Monday, March 31, 2008

from the "history repeating" dept.

Will trickery in the Zimbabwe election result in the same kind of violence we saw recently in Kenya? I hope not.

Still... it doesn't look good. Here's a piece from Monday's Australian:

Whisper that voters dare shout
Catherine Philp in Bulawayo

WITH a third of Zimbabwe's votes counted, the Opposition claimed victory but President Robert Mugabe is nowhere to be seen.

It started as a whisper, and then became a shout. The heavyset matron lumbered, murmuring, up to the polling station and peered at the neatly written lists bearing the results.

Then she turned around and tottered down the steps, almost at a sprint. “We’re winning,” she shrieked.

But as station after station slapped its results up on the wall and Zimbabwe’s Opposition claimed its noisy victory, the official silence from Harare, the capital, was deafening.

President Mugabe was nowhere to be seen, and in the corridors of the election commission reporters pursued the hapless election chief demanding an official announcement of the results already pouring in from around the country.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, had fanned out workers around the country to relay back each count as it was posted.

Yesterday morning, with a third of the results in hand, they claimed a victory of more than 60 per cent, unwilling to wait for official word from the commission.

“This far — short of a miracle — we have won this election beyond any reasonable doubt,” Tendai Biti, the party’s secretary-general, told a press conference in Harare. He accused the election commission of holding back its announcement in an attempt to massage the results and steal the election for Mr Mugabe.

“The regime is at a loss and it is taking its time deliberately,” he said. Election observers added to the clamour, warning Harare not to stall further as the results were already in the public domain.

George Chiweshe, the chairman of the election commission, said that it was important not to rush, telling reporters the first results would be announced at 6am today. “It’s an absolute necessity that all results be meticulously analysed,” he said.

Observer groups who also collected results posted at polling stations confirmed that their figures matched those of the MDC. “I have no doubt that the large part, if not all, results are known,” Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliament observers, said. “It is frustrating.”

Observers cautioned that any further delay would only exacerbate tensions in the country. “Clearly the delay is fuelling speculation that something might be going on,” Noel Kututwa, head of the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network, said.

In the days before the elections, Mr Mugabe repeatedly warned the Opposition that they must accept his inevitable victory to avoid Kenya-style post-election violence. With the mounting results in the Opposition’s favour, and still no official count, tensions were rising.

Riot police, armoured vehicles and water cannon were deployed to the streets of Harare and the southern city of Bulawayo last night, dispersing celebrating opposition supporters who had taken, dancing, to the streets, making the sign of an open hand, the symbol of Mr Tsvangirai’s party.

In Bulawayo police dispersed MDC supporters and party workers who had gathered at a command centre. In Harare, in the slums of Mbare, a long-time opposition stronghold, drivers hooted their horns as Tsvangirai supporters danced and sang “Give Tsvangirai his chance”. Mr Tsvangirai is widely held to have been the real winner of elections in 2002 and 2005, but was robbed of victory by vote rigging for Mr Mugabe.

“We don’t trust the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission), which is not independent,” Mr Biti said, explaining why the party had not waited for the official announcement. The commission had warned the MDC against declaring, claiming that it was illegal, but party lawyers argued that the information was already in the public domain.

“We made a mistake in 2002 by not claiming our victory. We made a mistake in 2005 by not claiming our victory. We will not accept the results of any stolen election.”

On Saturday Mr Mugabe’s spokesman fired a warning shot to Mr Tsvangirai not to claim early victory. “He announces results, declares himself and the MDC winner and then what?” George Charamba said. “Declare himself President of Zimbabwe? It is called a coup d’├ętat and we all know how coups are handled.”

Zimbabwe’s security chiefs issued a similar warning on Friday, but nothing further has been heard since news of the results began trickling out.

Figures produced by the MDC indicated that in the parliamentary election it had virtually wiped out the ruling Zanu (PF) in Harare and Bulawayo, winning 28 out of 29 seats and 12 out of 12 seats respectively. At least six Cabinet ministers were reported to have lost their seats and one, the Education Minister, went on television to announce his resignation as the votes turned against him in his constituency.

Rural constituencies that had never voted for the Opposition before were among those that the MDC claimed as theirs, including several in the ruling party’s Mashonaland stronghold, and Mr Mugabe’s home town itself.

The parliamentary vote, held alongside the presidential vote, is believed to be indicative of overall voting trends. At polling stations across Bulawayo, long an opposition city, results lists showed meagre returns for Mr Mugabe. At one station, he polled zero.

“What can he do with zero?” Ignatius Dixon, a street vendor, asked. “Nothing. He should leave State House now, so our man can move in.”

But others were more cautious, unable to believe that the man who has ruled Zimbabwe for nearly three decades, taking it from prosperity to destitution, could be on his way out.

Mr Mugabe’s whereabouts were unknown last night, with rumours circulating that he had departed for Malaysia on election day.

from the "hello, you must be going" dept.

The recent protests at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement near Accra, the capital of Ghana, were centered around an issue that is fairly straight forward.

Liberian refugees living in the UNHCR camp have been told it's time to go home. And they're getting $100 in their pockets to help resettle/fix Liberia.

However, many of the refugees, some of whom have been living at the camp for more than a decade, don't want to go back. They'd rather stay in Ghana where they've created a new life or move to a third country (like the U.S.) where there are more opportunities.

A Liberian refugee operating his own business at Buduburam.

There's an interesting Op-Ed piece about the whole affair by Ato Kwamena Dadzie in the Daily Dispatch. It provides not only a look at the issue, it is also an example of the journalistic style in Ghana. It's well worth the read.
Forgive me, but is there still such a thing as the legendary Ghanaian hospitality? Are we still supposed to be most hospitable people on earth? Or we have lost that title too? Otherwise, someone should explain to me why our government is treating our refugee brothers and sisters from Liberia like they were the scum of the earth?

[ MORE ]

Saturday, March 29, 2008

from the "and speaking of pivo" dept.

Mark your calendars!


from the "the beer of kings" dept.

How about some nice Moldovan beer:


from the "lodestar" dept.

"Look at those huge tracts of land!"

The nutjobs over at Vice Magazine are at it again. Plucking yet another destination from my "places I want to visit" list, they've just posted a 14-part video series on North Korea. Bastards!

Check it out HERE.

And just so you know, here's my official list of places I want to visit (in no particular order):

1. Chernobyl (scheduled for May)
2. Transnistria (scheduled for May)
3. North Korea
4. Siberia, specifically The Trans-Siberian Railway
5. Antarctica
6. Wolfville, Nova Scotia
7. Australia (and all of it this time!)

Happy trails!

Friday, March 28, 2008

from the "will robinson" dept.

New terrorist warning colour schemes for Spring 2008:

Or, for the dog lover:

Tip o' the hat to Wired's Threat Level.

Happy Fried-day!

from the "travels with my rant" dept.

Since I've been unable to produce the ultimate travel show, I'm always on the look out for one that meets my high/bizarre standards.

Few pass the test. But I think I've finally found a winner from the folks at Vice Magazine. If this doesn't make you want to run off to an arms bazaar in Pakistan, then nothing will.

I, for one, am looking forward to the mutant boar hunting in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. It'll be atom-a-riffic! And Hula Girl is excited too!


[h/t to REW for the title]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

from the "thursdog" dept.

Fast week. Good.

Payday. Good.

Big trip just four weeks away. Good.

Weekend begins shortly. Good.

Seeing Ange in Oz? Excellent!

More content to come...


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

from the "live free or die" dept.

Since I've been back in Canadaland I've not had to pay rent. I've been lucky. Between housesitting gigs and friendly couches, I've been able to live in one of North America's most expensive cities rent free.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I can live free in Mexico too.

From Gadling:
Many homeowners in Mexico are Americans and Canadians who spend half the year chilling out in Mexico and the other half at home. Understandably, a major concern for them is leaving their homes empty for months at a time. They are looking for trustworthy and reliable people to take care of their homes, keep their plants alive, babysit pets and discourage theft. When all is said and done, it's a pretty easy job, and somebody's got to do it.

Ads for housesitters in the Baja run in many of the local publications like the Gringo Gazette (I know...the name really is awesome) and the El Calendario de Todos Santos. Being a green thumb, pet-lover, or fixer-upper type can help to secure a position and a solid reference will do wonders. Housesitting is a great way to check out Mexico and the most you have to worry about are utilities and food.

How great is that? You could live rent-free for months in Mexico (sweet!), possibly in a really swanky pad (even sweeter) How could it get any better?

For the whole post, click HERE.

Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

from the "history repeating" dept.

It's hard to believe Roadspill is five years old today. Five!

It all began with this post written back in 2003. At the time I was in a CBC edit suite with editor Chris Holmes and we were cranking out the television. And an adventure was looming:
March 25, 2003.
The first entry.

The big news right now is that I am in the middle of finishing 5 television stories for a national kids show in Canada. So the operative word is busy. But -- I have booked the next adventure: Belize and Guatemala. A little work, a little play.

Work: Screening footage for a documentary on borders. Working on a cooking show.

Fun: Exploring the Belize-Guatemala border. And the tri-point where Mexico, Belize & Guatemala meet.
We delivered all the TV items and I travelled to Central America. While I didn't visit the tripoint, I did celebrate my birthday in Livingston, Guatemala. Was that really five years ago?

Surprisingly, things haven't changed that much.

America is still at war in Iraq. I'm still working at the CBC as a freelancer and preparing for another big trip that includes tripoints (in Ukraine). And I'm getting ready to mark another significant birthday... this time while watching the Mariners at Seattle's Safeco Field.

Five years. Amazing! And thanks to you readers out there. From Kumasi to Belize City to Copenhagen to Winnipeg to Bristol to Halifax to Vancouver and 88 countries around the world.


Monday, March 24, 2008

from the "gone fission 2" dept.

Thanks to the rain, the trip to America was cut short. No matter. I saved a bunch of money... which I'll likely need for this tour:

Chernobyl in the spring. How romantic!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

from the "and now for something completely different" dept.

The long weekend is finally here and I'm hitting the road!

After working nearly two weeks straight (split between my promo gig and freelance) I'm ready for a break. It should have started on Good Friday, but I had to finish off another article... and that took a good 7 hours.

But it's done.

I'm heading down to the USA today (unless there are crazy 4 hour border line-ups like Friday) for a two day photo safari. No itinerary, just wandering around with no particular place to go.

Well, there are some particular places: the Bellingham Democratic office to pick up my Obama toque, Target for some T-shirts and naproxin (I have a 70-year-old's back) and Seattle Bottleworks for some Baltika 6 and/or 9.

I'd also like to snag a bottle of Ron Zacapa Centanario 23-year-old Guatemalan rum, but the Washington State Liquor Stores website doesn't list it anymore. This is not good.

The BIG trip to Denmark/Romania/Moldova/Ukraine is about a month away. I've got about a week of time to kill in Denmark at the end of the trip and I was thinking about renting a car and driving to Germany and the Netherlands. But seeing the cost of the Euro ($1.60), I'm not so sure. It's going to be expensive!!

I continue to love my MacBook but I despise the keyboard. It makes typing so hard that I actually prefer using an old windows desktop for writing. I might have to get a full-size keyboard in the US as well.

Right. I best get my arse in gear and head south. Photos to come!


Friday, March 21, 2008

from the "blew it again" dept.

Think the surge is working? Think again. And guess who's torpedoing any progress. Yep, President Lame Duck:

From Crooks and Liars and The Guardian:
In an investigation carried out by GuardianFilms for Channel 4, we uncover how thousands of Iraqis employed at $10 a day by the US to take on al-Qaida are threatening to go on strike because they say they have been used by the 'Americans to do their dirty work' and haven't been paid.
The video is HERE.

Our occupation of Iraq and the fragile surge has been all but blacked out in the U.S. media, but thankfully, the foreign press is still out there trying to bring the truth to the rest of the world. A big part of the surge was the Awakening Project. The goal of the project was to pay Sunni and former insurgents to fight al Qaeda and drive them out of their towns. The result is 80,000 angry men and a surge on the brink of collapse.

Despite spending some $12 billion dollars a month in Iraq, the Bush administration has failed to pay most of the Awakening members and their patience is all but gone. Thousands of men have given up and walked away from the program and resentment toward the U.S. has reached a boiling point. This video from The Guardian is a real eye opener as they go inside these groups and let them tell their stories in their own words.

They hear news accounts that the U.S. military is taking credit for the surge and they are angered. They feel that they are doing the dirty work that Americans should be doing and they feel they’re being used as propaganda to sway the U.S. presidential elections. Senator John McCain has staked his entire presidential campaign on Iraq and the success of the surge. I hope that he, along with all Americans, has the chance to watch this video and see the real surge.

from the "crisis at Buduburam" dept.

A lot of stories have been posted about the events this week at the Buduburam refugee camp (or "settlement" in UN speak). The camp's population is made up mainly of Liberian refugees who are scheduled to be repatriated with their homeland. But many would rather go to a third country like Canada.

It's a complex issue that has many sides to it - though many accounts are based on emotional "reporting" rather than fact.

Last week, my friend and former colleague Seth Kwame Boateng reported from the scene as scores of women and children were arrested during protests against UNHCR's repatriation plans. His story is HERE.

Seth and Joy-FM (Accra) covered the unfolding story all week.

Scorpions set on Liberian Refugees

Protesting refugees plead for clemency

Internationally, the AFP reported that Liberian refugees don't want to quit Ghana, dream of the West.

It's going to be interesting to see how the UNHCR and Government of Ghana resolve this complex and emotional problem and how the press will report it.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

from the "bunker spill" dept.

I've got a thing for secret places, underground lairs and especially bunkers. REW tipped me off to a Gizmodo story about a massive bunker built by the West German government to survive a nuclear attack.

Judging from the gigantastic subterranean structure's facilities, filled with a mixture of grey machinery and bright 60s designer decor, they planned to spend it in style. Obviously, for a long time, because they had it all: lounges, emergency broadcast station, laundromats, dental care and even hairdresses (for the upcoming giant rat Earth overlords, I guess.)

The $4-billion Cold War monstrosity has just been declassified by the German government.
The story with lots of pictures and video is HERE.

from the "take me to your leader" dept.

And speaking of John McCain, here's some cool one-of-a-kind-robots to drool over...

There's many more in the GALLERY.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

from the "gone fission" dept.

It looks that dreams might actually come true. I may get a chance to visit Chernobyl in May!

Click on the reactor for tour company info and HERE for the Lonely Planet take. Sounds like fun, no?


from the "can you hear me now" dept.

Now THIS is a great idea... from The Tyee:

Why a Little BC Town Wants to Banish Cell Phones

Looking for a nice quiet place to get away and unwind? The Village of New Denver in eastern British Columbia wants to make an unusual sales pitch:

Come, stay, and never hear the ring of a cell phone.

New Denver's citizens voted against the introduction of mobile phone service in a referendum in January. The vote was a close one -- 117 to 110 -- but the village council said before the referendum that it would live by the result. And it wants Telus to do the same.

New Denver (population about 600) is located in the Slocan Valley north of Nelson. [ MORE ]


from the "ch-ch-changes" dept.

So the "stupid" war is having a profound effect on the US economy. And, because economies tend to be linked, it's having a profound effect on everyone.

The US Dollar is tanking and now comes word that some forex bureaux are refusing to take the US Dollar because it's falling so fast that they'll lose money. Sounds like the Zimbabwean Dollar!

But could the US Dollar, once the defacto currency of world travellers, actually collapse?

A documentary that aired recently on Dutch television asked that question. From BoingBoing:
"The documentary was based on a script made by an economist who was assigned the task to make a 'what if' scenario about how the dollar could crash within 24 hours. Americans are living beyond their means and Asia is currently financing that. But eventually the Asians/Europeans will stop financing the USA and then the bubble will burst."

That's not good...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

from the "it's the sub-primes, stupid" dept.

There's some scary stuff going on south of the border... is this another long-lasting gift from W to the people of the U.S.A.? Maybe not directly, but a stupid war and a corrupt administration don't do much for the economy. Four More Years! Four More Years!

Take note the last sentence below. What does that say about the state of today's media?

The details and link from BoingBoing:
In this chilling BBC clip, a newsteam ventures to one of LA's new shantytowns made up of people who've lost their homes in the subprime meltdown and now live in tents, improvised shacks or RVs on abandoned land. It's the contemporary Hooverville, and, as the Subliterate Cinephile notes, I wonder why I found out about this from the BBC and not US media. Link

Monday, March 17, 2008

from the "jaysus, not that song" dept.

What would St. Patrick's Day be without this stirring rendition of Danny Boy?

from the "get it off your chest" dept.

Hey Journalist... not having a good day? Check out -- you can rant and rave and get it off your chest.

Having a good day?

Then read about the hell your fellow scribes are going through!


from the "I hope there's a cure" dept.

Left-leaning Brave New Films has launched a viral video campaign to show how wacko Faux News commentary spreads to other media outlets. These are the same folks who brought you the eye-opening documentaries Outfoxed and Iraq For Sale.

From Wired's Threat Level blog:
In an e-mail blast, the group's founder Robert Greenwald asks supporters to sign a petition that he says he plans on sending to news rooms chiefs. He wants the rest of the media to stop following Fox's lead.

This video is the latest in a series that Brave New Films has made over the past few months. The series is called Fox Attacks!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

from the "olympic ideals" dept.

The brutality continues in Tibet.

Some shocking revelations (like 300 people possibly slaughtered courtesy of the 2008 Olympic host country) HERE.

The latest from BBC and Al-J.

And just in case you forgot what the Olympics stand for, here's the official mission statement:
The Games have always brought people together in peace to respect universal moral principles. The upcoming Games will feature athletes from all over the world and help promote the Olympic spirit.

Friday, March 14, 2008

from the "two systems one brutal regime" dept.

Ya know, if Saddam was such a baddie, why did the IOC award/reward another dubious regime with the Olympics? After the events in Tibet today, that question carries even more weight:

China: The myth:

The Reality (or what do China and Burma have in common?):

From BBC: Deaths reported in Tibet protests

Clashes between protesters and security forces in Tibet's main city of Lhasa have left at least two people dead, according to reports.

An emergency official told AFP news agency that many people had been hurt and an unspecified number had died.

The US-based Radio Free Asia quoted witnesses who said they had seen at least two bodies on Lhasa's streets.

Rallies have continued all week in what are said to be the largest protests against Beijing's rule in 20 years.


How soon we forget:

from the "Franz Liszt would be proud" dept.

Sometimes it's good to be on the list. It means you're getting into a concert or event for free.

Sometimes it's not so good. Like being on America's terrorist watch list. But at least you'll have lots of company.

The ACLU has a counter to show how many people are on the watch list. Would you believe it's nearing a million?

From the ACLU:

Why are there so many names on the U.S. government's terrorist list?

In September 2007, the Inspector General of the Justice Department reported that the Terrorist Screening Center (the FBI-administered organization that consolidates terrorist watch list information in the United States) had over 700,000 names in its database as of April 2007 - and that the list was growing by an average of over 20,000 records per month.1

At that rate, our list will have a million names on it by July. If there were really that many terrorists running around, we'd all be dead.

Terrorist watch lists must be tightly focused on true terrorists who pose a genuine threat. Bloated lists are bad because

  • they ensnare many innocent travelers as suspected terrorists, and
  • because they waste screeners' time and divert their energies from looking for true terrorists.

Small, focused watch lists are better for civil liberties and for security.

The uncontroversial contention that Osama Bin Laden and a handful of other known terrorists should not be allowed on an aircraft is being used to create a monster that goes far beyond what ordinary Americans think of when they think about a "terrorist watch list."

This is not just a problem of numbers. The numbers are merely a symptom. What's needed is fairness. If the government is going to rely on these kinds of lists, they need checks and balances to ensure that innocent people are protected. (See ACLU Backgrounder on Watch Lists for more)

Who's on the Watch List? You'd be surprised. Check it out HERE.

[h/t boingboing]

Happy travels!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

from the "USSR not going to believe these prices" dept.

I've always had this odd fascination for all things Russian (and Eastern European). I love reading about that part of the world. I love travelling there (Ukraine next month!). And I'd kinda-sorta like to live there for a spell.

This might be my chance.

The Guardian is reporting that the Russian Army is having a fire sale of sorts. Auctioning off everything from huge tracts of land to some lovely properties. Unfortunately, no former-Soviet republics are for sale. Damn!

The Russian army is to auction off property ranging from mansions to barracks and even whole towns to raise cash to build modern housing for its officers, according to reports.

The daily paper Izvestia said yesterday that more than 20 army properties near Moscow, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad and Vladivostok would be offered to the highest bidders in the first auction on April 8.

Among the properties for sale, Izvestia said, were "fabulous mansions and guest houses, dilapidated garrison towns, unused shooting ranges and vast tracts of neglected land on which no human has set foot for years". The paper claimed that the army occupied more land than the territories of Greece or Austria.

The rest of the story HERE.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

from the "faux news redux" dept.

Now this is something... a story about Fox News and how it tried to kill a report about chemical giant Monsanto. Truly amazing.

The fact that a hardcore Republican friend of mine send it to me speaks volumes...

from "sperm tale" dept.

Engadget has a bizarro story today about how salmon sperm make LED lights shine more brightly:

See, the problem with bioengineering isn't moral or ethical dilemmas, or even
homicidal robo-droids enslaving humanity. It's that if you let researchers go
wild, eventually they'll find a way to make LEDs out of salmon sperm,
threatening the sanctity (and sperm-free-ness) of your entire gadget-based
Read all about it HERE.

from the "funny pages" dept.

First up, the latest edition of The Modern World:

[click image for large view]

And next... this WaPo (via MSNBC) story on the now common ritual of the post-dalliance press conference featuring the stoic wife and the jutting chin:

[Honey, I think I might be... Republican.]
We are riveted, but why? Nearly every post-scandal news conference is like every other. There's a script to these things, as we all know, and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer followed it to the letter yesterday in seeming to acknowledge his involvement with a prostitute and apologizing for it. [MORE]
And in sports: it's primary day in Mississippi!

More to come!

Monday, March 10, 2008

from the "would you like some stuff with your stuff" dept.

One of the great things about having no fixed address is that I'm not encumbered with stuff. No CDs, no books, no piles of unread magazines. Not having stuff is quite liberating. It gives you freedom.

On the flip-side, there are those that have too much stuff. They are surrounded by it and it begins to define who they are. "I'm a failure unless I have the biggest house, fastest car, loudest stereo."

And then there are those who are completely and utterly controlled by their stuff. Possessed is a documentary that takes you inside the world of people who hoard. It's fascinating and sad.

POSSESSED from Martin Hampton on Vimeo.

[h/t boingboing]

Sunday, March 09, 2008

from the "theme song" dept.

Ramblin' Man is a great tune that Lemon Jelly released back in 2002.

I heard it this morning on the Sirius satellite radio Chill channel. It overwhelmed me with wanderlust... and, of course, brought back a flood of memories of past travels.

You don't need to watch this video as it's lame. But crank up the volume, close your eyes and listen to the WHOLE song. Prepare to be transported...

Feel like it's time to start packin'? Darn tootin'!


from the "birds of a feather" dept.

Love this photoshop mash-up... it's McBush!

Jeez, now I'm humming the MacGruber theme...

He got some microdermabrasion and a tasteful brow lift!
Some collagen injections and a butt-load of hair plugs!
He's never felt better about himself!

from the "Sunday morning telly" dept.

Here's some morning humour/hijinx from the folks at the Australian comedy programme "The Chasers War on Everything"...

Up first: A comparison of two different people filming "sensitive" sites. One is dressed like an American tourist and the other looks slightly more Middle Eastern...

And then they take this piss out of crackpot TV preachers:

Happy Sunday!

[Tip 'o the hat to Crooks and Liars]

Saturday, March 08, 2008

from the "today's science lesson" dept.

The ocean is fascinating. Relaxing and peaceful one moment; scary as hell the next.

I've been lucky. I've lived on both the Pacific and the Atlantic. And I've actually lived on both side of the Atlantic. To say this prairie boy is drawn to the big pond is an understatement.

Most people enjoy walking along the waters edge looking for treasure. A nice shell, a cool piece of wood or a message tucked inside a bottle.

Some people are really into beachcombing and they find all sorts of stuff. From Friday's Globe and Mail:

In 60 years of scouring the gnarled shores of Canada's western fringe, Neil and Betty Carey have salvaged just about every strange thing that will float.

There were the empty survival suit, the closet's worth of Japanese shoes, the whale carcasses and the Coast Guard rescue dummy - all washed up along the Queen Charlotte Islands, which intercept and strain the great spin cycle of Pacific currents like a giant colander.

In and around their home in Sandspit, B.C., the Careys have pack-ratted about 4,000 glass fishing floats and numerous messages in bottles from schoolchildren, cruise ship passengers and lovesick sailors.

The rest of the story is HERE.

Mentioned in the story is something called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I've heard of this before -- as the North Pacific Gyre. A vortex of ocean currents rotating clockwise in a circular pattern. What happens there is not good. Stuff goes in. Years later some stuff comes out. And it doesn't have a very good effect on the environment.

It's like the Garbage Triangle. Except nothing actually disappears.

CBS News did a story on the Gyre a few years go. It's fascinating stuff and would be cool if it weren't such an environmental nightmare.

And if you don't want to sit through a 30 second pharmaceutical spot before the CBS item, watch this video.

Class dismissed.

from the "real fake news" dept.

Just how faux is Fox? Here's the facts, courtesy Crooks and Liars. Prepare to shake thine head.

And... if you feel the need to read more about that Marsden character, check out this SALON.COM piece from last year.

Her exploits always have me humming a familiar Dr. Suess tune.


Friday, March 07, 2008

from the "people in your neighbourhood" dept. has a great puppet/photoshop contest going on. Check it out... HERE.

from the "would you like some crackers" dept.

OK. I admit it. I'm white -- though it's not hard to tell.

But I've always considered myself rather worldly and a little bit different from average white folks.

Not so.

According to blog "Stuff White People Like," I'm no different than the rest of you crackers.

Here's the bottom part of the list:
  • #84 T-Shirts
  • #83 Bad Memories of High School
  • #82 Hating Corporations
  • #81 Graduate School
  • #80 The Idea of Soccer
  • #79 Modern Furniture
  • #78 Multilingual Children
  • #77 Musical Comedy
  • #76 Bottles of Water
Argh! We're all the same!!

For #75 through #1 point your browser HERE.

And, a tip 'o the hat to my favourite Cheryl with an "L" for the link.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

from the "highways to hell" dept.

You may have seen pictures of the world's most dangerous roads before. But Dark Roasted Blend has an outstanding five-part series on some best (worst?) fright-filled drives.

I've even been on one road that made their list: Albania's Tirana to Elbasan highway. Think driving through the Rockies is tough?

But not all crazy roads fill drivers with thoughts of an early demise. Sometimes, they're just plain wonderful to drive -- as the crew of BBC's Top Gear discovered in Italy:


from the "nice tubes" dept.

Check this bad boy out:

What is it? Why, a tube amp for your iPod, silly!

The deets HERE.

[via Engadget]

from the "assholes and nature don't mix" dept.

Some people are soooo stupid that it's amazing they remember to breathe.

A case in point: This dumbass tourist hoping to get a cool picture with a wild animal (in this case a croc):

"Check out the pretty fish!"

Ah, but therein lies the problem: Animals are WILD. Ergo:

"Holy f*ck! Am I ever a dumbass!"

The whole story is in the Telegraph... HERE.

And... as an added bonus, my list of things you don't f*ck with:

1. The ocean.
2. The mountains.
3. Wild life.
4. Terrorists.

None of the above have much of a sense of humour. Got more? Comment, below!

from the "gilligan's workshop" dept.

Are coconut shells going to waste? Steve Lodefink thinks so. That's why he's looking for new uses for them...

The whole story is [HERE] at Dinosaurs and Robots...

[via boingboing]

from the "take me to your dealer" dept.

From boingboing -- a story about an Atlanta bar owner who created a robot to videotape and scare away ne'er-do-wells.

Late at night several times a week, Rufus Terrill powers up the 4-foot-tall, 300 pound device and reaches for a remote control packed with two joysticks and various knobs and switches. Standing on a nearby corner, he maneuvers the machine down the block, often to a daycare center where it accosts what Terrill says are drug dealers, vagrants and others who shouldn't be there. [MORE]

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

from the "what is the meaning of life?" dept.

Boingboing has a piece on a nifty unit that extends the reach of the InterTubes to remote locations: The Question Box.

The Question Box is a project from UC Berkeley's Rose Shuman to bring some of the benefits of the information on the Internet to places that are too remote or poor to sustain a live Internet link.

It works by installing a single-button intercom in the village that is linked to a nearby town where there is a computer with a trained, live operator.

Questioners press the intercom, describe their query to the operator, who runs it, reads the search results, and discusses them with the questioner (it's like those "executive assistant" telephone services, but for people who live in very rural places).


Monday, March 03, 2008

from the "sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't" dept.

[Sometimes you feel like a nut...]

If you've lived in B.C. for any length of time, you've likely heard the name Rachel Marsden. She's had a few run-ins with the law... and she's a conservative commentator [blerk!].

She's making headlines yet again... and *surprise* it has to do with affairs of the heart.

From the Times of London:

Ms Marsden first came to public attention in Canada in the late 1990s when, as a college swimming star, she accused her team coach of sexual harrassment. The coach, who was fired and reinstated, claimed that she had in fact harassed him.

In 2004, she was given a conditional discharge with one year's probation for criminally harassing a Vancouver radio host following their break-up. Last September she was again accused of harassment after she used her blog to accuse a Canadian counter-terrorism officer, with whom she had had a two-year affair, of passing her secret documents.
The whole story is HERE.

Read on, and don't hurt yourself shaking your head...

from the "grin and bear it" dept.

Wild animals. They're cute and cuddly when they're young. But eventually they grow up and become decidedly less cuddly. Take Knut for example:


From the Daily Mail:

"A year ago, he was a cute and cuddly ball of white fur who captured the hearts of millions worldwide.

But Knut the polar bear has grown up fast - as this startled young visitor to Berlin Zoo discovered... " [MORE]

Sunday, March 02, 2008

from the "saving it up" dept.

Yes, I realize I should write more on Roadspill than just simply posting links. But, in my own defense, there hasn't that been much to write about.

No arsehole roommates, no little-lost-souls with their laughable sense of superiority, no cool adventures in far-off lands.

That said, I'll at least make an effort at an update:

Working full-time is a challenge. Especially with other projects on the go. It's not that I'm not used to working a lot -- it's more a case of having to deal with a fairly rigid workday. 9-to-5 is tough! How does one fit all the other stuff into a weekend?!

It was a bit different last week. I worked three 6pm to 2am shifts and then two 9-to-5 shifts. The turn-around was tough, but working nights allowed me the time and clearheadedness to finish the second of three magazine articles about development projects in Ghana.

I was also able to book tickets to see the Seattle Mariners (vs Oakland) on April 26 and 27. This is part of my upcoming trip to Denmark/Romania/Ukraine/Moldova et al. Basically:

April 25: Finish at the CBC.
April 26: Head to Seattle to see the M's.
April 27: See the M's again in an afternoon game.
April 28: Fly to Copenhagen before a 3 week journey around the breadbasket of the former-Soviet Union. Hello perogies and garlic coils!

I also booked a flight from Bucharest, Romania to Chisinau, Moldova on Air Moldova. Part of their fleet is from Soviet times. Old Aeroflot mainstays like Tupolev-134s and Yakovlev Yak-40s.

I've been able to put some money aside because I'm still living at no fixed address. Thanks to the generosity of my friends and good timing, I've been able to bounce between house-sitting opportunities and couch surfing. So far, so good.

More stability arrives in April when I start a three-month house-sitting "gig."

In other news: I've been suffering a bit of "old man's hip." My degree in medicine tells me that the problem is directly related to porking up in Africa. And at Christmas. However, once the sun shines on a more regular basis and I'm not moving every few days, I'll take my bike out of storage and start building the Ks. I'm sure some regular exercise will do wonders.

Well... It's now 8:30 on a Sunday morning... time to run off for a coffee and fat-laden muffin at Honey's.

I'm off!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

from the "turning japanese" dept.

Now this is cool: A Japanese Karaoke version of "We are the World". It's freakishly authentic and well worth a few minutes of your time.

Is that the real Michael Jackson?!

[h/t: gigglesugar]