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June 23, 2005

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Security firm starts street patrol
Vancouver Sun, June 15

A security firm is betting $150,000 that a 24-hour neighbourhood patrol on the streets of west side Vancouver will pay off in increased business. Genesis is putting its Smart Car patrol vehicle, equipped with global positioning and continuously operating video cameras, into a 25-block area bounded by West Boulevard and Dunbar, 33rd Avenue and 49th Avenue. They plan to patrol for one year to see if they can generate enough business for the company's alarm-monitoring business to make its permanent presence worthwhile. Private security monitoring with guard response is a $10-million-to-$20-million business in the Lower Mainland, and SFU criminologist Neil Boyd says the private companies “obviously fulfill a useful role, otherwise people who have the ability to pay would not do so.”

Mandatory retirement not justified
Toronto Star, June 12

Why do some of us happily toil away well into our 70s and 80s, while others spend their lives dreaming of Freedom 55? Does retirement have anything to do with age, much less some arbitrary cut-off of 65? Most people know when it's time, either because of physical problems or the type of work they do. “More productive older workers will tend to choose later retirement,” argues Jonathan Kesselman, a public policy professor at SFU. “Those workers whose energy, health or motivation - and hence productivity - has declined will find work more burdensome and, even with no (prior) cut in pay, will choose to retire earlier.” Not surprisingly, Kesselman notes, the professions with later retirements tend to be those where intellect, judgment and experience are highly valued.

Pressure to belong hurts children
Globe and Mail, June 9

The incident involving a student who recently falsely claimed he was attacked and had his hair cut off has provoked debate around the issue of cultural integration, specifically as it relates to young people. Parin Dossa, an SFU anthropologist, thinks racism was behind the story. “The boy's difference is accentuated by wearing a turban,” she said. “It is a marker (outward symbol of his culture) of his difference but in a negative way, so he has already experienced pressure from society to integrate. If his markers were recognized and regularized, he would be able to fit in without having to cut his hair, which is a very significant move because it's a move toward changing your identity (in Sikh culture) and who you are. I feel badly for the kid. I think he was under a lot of pressure from many different directions.”

Apple gambles on laptop market
Vancouver Province, June 7

Apple has confirmed it is going to switch its Macintosh computers to Intel Corp. chips. Some analysts say this means Apple will be able to produce its computers more cheaply. Others say the move is risky and will cripple sales as they make the changeover. The move is welcome news for Mac laptop users, who would like to get better performance on the go. Intel chips cost less, run faster and generate less heat than the products Apple has relied upon for 21 years. “More and more people are using laptops for everything,” says Richard Smith, SFU associate professor of communication. “They are becoming power users' machines. This is all about building faster computers with better battery life.”

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