R.I.P. x Three

September 30, 2010

The last few days have been hard on the movie industry.  First we lost the esteemed editor Sally Menke who has cut all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies since “Reservoir Dogs“.  She was only 56 and seems to have died of heat exposure while hiking.

Then we lost Arthur Penn, the genius director of “Miracle Worker” and “Bonnie & Clyde“.

And this morning Tony Curtis died.  There weren’t many movies he starred in that I didn’t appreciate his work.  He was great in everything from “Defiant Ones” and “Sweet Smell of Success” to “The Boston Strangler” and “Some Like It Hot.”

A tough week.


Not Just The Accent

September 30, 2010

The differences between the US and the UK are not only in the language(s) that they speak; there are significant differences in politics and political style too (regardless of how much Yanqui Tony Blair tried to blur them).

For example, the UK has a leftish Labour Party — not something that most Americans would consider mainstream — that has as good a shot at government as any other party at the next election, and better than most.

For another, and perhaps even more telling, example, the new leader of the Labour Party is an atheist Jew living out of wedlock with his partner and their child.

As one constituent wrote: “We don’t vote on stuff like that any more … [W]e’re past all that now, aren’t we? We care about policies, not religion or lifestyle choices. We might even appreciate his honesty.”  Another opined that it was “far better for a politician to be honest and up-front than pay lip service to a faith you don’t have”.

In American politics where it is now virtually ALL lifestyle and religion it is inconceivable that a man like Ed Milibrand could possibly rise to the top. In fact, it is unlikely he could even get a job stuffing envelopes in a precinct office of either party. The Americans are the losers in that comparison I am certain.

Bands Of Gold

September 30, 2010

Bands of Gold” at the Bay store in Vancouver.

Open Data: Transportation

September 29, 2010

I am very interested in the Open Data movement as it relates to information maintained in various government databases. In the transportation sphere this generally works best when mashed with a system such as Google Maps. The latest I have seen is this incredible mapping of every bus stop, train station and port in the United Kingdom:

[click on the image to be taken to the application; use Google’s zoom controls to dig deep into the map and find, for example, individual bus stops]

The tabulated data is also useful as explained in the Guardian’s article that led me here.  This seems to me to be a perfect use for accumulated data that would otherwise sit unused in a mis-matched collection of binders or logs or computer tables.  As someone mentions in the comments to the Guardian piece, adding bus routes, for example, would be the next logical step.

I haven’t had this much fun with data since I discovered the fabulous almost real-time shipping maps!

Going Round The Bend

September 28, 2010

I love escalators; they are a fine form of transportation. And here, at last, is the first escalator that can go around any curves required by the architect.

What a neat development!

Showing What’s Really Important?

September 28, 2010

I shouldn’t have been surprised that teams of Toronto police officers were spending “12 hour days” going through 40,000 still images and “countless” hours of video coverage of the protests against the G20 meeting earlier this year.  They sure seem to think that catching and prosecuting a handful of property-damaging “anarchists” is worth the person-hours and the overtime.

I guess this really stuck out for me in the world of news headlines because it came on the same day that the BC Government appointed Wally Oppal as Commissioner to study and report on the policing by both VPD and the RCMP during the Pickton serial killings of more than thirty women in Vancouver.   Senior police officers at the VPD have already admitted that the standards of their work for several years allowed Pickton to murder at least a dozen women beyond when he should have been caught. The RCMP won’t admit anything but we all know they screwed up too.

The contrast between the lack of action given to the deaths of dozens of female sex-workers and the vast resources being thrown at window-smashing anti-capitalists is stark and surely indicative of a skewed and failed set of priorities both within police forces themselves and in the corporatist elites that manage them.

Pathway In Fall

September 28, 2010

It’s quickly getting to be that time of year once again when “Pathway In Fall” or something similar is a common sight.