1. Why can’t kids walk alone anymore?

    I just overheard a segment on my local news station about parking around schools. Parents were complaining that they have to arrive “twenty minutes before school” to find a parking spot to drop off their children, and that people often have to resort to double parking or blocking driveways even with their early arrival.

    The inanity of this situation is enormous. Why is it necessary for parents to drop their children off at school? Aren’t schools situated in neighbourhoods such that kids are either close enough to walk, or receive busing? Certainly, that’s how school boards justify their busing distances: students living within a certain range deemed walkable for their age don’t receive busing, while those who live further do.

    Given that children who live far enough from the school to walk should receive busing, it follows that the ones who are being dropped off at school in the mornings live within the “walkable” boundaries for the school. (Either that, or their parents insist on driving them even if they could ride the bus, which is ridiculous.) The solution to all these parents jostling for parking spots in the morning seems obvious, then: the kids should be walking to school.

    Any suggestions to the effect that children might walk anyplace on their own quickly raise cries of opposition, people who argue that the world is too dangerous for kids to walk unaccompanied. Of course, this is hyper-sensationalized BS. But, it holds sway over our public consciousness. One only needs to look at the recent case of the Meitivs, Maryland parents who are being investigated for neglect after letting their children walk the one mile home from a nearby park, to see just how little independence our society tolerates in our kids. Or, just how little faith we have in the rest of the world.

    This all brings to mind Hanna Rosin’s excellent piece about the death of childhood independence, which provides support for all the claims that the world is becoming safer and safer, while we continue to tell ourselves that it’s more and more dangerous. She goes on to explain the detrimental effects of this delusion upon childhood development, arguing that the loss of opportunities for fostering independence in kids is a major one which must be reversed.

    Stories like the one on the news tonight frustrate me, because they remind me of just how far we’ve gone in our hyper-sensationalized culture of fear. The parents in the news story are driving their kids to school twenty minutes early just so they can secure a parking spot while doing so. Twenty minutes is a good amount of time: even at the slow walking pace of three kilometres per hour, that allows a kid to cover one kilometre—approximately the busing threshold for elementary and middle school age children. Kids could walk to school in that time and arrive in time for class, allowing morning schedules at home to be shifted later to allow for more sleep.

    Even if parents won’t overlook the ridiculousness of their refusal to allow kids to walk (and choose to deny them the independence that such solo walking habits could breed), nothing is preventing them from doing the walk with the kids themselves! Driving the kids to school does nothing but breed laziness and inactivity in the children, and it further enforces the use of a transportation type which we desperately need to use less of.

    If parents cry out that they’re too busy to do the walk with their kids, and that they thus rely on the car as the only reasonable alternative, they ought to get together with other parents in their area and see about alternating walking supervision for a larger group of local kids. Or they could even consider allowing the large group to walk together, unsupervised—there’s safety in numbers, after all.

    Solutions to this silly parking problem exist, and they’re not in the form of better parking lots.

    Of course, this all relies on the basic assumption that we can look past our natural culture of fear. It also assumes that we can trust our local community, rising above our perceived individual superiority and putting a little faith in those around us. Though there is a clear way, there seems to be very little will.

  2. Link: I Will Not Post This

    Don’t tweet. It’s not worth the risk. Don’t make phone calls. You’re being recorded. Don’t send emails. Sooner or later, we’ll all be reading them. Don’t take naked selfies, because some freak will find a way into your phone and share your photos in the seediest corners of the Internet. And the rest of us will have to look. Again, it’s not you. It’s us.

    If it’s digital, it’s public. That should make you scared of losing your privacy. But I’m more concerned about it scaring you away from publishing or sharing your thoughts and opinions at all.

    Sharing was fun at first.

    I Will Not Post This by Dave Pell

    I also really enjoy Dave’s daily news dispatch.

  3. Link: Finding ways not to call the police

    When you call the cops, you participate in a regime of violence against poor and working class people of color in this city. It’s part of gentrification, it’s part of racism and it’s part of genocide. If we’re calling the police, we’re voting for that system—instead of putting time and effort into creating real and new responses to harm and engaging with the people around us in that process.


    Go read the piece.

    I wasn’t familiar with the term “prison industrial complex” before reading this (and to be honest, I’ll have to read much more to really grasp it), but it’s reminding me of some past research I did into community/social justice initiatives.

    I don’t have the energy to write up more right now, but this is a topic I’d like to revisit in the future. If you’re stuck and want to do something about it right now (which makes you a great human being), Community Justice Initiatives is an organization which makes great strides locally in this field. It’s the season of giving, throw a few bucks their way.

    Okay, let’s agree to be better human beings tomorrow than we were today. We can start that by listening to the voices around us a bit more. (And then a lot more.)

    PS—This may mark another turning point for this site, into more of a linkblog. I read a lot, and I’m growing increasingly weary of just tweeting out links to articles without any thoughts attached, or not even sharing the writing at all. Maybe this site will be the outlet, maybe something else.

  4. The Star Trek Future

    The Star Trek version of things is pretty great. But where is it? Read the full article.

  5. Vinyl, Consideration, and Crap

    Our lives are full of crap; why do we keep adding more without considering it? Read the full article.

  6. Intake Control

    We can’t stop things outside of our control. Read the brief message.

  7. Wars

    We fight many wars in the world. But the one we need to fight most lacks clear leadership—at least, to myself. Read the full article.

  8. Publish, publish, publish!

    On the importance of regularly practicing writing as a skill, and of putting that practice out there by publishing it. Read the full article.

  9. Thursdays

    An update on my writing hereabouts transformed into an update on my life. A bit self-indulgent. Read the full article.

  10. Edit, not write, to find your own voice

    Editing other people’s work enables you to see how their style affects what they say—and for you to pass that knowledge through to your own writing. Read the full article.

  11. Work under Passion, Not Pressure

    Purposeful procrastination and restraints can have great results when it comes to creative work. Read the full article.

  12. Perspectives on Struggling and Death

    Two sides to the same story. Read the full story.

  13. Ice Cream Time

    We only live one life, and that life isn’t found on the internet. It’s found outside of it. Read the full article.

  14. Distracting Notification Lights

    What’s more important than what I’m doing at this moment? Read the full article.

  15. New Year’s and Other Matters

    New Year’s resolutions are unfortunate, but in any case here’s my look at 2014. Read the full article.

  16. A Hard Floor

    Complacency is a risky affair. Tackling the issue with ice cream, music, and a very hard floor. Read the full essay.

  17. Before WordCamp Toronto 2013

    My thoughts before attending (and speaking at!) WordCamp Toronto this weekend. Read the full article.

  18. The Boy on the Bus

    Make connections with everybody—even the little people. Read the full story.

  19. A triumphant... update?

    It’s a good thing I didn’t promise to update this site frequently. Updates about the month of August, and looking to September. Read the full article.

  20. Constraints lead to great design

    Asking questions and continuing to question deeper leads to effective constraints within which to design. Read the full article.

  21. When do your actions really matter?

    Your actions can have a big impact on your future, but when do they really start to matter? Read the full article.

  22. Stop listing features. Start gaining customers.

    You can get many more customers for your product by avoiding the common trap of listing features, and instead appealing to emotions. Read the full article.

  23. Run your business like a school

    Bring everybody together, and improve your company's productivity and culture. Read the full article.

  24. Stop designing perfectly

    We think designs have to be 100% perfect to meet our high standards. But is that really the case? Read the full article.

  25. Write in the Open

    Be accountable, give sneak peeks, and don't be afraid of the bullies. Read the full article.

  26. My writing workflow

    A look at the process I go through for a piece of writing, from conception, to publishing on my site, to promotion on other sites. Read the full article.

  27. A Lack of Comments

    Comments were part of what led the web to being a multi-directional communications medium. So why don't I have any here? Read the full article.

  28. A Talk a Day

    This summer will be the least scheduled I've ever had... But I don't intend for it to be my least useful. Read the full article.

  29. After WordCamp Montréal 2013

    Over June 29th and 30th, 400 WordPress users, developers, and enthusiasts gathered at Montréal's UQAM Cœur des Sciences to discuss the platform that they all share in common. Read the full article.

  30. Before WordCamp Montréal 2013

    My thoughts before attending WordCamp Montréal this weekend. Read the full article.

  31. Evolving Industries

    A look at changes, for better or for worse, in our largest industries. Read the full essay.

  32. A fresh coat of paint

    I've redesigned this site, for the fourth time in its history. Read the full article.

  33. “Turn off the clock” and other sleep essentials

    A few simple tweaks dramatically improved my getting to sleep experience. Read on, and give them a shot. Read the full article.

  34. The back of the head perspective

    While attending a recent concert, I thought about the perspective of creator's. Read the full article.

  35. Get more from talks by asking the right questions

    A simple trick to get more out of talks, for you and everyone else in attendance. Read the full article.

  36. An Idea for a CSS Markup Mover

    Wouldn't it be useful to be able to specify where a block of markup might be moved in the document using a CSS property? Read the full article.

  37. A Most Irrational Fear

    When I was younger, I had a very irrational fear which involved skating lessons, ice rinks, and cruel 6 year olds. Read the full story.

  38. WordCamp Toronto: Developers 2012

    This past weekend, I had the fortune to attend WordCamp Toronto: Developers 2012, meeting some really neat people and learning plenty of cool WordPress information along the way. Read the full article.

  39. The Making of ecustom.ca

    A more in-depth look at the new version of this website, covering the publishing engine powering my humble home on the internet. Read the full article.

  40. Mr. Al Chez!

    The story of Mr. Al Chez and the change he brought about to my life. Read the full story.

  41. A New Website

    Ahh.... Can you smell the new-website smell? After a long, long, long time, I've finally crafted the new version of ecustom.ca, now my personal website. This is the official announcement article. Read the full article.

  42. The Lady on the Bus

    My story about a woman who boards my bus each morning, and how other people on the bus react to her presence. Read the full story.