The Future of a Planet on Opioids: Who Guards the Guardians?

Recently I’ve been reading about the reported meteoric rise across Western nations in the prevalence and incidence of non-prescription drug use and trafficking, human trafficking, and the similar stats about arrests for alcohol addiction. Distinct from but related to these dire trends, are the overarching prevailing factors of climate change and pollution. I will treat those latter two topics in a later post.

My focus here is on the whys, whos, and hows of physical and mental abuse from drugs and alcohol overuse. 

Opioids and crystal-meth are the street drugs of choice for most junkies today, and alcohol continues as well to shatter the lives of its victims. That is the chemical tapestry upon which thousands upon thousands of lives each year are ensnared by addiction and snuffed-out by overdosing. A recent drug bust here in Thunder Bay, Ontario, netted the police over $275,000 in drugs, including cocaine, $100,000 in cash, and 1,000 fake pills actually made of fentanyl. Street gangs from Southern Ontario were in town selling mostly to northern reserves. Addicts also are reported missing just about every week, or found dead in town at the rate of 1-2 per month. And that’s only one city in Canada.

The reasons for taking illicit drugs are many and varied, but the majority are traced to;

  • high unemployment
  • a culture of poverty and school drop-out
  • domestic violence
  • easy access to drugs
  • a fatalistic view of life

Vulnerable people are the victims and targets of the drug trade. Their ages range mostly from mid-teens to late 30s. 60% are male; 40% are female. Many have children of their own. Many are homeless, in a shelter, or living in the downtown cores with 3-4 people per dwelling (room or apartment). Many are treated in hospital for addiction, anxiety, and psychosis. Some are treated or counseled through community support organizations but many of those treated are repeat offenders. Some end up in jail from inflicting violence on others.

This situational summary is not new. These issues have been around for decades in cities across the country, but the point is that the incidences have increased over the past decade at an alarming rate. Local police do not have the resources to be effective in controlling this social corruption. The courts and jails are overwhelmed, and recidivism is high. And opioid addiction for example, has reached into the middle class as well, to include professional and sports groups. The recent legalization of the sale of marijuana in city outlets has brought more focus on drug use generally, leaving people with the impression that taking drugs – like alcohol – is okay. Time will tell how society will cope with the ramifications of alcohol and now hard drug use as ‘normal’, and with the normalization of high powered illicit drug use. We can only hope that the guardians of society’s victims do not themselves become victims.

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My ’56 Chevy: A truly sexy machine!

On my 16th birthday, my Dad took me to the auto license bureau in Port Credit. I had no idea at first where we were going, but I smiled a lot wider when we rolled into the parking lot and he told me it’s time I learned to drive. After all, he had let me drive a few times that previous summer on the back roads of Peel County, and as a result my ego was awash with anticipation, but getting my license had never been discussed yet.

So on that day, while in grade 12, with a girlfriend and lots of buddies, I became a real man. I had arrived. I passed my test and I could drive.

Apart from some painful negotiation moments, borrowing one’s father’s car to go on a date can be loaded with risks, especially when your best buddie just purchased his ’54 Meteor and loved to try to sucker you into drag-racing on an empty street at midnight. Like, right out of American Graffiti. For some weird reason, girls seemed to be impressed with guys with fast (and often noisy) cars. Anyway, in 1961 I had purchased a blue and white ’56 Chevrolet BelAir, complete with a 283 cu in V-8, with money from digging water line trenches for my uncle. I paid $500 cash for it. It had 12,500 miles on the odometer and no rust. Lots of chrome, front, back and sides, and  cloth ‘bench’ seats. It was a standard transmission with the gear shift on the steering column.

I had three proud moments – suping it up with fancy carburetors with help from my friend Greg and cousin Tim, taking my girlfriend for her first ride in it, and taking it to high school for the first time. There was a ’49 Pontiac lurking about the town at night that always wanted to drag-race with me. It wasn’t until much later I encountered the same car! in Toronto at the stop-lights at the bottom of Spadina and Front Streets at 1:00 a.m. There and then, with the loud encouragement of my 3 buddies with me, I decided the moment of truth had come. We checked in all directions for cops, waited for the light to change green, and I floored it. Well for the first 1/2 mile we were neck-and-neck, but by the time we got to Yonge Street I was 300′ ahead and had to slow down for traffic. All four of us cheered and yelled out the window at him as he sped by. He didn’t look at us. So like all high testosterone males at that age, my ‘rush’ was calming down and I was regaining my senses, as we travelled the QEW 12 miles towards home. I would never had done that had my girlfriend been in the car, because if she ever told her older brother I was doing 125 mph on the Lakeshore in Toronto, he would have made mincemeat out of me for sure (he was much bigger and  four years older and very protective of his baby sister).

I drove my Chevy for five more years, until I joined the RCAF and had to sell it. But I hated to give it up. Unlike today’s cars, it had a definite simplicity to it that meant it could be fixed quickly. Spark plugs were easy to get at, and adjusting the butterfly valve in the carburetor took only minutes. Tires cost $17.00 each. A full “Continental Kit” for the rear end cost $225.00, but I couldn’t afford it at the time.

After the Air Force my next car was a baby-blue, 4-0n-the-floor Pontiac Bonneville convertible, but that’s a whole other story for another time. I only wish I had kept both of these beauties.

DRONES- NOT of the male Bumblebee variety! nor the idle person variety!

Look up. Look up. Way up!

No, it’s not Superman, Jack’s beanstalk, nor the Jolly Green Giant. It’s a flying drone, and it may be filming you. Or your property. Or car license plate number. Or it may be delivering your mail, or your groceries. Does any of this scare you?

You might think about how this revolution in mostly unregulated celestial browsing, could affect you, your family, your community and country. How might your privacy be compromised? What about drone noise and visual pollution if every one could operate one? What about pedophiles using them? Or thieves? Or political parties? Or the police? Or researchers? Or private investigators? and so on. You get the picture.

Sociologically, morally, legally, and environmentally – there are issues. Drones of the consumer type cost anywhere from about $250 to $3,000 and more. This means that I can readily go to my nearest hobby shop and within a few hours see what my neighbour is cooking on his Bar-B-Q, doing in his living-room, or wearing in his swimming pool. In the country, I could perform an aerial survey of how many cows my neighbour’s farm contains, and check out his feed-troughs and waste disposal system. In the city, off my balcony, I could film, and look into the windows of, hundreds of apartments and condos, including the penthouses. I could deliver illegal drugs very surreptitiously to anyone, just about anywhere, within up to five miles or more.

On the other hand, if I kept a drone in the trunk of my car, I could use it for rescue mission purposes such as delivering gasoline or food to stranded snow-storm or flood victims. I could film shots of a local baseball or soccer game my son or daughter is playing in. Perhaps the fun of drone ‘pylon racing’ might fascinate me. Or filming our foursome’s golf game. This list is endless.

There are some government regulations in place in Canada that govern the deployment of powered unmanned private and military aircraft. The problem is that sales are outpacing regulations in the consumerist-private sector. Controls fall short of all the possible criminal uses applicable to drones. Municipal, provincial and federal by-laws and legislative bills are definitely in a catch-up position. Meanwhile, fun-lovers and hobbyists will have a great time with these, while Rome burns from subterranean acts of the criminal kind.

Technology innovation always precedes cultural adaptation. Drones are an example. So whether it’s the electric or gas powered, three or seven bladed, camera or laser equipped models – drones are here to stay. So we better get used to it.

A Cornucopia: The New Job Description

Have you paid close attention to the length of job descriptions these days? Especially institutional, financial and government job descriptions?

Have you tried to read all the way through them and understand what they are really describing and expecting?

At one time, not to long ago, a job description (JD) clearly indicated what it wanted you to do on one page. You filled in the rest on the job because the employer trusted you to grasp and learn, based on initiative and trial and error.

Not today. I read another JD today for a managerial position in a large Canadian corporation, and the JD had 41 distinct company accountables listed, and 19 applicant requirements. One accountability phrase was something like “You will leverage the product characteristics, with third party interventions based on conventional expectations of tactful negotiations and client respect”. What the hell does that mean? And there were 40 more just like it!

Qualifications needed were (and remember this was for a job that paid $62,000 to start): undergraduate degree , but preferably a MBA or equivalent; 5-7 years directly related experience;  ability to direct a team of 7-12 people, and so forth.

So we have to ask ourselves, Why are job descriptions becoming so inclusive, intimidating, and unrealistic in terms of time in any typical day or even week, to do all these things? The answer lies with the assumptions that a) extremely detailed profiles of work activity will cause only the best candidates to step forward, b) the organization will therefore save on unnecessary training costs, and c) the company’s public image will be enhanced by pretense to superiority. The most predictable reaction after reading these impossible lists is to recoil, have another sip, and go for a re-read. Even then, once the task lists are understood in their fullness, a potential applicant most likely wonders “How can I do all this? Especially when realistically makes up 2,3 or 4 job descriptions?”

My Dad was hired as a Superintendent of a tube mill in a large manufacturing company, after he applied from a two paragraph job description. He lasted 38 years.