Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Many Things, Some Good, Some Bad

First, as some of you know already, I am now officially engaged, as of August 12. The wedding will be next June. So, I'm very excited about that.

Second, it is pretty evident that posts lately have been rather scarce. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I haven't been in much of a mood to rant lately. It's that whole bliss thing. Being happy sometimes makes it hard to rant. On a related note, I've spent a lot of time travelling between Indy and Lansing, splitting my time about evenly between the two. When in Indy, I haven't been on the computer except at work. And I've had to focus more to keep my hours down.

Another major reason is that grad school starts next week. Frankly, I'm terrified. I've only done limited programming in C, and it's been a while since I've worked in Java. And don't even mention Assembly. I've spent the last couple months frantically rereading my undergrad texts and trying to relearn those languages. I feel extremely unprepared and don't know how I'll get everything done that I need to.

This obviously leads to the question of the future of this blog. I currently have it planned that I will be doing most of the work for my job Monday through Thursday. The weekend is reserved for homework, visiting the fiancee, and wedding planning. I'm thinking about setting a regular schedule for posting. Perhaps I'll save a week's work of items and blog about them all on a Monday or so. Obviously, school and work (I still need money to be able to eat) will come first. I've enjoyed putting my posts together (especially when I get comments), so I don't want to stop altogether. We'll see how it goes.

Now, on to real news that may have slipped through the cracks. First, a couple of weeks ago, the director of a Florida library was suspended because a registered sex offender used the library's computers to access child pornography web sites. City Commissioner Robert Billingsley is also pushing for the director, Sue Martin, to be fired. Martin had sent a letter to Billingsley stating that access is monitored and "suspicious use" is checked against the user's Web usage history. It does not say that any such suspicious use is reported, though I suspect it may.

I find this whole incident rather disturbing. Ms. Martin is the director of a library. Is it her job to enforce criminal law and punishment? Is it her job to do background checks on every patron of the library to provide better monitoring? Is it her job to compensate because the criminal justice system is not adequately tracking sex offenders? If a Muslim from Syria comes into the library and does a search on explosive material, should she report that? Never mind that he is a student pursuing a degree in materials science. I've always found the term "police state" interesting. In dystopic novels like 1984, the police state functions because everyone making up the state are police. Children report thoughtcrimes of their parents. Librarians report anything resembling suspicious information access of their patrons.

I don't know all the details of the incident. The article, in fact, states that the commissioner declined to comment on why he thought Ms. Martin had "not done enough to prevent the incident." My gut reaction, though, is that the police are overcompensating for their failures in preventing the deaths of Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde.

I seem to be on a roll with police today, because here's another scary story. Over the weekend, a Utah rave was busted in a very heavy-handed manner. There's some video footage here. And many posts here. Assault rifles, tear gas, police dogs, camouflage, throwing people to the ground and kicking them. Seems a bit much to break up a party. Add in confiscation of cameras and camera phones to limit the evidence. According to the police statement, the organizers did not have a mass gathering permit since there were over 250 people attending. In fact, they did, as confirmed by the Utah County Health Department. However, they did not know that there was a similar permit required, which would detail security plans and event details. It looks like that one small slip will doom the organizers.

What I found especially disgusting was the treatment of the security guards hired for the event. The guards searched cars and people coming into the event, confiscating alcohol and drugs. I.e., the organizers were trying to be responsible and have a clean, legal party. In an ironic twist, these guards were then arrested for illegal drug possession. "[Security guards] have no legal statutory authority to take and hold controlled substances. It's against the law for them to have them." That quote comes from Utah County Sheriff James Tracy. Would he say the same thing of security guards hired for a Ticketmaster-sponsored event? Somehow, I doubt it.


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