The End of 2008

It's been a very interesting year, hasn't it? We've seen the world's fastest man, both on land and in the water. And the world paid attention to the U.S. presidential elections like never before. There were some global tragedies like the earthquakes in China and hurricanes in Haiti and the relentless battles in parts of Africa and the Middle East continuing.

Closer to home, crime and road deaths remain a source of frustration. Everybody has strong opinions on the future of International Business and the impact on our livelihoods. The topic of race and racism remains in the forefront, the arguments on how to deal with it still ongoing.

But there are some points of excitement. I for one, would not have thought that at the end of the year I would be employed at a new company where I feel more valued and encouraged to contribute. I would not have thought that I would be engaged to a sweet young woman who tolerates my occasional episodes in geekery (of which this blog may be considered part of, I assume).

It's just been an action-packed year overall, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2009 brings us.


Another evening on the roads

Last week, I watched a TV interview on ZBM with the Premier, who pretty much said that despite 15 deaths on the roads, he thought that not much extra needed to be done in the realm of local road safety. I thought it was the equivalent of the "Stay the course" attitude of one Dubya Bush. Anyway.

Since then, we have had two more fatalities on the roads, a few more serious injuries and of course some additional vehicular damage. Tonight's ZBM news had several speeches from MPs, Police representatives and Road Safety Council personnel, and perhaps somebody there has finally realized what has been going on for years; that people are simply not listening to the pleas for safety and no amount of begging is going to sway their behaviour.

Later in the evening, I was on my bike and as usual, witnessed several things that ordinarily wouldn't be considered safe, but is pretty much part of Bermuda's road culture:
  • first I was behind a large Dodge 4x4 vehicle, with a nice HB licence plate. Took up the width of the lane, and we have to thank Government for allowing people to bend the law for vehicles to exist here that aren't really suitable for our roads.
  • near Paget stop lights, a bike headed in the other direction, flaunting green lights on its rims. The proliferation of coloured lights on vehicles is crazy. The law is pretty clear on acceptible lights for vehicles, but it's been ignored by many.
  • Later, was behind a small truck carrying mattresses. Mattresses weren't tied down for one. Also, to accomodate the mattresses, the tailgate was down. Said tailgate covered the licence plate, as well as any rear lights (if they were on, at least). Standard play.
  • Eventually I reached Raynor's Shell gas station (my favourite gas station in Bermuda, by the way). As I refueled, the attendant was telling me about the collision today and that it was a set of brothers that crashed. My sympathies to the family.
  • Later, a car flew past us near the Evans Bay junction. Since this was a bendy part of the road, clearly there'd be little chance of Police traffic monitoring in the area. Meh.
  • One annoyance that exists is the propensity of drivers here to drive along the middle of the road whenever possible instead of sticking to their lane. If that's what they teach at TCD then something's wrong with the country. Anyway, experienced this while on Scott's Hill Road, a public road that passes by two schools.
  • Same situation on Beacon Hill road by a truck. When you're riding and you see a truck headed directly for you, it's not a fun experience.
  • The law concerning bicycles at night is that a front light is needed and a rear reflector also. Came across one without either. Not the safest course of action when on a public road by said cyclist.
Just another evening on Bermuda's roads, and that doesn't include the ride home from work when some fool on a bike overtook me while on the bend at Flatts. Yes, the near-hairpin turn. Bet that rider never gave one crap about the collisions this year, or is inclined to change his driving style anytime soon.

Will the Premier finally change his stand on the current attitudes to road safety by the powers that be and Bermuda in general?


How many police does it take...

Yeah I'm beating up a bit on the Police lately, sorry. Just that on Christmas Eve there were THREE police officers chiling out and joking with each other on Queen Street opposite the library. Meanwhile, maybe four car lengths down, traffic was being held up by someone double-parking. That's not to mention seeing the cars cruising around with up to four officers in them. Maybe there's a strategy that I'm not able to figure out concerning deployment of officers in town.


Some retailers are doing well?

Christmas Eve, it was perhaps 2pm, walked into H2O (aka 'Buzz') Cafe.

"Sorry, we're closed."

Huh. You'd think that with tons of people in town shopping, that restaurants would try to gain more revenue by staying open, arrange for whatever additional manpower they'd need, etc. But maybe not.

Perhaps some retailers are doing well enough that they can close shop early despite the potential for increased numbers of customers.


The future of free TV

May be worthwhile keeping an eye on this situation with Bermuda Broadcasting. With Cablevision attempting to drop its carrying of the local TV stations, and Bermuda Broadcasting apparently continuing to lose money, one would wonder about the future of local 'free' television. I think that free television is on a similar level as public transportation in that it's virtually an essential service that if it wasn't present, it would be severely detrimental to those parts of the community not in a position to afford subscription television as they won't have access to televised news and entertainment.

If the chairperson who's behind the plan to purchase outright the stations and property has ideas to infuse much-needed cash into Bermuda Broadcasting we'll be better off for it.

Some people have a "who cares" attitude and think that because of the low quality of local broadcasts that it would be better if the stations went off the air. But imagine a country where the only outlet for televised news was (1) only available if you subscribed to another company's broadcasting outlet at cost and (2) only provided by the Government of the day.


What's frustrating about the Police's policy on booking people

Speed, speed and speed. When Police are on traffic watch, they're armed with their cute phallic radar guns and they spend the day pointing them around looking for people going at above some arbitrary speed, probably around 56 kph, then prance around like the sherriff in a Western.

People don't get pulled over for riding like a loon, for example. This morning I was passed in the other lane by some fella riding side-saddle with his leg hanging in the air. By other lane, I mean where traffic is coming from the other direction. And across the dividers of a road intersection (Palmetto and Roberts Ave, for those keeping score).

Later, I come across a car at the entrance of a roundabout which stopped to let somebody out. On the roundabout. During rush hour.

Police are only in those areas if there is an 'accident'. Never to monitor traffic. Because they'd rather be out waving their radar guns around.

Maybe the powers that be genuinely believe that 100% of all the 'accidents' on the road are caused by speeders as opposed to people being inattentive or careless. Common sense and the newspaper reports seem to indicate otherwise, but you know what they say about common sense...


The penalty for striking a human with a vehicle

Apparently it's zero. Someone was driving, struck a pedestrian!, continued to her home without stopping. According to the Gazette:
  • For driving "without due care" - the sweet saying that means very little: $250.
  • For failing to stop - was there a stop sign? not sure what this entails here: $250.
  • For failing to report an "accident" - meh - zero, apparently. Demerit points it seems.
  • For failing to give her address - that must relate to the above two items - zero but demerit points again, perhaps.

Complete and utter joke. Disgusting.


Grammar Police alert

The new renovated "Speciality Cinema" opened today with a nice-looking deli area where you can get food and queue up to get your movie tickets and popcorn. Psst, they will be doing nachos... yum...

Oops. Anyway, their new signage had a ugly typo that I thought perhaps it was a deliberate thing (like the Capital G crap):

Apparently the signs were put in this morning. Perhaps they should've been taken down until they get the correct ones. But hey.

Happy Blitz Day

Bermuda Police in the Christmas spiritAh, today must be that special day. The Annual December Police Blitz Day and Fundraiser. You see, every December the Bermuda Police have their big pre-Christmas fund raiser in which residents of the country can donate funds to their organisation in order to meet the predetermined quota of fines allocated.

Now don't be alarmed, guys. Funds are only derived from speeding in arbitrary locations, namely straight roads and when traffic isn't a big problem.

Funds will not be derived if you have illegal tint, unfastened seatbelts, non-standard-coloured front or rear lights, faulty indicators, emit smoky exhaust, carry uncovered loads of sand or gravel, zoom over a pedestrian crossing, honk your horn needlessly, ride in 'third lanes', bob and weave around corners forcing other vehicles to take evasive action, throw litter out of your car, yak on your cellphone, send text messages from your cellphone, do wheelies, carry kids in front of you on your motorcycle, blare loud music from your car or bike or park on a yellow line.

Although you may be asked to donate if you run a stop sign, it's not particularly likely.

Happy Blitz Day, Bermuda!

(PS, there will be a follow up on my experience today in a later post. Stay tuned.)


Dollar Depot Bargains?

It's very strange that we went to the Dollar Depot to buy pillows, and they were priced at fifty dollars; so we went to the nearby grocery store and got them at under twelve dollars.

Ironic, eh.
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Parking space is Government's

Remember the much discussed parking lot built at Clifton, the Premier's official residence, in order to serve as a parking lot for the U.S. Consulate building nearby?

Went by there the other day and saw this big ass sign proclaiming that the lot is "Property of Bermuda Government".

Why the hell is there a sign to state that? Or why that and no other signage, something along the lines of "for visitors to the Consulate" or "No parking unless on official business" or something? Does that mean that only Bermuda Government vehicles are allowed there? It's such a weird sign.

It looked more like an advertisement of Government. Look, this parking lot was built by us! Aren't we special?


Hypothesizing politics

After the resignation of a senior MP from his political party, and in the aftermath of the bye-election that saw 2% support for an independent candidate, I came up with an interesting "what if" scenario:

Wayne Furbert, feeling that staying as an independent will be a futile effort, decides to launch a new political party.
Phil Perenchief, with serious bones to pick with his own party, is immediately recruited.

Now you have two very well-known public figures with lots of experience, trying to be a catalyst of change, uniting in a way that neither the PLP nor the UBP has been able to achieve. Khalid Wasi is no Wayne Furbert or Phil Perenchief, that's for sure.

Could such a union get votes at the next election? Probably not, because the party machinery will be adamant in trying to squash the upstart movement. However if it survives, and does not fall into disarray because of early lack of success, it gets interest from a disillusioned youth that is frustrated with the good vs evil to-and-fro from the established units, has valid and worthy policy initiatives, and recruits intelligent and enthusiastic people to be the future leaders, things could very well legitimately be altered in local politics.

Anything's possible. Perhaps sitting MPs also frustrated would consider their own ambitions. Former MPs such as Maxwell Burgess or Renee Webb or Stuart Hayward could see an opportunity to become reinvolved in things.

Remember though, it's just a thought. But wouldn't it be something?


Government supporting local broadcast media

Senator Michael Fahy has successfully read my mind. While it was admirable for Government to use Gov Tv as an avenue for having students apprentice there and get involved with the field of mass media, money could have been allocated to these local broadcasters with the provision that they take on interns and have programmes available to train people in that field.

Sure, and nobody's been harder on them for me as regards producing quality programming, they haven't been great at developing quality programmes (the evening news is still pretty poor), but you have to think it's a lack of funds rather than a conscious decision on the producers' part.

As it is, there's a real chance that within ten years both broadcasting houses could be forced out of the television business and there would be a void of free-access television, which should be considered reprehensible by a so-called modern society.

Hacked :-(

Somehow my homepages have been hacked. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Haaaaaaaaate.


Why people dislike lawyers

When you seek legal assistance to investigate some matter, they make a phone call and send a few e-mails, come up with absolutely nothing of value, then want to chare you $4000 for it!

Problem is, the people who you're trying to get the information from, they will only give it to lawyers in the first place. So you're screwed.

No wonder many people think that many lawyers are scum.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device available from M3 Wireless

Partisans rule

As Gary Moreno pointed out in his ZBM report on the recent by-election, the fact that the independent candidate, who seemed to run a strong campaign, could only muster up 24 votes in a race with two guys, neither of whom was an incumbent or former MP, is a clear sign that the voting public absolutely is not interested in anything resembling a change from the old good-vs-evil policies that the UBP and PLP have rolled with over the past x-amount of years.

Expect a huge heap of "same ol, same ol" for the next 4 years regarding the political landscape.


More failure to read signs

So I am headed into town from Harbour Road and behind a line of cars. I was shocked to see that a car coming from the Trimmingham Hill side of the roundabout (all illustrated to the right) cut off a driver headed normally along lane 1 into East Broadway. On top of that the driver of the other car is shouting at them to give way there! Does he not know the law as pertains to rush hour traffic there? During rush hour, so as to encourage traffic to flow from the extremely busy Harbour Road side (it's not really Harbour Road, can't recall the name right now), Lane 1 is for traffic from Harbour Road only, Lane 2 is for traffic coming from Trimmingham Hill and Berry Hill Road (not pictured, but it's opposite Harbour Road in this example). Once you're in East Broadway itself you can switch lanes accordingly. But this idiot driver didn't know the correct protocol!

Anyway, the point is that it's disgusting to see that drivers don't even know the damn rules and want to be all belligerant about it when they're clearly in the wrong.


What he said

More road deaths. Same responses from those in a position to implement change. Lather, rinse, repeat. Vexed gets it. No police to monitor traffic, just clean up the mess afterwards. And Government pretty much letting the current crop of drivers smash themselves up without punitive consequences.

Meanwhile the Premier thinks that Bermuda is being brought to their knees before Britain because the UK is making a freaking inquiry into the regulation and other aspects of financial centres here. Again, go read Vexed's discussion of said rant.

And of course, by-election in Southampton this week. Most likely, this will determine the future or lack thereof for the UBP, and there's nothing that the PLP heads would like to see more than a comprehensive smackdown by Marc Bean over Charlie Swan. And no, we're not going to see a surprise win by Khalid Wasi.


New local sports site!

Check out Bermuda Sports Network, featuring video coverage and interview about women's volleyball. You'll need QuickTime player installed to view the clips, however.

Props to whoever built this website. It looks like it was built using Joomla and seems like it's only a couple of months old. It deserves some publicity solely on the basis that it offers lots of video clips. Where else are you going to find coverage of lacrosse on the island, for example?

While I think the site can improve by providing either forum or commentary features like TalkSport, it's already guaranteed to be in my browser Favourites. Looking forward to more good stuff here.


Don't people think when making slogans?

Can you believe that a New Zealand group got together to come up with a slogan to promote an upcoming match against the West Indies, and thought that the slogan "It's all white here" would be in any way appropriate?

Who's in charge of that committee, David Duke?


Disgusting education statements

I agree that this has gotten out of hand.
"I don't give a damn that the unions are aggrieved."
This authoritarian outlook expressed by the head of the education Committee towards the head of the Bermuda Union of Teachers tells me that he's never cared for the opinions of those directly responsible for teaching students.

The BUT is right to ask for a resignation or dismissal, since they've gotten no respect from him. He's so focused on assembling tiers of management and having the 'employees' simply obey orders from high above. Teachers' input seems to be unneeded and undesired. Meanwhile we can only hope that students can get through a school year without being another political football.


Let's solve this Bermuda ID card issue now

A whole big ol' can of ranting has taken place after it was announced that Government wants to issue guest workers with ID cards to be used in lieu of their work permits.

Let's put this issue to bed right now. Government, give every resident an ID card. Bermudian, Spouse of Bermudian, guest worker. Senior citizen. Anybody living here over 16 years of age. Want to have the id numbers trackable to a database of employer information? Go ahead. Use them to help when you expand 'free transport' to all? Extra bonus, there. There are people living here who don't have a drivers' licence and may not want to lug around their passport as a form of ID. Plus it can serve as a voters' ID for the next election in 11 months' time to decide independence.

So if the budget for an expat ID scheme is 3 million dollars, up it to a generous 10 million and get it over with.


More abuse of 'literally'

Dear Peter Cottell of VSB News,
If you are quoting Bob Richards as putting his money where his mouth is, you CAN NOT add the term "literally" unless the guy is actually eating a wad of cash or something.

Thank you,


Bumper Gazette LttEs

There was so much in the Gazette's Letters column today that I had to post my thoughts on some of them...

A letter by "Uncommon Sense" captioned as "Deal with road baddies" highlights the fact that one driver managed to accumulate thousands of dollars' worth of fines before his case came before the courts. Was the driver notified of his fault and continued to drive anyway, or was there some delay in issuing the notification? The whole EVR situation may need to be reviewed at any rate.

Then we have a Canadian visitor lamenting that the Dolphin Quest business has penned their dolphins in a small swimming tank. This issue generally is out of my range, but I can see each side of the issue. Zoos and related facilities are there to showcase animals and provide living habitats while allowing for research into conservation and the like, but I would tend to agree that large social animals like dophins probably don't benefit from being restricted to a small area and being there to amuse wealthy visitors (and the occasional school trip).

Later on there's another (and it's played to death) letter about the Arizona sheriff who has inmates working on chain gangs and so forth. If this wasn't true, it would be a chain letter. Not gonna happen here in "the iiiiiiisland (tm Beyonce)".

We now come to one of my favourite topics, free public transport. Someone under the name "Ferry Rider" writes essentially the same thing that I've said for ages. They go on to add that it could become eventually a service to suffer from a budget cut as it generates less and less income. Which would be a travesty, considering that public transportation has to be considered a neccessity in Bermuda.

Focus has to be on availability and convenience rather than cost, but everybody in Government seems to think otherwise. Or doesn't care.

The next letter starts off parroting the "free transport saves money/oil/reduce traffic" spiel (that has not proven to work) notion but it gets better. Foreigners getting off scot free? The author raises concern that Government believes that all non-Bermudians don't pay taxes. Keep an eye on that.

There's some worthy praise for organisations such as the Sea Cadets and Raleigh International that comes next. Good to see this stuff.

Next is a rant about Government spending money on the National Sports Centre swimming facility. The author seems familiar and I think that he's simply an anti-sports crusader (if I recall he was against funding the cricket programme a couple of years ago). He seems to believe that nothing should be spent on sports and the like when there's a housing crisis.

I definitely believe that the housing crisis takes precedence over sports facilities, and Government should endeavour to get their housing projects completed with utmost priority. However, funds should always be invested in programmes that benefit the youth, and the swimming associations have suffered for years, limited by lack of a international-standard facility. To indict "the PLP" negatively for this venture is in poor taste. Luckily this guy lives in Arizona and probably has both a house and a community pool to enjoy. Okay, low blow, sorry.

Finally, Barack Obama gets more recognition for being a uniter of people rather than a divider and if there's one positive thing that the U.S. elections gave, it's that people were more motivated to vote and feel like their country was coming together instead of being torn apart.

Deprivation of income

I'm sorry, but the judge who let this guy off with a suspended sentence for stealing crops from somebody else needs to be slapped. This guy deliberately and without remorse, attempted to deprive somebody else from income, in the field of agriculture, which we don't have much of here anyway.

The opportunity was there to make a statement to would-be thieves that there's a serious penalty for theft in this country and they blew it. It disgusts me.


Lane marker busted up again

There's a two-foot high lane marker on Burnaby Street where it intersects with Church Street and Cedar Avenue. When it was decided to make that part of Burnaby a two-lane road, they erected it so that traffic would take the left lane when turning into it from Church Street and not the right lane.

However, every now and then somebody fails to negotiate their way around the lane marker and end up striking it. Luckily for them, the marker is made from plastic and not something less forgiving such as steel or concrete. Friday night, this fella drove his car right over the marker, shattering it and spreading debris all over the place. Later on, the mangled marker was back in its original position but the evidence of the smash was all over the road.

Since the lane marker appears to be a necessary fixture on this road (people love to cut corners), perhaps they should have a concrete one instead. Again, drivers would be more cautious if the obstacle in their path is more likely to damage their vehicle rather than serve as a minor hinderance...


False start for BNN

I take it back, Bermuda Network Whatchamacallit didn't work out too much, eh. No new content since the so-called 'launch'. If I was one of the advertisers I'd be all 'wtf?'.

Throne Speech observations

Nothing too exciting, I found, and some of the items that I was curious about were brought up in the speech today.

Education and our young people, as it should, was a top issue in this speech. Highlighting the opportunity for kids to get a tertiary education was good, but we really need to up the bar where secondary education is concerned. Graduation rates don't tell me much if we don't know how these students are faring in GCSEs or SATs or equivalent. Other items in this vein include apprentice contracts and a career centre (which can be useful).

Glad to see healthcare mentioned. Not just the hospital situation, but programmes dealing with fitness.

This one raised my eyebrow:
We must grow trained, exposed Bermudian journalists and the Government intends to cultivate the latent interest in these careers through its own relationships with overseas news and broadcasting agencies.
What does that mean? Government wants to handle training journalists? Is that a swipe at the existing media organisations (excluding of course Bermuda Network News)? That whole paragraph was a completely open slash at the Gazette, Sun, VSB and Berm Broadcastin'.

Road safety got a mention, yet it looks like they're focusing not on the current state of poor driving but hoping the next generation miraculously becomes safer drivers. Graduated licenses. Wish they would review the Motor Vehicles Act or Road Traffic Act or whatever it was called.

With regards to crime, it's good that Government is keeping focus on the issue. Witness protection looks like a good idea.

They've committed to getting the swimming complex up. Wow. Good stuff.

The mention of additions to the National Parks system conveniently left out the Southlands area. (*Vexed noticed this first. Actually, shoot, go read his post and leave me alone, heh)

I liked that water conservation was brought up as with a continuing influx of workers and less resources to sustain them, having enough water for drinking and other purposes will be important. Of course they probably shouldn't cut down more trees and burn more electricity in their promotion campaigns, but what can you do. If the reverse osmosis plant is successful that will be great.

I'm not sure what a Cultural Legacy Fund is, but can understand the value it could have to the population if applied correctly and not having things decreed to us without first providing the necessary backstory and chance for sharing opinions.

Well again, go to Vexed for a better study. And to the other blogs and forums in due course once commentary is raised there.

If I had a big rock

We have some seriously inconsiderate drivers on our roads. Last night I was leaving town late (had volleyball matches) and was riding the bike near the Tennis Stadium. It was pouring. As usual, that section of road gets really flooded. As I slowed down and inched along, near the centre of the road, tredging through at least two inches of water, a car approached. I'm figuring that the driver *must* see me, and slow down so as not to drench me.


This twat flies through, coating myself with nice muddy water.

If you're reading this, inconsiderate driver, consider yourself lucky that it was late, dark and pouring too hard for me to have caught your licence plate number after that maneuvre. If I had something at hand I would have seriously considered following you and flinging a rock at your windshield, to see how you like being coated with crap.


What I'd like to see from Parliament

It's been a long break for Parliament, but the Throne Speech is tomorrow and our elected officials will be back to debate and vote and hopefully not puff their chests and measure their dicks too much this session.

With a new U.S. President just being elected (no I'm all Baracked-out right now, go elsewhere for the praise and plaudits, heh) and the issues with the global economy affecting us, it's critical for our elected leaders to make the correct decisions to ensure this small country maintains stability and doesn't risk serious losses (financial, social, educational, etc.)

Some of the things I'd like to see discussed and or put into immediate progress are:
  • KEMH - so it was decided to rebuild on existing site. There's a eastern Urgent Care Centre slated to open next year, but meanwhile this building, decades old, remains in part a decrepit facility in need of replacement.
  • Retailers are struggling on the island. Costs are high, consumers aren't happy with the lack of choice and profits are dwindling. Look at all the "out of business" sales going on on Front St. Yes, the EEZ is there and there's opportunities for new start-up ventures, but it seems that there's a sizeable about of people about to lose their jobs and livelihood.
  • Housing for poor and lower middle class remains difficult. Sure, a piece-of-the-rock isn't a birthright, but people shouldn't have to go into huge debt to live here. More initiatives should be encouraged. Like when I suggested duty breaks for businesses that add residential components to their large office complexes. If Government can help to seriously boost the supply of housing, for both purchase and rent, it'll help those trying to get off the ground.
  • Injuries on the road continue to pile up at a high rate. At the last sitting of Parliament the Road Safety Council's proposals were already known, but they did F*-all about it. Will they bring it up this time? Could they actually enact policies such as cameras at traffic stops, frequent 'accident' points and known places where people act lawlessly on the roads? Will they propose a ban on using a mobile phone while driving? And no, EVR does not fit into this discussion.
  • Where sports is concerned, well the performance of the senior men's cricket team next year will determine a lot when it comes to allocating future funds, but the swimming pool complex needs to be sorted out. Not shifted aside to build an ICC-approved facility at White Hill.

Things that I don't want to hear instead:

  • Parliamentary salaries review. Good freaking you know what. Can't get the Police pay sorted out, the teachers had to deal with mishaps and now this b.s.? Wish we could give them an employee review and demote their pay package.
  • This whole casino/lottery/internet gaming study as proposed by the Premier. It's not the time. Even though I would support a national lottery with proceeds benefitting sports, arts and community programmes, this stuff doesn't pack the importance of the above-mentioned items.


More speed bumps, not a problem

There's a great article on Nation News by Robert Best that discusses the habits of drivers when speed bumps are in the road, and why it may be a good idea to have them wherever there is a school pedestrian crossing.

The fact in Bermuda is that signs are ineffective in getting drivers to slow down when approaching a crossing, especially when there is a pedestrian looking to cross the street. Since the law is not enforced on such drivers, pedestrians on the street are completely at the mercy of drivers.

So, despite the obvious objections from the motoring public that would arise, Government should immediately erect raised pedestrian crossings, starting with those in school zones. People will definitely show care and concern if the state of their vehicle is at risk.

This is why the idea of constructing speed bumps does not appeal to many among us. They are more concerned about the bumps becoming a humbug, forcing them to drive slowly when they want to be speeding, and worse yet, they do not take kindly to the idea that they might damage their vehicles if they should unwittingly hit one of these bumps.
If Government will get out of election mode and trying to win votes, and instead works on bettering the island, in this case, make the streets safer, they'll implement it as soon as possible.


Red light = prepare to go?

Last weekend, Corporation of Hamilton made a move to remove the status of flashing amber from some of its traffic lights, and revert to the red-red/amber-green progression for sitting traffic. Not sure why (a) this was done so quickly, and (b) why more notice and information was given to the public. Heck, I couldn't even find the archived article on either of the Big 2 news sites. It sure isn't on cityhall.bm.

What does that mean for motorists? Only that now after pedestrians have crossed, motorists (particularly the bikes) zoom through instead of waiting for the red-amber status. That's right. Before the amber even shows up.

Brilliant, make the changes, without posting signage or enlisting police officers to at least ensure people aren't completely confused or decide to take matters into their own hands.


Creative PLP discussion

Maybe the Progressive Minds blog is back. Since July 7th, there have been ten posts (none of which sparked any discussion), which took on the following topics:
  1. a lash out at a claim that the official PLP blog doesn't tolerate dissenting views

  2. an attack on Kim Swan, UBP head

  3. an attack on the Gazette

  4. an attack on Kim Swan

  5. an attack on Kim Swan

  6. an attack on Kim Swan

  7. an attack on Kim Swan

  8. an attack on Trevor Moniz, new deputy UBP head

  9. an attack on Bob Richards, UBP MP

  10. an attack on Charlie Swan, UBP candidate

It got to the point where one had to wonder if the name of the blog would change to the "Bash-a-UBPer Forum" or something. Finally, there came a post that had substance on either the PLP or the Youth Wing's goals or accomplishments. It discussed positive things that were initiated by Premier Brown and or his Cabinet team. This is the kind of thing people need to hear of when browsing political items online, not smear and demeaning attacks.

Hopefully this starts a new trend and that site can return to its goal of providing constructive dialogue and progressive solutions.


Bye-election and third-party candidates

The bye election to take place in constituency of Southampton West-Central could really serve to deliver a message to both political parties on the impressions they've made with the voting public.

On one hand, the UBP, in the position of defending their seat, have to counter the image that they're becoming an irrelevant force in politics and ensure that voters still believe that they're viable, overall. By running a current Senator and person who ran for a House seat last year it would appear that they are going with the experience and stability angle.

On the other hand, the PLP has a lot to gain from taking this seat over. Despite the shellacking they've taken from various persons on particular policy decisions, the party has maintained their Cabinet structure and come out of their delegates' conference without any shakeup. Their candidate is also a Senator, and he's becoming more well-known on the island. What the PLP are banking on is that their candidate brings youth and drive, as opposed to the more-of-the-same plot of their opponent.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, we have an independent candidate. However, this guy is no stranger to dipping a toe into the political fray. He believes that there's a genuine opportunity for real change to happen in the House if voters reject the policies of either party and select him as their representative.

Predictably, there are some who think it's a waste of time and potentially screw up the election results, and it's a pity that people can be so narrow-sighted as to not realize that the more options available, the better overall. Where I think things will fall is that people probably won't buy the "shakeup" line from someone who's been already well-affiliated with one of the established parties in the past and threw the ABC feeler only to bail out. That said, he's not running in my constituency and I am unlikely to hear about the things that he could propose and implement as an MP.

Most likely, his desire for 300-400 votes will likely fall short by a significant amount as Bermudians gravitate to one of the establishments out of fear of the other party winning, which is a pity. But I would definitely cheer for a surprise result.


Paving them roads

They've gotten around to paving over South Shore Road near Paget Plaza and most of Palmetto Road (particularly near Dock Hill roundabout), so well done, W&E folks.

Now you need to get to repairing Dundonald Street, namely from the Cedar Avenue intersection to the roundabout where Serpentine Road begins. That'll do it.


Useless sites

Decided to browse the P-Tech website to see what was being offered in their stores before stopping by.

After a glitzy Flash presentation (with sound!) that had zero actual information on products, instead just putting up product brand names without further data, I'm going to check out M&Ms instead. You'd think P-Tech was a marketing or graphic arts company or something instead of a company trying to sell products. Hmph.


Winking is outdated, right?

ZBM has this guy named Cooper Stevenson doing reporting and anchor duties for them now. I'll give him a break because he's new to the job and will allow for him to get more comfortable reading from the teleprompter (when people can easily tell you're reading the teleprompter, that's when you need more practice).

However, please cease and desist with the on-stage winking. He may be trying to channel the spirit of fellow so-obvious-it's-creepy fellow winker (and former TV personality) Nick Jones, but it comes across as so forced and artificial. Find another signature tagline, please.

Besides, didn't winking die out as something cool sometime in the early 90s?


Local truckers protest

I have to say that I'd be on the side of the truckers in their beef with those who allow tractor trailers to illegally transport material that truckers are able to. The law is the law, and it served to protect the truck drivers from unfair competition.

Yesterday's protest involved several trucks in a convoy around Hamilton with signs and slogans on them. It's another case of alleged favourtism of certain companies and individuals when it comes to jobs and money, at the expense of the common man. Why would Government grant certain companies permission to use these vehicles for purposes that the trucks can do?

I would like to see how this situation turns out. As far as I know the Ministry of Transport hasn't officially responded.


keeping appointments

Little rant here. Had an 8:30 appointment at a clinic for a flu shot (first ever flu shot, but whatever). Was sitting in the wating room for 50 minutes.. Not happy. Probably also because there was no "sorry for the delays, we're stacked with patients, etc." from anybody. Got a reschedule but sheesh.


Crossings at bus stops

I could've sworn that in the wake of Tyaisha Cox's death a few years ago that there would be a change in the positioning of pedestrian crossings near bus stops so that the crossings would be either behind the bus stop or in a position where vehicle drivers (and the pedestians themselves) would have a better line of sight and thus reduce the chance for another tragic incident.

However, they've repaved Palmetto Road yesterday but at the bus stop near Fat Man's Cafe, the pedestrian crossing has been laid out in the exact same place. I remember a girl getting struck on that crossing not long ago, so why they haven't tried to place it somewhere else is baffling. Maybe the issue was overlooked. More likely, it was hot air.


State of the Blogosphere 2008

Bermuda Network News has either done a soft launch or they're just testing their new look. They're trying to give a cleaner appearance and added functionality in the form of public and private discussion boards. Some aspects such as the Photo Gallery, cause the page to expand in an ungracious fashion, they ought to tweak that bit. Will be interesting to see how much new and unique content is published on that site.

In any event, the lack of action from Bermuda Broadcasting and VSB as far as initiating an online presence is allowing for BNN, a likely beneficiary of Government advertising going forward to go on hiatus and reemerge as an online 'news provider' without taking much of a hit.

The author of politics.bm has decided to call it a day for his blog. The Politics.bm site had been around since September 2003, perhaps an eon ago in Internet-time. What I think this site served to show us that blogs, particularly ones that focused on news, business, sports or politics, can be worthy compliments to the traditional media outlets for providing information and discussion.

It got derided as a UBP-propoganda machine from PLP-affiliated critics, particularly over the last two years, but posts kept on coming thick and fast. Thus the suspension of active blogging came as a unexpected shock. There is a big gap in the local blogosphere right now and one not likely to be filled for some time.

With NewOnion, Bda Longtail and 21 Square now in a state of hiatus/dormancy/suspended activity, there's a limited amount of online discussion. Prog Minds seems to have reemerged after three months in its cocoon but so far it's more of the same Bash UBP/Offer no creative input stuff. Recently launched Bermuda Fables is providing interesting discussion so far.

Catch-A-Fire and Vexed Bermoothes (with special mention to the two online forums BS and BIAW), arguably discuss the most compelling and talked-about issues with news and politics on the island and remain popular. There was a blog comment posted recently that suggested that the local blogosphere is somewhat irrelevant because the online community is predominantly white Bermudian and white expat, a minority of the population in Bermuda as a whole. I would tend to agree that the online community doesn't come close to representing the population, however it doesn't necessarily make what is discussed online irrelevant. I don't know if black residents will embrace online blogging, etc., in the numbers that white residents do. Black residents sign up to BermyNet and VybezAlliance, so it may not be a simple matter of accessing the Web. I don't have the answers.

Summer's ended

Monday evening, things just cooled off, literally. Time to put something over the shirt on the bike rides home in the evening. I realize that many people look forward to the end of summer since we're all tired of the blazing heat, but does the change have to be so drastic? Heh.


Music Festivality

I attended my first ever Bermuda Music Festival last week and got to see the headline performances from Beyonce (who's all-girl band completely rocked) on Thursday night and Alicia Keys (smaller woman than I'd have thought, she rocked too). Not many productions can claim to bring two music heavyweights down over one weekend, I'd wager. Also, Aaron Neville performed, first time I've seen him live and this fella has got a hell of a voice. Steve Harvey brought up the fact that we in Bermuda have chickens running around the place, and he's right, I can't think of a single country in the world that has chickens running around free. Anywhere else, they'd be caught, chopped and cooked like a flash.

It was a good show and one could tell that they put a lot of effort and cash into getting a quality stage arena for the entertainers. It was a little strange that there was no security to ensure that people didn't videotape the shows (trust me, at least a third of the audience were filming), but oh well.

Financially speaking, I cannot guess how much was spent on this event. Government through the Ministry of Tourism was of course the lead sponsor, which means that our taxpayer dollars goes to bringing this event every year. With our National Stadium probably maxing out at 15,000 people and a limited amount of corporate sponsorship possible, the questions that many are raising is how much are we, the Bermuda public, paying for the event?, how much revenue did Bermuda gain from tourist dollars (there appeared to be sizable numbers of visitors, but there were far more Bermudians, I'd wager), and how much exposure did Bermuda get to the outside world where future tourists would be watching, listening, and hopefully calling their travel agents afterwards?

Of course this then treads down that road of economics and politics raised by the UBP, Vexed Bermoothes and others and countered by the PLP, and we're probably not going to get anything tangible from Government anytime soon. That aside, I enjoyed my time at the Music Festival.


Road Works

One of the things I was pleasantly surprised by after the election was that road works continued to take place. Our roads were in danger of falling apart; cracks and potholes were all over the place and commuting was a bit of an adventure in many places.

However, Works and Engineering continued to repave several key roads over the past few months, including North Shore in Flatts, Middle Road near Paget Lights and Middle Road near Amaral's.

I'm a bit concerned that perhaps the fix won't hold up, as after rain and wind from Tropical Kyle passed through over the weekend, a visible pothole appeared in the road near Paget Lights. I don't know if the material laid down wasn't strong enough, it wasn't allowed to harden enough or we simply have too many large vehicles tearing up the roads in the first place. But it's not a good sign that road laid down less than six months ago is already falling apart.


Safer roads? Really?

A serious contradiction here in two related articles:

From the EVR report:
The Premier added: "For the motoring public, unlicenced vehicles on the road equate to greater risk because unlicenced vehicles have not received an annual safety inspection. Today I can report that our roads are indeed safer than they were before EVR."
Predictably, the weekly vehicle crash report, courtesy of the Police standard verbiage:
Police said that last week there were 66 reported accidents on Bermuda's roads with 25 resulting in injury and two people arrested on suspicion of impaired driving.
As far as I can see there's no correlation between throwing $250,000 worth of fines and the roads being safer. Just means Government's making a little more money, as they should, but if there's no stats showing the cars and bikes involved in crashes fall into the category of being unlicensed, and the 'accident' rate on island remains at its high level, it's disingenuous to make the statement that the roads are safer.

That said, the Police have been visible on the roads more over this month. I saw one squad car pull over a bike rider who ran a stop sign near Barnes' Corner, there seem to be more morning blitzes, and while they should still post someone around the city's traffic lights every now and then, I'll applaud the police for showing a slightly more visible presence out there.


Students and free bus rides

I only just realized that Bermuda and Barbados implemented free student bus service at the same time, which is interesting. Wonder if this idea was floated during one of the many meetings that our government ministers have had with their counterparts over the past year or two.

I haven't heard much in the way of feedback from bus operators or students in Bermuda, so don't have any idea of the successes or failures, whether economically or other. Hopefully there's a study or poll going around at this time.

In Barbados, where privately-owned minibuses and vans (ZRs) operate alongside (or in competition with) public buses, the owners of the private vehicles have shown concern over potential severe loss of income, on the flip side it does seem as though many students are taking advantage and if it saves them/their parents money then that's of great benefit to them.

Bermuda's a different animal, of course, because of a number of factors, but it may be interesting to observe the parallels over the rest of the year.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this bit on the PLP blog which highlighted what to me would have been an overlooked benefit, that is, setting up class field trips without scrambling to organise drivers and the like, a teacher can pretty much gather up the kids, get on a bus (wonder if the school wouldn't have to pay for a charter bus, then) and go. Interesting.


Stupid party politics

A big reason to be dissatisfied with party politics in Bermuda (and I presume, in other countries). People, even if they're senior members of Parliament and have lots of experience, don't want to speak out against their party when it comes to deciding legislation.

Case in point, a former Premier is against a certain bill. Staunchly. He has his reasons based on morals, which is totally fine. But he says that if such a bill is up, he won't vote against it?

The MP, who is supposed to represent a constituency of x number of voters, will abstain from a vote despite his own personal beliefs or what his constituency of voters may desire.

Sad. How much money are these guys making to sit off?

Roundabouts 101

Seriously, driver of 21335, don't kill me. Our roundabouts aren't too difficult to navigate. If you just freaking GIVE WAY to traffic from the right and not jump on it, you're less likely to run me over. Sheesh.

I don't know if she mouthed a weak 'sorry' response at me but I was basically thinking to myself that I really don't want to get knocked off my bike in town during the morning commute to work.

Wish some of the cops on patrol would hover around the roundabouts, actually.

Actually, I just wish that Bermuda's drivers would just pay attention.


Opportunity for bananas

We should take advantage of the banana-laden ship being forced to stop in Bermuda by buying some of those Caribbean bananas and avoid those hormone-laced Dole and Chiquita variety we keep on importing, perhaps...


So that's a third lane

Third-laning in Bermuda, to me, refers to situations such as rush hour on East Broadway or the Paget traffic lights where traffic is pretty much at a standstill and bike riders overtake several cars at a time while traffic in the other lane may or may not be flowing.

However, after seeing the rider of O067 (it's a rental bike) fly down the center stripe while traffic was free-flowing in both directions, I'm going to have to dismiss the earlier definition. It's amazing that he went through without getting clipped by a car or truck...


Just for laughs, UBP

I am a little curious to know what else the UBP machine would have had lined up on their "light touch of humour" pre-election Flash animations, titled "Fishing for a Better Bermuda". Surely, others must have been produced and slated to go live, before the first one was panned mercilessly by people on all sides and forcing the project to get shut down entirely. Sorry for going back to 2007 times, but heck.

Come on UBP, give us something to smile about. Just for the fun of it.


Stop spamming me, Digihell

Today I got this SMS message on my mobile phone:

"Text the letters VIP to 5307 to enter the draw to win tickets to the Bermuda Music Festival. All text entries cost $1. Tickets given away weekly! Digicel"

Well the bright side is that at least I didn't get a phone call from them. However I think I want to check my Terms of Agreement with them to see if I'm liable to receive regular spam from the company that's not a service notification. At least I haven't received a Netherlands Mobile Promo scam recently.

I'm not fond of raffles in the first place, so I'll let them earn their money from everybody else. They can use the cash they get from those who do participate, to improve their service or something.


Son of the Hummer

Wonder if someone at TCD is getting paid off...

Now there's a stylish luxury Lexus RX 350 roaming the streets, licenced in Bermuda as an *Intermediate-size truck*...
The car sizes up at approximately 15 1/2 feet long, 6 1/2 feet wide.
The length puts it well beyond the maximum length of a Class G private car, however the licence fees for an intermediate truck are less than a private car of such length. Then again, the Sunday licence fees for a truck may make it all square...

And it only seats 5 people, same amount as any other car on the island, heh.

Guess it's only a matter of time before we see Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators roaming along Harbour Road and Town of St. George's...

Sneakers on power lines

There's a pair of sneakers hanging over the power lines on North Shore Road near Store Hill. Been there for quite a while, actually. I don't know what the safety hazards are for this (like, could a large truck catch the sneakers and yank the line down, for example?), I suppose Belco will deal with it eventually.

Why would somebody tie up a pair of sneakers and hoist them over the power lines, though? Apparently another thing we've copied from our American friends, I searched online for possibilities.

They range from the clowning-around variety:
  • bullies take them off defenceless kids, then sling them up out of reach as the ultimate taunt
  • overly puffed-up boys who have just lost their virginity or otherwise passed a sexual milestone look to signal the event to others
  • graduating seniors mark this transition in their lives by leaving something of themselves behind; namely, their shoes
to the more serious and or possibly dangerous possibilities:
  • the work of gangs marking the boundaries of their territory (in Bermuda, I don't see that happening, just because the gangs seem to already know each others' "territory")
  • a location where one can buy street drugs (I wouldn't doubt this, but it seems like a lot of overkill; besides, why tip the cops off?)
  • creating an informal memorial at the spot where a friend lost his life (possible, but the Bermudian tradition is just to spray paint the roads with messages and hang up bedsheets with messages written across them, so that's maybe a little doubtful)
What do you think?


ZBM's Olympic Adventures

They've taken a lot of heat, some of it misdirected (seems like Cablevision was passing the buck, for once), but it would appear that Bermuda Broadcasting has been trying hard to deliver a comprehensive Olympics package in recent days. They've delivered coverage from NBC, CMC and CBC (Canada) over the past few days, which ought to get us better overall coverage than any other country singularly.

Unfortunately today highlighted another misstep from the company's button-pushers. This morning we were shown CMC coverage, which predictably showed track and field. The coverage was live, which was great, however the commentary slanted too much towards the 100m and there was an analysis piece thrown up which interrupted the women's 3000m steeplechase, which promised to be interesting to watch.

Anyway, we were all set for the live 11:30am (Bermuda time) 100m women's finals... then at 11am we're thrown for a loop and sent to NBC which was focusing their morning coverage on a women's basketball match, the USA versus cannon fodder. While I already have my beefs with NBC for choosing to showcase Americans blowing out some other team (in this case New Zealand) over an event that's more competitive, I was stunned that the ZBM monkeys couldn't wait until the 100m live event was over.

I'm assuming that ZBM had preprogrammed the feed switches to something like 1am switch to CBC, 7am switch to CMC, 11am switch to NBC, lather rinse repeat, instead of a station manager making the decisions on which feed to show at what time.

Sucks, but I'm still giving ZBM a B for effort instead of the F that Gazette readers have been blasting over the past few days.

Showers on a bright sunny day

Grrrr, to whoever's set up the sprinklers at the renovated Port Royal golf course. I managed to get sprayed on the far side of the road yesterday morning.

Now I have to look up whatever they put in the water for golf courses to make sure I'm not exposed to nasty pesticides.


Let NBC do its thing, ZBM

For the record, I'm not fond of NBC when it comes to sports programming. They exhibit too much homerism when it comes to international events and often the commentators employed are too arrogant for my liking.

That said, NBC had an Olympics broadcasting package that included not only coverage on its main network but also other channels affiliated with it such as USA and CNBC. With CBC (Canada) also available via cable TV, the prospects of watching the sport of choice for Bermudians was vast once they got past all the docu-drama.

However, ZBM (sorry, no website available), through membership in the Caribbean Media Corporation (formerly CBU) meant that they had the rights to exclusive broadcasting of Olympic coverage. What did that mean?
  1. Our local affiliate, VSB, couldn't broadcast the NBC coverage. Over the weekend they showed CNN Headline News. No plus for cable users since CNN-HN is already a channel available.
  2. Bermuda Cablevision (again, not a group I'm fond of) had to block out USA, CBC (Canada), as well as at times other channels in the family. Several channels lost.
  3. While ZBM's sister station ZFB decided to broadcast BBC World all weekend (again, no benefit to cable users), ZBM which also was slated to broadcast the PGA Championship, rolled with golf so during Sunday afternoon, there was no avenue to show Olympic coverage on TV.
  4. We're at the mercy of CMC commentary instead of NBC, which can be a bad thing sometimes. This morning there was **live** beach volleyball slated on NBC, however CMC cut in to show us **repeats** of swimming that took place the previous night.
Now ZBM from its arrangement gets advertising dollars from Bank of Bermuda, TreeCon and a couple of other sponsors, so you can understand the business sense in getting that exclusivity deal. But it sucks having a downgraded Olympic viewing experience because of it.


The Premier's State of the Nation speech

The Premier put together a speech yesterday but apparently only for YouTube. ZBM wound up showing a snippet on their evening news show while VSB wound up broadcasting the clip from the website anyway. Strange that the Premier wouldn't have simply called up the media outlets (including Gov TV) and push out his message, but maybe it was spur of the moment. Not as many people have Internet access as have a television set, but luckily the PLP website posted a transcript of the speech and I suppose the newspapers will be able to post it in its entirety today. Not a big deal in the end, but curious.

As for the content itself, it essentially is a summary of what Government has accomplished in their first session. I wish that each of the 39 passed pieces of legislation was briefed upon, but what can you do. The Premier's also addressed the contentious issue that occurred recently where some of the unions were taking strike action against Government and there was discussions whether or not a government that was led by a labour party was looking after the interests of labour itself.

It's followed up by a not-so-friendly admonition of what he terms the "combined Opposition". Which is, really, the UBP, the Gazette/Mid-Ocean pair and segments of the online community. He brings up a desire for an elevated level of debate, something which we failed to get in any sense of the word, during the election period (here's a quick retort on it). Maybe the next time the House of Assembly is in session we'll see (actually, read about, since it's still not televised on Gov TV or other channel) if the parties concerned can do so.

The Premier informs us that he's contactable via many means including email and Facebook messaging, and I think most people appreciate that the Premier has made himself available in various methods. However I think that there's a section of the community that is frustrated that they can't seem to get straight answers on topics but instead get routed to a press secretary or a canned response, this probably applies to the news media more than most.

He finishes up by bringing up FutureCare, which clearly is the signature landmark of the PLP platform. Providing for seniors and those nearing retirement is an important task that most Bermudians are concerned about.

This speech could only have been topped upon (maybe if ZBM was prepared) by a nice little round table discussion of it a la the election day coverage by those on each side of the political spectrum. Would have been interesting.


Driving habits ad nauseum

New senator Marc Bean offered this when talking about road safety recently:
"We also need to look at the behaviour of road users.

We are now experiencing the negative effects of that with 11 road fatalities and countless numbers of serious injuries this year.

So, that's a challenge with in itself because no legislation or policies can change people's thinking and behaviour."
Um, (and when I start with 'um', you know I'm about to knock on heads) enforcing legislation and policies is a good way to start,... instead of the current method of pleading for people to be safe then sitting on your hands hoping the situation will go away.

If not, then you're pretty much saying the only way is to let Darwinism take its course and hope that we kill off more people on the roads than we put on.

Silly me for thinking that Government was actually going to do something way back in April.

If Government only now wants to look at the behaviour instead of looking at it over the past five plus years and can't figure out that people drive like crap because there's no police deterrent on the roads then they're plain stupid. Tourists fresh off the cruise ships can see how we drive and say that there's chaos on the streets. Does the Senator think that last year was a calm one by comparison or something?

We have this demerit points system in place now, which seems to be confusing the courts, and people worrying that implementing speed cameras is going to backlog the court system... hm, separate Traffic Offenses Court, perhaps? People don't seem to be proactive and that doesn't apply just to this situation but other ones in the community, unfortunately.

I wish Dr. Froncioni, a man who's been commenting on the state of our roads and drivers for far longer than I, well in trying to inspire Government to take action but don't have much optimism that anything will come out other than more lip service from those in positions to influence legislation and enforcement.


When you do quit your day job

Apparently this is the 400th post I've made through Blogger, feels kinda good in that nerdy sort of way.

I've recently left the job that I started out of college, an astounding and whopping (in retrospect, of course) 10+ years ago. I wouldn't have guessed it, really... it's not the norm for people out of college to stay with their first employer for so long, I think. I can't think of any of my colleagues or friends who have done so.

I suppose we all have our own individual thoughts and experiences when it comes to staying with Company A for a certain amount of years after graduating, but when it's time to move on, you know it. And when it's past time, you definitely know it, heh.

Anyway, sorry for the relatively low-on-inspiration-or-quality context. Better things in store later, perhaps.


Blogosphere adjustments

Some shifts in local blogs to report - when I'm back on my home PC I will need to adjust my blog bar, but just want to point out this new blog, Freshie, written by a one-time candidate for Parliament.

Really like the right-side recent blog posts feed he's established. Wonder if I have that option with Blogger? Anyway looking forward to continued reading.


Bermuda supporting U.W.I. education

This is quite interesting to me, as a U.W.I. graduate, to read that Government will contribute to the University of the West Indies and allow for Bermudian students to only pay about 20% of the cost.

Vexed Bermoothes has already weighed in, and I know that this will be a well-discussed item over the next couple of days. I do believe that there is a trend in Bermuda to label Caribbean products as inferior, and that extends to education; I have no such delusions. U.W.I. as a tertiary institution of learning offers a variety of quality programmes that can produce a graduate with skills on par or above that of most universities. Medicine, law, agriculture, economics, chemistry, languages, you name it.

That said, I can see the concerns that why is the Government funding a specific university instead of funding students who are pursuing tertiary education regardless of the chosen school. I think that's the specific argument of V.B., and that it's a movement to integrate Bermuda more closely with CARICOM, which again is looked down upon by many people here.

When I was in high school, about to take GCSEs, we had all kinds of brochures delivered to us. Acadia and Dalhousie and Mt. St. Vincent. American colleges in Georgia and Maryland. Even Southern Cal. Why wasn't U.W.I. an option? Inferiority presumption? Even though the cultural shift may in some aspects have been easier for students to deal with?


Football, the spelling thereof

For unknown reasons, Americans are trying to be politically correct with the rest of the world and allowing for "soccer" to be also referred to as "futbol".

Not football. Futbol. Must be a way of reaching out to their Latino residents. Notwithstanding the fact that the sport remains "football" to those of us in English-speaking countries and not some forced Spanish hybrid.

Speaking of Spanish stuff, how about Rafa Nadal... Brilliant match to win the Wimbledon title against Roger Federer.

Congrats to Bermuda's men's cricket team on their first win in the Intercontinental Cup, against Canada. Hopefully it'll be the start of a winning trend for the guys and inspire the public to again support the team in good numbers.


We're an ungrateful bunch of people ya know

This goes out to all the young diva chicks and men in suits who assume that because I'm holding the door, they're entitled to flow through without so much as an acknowledgment, as if I consider it an honour to be their gofer or something. Ungracious people, hmph.

This isn't a new thing, but I'm seeing it a bit more nowadays on the street, that's the obscuring of licence plates on motorbikes. Either the kryptonite lock or another helmet is strategically placed so it covers up the licence plate, which is illegal of course. You only see it on certain bikes (read: Yamaha V50/80) usually ridden by young fellas. Which means the bike's either unregistered or stolen. No way to read the plate, no way to tell the status.

Police have begun some form of blitz to nail down traffic offenders, but of course they won't be catching the V50 hounds, because they're not going to be knifing through rush-hour traffic, obviously. Pity that Government's still done absolutely zero in the road traffic department this year. Sponsoring a public awareness campaign doesn't cut it.


What is our government doing anyway?

Even this is disturbing. The lines shouldn't be blurred between the official Government and whatever political party has control of Parliament.

Meanwhile, many of the promised initiatives by the ruling party remain in that promised state. Are we going to be waiting until a year before the next election to see them in action?


Major union issues here

Read the threads and follow-ups at Vexed and Catch A Fire...

Essentially the government actions have not met with approval with a large sector of the community. It will be interesting to see what happens next.


Literally, it's figurative

People here are excited about Bermuda beating Trinbago in World Cup qualification last weekend and are looking forward to the return leg and a chance to qualify for the group stages (and potential matches against Cuba, Guatemala and the United States).

But anyway, my grammar police radar was on full alert when former Attorney General and head of the Bermuda Football Association threw out this gem:
"Literally, it's a full scale war and so we ask every Bermudian to give their all to make sure we win," he said. "It will be a tall order because Trinidad are coming for war as well."
Whoops... if it was literal then I need to get me some bullet-proof vests. But seriously, people are always misusing the term 'literally' when the correct term should be 'figuratively'. Sigh. Now about that Hopkins report, does it cover these issues?


Chaos abounds

Been away from the blogging for a bit. During this time period I've experienced:
  • Internet access malfunctioning (still the case)
  • My PC monitor dying (after owning it for less than three years, I'm estimating)
  • and my month-old bike being stolen from a open-space parking lot during daylight hours from a Hamilton car park.
Yeah, I've been pretty pissed to say the least.

Meanwhile Bermuda at large has undergone, unfortunately:
  • a murder of a young teenager, which is truly an enormous tragedy that's truly depressing and my condolences to the family
  • another death on the roads, while Government pats outgoing senators on their efforts in the field of road safety
  • Parliamentary sessions become farces with the whole press release claiming to be from the Speaker of the House scenario, followed by pointless and nasty ramblings in the House after the Department of Tourism sponsored an event hosted at the Playboy mansion
Yep, plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about where this country is headed.



I want to take a little of time to give thanks in rememberance of a former manager of mine, Colin, who passed away on Friday. He was someone who was encouraging and interested in my career welfare. He'll be missed.


Copycat hoax emails in Bermuda

There's an email hoax going around little Bermuda right now. Someone emailed me a message saying that a local Chinese/Asian restaurant was being shut down because they found rats being prepared for consumption...

Yeah, you can guess. Here's the actual hoax, via Snopes.com.

Some person had all the free time on their hands to dig up a hoax report on the web, change some of the details so it has that local feel, and spread it across the island. If I owned the restaurant I'd be pretty ticked off.

Then again, we were gullible enough to believe that a tsunami was going to hit the island via a series of SMS messages, so heck.


site fury

Now my gibbo.beachlime.com page is falling apart. Sigh. Need new web host, yesterday.

Breaking and entering

It should be quite concerning that the number of break-ins and burglary attempts in Bermuda has risen in recent months. I can't even fathom the mindset that goes into deliberately trying to steal something of value from another person, whether stranger, acquaintance or even a relative!

It's something to be taken very seriously.

With resources seemingly thin, I don't know what the police can do, it's probably similar to the road safety/traffic enforcement situation. So they tell potential victims to be extra vigilant in protecting their properties. That's all good, but no guarantee.

The other day my good friend was a victim of a car break-in, one of several that occurred that day, at the Bulls' Head car park. No valuables were left behind, yet the car windows were busted and a crowbar used to pry the door open to search. Here's where I ask why isn't there any noticeable form of security at this car park? CCTV cameras? Even one of those 80-year old 'security guards' patrolling regularly? That's a case for Corporation of Hamilton/Police to discuss, at least.

Perhaps, it explains why there may still always remain a demand for rottweilers and pit bulls and other perceived aggressive dogs on the island, as a simple matter of protection.


Bermuda Police website

By random, I wanted to view the Bermuda Police website.

Unsure, I tried www.bermudapolice.com and was taken to a site that definitely wasn't official. Actually it went to the infamous 'behind the scenes/corruption angle' site.

The official Police site is www.bermudapolice.bm, however it's in the best interest for them to buy out that .com name as the other isn't flattering at all, to say the least.


Embracing the technology

While coming to grips with the fact that our court/legal system may be too antiquated to immediately implement new and useful legislation on the use of cameras on our roads, I soon observed a common experience while out and about.

The MarketPlace is Bermuda's largest grocery chain, yet when you compare some of its service offerings to other local outlets you tend to wonder exactly why.

Namely, the lack of technological advances in pricing of goods. Lindo's, Arnold's and Supermart, for example, all use electronic readers at the checkout counters. Meanwhile MarketPlace relies on the old slap-a-sticker method. Which means longer wait times when a sticker falls off and the person has to call a supervisor to run down the aisle to find the price of the item we're trying to buy.

I know, small island, is it worth it, etc. Other retailers seemed to think so, however. Yet we have businesses operating on the island, long-standing ones at that, that don't even accept credit cards as a form of payment. It's a little bizarre - maybe the TechWeek people have a study going on about that situation.


My last road abuse post for a while

The powers that be have repeated the same ol' "Slow down" mantra for so long...

Meanwhile I've dedicated too much time complaining about the same thing and need to move on. Now that road safety's fixed on Bermuda's radar (albeit years too late), maybe concrete solutions will be implemented. There are plenty of them, if you read the Gazette's Letters section. The Bermuda blogs are full of ideas. From Longtail to Vexed to 21 Square as well as the Sucks forum, there are important observations and suggestions that should be looked at.

One recurrent theme in the arena of suggestions is having more of a law enforcement presence on the roads. I'm not sure who was the first to point it out but it's very true as far as Bermuda's drivers are concerned:
Drivers are more afraid of getting caught by the Police than getting into a traffic collision.
That's the answer. "Slow down, be careful" is not working. The powers that be still don't understand. We have a Culture of Recklessness. Look at this PrimeTarget story. Most likely this fella was drunk and or already off-the-road. He abandoned his injured passenger and tried to evade Police.

Just today, at the intersection of Par-la-ville and Church, lights were red and the pedestrian walk sign was about to go off. A bike rider, BC859, runs the light (funny enough he then stops at the light where Bermudiana Road meets Church Street). Every day you see this happen. Weekends, free-for-all. No police presence.

No, we probably don't have the resources to patrol the place more. However, we have technology. Legislate the use of cameras and implement them. Clear the backlog of paperwork and let officers patrol the streets more. Maybe even grant traffic wardens the ability to book traffic offenders. Grant more sweeping powers when it comes to detaining offenders, impounding vehicles. Increase the fines for traffic offenses. Be more stringent when renting cycles (to both tourists *and* locals). Turn the lights on at the Warwick Academy, Whitney and Southampton Primary crossings. Raise the pedestrian crossings throughout the island. And for pete's sake, take a stand on cell phones and ban their use and stop skirting the issue.

Solutions are there. Tangible, logical and realistic solutions. They're there.


The mindset of a reckless rider, maybe

Booking AW390 for overtaking a line of traffic including near a corner. I think that the attention given by the Road Safety Council to the road safety issues of late has raised awareness somewhat this week among a small sector of the population, but there's going to be a large sector that frankly isn't going to give a crap about gimmicks and stuff when they know there's a line of traffic, they like to speed (and look 'cool') and they're comfortable in the belief that the other drivers will make way for their aggressive driving, and that there won't be any punishment lurking in the form of officers, video cameras or an unforseen tragedy.


Road Safety Council's fearlessness

So after all the promise of useful action, they've stuck to the curfew for teenagers suggestion, in the end. Because a 17-year old riding at 10:30pm is that much less of a safety risk than one at 11:15pm. Of course, I had thought the Road Safety Council was going to address the current situation on the roads, but it looks like instead we'll just write off this generation of motorists and cross our fingers that our youth will learn from the curfew and not what their older siblings or friends do instead. Yeah, right.

Project Ride may be expanded, but nothing was said about making it compulsory.

A bit of talk on wanting bars and restaurants to take responsibility for customers drinking too much, and rental cycle operators to standardise testing. Nothing approaching a concrete policy, mind you.

The chairperson said in her speech:
"This may be unpopular but we are not fearful of making it difficult decisions." (sic)
It's of course, past time to make the unpopular decisions. However the RSC hasn't made enough of them and Government hasn't acted on any of them. I'm quite disappointed, overall.

However I'm not disappointed at the awareness campaign launched today on the roads. I think it will send a message to at least some of the folks out there. It, however, needs to remain a fresh concept. Switch locations, signs, bring large wrecked cars out too, mix it up. And move the sign that says "I didn't use my car seat" from next to one of the bike wrecks. Thanks.


55 speeding tickets in one day?

Watching the ZBM news and the report of some 55 speeding tickets issued on Friday stunned me a little bit. I saw that the police were out and about Friday on the long stretches of road (of course they're not near corners and frequent accident spots, but that's another battle, another day), radar guns firing. It's interesting that they can only pull over people for speeding, not necessarily other offenses. For example, the law still says that headlights must be white, but we all see the cars and bikes with green, blue and other coloured headlights. Ah well.

What I didn't like was what the Premier (and Minister of Transport) was saying regarding needing to educate the public on unsafe driving. Sir, the time for education is over. It's been overdone. If there's no officers or traffic cameras about, people will run red lights, use 'third lanes' and speed without any worry. Focus needs to remain on enforcing the law that driving on the roads is a privilege, and removing the offenders from the road for a long time while hitting them in the pocket too.

It's Road Safety Week here right now, apparently. Hopefully the road collision rate will diminish at least for a short period.


Others weigh in on the Culture of Recklessness

It's hard for anyone to turn a blind eye now to the situation on Bermuda's roads. Some bloggers have addressed things already. Yesterday two respected Bermuda Sun columnists, Tom Vesey, and Stuart Hayward, posed what I thought were excellent musings on the situation and suggestions on how the problems can be addressed.

I especially appreciate the calling out of Government for encouraging use of larger cars and trucks on the roads. I think they need to take responsibility for not encouraging safer road use. The cell phone question is such a great example. It could have been addressed, but it hasn't and I don't think it will.

What's weird is that it was seemingly so easy to change the law to allow for vanity licence plates. Yet we can't get more important changes made. Sad.

More money for Gov TV

Fellow blogger Vexed Bermoothes expresses essentially the same thoughts that I have regarding all this spending on a cable television station.

And what is this all about?
Brown explained that "in-depth programming" of current issues in Bermuda is not being provided by commercial stations there, making a public TV station necessary.
Hello? What exactly are shows like Youth Talk, EnviroTalk, The Learnalots, and Treasures, then? Fluff? Now if Government provided subsidies for producing local TV shows to the broadcasting companies, maybe there would be even more.

Also, VB mentions the FreshTV situation as a comparison. Great paragraph.


Venting on agressive drivers

We have some very selfish and inconsiderate twits on our roads, simply put.

Riding this morning and from maybe two lengths back this car pulls to overtake a bunch of us. Recognising finally that another car was coming, he darts into the middle of the line, forcing me to slow down. If I had a car I don't think I would have done so, but I'm on the losing end of any collision with a car, obviously enough.

So as I express my frustration with having my life threatened, this cunt flips me off! Wished I had a rock to hurl at his head, to be honest. But it's twits like the driver of the white Hyundai 40014 that cause much of these 'accidents' with their thoughtless driving habits. These guys ae probably harder to take off the road than most, unfortunately - a police officer would have to be in the line of traffic and actually give a crap, unless an 'accident' actually occurred.


One blog reawakens, one news site goes into slumber

Not long after I gave the local political parties a mild reaming for not having updated content, the PLP blog seemed to reawaken and publish articles, most of which were really just press releases, although the most recent one (16 April) actually represents original reporting. But it represents something in terms of communicating with readers and potential members, so that's a positive.

However, it seems as though BNN, one of the upstart media groups in this country (and one that looks to benefit from the Government cutbacks towards the Gazette), has fallen into a slightly dormant state. Hopefully it's just a blip, but it may be worth observing.

Insight from Wayne Furbert

The MP for Hamilton Parish West, Wayne Furbert, who's a former leader of the UBP, pretty much laid out his honest beliefs on the future of the UBP and politics here.

It's deep and thoughtful, and sure to get interesting responses from many sections of Bermuda's political scene.

Harness ponies during morning commute

Was behind a line of traffic this morning on the way into work. Turns out a harness pony was on the road. Why are they allowed on the road during that time of day? Can I Book rider '217'?


Finally, action?

It's extremely overdue, and several lives have unfortunately been lost in the interim, but there's the actual prospect of action being taken by the Road Safety Council that's not lip service or the like being considered now.

I trust that they'll actually pay attention to the statistics and what members of the public are trying to say regarding what's wrong and what's needed to try to change the culture of recklessness(TM) when it comes to Bermuda's roads.

That means: no knee-jerk reactions to a teenager crashing and wanting to crackdown on all teen riders. No knee-jerk reactions to a tourist crashing and wanting to crackdown on all tourists who want to rent a scooter.

It means: focus on the things that are causing this chaos. Particularly:
  • driving under the influence
  • third-lane riding
  • total lack of using indicators
  • ignoring stop signs and traffic lights
  • failure of the public to understand protocol for intersections, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings
  • not paying attention to pedal cyclists and pedestrians particularly at corners
  • cell phone abuse, especially when combined with one of the above
Also, recognising finally that it's grown adults who are causing the majority of these incidents, not teenagers, not tourists, not the elderly. Grown men and women who live here.

What actions need to be taken?
  • Book people who violate any of the above. That means have officers at intersections in and outside of town prepared to ticket people, not just hanging at the end of East Broadway when traffic's at a crawl. Have checkpoints near Spice Valley or by the Reefs or Shelley Bay Park.
  • If someone's off the road already, quadruple the fine.
  • Get those video cameras up and active at those frequent accident spots. Legislate their use so that when someone breaks the law and causes an 'accident', they can be effectively spotted and prosecuted.
  • Speaking of fines, increase them. I hate the Gazette for screwing up their archive, but there was a report in January of 2007 that indicated that Police believes that people would rather keep paying the $50 fines than cut their speed.
  • Politicians need to set a freaking example and stop driving with bad habits, most notably cell phone abuse. Police officers driving shouldn't be honking at their buddies. Taxi drivers shouldn't be ambulance-chasing.
  • I don't have hope that this is going to have a major effect, but Dejon Simmons needs to be part of any campaign to alert the public on road safety. His story needs to be rebroadcast.
It's past time to take off the kid gloves. The Bermudian public at large is not listening to the pleas to drive with care. Take those who aren't, off our roads. The vehicles, too, if necessary. Oh, and let them know that prison awaits those who drive after being taken off, too.


Please slow down... yawn

More so-called accidents on the island recently. Nobody's blaming tourists or kids this time around. Of course, what hasn't changed is the response from the powers that be. Please slow down and pay attention, yadda yadda yadda.

The quote from the Police spokesperson goes: "the Bermuda Police Service in conjunction with the Road Safety Council is pleading with the motoring public to slow down on our roadways and obey the rules of the road."

Then he urged drivers not to use cell phones, iPods or dark visors as they could all cause a distraction.

How about instead of the standard reply, instead state firmly and categorically that drivers spotted using cell phones, particularly those with cellphones wedged into their helmets, face being pulled over by the cops and immediately being charged with driving without due care? Take a hard line. Don't make me have to repeat this post next month.


Free public transport day predictions

Tomorrow, Bermuda will be having a 'Burn Fat Not Fuel' Day and encourage people to leave their vehicles at home, forgoing them in exchange for walking, cycling or using public transport, which will be free of cost for the day.

It's a noble idea. With our high obesity rates, it's to be commended. But as far as a push to reduce the use of cars and bikes on the road, it's a weak gimmick that will be exposed easily enough tomorrow, I fear. It's more just to test Bermuda to see if they would embrace the government's free transport pledge they laid out at Election time.

Already the PTB is scared that they won't have enough buses available for the public. Peachy. One reason people don't like to take the bus is that they'll be in some congested and uncomfortable bus instead of enjoying a relaxing journey to the city to work. Oh well, there you go.

Also, last time they tried having some promotion for people to use the ferries more, people got parking tickets because there wasn't enough room to park their cars in the car park and they had to park on the street. Ferries have limits on number of passengers as well; imagine the wrath that people will feel if they're denied access and have to get back in their car anyway.

I expect that less people will be driving into town tomorrow, though. More likely, however, is that you'll see many people driving to certain spots closer to town, then choosing to walk in. So traffic into town will be eased, but just outside of town, return of gridlock.

Yep, totally pessimistic here, sorry.