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For want of a satellite photo, the battle was lost…

At IRQportz, we rarely get into politics.  Because we realize that opinions are like a long lost Uncle with septum shattering halitosis; everyone has one, and they stink.  Among the few of us there are possibly a variety of different political configurations.  Indeed, even pizza toppings are a controversial subject around here.  But, I daresay, we stand united on this day.  On this day we found that a certain politician in California, wants to “blur” Google earth (and by extension, Google maps).  Heresy!  Why take away such a cool and useful tool based on the unfounded fears of technical ludites?

CNN has so graciously informed us of this information (http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/03/11/google.earth.censor.california/), passed on from CNET.  So I am doing my solemn duty, to be another in the long chain of information passing.  As CNN’s article exposes, A California lawmaker (in a likely bid to make a name for himself) has suggested the following:

“An operator of a commercial Internet Web site or online service that makes a virtual globe browser available to members of the public shall not provide aerial or satellite photographs or imagery of a building or facility in this state that is identified on the Internet Web site by the operator as a school or place of worship, or a government or medical building or facility, unless those photographs or images have been blurred.”

To quote CNN, “Anderson … is asking only what India and some other foreign governments are demanding for their citizens.”

Because we really are just waiting in line behind India to see what great and innovative things they do next.  I see they have recently sent a space probe to the moon; however, the 1950s called and they want their science project back.  Perhaps they were actually aiming for Jupiter’s moon, Europa?  I don’t know. I realize that India is a very large nation with great ambitions.  And God bless them, they’ve been humble toward the rest of the world.  Despite this, I don’t think that they are a beacon of all that is current and modern.  Perhaps with enough call centers, they will eclipse us all someday. Perhaps.

A secondary argument of Anderson’s was presented thusly:

“I’m all for online mapping, but knowing where the air ducts are in an air shaft is not necessary for me to navigate in the city. Who wants to know that level of detail? Bad people do.”

First of all, what kind of person says they are “all for online mapping”, and then writes a bill designed to blur it?  This I find to be puzzling.  Moving on, he mentions that Google Earth shows us where the air shafts are.  You know, I hadn’t really thought about it lately.  But I’m pretty sure I knew that there were air shafts on top of buildings when Google Earth was a twinkle in a software engineer’s eye (as he oggled scantily clad Japanese female warriors sprinting across the battlefield only to pleasure each other mid air; in those dirty, dirty cartoons).  Ahem.  What was I saying?  Ah yes, his argument supposes that we a) Did not know that buildings had air shafts until Google Earth showed us.  And b) That we did not know that airshafts generally ended at the tops of buildings, until Google Earth revealed this as well.

I don’t know about you, but I thought they dug a hole that went from the basement of the building and down through to the other side of the planet, in order to vent exhaust and take in fresh air.

Moving on, the lawmaker has some witty comebacks for his critics (or so he thinks).  From the article: “I hear the argument that, “Yeah, I want to also ban cars because cars are used in robberies.” Look, cars have other commercial uses. There are no other uses for knowing on a map where there are air shafts. These are all red herring arguments.”

First of all, the argument that cars are used in robberies, and are thus somehow responsible for them is simply an excellent analogy for his entire presentation.  I laughed when I read it, and his bringing it up only made things worse.  Ok, so of course cars have other uses.  And yet you say there are no other uses for Google Earth?  Sir, have you not ever wondered if your neighbors down the street had a swimming pool?  Have you not wanted to stare at your own roof from hundreds of miles in the sky?  Have you never wanted to simply enjoy the majestic beauty that is our civilization while you are planning a simple road trip to the side of town where all the good clubs are at?

I can’t help but mention, this guy called the car argument a “red herring”, which is incorrect. A “red Herring” is a distraction argument, it’s akin to changing the subject. If I had said “I think this guy is wrong because the other day I saw a profesional boxer wearing a tank top and strawberry shortcake apron, spoon feeding an elderly man Vienna sausages while he listened to you complain about Google Earth on his IPod…” then that would be a “red herring.”

As it turns out Google Earth is not “real time.”  The pictures it takes are bought and borrowed from various corporations and agencies that own satellites.  The picture over your house could be 10 days old, and that picture over the other side of town could be back dated from when they made music worth listening to.  I can’t imagine being paranoid of technology.  Even if there were a chance they would catch a photographic glimpse of Home Depot employees having greased plunger fights on my roof, I would still not blame the high-tech.

The above is strictly opinion and hyperbole, from portzer #3.

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