[Postings for the next few weeks may be sporadic or abbreviated.]
Theft is Theft, Even by Cops Department
Read the account at Photography is Not a Crime. Confiscation of a photographer’s camera under the color of “Homeland Security” authority is theft, pure and simple. I hope this guy owned an expensive camera so he can raise the level of the crime to a felony.
Know your rights, folks!
Speaking of Homeland Security Department
Carlos Miller reports a new TSA poster that pretty much explicitly tells us to report any time a photographer is seen photographing planes (see a copy of the poster at the link).
And then here’s an account from a photographer who was contacted by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Homeland Security office about photos he’d taken of the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that is a National Historic Landmark, and of a rather prominent local bridge, asking him, “Why are you taking pictures of a commercial harbor?” Granted he was taking the photos on tripod at 2 a.m., but, hell, I’m sure they were beautiful as a result. The Coast Guard wants copies of the photos — I like the advice given that he should post them all to Flickr and tell the authorities that’s where they can see them. (Some of the comments after the photographer’s original story are equally interesting. The division is clear between the “cooperate if you have nothing to hide” crowd and the “don’t give up these essential rights” crowd — as you might expect, I’m much more in tune with the latter. I was dismayed, however, by the number of people who wrote, seemingly with resignation, “we’re all on the list, so it doesn’t matter what we do.)
Different Viewpoint Department
[F]rom the bottom of my soul and the depths of my intellect, I believe that the current efforts to censor Craigslist’s “adult services” achieves the absolute opposite. Rather than helping those who are abused, it fundamentally helps pimps, human traffickers, and others who profit off of abusing others.
So says Danah Boyd, a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a person who by her own estimate “dedicated immense amounts of time, money, and energy to end violence against women and children.”
The Internet has changed the dynamics of prostitution and trafficking, making it easier for prostitutes and traffickers to connect with clients without too many layers of intermediaries. As a result, the Internet has become an intermediary, often without the knowledge of those internet service providers (ISPs) who are the conduits. This is what makes people believe that they should go after ISPs like Craigslist. Faulty logic suggests that if Craigslist is effectively a digital pimp whose profiting off of online traffic, why shouldn’t it be prosecuted as such?
The problem with this logic is that it fails to account for three important differences: 1) most ISPs have a fundamental business – if not moral – interest in helping protect people; 2) the visibility of illicit activities online makes it much easier to get at, and help, those who are being victimized; and 3) a one-stop-shop is more helpful for law enforcement than for criminals. In short, Craigslist is not a pimp, but a public perch from which law enforcement can watch without being seen.
An interesting argument. Read the entire article.
If You Were Taking Forty Years to Die, Would You be More Inclined to Believe in God? Department
I’ve read Stephen Hawking’s previous pop science books, and enjoyed them. It’s always been clear to me he has little use for mysticism or revelatory religious beliefs. In his most recent book, however, The Grand Design, he makes explicit his view:
Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.
Nothing like taking on the whole “Creation” myth to get our attention. Sounds like another one I’ll need to pick up (even though The NY Times review is not especially positive, for reasons other than Hawking’s atheism).
In a recess that might at some point held a Madonna — rather a better use of it, I think.