16. May, 2005 - steenking badges

First the weekend roundup. Spent Friday night at the Saints game. It was chilly, and thankfully the game went quickly. On the way home, I dropped a friend at the Amtrak depot so he could catch his train to Fargo where he was going to run a half-marathon. Then a stop at the Sporty. When I finally got home, I capped the night with a shot of Nyquil, and slept soundly. Until six AM. Feeling as though I hadn’t had enough sleep, I took some more Nyquil and went back to bed. This time it worked, and I slept until noon.

I spent Saturday with a hangover from the cough-medicine (and possibly from the beer). Nothing horrible, just a fuzzy-brained-feeling that persisted most of the day. But Mark was having a barbecue, so I headed out to Cabbage Patch and enjoyed the day as best I could. I got pressed into tending the grill, and managed to time things so I didn’t have to spend too much time outside in the scattered showers. That was fine by me, since I’ve got a lot of practice at tending meat over flames. I managed to get almost all the meat done at the same time, but we hadn’t planned ahead enough to have the corn with the rest of the food. When I got home, I spent an hour or so watching TV and then called it a day.

Sunday was the weekly trip up to see mom. Got home and took a nap, since while I’m mostly over my cold, I was still tired. When the sunlight coming through the west-windows of my house woke me up, I headed outside to mow the lawn. The noise from the lawnmower brought a few neighbors out to work in their yards as well, and we ended up chatting for an hour or so. I’ve got an offer for a couple wild roses I can have for the effort of transplanting them, plus one neighbor who’s going to help thin my lilies a bit. And I got a slice of rhubarb cake out of the deal!

That brings us to today. It looks like a busy day. There’s the normal mid-month work to be done, plus some work I had thought about doing yesterday afternoon before the weather turned decent. Plus I want to get the garden planted. Oh, and I need to move my webserver this evening. You may notice an outage.

I had a friend ask what the big deal with the REAL ID Law was, and realized I need to do some additional explaining. Claire’s articles above are a good start. But the new law does not mandate an additional ID card. It puts federal standards on existing state ID and driver’s licenses. The big changes are that some information that Minnesota has left off IDs will now be required (most notably your social security number and some “biometric identifier”, plus the card will need to be machine readable.

But due to the creeping post-9/11 security-state, you already need picture ID to travel by any motorized or commercial transit already. You can’t get on a plane, train, or long-haul bus without showing ID. That already rankles, but at least in the case of MN IDs, those companies couldn’t collect my social security number, which may have made it a little (though not much) tougher for them to put the pieces together.

Claire covers this in the “mission creep” section of her line in the sand. Second, there’s the question of why the government feels entitled to poke into my life. Third, there’s the violation of rights. Claire points out the Fourth, Fifth, First, Ninth and Tenth amendment violations. And all this government snooping won’t make us any safer. Would-be terrorists will still find a way to procure either fake or genuine US-government-approved ID, so we won’t be any safer.

Finally, I visited security-states in Eastern Europe in the early 1980s. The presence of police everywhere, like that of National Guardsmen in the airports, may make for safer streets, but it also gives you a sense of conitnually being watched. Add in the fact that going nearly anywhere would mean at least one stop by some official who would demand to see your papers, and it was an oppressive atmosphere. Since I was in high school at the time, we did our best to laugh it off, but there was still that feelign that we were continually being watched. People adjust to it, since humans are pretty darned adaptable, but that’s exactly what worries me about the current situation in the US. People will adjust to the heightened level of surveillance. And I fear that the government will ratchet things up another notch or two. The police-states of Cold War Eastern Europe didn’t happen with any single event, either. They gradually built until the system finally collapsed. But the leaders of many pro-democracy movements were jailed because the government could easily track their whereabouts. And that’s what worries me about REAL ID.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:58:54.