"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Friday, February 12, 2010

Time to Go With Burn Phones

When I was young, telephones had dials, bank accounts had passbooks, and people paid for stuff with cash or wrote a check -- you know, like with a pen.  When I was old enough to work a bit with my father, I found that he kept his personal accounts at one bank, his business accounts at a second bank, and his payroll account at a third.  There was also a very imposing safe in his office where he kept the 2,000 silver dollars he and his poker buddies played with.  There were other things in that safe, none of them crisp and new, and none of them with sequential serial numbers.

From time to time I "did the payroll."  This involved a process that began with a pile of time cards, and ended with individual pay envelopes.  There was money in each envelope, bills and coins and pennies.  The dozen or so men on the payroll had worked this week, it was now Friday, and they quite reasonably expected to be paid;  with money.  My favorite part of "doing the payroll" was filling out the sheet that ended up telling you how many twenties, how many tens, how many fives, how many ones, how many quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies you were going to need.  Then I wrote a check on one bank, took it down to another and deposited it, and gave a teller at the second bank a withdrawal slip that specified how I wanted the cash.

I asked my father one time why he kept his money in three different banks, since it certainly caused inconvenience from time to time.  "Because my money is none of those fuckers' business," was the practical answer.

Today, bank accounts consist of electrons, and people pay for stuff . . . . with electrons.  Your identity may be stolen because your financial identity inheres in a bunch of ones and zeros stored away . . . someplace.  Or perhaps nowhere.  Telephones not only have no dials, but they fit in your pocket and they're always on; a great convenience; a technological marvel.  And with GPS, it's now possible for you to instantly know precisely where you are in the big, wide world of objective reality.  Even without GPS, the cell-phone company knows more or less where you are whenever your phone is turned on.  And they know it's you.

I confidently speculate that my father would not have carried a cell phone that broadcast his voice into the ether and told the phone company where he was:  "What I say and where I am is none of those fuckers' business."

My father would not have been surprised to learn that the Government of the United States (known to my father as "The Suits") holds a different opinion.  This morning, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral argument in case number 08-4227, In the Matter of the Application of the United States of America For An Order Directing A Provider of Electronic Communication Service To Disclose Records to the Government.  In that case, the Government argues that you have no "reasonable expectation of privacy" regarding the location of your cell phone.  Thus, no warrant is necessary before the Government can compel your telephone company to turn over its records showing where your cell phone was from time to time.  Learn much more HERE.

But this, you say, is only a problem if you're robbing a bank, or burgling someone's home.  So long as you have nothing criminal to hide from the Government, what's the problem?  Why do I care if the Government knows where I am right now?

Simple.  It's none of the fuckers' business.


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