably has prepared for a December election as well. ABC? Whatever.

Anyway your favourite blogs and forums will be sure to provide you with all the opinions and thoughts as Bermuda prepares to elect its government. No predictions yet, of course, heh.

More ads than news

Looks like the Gazette online is making tons of money from advertisers, unfortunately there's now more ads than content on most of the article pages thanks to a crafty decision to load a giant Digicel ad in the middle of the article. This is funny because there's already all kinds of banner ad space available to the right and top of each page.

What's even funnier is that the ad is one of those $2.00 productions that has no invitation or offer or anything. Just the tagline. Someone at the Gazette ought to look into a redesign that makes their news site look like something professional...


Should've knocked this twit down

This morning I'm headed to work along Marsh Folly Road, not much traffic to deal with. A guy on a pedal cycle is riding along the road, hands behind his back, showboating or whatever. Stupid dolt, I think. Anyway I move to overtake him and all of a sudden this fella veers over to the right to turn into Blackwatch Pass, still with his daggone arms behind his back, completely oblivious to my approach.

So of course I have to pull brakes hard to avoid sending this idiot skidding along the road, and it would have been something to see him flying with his arms behind him unable to even try to save his dumb behind. Totally ticked off, I give him a honk of the horn and go along my way. Wonder if he put his hands where they should have been after that. I mean, he's on a public road, not his freaking backyard, right?

I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, I'm sure, but each time this crap happens I'm one step closer to not giving a toss and just whacking an idiot rider.


Bermuda's drivers and The Man

One of the well-known but little-discussed things dealing with drivers in Bermuda is that we're always warning each other when the police are out and about doing their spot-checks.

Example: today riding home, a car approaches me and he flickers his headlights quickly. I don't know the driver or the car so the obvious conclusion is that there's a police checkpoint further along the road. Yep. Exactly.

Mind you, it's a bit odd that there's a police checkpoint happening on a Sunday morning at about 12 noon. Ah well. I don't make the decisions.

Daylight Savings blunder

The good ol' Gazette (already dropped the "Royal", the capital 'G' is next) printed off on their newspaper yesterday a nice banner telling everybody to turn back their clocks this morning.

Whoops! Guess they didn't get the memo that the date was pushed back until November 4th this year. Hopefully they didn't screw up most people with their blunder. I doubt their online retraction will reach most people until Monday when they are in the office. Stupid newspaper.


Campaign promises

Taxi drivers are getting a fare increase, and Politics.bm has already weighed in on whether this is an election ploy, so I won't discuss that here.

Anyway, the Premier has announced some upcoming goals of Government which sounds nice on paper but I'm skeptical. After all, these announcements were not made at a session of Parliament. In fact these never even came up in any previous forum, rather it was at the party's conference. So I can only treat it as an election promise made to (a) galvanise support of the party faithful and (b) set up a election manifesto of sorts to the public.

Something that doesn't sit right with me is the announcement that the prison population here is at its lowest level in a decade and Government's taking credit for it. When I read in the newspapers of people getting convicted for all these crimes and only receiving the obscure "suspended sentence" punishments from the courts, something doesn't seem right. We ought to be locking more people up, or at least putting them into these "alternatives to incarceration" programmes, right? It's somewhat confusing, to say the least.


Demerit system for licences

Looks like after much discussion in the media and online, the Government is going to introduce a points demerit system for revoking licences.

I'm looking at the initial statement by the Premier:

"First, it monitors the development of poor driving records in newly licensed drivers and takes steps to improve their driving habits. Second, it protects the public from habitual offenders by disqualifying or revoking the licenses of unsafe drivers."

What's a little weird, and I hope this is cleared up in tomorrow's report, is that it only talks about newly licensed drivers, and not all currently licensed drivers. Hopefully that's a typo or something and we don't have to wait for people's current licences (which have a 10-year expiry period) to expire before they are monitored or whatnot. Anyway I await further news.

Here's the thing however. It's all good to announce this piece of legislation, it's another thing to see it enforced. There's not enough enforcement on the roads at this time to catch the vast majority of red-light runners, inside overtakers, and other road maniacs, so the question is will there be an increased police presence to book and demerit these offenders anyway?

Then again, Christmas is approaching and we're due for another announced police blitz, so who knows.


Put the Grand Slam on Pay-per-View

Now, I'm very confused here. The Cricket World Cup, featuring Bermuda's own national team, was televised by hott fm instead of terrestrial TV, yet the PGA Grand Slam, hosted locally and where anybody theoretically could have attended in person, is miraculously available on free TV?

I'm enjoying watching the tournament on TV mind you, but I'm wondering why the change in attitude? I'd think that this event would be more suited to the hott fm folks to put on pay-per-view (never mind the TNT cable feed, they could block it) to further swindle present to the Bermuda viewing public.

Just an observation. For the record, Bermuda looks fabulous on TV.

Sure, I'll pay more for the three-pack

The MarketPlace, Bermuda's largest and yet most ghetto grocery store chain, often has strange pricing strategies on its products but when I saw that a single box of Irish Spring soap costs $1.11 (I know, it's freaking expensive anyway) yet is still a better deal than the three-pack which costs $3.67!, I was shocked.

Mind you, the strategy of "if the customer doesn't notice then let's continue to screw 'em" seems to work as immediately after I took this photo, a man walked up, grabbed the three-pack and went along his way.

This phenomenon isn't restricted to soap mind you. I've seen this with napkins as well so it seems to be an overall store strategy to up the price on "economy packs" and mislead the public accordingly. Just goes to show the importance of paying attention to price labels.


Booked! Stupid rider

At the stop lights outside Bank of Bermuda's Head Office branch. Some fella is at the stop line waiting for his green light. He notices the light for a different lane begin to change to red. The fool immediately floors it although his light is still freaking red! Of course the next light change is actually to allow pedestrians to cross the road. What would have happened if someone began to cross the street at the same time that this hotshot decided to burn rubber?

Idiot. Please, somebody. Take this fool on BI302 off the road.

Massive boat: Boys and toys

Saw Paul Allen's (former Microsoft bigwig and current owner of the NFL's Seahawks and NBA Trailblazers) enormous yacht this past week on island.

Guys, this is one massive boat. This boat, called the Octopus, is probably over half the size of a standard cruise ship, and has on board at least one helicopter (someone said two - what the hell? heh), smaller boats, a submarine and who knows what other gadgets and accessories. I can only imagine the defensive accessories it would need to fend off potential pirates.

It's practically something straight out of Thunderbirds and most fellas would absolutely love to get an interior look at this vessel and what it's capable of. Alas, we can only dream...

Bermuda and the PGA Grand Slam

So the PGA Grand Slam of Golf is taking place here this week. With the big Music Festival also just concluding it was a great coup for the guy who managed to bring in and licence a pair of luxury Lexus sedans, conveniently taking advantage of a recent law wiping off tons of duty on vehicles to be used as limos.

Anyway the powers that be decided to give the very inappropriate theme of "Turn Bermuda On" as regards drawing attention to the event locally. For an island that is so 'Christian', we throw in a whole bunch of sexual undercurrent in a lot of our promotions, don't we?

I had a vacation day today but didn't think about attending the event. For one, watching golf live isn't really my thing. Two, the prices are probably out of my reach anyway. Three, the golf club is in a part of Bermuda I've never even come close to seeing. Just one of those things. I don't personally have anything against the Mid Ocean Golf Club, but it just seems weird thinking of going to a part of Bermuda that historically represents all of "not" me.


ZBM is pretty sad

The biggest NFL game of the year just got cut off for some unknown reason and ZBM TV are airing BBC World News, with no scrolling ticker to inform us of what's gone wrong. This is sad.

I realize that the station is struggling with inferior equipment and are low staffed, but every now and then they suffer from some issue or another that doesn't get resolved for hours. This station is a poor example of why free TV should continue to exist in Bermuda, sad to say.

Housing numbers and stats

Just want to mention that 21 Square puts the numbers out regarding the housing crisis in Bermuda which needs to be addressed with greater urgency than is currently being employed.


Women's football

I read today on IslandStats that FIFA is going to up the minimum amount of money spent on women's football to a whopping 20% of the overall grants to each member association.

Whooo. Actually this may be FIFA trying to make amends for scheduling the Women's World Cup at a time of year where it's competing against professional football in Europe and South America, not to mention both baseball and American football in the USA, and even rugby union's World Cup. For some reason the powers that be decided against holding it in the relatively less busy late summer months. Silly.

Anyway, while the women's game isn't going to be a major event, FIFA ought to do better. They should be pioneering increased contributions to promoting the sport. After all, half the population is female. Mind you, in Bermuda there are all kinds of issues with the BFA where nobody seems to trust anybody from the board to the clubs to the referees. National sport or not, local football doesn't appear to deserve its $10 million investment from the Government. There are a few swimmers, for example, who could use a decent 50m pool...


Continuing the Renaming process

Spice Valley Middle School, formerly Warwick Secondary, was renamed after T.N. Tatem. Even more recently, Southampton Glebe Primary School was renamed after Dalton Tucker. Both of these persons were educators held in high regard by their former students and it appears that the choices to make the name changes were done in good faith.

However these changes among others haven't been received with approval from the wider community. I think that many people are tired of all these changes being made without notice or approval from the wider community. When the airport was renamed, a large section of the community voiced disapproval. And the sudden announcement of the renaming of Bermuda Day sparked outrage.

Some folks are perfectly happy with letting Government handle these types of decisions without consulting the public at large, others think this smacks of a government not caring what its people think or desire.

A good middle ground can probably achieved here. Instead of suddenly pronouncing a name change, discuss a proposal, open it for discussion on the floor, delegate a committee of qualified persons to consider and nominate worthy candidates, allow solicitation of ideas from the general public and then go from there.

And while they're at it, try to rename Sandy's Secondary Middle School so that the island's most bizarre school name gets modified to something that makes sense, please.


New Pet Peeve - Big Rents

Here's something else that pisses me off: people who post those flyers on the board in the office kitchen area advertising some house or apartment for rent at like $4000 and up.


I need to put up a sticker or something that declares that any rentals posted should be affordable to employees who aren't benefiting from housing allowances or are senior management or something. Grr.

Never underestimate the stupidity of a user

Bank of Bermuda, known to half of Bermuda as HSBC (to be kind), was the subject of a phishing attack sometime on Thursday. This scam manifested itself as a poorly-written email complete with Bank logo, advising the reader that their account was compromised and that they need to have it fixed by *clicking on the link* and entering their account details!

Now, while the scammer's website looked authentic and mimicked the Bank's website in nearly perfect fashion, the fact that people, including business banking users, actually clicked on the link and entered their details just proves how naive Internet users are even in this age.

This is not new. The 419 frauds are old news. People are asked to do this from Paypal, E-Bay and every other major Bank in the world. You'd think that people would watch and pay attention to the news programs that highlight these things and never, never, never, click on a link in an unsolicited e-mail (again, poor grammar? Warning lights, people!) claiming to be from a financial institution.

Nope. People are still freakin' gullible. I personally think those people ought to be stripped of any Internet rights and be given training on protecting their own dang money before taking on such responsibility, however businesses are forced to panic and scramble to protect the stupidity of its customers. Woy.

I suppose eventually someone will fill me in on Gov TV

The first ever Government-produced station in the world to be available only by CABLE was launched last Sunday night. Every other blog in Bermuda has already commented on how useful the station would be but I'm trying to stay somewhat pragmatic about it.

All that I know is that there's a somewhat disappointing-looking website (splash screen? who does that anymore? unless you're an artist's website maybe) with very little actual useful material, and a programming guide of sorts. Apparently programming will be 'fresh' on a weekly basis. Oh yeah, and only between 7:30 and 11 am, then it's all repeats. Sigh.

I think it's going to take a very long time for me to see any kind of tangible benefits to this expensive project. I mean, Government could easily produce programming, buy airtime on Bermuda Broadcasting or VSB during their off-time (Sunday mornings and Saturday afternoons tend to be very available) and still air their 'untouched' presentations if they want. Oh well.

Maybe students will get opportunities to apprentice at the station and learn some skills in mass media or something. That's the best I can see at this moment.

New Bermuda blogs!

Got a few new people blogging about things.

Here's Vexed Bermoothes, a nice clean blog site which is focusing early on Government activity and local politics.

And probably the best sketch artist of the lot of us, The Devil's Island's creator has been a voice on several blogs and online forums over the years and decided to bring his own unfiltered voice to the blogosphere. Whoo-hoo!


Road rage when you're in the wrong

So I'm participating in the Breast Cancer Walk the other day and we reach the traffic lights near the Tennis Stadium. Traffic is controlled here because of all the walkers, but during an interval where traffic is to stop, a woman on a bike tried to *overtake* on the inside a SUV which had stopped. The woman, oblivious to the fact that she is in the wrong and that there are lots of kids walking, proceeds to lay into the driver of the car with all kinds of profanity.

Very confusing.

What's funny is that after the car had moved on, the woman pulls out her cell phone and calls someone - maybe an ace girl to rant to, in the middle of the road. Strange, very strange.

Never underestimate the insanity on Bermuda's roads.


Bermuda's National Heroes Day

The Premier has just announced that Bermuda will be having its own National Heroes Day to honour our most deserving citizens, with the late Dame Lois Browne-Evans being designated as the first of the heroes.

While I already declared my support for such a holiday being implemented as a way to bring recognition to great Bermudians of the past and present, I have a few concerns.

Firstly that this is not a new holiday, rather replacing Bermuda Day, also known as Heritage Day. While there are similarities in what both things represent, I don't think that it's quite right to simply rename Bermuda Day, because Bermuda Day recognises the contributions of many, as well as the history of the island and to instead put emphasis on (currently) just one individual instead is going to diminish the contributions of everyone else. They should have really instituted a brand new holiday for this. Perhaps the concerns of Big Business weighed heavily on that decision but Government should be about the people before the corporate folks.

Secondly, only declaring one National Hero at this time smacks of being a short-sighted gesture. If you're going to declare a National Heroes Day, why not designate more than one person? The Sports Hall of Fame declared ten people right off the bat and Bermuda ought to at least determine a good five persons for this. Government could have formed a committee of experienced historians and analysts to deliberate and produce a small group of great men and women to honour with the possibility of adding to the list over time (to make it an even ten or twelve, for example).

The whole thing seems rushed. I know that the public were solicited for suggestions over a good period of time after Dame Lois passed away but the sudden announcement of things came out of nowhere, with no lead-in whatsoever.

On the local blogosphere, I'm not too happy with the comments upon it right now. The focus seems to be more on some sort of semi-Caribbean-bashing saga but hopefully cooler heads will prevail.


Cell phone ban a non-starter

Some time ago it was raised for discussion the implementation of a ban on cell phone usage while driving on Bermuda's roads. While I'm not sure if the discussion ever reached Parliament, I'm quite convinced that it's a non-starter even if Police have records indicating that several traffic collisions were partly as a result of cell phone usage.

Here's why: some Government ministers do it and do it for an extended period. Today I was behind a GP car (for once I'm protecting the guilty) and saw the minister driving one-handed with phone cocked up to the ear. Why don't people get hands-free devices anyway? In any event, that lasted at least 5 minutes before I turned off.

So if you're looking to improve road safety, you're better off pushing for the forgotten speed camera thing...



Surprise, another reckless driver

I'm a heartless bum, I think.

Today was the first day of school for many kids on the island, and I probably should have expected to see something silly on the roads. It just so happened that I was standing at the intersection of Par-la-ville and Church Street waiting to cross to L'Oriental Express for a late lunch break when I witnessed the most predictable of so-called "accidents".

School had either just let out or there were a bunch of kids dismissed early from classes, but there were a fair number of fellas on bikes at the intersection, but anyway there is a car making a right-turn, her indicators clearly flashing, and some young kid decides to overtake her anyway, completely ignoring the signal. She makes her move and the rider is forced to quickly adjust his path. As the woman stops her car (good on her for her patience), the kid loses control just as I'm saying to myself, "look at this idiot kid". The bike falls and skids, he tumbles off and slides. Both rider and bike come to a stop right against the sidewalk, probably a foot away from me.

I don't even freaking blink. I really had no sympathy for the deck-out. I give the kid a brief glance, and then notice that the pedestrian walk light is active so I make my way across the road without even a word. Behind me I heard a man ask the kid if he was okay. I look to see if the car driver had stopped but she had long moved on.

All I could think of is, how are these people allowed to ride when they pay no attention to things around them. Don't they cover this in Project Ride and everything? I hope the kid learned a lesson, although neither he nor the bike took any damage in the fall and I wouldn't hold my breath on him riding more safely. Like I said earlier, if Dejon Simmons's story fell on deaf ears, there's no hope.


Left-hand drive

I've noticed that we have quite a fair number of left-hand drive cars in Bermuda. It's pretty strange. It's not like they are mainly Chryslers or something; these are VW Jettas or Suzuki Vitaras, and they definitely make right-hand drive versions of those.

It's just strange, why we have those cars in the island. Why would someone willingly bring in a car with left-hand drive when there are perfectly good right-hand equivalents to be bought locally? There's absolutely no advantage to having a left-hand drive car in Bermuda, is there?


Police: a thankless job

Reason #27 why I wouldn't want to become a police officer in Bermuda:
the defendant kept telling him "I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill your children".

acting magistrate Justin Williams said: "I've heard what you have to say and what the officers have had to say. From what I've heard I believe the Police officers. I find you guilty of these offences."

Bassett was fined $2,500 and banned from driving for a year.
You're kidding me. The judge found the man guilty of violently resisting arrest, using threatening words, using offensive words, and assaulting a Police officer among other things, but gets sentenced to a fine and a ban from driving (which seriously, doesn't get tracked anyway). Zero prison time. The man threatened to kill the officer's family.

I can't add anything else to this farce masquerading as justice. Nothing else. Good luck with recruiting others.


Enough is enough

To Government House, the Bermuda Government, the Police force, and all those involved in this bickering over who controls what in regards to law enforcement here...

Enough is enough. Take some action.


Blog is blocked

Interestingly, my blog as well as the outstanding 21 Square, are now blocked from my office. I'm not sure what the algorithms are for the blocking tool to operate, but people can still freely browse the more animated local online discussion arenas.

Mind you, they also block the interesting New Onion blog, classifying it as 'Sex' when I have yet to see anything relating to that topic on that site.

If I ever get free time again I'm going to try to 'unblock' it by finally moving it to the same host as the rest of my underdeveloped, ancient and somewhat lifeless rest-of-the-site. Heh.


Taxi Drivers - they have to earn sympathy [VA/Beachlime Simulpost]

Bermuda's taxi drivers have been in the spotlight in recent times. A mandatory law for cabbies to install GPS systems in their vehicles met with stern opposition, meanwhile drivers have lobbied to be allowed to raise their rates.

Hearing taxi drivers in conversation, you can tell that they are feeling like Government has imposed insane restrictions on them while not allowing them to earn a decent living. One may be able to understand their frustration. Taxis are expensive - I can only imagine how much they have to pay for these large minivans that they now bring into the island to use, and as of now they don't seem to get much in the way of tax breaks and they don't receive any breaks for gasoline, etc.

However, while there are many hard-working drivers out there, it's really hard to have much sympathy for taxi drivers as a whole. Experiences that I've witnessed or heard about:

Drivers refusing to take you certain places because it's "out of their way"
Drivers telling you that they're already booked, then you see them pick up a set of visitors who clearly just hailed them
Arranging taxis can be an adventure, sometimes the dispatched taxi detours somewhere else and you're waiting in vain
Virtually impossible to hail a passing taxi even if their "available" light is on
Drivers acting as if they have the right-of-way, at *all times*
Hard to find waiting taxis in places you'd expect them to be, such as after a concert or sporting event

It's tough to own a cab. You have to deal with potential crooks trying to mug you, drunk people vomiting over your seats and carpet and the high costs of maintenance; but when you make the choice to run a taxi you have to be prepared somewhat to deal with the risk when undertaking a venture. If you feel entitled, then people are simply going to not use your service, instead calling friends, or using the increasing minibus services, when available. Perhaps taxi drivers as an entire organisation should offer up a Passenger's Bill of Rights and then work hard to gain public trust and support. Bermudians will tell you, that if the service is of quality then they'll be willing to pay the extra.


Can I install a water gun to my bike?

This ticked me off the other day. Riding along Somerset Road the other day and I'm behind a woman driving a red car. She is annoying me with her waving her lit cigarette out the window while she's driving. Little red sparks flew up toward me and I'm glad I had my visor down, really. Of course this was followed by the standard toss the finished butt into the road where it bounced near my bike.

Stupid numb-brain bitch.

If I had the technical know-how I'd try to rig up a small water gun to my bike and soak the ciggy once it was outside the window. Polluting litterbug.

Heck, it would also serve as double when drivers fire their windshield wiper fluid all up and over the hood and into my face anyway. I wonder if I can enlist Wookie and others to get some tips...


Voting pecularities

I had thought of something like this some time ago, particularly when I was discussing the change from us voting for two people in Parliament to us voting for just one person, and it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but Fred Barritt of the Bermuda Sun threw it into writing today.

Wouldn't that be interesting? Everybody votes for their preferred 36 people. It sure would be interesting to see how the final scores would tally up.

One obvious issue that may come about is that you'd end up with all kinds of splits in Government, decisions may get held back more because you may not get a clear majority of supporters and there's the chance (small, but possible) that a third party or set of independents could become critical swing votes in Parliamentary motions.

Curious, indeed.


Southlands beach access

The Southlands deal is a done deal, the Special Development Order will allow for construction to be fast-tracked for the building of a bunch of fractional-ownership cottages and condos and other luxury amenities. My feelings are that although it is a little disturbing that a large tract of open space and natural habitat for trees and animals will be destroyed, the land after all belongs to private citizens and they have the right to sell to whoever makes a bid for it.

What sparked a little curiosity, and blame this on my Barbadian pride perhaps, was the article in the Gazette today which featured this snippet:
Mr. Christensen said last night that if the public could gain access to the beach without going over "private" hotel property they would be entitled to use it.

"It will be like Cambridge Beaches, The Reefs and Tucker's Point, in that you can't walk across the resort property. But if you can get to the beach another way, such as by boat, then there's nothing to stop people using it," he said.

In Barbados, it's the LAW (pdf, sorry) that public access to a beach must be maintained, although it's hard to maintain as residents there scheme all kinds of methods of fencing off walkways and forcing people to trespass illegally if they want to get to the beach.

Unfortunately in Bermuda there doesn't seem to be an equivalent. It's sad that residents and visitors are restricted to which beaches they can enjoy. The 'boat access' alternative works if you have money, I suppose. But this is yet another reason I suppose, why I'm disillusioned by capitalism.


I heard the boos

Yeah yeah, I was at the concert at Snorkel Park. I heard the Premier get called up on stage. While I was somewhat confused and a little 'good lord, this guy's trying to dip his hands everywhere', several spectators laid into him thick with some heavy and sustained booing, the likes of which I've never heard to address a Premier, anywhere.

Denis Pitcher, as usual, nails it with a good analysis of the proceedings. The BermudaSucks folks are laying into the affair with their usual fervour while the Premier's press secretary and Bermuda Network News try to downplay it and this is one instance where I see good old-fashioned political spin at work.


Professional sports

I always wanted to be a professional athlete. Imagine, doing something that you love and enjoy, and getting paid for it.

But read the sports pages and it's disgusting, what these guys at the top of their game, the best in their field, millionaires and role models (whether they like it or not) set for life financially.

Tour de France.
The NBA.
The NFL. And again, the NFL. Oh yeah, again.
MLB has its own series of scandals.
Track and field is always under a cloud of some sort.

It's sickening, really. I can't really comment further.

Stress, time demands and apathy

There's a lot of political games taking place in Bermuda these days. The two main political parties are putting forth all the artillery and firing away at each other, trying to gain voter support with a general election possibly happening within the next month or two.

Frankly, and this may be agreeable to many other independent voters and others, I couldn't give a crap about all the blustering of politicians, the silly statements and lack of humility being displayed. We're dealing with day-to-day stress. Work demands are enormous. People have bills to pay. We have enormous rents, or gigantic mortgages to keep track of. We have to find time for our families and friends.

So when we take a break and read the newspaper or watch the TV news or browse the Web for Bermuda stories and see all this to-and-fro, we're probably just apathetic to the whole thing. It's unfortunate, but all the crap has given me a don't-care attitude with respect to the Southlands saga, the BHC discussions or the other highly-publicised talking points on the island.

Politics doesn't have to be nasty. Maybe it works for the loyal fan bases, to come out preaching and figuratively slamming your opponents, but I'm fed up with it all.


Profanity in the media

While the outrage over this e-mail sent from a hotel manager (and that his privacy was invaded in retrieving the e-mail) continues to boil, I ask the off-topic unrelated question, when did the established media allow words like *asshole* to be published in the public domain where kids can easily access it?

Maybe the law's changed. Or people have given up trying to shield kids from profanity.

Need appliances

As I come to grips with the fact that I need a dryer, I go back to my post concerning Bermuda retailers having little to zero online presence. In the USA, you can quickly browse Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. to see what's there, make a decision based on look/price and then make a purchase or in-store visit.

Here, the only way to see for yourself what's available is to go to the places themselves. And when you're working 9-5, your only option if you can't break out during a lunch hour is to head to Gorham's (of the empty-information website) until 6pm, if you have your own transportation. I suppose you can call the stores, but you still won't be getting a visual image to go by.

This aspect of Bermuda totally sucks.


Bring on the canvassing!

In an interesting development, while trying to repair a clothesline malfunction this evening, I was visited by representatives of the governing PLP party. And yes, my first thought was, 'oh crap I don't need any Jehovah's Witnesses bugging me now'. I'm sorry.

Anyway they introduced themselves, I got the old "I know your dad" speech (Bermuda is too, too tiny, heh), then they asked me about any issues that concerned me. Now, the big news headlines are the allegations of corruption and race issues, but I bypassed them quickly and offered my concerns about housing for Bermudians and the problems with traffic, road rage and fatalities.

They pointed out the telecast of Government's housing initiatives, a broadcast that I unfortunately missed due to work commitments at the time, which included the rent-geared-to-income scheme that I read about in the Gazette not long ago. I asked if there was an available transcript or if the show would be repeated. They said they'd investigate that, and I appreciate that.

Regarding the road, they were in agreement with my concerns about the high fatality rate and other traffic issues. They gave satisfactory answers to my questions, and mentioned that certain items such as licensing of vehicles required some changes in the Motor Traffic Act and other laws. We all agreed that those laws needed an overhaul as they hadn't been touched in great scope since 1947 when it was launched. They also mentioned that they were considering the implementation of a tax on vehicles entering the City and the possibility of changing how traffic flows (for example: making Church Street two-way), something that of course requires tons of study and thought.

Overall I'm glad to have had a chance to air my thoughts with a politician as in previous years I either did not meet them or was not home when they passed through. I appreciate the hard work (and tons of research) that these potential candidates must go through to achieve their goal of being a representative in Parliament.

Hopefully I'll get to hear more from prospective candidates over the next few weeks (or months).


Fall out of Open Mic Night (2)

A young man stepped up to the mic to offer his experience with approaching government to discuss ideas. I never exactly heard what those ideas actually were, but he was basically saying that he had entrepreneurial ideas which he was looking to share with the Premier's office and try to make his mark, however he had been stonewalled by the office of the Chief of Staff, I believe.

Where I think he failed to make a positive impression is that he called out Senator Wayne Caines for not assisting him in getting meetings or discussions. After the Premier encouraged him to keep following his dreams, the Senator jumped in to tell his side of the story and the MC seemed to join in on the act, so that eventually the young man pretty much gave up and walked away, receiving a few jeers in the process. Hopefully the young man at least tried to get some time off-line with the Senator to try to get things back in order along that front.

Someone then approached to suggest that there was a generation gap when it came to race issues; the youth weren't as concerned about race while those of the Premier's generation differed. The Premier advised the youth to not be superficial with the descriptions. I can't quite recall the effects of that statement other than I think the Premier was sticking to the belief that regardless, the issue of race and privilege needed to be discussed and acknowledged.

A man who likely wasn't in the under-30s crowd, threw a question concerning the permits being granted to all these large tractor trailers, however how was he to survive when he couldn't get one. The Premier passed this onto his Chief of Staff to talk with the man off-line. I can't offer much analysis of that except that there are dozens of large tractor trailers on the island, heck there's more and more large vehicles period. I saw a freaking Grand Caravan the other day. No truck licence here, strictly regular private car licence.

A young person offered a very interesting question, essentially asking why there are gangs in Bermuda. The Premier discussed his own experiences while in Los Angeles during the time of the Crips and Bloods, and accurately said that everybody here is a wannabe gangster. He showed some enthusiasm in discussing the Mirrors Programme, which I'm interested to know more about. There's a press release on the Government web portal but the URL's too long to try to copy out. Stupid portal.

Someone asked the Premier why should they vote for the PLP in the next election. Dr. Brown proudly said that it's about the process, the program, not the propoganda. He brought up the fact (it may have been David Burt himself who said this) that the news media, namely the notorious Mid Ocean News, slammed a guy wrongfully without even so much as contacting the alleged wrongdoer beforehand to get the story from his side. Bad journalism is showing the PLP in a negative light. The PLP government would fix that, although I'm not sure in what capacity. Maybe news media outlets would have to adhere to stricter codes of conduct or something before being allowed to publish news.

The expected proliferation of new hotel properties on the island has been a hot news item and someone asked about young people getting into the hotel industry. Job applications for locals were turned down, and the Premier indicated that new properties will be stringently monitored so that Bermudians will be employed where possible. I thought to myself why did Stonington, the Bermuda College training hotel, close down, and would efforts be considered to resurrect it. Of course I don't know how much interest there'd be, so maybe it's pointless to consider.

The next question concerned absentee voting, a practice available to many countries but not here despite the subject being thrown about for at least ten years. Dr. Brown replied that it was definitely on the cards but there are logistical issues to be dealt with, and he believes that it will come eventually. I don't see how introducing it really hurts either major party; both of them have acknowledged that college students are critical votes to be won, although I know that Bermudians living overseas aren't allowed to vote and maybe this is the logistical issue at play here.

Senator Caines came to the mic and in an unusual motion, he threw the question to the audience, what are we going to do to better Bermuda? How are we to uphold Dame Lois's legacy? Seemed like a strange moment for soapbox lecturing, but anyway the followup was that race and the 'Big Conversation' had to take place and Dr. Brown was pushing hard towards it with the Commission led by his adviser Rolfe Commissiong.

To further my earlier thoughts on the issue of hotels and youth, a young man asked about the trades and hospitality industries for people. Dr. Brown said that a training center, funded by both the government and the hotels, would be offered, an interesting proposal that could get much support.

Someone asked about the support for sports in Bermuda, noting that we had just finished an appearance in the Cricket World Cup. Premier Brown said that Bermuda was on a high from that event and that Government is committed to sport. He pointed out the PGA Grand Slam of Golf coming to Bermuda later this year as another coup for the island.

One of the young women near the front said something along the lines of there being a perception of racism out there, can it be dealt with? The Premier said that discussion of racism doesn't negate the perceptions. He was discussing the experiences of others but I got distracted by this older woman who came in and started off on some hallelujah-like affirmation of everything out of the Premier's mouth. Why the MC didn't tell her to be quiet, I'll never know.

Anyway this fella came to the mic, promised to keep his speech short, and proceeded to ramble along about everything and nothing, I really didn't understand where he was coming from or going towards, but eventually he ended by discussing the lack of rights of the father in Bermuda. I don't think there was a comment by the Premier, although I may very well have dozed off by then. My apologies.

The Premier was then asked if he had any regrets about becoming a politician. Dr. Brown said that he willingly retired from the field of medicine in order to focus full-time on politics and he has no regrets about it.

He was given a question on what should white people do to acknowledge racism and race relations here, to which he responded with saying that it's more than just being friendly and making friends with those of other races, He said there was a black inferiority complex among many persons here.

At this point the discussion ended, and the MC encouraged the audience to stick around and discuss things among themselves while the Premier went to another engagement. I couldn't be bothered to stick around at that time, I was tired and still had the lingering headache but I'm glad to have attended and look forward to more of this in upcoming months. Since then, both the Premier and the Opposition Leader have appeared on radio talk shows which shows a sign that politicians are willing to discuss with ordinary citizens a bit more as talk of an election being called continues to be rumoured.


Fall out of Open Mic Night (1)

On Friday, the Premier of Bermuda was having an open mic session, geared towards the youth. I decided to attend to hear him in person and see how popular it turned out to be, as well as hearing the kind of questions that younger people are interested in.

For some reason, they decided to start the event at 6:15 although I didn't know until after the fact that the Premier wasn't showing up until 7pm. Unfortunately, the combination of heat, humidity and poor ventilation got me feeling the effects of a headache pretty quickly, so I was miserable well before the actual session began.

He eventually arrived and got a warm applause on entering the room, and the MC for the evening opened the floor to questions from the audience. Right off the bat, Independence was thrown into the ring and the Premier gave what I thought was a solid explanation for some of the policies the government would be looking to achieve such as granting students overseas funding from government, similar to the Caribbean model. There is no equivalent of the U.W.I. in Bermuda at this time, but it's good to see that thrown out there. He also said there's no reason to hold a referendum at this time for Independence because it would result in an obvious 'no' vote. I can see the reasoning for that. Would that mean Independence is absolutely eliminated from an election platform for the PLP? Possibly, but I'm no insider and anything can happen.

The Premier was asked to comment on education in light of the two public high schools reporting much higher graduation rates than previous years. Dr. Brown got applause for saying that the work's not done, and the government is committed to tackling education, particularly when it comes to the middle school to high school transition.

The follow-up question concerned promotion and training of young Bermudians in the work place, something that I for one am definitely concerned about from first hand experience. The Premier acknowledged that there are biased hiring processes in place by several companies. I think he is aware of all those ads that require experience in certain areas that aren't available to Bermudians, especially young ones, and the seemingly low number of apprenticeship opportunities in certain business areas. He mentioned an initiative called "Good Will Plus" which I think I'm going to like. Essentially businesses will be encouraged that contracts offered to certain guest workers will contain some kind of clause where the person must train and prepare a Bermudian to be able to fill the position once they leave (per term limit).

A question came from a young man regarding long line fishing being allowed here, when it's been shown that the practice endangers the life of turtles and albatrosses. The question got some pretty nasty snickering from what appeared to be a few ignorant people not concerned with allowing the contributor to speak his mind. Anyway, Dr. Brown said that the possibilities of long-line fishing opening up career opportunities for Bermudians were a strong reason to pursue this. The Premier did say that he'll investigate the person's concerns, and at this point the man at the mic offered his e-mail address to the Premier. The Premier quickly countered by offering his e-mail address instead. It fell to a bit of a dick-measuring contest of sorts, egged on by the audience, as the Premier said that he was offering the man a good deal with the e-mail offer and pledge to investigate.

As the audience got a little more noisy, the MC tried to plead for calm a couple of times, then eventually shouted "Be Quiet!" into the mic like a frustrated parent or something. Me, I'm like "what the f$%&?". You never hear an MC lose his cool like that, but at that point I'm just hoping the breeze picked up or something because my headache was still very much present.

More later...