Who will watch the watchmen?

Maybe we will? It’s interesting that the tools that Big Brother can use to watch you can also be used to keep an eye on Big Brother himself. Case in point: the Toni Corner arrest.

Toni Corner is a 19-year-old woman who was roughed up by some cops in Sheffield during her arrest last year. The footage was captured on CCTV—have a look. (There’s a button there that shows you a full-screen version.) Naturally, there is immense hoo-ha over this, and the cops in question have now found themselves accountable through what is a classic law-enforcement tool. (By the by, just to be fair, here’s the main cop’s side of the story.)

I’ve visited England but have never lived there, so I lack first-hand experience of English law enforcement. Two questions come to mind:

1] Would the cops have behaved differently if the woman wasn’t black?

2] Would the media have behaved differently if the cops had beaten up a white woman in an identical manner? Or a black man? Or a white man?

The answers to those questions should not impact what is done in this particular case, of course. Just interesting, that’s all.

(Link via email from Kind Friend.)

The Tool of Satan

Every now and then I get hate mail from some religious dude (always a dude, never a chica) lambasting me for being anti-Hindu, or anti-Muslim, or anti-Christian. (If it’s the first, I’m also pseudo-secular.) If I reply, I generally point out that I’m an equal-opportunity religion basher, and if they look past the particular post that has provoked their ire, they will find that I speak out regularly against people who use any religion as an excuse to impose their views on others. I consider free speech to be more sacred than any God, a view that is clear from my defense of the Danish cartoonists, “Do not draw my unicorn.”

And so it gave me great delight when I come across a piece by cartoonist Doug Marlette, which had the strap “An Equal-Opportunity Offender Maps the Dark Turn of Intolerance.” Joy. In it, Marlette writes:

Beds, intercourse and modern life

Definitions can be immensely amusing. Consider the following definition of ‘Bed’ from Wikipedia:

A bed is a piece of furniture or location primarily used or intended for resting upon, but can serve other functions, such as providing a place for sexual intercourse and/or relaxing.

The “and/or” at the end blows me away. It is a masterful comment on the role sex plays in all our lives. No?

Digg v Wired

Earlier today, I’d posted on Linkastic about Wired‘s story on how rankings at Digg can be manipulated using money. Well, Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch has a problem with this: Wired‘s parent company owns Digg competitor Reddit, he points out, and he perceives a pattern to how they’re gunning after Digg, in this case “actively creating negative news about a competitor and then using the massive reach of Wired to promote that ‘news.’”

“Digg should sue Wired,” Arrington’s headline reads, which I think isn’t practical. Users aren’t stupid, and they’re the ones who will pass judgement on Digg and Wired’s behaviour. If Digg’s system really is corruptible, if there aren’t enough checks and balances in place, then the quality of stories on the site will suffer, and so will its readership. You don’t need a sting operation by Wired to achieve that.

Equally, if Wired is being unethical for commercial reasons, then readers will see through that, and Wired‘s credibility will fall, impacting their readership. You don’t need Digg to sue for that.

In either case, the people will decide. Or the markets, if you will.

My take: By and large, Digg works pretty well in displaying the wisdom of the crowds, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. And Wired has enough credibility for most readers to accept that there was no ulterior motive in reporting this story. This time. The next time Wired wishes to bust the Web 2.0 party, though, they’d be well advised to look towards Reddit.

(Arrington link via email from Gautam John. You can read related posts by me here.)

Blowjob Nation

Caitlin Flanagan writes in the Atlantic Monthly:

The moms in my set are convinced—they’re certain; they know for a fact—that all over the city, in the very best schools, in the nicest families, in the leafiest neighborhoods, twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls are performing oral sex on as many boys as they can. They’re ducking into janitors’ closets between classes to do it; they’re doing it on school buses, and in bathrooms, libraries, and stairwells. They’re making bar mitzvah presents of the act, and performing it at “train parties”: boys lined up on one side of the room, girls working their way down the row. The circle jerk of old—shivering Boy Scouts huddled together in the forest primeval, desperately trying to spank out the first few drops of their own manhood—has apparently moved indoors, and now (death knell of the Eagle Scout?) there’s a bevy of willing girls to do the work.

In her piece, Flanagan tells us about how the nature of teenage sexuality has changed in her lifetime. She is horrified by what she calls “Blowjob Nation,” and believes that we are “raising children in a kind of post-apocalyptic landscape in which no forces beyond individual households—individual mothers and fathers—are protecting children from pornography and violent entertainment.”

Jesus in an ossuary

Scott Adams speculates on how angry Haysoos would be if he’d been trapped in an ossuary for 2000 years and someone found it and let him out now.

If I was Haysoos and someone kept me in an ossuary for 2000 years, I wouldn’t be angry—I’d be horny. 2000 years, dude. How’s God going to have grandchildren at this rate?

Religion adds to its headcount

A depressing headline, this: “Polio cases jump in Pakistan as clerics declare vaccination an American plot.”

What bugs me the most is that if some people unconnected with religion spread such rumours, and deaths were caused by that, legal or police action would almost certainly be taken against the mischief mongers. But because these guys are clerics, they’re untouchable, immune from the consequences of their actions. It’s a pity so many of us put religion on such a pedestal—and it’s not only Islam I’m talking about.

Recent related posts: 1, 2, 3.

(Link via email from Gautam John.)