After London

We’re currently watching a Netflix series about a London police inspector who hears the voices of dead people.  Maybe. They just might be his own voices that he thinks are the dead people in the mystery he is attempting to solve.  He’s not sure.  We’re not sure. He may just be a nutter but he seems to be a good investigator.  Or is he?

All the plots move along (without useful input from the voices) but they all seem to move along because someone goes over the CCTV footage once again for the umpteenth time and sees something no one else saw before.  CCTV footage is the new ‘crutch’ on which mystery plots revolve. But (BIG but) it requires a person to go over and over and over again all the footage.

I am sure that is true.  I am sure they do that.  I believe what the State tells me. It’s all reviewed all the time just to keep me safe. 

But, honestly, that was NOT our experience.

A couple of years ago our car was broken into at the hotel we were staying at and all the Xmas presents we had purchased were stolen.  ICBC no longer covers break-ins explained the dial-a-claim person because, “Well, there are so many of them now, aren’t there?”  Makes sense, actually.  Insure for that which DOES NOT happen but, if it does, cancel that insurance because how are you gonna make a buck doing that?  Not surprisingly, ICBC made no effort to tell us that our coverage had changed.

So, we lost about $1000-1200 dollars and, when we mentioned it to the hotel, they said, “Well, we have security but we never catch anyone.”

“What is your security?”


“Anyone actually go outside and check it out?  Patrol the lot or something?”

“No.  Just the cameras.”

“Interesting approach.  Anyone watch the cameras?”

“No.  But we record.  So we have tapes.”

“But no one looks at them?”

“Not unless someone asks.”

“Can I see them?”

” I will have to get permission from my supervisor.  Privacy concerns.”

“Of course.  And not to mention, liability issues and safety and security issues.  You might want to record our conversation and I can bring a record check in with me sometime next week.”


“Never mind.  Just ask.”

When we looked at the cameras, it was incredible.  There were twelve cameras at least ten of them with our car within their recording view.  For three of them , it was like Hollywood had staged our car to be the story subject.  We saw the two guys come from the street, we saw them look around, we saw them with hoodies and we saw them break in and steal our stuff.  Elapsed time….maybe ten to fifteen minutes.  The smash and grab? Maybe one minute.  If we hadn’t asked to see the tapes, no one would have ever seen them and yet, there they were in black and white.  Evidence.

Even tho we had seen the tapes the guys wore hoodies and the camera action was a bit jumpy, not film-like.  So it was NOT good evidence.  No one could tell anything from that other than they were likely young, male and thin.  I suppose we could have watched the tapes a gazillion times and eventually found enough evidence to trace their family tree and who their friends were.  But I doubt it.  That only happens on Netflix.

I think CCTV serves up the average citizen for 100% monitoring and controlling (driving, workplace, etc).  It is likely a revenue stream – bridge tolls, speeding tickets, etc.   But, for fighting crime, it is useless.  False sense of security at best.  For our successful thieves, 12 cameras trained on them meant nothing.  To be even more cynical, I believe the cameras are there just to comply with the hotel’s insurance company’s requirements for reasons other than the well-being of the patrons.

The police informed us that the thieves like hotels like ours because it was located close to the Skytrain,  People on Skytrain with shopping bags are NOT suspicious but men-in-hoodies walking down a street with packages are.  They knew our hotel had been hit repeatedly. NOT that they did anything about it, of course.  It was just part of the urban bargain now.

My point: there is less security in the city now that there is more.  Don’t ask me why exactly that is so but it is clearly true – the more police and the more CCTV, the more crime and the more of it goes unsolved.

Part of that has to be the lack of human involvement.  We delegate to cameras and computers, we swap digitized information without having to actually handle it, see it, feel it and find a place for it.  We have made a world of recordings, images and pdfs.  In effect it is a kind of vacuum.  It is a  vacuum of consciousness, awareness, caring, feeling and, naturally enough, the empathy that goes with that.  With that CCTV world, no one cares.

Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) wrote in another book, People of the Lie, that evil steps in to fill conscious voids.  A lot of bad stuff happens when people are drunk, drugged or NOT thinking and so some of that bad stuff is just plain evil filling up the vacuum.  I suggest that a lot of evil steps in when we trust to computers, too.

So…if we consciously turn our brains off, if we consciously choose to be unconscious and let the cameras and recordings do it all for us, if we purposefully go UNconscious about our lives, Peck postulates we invite harm.  I agree.


11 thoughts on “After London

  1. Cheap cc tv is useless. Its effectiveness hinges on folks thinking that it works but usually it doesn’t. As a trope for solving crimes it has become a lazy writer’s crutch to advance the plot. Sadly these seemingly ubiquitous cameras are never where needed or else produce a hopeless image of indiscernible shadows.


    • Yeah, and have you noticed how many times the cameras-on-cops haven’t worked? I must admit, that I am a contradiction tho – I like the fact that real people with their smart-phone cameras can capture real images when they do. Maybe it’s that simple. I trust it when it is operated by a person.


  2. Did you leave the booty in sight,?? Whatever, I know you’re just keeping at your writing.
    I dunno what took me so long, I happened to pick up a few year old kindle, in the summer 20 bucks, the case still gets 40, I’m impressed, I got your book for 5 bucks or so. So now I’m no longer a kindle virgin.
    I had lots of laughs, did anyone send a copy to the stephen leacock award panel,?
    Not likely, you may surprise yourself, at least send a ciopy to BC Bookworld, your kind of writing is what they exist for.
    Is just me,,? I see that The CBC story about Stuart McLean garnered only laudable comments,, I don’t get it.
    Funny, we lived in Vancouver from 1974 to 2003 then shifted to Victoria seems similar to your timeline. Nowadays we spend more time in California then Vancouver.
    I know we could not hack all that goes with the OFG model.

    As for your next book, surely the 30 year work career must have a book in it, que the humor, human condition, observation mode
    Wondering does wordpress let you know how many people read your blog,, would that be more important then the comment tally, I sometimes read ‘Culture of life blog’ she curates a lot of links, but only gets 10 or so comments.

    Then there is the nut bar narcissist garth turner he gets 250 comments, I would pay real money to see all negative comments he gets and trashes .

    thanks for the laughs ,,, aldo


    • Thanks, Aldo. Glad you laughed. That was the point, actually. Who really cares about two old people hammering their thumbs? But, it was fun to do.
      You are absolutely right – I have a dozen books in me about mediations and marriage separations alone. I did over 400 cases and some of them warrant movies being written. The problem is that not much of a world in dispute is funny. Same with Skid Row. Lots of ugly out there.
      I may do a few ‘anecdotes’ from mediation cases on the blog as a trial balloon….see what comments they get…
      Generally speaking I get 300 people reading the blog according to stats but, according to stats, over half of them are from China and Russia. Meaning; I am being scanned by robots for possible exploitation. Seems my biggest fans are foreign robots.


  3. A pretty sad state of affairs indeed. Your experience with ICBC highlights one of the concerns I have with govt monopoly in insurance. Supposedly, you get the best rates as a result of being non-profit (in theory). However, the lack of competition means ICBC can review claims and say something daft like “too many payouts for theft, better stop covering that”. In a competitive market you would likely be given an option to include belongings theft as a rider, or, more likely, it’s kept in your coverage as an incentive to stay with that provider, albeit with a modest increase in the rates. And, there’s no way to complain, raise a fuss or protest – there are no options if you don’t like it. Well, other than parking up the car, and that’s such a useful option in the hinterland.


    • Thanks, Mike, but it was only stuff. We got past it pretty quick. But watching movies in which CCTV plays such a huge role and seeing terrorists/criminals doing so much even with their images being caught on film, it makes me wonder why the rest of us suffer such an indignity for what amounts to virtually nothing. I suppose it is simply something we have to live with but I am glad I do not have to. The really weird thing is that I am law abiding. I don’t do bad stuff. I am a nice guy. And yet I get angry at being watched (when I am). It just feels wrong to me. Mind you, I have a problem with the MARSEC (marine security) level 1 sign at the ferries. I have asked them countless times, “Ever gone to MARSEC two?”
      “No. Never.”
      “So, in effect, having a MARSEC sign is stupid?”
      “Yeah. Especially since most of our customers don’t know what MARSEC means anyway.”


  4. We had two small motorcycles we used in the bush stored in our locker at the condo in town. The locker was, locked. The locked locker was in a locked storage room. The locked locker, inside the locked storage room was inside the locked condo main door. Supposedly only residents have a key to the outer and storage room doors. We have the key to the locker lock. Went downstairs, hasp holding the lock was pried off and both motorcycles were gone. Was it a neighbour? Someone who worked for the condo association? We’ll never know. Now only unwanted “junk” stays in the locker. Oh, and to get the bikes out they had to go down an inside hall past four front doors, down a short flight of stairs to get to the outside door (which is next to the Coast Guard office). Gutsy! Went to insurance agent. Even though our boats are covered on our condo policy, the bikes weren’t without a special rider. Like your ICBC experience, probably more bikes than boats are stolen. Cops took a report but it didn’t even make the top three in the local paper. We still wonder who it was, but with some renters they (and our bikes) are probably long gone. – Margy


    • Theft used to be rare. Not now. Now, if something is stolen, someone invariably states cynically, “what did you expect? Xmas presents in a car? Are you mad?”
      When theft becomes expected, it is time to leave. So, we left.


  5. Sorry to change the thread, but the cleaning lady never showed up. She shot a moose and had to skin and dress it. We got 200 mm (Yup 8 inches) of snow yesterday so that’ll probably have implications, like getting about. Makes it easy to track burglers though.
    She’s not aware that I plan to hit on her, yet.


    • Sounds like a real charmer. No wonder you are smitten. But , just to be on the safe side, have her leave her gun at home. Sounds like a ‘ keeper’ tho, if she says yes. But I can guess already at who will be on top.


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