watching janet jacksons nipple tip the scale

Ive got a lot to get done tonight, so there wont be much blogging. I did, however, want to point out two articles. Both have something to do with privacy. The first is from the New York Times business section and its on the upcoming cover of Reason magazine. The idea sends chills up my spine, but apparently every copy of Reason thats sent out to a subscriber will have a satellite image of that persons neighborhood on the front cover. Not only, according to this story, is your house pictured on the cover of the magazine though. Its also circled… Its targeted. (I think if I got something like that sent to my house, Id see it as a threat, or at least as a sign to move off-grid, to pack up and move into whats left of the wilderness.) The point the folks at Reason are trying to drive home, and I think theyre doing it remarkably well, is- Theres no more hiding. Our databases are talking to each other and theyre talking about you. We know where you live, what kind of car you drive, how many kids you have, what you read and what medications you use. We know about your debt, your last herpes flare-up, and your speeding ticket. We know the kinds of movies you like to rent. We know your fetishes, your political leanings and your travel plans. We have you in our crosshairs Some of you might see that as a convenience. (“Wow. This way I don’t have to ever go to the store again. They can just anticipate my every need.”) I see it as prison. (“Wow. What if they decide to round everyone up who fit a certain profile; gave money to a certain candidate, checked out a certain book, subscribes to certain magazines, etc?”)

Speaking of constant monitoring, I just finished an interesting article in the Baltimore Sun having to do with the Bush administrations crusade against porn. Apparently, Ashcroft feels emboldened enough by public outrage over Janet Jacksons nipple to pick up where Edwin Meese left off. So, hes setting out to prosecute those distributing images of consenting adults having sex even if it means diverting scarce resources from the protection of America against terrorists. I dont know about you, but Im very happy to know that were paying a warehouse full of government analysts to watch videotapes of men ejaculating onto different body parts instead of our patrolling our nations ports and nuclear facilities. Heres a clip from the article:

Ashcroft, a religious man who does not drink alcohol or caffeine, smoke, gamble or dance, and has fought unrelenting criticism that he has trod roughshod on civil liberties in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, is taking on the porn industry at a time when many experts say Americans are wary about government intrusion into their lives.

Im by no means a scholar when it comes cultural anthropology and such, but Im going to go out on a limb and suggest that Americans, especially American males, love their pornography more than they love their freedom of speech and everything else mentioned in the Bill of Rights all rolled up together. If not for that simple fact, I would be very worried about my civil rights right now.

Speaking of Bush, heres a neat little item. It would appear that an American manufacturer of computer bags has begun criticizing our President in the small print of their French language fabric care instructions.

One last thing, could someone please summarize Seymour Hershs new piece on Afghanistan for me and have it on my desk first thing tomorrow morning?

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