Creeping Totalitarianism

Awaiting the List

Journalist Glenn Greenwald has announced plans to publish his final big leak from the Snowden files: A list of U.S. citizens that the NSA has spied on. Naturally, this raises a very important question: Am I on the list? ‘Cause it would really help my badass libertarian rep if I was. I’m just beside myself […]

Nearly Setec Astronomy

Holy crap. I’m still reeling from the latest revelation to come from Edward Snowden: The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or […]

Heads They Win, Tails You Lose

So, a few months ago, I wrote a post about sequestration in which I said, basically, bring it on! I had a couple of reasons for saying that. First of all, from my libertarian point of view some of the threatened cuts were pretty awesome. The Obama administration was threatening to cut federal grants to […]

Checkpoints And Despotism

So this story just makes me feel miserable: The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio […]

Nuclear Terrorism Espionage

In the early days of the Usenet distributed bulletin board system, some of us used to include random  collections of suspicious-sounding keywords in everything we posted (usually in the signature block). We did this because we were paranoid enough to assume government agencies were watching everyone’s posts, and we thought it would be funny to […]

Why Routine DNA Gathering Is a Dangerous Change

When I read that the Supreme Court had decided it’s okay to take DNA swabs from people who are arrested but not yet convicted, I was a bit peeved because it seemed they had chipped away one more bit of our Fourth Amendment rights. Still, it seemed like a relatively small thing. After all, they […]

The FBI Questions a Stormwatcher

Michael Galindo has a hobby taking pictures of storms as a volunteer for the National Weather Service’s Skywarn program. On September 13 he took a few pictures of a brewing storm which, unknown to him, happened to be near the Lyondell Refinery outside Houston. And I wouldn’t be mentioning this if it hadn’t taken an […]

TSA Metastasis Continues Unabated

The TSA is well-know for annoying air travelers, but I’ve been worried for a while about the TSA’s attempts to branch out to annoy people using other modes of transportation. As it turns out, I wasn’t imaginative enough: After all, why should the Transporation Security Agency limit their activities to annoying only people who are […]

Checkpoint Friendly

I just bought a new laptop computer, and now I’m looking for a backpack with a padded laptop compartment, so I don’t break my new toy in the first month. So as I’m looking on Amazon and reading reviews, I notice that a lot of laptops are labeled “Checkpoint Friendly,” meaning they open up easily […]

Metra: No Fourth Amendment for You!

Chicago will be hosting the NATO summit meeting this month, and it’s turning into a typical display of government arrogance. For a recent example, the Metra commuter rail system has announced that they will be stopping service on the line that runs through the summit location: Metra plans to operate regular service on 10 of its […]

More TSA Metastasis

One of the things Kip Hawley left out of his explanation of why the TSA sucks is the TSA’s infestation of other forms of transportation, such as the one described in this press release from the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority: In an unprecedented approach that involved four law enforcement agencies – including federal agents – […]

Make Them Stop Taking Our Computers

There are many things wrong in this story, but let me focus on this one for the moment: That’s right, not only were they forced to live under the accusation of being child pornographers, but the FBI naturally had to seize all their computers, since they contained all the evidence.  Like nice pictures of their […]

Waiting For the TSA to Metastasize

The Transportation Security Agency’s latest plans to abuse passengers have attracted a lot of attention. People aren’t pleased at having to choose between body-imaging that shows all their naughty bits or a pat-down that that feels an awful lot like a sexual assault. Maybe this time the outrage will lead to action, and someone will […]

Sailing the Waters Of Civil Forfeiture

I’ve been writing about the un-American and totalitarian horror of civil forfeiture laws for a while, and I’ve been following the issue on and off for two decades, so the latest bit of outrage to make the rounds isn’t really a surprise: On Monday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the […]

Do You Like Touching Children?

Attention, pedophiles! Do you like touching children? Well, if you haven’t been arrested yet, you’ve probably already applied for this job: God, I hate this kind of crap.