Wednesday, July 30, 2008

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More scattered bits

IETF Dublin t-shirtHere’s another assortment of things while I’m meeting in Dublin...

Particularly appropriate during IETF week, the recent DNS exposure and patch frenzy made the NY Times. And, of course, Bruce Schneier has comments about the whole thing.

Another IETF-week-related item: China Surpasses U.S. in Number of Internet Users

And then there’s idiot Senator Ted ("the Internet is tubes") Stevens, who has now been “indicted on Tuesday on seven felony counts of failing to disclose gifts that he received from an oil services company.” I have to admit to some serious schadenfreude.

When Official Truth Collides With Cheap Digital Technology:

Around 9:30 on Friday night, a bicyclist pedaling down Seventh Avenue veered to the left, trying to avoid hitting a police officer who was in the middle of the street.

But the officer, Patrick Pogan, took a few quick steps toward the biker, Christopher Long, braced himself and drove his upper body into Mr. Long.

Officer Pogan, an all-star football player in high school, hit Mr. Long as if he were a halfback running along the sidelines, and sent him flying.

As of Tuesday evening, a videotape of the encounter had been viewed about 400,000 times on YouTube. “I can’t explain why it happened,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Tuesday. “I have no understanding as to why that would happen.”

But this episode was not just a powerful crash between one bicyclist and a police officer. It may turn out to be yet another head-on collision between false stories told by some police officers in criminal court cases and documentary evidence that directly contradicts them. And while in many instances the inaccurate stories have been tolerated by police superiors and prosecutors, Officer Pogan’s account is getting high-level scrutiny.

Later that night, Officer Pogan composed a story of his encounter with Mr. Long. It bore no resemblance to the events seen on the videotape. Based on the sworn complaint, Mr. Long was held for 26 hours on charges of attempted assault and disorderly conduct.

Over the weekend, though, the videotape, made by a tourist in Times Square with his family, fell into the hands of people involved with Critical Mass, the monthly bicycle rally that Mr. Long had been riding in.

The availability of cheap digital technology — video cameras, digital cameras, cellphone cameras — has ended a monopoly on the history of public gatherings that was limited to the official narratives, like the sworn documents created by police officers and prosecutors. The digital age has brought in free-range history.

And with it, the Digital Age has brought in public scrutiny of officials, and greater demand for accountability. Be happy about this; be very happy!

Finally, and without further comment, we have an op-ed column by Nick Pope that suggests that if we took UFO reports more seriously, we’d be safer from terrorism. Mm-hm.

2 comments:

Ray said...

Such a shame about Stevens. However, I'm not sure I understand the charge, since according to a caption on the page you linked to, his crime is concealing gifts from the people who gave them to him: In 2007, agents searched the Girdwood, Alaska, house of Senator Ted Stevens, now accused of trying to conceal $250,000 in gifts, including home renovations, from an oil services company.

I know, picky picky...

W.M. Irwin said...

The Orwellian scenario of Big Brother always watching us may be unfolding before our very eyes, but there is apparently a countering trend as well: Orwell didn't foresee the mass availability of recording and surveillance technology that empowers people, in turn, to watch Big Brother (at least some of the time.

Hope you're having a good time in Dublin!