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08/05/2003 Archived Entry: "Sam again..."
One reason I'm happy to be Canadian: The recent Rolling Stones SARS concert attracted about 450,000 attendees and ended up with only 21 arrests during the 11-hour event: "Nine of the offences were so minor, the alleged perpetrators were released immediately. Half of the remainder were charged with intoxication and were let go after they had slept off the booze. Four people were charged with assault, one was charged with theft, and the last person was charged with theft of a golf cart and driving the golf cart while impaired." Police turned a blind eye to marijuana. Where else but in Canada? I still remember one day when the power went out in a large section of downtown Toronto, a metro of about 3 million people. No looting. No rise in crime. Brad and I were caught in the chaotic traffic caused by the outage of street lights -- that is, until a pedestrian spontaneously volunteered to stand in a key intersection to act as traffic cop. As we neared the intersection in our car, we saw a policeman stride swiftly up to the good Samaritan and we wondered if he would be admonished or even fined. Instead, the cop hurriedly shoved an orange vest at him to wear for visibility...then walked on, obviously due elsewhere.
On the other hand, Canada is one of the pioneers in the quiet progression of privacy violations being engineered through new technology: a kinder, gentler totalitarian society? For example, "Even if the only evidence forensic analysts can pull from a crime scene is a fingerprint smudged beyond recognition, a new technique developed by Canadian scientists soon could harvest enough DNA from the print to produce a genetic identity. The novel system can extract DNA in only 15 minutes, even if a print has been stored for a year. Scientists expect the invention to help crime-fighters solve mysteries, and already are in talks with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In addition, researchers predict the technology could be at least twice as cheap as existing DNA collection methods. 'If you wanted to use blood as a source of DNA, you have fear of contamination, people who don't want to give it, storage issues, and you have to sign a lot of paperwork to get it,' research scientist Maria Viaznikova of the Ottawa University Heart Institute in Canada told United Press International. 'We can now have DNA reliably and simply with our method'." O Brave New World that has such wonders in it.
Brad and I become only more convinced to never fly again until airlines cease to treat their passengers like criminals. Indeed, even criminals have more rights than people in an airport security line -- e.g. due process. Two breaking stories on this issue. 1) The Transport Security Administration (TSA) admits it placed antiwar activists on a special "no-fly" list. "After more than a year of complaints by some US anti-war activists that they were being unfairly targeted by airport security, Washington has admitted the existence of a list, possibly hundreds or even thousands of names long, of people it deems worthy of special scrutiny at airports." 2) The TSA has settled a lawsuit by an unlawfully detained passenger. It "has agreed to settle a racial profiling lawsuit filed by a naturalized American who was illegally detained by Federal Air Marshals who claimed he was 'watching too closely' as they restrained an unruly passenger."
Today's favorite email is from Gordon P., who writes, "As if the 'Dating' meat-grinder wasn't =ALREADY= humiliating enough,some Online Dating Services have started rejecting applicants as being unmatchable. eHarmony.com rejects 20% of its applicants for failing its 10-minute online personality quiz, e.g., because they displayed signs of depression, or other "personality quirks." Another dating service, MillionaireMatch.com, rejects applicants for not being "elite" enough, e.g., not attending one of 25 high-ranking colleges. What a WONDERFUL culture we are creating for ourselves... >:-("
I must salute Francois-Rene Rideau and his "Liberty, as it is" website on which Rideau reprints Karl Hess' classic 1969 "The Death of Politics" which I featured in an earlier blog. I also highly recommend Ayn Rand's 1941 To All Innocent Fifth Columnists, James Boyds' 1970 From Far Right To Far Left — And Farther — With Karl Hess, and The New Right Credo — Libertarianism by Stan Lehr and Louis Rossetto Jr., 1971. Bask in the classics compliments of Francois-Rene.
And now you must forgive me if I run. We must pick up Sam from the veterinary hospital so that we can dote on him and make him the most spoiled-rotten dog that has existed on this or any other habitable planet. It is a good day. You don't often cheat death.
Best to all,