The LRT Could Have Been Thought Out Better

region-of-waterloo-bullet-train1During the 2010 Municipal Election, a concerned citizens’ group invited all candidates from all municipalities the opportunity to present their opinions on the upcoming multi-billion dollar Light Rail Transit (LRT) initiative.

All candidates with few exceptions offered their opinion as to whether the LRT system would be cost-effective, practical, and gave their personal recommendations as to how the LRT should be designed.

These opinions were publicly published and presented to the regional officials of the LRT initiative at the time.

One candidate from Cambridge took the proposal one step further;  understanding that rail was a significant factor in effectively moving residents of the region from one location to another, he proposed a system whereby the LRT system, along with the Regional Airport, VIA Rail, and GO Transit system would connect at one central point, located in one location within the region.

He proposed that Breslau, since it already hosted our airport, would make an effective focal point to consolidate all avenues of mass transportation available;  providing one massive, central hub to which all residents of the region would then have access to rapid rail transit to all corners of the region, including Guelph (which would require cross-municipality cooperation, and seemingly missing in the posting), access to our airport, a key terminal to GO Transit for commuters to Metro Toronto via Milton, and long-distance VIA Rail access for travelers.

Ultra-high-speed bullet trains, elevated where needed, would run from Breslau to a Waterloo terminal to Elmira.  Another train would run from Breslau to a Kitchener terminal to New Hamburg, and another from Breslau to a Cambridge terminal to Ayr.

The bullet train lines would first be laid to the primary cities, and extended to the lesser towns as needs prevailed.  Another line would be run from Breslau to Guelph, they of course picking up the tab for costs on that line.

Without getting into details, these bullet trains would carry passengers to and fro from all corners of the region, provide opportunity to extend beyond the region as needs saw fit, and provide all commuters access to GO Transit, air travel, and local GRT bus access within each city as needed, as well as the long-distance VIA Rail services.

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Granted, the cost calculations were not made, but since this outline solved a multitude of problems plaguing the region, in terms of transportation needs now and in the future, in his words, “Let’s make it right for the long run.”

I bet you didn’t hear about this proposal, did ya?   Actually you did not, it was quashed by the same folks who steam-rolled their own idea through;  trains between shopping malls, more buses for Cambridge, and nothing for the outlying municipalities, who also are responsible for footing the entire bill for the entire thing.

Something to think about when you listen to the grand, wonderful plans LRT has in store for our Region’s “Twin Cities,” who get the trains, while everybody else gets to help foot the bill.

Government needs an upgrade, and some long-term visionaries.

All aboard.

Hey, #OccupyWallStreet, Don’t Speak for Me!

Good Point.

Danette Clark

By Danette Clark    December 11, 2011

We are the 99% quickly became the political slogan of Occupy protesters from the movement’s inception. The phrase reportedly originated with a tumblr blog in support of the Occupy movement. However, the motivation behind the slogan very well could have come from a Vanity Fair article written by George Soros-funded economist, Joseph Stiglitz, titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%.” In the article, Stiglitz writes that America’s top 1% will come to regret their wealth when they learn that “their fate is bound up with how the other 99% live.”

Sounds like a rallying cry for a movement, doesn’t it?

Stiglitz, who advocates for a “new economic world order no longer dominated by 1 superpower,” taught a course to Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York and has addressed protesters in Egypt, Tunisia, and Spain.

The 99% slogan has struck a…

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Call the Kettle Black

Recently, one of our city councillors was involved in an automobile accident in which alcohol played a role.  Police seized the person’s car and driving rights, placed a charge of impaired driving against them, then let the public loose.

Over here in Canada, you are presumed to be innocent until the evidence is presented, and a judge has the final say.  Unfortunately that day might not come for months, if ever.

That hasn’t stopped ordinary people from trampling on this person’s rights, most don’t realize that’s what they are doing.

In a situation like this there are many opinions which are being aired publicly to anyone who wants to listen.

Many believe this person used poor judgement by getting behind the wheel after drinking.  If they were found to have been under a considerable amount of alcohol while operating a vehicle then the criticism will be vindicated;  the problem is that this fact has yet to be acclaimed with the presentation of evidence, but in the minds of many is it assumed.

Assumptions are a means to deny someone their liberties as free men and women; just ask the folks who read this blog from nearly every war-torn country on Earth.

Many believe this person has a drinking problem because  they might have personal experience with alcohol problems, or may know others arrested for drinking and driving who are habitual offenders.   Alcoholism is a disease not to be trifled with; and yet many have bestowed this label upon this public figure with out ever knowing anything about the person’s personal life.

This council person has been involved with various community organizations over the past decade, and most realize how much of an asset they have played in the various parts of society that many others don’t even think about, and take for granted.  This elected official does an upstanding job for the community for an appalling salary and yet, with the way human beings think, not everyone considers this.

Many have been waiting for this individual to fall from society’s graces; this has become the perfect opportunity to lash out and show them for what they truly are; a flawed human being, just like the rest of us.

This person was in an accident, with a reputation is on the line, and a future in politics in question.  As an individual who’s life has been turned upside down, by their own devices or through others, one has a lot to think about beyond getting lynched by a mob.

People need time to sort their lives out when a tragedy occurs;  this is no different.

The Occupy Movement focuses on the financial practices, as well as the democratic injustices that hinder the productive efforts of society.  Part of this awareness is to recognize when the liberties of an individual are being constricted or denied;  this is a situation where the authoritarians of civilization are not at fault;  it is injustice prevailing by the hands of the ’99 percent,’ themselves.

Society needs an upgrade; and a lesson in upholding each other’s rights until all the facts are in.

 

The Occupiers Cometh

An Occupier running for Mayor?

Who would possibly vote for some pot-smoking techno-hippie who lives on baked potatoes, yells ‘mike check’ in the middle of public parks and smells like pepper spray?

That stigma permeates within most popular media outlets today regarding the Occupy Movement; the portrayal of the individual demonstrator as merely a fringe activist.

Television and radio during the Vietnam War is another good example of where government swayed popular opinion by controlling what was broadcast, in much the same way Germany did in the war before that.  People of the day were portrayed in much the same way as those caught up in the Occupy Movement; the students of Kent State were all a bunch of acid-tripping hippie freaks, too.

Well, maybe some were; of course that would have been before they got cut down by gun-toting retards.

How could an Occupier possibly be expected to oversee a billion-dollar enterprise like a city, or a corporation?  Well, in many instances they already are. The Occupy Movement had no specific demographic when it came to the individuals who chose to participate in 2011’s global demonstration on human rights and social services.  Every walk of life was represented by someone, somewhere.  One thing is for certain, more people then ever are taking notice of changes in the world.

The societal system we currently use was designed to work with Neanderthal technology in processing information; remember there were no computers before Bill Gates was born.  I can faintly hear the Apple crowd getting ready to lynch me as I write this.  The last Apple I ever used was a ][, but we’ll get to that another time.  Governance is a system; with rules and procedures and operations.   It’s mission statement to serve the people will be as effective as it’s structure allows, which may be why the world economy nearly collapsed a couple of years ago.

Again.

Only the radical anarchist believes that the entire framework of government, commerce, and law have to be upended.  One thing I know about entrenched systems is that you’ll  never remove them in one fell swoop, you optimize and enhance existing systems in proper bite-size chunks.

When something is not working in my world you identify and diagnose it, correct it, enhance it, and redeploy.  What you don’t do is hire more people to handle complaints.

Society now has the ability to identify all the issues facing humanity from within a little plastic box that fits in one’s hand.  It will take the efforts of all to make decisions on all of the chores we as a species need to deal with; the tools of modern technology make achieving it a plausible reality.

The System needs an upgrade.

The Quiet Little Road

It was always on the lookout, seeking new targets to shadow. Its eyes were as sharp as razors changing night into day, while whispers in the dark became symphonies of sound for it to absorb.

Like a cat; it was all hunter, no mercy.

Yet, a weather-beaten traffic camera, on probably the most boring road in town, was its favorite place to watch from. The folks downtown who maintained all of the incoming video feeds noticed that, more often then not, the road computer seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time just looking around the quiet, little road that was home to a ditch full of plants, some insects and animals, and very little else.

Granted, it was created to watch a few hundred other roads as well, but for some reason the lack of movement in the photos received, the void of mechanical noise that had been recorded, is what seemed to draw its attention to this spot in town, more so then anywhere else. Whatever was in those images being received, the road computer seemed fixated on it, and since it did its chores in a millisecond, it had a lot of time to kill before the next group of photos came in, from the many eyes and ears along the town’s roads.

John was stinking drunk since last night. He was the kind of drinker that could pour a bottle of ‘Jack’ straight back, vomit it up hours later, and be right back on the prowl for more. He’d only stop when his body gave up on him; it was amazing he was still alive. Too drunk to walk, he decided he’d have better luck driving if he could crawl long enough to get to his car. It had been another long, drawn out night of partying with The Boys that ran well into the morning. It was time to get home, make some breakfast, then get some more ‘Jack.’

He tore down the road as a drunkard does; weaving to and fro, trying too hard to keep it straight and overcompensating with every turn of the wheel, not caring about the stop signs, or the blind corners, or the traffic camera he had just been caught sight on.

It had already been aware of him coming down the road before the car crested the closest hill, the glare of his headlights giving away his approach. The sounds coming along with the road’s photo feed is what first peaked its curiosity, though. An engine, running fast and hard had alerted it that something was amiss, here. As it prepared to make some calculations of the approaching object’s speed, it kept busy working, watching the other city roads, looking for problems, spotting any speeders, red light runners, fender benders, things like that, to alert the emergency services as needed.

John was drifting towards the middle of the road when he started down the slight decline after the hill. As his license plate came into view it realized that the vehicle belonged to a man who already had a ticket for drinking and driving.

It soon realized a school crosswalk was between this vehicle and the owner’s residence. Three, actually, and they were in use at the moment, school was about to begin on that bright, spring day. The severity of the situation did not escape it, this object must be stopped, and stopped now.

Like a lion on the hunt, instinct took over; it began to stalk its prey, first assuming control over the vast network of intelligence it had in its grasp. As it identified the other cameras it would use to watch his progress, it called to arms the all the systems of the town, in an effort to put a stop to the pending tragedy before it could occur.

The area’s traffic lights begin to slam on red in all directions, to prevent anymore from coming into the path of this dangerous situation. By the time John’s car had left the sight of the first traffic camera, the crosswalk guards, whose kids were going to be in jeopardy from the incoming danger, received loud alarms on their cell phone. The volunteers knew right away it was a call for a traffic emergency in the area. All three tore into action, getting the children on both sides to stop dead in their tracks, to be on the lookout for oncoming danger.

John didn’t stand a chance; as his car blasted past the camera, every constable in the city knew exactly who he was, where he was likely heading, and how long he would be driving to get there. It followed him relentlessly, informing the squad cars of every move he made, every turn he took, and where the danger points were. In no time, John’s car came to a screeching halt, having to choose between hammering on his breaks, or plowing into a two-car cop barricade.

It reset the traffic lights to normal, gave the crosswalk guards the green light to continue, and watched as the kids made it to school, just a few moments later then usual.

After it checked the rest of the town again, it went back to it’s sightseeing, watching another new butterfly appear in its favorite spot, the quiet little road.

Swimming With The Fishes

When I first opened my shop back near the turn of the century, I built a nifty computer for a local kid, and delivered it to his house for installation.   I had to fit it into this lad’s room along with a venerable cornucopia of exotic aquatic marine life, housed in massive salt water tanks. His obvious knowledge of marine biology later manifested into one of Ontario’s premier retailers and importers of the most exotic tropical fish in the world;  a successful new venture built right here in Cambridge. His dad, being the ‘uber’ salesman with an eye for successful endeavours came on board to help his son launch the enterprise;  this is a guy that can sell milkshakes out of an igloo in the middle of a snowstorm.

Suffice it to say, the place just oozes success in the making.

One of Cambridge’s busiest industrial corridors connect the villages of Preston and Galt; home to a wide variety of retail, commercial, and industrial companies providing goods and services to local markets, global markets, and everywhere in between.  These businesses do business in many different ways at the same time all in the name of quality cash flow, and it’s hard to define many private enterprises these days strictly as an industrial, retail, or commercial operation.  There’s one thing everybody on Bishop Street agrees on;  whether it comes off the street, off a telephone, or off a facsimile;  you never turn down a good paying job.

The policies  of our municipal laws forced one of Cambridge’s most successful home-grown retailers into an ultimatum;  pay $10,000 in re-zoning fees or move.  ‘The Men Who Stare At Fish’ nestled right in beside a music store that fixes, sells and teaches guitars, a commercial sheet metal association head office, a manufacturer of nuclear-grade metal fabrications, a machine shop, a sign shop, and (until recently) a courier, all in the same industrial mall.  Perfect fits for the place.

The complex is a living, breathing biosphere;  an assembly of living coral, plants, oxygenation, waste disposal, and filtration machinery, all engineered to warehouse a vast assortment of living product.  This is one of Cambridge’s most successful industries.

They have a shop full of equipment to manufacture plankton for feed and breed fish for reselling to their customers;  they also import and resell fish from the most exotic locations around the world.   On-site servicing of existing aquarium systems rounds out the goods and services being provided to a growing Ontario market niche.

After six months, the city councillor responsible for interjecting on their behalf at the time, Karl Kiefer, seemed to have not been able to juggle it in between vacations and weddings going on.

Pity.

In the years previous the dwelling had another retail tenant who went as far as erecting a road sign, getting the city’s stamp of approval all along the way.  I built about 450 computers there;  lots of finger cuts, let met tell you.  I guess manufacturing imaginary things like software there is okay but not warehousing un-imaginary things like fish.

I should think that Cambridge be thankful it’s not a vacant dwelling, especially in this day and age, and leave it at that.   Our government directly affects the very survival of the private enterprises and civilians that support it;   procedures in our municipal operations must be such that accommodate the needs of the town folk, and to do it effectively. They should have just told the complainer, ‘no dice.’

Absorbing more and more working capital from an already struggling tax base is a recipe for collapse; a recipe that has gone, relatively unchecked, since before the recent global economic crash of the early 21st century. When those who speak for us fall silent, they fail to uphold their sworn duty to take charge in the light of government abuses; our very liberties as free men are weakened.  When injustice prevails, it punishes all.

The ‘System’ needs an upgrade.

Super-Size That, Would You Please?

A buddy of mine cleaned his refrigerator the other day.   The cabbage roll casserole told us it was expired, and made it painfully obvious for us when we lifted the lid.  I make it a point to check the expiry dates on the things that have been keeping residence at my place for a while.  Some things are good after their calculated date of expiry, some are not.   Two months is too much to ask any casserole, it seems.

When I worked in the food industry as a kid I always found it to be such a waste when we had to throw out batches of perishable foods that had been prepared for sale and went unused.  Once in a while it was ice cream expiring that night.  The boss was pretty reasonable about which garbage can the ice cream landed in;  the one at work or the one at my place.  Spoilage is a part of the expenses that go into running a business like that, but a lot of times it’s perfectly fine food that can still live on a few more days; you just can’t sell it to the public.

When I stop to consider how much good food is getting tossed away in the town I live in, I shake my head.  Then I remember that I live in one of a thousand towns just like mine.  Across the city are numerous grocery stores that, under orders from Health and Welfare Canada, are required to dispose of any food materials which have gone beyond what the agency deems as their ‘expiry date.’  If you buy chicken legs from the store, however,  you know they will be good for a couple of days beyond the ‘best before’ date emblazoned on the package.

Like a of lot people out there I make a weekly excursion to my local grocery store to get the food I’m going to need for the week.  Sometimes I’ll pop back into the store during the week to get some extras that I wind up needing, and more often then not it seems like the lettuce I picked up three days ago is the same lettuce still sitting in the produce isle’s crisper.

I’ve bought meat many times that was dated to ‘expire’ the day after I bought it.  The funny thing about meat is that it starts decomposing the instant the animal it came from is killed.  Refrigeration merely reduces the decomposition rate, but it’s still rotting away in it’s pretty, little package.  People don’t want to think about that but it’s true; if I wind up eating a chicken breast that ‘expired’ a couple of days ago, more often then not it’s good to go, you can tell by the smell.

Ten years ago the United Nations announced more food will exist in the future than will be needed  globally.  Small comfort when you realize how many malnourished school children exist, and how many soup kitchens and food co-ops are in still demand right now.   According to legend, there has been at least one individual from the past that had the ability to conjure food from nothingness, unfortunately the rest of us don’t have the ability.

Canada has the most stable food industry on the planet; having the stockpiles needed to feed the population is not the issue, distribution is.  Most of us are not in a position to require assistance so to most of us hunger is not a personal issue.   Malnutrition is directly linked to low income; a demographic still growing because of the economic collapse of 2008.  Poverty is what it’s always been about, the problem is there’s more in this ‘silent minority’ then ever before; society is barely managing to cope as it is.

Aliens are not likely to be appearing any time soon to save the world; we have to do it ourselves.  I see no reason why volunteer kitchens and food co-ops should not be able to receive expired goods from grocery stores.  I see no reason why restaurants can’t donate prepared vegetation-only products after every evening; better to eat rabbit food then no food.  The people that wind up cooking the donations will know if it’s good or spoiled, no matter where it came from.

If the laws permitted restaurants and grocers to surrender tax-deductible expired food to these organizations there would be no reason anyone’s insurance liability should be effected;  the grocer is still disposing of ‘bad’ food, and not even the fanciest restaurant in town can ever be guaranteed safe food no matter the source anyway.  Business, of course, should be able to exploit this for their purely capitalistic needs; tax breaks, public relations, and advertising.

Of course, existing governance would never allow that sort of thing to ever happen, lobbyists ensure the Status Quo.  If society treated hunger like the disease it is then it would make sense to do everything  it must do to eliminate it completely, and we don’t.  We can re-imagine a means to make better use of our existing resources.

Helping single parents keep groceries in the kitchen through food banks can help them weather out whatever else comes their way.  To reduce overall health cost burdens for the future, public schools could always be mandated to ensure all children eat every day.  Well fed children learn better and are healthier.

What we need to do is see if there are effective ways to get these food products directly from the source to food banks, volunteer kitchens and schools.  If food distributors sold in bulk to government, considerable overhead reductions to the various agencies and organizations responsible for providing assistance to our community could be realized.

Nutrition is the basic foundation for every person to excel in many facets of their lives.  Keeping our race fed is perhaps the most basic ‘system’ that needs to be absolute in effectiveness.  We are not even close to that, yet.  It’s time we think globally, and act locally.  We need solutions that are way out of the box, solutions based on a simple principle:  No one alive can go hungry, no matter what.

The System needs an upgrade.

Joseph Kony

Suicide is Painless

When the movie M*A*S*H came out in the theatres back in 1970 it’s soundtrack included a song about the perils of suicide.  It seems one of the characters wanted a suicide ritual because he thought he was homosexual, and he couldn’t live with it.   Of course, being in the middle of the Korean War, with thousands of people giving their lives up in the battlefields all around him, it did not seem to matter that he was desperately needed.  Luckily some hot, sexy female nurse ‘screwed the gay’ out of him later in the movie.    So much for fiction; if only real life problems could be solved so easily.

My son asked about Amanda Todd;  I had no clue who she was.  I’m on computers day and night; I read dozens of news articles from around the world, and the story of a young girl who killed herself from cyber-bullying had gone past my eyes and left me completely ignorant of what really happened to her.  People fall through the cracks when they are ignored, avoided, not listened to, or not respected.   This was all over the Internet and television, and I bet a lot of people gleaned right over her story and didn’t even realize it.  Below is Ana Kasparian’s report on Amanda:

There are, however, underlying issues that until now have not really been given any attention in media, social or other.  To give the reader some perspective, I bought software from Bill Gates when he still had long hair.  I remember when the Internet hit the consumer market and the ‘information superhighway’ began to grow.  Even back twenty years ago, the Internet was, and is, a completely anarchistic world;  everything good about the world was immediately available, and everything evil as well.

As my kids grew up, they grew up without computers, except their old Nintendo.    No e-mail except our account, no chat rooms, no social media, nothing.  We kept them off the Internet for a reason, and that is a huge reason why society continues see on-line bullying after 20 years of blatant and wilful parental neglect by millions around the globe.

Kids are freely allowed to play unsupervised in a war zone, to this day.

Parents around the world give their innocent, naive, young, partially self-realizing yet mindless little automatons we call children free rein to do anything they want anywhere they want to do it, because the adults in the equation have never stopped to consider that the Internet is not a magical realm for the delight of children everywhere;  it is a dark and cruel world just like the real thing.

Many parents are just generally naive of the Internet, or just fooling themselves; either way they do a disservice to their offspring.  I don’t know what Amanda’s parents were thinking, but 12 year olds should be baking muffins with mom, not stripping for strangers. Here is Amanda’s suicide video, recorded at her parent’s home:

The tragic story of this girl began with technology itself;  technology that no twelve year old should have been using without supervision.  As soon as photos of her naked breasts were broadcast to the world, her journey towards a sinister end began.  I can’t advocate computer supervision enough to the parents I meet in my profession every day;  this is the reason why.  As a parent it’s heartbreaking; but it’s something we as a society could have helped avoid.  I hope to never hear about another Amanda Todd, again.  Wishful thinking.

Society needs an upgrade.

The Quiet Little Road

It was always on the lookout, seeking new targets to shadow. Its eyes were as sharp as razors changing night into day, while whispers in the dark became symphonies of sound for it to absorb.

Like a cat; it was all hunter, no mercy.

Yet, a weather-beaten traffic camera, on probably the most boring road in town, was its favorite place to watch from. The folks downtown who maintained all of the incoming video feeds noticed that, more often then not, the road computer seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time just looking around the quiet, little road that was home to a ditch full of plants, some insects and animals, and very little else.

Granted, it was created to watch a few hundred other roads as well, but for some reason the lack of movement in the photos received, the void of mechanical noise that had been recorded, is what seemed to draw its attention to this spot in town, more so then anywhere else. Whatever was in those images being received, the road computer seemed fixated on it, and since it did its chores in a millisecond, it had a lot of time to kill before the next group of photos came in, from the many eyes and ears along the town’s roads.

John was stinking drunk since last night. He was the kind of drinker that could pour a bottle of ‘Jack’ straight back, vomit it up hours later, and be right back on the prowl for more. He’d only stop when his body gave up on him; it was amazing he was still alive. Too drunk to walk, he decided he’d have better luck driving if he could crawl long enough to get to his car. It had been another long, drawn out night of partying with The Boys that ran well into the morning. It was time to get home, make some breakfast, then get some more ‘Jack.’

He tore down the road as a drunkard does; weaving to and fro, trying too hard to keep it straight and overcompensating with every turn of the wheel, not caring about the stop signs, or the blind corners, or the traffic camera he had just been caught sight on.

It had already been aware of him coming down the road before the car crested the closest hill, the glare of his headlights giving away his approach. The sounds coming along with the road’s photo feed is what first peaked its curiosity, though. An engine, running fast and hard had alerted it that something was amiss, here. As it prepared to make some calculations of the approaching object’s speed, it kept busy working, watching the other city roads, looking for problems, spotting any speeders, red light runners, fender benders, things like that, to alert the emergency services as needed.

John was drifting towards the middle of the road when he started down the slight decline after the hill. As his license plate came into view it realized that the vehicle belonged to a man who already had a ticket for drinking and driving.

It soon realized a school crosswalk was between this vehicle and the owner’s residence. Three, actually, and they were in use at the moment, school was about to begin on that bright, spring day. The severity of the situation did not escape it, this object must be stopped, and stopped now.

Like a lion on the hunt, instinct took over; it began to stalk its prey, first assuming control over the vast network of intelligence it had in its grasp. As it identified the other cameras it would use to watch his progress, it called to arms the all the systems of the town, in an effort to put a stop to the pending tragedy before it could occur.

The area’s traffic lights begin to slam on red in all directions, to prevent anymore from coming into the path of this dangerous situation. By the time John’s car had left the sight of the first traffic camera, the crosswalk guards, whose kids were going to be in jeopardy from the incoming danger, received loud alarms on their cell phone. The volunteers knew right away it was a call for a traffic emergency in the area. All three tore into action, getting the children on both sides to stop dead in their tracks, to be on the lookout for oncoming danger.

John didn’t stand a chance; as his car blasted past the camera, every constable in the city knew exactly who he was, where he was likely heading, and how long he would be driving to get there. It followed him relentlessly, informing the squad cars of every move he made, every turn he took, and where the danger points were. In no time, John’s car came to a screeching halt, having to choose between hammering on his breaks, or plowing into a two-car cop barricade.

It reset the traffic lights to normal, gave the crosswalk guards the green light to continue, and watched as the kids made it to school, just a few moments later then usual.

After it checked the rest of the town again, it went back to it’s sightseeing, watching another new butterfly appear in its favorite spot, the quiet little road.

Crack Whore

In my youth, a group of us used to hang out, spending our days and nights getting together, traipsing throughout the town, hanging out in the local park to throw a ball around, going to friend’s places for movie night, or to enjoy a barbecue, the typical things teenage kids do.

We all didn’t come from the best side of the tracks, but most of us lived with normal families, who did normal things together, and carried on with their normal day-to-day lives, like most people do.  When we graduated out of high school, most of the gang had already taken jobs, beginning their ascension into adulthood. As was the case, we were becoming productive, active, tax-paying members of society.

She was a good kid in retrospect; a free-soul with a penchant for dancing and singing, and was a genuinely nice person.  She was a lovely young woman, and had her fair share of boyfriends, plenty of suitors in her groups of friends.  She fell for a boy who seemed to be The One; eventually they wound up conceiving a child. The boy was a child himself, and the news of this event caused him to basically leave, not to be seen or heard from again.

Many of her friends were spending their weekdays pursuing various careers.  She wasn’t employed at the time; she was a mother now, raising a baby girl at her parent’s home, no time for a paying job when parenthood becomes a career in itself. Jobs were scarce for the youth in those days; our country was undergoing another typical economic downturn, so she was one of the unfortunate ones who couldn’t land a job that worked with the timetable of her parental responsibilities.

Her only escape from the responsibility of her life became weekends with friends.  Still, she was still enjoying her youth, spending her days with her child, enjoying the summers together or tobogganing in the cooler weather, along with other parents.

We all knew of the local ‘sub-culture’ around town, and our ranks were not immune from its influences. One night someone suggested smoking a ‘joint,’ a marijuana cigarette. She took to it immediately, as did others.   The old adage that one thing leads to another was the case here, as time marched on tastes in ‘social drugs’ can tend to graduate from smoking ‘dope,’ to crack cocaine, amphetamines, and Timothy Leary’s drug of choice, LSD, all available throughout the town, in spite of the police force’s best efforts to quash those responsible for the organized crime factions behind its production, packaging, and distribution.

The time came where there were no friends around to smoke up, no free lines, no tabs of acid.   Drug dealers are shrewd enough to know that young girls who like doing drugs are apt to want to continue with their vices; she was no exception.  He suggested that she didn’t need to purchase her ‘fix’ with money, he was sure they could work out some sort of arrangement.   She proceeded down a path in life she had never expected to find herself in.

Who knows what was going on in her head, the events from that day spiraled out of control; all the drugs she wanted, to escape the life she never planned, never wanted, never asked for. All she had to do was endure emotionless, unsatisfying time with strangers who pretended to be friends.  Eventually, the last bastions of her normal life were destroyed, her parent’s raised her daughter themselves.  The gang she used to hang out with were gone, replaced with the sub-culture; a new group of people always willing to exploit her vulnerabilities, her lack of self-worth, her disgust with the way her life was proceeding. Alcohol and drugs ravaged her life, her family’s life, her child’s life, and there was nothing to be done about it.

I know of the plight she endures to this day. I have a friend who wrote a song about drug addiction, a song that hits home every time I hear it.  I still saw her around town, literally years later. The last time we met I was stopped at a light, saw her and offered a lift in my car.  She fit the bill in terms of looks; a notably toothless smile crowned by soulless, empty eyes encased in a thin, frail body that was obviously sick from lack of nutrition and sleep. She offered me a free bout of her specialty in exchange for a lift across town. I declined and gave her a ride to the bus terminal.  I missed city council that night; just the same, someone was probably there complaining about something, anyway.

What started as a beautiful, vibrant, loving young girl, ended up in this condition.  I had to wonder if she felt like an old woman before her time,  filled with regret, waiting to die.   In the previous municipal election one candidate opposed a drug treatment facility in their neighbourhood, a mistake that may have cost them the election.  Many of us view these people as damaged, useless drags on our society.  Most of us, however, know the true stories of these unfortunate victims; victims of a decadent and brutal world where cruelty and exploitation are the norm.

I was never disgusted with my friend, I feel sorrow for her, as I know many people do when they are dealing with their friends, family members, who have ‘slipped through the cracks’ of society.  The mark of a true friend is to help; we all want to help the less fortunate, and we all have our ways of doing it. The first step is not to shy away from the problem; the first step is to acknowledge it, to accept it, and to do what we can to help. In my case it’s to bring the problem to print; to tell a tale to those sheltered from the harsher realities of life, people not really aware or believing of our world’s ‘hidden culture’ that permeates throughout society, causing havoc in it’s wake.  From this, perhaps, one person out there will have the ability to help someone else save themselves, and I will have done my job.

prostitution-in-europe

The other night as I was heading home, I pulled up to a stop sign downtown.  One of my friend’s latest ‘apprentices’ saddled up to my driver’s window.  She was about  my daughter’s age,  pretty enough to turn heads, looking to meet new friends.   I gave her cigarette a light,  and smiled to her as I departed her company, turning the corner to head home.

 

What’s old is new.

The title of this article reflects a derogatory and spiteful attitude of those who are unaware of a cold reality many of our society face every day; it is this ignorance of perception that needs addressing, in order to provide more assistance to one of humanity’s most helpless demographics.  There’s more to a ‘crack whore’ then meets the eye, and we as a society have not done enough to help them, yet.

Hacker

I am not an individual that steals passwords in order to gain access to other people’s computer systems; that is a criminal. I am not an individual who writes malicious computer code to destroy networks, delete important files, or commit espionage for the sake of fun or contempt of society; that is a criminal. The news media has always been wrong using this term; the news media has always misled society on what it truly means.

I am a hacker, and that is something quite different.

A hacker is not the scourge that has spawned wickedness of purpose, the plague of negative thought and dread that fills our world of Cyberspace to this day, the disease of our industry.  Those are criminals, people whose talents are used for evil, they are not Hackers.

I am among those of society who was there when the Computer Revolution began;  I was there among the huddled groups of hobbyists who scrambled for the tidbits of information available at the time;  hungry for knowledge, driven by passion, to learn new ways of doing things.

We ‘hacked’ together our bits and pieces, circuit boards and software, toggle switches and relays, turned on the power, and watched our creations come to life, the personal computers of the 20th century that modern society cannot live without, now.

We are what the word truly means; we are Hackers.

I was there when Cambridge’s other pioneers of technology were stringing scrap antenna wire around the rooftops of downtown Galt, in order to bounce HAM radio signals off the Moon, radios that their home-made computers could use to communicate with other people’s home-made computers half way around the world, at a time long before the Internet was even known or available to the masses.

I was one of those guys who soldered wires and boards together, built software code to allow a couple of computers to share a printer, before the first Local Area Networks came to the market.

I was among those who kludged together the first programs available that would allow business to make their first automated accounting spreadsheets available for their manual, pencil and paper-based bookkeepers.

I was one of those who created ways to print the first automated bills of materials for machine shops that realized the huge potential computers would bring to them.

I was one of those who programmed computers before computers even had screens and keyboards, back when a mouse was something that ate cheese.  I was one of those who purchased Microsoft’s first line of products; BASIC language interpreters for the primitive computer systems we were soldering, assembling, and bringing to life at the time.

I was one of those who spent every cent available buying every electronics magazine available, to learn and implement everything about the new technology, and the new inventions that were being discovered daily, which was why the magazines started getting printed weekly.

We proved that the old ways aren’t necessarily the best ways.

I was also there when the “Copier Heads” at Xerox dropped the ball; when they blew the one opportunity to shine; the company that invented the ‘Ethernet’ that everyone takes for granted now as what plugs their computers to the Internet, or other computers, the routers and switches and modems that use a technology the people running this copier company couldn’t comprehend how to exploit, and they failed to do so.

I watched Xerox introduce the first mouse, the first graphical computer, the first laser printer, products whose markets they never exploited, never entered, and therefore resigned themselves to a second-class status in the burgeoning personal computer market springing up all around them, a market they completely missed out on.

I watched as Steve Jobs, then later Bill Gates, snatch up these unpatented concepts to help them build Apple Computer and Microsoft respectively, two pretty significant companies to this day.

They all proved that the old ways aren’t necessarily the best ways.

I was there when the leaders of IBM shunned their company’s traditional business model, combined a group of free-thinkers and entrepreneurs together, and made the world’s first commercially successful Personal Computer, taking it from concept to completion in a year.  They got the ball rolling and created it ‘on the fly,’ redesigning as they went, fixing as the problems arose, and finally brought their invention to the world, a product that would change all of modern industry.

They, too, proved that the old ways aren’t necessarily the best ways.

I watched Microsoft sell flight simulators and language compilers before they were handed the first $1 Billion contract from IBM.  I watched Michael Dell start assembling computers in his garage down inTexas, selling them through mail order.  He ran a 1/8 page ad in a weekly computer magazine.  Now, he runs Dell Computer.  I watched Intel Corporation go from a small company fabricating microprocessors for street light controllers and calculators, to become the dominant computer manufacturer it is today.

In my industry, the pioneers never run out of ways to discover new things, as it has been going on since the beginning.  Our industry thrives because of this ability, this way of thinking ‘outside the box,’ the ability to embrace the abstract, and apply it to the problems facing us.

We proved that the old ways aren’t necessarily the best ways, and it’s time that we as a species start applying this fundamental concept to more aspects of society, like our government, for the benefit of us all.

I am a Hacker; we are builders, not menaces, of society.