I Left You A Message

August 24, 2010

[better resolution here]

Lack of Sense or Lack of Training?

August 24, 2010

I went for a quick lunch on the Drive today and my bill came to $9.97. I gave the waitress a $20 bill and she handed me back two x $5.00 bills.

D’oh! Did she really expect me to give her a $5.00 tip?

That’s not the first time that has happened to me and I have to wonder whether not giving me coins suitable for a tip is a lack of commonsense or whether they simply don’t train these kids to think past the moment. I was obliged to dig around until I finally came up with a loonie which was less than I would normally have left.  But by that time I really didn’t want to give anything at all.

Do We Need Lead-Lined Knickers?

August 24, 2010

In many cities it has become standard practice to monitor street movements by CCTV cameras; and going to an airport these days, I guess we have all become used to having every part of us patted and prodded and photographed and x-rayed.  Some people going to courthouses have become accustomed to the same close inspection.  But do you expect this while you are peaceably driving down the street doing your shopping or visiting friends?  I suspect not.  But you would be wrong.

According to this report at Forbes, full body-scan technology is not employed on the streets of North America:

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview … “This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss … Reiss says AS&E has customers on “all continents except Antarctica.”

What’s the fuss?  Take a look at this image and you tell me…

Though Reiss admits that the systems “to a large degree will penetrate clothing,” he points to the lack of features in images of humans shown in images like the one shown at right, far less detail than is obtained from the airport scans.

So far, perhaps.  But these machines have a habit of becoming more adept, and I doubt they will tell us when that happens. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says:

the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment. “Without a warrant, the government doesn’t have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,” he says. Even airport scans are typically used only as a secondary security measure, he points out. “If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.”

The TSA’s official policy dictates that full-body scanners won’t save any images. However,

Reiss [says] that the vans do have the capability of storing images. “Sometimes customers need to save images for evidentiary reasons,” he says. “We do what our customers need.”

Our mothers used to warn us to wear clean underwear; should we now update that advice to lead-lined undies?