‘unclaimed’

unclaimed_onthefarm_1280

A very powerful and emotional CBC film about Vancouver’s “missing women.” Click on the image to see the whole movie.

Note: The photo stills that play a key role in the film were taken by my friend Lincoln Clarkes. The above image is based on the very first photo of Clarkes’ epic Heroines series, from July 1997, shown below:

ThreeWomen

The woman on the left, Patricia Rose Johnson, later “disappeared” from Vancouver’s downtown eastside neighborhood and was killed by Robert “Willie” Pickton, who also took the lives of 48 other women.

Dad

Dad

August 29, 1932 – yesterday.

Rental detectives

I’m pretty much an open book to my building manager (thank you, B.!). If I ever have to move into another rental, though, the services provided by a British data-mining company might unnerve me. Writes Stanley Q. Woodvine in Vancouver, BC’s Georgia Straight,

Tenant Assured is a web-based service first made available two weeks ago to landlords around the world. The service essentially forces people to open up their social media accounts to the prying eyes of landlords as part of the process of applying to rent an apartment. …

This is how Tenant Assured works:

A landlord who’s signed-up with Tenant Assured sends all of their rental applicants to a special link on the Tenant Assured website. They are then asked  to provide full access to up to four of their social media profiles—on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. These are then thoroughly crawled, scraped, and analyzed by Score Assured. The scrutiny includes conversation threads, private messages, and contact lists. …

Concerns that the service is a gross violation of personal privacy were brushed off by the company, which trotted out the oldest authoritarian assurance about surveillance in the book, namely, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear“. Or, as [the company’s] cofounder Steve Thornhill put it … “If you’re living a normal life then, frankly, you have nothing to worry about.”

Thornhill further pointed out that people had to give their consent to the Tenant Assured process and that it was really not much different from a background check or credit rating.

Of course it’s very different … . There are long-standing laws governing credit and background checks and there are processes in place to allow people to see their credit reports and correct inaccuracies.

Although landlords anywhere in the world can sign up for the service—including right here in Vancouver—it’s is not clear what laws in any given jurisdiction could hold such an online service to account.

As a professional communicator, I take great pains not to post anything at all controversial online: very little politics or religion … or anger. (I always ask myself, “What would my students think? My future clients? My Mom?”)

The persona I therefore project is a good deal sunnier and more welcoming than the real thing. Indeed: Last year a girlfriend from high school wrote me, “Bob, I like you so much better online.” Good to know.

Also at nocontest.ca

Amateur recreation

“Amateur” comes from the Latin word for lover, “amator.” This spring I found a new recreation: translation. I have fallen in love with it. That doubtless I will never be very good at it is beside the point. I will always be a thick-fingered butcher when practicing the harp.

The magic thing is to have the harp.

Looking

One of my side projects is a mindfulness exercise I call Looking Straight Up, a teeny online photo-gallery. I always have a couple of cameras on me when I am out and about, more to make sure I am paying attention than to take photographs. I have found that staring straight up (and trying not to fall over) is a good way to start conversations with strangers, too.

This afternoon on my way home I was startled by this old birch, how on one side all of its branches had been shorn off, which made it seem very *haute couture*. A woman asked me, “Is there something special about this tree?” We talked for about ten minutes and then concluded, in unison, yes.

birch

… knock on wood …

chains

You can’t tempt fate, not really, but you can tempt order (or disorder) (or evil).

Vantransient

vantransient

Retreeting the wacky and wonderful on transit in BC’s Lower Mainland: a fun little project @bfwriter and I started six years ago. That’s a photo of my gymnastic bus-driver at the Scottsdale Station in Surrey, taken a couple years back.

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