City drivers: You've been surveilled

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  • Updated: June 29, 2013 - 9:00 PM

City drivers

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pumiceJun. 30, 13 8:05 AM

A thought-provoking piece of writing, David Banks. If it had come out before the news about the NSA's pervasive PATRIOT Act-inspired data mining policies, I would have appreciated it for its lighthearted tone. Coming out after the NSA revelations, however, your commentary made me wonder what happened to the debate about the balance between national security and privacy. One solitary diner making an effort to focus on driving habits rather than nearby conversations is entertaining. The behavior you surveilled is interesting in its variety and in your attention to detail.

As you noted, we willingly give up our privacy when we have cell phone conversations in public. We've given up our privacy to the private sector which collects our phone record metadata and mines our e-mails for data about our buying habits. Why should we be outraged when the NSA outsources its routine data mining? Maybe the debate over how much privacy we're willing to give up and how much inconvenience we'll tolerate in exchange for the level of security we demand is over.

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mklundJun. 30, 13 2:44 PM

Hey, pumice: "Maybe the debate over how much privacy we're willing to give up and how much inconvenience we'll tolerate in exchange for the level of security we demand is over." Exactly!And we weren't even in the room! One correction: we have exchanged privacy for vulnerability, not security. We are all "potential criminals" now... and they don't need a warrant.

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jd55604Jun. 30, 13 5:43 PM

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. -Ayn Rand

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aarghmebuckoJun. 30, 13 8:05 PM

Wrong jd55604 and Ayn Rand too. The government can try three main ways to change behavior: 1. education; 2. incentives (monetary and/or social); and 3. enforcement (laws). in this article though, the topic is not yet again about politics, or Ayn Rand of all things (stop signs crush our creativity and freedom - yeah right), it is about a humorous nonscientific survey of driver behavior, that if representative of the entire public, would mean that we must be very careful at stop signs.

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rolflindyJul. 1, 13 3:59 AM

I'm for roundabouts. There is a small one at the east end of Minnehaha Pkwy that works well.

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owatonnabillJul. 1, 1310:19 PM

Interesting piece. In a like vein, a few afternoons back Spousal Unit used her time on a city bus from work to the Park-&-Ride to surveill drivers (you can see a lot from that high up--owatonnabill has stories about what he's seen while perched high above the car traffic in the cab of an International TranStar but that's another--and undoubtedly censorable--story) and reported that in the approximately 15 mile bus ride, she saw precisely ONE driver who was driving and nothing else. The rest were chatting on cell phones, texting, eating, talking to passengers, smoking, reading, tuning the radio, preening in the mirror, etc. etc. Now owatonnabill fully realizes that Minneapolitans as a group have a certain disregard for things like laws, rules and common sense--but ONE driver in--how many? C'mon!!

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pumiceJul. 1, 1311:38 PM

Re: "The rest [of the drivers surveilled by owatonnabill's spousal unit] were chatting on cell phones, texting, eating, talking to passengers, smoking, reading, tuning the radio, preening in the mirror, etc. etc." So then, owatonnabill, when owatonnabill and his spousal unit are out for a drive, neither owatonnabill nor owatonnabill's spousal unit eats, there's no conversation between owatonnabill and owatonnabill's spousal unit, and either owatonnabill or owatonnabill's spousal unit (whichever is the passenger) uses earphones to listen to the radio or CD player or iPod or MP3 player (or whatever)?

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