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IN AIRSTRIP ONE, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOUR COMMENTS: BBC Holds Personal Data, Threatens To Contact Employers If Users Leave ‘Offensive’ Comments On Articles.

Unexpectedly.

PRIVACY: New App Lets You Find Strangers on Facebook Just by Taking Their Picture.

A new app developed by British entrepreneur Jack Kenyon called “Facezam” is seeking to become the Shazam of faces. While the latter lets you identify music you like through audio recognition, Facezam matches your photos of strangers with their Facebook accounts.

It works scanning billions of Facebook profile shots by second and can reportedly match up with the right out in just 10 seconds and with 70 percent accuracy.

It is an incredible testament to the efficacy of facial recognition technology, even if it destroys all public anonymity in the process. Likewise, the app is either totally creepy, or kind of intriguing, depending on whether you’re the one being messaged by a stranger who took your picture, or trying to break the ice with a hot stranger you randomly snapped a pic of.

“Facezam could be the end of our anonymous societies,” Kenyon told the London Telegraph. “Users will be able to identify anyone within a matter of seconds, which means privacy will no longer exist in public society.”

Big Brother never had it so easy.

BIG BROTHER: Vizio Caught Spying on Customers Through Their TVs.

The popular TV maker Vizio began in 2014 to incorporate software into its TV sets to collect information about our viewing habits on a second by second basis. Then, working with a data analytics company, they were able to associate that data with very detailed and specific personal information of the viewers. Yes, Vizio sold you a TV set and turned around and spied on you as a thank you for your business!

Vizio installed the software on 11 million TV sets without ever asking for permission or informing their owners that they were collecting the data. After a lawsuit was filed by the FTC and the State of New Jersey, Vizio settled and paid a fine of $2.2 million.

We have one of those so-called “smart” TVs, but Samsung is crazy if they think I’m ever going to give it the password to my WiFi.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS.

Shot:

A longtime admirer of Fidel Castro, Turner has called the former Cuban president “one hell of a guy.” In 2001 Turner told a class at Harvard Law School, “You’d like him [Castro]. He has been the leader of Cuba for 40 years. He’s the most senior leader in the world, and most of the people that are still in Cuba like him.”

Castro, in turn, holds Turner in high regard, so much so that the dictator was the inspiration behind the creation of CNN International. As CNN News Chief Executive Eason Jordan told his audience during a 1999 lecture at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism:

“… Let me also thank Fidel Castro. In the earliest days of CNN, when CNN was meant to be seen only in the United States, the enterprising Fidel Castro was pirating and watching CNN in Cuba. Fidel was intrigued by CNN. He wanted to meet the person responsible. So Ted Turner, who at that point had never traveled to a Communist country or knowingly met a Communist, [went to Havana]. It was big deal for Ted and during the discussions Castro suggested that CNN be made available to the entire world. In fact it was that seed, that idea that grew into CNN International.”

—David Horowitz’s “Discover the Networks” page on CNN founder Ted Turner, as quoted at Ed Driscoll.com, in a 2010 post titled “The Mote in CNN’s Mini-Cam,” a round-up of some of the network’s zanier bootlicks of totalitarian dictators over the years, not least of which was this moment a decade ago:

Chaser: “Following the lead of CNN’s Brian Stelter, Thursday’s Situation Room touted the spike of sales in the book 1984 and strongly hinted that Americans view the Trump administration as the real-life version of Big Brother portrayed in George Orwell’s classic.”

NewsBusters yesterday.

Shades of clueless Walter Cronkite during run-up to the eponymous year depicted in Orwell’s book, as I wrote in my 2014 review of Cronkite’s biography by leftwing author Douglas Brinkley:

Similarly, in 1970, Brinkley writes that Cronkite believed that “the U.S. government needed to regulate polluting corporations and force them to prioritize environment over profit.” But Cronkite chose to commemorate the arrival of the year 1984 and its Orwellian implications by starring in a special for CBS and drafting a column for the New York Times in which he wrote, “The total absence of privacy the idea that the government is (or may be) always watching, means, most of us would agree, the ultimate loss of freedom.”

Without the implied method of force, how did Cronkite imagine government would regulate corporations “to prioritize environment over profit”?

It’s during this passage of Cronkite that Brinkley concocts a smear of his own, by writing:

Reading George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, published in 1949, had been a revelation for Cronkite. He was stunned by Orwell’s raw insights into both Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. To Cronkite, the dystopian 1984 was prescient in showing that America’s civil liberties were being gutted by a right-wing agenda.

Gee, wait ‘til Brinkley discovers what Orwell’s Ingsoc stood for, let alone where national socialist Germany and the international socialist Soviet Union were on the ideological spectrum.

And as Joseph Epstein wrote in his review of Brinkley’s book in the September 2012 issue of Commentary (subscription may be necessary to read), Cronkite himself wrote an introduction to a paperback edition of 1984, in which he seemed to think that modernism itself was Orwell’s chief concern:

I read a preface Cronkite wrote to a paperback edition of George Orwell’s 1984, and discovered he thought that the target of the novel was not the brutal devastation of life, private and public, under totalitarianism, but chiefly the danger posed by the technology of modernity. “1984 is an anguished lament and a warning that vibrates powerfully when we may not be strong enough nor wise enough nor moral enough to cope with the kind of power we have learned to amass,” Cronkite wrote. Throughout this preface, the Soviet Union and China, whose governments treated their respective populations as conquered nations, go unmentioned.

As Epstein notes, Cronkite’s preface to Orwell’s epoch-defining novel was written in 1983, “and by then Cronkite had entered that phase of liberalism that finds no country more dangerous than one’s own.”

Which has long been CNN’s view of the world looking out from the Thermopane windows atop their headquarters in Atlanta. But as I said before, if Trump really were half the strongman CNN is trying to depict him as, they’d be falling over themselves to worship him.

UPDATE: “Despite being on opposite sides, protesters on the right and left can end their fears the same way. If you’re afraid that the federal government will ruin your life, reduce the power of the federal government,” Jon Gabriel advises in his latest Arizona Republic column. Where shall we begin shrinking the leviathan, CNN?

GOOD RIDDANCE TO FIDEL CASTRO, Cuba’s Brutal Big Brother.

If this were a just world, 13 facts would be etched on Castro’s tombstone and highlighted in every obituary, as bullet points — a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.

●He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.

●He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on earth.

●He was responsible for so many thousands of executions and disappearances in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.

●He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.

●He condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings.

●He forced nearly 20 percent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted, while fleeing from him in crude vessels.

●He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.

●He outlawed private enterprise and labor unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into slaves of the state.

●He persecuted gay people and tried to eradicate religion.

But he was a lefty, so it’s all okay. Just like with Venezuela.

THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING, THEY’LL PROBABLY BE USED TO MAKE YOU LOVE BIG BROTHER: Mind-controlled nanobots could release drugs inside your brain.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON ON THE GREAT REGRESSION: “Today, it seems that Orwell’s 1984 would better have been titled 2016,” VDH writes:

Orwell was wrong only on his dates. Had he entitled his novel 2016, we would immediately have recognized his parallels to the present “overseas contingency operations,” “violent extremism,” “undocumented immigrants,” and “man-caused disasters.” The campus diversity czar is our Big Brother. Imagining that all lives matter is a thought crime. Due process on a campus today is counter-revolutionary, and proper sexual congress among students is to be scripted as a politically correct act, as if we were all Orwell’s Winston Smith and Julia. Is the Junior Anti-Sex League with its red sashes far behind?

As the London Guardian lamented on Sunday, “Goodbye to sex: a short and heartfelt eulogy.”

Hey, the Washington Post wasn’t kidding when at the start of 2009, via their then-owned magazine Newsweek, they declared “We Are All Socialists Now” – evidently, they didn’t realize (or care) that the result would be something akin to East Germany, albeit with Justin Bieber and the Kardashians for entertainment, rather than ‘60s London with socialized medicine and the Beatles. (Or Sweden and Abba for that matter.)

WAS IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY AND IF BILL CLINTON IS A RAPIST, THAT DOESN’T ‘MAKE HIM A BAD FEMINIST,’ Wonkette editor Rebecca Schoenkopf exalts, learning to love both Big Brother – and Big Sister.

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NOTHING CREEPY ABOUT THAT: Religious fundamentalism could soon be treated as mental illness. “Kathleen Taylor, a neurologist at Oxford University, said that recent developments suggest that we will soon be able to treat religious fundamentalism and other forms of ideological beliefs potentially harmful to society as a form of mental illness.”

“Other forms of ideological beliefs potentially harmful to society.” They will cure you, and you will love Big Brother.

A MOTHER’S DAY REMINDER: A Little Mother Prevents Big Brother: “Motherhood is the first and last line of defense against totalitarianism. If you think this statement sounds over the top, you ought to ponder why the family has always been the ultimate target of tyrannical systems of government such as communism. Advocates of cultural Marxism tend to view families as akin to subversive cells that get in the way of centralized state power… That’s the best reason to celebrate Mother’s Day—perpetually.”

THE ANTI-SEX LEAGUE WANTS TO MAKE SURE YOU LOVE NO ONE BUT BIG BROTHER: Prepare to have your sex life regulated by government.

Adults may soon find their sex lives regulated to the point where nearly every sexual encounter is defined as rape unless neither party reports the activity.

The American Law Institute will vote in May on whether to adopt a model penal code that would make “affirmative consent” the official position of the organization. Affirmative consent — or “yes means yes” — policies have already been adopted by many colleges and universities, and have been passed as law in California and New York.

A source within ALI has confirmed to the Washington Examiner that the model penal code on sexual assault that was discussed at last year’s meeting will be voted on at their annual meeting this coming May. Last year, the draft proposal was met with opposition from ALI members, including a female former prosecutor who called the draft “really disturbing.”

A group of concerned members within ALI even circulated an opposition letter, signed by dozens of members, that detailed the dangers of pushing affirmative consent on the general public (not that it’s a good policy for college students, either).

Sure, this sounds impossible — but think of all the other things happening, legally, that seemed impossible not long ago. But the people pushing this stuff have no fear of consequences. If this passes, the American Law Institute should be shamed and shunned.

WELL, YES, THAT’S ABSOLUTELY THE GOAL: How a Cashless Society Could Embolden Big Brother: When money becomes information, it can inform on you.

I wrote on this a while back.

YOU DON’T SAY: North Korea to pursue nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea will pursue its nuclear and ballistic missile program in defiance of the United States and its allies, a top Pyongyang envoy said on Friday, adding that a state of “semi-war” now existed on the divided Korean peninsula.

So Se Pyong, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, denounced the huge joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises taking place which he said were aimed at “decapitation of the supreme leadership of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)” and conquering Pyongyang.

However, help in dealing with the Hermit Kingdom might be coming from a long-awaited place:

North Korea is now facing an unexpected financial crises as China not only enforces the new sanctions but also the older ones it ignored and adds some new sanctions. Thus North Korea was shocked when on March 1 st Chinese border guards refused to let shipments of coal or ores enter. These mineral exports are a major source of foreign currency and were not covered by sanctions. China is believed to be making a point; that it is fed up with North Korea ignoring demands to halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and turn its attention to the internal economic crises. So far North Korean leaders are ignoring this additional sanction and telling subordinates that it is only temporary. But the rumors in China are that the blocking of mineral exports will last for a long time, perhaps indefinitely until the North Korean leaderships shows more respect towards China and heeds the advice from its “big brother.”

Good.

CBS ADMITS TO EPIC FAIL AS DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES: Americans hate the U.S. government more than ever.

Which is an amazing headline to find at CBS, considering its entire journalistic operation over the last 60 years has been to condition Americans to love Big Brother, and to destroy the reputations of the wreckers and subversives who would prevent them from doing so.

SO MUCH FOR PRIVACY: The New York Slimes Times editorial board laments that “Political Dark Money Just Got Darker.”  After (again) bashing the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, the NYT editors focus on the liberal/progressive campaign finance cause du jour: mandating disclosure of the identity of donors to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, such as some tea party groups, the National Organization for Women, AARP, various ACLU chapters, right to life committees, kennel clubs, Rotary clubs, environmental groups, fan clubs, and voting rights organizations.

The rationale for such disclosure? So-called “dark” money. In the words of the NYT editors:

In the new budget bill, Republicans inserted a provision blocking the Internal Revenue Service from creating rules to curb the growing abuse of the tax law by thinly veiled political machines posing as “social welfare” organizations. These groups are financed by rich special-interest donors who do not have to reveal their identities under the tax law. So much for effective disclosure at the I.R.S.

In another move to keep the public blindfolded about who is writing big corporate checks for federal candidates, the Republicans barred the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules requiring corporations to disclose their campaign spending to investors. It was Citizens United that foolishly envisioned a world in which: “Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”

In acting to seal that pocket and hobble the I.R.S., congressional Republicans are advancing what has become the dark age of plutocratic money in campaign spending. At every turn, they are veiling the truth about the special-interest ties they have with rich donors shopping for favors. Since the Citizens United decision in January 2010, politicians have collected more than $500 million in dark money from phantom donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with hundreds of millions more expected in the current campaign.

Since the people’s elected representatives have so foolishly thwarted the liberals’/progressives’ attempt to invade individual privacy in the guise of “disclosure,” the NYT editors have this modest proposal:

Is there any ray of light in this moneyed darkness?

For two years, President Obama has dithered and withheld the one blow he could easily strike for greater political transparency: the signing of an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their campaign spending. This would not solve the overall problem, but in mandating new disclosures in time for the 2016 elections it would help affirm that democracy is about transparency. Mr. Obama should sign the order now. If Republicans want to make an issue of this, let them — and let them defend the scourge of dark money before the voters on the campaign trail.

That’s classic. An iconic liberal/progressive newspaper’s editorial board, frustrated by the “inaction” (i.e., disagreement) by Congress on its liberal/progressive agenda, is demanding that the President “go around” Congress to issue an executive order mandating disclosure of the identities of donors to 501(c)(4) organizations that have government contracts.

I guess liberals/progressives only value individual privacy when it comes in the form of de-identified metadata about cell phone calls and “democracy” only when it creates results with which it agrees. Big Brother wants to know to whom you are giving your money, so that it can bring you out of the “darkness” of privacy.  And if the people’s elected representatives won’t force you out of the “darkness,” one person–the President–should do it unilaterally. Nice.

IF YOU INTERRUPT BIG BROTHER, YOU MIGHT STOP TO THINK: The Narrative Can Never Be Wrong.

LOVING BIG BROTHER: Occidental Professors Voting to Give Students Power to Report Them for Microaggressions.

REAPING WHAT PROGRESSIVISM HATH SOWN: Kevin Williamson on “Yale’s Idiot Children“:

On Friday, I was honored to be a guest of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, where I participated in a panel on freedom of speech with the wonderful writer Harry Stein and Professor Bradley A. Smith, a noted law scholar. The Yale kids did their screaming best to prevent us from having a conversation about free speech — the Yale kids are utterly immune to irony — but the event went much as planned. Coming and going, we were chanted at by idiot children screaming, “Genocide is not a joke!” . . .

If you’re wondering about the genocide thing, so were we.  . . . The idiot children were screaming about Lukianoff because he said they were overreacting to Christakis’s criticism that they tend to scream and overreact. Well played, idiot children.

Of course, these idiot children aren’t children. These are young adults who can serve in the military, get married, buy firearms, drink alcohol, etc. They are at the beginning years of adult life, but they are entirely unprepared for adult life. . . .

As for me, I think that they’re clowns, and worse than that, really: They’re bad citizens, and defective people from defective families. They aren’t motivated by good will, but by fear: of the dawning realization that they, as people, aren’t really all that important, despite having been told all their lives how important they are.

We’re all real sorry about your safe spaces and your pacifier and your stuffed puppy, Caitlyn. Really we are. Yet the perpetual revolution of configured stars continues in its indifference, and the lot of man is ceaseless labor, and though you may find the thought terrifying — and thinking itself terrifying — it may turn out to be the case that the screaming in the dark you do on campus is more or less the same screaming in the dark you did in the crib, the same howl for the same reason.

Christakis–the liberal Yale Professor who dared to question P.C. orthodoxy–has profusely apologized to the “offended” snowflakes who are now running the progressive asylums universities:

“I have disappointed you and I’m really sorry,” Nicholas Christakis told about 100 students gathered in his living room on Sunday for a meeting also attended by Jonathan Holloway, the dean of Yale College, and other university administrators. Christakis said his encounter on Thursday with students in the college’s courtyard, in which numerous black women upbraided him for being inattentive to them, broke his heart, according to a voice recording of the conversation provided to The Washington Post.

“I mean it just broke my heart,” Christakis said. “I thought that I had some credibility with you, you know? I care so much about the same issues you care about. I’ve spent my life taking care of these issues of injustice, of poverty, of racism. I have the same beliefs that you do … I’m genuinely sorry, and to have disappointed you. I’ve disappointed myself.”

James Taranto aptly noted the Orwellian tone of Christakis’s apology,  “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” 

ARTHUR CHU WANTS TO BE YOUR BIG BROTHER: Arthur Chu’s Grand Vision of Repressive Tolerance.

JEFF BEZOS RESPONDS TO BRUTAL NYT STORY, SAYS IT DOESN’T REPRESENT THE AMAZON HE LEADS.

If only Bezos had a publishing platform available to him with its own history of investigative journalism that would be willing to explore the strange labor practices at the Times

RELATED: Why would the socialists at Salon (who repeatedly express the desire to nationalize everything!) think that a comparison to 1984’s Big Brother is a bad thing?

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Sheltered Students Go to College, Avoid Education.

The new language of campus censorship cuts out the middleman and claims that merely hearing wrong, unpleasant or offensive ideas is so dangerous to the mental health of the listener that people need to be protected from the experience.

During the time when people are supposed to be learning to face an often hard world as adults, and going through the often uncomfortable process of building their intellectual foundations, they are demanding to be sheltered from anything that might challenge their beliefs or recall unpleasant facts to their mind. And increasingly, colleges are accommodating them. Everything at colleges is now supposed to be thoroughly sanitized to the point of inoffensiveness — not only the coursework, but even the comedians who are invited to entertain the students.

The obvious objection to this is that it is not possible to have a community of ideas in which no one is ever offended or upset . By the time you’re done excising the Victorian literature that offends feminists, the biology texts that offend young-earth creationists, and the history lessons that offend whichever group was on the losing side, there’s not much left of the curriculum . The less obvious, but even more important, objection is raised by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in this month’s Atlantic: It’s bad for the students themselves.

Students demanding that campus life be bowdlerized to preserve their peace of mind seem to believe that the best way to deal with trauma is to avoid any mention of it. But Lukianoff and Haidt argue that this is exactly backward; chronic avoidance breeds terror. The current climate on campus is a recipe for producing fearful adults who are going to have difficulty coping in an adult world. It’s as if we were trying to prepare the next generation of American citizens by keeping them in kindergarten until the age of 23.

Fearful, and looking for a big brother to protect them.

CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL, whom you may remember as the author of the Ark Royal books, etc., also has a blog. Here are some thoughts on David Cameron and Islamic Extremism:

Like so many other politicians, Cameron is infected with the virus of political correctness, a virus that weakens the host to the point where resistance against dangerous threats becomes impossible. This may seem absurd, but consider; if the mere act of identifying a threat is considered evil, how then is resistance to be organised? This is, of course, the precise reason why 1984 was (and remains) such an important novel. The newspeak of political correctness is just as dangerous as the cruder form practiced by Big Brother.

Cameron is correct, to be fair, that Islamic extremism is a deadly threat. It is a ruthless force that is just as dangerous to Muslims as it is to everyone else. Nor is there any denying the strange appeal of extremism to young men and women, even though the men will be used as cannon fodder and the women forced to breed the next generation of extremists. Nor, finally, is there any denying the spread of conspiracy theories through the Middle East and the Muslim Diaspora, an inevitable result of governments that – whatever veneer they wear – are blatantly hypocritical. Many of Cameron’s observations on why this extremism spreads are quite accurate. Far too many young Muslims in Britain – and non-Muslims too – simply feel no attachment to British society.

But this is caused by a simple failure to defend British society.

When you have a ruling class that doesn’t much like the country it rules, this is what happens.

MARK RIPPETOE: Big Brother Is Watching You Squat: State Licensure — What Coaches And Trainers Need To Know. Punch back twice as hard.

THEY’RE NOT JUST HERE, THEY’RE IN CHARGE: Tom Nichols at The Federalist: “The New Totalitarians are Here.

Totalitarians are a different breed. These are the people who have a plan, who think they see the future more clearly than you or who are convinced they grasp reality in a way that you do not. They don’t serve themselves—or, they don’t serve themselves exclusively—they serve History, or The People, or The Idea, or some other ideological totem that justifies their actions.

They want obedience, of course. But even more, they want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining. And the only way to achieve that is to create a new society of people who share those beliefs, even if it means bludgeoning every last citizen into enlightenment. That’s what makes totalitarians different and more dangerous: they are “totalistic” in the sense that they demand a complete reorientation of the individual to the State and its ideological ends. Every person who harbors a secret objection, or even so much as a doubt, is a danger to the future of the whole project, and so the regime compels its subjects not only to obey but to believe.

. . .

By attacking everyone in the public sphere from judges to writers, they’re sending a clear warning that there’s plenty of room in the bonfire. It is a vow that you will be held to account for your personal thoughts, even if you’ve already been defeated in a democratic or judicial contest.

No, even after losing, you will be forced to admit the error of your ways. You must accept that you’ve sinned. You must discard your own values and accept the ideas of your betters. You must denounce yourself for undermining the construction of a better world.

You, too, must love Big Brother.

Indeed.  That’s why process–which is another way of referring to the “rule of law”–is so utterly irrelevant to the political left, as it’s (at most) only an occasionally useful means to desired ends. And the end game isn’t just “winning” politically or legally, but choking all debate, such that disagreement isn’t disagreement, but bigotry.

BIG BROTHER IS TAXING YOU: Oregon Launches Program To Tax Drivers By The Mile. “According to a national usage fee alliance, 28 states are in various stages of following down the same road. However, there are also privacy concerns. Two of the three OReGO systems track and store a car’s every move.”

As I wrote on this a while back, Don’t Track Me, Bro.

IS THAT REALLY A SPIDER, OR ARE YOU BEING MONITORED?:   Today’s Wall Street Journal oped by a Harvard Law prof and a Brookings Institution fellow assert that we need a “new social contract” to handle the coming privacy and security threats:

You walk into your shower and see a spider. You don’t know whether it is venomous—or whether it is even a real spider. It could be a personal surveillance mini-drone set loose by your nosy next-door neighbor, who may be monitoring the tiny octopod robot from her iPhone 12. A more menacing possibility: Your business competitor has sent a robotic attack spider, bought from a bankrupt military contractor, to take you out. Your assassin, who is vacationing in Provence, will direct the spider to shoot an infinitesimal needle containing a lethal dose of poison into your left leg—and then self-destruct.

Meanwhile, across town, an anarchist molecular-biology graduate student is secretly working to re-create the smallpox virus, using ordinary laboratory tools and gene-splicing equipment available online. Not content to merely revive an extinct virus to which the general population has no immunity, he uses public-source academic research to make it more lethal. Then he infects himself and, just as his symptoms start, strolls around the airport to infect as many people as he can.

They’re undoubtedly right about the nature and extent of these threats, but their proffered solution is itself quite frightening:

All this challenges our security—and the way we think about the state itself. The liberal state was predicated on a social contract: We give up a certain amount of liberty to a government, which promises in turn to protect us. But that promise is becoming increasingly difficult to keep as more Big Brothers—and lots of Little Brothers too—come to command awesome technological powers.

For the state as we know it to endure, we’ll have to adapt some of the most basic organizing principles of governance, both domestic and international. . . . Still, today’s international legal order remains very much boundary-centered. It gives countries the power to legislate and enforce laws within their territories but allows relatively little latitude to regulate the conduct of foreign subjects abroad—and even less latitude to actually enforce their laws beyond their borders.

Threats that routinely span borders will force states to routinely reach across their borders through legislation that governs foreign conduct, surveillance of citizens in foreign countries, and even targeted killings. A growing number of states are already claiming that more of their laws should apply beyond their territories—for instance, by unilaterally defining cyberattacks or cybercrimes and by enforcing their domestic laws against foreign offenders acting overseas. To avoid turning the world into the Wild West, we must ensure that this increased unilateralism is checked by greater international cooperation: better governance for fragile states, more information-sharing among states and more effective means of enforcing laws where jurisdictions are unclear.

In other words, the liberal/progressive solution to this growing privacy/security threat is more government, more and greater transfer of power away to international bodies such as the U.N.  They seem to have something in mind like a beefed up International Criminal Court, in which the U.S. has thus far wisely declined participation. One World Government, anyone?

No thanks.  The last thing the U.S. needs to do is relinquish sovereignty over privacy and security matters.

How about this alternative solution:  Beef up our military and national security surveillance, improve (voluntary) information sharing with our Allies, encourage the development of enhanced privacy and security devices for individual use, and enact tougher privacy laws to make sure that your nosy neighbor with that spider drone gets some time in the pokey.

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU: FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters.

WELL, GOOD: Archdeacon Slams George Galloway for ‘Israel-Free Zone’ Comments. Galloway’s shining moment was on Big Brother, as shown below.

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He’s the one on the left.

BRYAN PRESTON: Why Would Someone in Colorado Keep Buying Weed Illegally? “Big brother is watching, dude.”

BIG BROTHER: Schumer Asks DOJ for GPS Devices for Autistic Children. If you like your autistic child, you can keep your autistic child.

But I don’t even want government GPS devices installed on my car.

JOEL KOTKIN ON Bipartisan Distrust Of The Beltway.

Much has been written and spoken about the deep divide between “red” and “blue” America, but the real chasm increasingly is between Washington and the rest of the country. This disconnect may increase as both conservatives and liberals outside the Beltway look with growing disdain upon their “leaders” inside the imperial capital. Indeed, according to Gallup, trust among Americans toward the federal government has sunk to historic lows, regarding both foreign and domestic policy. . . .

This chasm between the ruled and the rulers has both widened and deepened during the Obama years. Initially, Democrats supported the idea of a strong federal expansion to improve the economy. Yet, as it turned out, the stimulus and other administration steps did little to help the middle and working classes. The Obama economic policy has turned out to be at least as much – if not more – “trickle down” than that of his Republican predecessor.

Similarly embarrassing, the administration’s embrace of surveillance, as demonstrated by the National Security Agency revelations, has been no less, and maybe greater, than that of former vice president Dick Cheney and his crew of anti-civil libertarians. And it’s been the Left, notably, the British Guardian newspaper, that has led the fight against the mass abuse of privacy. Americans as a whole are more sympathetic to leaker Edward Snowden and increasingly concerned about government intrusions on their privacy. A July Washington Post-ABC News poll found fully 70 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans said the NSA’s phone and Internet surveillance programs intrude on some Americans’ privacy rights. Nearly six in 10 political independents who saw intrusions said they are unjustified.

The Right intrinsically opposes expansion of the civilian part of the federal government, but it supported the national security state both during the Cold War and after 9/11. This has now begun to change. The revelations about IRS targeting of Tea Party and other grass-roots groups likely have not reduced their fears of Big Brother. Yet, by better than 2-1, Democrats, according to a Quinnipiac survey, also supported appointing a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of this scandal. . . .

Besides shared concerns over Syria, the NSA and IRS, grass-roots conservatives and liberals increasingly reject the conventional wisdom of their Washington betters. What increasingly matters here is not political “spin,” but the breadth of anti-Washington sentiment. After all, while most of the country continues to suffer low economic growth, the Washington area has benefitted from the expansion of federal power. The entire industry of consultants, think tanks, lawyers and related fields, no matter their supposed ideologies, has waxed while the rest of America has waned.

This has been a golden era for the nation’s capital, perhaps the one place that never really felt the recession. Of the nation’s 10 richest counties, seven are in the Washington area.

It’s like our own little version of The Hunger Games.

GOD BIG BROTHER IS MY CO-PILOT: EU plans to fit all cars with speed limiters, holding them under 70 mph.

MARK STEYN: Idiot Big Brother: The prospect of NSA abuse is now a reality. “The Egypt/Washington industrial-scale wrong number is almost too perfectly poignant a vignette at the end of a week in which hundreds are dead on the streets of Cairo. On the global scene, America has imploded: Its leaders have no grasp of its national interests, never mind any sense of how to achieve them. The assumption that we are in the early stages of ‘the post-American world’ is now shared by everyone from General Sisi to Vladimir Putin. General Sisi, I should add, is Egypt’s new strongman, not Putin’s characterization of Obama. Meanwhile, in contrast to its accelerating irrelevance overseas, at home Washington’s big bloated blundering bureaucratic security state expands daily. It’s easier to crack down on 47 Elm Street than Benghazi.”

SNOOPING: Move over NSA, here comes the Obamacare Big Brother database.

POLICE ENDORSE RECORDING: Wearing A Badge, And A Video Camera.

William A. Farrar, the police chief in Rialto, Calif., has been investigating whether officers’ use of video cameras can bring measurable benefits to relations between the police and civilians. Officers in Rialto, which has a population of about 100,000, already carry Taser weapons equipped with small video cameras that activate when the weapon is armed, and the officers have long worn digital audio recorders.

But when Mr. Farrar told his uniformed patrol officers of his plans to introduce the new, wearable video cameras, “it wasn’t the easiest sell,” he said, especially to some older officers who initially were “questioning why ‘big brother’ should see everything they do.”

He said he reminded them that civilians could use their cellphones to record interactions, “so instead of relying on somebody else’s partial picture of what occurred, why not have your own?” he asked. “In this way, you have the real one.”

Related thoughts from Chief Weems.

BIG BROTHER IS INVESTING IN YOU: Silicon Valley and Spy Agency Bound by Strengthening Web. “Silicon Valley has what the spy agency wants: vast amounts of private data and the most sophisticated software available to analyze it. The agency in turn is one of Silicon Valley’s largest customers for what is known as data analytics, one of the valley’s fastest-growing markets. To get their hands on the latest software technology to manipulate and take advantage of large volumes of data, United States intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley start-ups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like Mr. Kelly.”

This is also why it’s possible that know-how from NSA projects found its way into the Obama Campaign’s vaunted Big Data operation.

PRIVACY IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: WSJ: Big Brother also collecting credit-card transactions.

WALTER OLSON ON DNA TESTING: Big Brother Invades Your Genes.

WELL, CHRIS CHRISTIE CERTAINLY MAKES A BIG BIG BROTHER: A Mileage Tax Monitored By Big Brother For All N.J. Drivers? It Could Happen: Proposal Call For GPS Tracking Of Certain Vehicles, $50 Yearly Fee For Others.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before.

BIG BROTHER ONLY WANTS WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU: Feds rooting out ‘unwelcome speech’ on campus: But what is that?

TIM CARNEY ON BOSTON: Civil society, not Big Brother, is the American way. “As with every terrorist attack and high-profile killing, the Boston bombing has prompted calls for Americans to give up civil liberties for the sake of security. Rather than gun control or airport pat-downs, this time the call is for a Big Brother-like network of police cameras allowing authorities to more closely monitor people who move about the streets. But the story of the Boston bombers — the details of their crime and their capture — makes the opposite argument. We don’t need more government surveillance. We need to maintain robust civil society and public spiritedness.”

PUT IT IN PEOPLE, AND TURN IT ON WHENEVER THEY SEE A PICTURE OF BIG BROTHER: Tiny wireless injectable LED device shines light on mouse brain, generating reward. “Using a miniature electronic device implanted in the brain, scientists have tapped into the internal reward system of mice, prodding neurons to release dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure.”

I predicted this in the New York Times over a decade ago: “One nanotechnology expert, Glenn H. Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, said that someday it might even be used to make tiny robots that would lodge in people’s brains and make them truly love Big Brother.”

LAST CALL FOR ETHANOL? Is The End In Sight For America’s Biofuel Boondoggle?

Did we just hear the death knell for corn ethanol? Congress may finally be coming to its senses about one of the biggest green policy failures in America, as two bills were introduced yesterday to fix the corn ethanol mandate. . . .

To this point, US farmers have been diverting more and more of their corn crops towards ethanol refineries to satisfy EPA mandates stemming from the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard. In 2006, before that standard went into place, just 23 percent of America’s corn crop went towards producing ethanol. That number rose to 43 percent last year.

Corn ethanol fails every test a biofuel could hope to pass. It doesn’t lower emissions; it raises them. It also raises the global price of corn, starving the world’s poor and possibly inciting riots. But EPA mandates are propping up this boondoggle. Producers are scrambling to snatch up biofuel credits to meet the federally-mandated quota this year because neither supply nor demand will be sufficient to produce the more than 13 billion barrels of ethanol required.

The bills working their way through Congress will also addresses the ill-conceived mandate for corn ethanol’s big brother: cellulosic ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol is considered an “advanced” biofuel, and it actually passes most of the tests that corn ethanol fails so miserably. But cellulosic ethanol still isn’t ready for mass production: there has been virtually no commercial production of the fuel, despite EPA quotas requiring nearly 20 million gallons since 2010.

The federal government’s ability to force green technologies into the marketplace has failed pretty much everywhere.

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU DRIVE: Progressive’s ‘Snapshot’ driving device worries consumer advocacy group. But there’s no such thing as a “progressive” privacy violation.

BIG BROTHER IS READING YOUR TWEETS: Teenager arrested for tweeting rap lyric containing the word “homicide.” They weren’t there for the actual crime, but they’re hell on people who tweet about it.

THAT’S VICE-CHANCELLOR BIG BROTHER TO YOU: Harvard Search of E-mail Stuns Its Faculty Members. “Bewildered, and at times angry, faculty members at Harvard criticized the university on Sunday after revelations that administrators secretly searched the e-mail accounts of 16 resident deans in an effort to learn who leaked information about a student cheating scandal to the news media. Some predicted a confrontation between the faculty and the administration.”

ANDY KESSLER: In the Privacy Wars, It’s iSpy vs. gSpy. “Big Brother is watching us. But we are watching back. . . . I know the precise number of red-light cameras because a website (poi-factory.com) crowdsources their locations and updates them daily for download to GPS devices. And 30 million surveillance cameras are a pittance compared with the 327 million cellphones in use across America, almost all of them with video cameras built in.”

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU DRIVE: Feds Requiring ‘Black Boxes’ in All Motor Vehicles.

If you don’t like the idea, you can submit comments here.

BIG BROTHER UNDER YOUR HOOD: NHTSA To Push Mandatory Data Recorders In Cars.

BECAUSE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS DOUBLE-DOWN ON STUPID: After a Storm, You Should Love Big Brother.

BREAKING: CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT OFFICIALLY CONCLUDED: Noam Chomsky appears in M.I.T. ‘Gangnam Style’ parody.

UPDATE: A reader emails that I’ve “missed the best part of the Chomsky cameo in the MIT Gangnam Style parody, explained here. Punch line:”

“Gangnam Style” is a Korean neologism that refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam district of Seoul, where people are trendy, hip and exude a certain supposed “class”… The song’s refrain “오빤 강남 스타일 (Oppan Gangnam style)” has been translated as “Big brother is Gangnam style”, with PSY referring to himself; “Oppa”, a Korean expression used by females to refer to an older male friend or older brother, is also used by K-Pop fans to address their K-Pop idols.

You can interpret “Big brother is Chomsky style” as you wish.

Doubleplus-heh, indeed.

BLOOMBERG TO OBAMA: STAY AWAY:  Breitbart reports that Obama wanted to visit NYC to pose for more photo-ops.  Mayor Bloomberg’s office rejected Obama’s offer, saying, “We’d love to have him, but we’ve got lots of things to do.”   Obama’s basically the pesky little brother who wants to follow big brother Bloomberg around and act cool and grown up.  Go play with your State Department or CIA friends, Obama.  Oh, that’s right:  They’re mad at you right now.

TERRIFYING WINDOWS INTO OBAMA’S THOUGHTS:  Big Brother Reads Minority Report  — I do think this debate, like the VP one will prove more and more of a loss for Obama as people look at what he actually said.

 

IT’S BIG BROTHER, SISTERS:  Helen Alvare’s op-ed in the Washington Examiner exposes Obamacare’s draconian, intolerant pro-abortion position and its not-so-subtle desire to force women into specific types of contraceptives such as injections, implants and IUDs, and away from birth control pills, rings, and more easily reversible methods.  Talk about a War on Women.

BIG BROTHER IS TRACKING YOU: Bay Area Drivers Could Be Tracked By GPS, Taxed Per Mile Driven.

I had some related thoughts here.

DUDE, BIG BROTHER IS AS ORIGINAL AS ITS TITLE. THERE’S NOTHING TO STEAL. CBS Filing Tonight for Emergency Injunction Against ABC’s ‘Glass House’. Besides, Voyeur Dorm was way ahead of you . . . .

IT’S LIKE IT’S SOME SORT OF INSIDER CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE INTERNET OR SOMETHING: Legacy media bankrolling campaigns of SOPA cosponsors. “Traditional big media firms have contributed more than $5 million to the sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act, with California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Adam Schiff as the top recipients.”

Lots of Republicans among these names, too. I see that Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is a cosponsor and got $261,700. Is it too late for a Tea Party primary challenger?

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Mitchell writes:

Glenn. Saw your post this morning regarding donations to various pols… including my representative Marsha Blackburn. I went to her Facebook page and posted this on her wall:

“Regarding SOPA: Marsha Blackburn’s co-sponsorship of this bill is an outrage. This bill is a direct attack on First Amendment rights of every citizen with a computer and a blog. Any unmonitored comment linking a post to a “suspected site” would make any site a potential target of “big brother”. Do you, as a Republican not understand how this could be used for political purposes? Remember when youtube took down all of McCains content just prior to the 2008 election because some news footage was declared protected? this bill would extend those Draconian policies across the entire internet to be controlled by any content providers (mostly entertainment and MSM which have a decidedly LIBERAL bias) without DUE PROCESS of LAW. Marsha, you have to withdraw your support and return the corrupting donation of $261,700 from liberal entertainment special interests! ”

Her staff dutifully took it down immediately. I then went to my own FB wall and posted the identical content. I received the FB error msg, “Something went wrong. Try again later”. I repeatedly tried to post and received the same error. Interesting, eh? Is this what it has come to? Maybe it’s just a fluke or a coincidence. Or maybe not.

As an experiment, I posted “Marsha Blackburn’s cosponsorship of SOPA is an outrage. But she got a lot of money from the legacy media.” on Facebook, together with the link above. It went through just fine. I think it’s good to post stuff on pols’ facebook pages even if their staff takes it down — they still get the message.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Mitchell’s comment is on Marsha Blackburn’s facebook page now, along with quite a few other negative responses. I suspect it was just a Facebook glitch.

I FORESEE A BIG MARKET FOR NEURAL ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE: Download Knowledge Directly to Your Brain, Matrix-Style. There are other issues, however: “The most surprising thing in this study is that mere inductions of neural activation patterns corresponding to a specific visual feature led to visual performance improvement on the visual feature, without presenting the feature or subjects’ awareness of what was to be learned.” Hey, that’s funny. Why do I suddenly love Big Brother?

BIG BROTHER DOING YOUR TAXES? That’s kinda what it sounds like. “The goal of this initiative is to improve the tax filing process by reducing burden for taxpayers and improving overall compliance upfront. Under the vision of a real-time tax system, the IRS could match information submitted on a tax return with third-party information right up front during processing and could provide the opportunity for taxpayers to fix the tax return before acceptance if it contains data that does not match IRS records.”

UPDATE: Link was broken before. Fixed now. Sorry!

LEARNING TO LOVE your “Federal Family.”

UPDATE: Reader John S. Ford writes:

Why not have the feds be more specific about who my “Federal Family” really is and just call them my “Big Brother”? I’m just saying…

More like your drunken profligate brother-in-law who’s always hitting you up for a loan. Meanwhile, reader Bill Hesson emails:

All this creepy “federal family” business reminds me of an important insight from Hayek. Is it too much to believe that the destruction of our macro-cosmos is this Administration’s intent?

“If we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed, rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e., of the small band or troop, or of, say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilization), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often make us wish to do, we would destroy it. Yet if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them. So we must learn to live in two sorts of worlds at once.”

The Fatal Conceit, F.A. Hayek

It’s funny how people who don’t like talk of “family values” as applied to actual families like the idea when it comes to describing the public sphere.

VIRGINIA POSTREL: How Steve Jobs Made Business Cool Again:

To understand the cultural significance of Steve Jobs, you have to go back in time: to before the iPad or iPhone or iTunes, before Apple Inc.’s comeback products made candy-colored plastics and iAnything cool, before Jobs got kicked out of Apple, even before the Macintosh hurled a sledgehammer at Big Brother.

It’s 1981. Most people have never heard of Silicon Valley. The country’s most famous businessman is Lee Iacocca, the head of Chrysler Corp. He’s famous because in 1979 he engineered a government bailout — loan guarantees — that saved the company. He’s also famous because, unlike his peers, Iacocca is colorful. He seems to believe in what he’s doing.

In 1981, business executives aren’t known for either personality or passion. The general public sees business as a boring, impersonal, possibly suspect activity. Its significance seems purely financial. . . . That was all about to change.

Read the whole thing.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION “STEALTH SURVEY” OF DOCTORS called “government snooping” and “Big Brother tactics.” Plus this: “This is not a way to build trust in government. Why should I trust someone who does not correctly identify himself?”

UPDATE: Reader J.R. Ott writes: “This could be a two way street as bloggers could call federal agencies and see how they respond if at all?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader warns that this is how James O’Keefe wound up facing federal charges. Being checked up on is for the little people!

APPLE TURNS “BIG BROTHER:” In today’s Post, I talk about the iPhone controversy. (Bumped).

APPLE TURNS “BIG BROTHER:” In today’s Post, I talk about the iPhone controversy.

DOES APPLE REALLY WANT TO CRIPPLE YOUR IPHONE? “The leading computer company plans to build a system that will sense when people are trying to video live events — and turn off their cameras.”

Sounds like totalitarian governments would love this. Kinda makes me wish I’d bought a Droid. If this is really an Apple initiative, I hope that it really hurts their stock price and market share. Meanwhile, it’s another argument in favor of cheap flipcam video cameras.

UPDATE: Reader James Eric Johnson emails:

For a company that built a reputation on the back of its “1984: Big Brother” ad, this type of thing is perplexing. Apple has no conceivable duty to police the use of its products in this fashion. In fact, by doing so, Apple may be assuming a duty to act as a big brother. At the very least, it is enabling Big Brother.

And this coming from a recent Apple convert who would dread the idea of going back to PCs for my personal computing functions (primarily Adobe CS and programming). I’m not at all anti-Apple; I’ll defend their products, but not their worldview.

Indeed. Perhaps this story will turn out to be incorrect.

A BILL TO KEEP Big Brother’s mitts off your GPS. “A bill they’ve collaborated to draft prevents the government from getting tracking data sent by your smartphone, GPS unit or other device — including any ‘successor device,’ a nod to as-yet-unimagined tech — without a court order. It exempts geolocation collection from the Patriot Act’s “business records” provision.”

A. BARTON HINKLE: Big Brother Is Watching You: Overreaching law enforcement puts privacy rights at risk.

JUST SAY CELL NO to Barack Obama’s hard cell:

President Obama could soon have the ability to personally text message every single cell-phone-toting American -— whether they like it or not — with “critical emergency alerts” under a new federal program that civil libertarians and political opponents say is a Big Brother-like intrusion posing a high risk of political abuse.

Federal officials in New York yesterday unveiled the three-tiered emergency alert system that would blast messages about Amber Alerts, impending weather disasters and terror threats to mobile devices.

Cell-phone users could opt out of most alerts if they want to, but not the texter-in-chief’s presidential pages.

“It’s like the state rep sending out mailings about how wonderful they are,” said Tad Kasperowicz of the Quincy Tea Party. “President Obama says,’Here come the high winds and the thunderstorms’ and it’s not really an emergency, but, hey, he gets his name out to every cell phone in the area. I can see that. Absolutely. There’s potential for abuse there.”

Gee, ya think?

RELATED: Reason TV notes, “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to control your smartphone.”

There’s a lot of that going around these days.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE DEMANDS THAT CERTAIN PEOPLE WATCH THEIR LANGUAGE, I’m reminded of how many people got their knickers in a twist over Ari Fleischer’s “watch what you say” remarks after 9/11. Fleischer’s remarks were pretty innocuous in context, but you would have thought he was Big Brother with a truncheon from the reaction of . . . well, Paul Krugman, who is now saying much more along those lines than Fleischer ever did. What could be different now? (Thanks to reader Paul Ulrich for the reminder).

MIRACLE IN MEMPHIS: A visit to FedEx’s SuperHub, where technology powers the global economy while you sleep. “In many ways, the SuperHub dwarfs its ‘big brother,’ Memphis International Airport. The SuperHub is a world unto itself, with a hospital, a fire station, a meteorology unit, and a private security force; it has branches of U.S. Customs and Homeland Security, plus anti-terror operations no one will talk about. It has 20 electric power generators as backup to keep it running if the power grid goes down.” Plus, talking to Fred Smith.

WILL BIG BROTHER keep a watchful eye on electric-vehicle drivers?

FROM THE KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL: A short film on Bill Haslam’s successful run for governor.

UPDATE: A reader who works at Pilot emails: “I’d say in 12 minutes that video pretty much nails it. Bill hired me at Pilot over 16 years ago. The parts of the video on that time in the company were accurate. Bill’s lack of ego, seen by many of us who admired his approach to issues, is crucial to his success. I’ve never met anyone as un-affected as Bill, and I assert it is wholly due to his faith and his relationship with God, and Jesus Christ. He never, ever, wears that on his sleeve as so many in the secular/religious Bible-belt do. He is very different from his big brother, and his dad. Bill was an effective businessman and an effective public servant. Jimmy is an effective businessman (understatement, there) but would be a crashing failure as a public servant. Each has ended up right where they should be.”

BIG BROTHER IN AUSTRALIA: “Revelations that the federal government wants Australia’s 400-odd internet service providers (ISPs) to log and retain customers’ web browsing data, so law enforcement can access it during criminal cases, have sparked alarm in the industry. Currently law enforcement needs court-approved search warrants before they can record someone’s personal data via their ISP. The proposed regulation would mean companies would be forced to store certain information for several years just in case it was later needed.”

BIG BROTHER COMES TO AMERICA WISE GOVERNMENT TEACHES PARKING ATTENDANTS TO WATCH FOR SIGNS OF TERRORISM:

Here’s something new:

A new government program aims to train thousands of parking industry employees nationwide to watch for and report anything suspicious — abandoned cars, for example, or people hanging around garages, taking photographs or asking unusual questions.

What’s new isn’t the program, but the perfectly straight coverage from an outlet like MSNBC.  When a similar program, TIPS, was proposed right after the 9/11 attacks, it was the second coming of Stasi, and was opposed by a left-right coalition of civil libertarians.  Here’s how it was covered in 2002:

Attorney General John Ashcroft tried to assure dubious Senate Democrats yesterday that a new citizens watchdog program isn’t a Big Brother snooping operation.The attorney general said TIPS is aimed at reporting suspicious activity in public areas and isn’t targeted at people’s homes – a central complaint of libertarians who say the plan encourages neighbors to spy on one another.

TIPS was unveiled in President Bush’s State of the Union speech but has generated little enthusiasm. One of its primary recruiting targets – the Postal Service – has said it won’t encourage mail carriers to participate.

The plan has united liberals and conservatives in opposition. The American Civil Liberties Union contends TIPS would turn many workers into “government-sanctioned Peeping Toms.”

Of course, that was then, and this is now.  Apparently we only need a left-right coalition that raises privacy objections to government policies under Republican administrations.

BIG BROTHER GOES GLOBAL?  The Indian government reportedly “plans to do both an audit as well as security checks of all Chinese made telecoms gear installed on the existing networks of all service providers before allowing any fresh imports from that country.”  Meanwhile, privacy advocates in the United States are spending their time and treasure trying to stall new cybersecurity measures in this country.  Talk about misplaced priorities.  As I said in Skating on Stilts,

It’s remarkable when you think about it. Right now, this minute, agents of an authoritarian government are covertly turning on cameras and microphones in homes and offices all across America, spying on the unsuspecting and the innocent. They’re recording our every thought, our every keystroke, as we prepare private documents or visit websites.

And they’re able to do that today thanks to the hard work of privacy advocates.

More context here.  (And apologies to casual readers.  I should have warned you earlier that my posts won’t be exactly libertarian.  I like to think I speak for the Jacksonian wing of Instapunditarianism.)

ROGER KIMBALL: A Cheery Message From Big Brother.

BIG BROTHER is on your tail.

MATT WELCH: Bailing Out Big Brother. “Media criticism goes from rebelling against media oligarchs to handing them a lifeline.”

CORY DOCTOROW: Big Brother in Nottingham. “You have to wonder what kind of values about citizenship, fairness, privacy, and the social contract are being imparted to young people by these measures.” From the Nanny State to the Bully State. . . .

BIG BROTHER wants you to be happy.

BIG BROTHER in the backcountry?

BIG BROTHER In A Van.

MIKE MCNALLY: Big Brother Is Watching — Should You Care?

THE NEW LUMIX GF1 sounds promising: A compact DSLR-quality camera that takes interchangeable lenses. I’ve certainly liked my Lumix LX-3 a lot, and this is sort of its big brother. A little pricey, though.

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Nolan writes:

$899 seems pretty reasonable considering the feature set. From what I have read it appears that the only limitations are the lens selection (older 4/3 lenses require an adapter which means autofocus may not work) and the picture framing with live view (I still can’t get used to this, prefer the old school method).

It’s an innovative camera and I have to admit that I am a little envious because I just plunked down $3k for a Canon 5D MkII knowing full well that one of the things I really don’t like about DSLRs is that the bulk makes traveling a hassle.

One of the things I love about the camera marketplace is that it is vibrant and ultra competitive, with prices continuing to decline by double digits year over year.

Yes, why isn’t healthcare this way? Hmm, what could be different?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Les Jones emails that the problem is Baumol’s Cost Disease.

bigbrother

Knoxville, Tennessee. Big Brother is watching you! I’ve seen these things used sensibly in big mall parking lots, where one officer can survey the terrain and direct others to thieves, etc. But in this downtown setting, where sightlines are short, it just takes an officer who might profitably be walking around and puts him in a box where he can’t do anything particularly useful. This is typical of police surveillance efforts in general, I think.

BIG BROTHER, FRUSTRATED: Arizona Judge Throws Out Political Arrest Based on Photo Ticket.

STATE OF SURVEILLANCE: Ross Clark’s The Road to Big Brother gets a very positive review in the Wall Street Journal. I wrote the introduction, and I think it’s an important book.

IN THE MAIL: Ross Clark’s The Road to Big Brother: One Man’s Struggle Against the Surveillance Society. I wrote the introduction, and I think it’s an important book.

TRACKING UNINSURED DRIVERS with Big Brother technology.

YEAH, BLOGGING’S BEEN A LITTLE LIGHT. I’m at Hofstra Law School, where I’ve been the “Distinguished Scholar in Residence” this week. I talked to the students about law practice (and job-hunting) in an Army of Davids world, to the faculty about the Second Amendment post-Heller, and will soon be speaking to a conference on energy and the environment about compact fluorescent bulbs, other energy saving technologies, and consumer resistance. It’s an excellent faculty, and they’ve been delightful hosts. It was a little weird, though, to get here and see my face staring out from posters, Big Brother-like, all over the place.

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU: A proposed GPS-based mileage tax in Oregon.

FEEL BETTER ABOUT THE U.S.: Nigerians look at the Blagojevich scandal and are jealous:

“Look at the Governor of the state of Illinois in the United States, Rod Blagojevich. The man who wants to sell Obama’s Senatorial seat to the highest bidder. He is definitely going to jail. The FBI evidence against him is overwhelming”

“The man should have been a Governor in Nigeria. What he has done, trying to cut a deal, and arrange something for himself, is standard and familiar practice in Nigeria. In the 1999 elections, some Godfathers collected money openly from aspirants and supported the highest bidder. In every election, most Nigerian voters support only the highest bidder. In Oyo state, Adedibu practically sold the Governorship seat to Ladoja. When the man refused to pay, he got him kicked out. Ngige also lost his seat because he refused to pay.”

“But the Americans are telling us that you cannot sell elective positions. It is not a cash and carry affair. And that whoever does so, is under the big watchful eyes of Big Brother. Where is the Nigerian equivalent of the FBI?”

“They are busy eating pepper soup and acting as bodyguards and house boys to the same enemies of the state that they are supposed to be watching.”

Not a cash-and-carry affair. Too bad word didn’t reach Chicago . . . .

My Popular Mechanics columns are here.

My USA Today columns are here.

My New York Post columns are here.

My Washington Examiner columns are here.

My TCSDaily / TechCentralStation columns are archived here.

My old MSNBC blog is here.

Previous columns written for FoxNews.com (I stopped in 2002) can be found here.

A (partial) list of my law review articles can be found here. It’s not usually up to date, but it’s the best I can do.

Also, downloadable copies of many of my law review articles can be found here, through SSRN.

Contributions to The Guardian are (mostly) rounded up here.

You may find my discussion of the state of the blogosphere with Cass Sunstein on the University of Chicago Faculty Blog interesting. Scroll forward from that link for the whole thing.

Some other items are listed below:

_____________________________________________________

The New York Sun, April 16, 2002
Whizzer�s Legacy
Glenn Harlan Reynolds

�The milk of human kindness,� a well-known federal judge once remarked to me, �does not flow through Whizzer�s veins.� He meant this (mostly) as a compliment.

Byron �Whizzer� White served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court at a time when compassion, as personified by judges like his colleague William J. Brennan, Jr. and federal appeals judges like J. Skelly Wright, was regarded as the cardinal virtue of the bench. But, as befitted a man who was once the highest-paid professional football player in the nation, White favored a more strenuous approach.

Like his colleague John Marshall Harlan, White was a kind of liberal, but he was a liberal of a species now nearly extinct, a species for whom compassion was only one � and not necessarily the foremost one � among many values. With Harlan, White voted to strike down the Connecticut anti-birth-control law in Griswold v. Connecticut. But, also like Harlan, he wrote separately to express a more modest rationale for the decision. For White, unlike the majority, the biggest problem with the law was not that it infringed a fundamental right of privacy � it was that it did not make sense. The State of Connecticut claimed that its law against birth control was intended to prevent premarital and extramarital sex, but the statute, and its enforcement, did something else entirely.

�I wholly fail to see,� he wrote, �how the ban on the use of contraceptives by married couples in any way reinforces the State�s ban on illicit sexual relationships. . . . [The statute] has been quite obviously ineffective, and [its] most serious use has been against birth-control clinics rendering advice to married, rather than unmarried, persons.� In short, White found, the law violated something as important as privacy � the right to expect a law (and the arguments made in court supporting the law) to make sense. If the State of Connecticut had a legitimate government purpose for enacting the birth-control statute, then it had done a particularly bad job because the law simply didn�t serve the purposes it was claimed to.

Though critics of the majority opinion in Griswold often call the right of privacy it recognized radical, White was in fact calling for something far more radical than a new individual right. White�s hardheadedness made him hard to pigeonhole: he voted with the liberals on (most) civil rights matters, and with the conservatives on (most) criminal matters.

But his approach was in many ways a foreshadowing of what was to come. In the 1996 case of Romer v. Evans, for example, the Supreme Court struck down an anti-gay-rights provision adopted in a Colorado referendum. The majority�s reasoning was that the provision � which barred localities from adopting gay-rights ordinances � failed �rational basis� review because the Court could identify no legitimate governmental purpose behind it. Instead, the Court held, the provision was motivated by a �bare desire to harm an unpopular group.�

Although �rational basis� analysis was long taught in law schools as being synonymous with �the law will be upheld,� White was long a champion of a more rigorous approach. The Romer decision is a fitting example of White�s legacy for another reason, too: it was criticized from both left and right. The left didn�t like it because it contained no ringing affirmation of gay rights. The right didn�t like it because it was insufficiently deferential to the state.

It may seem odd to link White�s legacy to a gay-rights case, given that his most unpopular opinion was probably the majority opinion he authored in the 1986 case of Bowers v. Hardwick. The Bowers case involved the constitutionality of a Georgia law making homosexual (and, actually, heterosexual) sodomy a felony punishable by up to twenty years imprisonment. White�s majority opinion upheld the law, finding no �fundamental right� of homosexuals to engage in sodomy.

White�s opinion was, in my own opinion, wrong. Under the logic of Griswold and Romer, the Georgia law is irrational � though since, despite the disingenuous claims of Georgia�s counsel at oral argument, it applied to heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, it was at least nondiscriminatory.

But though White may have been unable to bring himself to follow his own lead in Bowers, the courts of many states � including Georgia � have since struck down their sodomy laws on precisely the ground that they are irrational, and fail to advance a legitimate governmental purpose. In court after court, judges have examined the various justifications offered for laws banning homosexual sodomy (for example, that homosexual relationships can�t lead to children) and concluded that they didn�t make sense (after all, we allow heterosexuals who are sterile, or too old to reproduce, to have sex). White�s methodology, it turns out, may have had more impact than the opinion he authored.

What�s more, this principle is spilling over from traditionally liberal subjects like gay rights to those generally regarded as conservative. We see even economic regulations � once almost immune from judicial scrutiny � being examined in terms of rational basis and governmental legitimacy today. Just recently, for example, the Institute for Justice persuaded a court in my home state of Tennessee to strike down a law banning the sale of caskets by anyone other than a licensed funeral director, even though independent sellers could offer the same caskets at a fraction of the price. The state�s asserted justifications, it was found, were irrational: no one ever �protected� a consumer by keeping markups at four hundred to six hundred percent.

The principle that laws should make sense is, in fact, a radical one. While it has a long way to go before it has occupied the field, it has made great strides since Justice White began championing it. Like White himself, it will produce decisions that sometimes look conservative and sometimes look liberal. But it is really a species of muscular skepticism that � like White himself � is not made for ideological pigeonholes.

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Glenn Harlan Reynolds is Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee, and publishes the InstaPundit.Com website.

Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2001
Of Capitalism and Third Places
Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Senators have �hideaway offices,� and so do I. Theirs are scattered in various nooks and crannies around the Capitol. Mine is at the local Borders. Theirs are more prestigious, but mine has better coffee.

I have an office with a nice computer, and I have a study at home with a nicer computer. But I often pack up my laptop, or a book that I�m reading, or student papers to grade, and relocate to this third place: somewhere more congenial than the office, less isolated than home.

Others must feel the same way, because when I�m there I find myself surrounded by people of all sorts. On a typical day there will be two or three with laptops intently writing, well, something. There will be tables full of high-school or college students, alternately studying and flirting, a home-schooling parent drilling a child on Babylonian history, one or two road-warrior salespeople catching up on scheduling and messages, a claque of bible-studiers arguing about Job, and a leather-clad cyberpunk-looking youth sitting with his more conventional mother. By now, I know all the regulars by sight, and many by name. We keep up on each others� lives in a casual sort of way.

This third place, of course, is the �Third Place� that sociologist Ray Oldenburg called essential to civilization in his 1989 book, The Great Good Place. The third place had several characteristics: it had to be free or inexpensive, offer food and drink, be accessible, draw enough people to feel social, and foster easy conversation. Another characteristic that Oldenburg identified was that such places were disappearing.

In 1989, they were. In 2001, they�re not � and you can thank the much-maligned �chain book superstores� for this. Certainly when I moved to my upscale Knoxville suburb in 1989, there weren�t many such places. Nor had there been many in Washington, D.C., where I came from: the Afterwords caf� at Kramerbooks was the closest thing, but it didn�t really fill the bill. When I lived in New Haven, the famous Atticus books was like a poor man�s Borders � without public restrooms. (They�ve since added them, in the face of competition from the palatial Barnes & Noble – operated Yale Co-op down the street).

Now, within about a mile of each other, are three big bookstore/caf� complexes: Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. All seem to be doing well.

They�re doing well because they�ve identified a need, and they�re meeting it. You�d think that this would make a lot of people happy � and of course, it does, as I can tell just by looking around. But you�d think it would make more than just the customers happy; you�d think that it would please the people who are always worrying about America�s need for �community.�

In that, however, you would mostly be mistaken. While hostility toward book superstores has receded from its late-90s peak, it is still very real. Independent bookstores, we are told, are genuine; chain bookstores are all about marketing. Chain bookstores are bad for small presses, bad for communities, and � as Carol Anne Douglas writes in Off Our Backs � bad for feminists, whose books apparently can only be bought at �feminist bookstores.�

I don�t know about the feminists, but small press sales appear to be up thanks to chain bookstores� larger selection of titles. Communities are surely benefitting from the introduction of pleasant third places where such didn�t exist before. And what�s more, with the exception of a handful of independents, chain bookstores are better at being third places.

That�s because independent bookstores have traditionally been run by people who like books. Those people generally aren�t interested in offering the other amenities that Oldenburg calls important and that superstores offer, like coffee shops, comfy chairs, and live music performances. At many independent bookstores, they like books better than people, and want you to know it � the bookish version of the music geeks in the movie High Fidelity. The chains, however, aren�t in business for personal gratification. They just want to keep customers coming back. Want coffee? Got it! Want a triple mocha latte, and handmade fresh salads from the Tomato Head restaurant downtown? Got it! And, interestingly, the extra traffic that these amenities produce means that chain stores typically can afford a better selection of books than the independents, too, which is why small presses are benefitting right along with latte-lovers.

Well, no surprise there. That�s what capitalism is all about. Funny that it�s a dirty word to some people.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is professor of law at the University of Tennessee and publisher of InstaPundit.Com.

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The Boston Globe, November 25, 2001
Ashcroft and the Second Amendment
Glenn Harlan Reynolds

The Attorney General was asked a question at a Congressional hearing: “What in your opinion would be the constitutionality of a provision added to this bill which would require registration [of firearms]?” His answer: “I am afraid it would be unconstitutional.”

The year is not 2001, but 1934, and the Attorney General is not John Ashcroft, but Homer Cummings. Cummings was hardly the first to think there were constitutional barriers to gun control. Throughout the nineteenth century, leading scholars like Thomas Cooley, Joseph Story, and St. George Tucker had found the Second Amendment protected an individual right to arms against federal interference. Congress agreed: the 1866 Freedmen’s Bureau Act provided that “the constitutional right to bear arms, shall be secured to and enjoyed by all the citizens.”

Leading modern scholars of constitutional law agree. Laurence Tribe of Harvard has written that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. So have William Van Alstyne of Duke, Eugene Volokh of UCLA, Randy Barnett of Boston University, and many others. They also agree with Ashcroft’s statement that this right does not bar reasonable regulations aimed at preventing crime, rather than disarming honest citizens.

The twentieth century Congress agreed with its nineteenth century counterpart: the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act found that “the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms under the second amendment to the United States Constitution” required additional legislation for their protection. An accompanying Senate Judiciary Committee report on the Second Amendment stated that “what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner.” And in several cases � some quite recent � the Supreme Court has, though admittedly in dictum, lumped the right to arms together with clearly personal rights like free speech.

Despite this, Attorney General John Ashcroft’s recent statement that the Second Amendment protects an individual right was treated as a lurching departure from settled law by some. Yet Ashcroft’s interpretation sits rather comfortably with the mass of opinion from other branches.

The chief opposition to the individual-rights view comes from gun-control advocacy groups. I’ve never quite understood why gun-control groups have felt it necessary to adopt an absolutist no-right-to-bear-arms position, when it is clear that the individual right view leaves room for reasonable regulation, so long as that regulation is really about preventing criminals from getting guns, not disarming ordinary citizens. (I myself have written that gun registration wouldn’t violate the Second Amendment). But such absolutism is one of the dynamics of our ongoing culture war, on the left as much as on the right.

Some critics of Ashcroft’s view have claimed that it conflicts with United States v. Miller, the 1939 Supreme Court case that is its only opinion directly addressing a Second Amendment argument in the past hundred years. Miller, we are told, makes clear that the Second Amendment only protects the National Guard. There are two major problems with this argument. One is that Miller never mentions the National Guard. The other is that the only action actually taken in Miller was to remand the case back to the District Court (which had previously held the National Firearms Act unconstitutional on Second Amendment grounds) for factfinding on the issue of whether a sawed-off shotgun was the kind of weapon the Second Amendment protects. Whatever Miller did, it did not endorse the “National Guard” theory.

The lower federal courts are a different story. The lower courts’ resistance to the individual-rights view has, at least until recently, been widespread, and those criticizing Ashcroft’s position have been quick to point to these decisions as evidence that Ashcroft is somehow off the reservation. Yet on closer examination, the lower courts’ opinions are less persuasive. In a recent article, Professor Brannon Denning of Southern Illinois University Law School analyzed all the lower court decisions on the Second Amendment, and concluded that , “lower courts have strayed . . . from the Court’s original holding to the point of being intellectually dishonest.” Many lower courts in fact have endorsed the National Guard theory. Of course, many of them also claim that Miller did the same, which it clearly did not, and to read these opinions in series is to see lower courts progressively and unashamedly moving the goalposts in order to ensure that � regardless of the arguments offered by counsel � no one could possibly succeed in a Second Amendment challenge. This line of cases is no great testament to the rule of law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed with this last month when it essentially adopted Professor Denning’s criticism of other lower court decisions and held that the Second Amendment does in fact protect an individual right. In response to this decision, Michael Barone noted that “It will now be very hard�I would say impossible�for any intellectually honest judge to rule that the Second Amendment means nothing.”

On analysis, therefore, it appears to be the lower federal courts (except, now, for the Fifth Circuit) who are out of the mainstream on this issue. So are the gun-control groups who so vigorously invoke the lower courts’ opinions to deny any possibility that the Second Amendment (which is, after all, one-tenth of the Bill of Rights) does anything so uncouth as to create an enforceable constitutional right.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee, and writes for the InstaPundit.Com website.

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IS BIG BROTHER riding shotgun? “When the Germans — who, after the Gestapo and the Stasi, know a little something about surveillance and the loss of privacy — ban these devices, why should we let them into our daily lives?”

WELL, 1984 WAS SET IN BRITAIN, AFTER ALL:

Councils are recruiting ‘citizen snoopers’ to report litter louts, dog foulers and even people who fail to sort out their rubbish properly. The ‘environment volunteers’ will also be responsible for encouraging neighbours to cut down on waste. The move comes as local authorities dish out £100 fines to householders who leave out too much rubbish or fail to follow recycling rules.

It will fuel fears that Britain is lurching towards a Big Brother society, following the revelation this week that the Home Office is extending some police powers to council staff and private security guards. Critics said the latest scheme could easily be abused and encourage a culture of bin spies and curtain twitchers.

Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Snooping on your neighbours to report recycling infringements sounds like something straight out of the East German Stasi’s copybook.

Indeed.

BIG BROTHER at the Boston Subway.

BIG BROTHER LURKS IN THE DEN:

I write in cars, on planes, on the bench in the yard, while watching TV and in bed. And I haven’t seen a movie that wasn’t a matinee in two decades.

I’ve worked like this now, with the exception of three years when I had a ’real’ job, since 1981. During that time, I’ve authored or co-authored more than a dozen books, co-produced a TV miniseries (and hosted three other PBS series), and written probably two thousand newspaper and magazine articles, columns and editorials. In other words, by most objective measures, I’ve had a pretty successful and productive freelance career.

And yet, if a new trend identified by the Wall Street Journal takes hold, I will be considered utterly and permanently unemployable. Why? Because employers, despite a half-century of evidence that trusting your employees to make responsible decisions is the key to higher productivity, are becoming increasingly obsessed with the notion (as used to be said about the Puritans) that someone, somewhere, is goofing off on the job.

So, they are now turning to employment companies that market freelancers, such as oDesk.com (which manages 90,000 code writers, network admins, writers and graphic artists –pray for them – for 10,000 clients worldwide), which have developed a whole suite of tools to help them spy on these contractors as they work at home. oDesk, for example, uses freelancer’s own computer camera to track his or her moves, periodically conducts screen grabs to see if work is being done, monitors keystrokes, even eavesdrops for the sound of a dog barking or children talking – and then offers those services to its clients.

All of this is, apparently, an attempt to assuage the ever-present fear by contractors that somehow they are being ripped off by the people they contract. The result, as the Journal portrays it in chilling terms, is that people working at home under this regime are forced to create work environments in their homes that seem far, far worse than any cubicle at corporate headquarters.

As I’ve noted before, this kind of thing is rooted more in managers’ desire for power — and fear of output metrics — than any actual business needs.

THE D300’S BIG BROTHER: A review of the new Nikon D3.

BIG BROTHER’S WATCHING YOU — but who’s watching Big Brother? Big Brother doesn’t want it to be you . . . .

I’ve written on that myself, recently.