Friday, March 24, 2006

More of a question really.

It seems that what we have come to call 'technology' has sort of run into a brickwall.
The thrill we experienced in the late 1980s and into the 1990s is just not quite as thrilling as it was back the. Windows, Apple, Microsoft Office, cell phones, laptops, downloads, uploads, application after application, flat screens, wide screens, remote access, this and that, on and on.
Technology is one of my favourite hobbies. Yet, with every new release or new promise of the next BIG THING all I get out of it is a BIG YAWN. I want to know why?
Is it my age? Is it my gender? Or is it because Gates and Jobs have finally run out of ideas?
The early days of a company called Mosaic were so exciting, then Netscape, then Yahoo - now Google, eBay and so on. Sadly, they have now all become the GMCs, Fords, Shells, Exxons and GEs of of todays world. Boring, staid, lackluster, bottom-lining trawlers. Alliances and dalliances trundling on in a dreary nanoplastic dance where we have all become the audience, consumers reliant on cyber content.
Technology is going through a fine-tuning period it seems. We are ironing out the bugs, a tiresome techno-edit which results in nothing more daily offerings of the same old products with the lame promise of "bigger, faster and the famous 'much much more' which never goes on to say exactly what 'much much more' may mean if it were asked udner oath. The collapsing prices of chips, hard drives and the computers they inhabit is very telling. Not even dual core technology has received any great 'yahoo' from user. Add to this the fact that the giant Microspft ahs not managed to fart out its latest rendering of an operating platfrom and one wonderswhat the hell is going on? Steve Jobs must be happy to note that Gates has stumbled yet again on the OS side of things, but the millions of PC users wonders must be getting the jitters. The technology highway was always going to be bumpy, but now it seems that we may have run out of road all together.
The chances of another gates or Steve Jobs coming along in the near future must be very slim indeed. Here's the problem. What on earth's planet do we need that we do not already have in the context of technology and information. Sure, we don't all have it, but that is only a matter of time.
We need to cure cancer, aids, poverty, housing, education, freedom of speach and religious choice. Let's not talk about democracy; that's a sore point right now.
The world as whole needs to give its head a shake and focus on the needy and a dying planet. Technology can wait.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Who is running this show?

With the world's population reaching 6.5 billion in 2006 our understanding of the United States of America is possibly lower than at any other stage in history. We 6.2 billion or so look on in dismay as this great transformer of a nation twists and turns in the winds of it own making, its flag flapping and fraying at the edges in a maelstrom of confusing aspirations and agendas.

If self-doubt ever attended the mass-consciousness of the citizens of the United States of America it is today. These are glib, sad and sadly obvious words with which few Americans, save for a handful of Bush-loyalists, would disagree. It is not is not the Civil War, the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam, 9/11, Iraq One or Two, the Sandinistas, Castro, Chavez, Oil, Out-sourcing, Over-sourcing, Katrina, Nicole, Brittany, Bling, Bob or Bing that are the problem. It is much, much more. It is almost as though the problem could best be described as "everything and anything." That is why so many friends in the US simply say ‘don’t go there’ when anything even vaguely resembling ‘the question’ arises. How long can the US endure this uncertainty? More to the point and of greater significance, for how long can the US endure, period?Though we are but 6.2 Billion, sitting here in the audience there is little we can do to offer a helping hand for it is the helper who holds the answer, the US itself. We see a great country which has gone into debt, often on our behalf to save us from one horror or the other. We see a nation founded on well-meant ideals, on freedom, on liberty and equality. And now, in-equal in so many ways, we stand by while our mentor gasps and flounders, stricken with ineptitude and without good counsel.The United States Congress, the Senate, the Whitehouse, the media and the citizens of US need, in their own words, a 'time out.' To stop, take a breather, and look around you. Reassess the real situation; not the situation in Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room. Or the stunned self-righteousness that flows from Lou Dobbs or the simply stunned look on Larry King's face when an enlightened Jon Stewart makes a remark that leaves Larry's brain in park.

“70%” of the population of the US is against the Dubai Ports deal, according to Lou Dobbs. He sounds incredulous as he goes on to say, with utter resentment, that the CEO of the Dubai-company feels that the US needs to ‘educate itself in the deal.’ To think that anyone would suggest that the US needs educating; seems beyond belief to Dobbs. He is equally amazed that George Bush and his staff are in apparent agreement with the gentleman from Dubai.

So it has come down to this; the US is indeed a know it all. And if there is any doubt, just ask a CNN reporter. Is it any wonder that we 6.2 billion sometimes look at the 300 million with a little mistrust? Does the CBC run Canada? Does the BBC run the United Kingdom (They’d like to think so; but the British, who invented the media, would never let the BBC get away with such a thing.)

Which of that 70% who now oppose the Dubai deal voted for George Bush in two elections? Which of the 70% who now oppose the Dubai deal, agreed with the administration that Iraq hid weapons of mass destruction? Who among the 70% of those who now oppose the Dubai deal agreed with the decision to go against the United Nations and invade Iraq?

Perhaps the next time an important decision needs to be made on behalf of the citizens of the United States of America they should forego the tired and outmoded and democratic process and ‘go straight to the source’ as CNN would have it. Call Lou Dobbs; it seems he is educated, while the 6.2 billion are not.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Balearic Ballad

There was once
A girl from Ibiza
Who said
That sex
Beneath Her.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A second kick at the Official Community Plan can

Last summer critics of the proposed revision to the Maple Ridge Official Community Plan provided Council and Staff with a vigorous and pointed demonstration of what they disliked about the plan and where they thought the process lacked leading to the final draft. Council and staff have now responded responsibly and promptly by giving the community a chance at righting the perceived wrongs of the 2005 rendition of the OCP.

This may be a good time to thank both the previous council and the new council for their efforts to date; and to thank the staff which, by its presence, makes continuity of the process possible, notwithstanding the vagaries of municipal politics. This is also a good time to thank the 175 speakers or so who made their concerns known throughout the long and often heated hearings last summer; and to thank those who emailed and wrote some 1000 letters to the Hall, mostly critical of the OCP.

Even so, 175 speakers, 1000 letter writers, a handful of staff, one mayor and six councilors is nothing compared to the 64,247 acres which comprise Maple Ridge and the 73,000 souls who occupy this District. 64,247 acres is a number constant and 73,000 people which is number increasing at an unpredictable rate.

Wisely it has been decided to put to tender the job of coordinating this next attempt at putting to bed the community’s next five year plan. This is a good idea which follows more or less the principles of public consultation process as applied during the SmartGrowth on the ground project. Will it be as successful?

That is really up to the community. Having had the opportunity to act out their role as critics, the public are now being given the opportunity to reflect and innovate. My wish is that the most vociferous of the critics show up at all the workshops and every other opportunity they get to add their ideas to the next OCP. We already know that not every creative solution will fly, but we will also know that we have had our say and found, one hopes, consensus. The first people to show up the workshops should be the interest groups and the community associations and groups and the individuals and corporations who see themselves as part of the District’s future. If these people and groups and can reach consensus through the process facilitated by Stantec then it will make the hearings less of a battle ground and we can move forward with some degree of confidence first towards 2010 (of course) and then 2020 and on.

To my mind participation in helping to develop the plan is more or less a season ticket to attending the hearings when they come. It will not go unnoticed that at least two of the 2005 critics will be prevented from getting behind at the mike this summer’s hearings as they now find themselves on receiving end. Something about getting what you wish for.

Claus Andrup
Port Haney