04
Dec
08

Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 23

Secret message to Vancouver transit riders: stop being so fucking stupid!

[S]pecially trained police officers will patrol the SkyTrain line with dogs. If the program is deemed a success, the Transit Police Service could then develop its own dog squad, according to Doug Kelsey, CEO of the B.C. Rapid Transit Company, which operates the SkyTrain for the regional transit authority.

In addition, new transit attendants, who are not police officers, will be permanently placed at four SkyTrain stations: Surrey Central, New Westminster, Broadway and Main, said Kelsey.

Nothing particularly unusual about that, right?  Gangs, terrorism, can’t be too careful, take-this-liberty-I-want-some-safety and all that.  But why only add professional witnesses to those four stations?

The security measures are a response to public belief that those four stations are less safe, he said.

“There’s four perceived stations, and I use the word perceived, where people are feeling less safe…. So there will be staff there as long as we are open. Ironically enough, that’s not necessarily where crime is the most challenging for us,” said Kelsey.

“The station that is seen as the safest station on the whole system is Waterfront, and yet that is the one in fact where there is unfortunately more crime incidents,” he said.

That’s really fucking smart, there.

Now, I understand that when people feel threatened, they behave differently, and that generally we want happy and confident transit riders rather than nervous and twitchy ones.  But pandering to existing and false fears to the extent that you ignore genuine threats is not acceptable.  (And yeah, I realize that these “public beliefs” come mostly from grass-eaters who’ll cling to their fears as tightly as they can manage, so something reasonable like publishing reliable and timely reports about crime in and around SkyTrain stations isn’t likely to help matters.)

There must be something in the air these days.  Ontario’s openly admitting that its budget cuts will be merely symbolic; now TransLink’s openly admitting that its security measures are window-dressing.  I kinda like the idea of transparency in government, but it’s supposed to provide an incentive for people to not be stupid.  (I guess if they have no shame, they have no such incentive.)

——

While we’re on the subject of shamelessness….

Canada recently instituted a national do-not-call list.  The way it works, it seems, is that you (the consumer, who doesn’t want to be voice-spammed) register your phone numbers with a federal website.  The feds then package up all the phone numbers they get and send them to telemarketers and call centres, with a little note attached that says “don’t call these numbers, please”.

See the problem?

Thousands of Canadians have called the CRTC to complain about its newly launched do-not-call list, with some saying they are receiving more calls than ever after having registered with the service.

“People are receiving calls who have not received calls in the past,” said CRTC spokeswoman Lynne Fancy. “That’s currently under investigation.”

Now, in theory, any telemarketer who calls one of these numbers is liable to receive a $15,000 fine, which when you sum it over four and a half million phone numbers is a pretty good incentive to leave these people alone.  Well, except that charities can still phone you and ask for money.  And politicians.  And pollsters.  And companies with which you’ve done business.

University of Ottawa law professor and e-commerce expert Michael Geist said the government has added so many exemptions to the legislation that an estimated 80 to 90 per cent of organizations can still call.

In other words, putting your number on the do-not-call list really means that you’re giving it to a huge number of exempted telemarketers who’d be delighted to talk at you.

——

Speaking of phones:

Here you thought that modern communication devices made it easier to maintain long-distance friendships, keep in touch with family, and free up time otherwise spent commuting.  Nope, turns out that it’s killing your spiritual side.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, said that without a spiritual life, people risked losing their souls.

“In the age of the cell phone and the internet it is probably more difficult than before to protect silence and to nourish the interior dimension of life,” Father Lombardi told the Vatican television show Octavia Dies. “It is difficult but necessary.”

“There is an interior and spiritual dimension of life that must be guarded and nourished. If it is not, it can become barren to the point of drying up and, indeed, dying,” he added.

Now, given that we’re dealing with the Vatican here, we can expect to see some hypocricy.

At World Youth Day in Sydney, the Pope texted daily messages of inspiration and hope to attendees, while digital prayer walls were erected on-site.

Folks, cellphones and web browsers are tools.  Don’t blame your CrackBerry if you’re losing the “interior and spiritual dimension” of your life.


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