Porter to Pearson, please.

Porter Airlines wants to grow, fly its passengers on jets and serve more customers. Good. It has outgrown its small, regional airport on Toronto’s waterfront. Time to move the business to Pearson Airport.

You can vote here.

Unfortunately, Porter wants to expand the Toronto Island runway farther out into the lake rather than go to the bigger airport. The company is lobbying hard and pressing with PR and advertising to get their wish.

Because Porter is relentless in its self-interested ambitions, public interest needs relentless support, too. Let’s keep our revitalized waterfront free of jets (laughably called “whisper jets” by Porter PR). Massive increases in car traffic to our waterfront airport will only add to congestion and air pollution. Jets themselves would further add to air pollutants.

Compared with the numbers of residents and tourists who enjoy our waterfront, Porter fliers are a small minority. No matter how much they like Porter’s exemplary service, their pleasures are not more important than those of the rest of us.

As rail service will soon take fliers from downtown to Pearson Airport in 25 minutes, Porter customers will be able to take a Porter jet out of the big airport. Maybe Porter at Pearson would have a positive effect on competitors there. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Tecumseh: No Laura Secord with a feather

To mark the 200th anniverary of the death of Tecumseh (today… October 5th), I read an informative piece by Allan Gregg, published in HuffPo Canada.

I am taking the liberty of reproducing his second-to-last paragraph here.

Tecumseh believed that his people and whites were essentially different. He was and is right in this regard. The temperament, world vision, spiritualism and especially the history of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians are worlds apart. Nothing in our history or experience would provide non-aboriginals with a frame of reference to understand why anyone would chose to live a 16th century and isolated lifestyle in our interconnected digital world; or why individual ownership of property would be contentious or divisive; or why preserving and protecting “the land” would take priority over exploiting and exhausting our resources; or why spiritualism, ceremony or respect could be more valued than materialism, competition and “winning.” And we lack this perspective not just because our history does not include the surrender of our property, or the removal from our homes or residential schools or the stigma of systematic second class citizenship – in sum, of being misunderstood, betrayed and ignored for 200 years. We lack this understanding because we have never cared enough to acknowledge these differences, learn their importance and accept their permanence.

[Personal notes:]
When Gregg says that Tecumseh’s people and whites are “essentially different”, I stress his meaning as different in cultures, world views and philosophies. Of course he recognizes that we are all human beings, with all the things in common that that entails.

Generalizations lump people into groups… Tecumseh’s people, whites… that are often inappropriate at the individual level. Many of us, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, adapt and conform to mainstream laws and customs while at the same time acknowledging the worth and wisdom of other systems of belief and economy.

Audrey gets the job done

20131002-201953.jpgCan an 89 year old peace activist make an impact on the behavior of a major federal institution? Damn right she can.

Audrey Tobias wants Canada to know that Stats Canada is paying tens of millions of dollars to the war machine known as Lockheed Martin. You know, the same people that are peddling F-35 jets to Harper. Stats Canada is buying scanning software and hardware from Lockheed Martin, to handle the millions of census forms it processes.

Audrey doesn’t want to feed into the profits of an arms dealer, so she refused to fill out her 2011 census form. That’s a federal offence and she’s been charged. But you’ve heard all about this already, and that’s the point. Without Audrey’s resistance and her willingness to face a fine (or even jail time, because she won’t pay a fine) who knew that Stats Canada was giving business to an arms manufacturer?

Quote for the month

This was in a Linux newsletter I subscribe to.

“Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine.”

~Richard Stallman

I guess Stallman singles out Facebook because it is so popular, but doesn’t Google to just as much surveillance? Or Apple, or Microsoft?

Sounds about right to me

Its easy enough to notice how people behave differently toward us, depending on what we are wearing, but the effect on our own behavior is less apparent.

Good to be aware of, but it’s neither a good thing nor a bad one, as I see it. Fewer mistakes by lab coat-wearing medicos, on one hand, loss of critical judgement in some uniform-wearers, on the other.

As usual, Shakespeare got it right. “All the world’s stage” and we players tend to perform our parts according to the costumes we are wearing.

Apple’s shiny days over?

apple-oldI’ve been a user of Mac computers since 1991 and when Apple began its transition into a mobile phone company, I followed them by purchasing iPods and an iPad. For at least 15 years, I was enthusiastic about Apple announcements of new software and hardware. But gradually, that keen interest has been dimming.

My iMac still works well, but so does my landline phone. In fact, that’s how I think of my Apple stuff now… reliable utilities but not really exciting. Some would say that I was mistaken to find computer products exciting in the first place, of course.

iOS 7 has arrived for iPhones and iPads, but I find myself indifferent. The new features don’t do anything I particularly want, so why update, even if it’s free and easy (which it is). I skipped the last update for OS X entirely. First time that’s happened! Maybe I’ll upgrade to Mavericks when it arrives this Fall, but it’s not a sure thing.

Of course Apple has always known how to force its customers to “move along”, so eventually they’ll make me update. Once upon a time, I would have had only one dreaded alternative… Microsoft Windows, but that’s no longer true. Linux has stepped up its game so much, it’s a real possibility. Tons of free software, a vibrant, talented community of users, a less commercial, less invasive environment. What’s not to like?

In fact, my iMac can dual-boot into Linux or Mac OS X, so I can transition to Linux any time. Apple doesn’t care. Why should it? It’s a mobile phone maker now, and a purveyor of goods like music, books and movies. The computer days were a while back, but that’s when I liked Apple.

Chilling memories

20130919-103901.jpgTools I used at the start of my career as an advertising art director (mid 1970s) now show up as antiques in Craigslist ads. One of the biggest expense in assembling a print ad was buying typeset copy.

Headlines and body copy set on linotype machines (video) actually involved molten lead being poured into moulds to make lettering. We also got our type on strips of paper. It was cut apart with xacto knives and pasted into place on artboard with rubber cement or wax. Yikes! How flaming primitive.

Many, many crappy systems emerged on the market, offering cheap ways to make type without paying big bucks for the good stuff. These systems were inevitably awful, producing badly kerned, uncrisp letters in ways that were time-consuming and clumsy to use. Clients often couldn’t see the difference, though… and hey, who cared if the work was a pain in the ass. You could even get a stenographer (look it up) to do it. She was a lot cheaper than a skilled typesetter.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Apple phones to use fingerprint “passwords”

20130916-112923.jpgI leave my fingerprints all over the place, especially on my iPad screen, so why should I care if Apple wants to fingerprint me? They say the scan of my prints will remain on my device, not in their database.

They say.

I pull my tinfoil hat on a little more snuggly to think about this. The hacker community will quickly alert the public if Apple cheats and code reveals harvesting and storage of prints. Apple is usually the first to adopt new technology, so biometric ID systems will soon be everywhere.

I presume that the fingerprint scan with be converted into device-readable digits. The ID number will probably be very, very long and longer passwords are supposed to be harder to crack. But digital numbers are easy to copy and paste… easy to transmit and store. How hard will it be for someone to fake my digital fingerprints?

Old guy, me. Don’t like the smell.