Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canada's 'Maple Spring' via Le Monde's, Martine Jacot - June 25 2012

A nice piece from the Paris Newspaper, Le Monde's Quebec correspondent, Martine Jacot published June 25, 2012 - and translated by:

"Translating the printemps érable"

"Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media's extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English."

At the heart of the “Maple Spring” (Le Monde)

By Martine Jacot (Montreal, Canada, special correspondent)   June 25, 2012 
Original French Text: 
Place Emilie-Gamelin, Wednesday June 13, 8 p.m. As on every night since March 24, crowds are starting to gather at this central Montreal location that is more a park than a square, at the apex of three metro lines and a stone’s throw away from the lecture halls of UQAM, one of the francophone universities of Quebec’s metropolis. It is a festive and friendly atmosphere. Young and old gather around the guitar strummers or the Amerindian Metis and his blondecohort who is distributing peace and friendship tobacco. The police presence is minimal. 
8:15 p.m.: Young people are arriving from all directions, some wearing the sardonic black and white mask of Anonymous, the cyberactivist collective that advocates freedom of speech. A group of 30 or so Montreal police officers (the SPVM) in florescent yellow vests have suddenly formed a row at a good distance north of the park. 
8:35 p.m.: Police make a megaphone announcement: any demonstration for which an itinerary has not been provided at least eight hours in advance is illegal and will be dispersed on the second warning. The crowd forms a circle chanting: “Who owns the streets? —We do!” An immense red flag is raised, brandished by a young blond man who starts making his way towards René-Lévesque Boulevard, followed by the crowd. 
The procession takes shape and continues to grow, winding its way rapidly through the downtown core, passing the open-air stages of the FrancoFolies and following the improvised route of the flag-bearer, who is different every night. Police circulate in cars and on bicycles. They’re having a hard time anticipating the next turn and closing off adjacent streets in time. Banners feature rhyming slogans like: “Des sous pour l’école, pas pour les monopoles.” (Money for school not for monopolies.) 
Meanwhile, in certain Montreal neighbourhoods—mostly but not exclusively working-class and francophone—a rising clamour can be heard. Since May 18, every night at 8 p.m. sharp, people spill out into the streets clanging pots and pans together in rhythm. Young and old, families with kids in pyjamas and strollers greet one another and talk, first on sidewalks then eventually blocking entire intersections for one or two hours, without interrupting the concert. Police monitor the activities from their cars. Most demonstrators have the same distinctive red cloth square pinned to their lapels signifying “our bank accounts are in the red.” It’s the emblem of the Maple Spring. 
Traditionally, as Quebec’s June 24th national holiday approaches, supporters of the francophone province’s independence from the rest of Canada display blue-and-white fleur-de-lys flags on their balconies. This year, large swaths of red cloth are making an appearance on front stoops. On Mont-Royal Avenue, one of them reads: “The strike is student, the struggle is popular.” That same morning, some 200 protestors chanted: “Your solutions are not ours; enough is enough, the social truce is over.” They were gathered in front of The Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel, where the International Economic Forum of the Americas was taking place in the presence of the former chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States, Alan Greenspan, and European Commissioner Michel Barnier, among others. 
So what’s happening in this Quebec that has been a haven of peace and tranquility since the question of independence was laid to rest in the 1980 and 1995 referendums? Entering into its 19th week, the longest strike in the history of the province continues, affecting 154,000 of its 250,000 students and 14 of its 48 pre-university colleges (CEGEPS). With summer vacations approaching, the crowds have thinned somewhat. However, the movement continues to gain support beyond the student core. Artists, unions, citizen groups, social movements and anticapitalist factions will be joining students once again on Friday, June 22 for large demonstrations in Montreal and Quebec City. The demos of March 22, April 22 and May 22 drew record crowds of up to 250,000 each. 
Is it a revolution? No. The former New France, very North American, detests violence and trouble in general. To date, the numerous gatherings organized since mid-February have claimed no victims. The large majority of demonstrations have been peaceful, even though a few black-clad, masked rioters have broken the windows of businesses and banks, as they have sometimes done after sporting events in recent years, either in jubilation or in rage at their teams’ loss. The unprecedented misconduct and mass arrests (close to 1800 in Montreal since mid-February, according to Commander Ian Lafrenière of the SPVM) have left the silent majority watching at home on TV stunned. The government, not helping to dissipate concerns, was quick to stigmatize “the trivialization of violence,” as well as the “Marxists” and “Communists,” who have infiltrated a student movement that is at this point still not very politicized. 
According to most observers, by raising the question of university funding and access to education, the students have sparked a larger social debate that concerns most western democracies, even the wealthiest—especially when taken together with all of the financial austerity measures presented as consequences of a potentially prolonged economic crisis. However, in Quebec (and in Canada generally), the economic situation is not particularly worrisome: the GDP growth rate, which was slightly negative in 2009 for the first time in 18 years, is expected to regain its 2011 level of 1.6%, and unemployment, including youth unemployment, is relatively low. But basic political debates, such as the left-right divide, have long been overshadowed by the national question. The governing Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) is federalist and against independence, while the opposition Parti Québécois (PQ) is for a sovereign Quebec. “In spite of this major difference, the QLP and the PQ have, in turns, governed more or less the same way for the past 36 years,” says 30-year-old Montreal lawyer Rémi Bourget. “The old guard of both parties has failed to address other issues—the economic, environmental and ethical issues at the heart of citizens’ concerns.” 
“The student crisis came out of nowhere with very little forewarning,” notes Alain Dubuc, influential economic editorialist at La Presse. “It took everyone by surprise.” To begin with, Jean Charest’s government, worn down after nine years at the helm, was sure of its established Liberal politics and preoccupied with the impact of corruption scandals over government contracts. A temporary public inquiry has just begun that will potentially further damage the ruling party’s reputation. Taken off guard by the student uprising, Premier Jean Charest didn’t handle the crisis well. His government’s mismanagement has been criticized not only by the opposition but also by some devoted Liberals and analysts like Alain Dubuc who are actually in favour of the partial privatization of public services and tuition hikes. 
The conflict crystalized around the issue of increasing tuition fees, which are historically the lowest in North America. Lower fees in Quebec attract students from all over Canada as well as a number of young people from France, who have mostly kept a distance from the turmoil. Tuition fees were frozen at $547 CAD (€425) until 1990, when the Liberals doubled them after a month-long student strike. The PQ tried in vain to increase tuition in 1996. The QLP backed down on transforming $103 million of bursaries into loans in 2005, following an eight-week student strike. However, in 2007, the same Liberal government managed to raise tuition to $2168 without major opposition. 
The 75% tuition increase over the next five years was seen as too much. In addition to a new $200 annual health tax, it was presented as part of a “necessary rebalancing of the budget” in the deficit aftermath of 2009. In the government’s view, “everyone should contribute their fair share” and the students’ portion remains modest: their contribution now represents only 13% of the cost of university studies, and, with the increase, it would only go up to 17% in 2016. According to authorities, it has become urgent to remedy the underfunding of Quebec universities so they can compete with their Canadian and American counterparts. 
The students, for their part, argue that tuition fees of $3800 would make access to university education difficult for students who are already in debt (averaging  $14,000 by the end of their degrees, according to spokespersons). A majority are working to fund their education. “In Quebec, 26% have access to bursaries and, as elsewhere in North America, a lot of wealthier parents prefer to let students work rather than contribute to their education,” explains Alain Dubuc. Overall, however, young Quebeckers are less educated than their neighbours—35% have a bachelor’s degree at 22 years old, compared to 45% in Ontario, for example. 
The first establishment to go on strike February 13th was the CEGEP of Valleyfield, 30 kilometres southwest of Montreal. Students voted to strike by only 50.2%. “I didn’t think the movement was going to last more than two weeks,” admits their local organizer Jeanne Reynolds. She soon became one of the spokespersons for the most radical of the three student federations, La Classe—Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (the extended association for student union solidarity). 
The student leaders, generally hailing from middle-class backgrounds, have a lot in common. Apart from being elected and re-elected nearly every week, they are all brilliant, pugnacious and eloquent. They are also the recipients of academic excellence awards. Jeanne Reynolds, at 20 years old, even received the Lieutenant Governor of Québec Award—the highest distinction at the college level— on May 22, right in the middle of the crisis. “They are worthy representatives of an educational system that values speaking and encourages students to debate with each other and adults. In contemporary Quebec society, decisions are no longer imposed, but rather explained and discussed. To accept decisions, they have to be convinced,” observes Jean Isseri, director of Montreal’s Carrefour jeunesse-emploi de Côte-des-Neiges, one of the centres created by the PQ in the late 1990s to help youth aged 16 to 35 find jobs, return to school or start their own businesses. 
Contrary to anglophone Canada, where comparisons tend to be limited solely to the United States, “the social universe of Quebeckers, including that of young people, does not have North America as its only reference,” notes Jean-François Lisée, director of the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM). “Since the 1970s, our social policies have been compared as much to Norway’s as to Wisconsin’s, for example.” “In Quebec,” he adds, “the difference is also due to the French language and culture.” Via the Internet and Quebec media, which devotes more coverage to international and European news than to that coming out of the rest of Canada or the United States, Quebec students were well aware of the Puerta del Sol “indignados” demonstrations, to cite just one example. 
The demands of this young generation, referred to by many Quebec commentators as “spoiled brats who can’t take no for an answer,” left the Charest government mute for 10 weeks, presumably convinced the movement would die down, as previous ones had. As a result, the students became omnipresent in the media, denouncing the authorities’ contemptuous dismissal of their concerns. When negotiations actually began in the 12th week and the government proposed to spread the 75% increase over seven years instead of five and improve bursaries, the student leaders responded from a position of strength, demanding nothing less than a tuition freeze, eventually even free tuition, which had been a goal of the Liberal Party itself in the 1960s. The students’ detailed calculations basing the tuition freeze on university cost-cutting at no expense to the government left Charest’s ministers cold, as did student concerns over the partial privatization and “commodification of education.” The standoff was total, each side refusing to budge. 
Non-striking students, furious over the show-of-hands voting system often used by the student associations, were encouraged by the government to take their case to the courts to have their right to education respected. And they did. But the injunctions against picket lines had barely been pronounced when, on May 18, the government adopted a “special law” ordering, among other things, a suspension of courses at the striking establishments until August. “The government basically abandoned us,” complains Coralie, preferring to remain anonymous like many of her colleagues who agree with the tuition hike. Saying that she was attacked and “threatened with rape” by masked strikers for having expressed her opinion, she decided to leave Montreal and is now registered in a non-striking college in Quebec City. 
Directors of the educational institutions are also dissatisfied. “The government has forced us to bring in the police to respect the injunctions: this is not our role. Neither the courts nor the police are the right way to assure a return to class,” says Monique Laurin. Director of the Cegep Lionel-Groulx in Sainte-Thérèse north of Montreal, she used all of the diplomatic means at her disposal to just barely curtail clashes between striking students “defending the cause with their lives” and non-striking students, accompanied by their parents and police—all in the midst of smoke bombs. Add to that the complaints of professors in solidarity with the student cause. Monique Laurin is dreading a repetition of the same scenes at the front doors of her establishment, attended by 5400 students, when classes recommence in mid-August. 
Beyond the suspension of classes, the severity of the special measures adopted in Bill 78 has shocked humanists of all stripes. Not only does the Bill prohibit any spontaneous gathering, student or otherwise, without the provision of an itinerary in advance, but it also gives Quebec’s education minister the power to deprive student associations of their funding sources, premises and property, if any of their members “participate in a contravention of the Bill, either by act or omission.” The same minister also has the right to modify other laws to adapt them to Bill 78. Many lawyers have seen this as a violation of the freedom of association as well as a serious breach of the separation of powers. Nearly 140 organizations have joined forces to contest the Bill in court, in virtue of the province’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. 
The adoption of Bill 78 fuelled the fire and brought about the almost spontaneous combustion of clanging pots and pans in the neighbourhoods. “In studying this text closely, we consider it to be dangerously detrimental to fundamental rights. It will most likely increase defiance of the law and exacerbate civil disobedience. Using excessive legal force to politically position oneself as the defender of order runs counter to the evolution of the law since the dawn of time,” says lawyer Rémi Bourget. In his opinion, Bill 78 recalls the tyrannical era of the 1940s and 1950s, a period also known as the “grande noirceur” (the great darkness) under the reign of Conservative leader Maurice Duplessis. 
With the help of a few colleagues and the social networks, Mr. Bourget organized a silent protest, which, to his pleasant surprise, was very successful: over 700 lawyers in their black robes marched from the courthouses to the famous Place Emilie-Gamelin, to a background of applause, without a word, without a banner. A historic first. 
The opposition Parti Québécois under Pauline Marois, hesitant at the beginning then finally rallying to the student cause, has not benefited much from their position, according to polls. This, in spite of the fact that dissatisfaction with the Liberal government has been hovering around 70% for the past year. 
As is often the case in Quebec, it is the artists who have most effectively relayed the students’ anger and the general population’s dissatisfaction. Director Dominic Champagne, one of the leading opponents of the government’s proposed shale gas exploitation, which has been put on hold pending a study of its impact, raves about the “social awakening” initiated by the students. He celebrates the “casserole” gatherings that  “bring neighbours together to talk and socialize,” the sudden awareness of the need to “subordinate private interests to public and environmental interests.” “We no longer live in societies; we live in economies,” he says. “Economic rationale has replaced the social vision of the state.” He is not alone in his concern over the “pillaging of natural resources by government-owned Chinese or private Indian companies without any benefit to Quebec or concern for sustainable development,” referring to the Plan Nord project promoted by Premier Charest. On April 22, with environmental groups and Green Party members, Dominic Champagne managed to bring together 250,000 people on Mont Royal. For the time being, Bill 78 seems to be reaping the harvest of its own wrath. 
This public outcry probably explains, in part, why Bill 78 has not yet been applied to date. Police invoke the Civil Code or municipal by-laws when making arrests for “disturbances of public order” or infractions to … the Highway Safety Code. They came down heavy at the end of May, arresting up to 500 people in Montreal and 200 in Quebec City in one night. The roundup included minors and senior citizens who were not involved in the protests. 
Under pressure on the opening day of the Grand Prix in Montreal on June 10th, police indulged in a free-for-all of “preventive arrests” targeting young people, some of whom were were found “guilty” simply for wearing the red square. This abuse of power created a scandal. Commander Ian Lafrenière of the Montreal police acknowledged that some “errors” may have been committed. He admits to fatigue among his troops (4500 officers for 1.6 million residents of Quebec’s 8 million citizens), after more than 115 days of interventions all over Montreal. He’s clearly hoping for an end to this conflict, which could pan out in the anticipated upcoming elections. His wish is shared by a majority of the population who see going to the ballot as a possible way out of the standoff. 
Martine Jacot (Montreal, Canada, special correspondent) 
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

"Translating the printemps érable" (Translating the maple spring) -

"At the heart of the “Maple Spring” (Le Monde)"


Friday, June 22, 2012

Bad day at the office

Image:  Jean Charest nailed to a cross.

Image title: J-Charest_nailed to cross_-_Casseroles_-_Bad_day_at_the_office_-_Youtube_channel_ottovanderlynk_-_Jun_19_2012/

Youtube Channel: ottovanderlynk - Jun_19_2012 - -

Twitter List: #CasserolesNightInCanada (all) -!/search/realtime/%23CasserolesNightInCanada%20

First Published at FB -


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hard to copy web pages undervalue their impact on the web

Making it easy to share your content is vital to effective web publishing.

The Environmental Working Group's (copyrighted & trade marked), "Clean 15", and "Dirty Dozen"

I ain't scared...

(open image link to see full size)
Source: Environmental Working Group - "EWG 2012 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce"
Executive Summary -

One way to share The Environmental Working Group's "Clean 15", and "Dirty Dozen" from the EWG's web site, is to take two Print Screen shots of it, edit them together - and publish the image to the web with an accurate title - like, "Environment_Working_Group_2012-Clean-15_Dirty-Dozen" ["Environment*al*_Working_Group..." would have been better. This mistake is fatal because it's in the Name of the organization.]

On a second try I use Print Screen again to publish this EWG free download in PDF format. This one is properly titled: "Environmental_Working_Group_2012_Clean-15_-_Dirty-Dozen_pdf_image"

(open image link to see full size)

Below is a copy and paste of the content. This is the html version of the top image, above. For it to render here images on the EWG's server must stay up, for example the image of the apple is coming from:

In this Blogger copy the CSS style elements are incorporated into each line of the code, while - in the original - the style parameters are served from a style file - so changing the size of this creation took over an hour. I changed several parameters in proportion (29 times) width, font and padding - using Sourceforge's "Notepad++" code editing software.

In making these changes I have fundimentally changed the style of that which the EWG created. This must be described as a "hack" of this 'copyrighted and trade marked' brand. This is exactly what you do not want to happen --- people slightly altering your brand.

As the code came, the default settings in my browser, and in Blogger, stacked the columns one on top of the other - as they were collectively too wide to sit side by side.

Dirty Dozen Plus

Buy these organic
Red Pepper

Sweet bell peppers
– imported
– domestic
Green Beans
Green beans
+ May contain pesticide residues of special concern
Clean 15

Lowest in Pesticide
Sweet Corn
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
- domestic
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes

Bloggers are publishing this content any way they can. 

You can see lots of images of the EWG's graphical representations in Google Image Search under the EWG keywords for this study report. Here's a link to one I found in a quick search as I was editing this: 

Google Image Search: "Environmental Working Group 2012 clean 15 dirty dozen" Page 1, image 5: Image: from an article by "" - "12 Foods You Should Always Buy Organic" -

How an error in titling effect content's web presence

My error in the first image title is like my fingerprint in Image Search. I can use the error to get to my image quickly. If one does a 'high-light and Search Google' on the mistakenly titled URL I mentioned at at the top - in Google Images my image come up #1. Make the correction though, and my image is nowhere. 

If EWG wants a true picture of their copy righted and trade marked publications' penetration in the web they should make it easy to share - not hard. 

They could do this simply by publishing images of their beautifully coded html productions when publishing to the web - and have images of each important graphic on a separate page sxpressly posted to allow for easy sharing. 

Perhaps a button near the graphic design that opens a pop-up sizing widget - like Youtube's video sizing interface. A share widget attached to pieces of html graphic art you want to share - and then the user could size it to fit the places where they wanted to post it - and then copy the new code from a window and paste it in a blog.

Why did I do this?

Whenever I come across web sites that I think have content that is important to the social good - and that are publishing on the web using publishing techniques that make the content difficult to share - I go out of my way to share it with the commons.

At the same time I hope web developers will keep in mind that making content easy to share, gets the right demographic's eyes back their site very effectively.

I find that folks using Microsoft's office related software to create their content seem to get these 'secure' type outcomes when they publish to the web. I think this is a result of all the corporate clients Microsoft almost single-handedly tooled for the internet in the 1980's and 90's. The user interfaces must steer a coarse towards these outcomes.

This is not the case with the coding at EWG. What we find there is html/css graphic art. I think it looks great ... but all the same - it's hard to recreate elsewhere.

Taking the time to create images before publishing to the web will increase a publication's documentable penetration on the web - and thus make determining it's value on the web - possible.

In the case of a non-profit like the Environmental Working Group - easy to share spreads their message, documents how widely it has spread, and effectively brings people back to the organization's site to read the original content.

Making it easy to share your content is vital to effective web publishing.


Via Mother Jones - By Tom Philpott | Wed Jun. 20, 2012 3:00 AM PDT - "Which Baby Foods Contain the Most Pesticide Residue?" -

Source: "Environmental Working Group - "EWG 2012 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce" -

EWG's 2012 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, PDF link "Download guide as PDF" -

Image URL (full copy)

Copyright Act of 1976 - *

Fair use - *

(* Best Lawyer I can afford)


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12: Sailing porn

In my last post on the Volvo Ocean Race I presented prose by a crew member in the third day of hell on the North Atlantic Ocean.

Now for something completely different.

Violent footage from Leg 8:

Huge Wave Knocks Down Nico - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

"Amazing footage from Volvo Ocean Race competitor CAMPER with ETNZ shows a big wave crashing against the crew on deck while skipper Chris Nicholson is at the helm sailing over 25 knots boat speed on the Bay of Biscay heading to Lorient, France.
"Huge Wave Knocks Down Nico - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12":

From the video: Chris Nicholson, Skipper - Camper with ETNZ:
"... There were 1 or 2 ways in... one wave that I managed not to catch, and if we'd caught it there would have been tears at the bottom... and one wave that we did catch - and it had tears at the bottom."

More please.

Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 - Youtube Channel:


(Via -

(Via -

Raw Power - The Best of Leg 8 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

Via Youtube channel VolvoOceanRace / playlists  /leg 8 -


Volvo Ocean Race: You only hear the stories when they get back.

On Friday the fleet is into a third day of 40+ knot winds and mountainous high seas -  "CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand" Media Crew Member, Hamish Hooper filed this story at Volvo Ocean Racing:

15 Jun 2012
Hairy gybe
Leg 8, Day 6

Within the blink of an eye things on CAMPER have gone from speed record sailing to survival sailing.

A couple of hours ago the guys did a sail change to a smaller jib to keep things under control.

I took a moment to pop up on deck. When I stopped to look around, didn’t want to be on deck anymore. It was just like being back in the Southern Ocean in all its fury again- well close to all its fury.

The seas are huge, the mountainous caps breaking in all directions. It is times like this that it is a comfort to have your competitors so close. We could see PUMA - at times- as it appears and disappears down massive troughs of the seething swell.

Nico was knocked from the wheel by a huge wave and by the narrowest of margins, but managed to grab the wheel back and retain control.

Not long ago we finally gybed, something normally so easy, was one of the most challenging manoeuvres of the race so far. Its times like this that the standard of seamanship of the guys really shines through.

We are now headed direct to Lorient, but still we have huge seas and 45 knots winds to contend with throughout the dark night.

“That was one of the hairiest gybes I have ever done in all my life. It was a huge relief to get through it unscathed.” STU BANNATYNE

Stu Bannatyne is Co-skipper / Watch Captain on Team CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand.

"15 Jun 2012, Hairy gybe, LEG 8, Day 6" by Hamish Hooper at "Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12" -

Hamish Hooper / Media Crew Member Team "CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand" -


Thursday, June 14, 2012

2011-12 Volvo Ocean Racers safe - could break Ocean Speed Record as gale intensifies

In my last post I worried that lives could be in danger as an intense Low pressure system began to collide with the Azores High. The resultant storm font was creating 45 knot + wind speeds just as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet was sailing into it.

Credit:Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Over night the fleet has weathered the massive storm - so far - but are still in it's clutches; meanwhile the storm continues to intensify.

This morning (14 Jun 2012, 06:37 UTC - 01:37 EDT) Volvo Ocean Racing media reports,

"It is all about speed! The top quartet of Telefónica, PUMA, Groupama and CAMPER have notched more than 500 nautical miles in the past 24 hours, and there’s still plenty of racetrack left for the teams to break the IWC Schaffhausen 24-hour record.
"As the teams face the ferocious North-Atlantic storm, Team Telefónica continue to lead the race as they chase redemption for some off-form racing of late, but PUMA aren’t far behind in second place.
"Groupama sailing team are slowly clawing back miles they lost after their mainsail got stuck while they were trying to put a reef in as they approached the storm yesterday. The team today edged ahead of CAMPER to claim third place.
"Abu Dhabi remain fourth and Team Sanya are sixth. Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson said his team would play it safe in the hope that the storm may bring one of the other teams unstuck and present his crew with a deserved comeback opportunity.

Read the rest: "At a glance: June 14, 2012" -

For nearly two hours over night, Team Groupama crew struggled to control the boat while crew member Brad Marsh climbed the boat's 31-metre mast three times in more than 20 knots of breeze and rough seas trying to free the jammed mainsail - as gale force winds approached. Groupame finally freed the rigging and dropped the main sail to the deck, then re-hoisted - losing place to 3 boats as the four leaders of the leg battled at the front. By the latest dispatch Groupama is back up with the leaders and the race leg is still as yet undecided.

When the fleet is in absolutely, bloody, murderous seas, the media coming off the ocean's surface almost comes to a halt. It is completely understandable, video taping in these conditions must be near impossible - not only that - satellite phone up-links must be intermittent at best in the midst of these massive storms.

It's too bad though - the parts of the race we'd most like to see a minute by minute account of - are also the least recorded parts of the race.

Image via Volvo Ocean Race Asset Bank


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race officials send fleet into 45 knot gale

I've drawn in the approximate route of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race fleet's Leg 8 coarse. The red "A" place-mark  shows The Azores, Portugal. See a satellite image weather map of the region below.

The latest dispatch from Volvo Ocean Racing,

13/06/2012 7:01:39 UTC
(Tuesday, June 13, 2012 - 2:01:39 am edt)

In an exciting duel this morning, at 0456 GMT Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) led Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) by three minutes as they rounded the turning point at the Azores island of São Miguel on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Now the leaders are battening down the hatches to tough it out in winds of 40 knots and a huge sea state for the final 1,000-mile push to the finish in Lorient, France.
At the turning mark, less than an hour separated the first five teams who are now clear of São Miguel and pointing north east, while Sanya and Mike Sanderson were just off the northern tip of the island. Supporters from the islands turned out at dawn, hollering and cheering as the teams sailed through the archipelago.
According to Hamish Hooper, Media Crew Member with fourth-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS), things will only become more interesting and more intense over the next 24 hours as the barometer drops and the wind builds to some very strong gales.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s navigator Jules Salter says that as much as 45 knots of wind is possible as the fleet nears the centre of the depression which is sweeping across their path. “Unfortunately, the way in which the storm is moving right now, it will be difficult to get to where we are trying to go without seeing some exceptionally heinous conditions,” he said.
It will be Thursday before the fleet is in the thick of the low, which could produce conditions not seen since the Southern Ocean on Leg 5, which saw five of the six-boat fleet suffer serious damage.
Holding it together will be key for the top four still in contention for overall honours, and while Telefónica, Groupama, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) and CAMPER will be less inclined to take risks, Abu Dhabi and Sanya, who are clearly out of the frame for an overall win, will, perhaps, be braver. “It’s about time we got some real smoking downwind conditions – this should be quite a finish into France,” remarked Abu Dhabi’s watch leader Craig Satterthwaite.
At 0700 GMT today, in a building breeze, Telefónica led Groupama by 0.8 nm, with PUMA just 1.8 nm behind the leader. Still well in touch, 6.7 nm behind the Spanish team were CAMPER, while Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were a further six miles astern. Speeds were already back up to 16.6 knots for the leaders, while Sanya, who were 22 nm behind and still trying to get clear of the island, were only managing 13 knots.
“Everyone is getting ready for one last push," said PUMA MCM Amory Ross. "We know it will be tough, tiring, wet and wild, but it’s only for a few days and they will be some of our last, so bring it on. What would a leg of this race be without some extremely uncomfortable sailing?"

An image from an Environment Canada Satellite Composite
Image weather map. I've drawn in the High and the Low.and
some lines: the thick sweeping line shows the path of a 45 knot
gale rounding the top of the Azores High pressure area.
The thinner line I've drawn is the Volvo Ocean Race fleet's
approximate coarse. (Full sized image open image's link.)
While the Fleet was in port at Lisbon Portugal over the weekend, Volvo Ocean Race officials decided to set an imaginary mark around which the fleet would be required to sail in Leg 8. They were considering placing the mark south west off the coast of Portugal near the tiny, almost mid-Atlantic Island chain called the Azores - in order to guarantee that the races wouldn't simply take the coastal route up from Lisbon to Lorient, France. The result of that would have been a slow crawl op the coast - boring - so race officials sent these couragous Ocean Racers where they were fairly confident there would be strong trade winds interacting with a stable mass of high pressure over the archipelago known as the Azores.

Well, they may have gotten more excitement then they bargained for.

When I heard over the weekend that race officials were thinking of changing the route of Leg 8 - and sending 60 racers (and a number of media people) into 'exciting' weather, I wondered about how it must feel for race officials at moments like this - changing the coarse of the race on a hunch, looking at weather maps in the safety of Port - calculating for a good race, and now, having sent these people into harms way hoping by all that is holy that you haven't sent these people to their deaths.

I'll update the progress through this upcoming storm over the next 24 hours, here.

This video comes just as the fleet is approaching the turn around the Azores, approximately 1am edt this morning.

Different Angles - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

At 3:20 on the video, Stuart Bannatyne Co-skipper / Watch Captain for Team Camper,

".. The forecast for the other side of the high pressure is stating to get quite interesting, [...] ..very scary stuff."

Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 -


Saturday, June 9, 2012

2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race Lisbon In-Port Race is a cracker

This morning the Volvo Ocean Race held an In-Port race at Lisbon, Portugal. A replay of the race is available via Youtube or Livestream. Both are embedded here.

This race leg had a bit of everything.

On the way out teams tacked out on the river against the in-coming tide with perfect wind conditions for sail racing (16 knots). Seconds after the start cannon signaled the end of the prelude section of the race (no racing), Team Telefónica was penalized by race officials for sailing a vector that cut off Team Puma's line. They had to preform a 360 degree turn before they could re-join the race.

(Open link in new tab for full size)

As such the race leg leaders off the block were Groupama and Puma.

As the race reaches the half way point Campa and Groupama lead. They each tack from one shore of the channel to the other cris-crossing in the cntre of the river - several times intersecting each other's paths so harrowingly close your sure they'e going to collide.

One tack from the outer harbour race turning gate markers, Team Abu Dhabi is 'attacked' by a flock of gauwking tourist boats, and have to temper their racing until clear. Perhaps the captain over-shot his line a little? The maneuver it turned out, lost them the race for first.

At the turning gate in the outer harbour, at the mouth of the Tagus River, teams threw up huge ballooning  jinnakers called 'A' sails -  that arch way out in front of the boats. 

While the director of the live media happened to be live on board Team Telefónica's boat, with their A-Sail tight as a drum, something snaps! I jumped out of my chair at the sound ... instantly the crew were all running about.  Seconds later the camera man has a shot of the massive sail in the water. The rigging snapped. 

Shortly thereafter, Team Sanya is trying to lower their 'A' sail, but the rigging is jammed. They have to send a man aloft to try and un-stick it - and he ends up having to cut the wire right at the main mast. The captain abandons the sail in their wake. 

These are primal earth elements these sailors are taming - prevailing winds, slicing through a column of heavy, dense water, currents at the mouth of  great river meeting those of the Atlantic Ocean - sailors twisting their vessels' whole to just this side of the breaking point, and then ... BANG! :)

When watching a live event, this kind of stuff is gold. I watched live via my desktop computer.

The production featured great photography and direction. 'On Air' personalities (who's names I can't find anywhere on the site) deliver an energy filled audio only narration of the race that feels like an auto racing event and a Tour de France production mixed together. I liked it. It's one of the leading edge ways in which Television is beginning to morph into what it will be in the world wide web media set of vectors.

The Volvo Ocean Race is a network television quality, multimedia, integrated multi-platform eith month long 24 hour a day, live broadcast event. The production uses high end, full spectrum, media event production techniques, and note-ably - a leading edge live event web presence: with around the clock live race updates, state-of-the-art mapping and leading edge graphical interface vectors - that work really well as web interfaces.

The mapping visual interfaces are extraordinary, they show an almost, photo quality representation of the Volvo Ocean Race Fleet. The any-point-in-space POV that can helicopter (more like, bumble-bee) over the fleet at any point on the earth - in real time.


Here's the automatically rendered Youtube production of the Livestreamed event. After a long static shot of the harbou, at 23:40 a recap of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, and a set up for the Oeiras In-Port Race starts - live race reporting, out on the boats, starts at 30:20

Volvo Ocean Race : Oeiras In-Port Race Live Replay - 2011-12 (1:53:55)

Or watch this LiveStream Production:
(race recap and an introduction to today's leg starts at 14:14, first boat casts off at 22:00)

Volvo Ocean Race : Oeiras In-Port Race on Livestream (1:29:14)


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Casseroles Nights in Canada adds a Form to make adding map place markers easier

The Casseroles Movement started in Québec in early May after the Charest Government passed it's (likely) unconstitutional anti-student-protest law - Bill 78. People from neighbourhoods all over Montreal began coming out of their houses near dusk, and began quietly at first, tapping wooden spoons on soup pots and sauce pans. Soon they began to march along the streets of their neighbourhoods, gathering marchers as they went - night after night. Soon the neighbourhood marches began to make their way downtown - to where the students on strike - now for over 100 days - gathered very night to pressure the Charest Government to talk to them.

On May 26th OccupyToronto organized a Casseroles Solidarity Rally at Dundas Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. The day after, people in the Occupy Google Groups were talking baout expanding the events to other neighbourhoods - just as had happened in Montreal and also, all over the Province of Québec.

By the the end of the day "Casseroles Night in Canada" was being organizd by folks from acoss the country - and on Wednesday May 30th Canada held it's first coast-to-coast-to-coast Casserole eveming walk with clanging and banging pots and pans and wooden spoons. Canadians were clearly outraged by the draconian Bill 78, and inspired by the beautiful tactics of the Quebecois in the face of politically inspired police brutality against peaceful protesters.

So many villages, towns and cities joined in for the Wednesday, May 30th casseroles, someone copied the Quebec example and starting building a map as a way to record this unprecedented explosion of Canadian grass roots political organizing - and to better network the movement for freedom of all Canadians - in all Provinces - after the precedents set in Quebec.

Here's a LIVE embed of the map:

View Casseroles Night in Canada / Casseroles contre le hausse in a larger map

For the record, here's an image of the map from Sunday June 3rd, 2012 watch for more blue dots going forward):

Casseroles Nights in Canada () is now adding an accessablity option to the CNIC Map - a handy Form - so if you're not a mapping person, you can still get your local #Casserloes event placed on the map (also an innovation of the Quebec Movement).

Here's the Form Casserolers' can use to let CNIC know who, what, where and when your event is - so CNIC can add it to the map for you. This is a LIVE form. Add your casseroles event info here, and with-in 24 hours your place mark will appear on the map.

Twitter tags and key words: ,  #casseroles#assnatclasse#manifencours 

Casseroles Nights in Canada on Facebook -

See the Casseroles Video at the top of the side bar above - that's the video that went viral and spawned the Canada wide - now going global - Casseroles Movement.