February 12th, 2005


Disconnection Defines Danger

Nepal, since its coup, has become a source of danger. Danger, oddly enough, most to the supporters of the coup: the only way to defeat the terrorists they were faced with is the increase of connectedness. Sadly, the effort to accomodate terrorists led to the resultant lack of accomodation of democracy.

That sounds odd, doesn't it? Yet that is how regimes endanger themselves and those who are in them. Cutting yourself off from the flow of information, goods, and people means that you breed people who are not adept at explaining choices, not adept at choosing things because they are the right things to choose, but because some authoritarian fool made a rule while in the bathtub looking for the soap, or authoritatively interpreted a text he did not understand.

They also endanger other countries around them with this move: India and China, which are not the best of neighbors as it is, only become more nervous when the flow of information that might reassure them is cut off.

What should the United States do? Well, to start with, this would be a good moment for the State Department to start talking to the government of Nepal about changing its position, and restoring democracy. I would suggest that this is exactly where the State Department should focus. Oddly enough, while the State Department has noted the insurgents, they have not spent much time discussing the loss of connection. That, of course, is called "falling down on the job."
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    annoyed annoyed

Successful Cities: They Grow

Successful cities are easy to spot: they grow. At the same time, cities that shrink tend to become adult-dominated, and ridiculously childless, effectively declaring that they themselves don't expect to dominate the city for more than a generation before dying out.

But isn't that the definition of a Boomer? Someone whose responsibility is so attenuated that they think nothing of creating something that lasts for a while?
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    amused amused

A Letter to National Review on "Real ID" cards

"The measure would set standards for driver's licenses or other state identification documents to be accepted for federal purposes..."

Let's pause and think about this for a moment, noting that
identity theft is on the rise,
according to the governmental agency tasked with monitoring it. Let's recall that identity theft consists of confusing a piece of identification (a card, typically) with the identity of the person holding it, or, even worse, with their intentions. Let's recall that, as Sylvanus
P. Thompson
so cogently demonstrated years ago, "What one fool can do, another can" -- and apply it to any technology that is supposed to make this ID "secure."

The conclusion is simple: the federal government is setting us up for rampant identity theft once people buy into the fiction that this is a "real id" -- despite the fact that any technology can be subverted to serve other ends. People are getting smarter about our ID cards now: they ask for several forms of ID, and typically make calls to check them if they feel insecure. Books are available detailing what good ID should look like. But that would go by the wayside when people are reassured about "real ID." What is even worse is that the federal government, by endorsing this ID, will have made it a target for such terrorists and thieves, since it would have the same effect as a passport: the form of identity that is not questioned.

Watch your wallet, gentlemen. Just as an example, it takes $10-20 to duplicate fingerprints so that you can fool fingerprint readers. Saying an ID is "secure" or "real" doesn't make it so. They are all administered, and must be used by people.
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    determined determined