Computerized translators - NOW.

As the world knows by now, there was a very unfortunate death at the Vancouver airport involving a Polish immigrant to Canada who was tasered. 

The details are abundant enough I don’t think I have the stomach to go through it. 

I’m a dog’s breakfast as far as my heritage goes - a cur of Europe and proud to call myself Canadian.  I’m happy to welcome anyone to this country who is willing to be proud of both their own heritage and the citizenship of Canada equally, and who is willing to make this country and the world a better place.  The Polish side of me runs strong in my veins and it’s very hard to not get upset and deeply bothered by the entire affair.

My first response of anger was to defiantly learn Polish.  My vocabulary would have the following conversation available:

Yes.  “Tak.”
Good.  “Dobry.”
This is my nose.  “To jest mój nos.”

Probably none of which would help should I encounter a similar situation some time down the road.  I need to at least learn, “This is my nose.  Would you like to punch it?“ 


Okay, maybe the whole “learning Polish and saving the world one airport at a time” isn’t going to work for me.  Screw that - there is one thing I DO know and I know computers well.

On my Mac, built right in, is the Dashboard application.  It’s one of my favourite things about the Mac - and now Vista - with the various Widgets you can plug in.

One of my favourite widgets is a translator.  Built right in.  Nothing to buy, it just needs to get turned on.  I’ll even plug that it’s put out by Systran.  They’ve also the people behind Babelfish now, it seems.

No, it does not have an English to Polish translator.  There’s no lack of them you can find with a simple search on Google.

Computers are cheap.  PDA’s are powerful.  And there lies one solution to the problem.

It is unacceptable any longer to have international customs without a computer available for use of all passengers for immediate access to translation.  Translation may not be very good, but it only has to be adequate to avoid the same sad affair.  Mr. Dziekanski threw a damned computer - why did it not have translation available to him?

Translating computer in EVERY airport near the passenger side of customs.  NOW.  Not next year.  Not after the inquiry.  Now.

Firewall them off.  Don’t give access to anything other than the translation software.  But make them available right away.  Period.

I could have saved a life with my laptop.  There’s no excuse not to have fixed computers with limited access available for travellors who don’t speak English or French.