Baronger's Scribblings

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Cameras in the Public Space - Bringing the small town to the big city.

Cameras and Counterterrorism by Heather Mac Donald, is a common take on the raging controversy surrounding having cameras monitor public spaces. The big fear is that there will be a loss of anonymity. In large cities everyone is a nameless face in the crowd. It's ok if a local policeman sees you, for he has no idea who you are. However if you live in a small town, the local peace officer probably knows you. He probably goes to church with your parents. He might have been your classmate at school. He probably remembers every single time he pulled you over for speeding.

Now with modern technology, big city cops are going to become much more like the small city police or county deputy. Facial recognition and information sharing will give all cops a huge increase in knowledge. Soon a policeman watching a monitor will know the identity of everyone with a police record he sees on the screen. Like the online games, a person's name will flash above a person's head on the screen, along with information as to his status. The police will know if the person has committed felonies, if that person is on a terrorist watch list and even more ominously where his listed address is. Civil libertarians would be outraged at this huge increase in the ability of the police to identify people. Yet the small town cop already carries all of this info and ability under his hat and yet there are no cries that he needs to be lobotomized.

It is often said that in a small town they are no secrets. The same might soon be true for a large city. Already blogs are given the power of gossip incredible power. People blog about their jobs and the people they work with. As this becomes more common, we will all soon have our private business known by others. Scary yes, but the problem is also the solution. The victim of gossip has the power to get online start their own blog and put out their side of the story. Pretty soon not only police but the common citizen will have facial recognition tech. See someone you think you might know, well use your cell phone to click a pic and run an id check on them. Instead of being a sea of strangers the city will become a sea of semi-casual acquaintances. It might just possibly be the return of the small town mindset to the big city.

The rural areas often have lower crime rate then the big city. This is because everyone can look out for everyone else. The bad elements in town are known. This means that they doesn't have to be that big of a police force. This means that far from cameras increasing the power of a police state, it might have the opposite effect. It might mean that we won't need as many peace officers as the citizenry assume some of the responsibility of keeping the peace. Common citizens with access to information, can shed light into the shadows that criminals and terrorists lurk.

The police having information in a big city is no different then them having information in a small town. It's not the information that is the problem, it's what they do with it. The only way to stop abuse of power is to have an active and informed citizenry who can group together. The same information systems open to the police will be open to the citizenry, to prevent abuse. After all if there is an officer of the law, who is abusing his power, I am sure that they will be citizenry talking about him and emailing his supervisor and their local representative.

The real question is not if the police will use technology to abuse the population. The question is how will the police function in this age of hypervigilance. We have already seen police chases and arrests regularly on television. Video tapes of arrests are becoming more and more common. Interviews and interrogations are routinely videotaped. The video cameras in cop cars are more a protection for the common citizen then they are for the cop. There is a difference in cameras in a totalitarian state and in a democracy. The difference is in who owns the power.

I doubt that we will see people being inhibited. A person behaving a certain way in public in front of dozens if not hundreds of people will probably not act differently if they are video taped. A police camera will just have the same effect as a live police man standing on the corner. Hidden cameras will just be the difference between a marked and an unmarked police car. I don't see a demand that undercovered officers, have to wear uniforms. The only thing that cameras will deter is unlawful activity. Just as no one speeds past a marked police car on the highway, people will be similarily dissuaded from committing open crimes.

The money quote from the article is this:

The idea that a society that has long defined the pinnacle of success as getting your picture on TV, where hordes of would-be exhibitionists vie to be humiliated on reality TV shows, where thousands of others erect video cameras in their homes to broadcast truly private behavior to millions on the Internet —the idea that such a publicity-ravenous society would care one iota about cameras on boulevards or in ATM facilities defies logic. But the privacy fanatics’ counterintuitive claim can be tested empirically. Are London girls any more inhibited about exposing vast swathes of midriff than girls in unsurveilled cities? Is foot traffic on Oxford Street less than one would expect from the population density? Did British streets empty upon the highly-publicized installation of cameras? These are all testable hypotheses; none of the privacy fear-mongers has suggested investigating them, much less done so; they know the results will expose their claims as fraudulent.

Ordinary people, you see, understand an elemental truth that continuously eludes the civil liberties lobby: public cameras only capture public behavior, behavior already observable by many more eyes than will ever watch a video feed from a nearby camera. In fact, the only people whom public cameras inhibit are criminals; they liberate the law-abiding public. Following the installation of seven video cameras in Los Angeles's beleaguered MacArthur Park in 2004, the L.A.P.D. watched "“in amazement"” as crime plummeted, gangs, drug dealers, and pimps disappeared, and low-income families began returning to the park, reported the Los Angeles Times in October.


Saturday, July 30, 2005

TCS: Tech Central Station - Third Wave Gentrification

Ahhhh, paradigm shift world view is now askew.  The little town of Hazel, Kentucky has a presense on the web.  This is a small flyspeck country town in the middle of nowhere.  My grandparents used to live there, and I actually spent a semester there after moving from Hawaii.  I did really well in school then, since I could finish all of my homework on the 3 hour bus ride.  Not to mention that there were no distractions, and very limited television reception.  The town was dying, and really there was only second hand shops and a general store.

TCS: Tech Central Station - Third Wave Gentrification is an interesting article that mirrors something I've been thinking about for a while. Still what I found on the web was quite a shock. Anthropolgically speaking we are more adept at living in small village like settings. I hope that this "third wave Gentrification", is the meme of the future. Even though I knew that small towns were being revitalized, seeing that small sleepy Hazel has a website was a shock.

But now apparently Hazel has become Antique central.  It's actually described as, "alive, vibrant, and bustling." .  These are terms that I would never have thought would be applied to Hazel.  The town didn't even have a gas station last time I was there.  It was nine miles from anywhere, which was the town of Murray.  Murray can only be described as being somewhere if you can compare it to Hazel. 

Please tell me I'm dreaming.  This is just too weird.  But still I would like to live in a small town like this, as long as it is within reach of the ocean and about 30 miles to a major city.  I'm just hoping that telecomuting will eventually make it happen.

This is supposed to be the next big meme.  Telecomuting will revitalize all of those small towns.  They have really nice houses and property that are dirt cheap.  This is supposed to be the "Third Wave Gentrification" that should make living in small town America nice again.  I was really happy when I saw the Tech Central article.  It was something that I had been thinking about for a while.  Every time I drive through a small town and see all those huge houses that are cheap by comparison.

Though small towns are more gossipy, they do have their benefits.  People tend to be friendlier, though they are still exceptions.  However people "talk" about those exceptions.  There is less crowding, and a more relaxed feeling.  Once gentrification starts there will be small cafe's and bookshops.  Maybe even mini borders or B. Dalton's.  It is also quieter and easier to hear the sounds of nature.

Here's some quotes from the article.:

... it occurred to me, though, that the day places like this one will become real dot-com towns may be coming.

Real estate in much of rural America is shockingly inexpensive, especially in the remote parts of the West. Houses are practically free compared with what they cost in Seattle and Portland, not to mention what they cost in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. That's because hardly anyone can move there and find a job. First Wave agriculture economies (to borrow Alvin Toffler's terminology) require fewer and fewer humans to do the work. These places hemorrhage young people to large urban areas, and they've been doing it ever since the Second Wave Industrial Revolution got rolling hundreds of years ago. Rural economies keep spiraling downward, and home prices circle the drain along with them. When the current generation of senior citizens passes, and a smaller number of young people grow up to take their places, home prices will be knocked into oblivion. The number of houses for sale will drastically exceed the number of people who live anywhere near them and might want to buy one.

Meanwhile, telecommuting jobs are more common than ever. There will only be more of them in the future. In the past such jobs were rare because they were impractical or downright impossible. Blue collar workers needed to show up in person at factories. Office workers didn't have email, teleconferencing, instant messaging, and other various "virtual water cooler" places to meet and discuss work projects online. Now they do.

I telecommute at several part-time writing and editing jobs simultaneously. Several of my old colleagues in the high tech industry do, too. One former co-worker of mine now tests software for a Portland company from the beach in Costa Rica. It's a great deal for him because, hey, he gets to live on a North American salary in an inexpensive ecotourism paradise where tech jobs of that sort of have never even existed. The company benefits, too, because it doesn't have to rent office space for him anymore.


These two trends -- declining rural real estate values and increasing white collar telecommuting jobs -- are slowly approaching their respective tipping points. When they both reach those points, a third new trend will likely be born. At the same time large numbers of people can effectively work from anywhere, real estate in the countryside will be both plentiful and even more dizzyingly cheap than it already is. Many who today leave cities for the suburbs because they want to live in "the country" will have the option of actually living in the country at hugely reduced cost, with real peace and quiet, with vanishingly close to zero crime rates, and with zero-minute commute times. Towns like may, then, become small dot-com cities in fact as well as in name.

The First Wave agriculture revolution created small towns - or "villages." The Second Wave Industrial Revolution depleted and drained them. The Third Wave tech revolution just might restore them.

Plus it would be nice to have a nice place where I could actually bicycle or moped to the local convienence store. Whenever I drive through Curryville or Paris, MO I get the same feeling. Nice quiet, and wonderful houses. A place that feels like it has history to it. A place with space, and the feel of peace. Perry and other small towns like it combine the suburbs and city into a manageable whole.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Whiskey Tango Foxtrot of the Big Hominid

Oh Beauty who dost betwixt thy fever'd buttocks my beleagur'd skull embrace ...

The website known as BigHominid's Hairy Chasms will always leave the first timer scratcing their head going WTF. It is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in course vulgarity. It is also highly philosophical and introspective and has a zen like quality. It is in fact all about the fuck. But it is philosophical about it. Best of all it is illustrated by the author, who is a professor who teaches english at a Korean university.

Recently RazorNylon tried to describe our lovable Hominid. In doing so he made a monkey of himself, which is just short of being a hominid. The Hominid responded with his own rejoinder. He takes the person to task for not completely reading the blog first. It takes time and effort but you will reach a moment of zen if you complete this journey of the mind. Well you will if you don't die laughing, or if your spleen doesn't reach up and kill you first. Really Volgon poetry has to be better then some of this stuff, though not as funny.

In order to understand the full Hominid you really do need to do an in depth reading, as his range of subject matter is as great and his perversity is deep. He is crude, lude and makes a mean dinner. Really it is a must read just for the cooking posts. If you ever want to know about Korean cooking in the, "I'm hungry what do I have in the fridge to throw in the pot" method, this is the site to read.

As the Hominid himself puts it:
The moral of the story is: Judging a two-year-old blog after superficially reading a handful of posts is a bit like judging all women after watching one take a shit for twenty seconds.

It makes a lot more sensce when read in context. Which is the whole point. On it's own that quote gives you a WTF moment. But once read in it's entirety you get a zen like moment of ..... Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!! which is swiftly followed by the feeling that an alien has just eaten your brains.

Consider this, my linguistically meticulous friend: you're "barely now getting involved," which means you haven't had the chance to read through my archives-- or anyone else's. A bit too soon to be passing judgement, don't you think?

Let's use a sci-fi analogy to understand this properly.

Imagine you're a freshly-made human clone-- a male, and you've spent time in the lab being rapid-educated, without ever once meeting an adult woman. A year passes. The doc says, "Dude, this is your big day. You've seen the pictures of them, you've read the poetry about them, and now, at long last, you're gonna meet your first woman." So you're like, "Fuckin' A, Doc." Your dick grins and drools in agreement.

The doc takes you outside the cloning building and points vaguely to another building across the grounds.

"She's in there, man," he says. "Knock yerself out."

So you walk across the lawn, go into the other building, and start looking around for this lady. Doors are marked with all sorts of letters and symbols you can't read too well (you're only a year old, remember; accelerated education isn't perfect), and you finally barge into one promising-looking room.

The room, you immediately discover, smells like shit. Of course, that's not about to stop a curious clone like you. You see a bunch of stalls in the room, notice a pair of petite feet peeking out from under the door of one of the stalls, and bash the door open.

There's a woman in there, all right, and she was in mid-crap when you burst in. She screams, the muscles of her body reflexively tightening in terror, which serves only to squeeze out more dung and produce a massive, wet fart as well.

You find yourself thoroughly disgusted by the sight and smell of this screaming creature and you stumble out of the restroom, barely able to comprehend how such a thing might be the other half of humanity.

"What the fuck?" you muse, as your dick frowns in sincere, analytical puzzlement. "Women aren't all they're cracked up to be." You decide from then on to stay away from all women, since they're obviously irrational, unsanitary, and smell like shit.

The moral of the story is: Judging a two-year-old blog after superficially reading a handful of posts is a bit like judging all women after watching one take a shit for twenty seconds.

And no extra IQ points for misspelling my handle. BigHomid. Who's the bigger homid, I wonder?

The way of the Hominid is a long and winding trail. His various messages require great meditation, and great sensce of humour. Remember if you think you know the Hominid you will eventually be proven wrong. If you think you don't know the Hominid you will be proven correct. Just don't ask him what the sound of "one hand clapping is."


Friday, July 22, 2005

Suicide Dudders

Malkin echoed my exact thoughts. I woke up groggily after falling asleep in front of the TV. For a second I wondered if there was so little news that the networks were forced to start airing repeats. But no it was yet another attack against civilization.

It looks like the London terrorists just went ahead and proved what failures and losers they are. This was deffinately their B team, but it's no surprise since the attrition among the A-team Homicide Bombers is 100%. In the end these Jihadists need a big L tattooed on their forhead. Thankfully lives were saved due to their incompetence.

Yet the entire plan of Suicide bombing is a dud. If nations don't capitulate in the face of true terror bombings, like those in WWII, how are a few isolated bombs going to work. The totally random buzz-bomb attacks against london, were a total failure. Dresden was firebombed as well as tokyo, yet we observed no loss in the will to continue the fight. Even the atomic bombs of Hirosima and Nagisaki, might not have been effective if the military takeover had not been stopped on the eve of the surrender. Spain so far is the only success story. In the end the terrorists are trying to get us to defeat ourselves.

There is speculation that this is a blood feud and not a war. Lee Harris writes an interesting and thought provoking article.
In the blood feud, the orientation is not to the future, as in war, but to the past. In the feud you are avenging yourself on your enemy for something that he did in the past. Al Qaeda justified the attack on New York and Washington as revenge against the USA for having defiled the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia by its military presence during the First Gulf War. In the attack on London, the English were being punished for their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If this is a blood feud, this could go on for a long time. However if they are really trying to "count coup" against us, then even if we pull out of Iraq and the entire middle east it won't keep us safe. The whole struggle is one of us against them. In a blood feud, we have been labeled as an enemy that must be destroyed regardless. So as long as the terrorists consider us an enemy we can't quit, since they won't quit. This entire situation goes back further then Iraq as the Anchoress reminds us. Iraq is just the latest escuse, and if that went away the blood feud mentality would compel the terrorists to search for another reason.

There is no reasoning with such a mentality. There can be no compromise, as the blood feud mentality is an all or nothing thing. Even if we agreed to become Muslim and accept Sharia law, and force all the women in the world to wear burkas it wouldn't stop. The terrorists attack and kill other Muslims. If we give them money it wouldn't stop them, remember Bin Laden is a highly educated Millionaire. The only goal of the terrorists is the spilled blood of their enemies, nothing more and nothing less. In the end all the terrorists are duds.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Snogging epidemic hit American Schools?

One of the interesting things about languages, is that they are flexible and often import terms. The latest Harry Potter book has just introduced a lot of young people to the English Slang term, "Snogging." Of course the book was written in such a way that everyone who didn't know the term, would instantly identify what it was. So the question is, will the book be enough to influence a slight language change. After all snogging is both a fun word to say as well as a fun thing to do. So far I havn't seen any posts on this from Language Log or Tensor.

This will be an interesting thing to look at. My prediction is that it will. One it involves sex which is always a big seller. As I said it is a fun word to say. A lot of people were introduced to the word at the same time, so it is recognizable. School age children are more apt to adopt slang. So I shall keep an eye out for an increase in snogging.

I did a google search on snogging right now to get a baseline.
Current baseline is: Results 1 - 10 of about 113,000 for snogging.

Also a baseline for the discussion:
Current baseline is: Results 1 - 10 of about 152 for snogging harry potter linguistics.


The Dread Justice Roberts

Apparently the Roberts nomination is being attacked from both sides. The question is how honestly are the attacks from the right. This might be a form of political judo, where some on the right critisize the nomination in order to give support to the nomination. After all the pro Roberts people can say, "Look even some on the right are against the nomination."


Sunday, July 10, 2005


Unconsidered Trifles looks at the response on Amazon to Sen. Santorum's new book.

How extremely sad that Santorum can write a book criticizing the notion that government is a co-equal or better guardian of children (a notion, by the way, that Orwell foregrounds in 1984 which I am about to finish), and people read that as an indictment on themselves and their "lifestyles." Not surprisingly, one reviewer who pooh-poohed It Takes a Family thought that this book provided "a base for empowerment of both women and men in our society who are challenged with feelings of shame."

It always seems strange that the Left is always among the first to shout "Orwellian" or invoke 1984. I wonder how many of them have actually read the book. The government that took over, was the left. It was state control of everything, down the the minutest detail of everyday life. It was changing the language and the meaning of words. 1984, is a great book and is properly the province of Libertarians to quote and uphold.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Iraqi War Casualties

Interesting presentation of the trend of casualties in Iraq.


Relevance of Newspapers

Interesting article on the relevance of newspapers today. For breaking news we now turn to the internet and the 24 hour news channels. Newspapers will probably end up being for more in depth coverage and after action reports.


A quick tour of various Blogs

A proper Shakespearian responce to the London incident. This is heavy stuff, so I'll look for some lighter stuff around the web. The fight goes on, and in this one there are no front lines. There is no safe area in the rear. It's hard to find the words to truly express what I feel. Others are better at this then I am.

Quick look around the blogs as I'm seeing what is being said about London. Only to find out shockenly that the forgotten war in Kosovo has escalated to biological warfare. We were only supposed to be in Kosovo for a couple of years and now, we have been there for over a decade, and their battles are hardly ever mentioned. However I'm sure that our brave soldiers will squash the enemy like the bugs they are.

Here I think is the perfect responce to critisizim about editing and spellin by commentors. Here someone wrote "expatriots". He had the perfect almost "Mark Twainian" responsce. "Update: Jay points out that "expatriates" is the correct spelling. I like mine better, however, and hope to start a trend." Which is very true since language and writing are never fixed. Heck spelling wasn't fixed until the first dictionary was written, and "standards" adopted.

Is there really a difference between looking at your watch rather then your cellphone to get the time.
Importantly, there is one small but crucial distinction between the glance at a watch and one at the time display on a cell phone: The watch keeps its own particular time, but the cell phone tells its owner what time the rest of the world thinks it is. Because the time is constantly updated via synchronization with a mobile phone service, the cell phone display works more like a newsfeed than a personal appliance. (John Savarese, April 2005 18:8)

Of course this will end the disagreements about what time it is. There are countless arguments about what the correct time is when someone is late. It is nice that there can be a conscensus.

That rule irritates linguists.

To end the dabate we shall bring back the older forms. Grammarians will of course say that it 'tisn't right.

I wonder when asked how he did it, he responded, "it was as easy as Pi."

Must remember not to swim in the Mekong river. I wonder if he was caught by noodling? Heck hand to hand I wouldn't want to go up against it. I've seen small catfish snap up minnows a third their size, so I wouldn't put it past this thing being a maneater, or at least a child eater.

Ok China does have some of it's good points. Clean cars so nice. However government control of when you get heat. Goodness I would never stand for that. Oh wait I did, when I was living in the dorm. The whole heat by schedule and not by tempurature sucks.

Oh and here is the article on the pencil. This goes with the post that I havn't written, but I keep thinking I did. I will probably write it laters. It will deal with the collapse of tech civilizations in Science Fiction. Don't you hate it when you write something in your head, in such detail that you start to think that you have already written it.

Oh well, I need to finish up my Pern audio novel. The Pern novels were deffinately my gateway drug into both science fiction and fantasy novels. It deals with the collapse of tech base. Think about it the Roman empire had a lot of technology, and we are just discovering what they had. They actually had a geared computer to calculate astrological events. But it was lost in the fall. It's amazing what the people of Pern lost due to the fall. Yes for those of you who have read the novels, I meant to pun there.


Friday, July 01, 2005

O'Connor Retires: Feeding Frenzy Begins

The main stream media, are like a bunch of sharks cicling this story. Any drop of blood or rumour of blood was bound to set them into a feeding frenzy. With the exception of the Aruba story, there are no huge stories going on. They were impatient for the next whale of a story to tear into. Now there is going to be a huge feeding frenzy. It's going to get bloody.

With the last retirement being so long ago, and everyone on both sides have prepared a lot of amunition for the next confirmation battle. I wonder if the justices are aware of this, and want to avoid this happening. As it is this is not the justice we were expecting. But it does look like Bush will get at least two justices and probably 3, since I say that Scouter will go too.

Since O'Connor was often a swing voter, I'm ambivelant. I think I liked about half her decisions. However since I loved her argument on Kelo, I think I have to come down on the side of, "sort of sad to see her go."

It will be interesting to see how the Kelo decision is going to impact on the deliberations, since it was her last major act. Since the decision was so unpopular, I see it as being a major factor. The other major factor, is how the filibuster will apply. I predict that the filibuster of all judges will die as an option.

Going to be an exciting summer of: character assasinations, pontifications, bloody shirt waving, rants, diatribes, debates, essays, yelling, screaming and crassss political manuevering. I don't think we are going to see calm deliberate debate, combined with cool reason. Looks like it's going to be a hot summer.

This is the first retirement in this new age of 24 hour news and blogs. There is going to be a lot of debate on this one. Since she was a swing vote, the democrats aren't going to take this lightly. With Reinquest I believe they would have been willing to keep the status of the court the same. I'll keep an eye on the various blogs. Orin Kerr, seems to be the most on top of the situation. He speculated earlier, about her possible retirement based on the fact that she hadn't hired her full compliment of clerks.

Update: Is this a nightmare for democrats? O'Connor was one of the major swing votes. Fox has some interesting speculation. More on this when, I see how the winds are blowing. I predict a Huricane, of tremendous fury. To continue the metaphor, it's going to be a choppy sea, full of frenzied sharks.

Update II: O'Connor apparently hand delivered her notice to the President. That was classy of her. Bush said that they had a discussion. My respect for her goes up another notch. She will be missed, a new page in the history of the nation has been turned. The ship of state has weathered political storms before, and it will weather this one. Batten down the hatches, and rig for storm. The skies are ruddy, let the sailors be warned.


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