Thursday, January 31, 2008

Big Brother Will Soon Be Watching

This story raises some alarms about an emerging technology that most people probably know nothing about, but people who have access to it will know pretty much everything about you there is to know:

Here's a vision of the not-so-distant future: Microchips with antennas will be embedded in virtually everything you buy, wear, drive and read, allowing retailers and law enforcement to track consumer items - and, by extension, consumers - wherever they go, from a distance.

A seamless, global network of electronic "sniffers" will scan radio tags in myriad public settings, identifying people and their tastes instantly so that customized ads, "live spam," may be beamed at them.

In "Smart Homes," sensors built into walls, floors and appliances will inventory possessions, record eating habits, monitor medicine cabinets - all the while, silently reporting data to marketers eager for a peek into the occupants' private lives.

Science fiction?

In truth, much of the radio frequency identification technology that enables objects and people to be tagged and tracked wirelessly already exists - and new and potentially intrusive uses of it are being patented, perfected and deployed.

Read the rest of the story at the link. Thanks to Justin for passing it along.


Giving Away Your Money

This will toast your muffins: Under the current structure of the stimulus package many illegal immigrants will receive a tax rebate. What a country.


Reagan Nostalgia

William Kristol at The Weekly Standard urges conservatives to get a grip:

Conservative editorialists, radio hosts, and bloggers are unhappy. They don't like the Republican presidential field, and many of them have been heaping opprobrium on the various GOP candidates with astonishing vigor.

For example: John McCain--with a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 82.3--is allegedly in no way a conservative. And, though the most favorably viewed of all the candidates right now, both among Republicans and the electorate as a whole, he would allegedly destroy the Republican party if nominated.

Or take Mike Huckabee. He was a well-regarded and successful governor of Arkansas, reelected twice, the second time with 40 percent of the black vote. He's come from an asterisk to second in the national GOP polls with no money and no establishment support. Yet he is supposedly a buffoon and political na�f. He's been staunchly pro-life and pro-gun and is consistently supported by the most conservative primary voters--but he is, we're told, no conservative either.

Or Mitt Romney. He's a man of considerable accomplishments, respected by many who have worked with and for him in various endeavors. He took conservative positions on social issues as governor of Massachusetts, and parlayed a one-term governorship of a blue state into a first-tier position in the Republican race. But he, too, we're told, is deserving of no respect. And though he's embraced conservative policies and seems likely to be steadfast in pursuing them--he's no conservative either.

One could go on. And it's true the Republican candidates are not unproblematic. But they are so far performing more credibly than much of the conservative commentariat. Beyond the normal human frailties that affect all of us, including undoubtedly the commentators at this journal, there is one error that is distorting much conservative discussion of the presidential race. It's Reagan nostalgia.

Read the rest at the link to see what Kristol is talking about. I don't know how many of our readers listen to Sean Hannity, but if there's anyone who suffers from the syndrome Kristol writes about it's Hannity. Hannity worships Reagan and seems to have forgotten that the Gipper's tenure was not as glorious and unblemished as he imagines. Indeed, two hundred of our Marines were murdered in Lebanon and Reagan responded by having us slink ignominiously out of the country. He also put Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, a move that set the pro-life movement back by a generation.

Make no mistake. I think Reagan was a historic president, but conservatives like Hannity do make a mistake, in my opinion, when they idealize his presidency and make that ideal the standard by which any candidate is to be measured.

Thanks to Jason for the link.