Oct. 25, 2005
A True (Scary) Halloween Story
If it weren’t for coincidence you might not read what you are about to. This story begins one late rush hour afternoon a few days before Halloween on one of many travels around this city. Waiting at a bus stop, I let a number of crowded buses pass me by before giving up on the idea that there would be one vacant seat for a tired body. After three or four buses passed, I finally boarded one.
Straight away, the bus driver, a tall gentleman with a calm, restrained voice, recognizing me as a Share columnist, greeted me by name. Oddly, he even seemed to know where I lived. Just before driving off, he handed me a sheaf of papers. As the bus lurched forward, he urged me to look at the package of photocopied newspaper articles. It included a column I had written on the difficult economic conditions immigrants to Canada face. The package was a meticulously organized set of documentation that may serve as clues or answers to what is happening in this post- modern world — if you use mysticism and the Book of Revelations as a reference point.
I don’t lay a lot of store in much of this, but as noted, the power of coincidence suggested that “Richard” had to have his due. Besides, the questions are being raised in churches, in bars and points in-between about the meaning behind all the recent natural disasters, devastating earthquakes and record number of category five hurricanes.
The articles — many which appeared in the Toronto Star — revealed that technology exists to create some scarier-than-Halloween developments including biometric technology. His notes pointed to Revelations 13:16, a reference to “the mark of the beast”. And as I scanned a March 14, 2005 Toronto Star article on U.S. supermarkets using fingerprint scanning to pay for purchases, Richard proffered that the technology exists to create weather disasters. It was his explanation for the recent spate of killer hurricanes.
His file contained a March 25, 2005 article from the subway paper, Metro, on “Africa’s bloody war for cellphones” about how “the growing demand for cellphones and other high tech devices” meant industrialized countries exploited the war in Congo that killed 4.7 million. Congo has a wealth of coltan, the ore from which tantalum — “a rare, highly conductive and heat resistant metal” used in electronic components — is derived.
Richard’s file contained information on genetically modified (GM) foods. He cautioned against fruits and vegetables that contain no seeds. He noted that rich countries are trying to avoid GM foods, but poor countries are advancing their use.
There was information showing that in 2004, Canadians spent more than $18 billion on prescription drugs. Star feature writer Judy Gerstel wrote in a September 2, 2005 article, “Pushing pills down our throats”, that most Canadian adults are likely taking some prescription drug, whether it’s to lower bad cholesterol or for depression or high blood pressure, etc.
Then Richard’s file got even more interesting. Next came an article that ran in the January 21-23, 2005 24 Hours on U.S. president George W. Bush’s inauguration in which Bush is photographed making a hand gesture that Richard labeled “Black Magic Devil’s Horn”. He also extrapolated on the significance of certain numbers mentioned in the article including, “39 tradition-hallowed words that every president since George Washington has uttered” and the U.S. nation’s 55th inauguration.
His file wrapped up with articles about preparations for the flu pandemic, which he stressed officials say will occur. One Star article (Aug. 26, 2005, “GTA gets ready for the flu pandemic”) notes that a 2004 pandemic report form Health Canada estimated that “up to one-third of the population could fall ill and more than 50,000 could die as a result of a pandemic.” And, a Star article from Oct. 5, 2005 says the U.S. military would be called in to maintain quarantines to control the spread of the avian flu pandemic.
Finally, back to those biometrics and other tracking devices, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Department is planning a $6.5 million trial project to digitize photos and fingerprints of new immigrants. Biometrics will be collected from applicants to the GTA refugee claimant centre and visa offices in Seattle and Hong Kong. And, microchips on radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will track products in a pilot project being run by Bell Canada at Staples Business Depot. The idea is that it will “reduce costs and increase productivity.”
It is difficult to make sense of the times. Some will frame the facts of the day using Revelations as their reference point. Richard did. As I got off the bus and it headed west into the darkening evening, I felt an otherworldly sensation, disoriented by the coincidence of choosing that bus over any of the others, but sure that because of it, Richard’s insights had to be shared. ~~~~~~
Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.