27 December 2010

Bermuda Aerial Photos 1940 & 1973


Happy New Year (almost)!

Thanks to the Bermuda Government Survey Section and the National Museum of Bermuda, I've been able to obtain and put online high-resolution aerial photographs of Bermuda from 1940 and 1973. I've converted them into Google Maps KML tiles format which allows you to use a standard web browser to pan and zoom into the highest level of detail. In some cases this is under 1 meter (more detail than the Google satellite photos, for example). These photos, in combination with today's satellite imagery, are a valuable tool for seeing how Bermuda has developed over the past 70 years. All you have to do is count the numer of white roofs, and the amount of open space available.

These aerial photos and metadata are made available courtesy of the survey section, and are copyright the Bermuda Government. The photos and data may not be reproduced, etc. without their prior permission.

The page allows you to fade between the historical view and the current Google Earth satellite view using a slider in the top right-hand corner — to view just the historical aerial photo move the slider all the way to the right, like so:

For the technically curious, the original data was in MrSid format, I used MapTiler to convert the data, and the converted data is made available via Amazon S3. The converted data uses about 8 gigabytes of space (1 gigabyte for the 1940 data and 7 gigabytes for the 1973 data), and was converted and uploaded over the course of a few weeks using a great deal of patience.

Visit my website decouto.bm for more Bermuda data and my library of Bermuda documents.

20 December 2010

Bermuda Election Data On-line, updated

I've updated my on-line Bermuda elections data to include the 15 November 2010 Bye-Election. There you can browse elections results by date, constituency, or candidate, back to 1989.

29 November 2010

Frank Manning: Bermudian Politics in Transition

Manning book cover

I've scanned and uploaded a copy of Frank E. Manning's "Bermudian Politics in Transition:Race, Voting, and Public Opinion", from 1978. It is a study of Bermuda politics after the 1976 general election by Manning, a Canadian anthropologist who has written widely on Bermuda and the Caribbean. Download the PDF here

From inside the front cover:

Bermudian Politics in Transition explores the complex process that gave Bermuda's black Opposition a fifty per cent gain of parliamentary seats in 1976, split the ranks of Government, toppled the Premier, sparked a major race riot in 1977 and generated a mass momentum that endangers a white- controlled colonial order that has endured for more than three centuries. Based on survey research as well as intensive fieldwork, the book focuses on two areas: 1) trends in voting and party preference; 2) public opinion on the principal issues that have occupied Bermudian political attention since the inception of party politics in the 1960's.


Frank Manning has given us a book that has been long overdue in Bermuda: A detailed analysis of contemporary political thought and action.

Bermudian Politics in Transition will be compelling reading for anybody who is the least bit interested in Bermuda politics (and that seems to include everybody these days!), and who wants to learn more about what's what and why.

It will also be an indispensable tool for political strategists and pundits alike, unearthing some interesting, occasionally startling, but always enlightening insights into where Bermudians, the voters, stand on the issues of the day.

This book could literally prompt significant changes in party platforms before the next election.

It contains a veritable gold mine of information which goes a long way to explaining why the PLP picked up five more seats and increased its popular support in 1976, and conversely why the UBP lost those five seats and slipped in popular support.

Frank Manning's most fascinating find - and his surveys uncover plenty - has to be the pivotal role black women played in the PLP's stride forward.

His surveys also put paid to the popular notion that increased support only came from young blacks who were voting for the first time.

They also reveal long-suspected discontent among the white middle class with the direction in which the UBP appeared headed going into the '76 election: background to the movement within the party that toppled their leader, and Premier, Sir John Sharpe.

Bermudian Politics in Transition sets an exciting stage for the next election which could make or break the PLP .

As Frank Manning details, it was their shift to a more 'respectable' image in 1976 - toned-down socialistic rhetoric and emphasis on spiritual values and family life - which won them support from new places.

On the other hand, all is not lost for the UBP. Mr. Manning's book also clearly documents how they can shore up initial support and make inroads into growing support for the Opposition.

It may be, as Mr. Manning's surveys show, that voters believe their Government is only as good as its Opposition and they only wanted a more competitive Parliament.

And, after all, it is the voters of this country who will ultimately decide; and it's refreshing to see what they think for a change - which is what this book is all about.

Bermudian Politics in Transition is a welcome addition to any bookshelf of Bermuda history and the first in what I hope is a long line of its kind.

It also represents a great deal of hard work by an independent outsider whose objectivity makes this work that much more valuable.

John Barritt
Editor, Bermuda Sun

10 June 2010

Stem Cell Tourism, platinum style

I think this is what Ewart Brown is aiming for with his Brown-Darrell clinic, stem-cell tourism with platinum leaf: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-06/offshore-operations-crossing-atlantic-pursuit-stem-cells

"It’s 2:30 in the afternoon in the Dominican Republic, and Karen Velline, a 66-year-old grandmother from Cold Spring, Minnesota, is lying on an operating table, swaddled in sterile surgical sheets. She’s just moments away from a procedure so experimental that no doctor will perform it on U.S. soil. Yet she calmly stares up at the ceiling, more excited than anxious. Despite the controversy surrounding it, Velline believes that this procedure—which she has paid Regenocyte Therapeutic, a stem-cell company in Bonita Springs, Florida, $64,000 in cash to perform—could save her from a debilitating lung condition. After months of anticipation and planning, she’s ready for things to get under way."

09 February 2010

Valencia Progress Report Day 2

Reminder: live updates at http://twitter.com/decouto

On Tuesday we got up late and took the bus to Valencia's old town, a charming district of old buildings, churches, squares, and yes, tapas bars. We walked up into the tower of the cathedral, which treated us to a magnificent view of the city, straight to the ocean. We could see the wing of the BMW/Oracl boat looming over the top of the container port's derricks. It's bloody big!

Another highlight was the central market, full of gorgeous looking fresh produce, cheeses, and of course, the ubiquitous jamon hanging everywhere. We strolled the aisles of the fish section: live eels & lobsters crawling around, fish, squid, whatever you wanted, all laid out on ice. I only felt a little queasy...

It was a beautiful crisp days under a clear blue sky with a fresh breeze, so after lunch we walked back down the old river bed. At some point they diverted the river around the city, and created a park with trails, trees, and sports fields in the old river bed. It's a little warmer than the street as it is sunk down out of the breeze, with the old walls of the river banks forming the sides, and criss-crossed with traffic and pedestrian bridges. The park ends at the palace of arts and science, a stunning collection of way-out buildings rising out of cool blue pools and covered in shiny white tiles. The future is now! Claudio's apartment's balcony looks out over the park, and I am looking at the Opera House all lit up as I write this.

Tomorrow's start is delayed by at least two hours until noon due to weather, so we'll get a little more sleep tonight.

Stay tuned!


Valencia Progress Report Day 1

Reminder: get live updates (sort of) at http://twitter.com/decouto

What do tax attorneys, NASCAR, and stunt planes have to do with each other?

The answer is, of course, the America's Cup.

It's been a long two days since Somers and I arrived in Valencia, and despite the lack of racing it's been eventful nonetheless.

We woke up at 5am on Monday to watch the BMW/Oracle boat leave the dock, and participate in a bit of a pump-up ceremony. Loud rock music, floodlights, and air-horns all at 6.30 in the morning: bra bra brap braaaaaaaaaaa...... I am not sure the boat's crew appreciated all the excitement as they might have wished to build up to their 10am start more slowly. But the 'Family and Friends' spectators enjoyed it, as long as they didn't get an airhorn in the ear.

From there we bused back to the base in the AC harbour, and then another short bus ride to get on the fast ferry that served as the spectator boat at around 8.30am. However, due to the lack of wind and the delayed start, we sat at the dock until around 9.30. We finally left and went about 20 miles out to the start line, where Alinghi and BMW/Oracle were drifting around. The oat driver did a good job of maneuvering the ferry so everyone got a chance to view the boats up close from either side, as there wasn't a lot of external deck. We even got a 'drift by' from Oracle, so everyone was whipping out their cameras. And of course, Larry's big boat was out there along with a flotilla of very wicked looking RIBs tooling around full of very fashionably dressed crew and support. Apparently this season the fashionable AC crew are wearing all white. Not my first choice in foul weather gear colour, but I guess they can just get new kit if it gets dirty.

At 2pm racing was cancelled for the day and we all raced back to the dock. By this point Somers and I had already been getting familiar with the Coronas, and back at the base there was more open bar to be had, including Mojitos. Many of them. I met a few interesting people, including the team's tax attorney. Apparently he was instrumental in helping them save a lot of money on sales tax when they had their boat built in the US. I also met a NASCAR technician -- he knows nothing about sailing, but was brought in to build the wiring harnesses. I asked him what the difference between NASCAR and the boat was, he said nothing... it's all aviation technology brought to other applications.

After a few more mojitos, it was off for tapas down the street. The bar was empty except for two Kiwi gentleman. We eventually started talking with then and it turns out they were Sir Michael Fay, and his partner from the 1980s Kiwi 'big boat' campaign against Dennis Conner's cat. So we had quite an interesting conversation with him -- he was the financier and motivation behind that campaign, I enjoyed his perspective. He referred to himself as a farmer... Many people knock the America's cup since it is so different from normal sailing, wiht all the drama, legal hijinks, loads of money, and the chase for technology. But as Fay said, if you want a regatta, go to a regatta... this is the America's Cup, and is its own beast. Remember that it predates the modern organization of sailboat races by many years.

Finally off to another tapas bar, where we crashed a birthday party ('Pimps and Hos') full of AC people and hangers-on. And lots of good food! They had a vat of sangria, and a 1-metre diameter paella dish that sits on its own propane-powered burner. Wicked good food, wicked good drink.

And stunt planes? That's some guy I met at the last bar, he comes from stunt planes and worked on the film that covers the wing. He was pretty passionate about it. Or maybe just drunk....?

07 February 2010

BMW Oracle getting ready

BMW/Oracle getting ready for tomorrow's first America's Cup race. They are changing up their daggerboards. Go USA!


06 February 2010

On my way

I am now on the plane waiting to fly to New York and then Valencia to watch the America's Cup. I am trying out my new iPhone so look for me on Twitter as well as this blog. My Twitter name is decouto.

Away we go!


26 January 2010

Bermuda and the Next Millennium: a view from the past!

Another addition to the Bermuda Library:

Bermuda and the Next Millenium, by Kit Astwood (1997)

A think piece by J. Christopher "Kit" Astwood, OBE, JP. He lays out questions about the future of Bermuda, using a few bits of data to provoke thought. It's interesting to see how many of today's issues were starting to take root in 1997. View the accompanying data in a spreadsheet. He also wrote a follow-up piece in 2000: The Mid-Atantic Economic Miracle: Bermuda. Both documents Copyright J. Christopher Astwood and posted with his permission.

16 January 2010

From the "Bad Ideas" Category

In today's New York Times:

  • Creams Offering Lighter Skin May Bring Risks: For years, Allison Ross rubbed in skin-lightening creams with names like Hyprogel and Fair & White. She said she wanted to even out and brighten the tone of her face, neck and hands. Mrs. Ross, 45, who lives in Brooklyn, also said that she used the lightening creams “to be more accepted in society.” After months of twice-a-day applications, her skin was not only fairer, it had become so thin that a touch would bruise her face. Her capillaries became visible, and she developed stubborn acne. A doctor told her that all three were side effects of prescription-strength steroids in some of the creams, which she had bought over the counter in beauty supply stores..... I'm sorry for her, but doesn't this seem like a bad idea just by thinking about it?

  • A Gangland Bus Tour, With Lunch and a Waiver: LOS ANGELES — The tour organizer received assurances, he says, from four gangs that they would not harass the bus when it passed through their turf. Paying customers must sign releases warning of potential danger. And after careful consideration, it was decided not to have residents shoot water guns at the bus and sell “I Got Shot in South Central” T-shirts..... Sign me up!

03 January 2010

Headline: "UK Has Trust Issues with Bermuda"

Just saw this headline: "UK Has Trust Issues With Bermuda", from Caribbean Life News. I am not sure what kind of outfit that site is: for example, they write that "half the citizenry is expatriate", which is wrong, as a simple web search for "Bermuda Statistics" shows the answer is 17,675 out of 62,059, or 28% according to the 2000 Census. Regardless, this is an example of how Ewart Brown's actions have tainted Bermuda's reputation internationally.