Friday, June 14, 2013
Privacy is about control over information, not about secrecy. It is about having the right to define what is exposed and what is concealed. Privacy is about choice.
Debunking "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear"
One – The rules may change: Once the invasive surveillance is in place to enforce rules that you agree with, the ruleset that is being enforced could change in ways that you don’t agree with at all – but then, it is too late to protest the surveillance. For example, you may agree to cameras in every home to prevent domestic violence (“and domestic violence only”) – but the next day, a new political force in power could decide that homosexuality will again be illegal, and they will use the existing home cameras to enforce their new rules. Any surveillance must be regarded in terms of how it can be abused by a worse power than today’s.
Two – It’s not you who determine if you have something to fear: You may consider yourself law-abidingly white as snow, and it won’t matter a bit. What does matter is whether you set off the red flags in the mostly-automated surveillance, where bureaucrats look at your life in microscopic detail through a long paper tube to search for patterns. When you stop your car at the main prostitution street for two hours every Friday night, the Social Services Authority will draw certain conclusions from that data point, and won’t care about the fact that you help your elderly grandmother – who lives there – with her weekly groceries. When you frequently stop at a certain bar on your way driving home from work, the Department of Driving Licenses will draw certain conclusions as to your eligibility for future driving licenses – regardless of the fact that you think they serve the world’s best reindeer meatballs in that bar, and never had had a single beer there. People will stop thinking in terms of what is legal, and start acting in self-censorship to avoid being red-flagged, out of pure self-preservation. (It doesn’t matter that somebody in the right might possibly and eventually be cleared – after having been investigated for six months, you will have lost both custody of your children, your job, and possibly your home.)
Two and a half – Point two assumes that the surveillance even has correct data, which it has been proven time and again to frequently not have.
Three – Laws must be broken for society to progress: A society which can enforce all of its laws will stop dead in its tracks. The mindset of “rounding up criminals is good for society” is a very dangerous one, for in hindsight, it may turn out that the criminals were the ones in the moral right. Less than a human lifetime ago, if you were born a homosexual, you were criminal from birth. If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, the lobby groups for sexual equality could never have formed; it would have been just a matter of rounding up the organized criminals (“and who could possibly object to fighting organized crime?”). If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, homosexuality would still be illegal and homosexual people would be criminals by birth. It is an absolute necessity to be able to break unjust laws for society to progress and question its own values, in order to learn from mistakes and move on as a society.
Four – Privacy is a basic human need: Implying that only the dishonest people have need of any privacy ignores a basic property of the human psyche, and sends a creepy message of strong discomfort. We have a fundamental need for privacy. I lock the door when I go to the men’s room, despite the fact that nothing secret happens in there: I just want to keep that activity to myself, I have a fundamental need to do so, and any society must respect that fundamental need for privacy. In every society that doesn’t, citizens have responded with subterfuge and created their own private areas out of reach of the governmental surveillance, not because they are criminal, but because doing so is a fundamental human need.
For a more visceral description of the importance of privacy, read this personal account.
Metadata: keep in mind:
Metadata is often more revealing than contents of a communication, which is what's being collected with PRISM. A study in the journal Nature found that as few as four "spatio-temporal points," such as the location and time a phone call was placed, is enough to determine the identity of the caller 95 percent of the time.
In addition to the times and locations calls are made and received, metadata includes emails, visits to websites, and credit card transactions.
If that information were combined with the phone metadata, the collective power could not only reveal someone's identity, but also provide an illustration of his entire social network, his financial transactions, and his movements.
For a humorous look at this kind of use of metadata, read Using Metadata To Find Paul Revere.
One other interesting note that may bring a smile, it appears the NSA "borrowed" their PRISM logo graphic without permission or attribution from Adam Hart-Davis, British scientist and television presenter of shows such as Tomorrow's World.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
You may not know this...but the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF) in Boyds houses a library branch that is part of the Montgomery County Public Libraries system. The MCCF Library offers free and equal access to services and resources to help the inmate population find the general and legal information they need to improve and enrich their lives, and enable their successful re-entry into the community. A wide variety of reading material is available, comprised of a collection of approximately 15,000 fiction and nonfiction titles, paperbacks, reference books, encyclopedias and newspapers, including materials in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Inmates have access to the library on a biweekly basis, and may check out up to seven books to take back to their cells. The MCCF Library also provides inmates with resources to assist with their legal matters, as mandated by Maryland and Federal law.
As the Library's Manager, I'm ocassionally asked by folks "on the outside" what it is inmates like to read. Our customers here are just as diverse in their reading preferences as individuals in the general community. There are, however, several titles that are perennial favorites among our patronage --- books that perhaps you haven't considered perusing. I encourage you to discover (or re-discover!) these publications:
THE SECRET, by Rhonda Byrne
Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces ofThe Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.
THE ART OF WAR, by Sunzi (Sun Tzu)
Although its wisdom is over two thousand years old, its principles are timeless for today's boardroom battlefields. Thirteen sections present incisive strategems from assessing the foe to proper treatment of troops.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X
If there was any one man who articulated the anger, the struggle, and the beliefs of African-Americans in the 1960s, that man was Malxolm X. His AUTOBIOGRAPHY is now an established classic of modern America, a book that expresses like none other the crucial truth about our times.
THE PRINCE, by Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince is a classic book that explores the attainment, maintenance, and utilization of political power in the western world. Machiavelli wrote The Prince to demonstrate his skill in the art of the state, presenting advice on how a prince might acquire and hold power.
...AND ANY BOOK BY JAMES PATTERSON. Patterson's novels and non-fiction works are consistently requested. He's been called the busiest man in publishing, and that's not just because of his own books. For the past decade, James has been devoting more and more of his time to championing books and reading. From the James Patterson Pageturner Awards, to his website ReadKiddoRead.com, to his College Book Bucks scholarships and his regular donations of hundreds of thousands of books to schools here in the states and troops overseas (see interviews on Fox & Friends, The Dennis Miller Radio Show and CNN.com), Patterson has passed on his passion of books and reading and supported those who do the same.
Delve in -- and enjoy!
CATEGORIES: Andrea C
POSTED: 8:00:00 AM
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I love watching movies based on books I've read. Sometimes I love the movie because it captures the spirit of the book. Other times the way I imagined the movie in my head while reading the book was so much better. We reap so much from reading the original story the movie was based by engaging our limitless imaginations with the words of the author. So here are some highlights of books that are soon to be movies that you won't want to miss.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. For Zombie lovers and non-Zombie lovers alike. But even if you don't love zombies it is a FASCINATING read. It's a powerful "what if" story about how specific countries could possibly react if a contagion started spreading across the world. Told many years after the zombie war, the story is a collection of smaller stories told by survivors and collected by the narrator. This gives you a chance to see the war from many distinct and unique perspectives to get a total feel for what the world went through. You won't be able to put this book down.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. The play might as well be called Much Ado About Love and certainly shows how the course of true love never does run smoothly. This humorous story, with a dash of drama, centers on soldiers returning from war who fall in love, or are tricked into falling in love. My favorite line in the play is "I was born to speak all mirth and no matter." The war of words between Beatrice and Benedick makes them one of the best couples in literature!
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Will this movie be the next big sci-fi movie since Star Trek: Into Darkness? I've read three books in this exciting series and can't wait to read the rest. This first book in the series introduces us to a young and lonely genius, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, who attends battle school for young soldiers. The school's leaders hope that Ender will be "the one" to end Earth's war with an alien race called the Buggers. Ender is the huge draw in this story as he struggles between who he wants to be and what he must do.
Austenland by Shannon Hale. This book can be described in one word-FUN! Single New Yorker Jane is obsessed with all things Jane Austen, especially Mr. Darcy. When a rich relative dies and leaves Jane a ticket to a Regency era role playing resort in England she, of course, goes to rid herself of her Darcy obsession. Will she be able to kick the habit or will she find a Mr. Darcy of her own? Read and find out!
And here are some other great books that have movies being released this year: Tiger Eyes, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Superman books, Paranoia, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Geography Club.
Judge for yourself how well they brought your vision of these books to life. Read them and reap!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The month of May gives us multiple opportunities to honor and remember those who have valiantly served our country both at home and abroad. This Saturday (May 18) is Armed Forces Day
and of course, the last Monday of the month (May 27) is Memorial Day
. Please take a moment to check out the related displays of books and other materials at many of our branches
. If you would like to commemorate your service or that of a loved one or friend, share your story in the Veterans’ Memory Book at your local branch
Here are some reading ideas to get you in the mood:
Take time to pay tribute by visiting one of the many local sites commemorating our troops, including the U.S. Air Force Memorial
, the U.S. Navy Memorial
, the National World War II Memorial
, the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
, the Korean War Veterans' Memorial
, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima)
, the D.C. World War I Memorial
, the "Tribute to Our Veterans" panels on Veterans' Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring, our own Rockville Memorial Library
which was renamed in 2010 to the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and, of course, Arlington National Cemetery
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
No matter how chilly the weather feels, I know it is almost summer when our son returns from college and the authors return to the Gaithersburg Book Festival. On Saturday May 18, booklovers and authors will gather on the grounds of the Gaithersburg City Hall to to celebrate books, writers and literary excellence. In its forth year, the Festival features talks and book signings by authors, a story time tent, a coffee house with singers and poets/songwriters, and several panel discussions.
Download the one page Author Program Schedule, like the Festival on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, so you can plan your visit. It's a perfect time for kids,'teens and grown-ups to make a summer reading plan or to gather suggestions for a new or ongoing book group.To prepare for the Festival, look at the photos and videos from last year or read an entry from this year's short story contest for high school students.
MCPL can help booklovers prepare for the Festival, too. Let the Reader's Cafe guide your author presentation selection. Read or listen to a book by one of the featured authors. Fiction and mystery writers visitng the Festival include , Jane Green, Manil Suri and Phillip Margolin. Non-fiction writers include Mark Shriver, Kitty Kelley, Evan Thomas and Lynne Olson. MCPL offers many of these works as downloadable audio books or ebooks, too. MCPL is one of the event partners this year. The Gaithersburg Interim Branch at Lakeforest Mall is displaying authors'works throughout the month. Stop by, browse and take one home with you to enjoy.
Get the kids ready, too. Share a book or audio book. Children's and young adult authors appearing in the Jim Henson, Ogden Nash and Willa Cather Pavillions include Jon Scieska, Walter Dean Myers, Fred Bowen, Mac Barnett and Mary Quattlebaum. Try not to miss the free craft and other hands-on sessions for children at the IMAGINATION STATION are offered too.
Visit the library, then grab your sunscreen, a pen for autographs and get ready to collect ideas for summer reading!!
Montgomery County Public Libraries