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.
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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.