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Space Invaders
Sam North

'Home Rage is becoming something of a lifestyle sickness across all of North America'
CNN 2009 report

In the future we shall all dream of clean air and pure water - we shall crave personal space and covert natural fibres and good clean living - no price will be too high for a ‘quiet’ life. Few of us will ever achieve this.’
Marcel d’Agneau writing in 'The Times' 2009 in response to the modern horror sweeping contemporary cities across the world ‘home rage’.

The CNN report was pretty clear. Howard Kenny of 1208 Shania Towers on Homer Street, Vancouver had taken hostage all the occupants of the 22nd floor of his concrete and glass tower apartment building, then, one by one executed all of them, the children first (because they flushed the toilets too often) and then the old, because they shuffled up and down on the hardwood floors above his apartment wearing hard-soled shoes. His demands were the same as the others suffering from home rage, he wanted a ‘quiet’ apartment and a good nights sleep. Howard Kenny was paying $2500 a month rent and ‘he felt entitled to not to hear someone else’s shit flush inside his walls’. The stand-off lasted 26 hours.

It was the worst case of home rage in Vancouver of the year, but not the worst case ever. That dubious honour must go to the brothers Kenneth and Brian Talgath of Bakerville, CA, who blew up their apartment tower block building killing all 205 occupants after there was a critical back up in the garburator system in their kitchen. At their subsequent trial they were unrepentant and told the jury that "people who flushed too often and didn’t sort and recycle their garbage properly or park their cars straight ‘got what they deserved’ ’’.

The common elements of those who seem to suffer from home rage seem to be flushing toilets, (the sound of water circulating modern apartments can be excessive) , walking on hardwood floors with shoes on, loud base on stereo systems, (which concrete appears to be a particularly suitable transmitter to other parts of tower blocks), garbage collection, cooking fumes and elevator malfunctions.

Dr K. Awning of Utah State University states that noise and cooking fumes are only a contributory factor to home rage, far more important is fibre degradation in the carpets and curtains in tower blocks. Most new apartment blocks have central air conditioning and heating and although there may be hardwood floors in the living rooms, most bedrooms and bathrooms and corridors have carpeting installed and this is, in the main, 100 percent man-made. Fibre depletion from these carpets, combined with air-conditioning in closed environments, some fifty-sixty floors high, are showing a high density of microscopic acrylic and polymer fibre particulates, that can literally set of a toxic reaction that trigger psychotic episodes. Evidence produced by his research is now being used by lawyers for the defence of those accused of home rage or Defensible Space Syndrome Psychosis (DSSP).
New legislation outlawing the use of man-made fibres in enclosed environments will help, but the cost of removing and disposing of this dangerous toxic material from all the buildings in North American and Canada will be 8 times more expensive than the total costs of removing asbestos. The chemical companies who manufacture carpeting have already taken precautions behind Chapter 11 preemptive action, hoping to limit their exposure to mounting legislation and lawsuits. It is estimated that they are liable to more than a $1000 billion in claims against them and there is little chance that they will pay out anything at all. All man-made fibre flooring manufacture in the USA has ceased and new companies are wary of producing wool carpets for fear of legislation against the use of animal byproducts in manufacturing. There is a national shortage of flooring material and in winter homes can be cold. Emergency action is being taken to offer straw matting to those with inadequately heated homes, but these in turn have their own problems, releasing natural fibre particles that can be lethal to asthma sufferers as they degrade with use.

The generally toxic atmosphere of enclosed tower dwellings, the plummeting real estate values of these (mainly city buildings) and the default of the E-Bank of Montreal and many US Banks which have financed many of the most recent projects has signalled a sea-change in living and investing plans. The legacy of the boom years of the late 90’s and early 2000’s has left its mark in the estimated repair bills for shoddily built condominiums and tower blocks. Leaking roofs, inadequate plumbing, sewage back-ups with their consequent unpleasant floodings and rising heating bills have left some 30 percent of the entire home-owning North American/Canadian population in negative equity as home values fall in apartments and condos. The Federal and State Governments have refused to intervene, claiming that those without inadequate insurance ‘should have known better’ and instead placed the onus on leaseholders and owners to repair their homes to habitable standards and indeed upped the ante with the new 2010 Building Sound Pollution Codes that are retrospective and apply to all buildings.

The new regulations state, that each dwelling, whether situated in a tower block or condominium, should be free of external sounds: which include plumbing, heating, music and vibration. No neighbours sound is allowed to penetrate another within six inches of internal walls. Sound pollution is number one on the pollsters lists of modern irritations and politicians have acted. There are swingeing fines for those unable to comply.
"We aim to stamp out the causes for home rage and make it a right for every citizen to live a quiet life’, Senator Jones of New Jersey stated after Atlantic City was hit by a spate of killings over ‘loud neighbours’.

Technology is available to those who can afford it. Sound inversion wall screens are on sale. These take the noises generated inside apartments and render them negative. The technology was first perfect in automobiles using NeXt® technology. But for many, the cost of covering and operating these whole wall screens is beyond their means and there are questions about the long term safety of living within the electronic field they generate.

The Sound Codes of 2010 compliment the Odour Codes of 2006 which were a response to popular calls for the prohibition of scented deodorants and shampoos, laundry detergents, soaps and perfumes in North America. This followed a fanatical surge of protest from career radicals who had such success with removing cigarettes and cell phones from the public spaces, restaurants and bars throughout North America and Canada. They moved on to scent, the personal space and the problems of scented washrooms. Particular wrath was for companies that manufactured chemicals that made urinals smell like strawberry. The owner and distributor of "SweetChem ®’ was gunned down in a Chicago mensroom by someone from Zero-T® , the organisation for a natural environment. Invasive chemical pollution was their prime target . "No scent makes Sense".

It followed that the logical development of a need for organic food also meant that human habitation should also be free of scented pollutants to preserve the human experience in a natural world. Assaults in public places have fallen some estimated 45% since the Odour Ban was enacted and the abolition of sugar and sodas in schools initiative of 2006. Although Coca-Cola® and Pepsico® made bitter protestations, the definitive link between violence in schools and ADT syndrome was made between sodas with a high sugar content and anti-social behaviour. Removing soda machines from school and colleges and government buildings has more than halved school behaviour problems and improved worker/staff relationships in the work place. Although there is no scientific proof and the soda manufactures are appealing, the longer they are out of schools, the better and more reliable the evidence is.

(It is fair to point out that the thousands of layoffs and bankruptcies that have occurred in the scent and soda-manufacturing industry world-wide has brought economic hardship to many in Europe and those reliant on bottling plants around the world. But as the unregulated Chinese market expands, many companies have redoubled their efforts to sell into that market and it is believed that global soda sales and body care products are actually up on five years ago).

Once scent began to disappear from North American shelves, it was logical that protesters would move on to ‘sound’ as the next battleground. It may have begun with attacking people with cell phones, demanding no ring tone phones and designated cell phone speaking places in sound proofed areas, but it rapidly moved on to sound pollution in homes and the work place. Political activism for personal private space had become the rallying call for thousands of environmentalists and it was a growing global trend. They were helped by a long term health study published in Finland in 2007 which revealed incidences of brain tumours in the age groups 10-30 had risen 300 percent since 2001 and were rising monthly. Finland being one of the first countries to reach saturation with mobile phones was now the leading recorded sufferer of head tissue tumours and brain damage. Source: The Lancet 2008 Oct Issue. Oddly enough, people did not stop using their phones.
(Scientific-American 2009 - Jan issue editorial:
‘It is recognised now that with microwave technology being embedded across all of Europe and North American continent, we have ‘experimented’ on whole populations and exposed them to a potential long term health hazard that could affect millions. But abandoning the concept of mobile technology now and going back to fixed point contacts for communication, banking and shopping would be tantamount to asking people to do without electricity. Although many are aware of the risks, many, just like smokers before them who ignored the warnings on the pack about lung disease, are now willing to risk their brains for the convenience of cell mobile technology.’ (Comments from Motorola and Nokia legal departments were not forthcoming for this article at the time of writing).

We are on the cusp of a huge transition in the way we live. From assaults to our brains, to the very food we eat , the carpets we walk on, everything that we thought made life better has turned out to be lethally bad for us and we have to change. Legislation in over 20 states has already seen plastic containers being banned for food or milk. Glass is making a comeback all over the western world. Tradional methods are returning in country after country. Everywhere people are taking up new skills in woodcrafts and glass technology, organic farming and the arts. The reintroduction of mail-men has been as a direct result of an upsurge of people once again using paper to write their correspondence on (perhaps influenced by the preponderance of employers to hire staff and software to scan emails at work). Privacy and pride in ones work is leading this revolution. Convenience has led us to this endgame. It began with fast-food and ends with colon cancer. We demanded and got instant everything and now we realise the price we paid was with our lives.

According to Deke Maynard, the psychologist and journalist for ‘We are in a process of unravelling the entire chemical and electronic invasion of the human experience, taking the high road back to a natural, more sustainable ecological and organic way of living. In hundred years of so called ‘progress’, we lost touch with taste, flavour, our very senses and surrounded ourselves with hazardous, ultimately lethal substances. It will be painful to go back, expensive, but to sleep, walk, communicate and eat in safety, it is necessary that we tear down a century of mistakes and wrong turns. Many say that the modern economy will collapse, that we are totally dependent upon chemicals, oil derivatives, mobile e-technology and mass production, but this is not so. Now we have mass consumption, this is a market made up of individuals who demand choice and quality and a safe environment. The result will be a safer, less aggressive world. The market will respond, indeed there are those who can see profit in doing so. We must turn around now, if we are to give something to the next generation, we have to take a stand now and demand the real thing and if it takes a little longer than it used to, then perhaps we will come to appreciate it all a little more."

Some say we are turning the tide, that the revolt has peaked and we will learn to live with the new rules, but now the radicals are turning their attention to yet another frontier and it is possible that visual affronts will be the next pressure point. Already an aesthetics lobby in Washington D.C. has called for the demolition of unsightly buildings in the USA and drawn up a list is ‘unacceptably ugly buildings’. A group calling itself ‘Houseproud’ has threatened to demolish key buildings themselves, without warning, unless their demands are met.

We will greet 2011 with interest and trepidation. If the future began in 1900 it has taken us this long to listen to grandma when she used to say ‘The old ways are best.’

© Sam North

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