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    • Amazon Rolls Out Face Recognition To Police
      Our panopticon is on track: Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces, according to Amazon. Amazon is marketing Rekognition for government surveillance. […]
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Random Drug Test

The school just called.  It was the nurse.  I’m thinking, “great, she knocked her front teeth out in gym” or “She is throwing up, can I come pick her up?”.  No, the nurse was happy to assure me that Brooke had participated in the random drug test and there were no drugs in her system.

No duh.  *I* could have told them that.  The kid is as clean as a whistle.  How do I know?  She spends all of her free time teaching herself Chinese.  I have the notebooks to prove it.   She just won a prestigious award in German.  She never emerges from her basement lair unless she is lured up with food.  I can’t even get her to hang out with her friends.  WHEN was she going to be doing drugs??

Is there any reason to test her?  No.  It’s just to keep kids on their toes, like some panopticon thing.  Make them feel guilty without even trying.  And what’s this crap about “participated”?  It’s more like coerced.  If she doesn’t hand over the pee, she can’t participate in any after school programs.

Why can’t we suspect a kid of being bad before we jump all over their case about it?

This is where the next round of authoritarian followers will come from.

Back to the nurse, she just wanted to call to tell me that the kid isn’t on drugs, isn’t that delightful?  She always wants parents to know even when there is a good result, just to let them know that we are keeping an eye on everything they do and say and breath.  Yes, it’s a conspiracy between parents and teachers to keep these teenagers as toddlers as long as we possibly can.  They must remain under our watchful eye even when all evidence points to them being really terrific human beings.

I told the nurse that the drug test wasn’t necessary and I am not concerned.  In fact, I think they should have called me BEFORE they pulled her out randomly for a drug test and asked me if she needed it.  Otherwise, I just see it as a violation of trust and her civil rights.  Of course, the board of ed could always argue she’s a minor and therefore doesn’t have any civil rights.  But it does make us suspicious of each other.  Parents learn to immediately suspect the worst of their children and children learn that nothing is off limits to scrutiny even when there is no reason to suspect anything.

Oh, and the school is in lockdown mode because of some rumor of something happening in another school district somewhere else.  For gawdssakes, this is the most boring suburb on the face of the planet.  Nothing happens here.  You can’t even crowd surf the hallways in the last week of school without being barred from graduation.  So, no one can leave the school grounds during lockdown.  Like they were breaking down the doors to get out on a normal day.  Doesn’t “lockdown” sound like a prison term? It’s overkill.

Home schooling is looking pretty damn good right about now.

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Fox and Dogmatism

How many of you have read The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba?  Go read it if you haven’t yet.  Altemeyer is the expert on the kind of people who do what other people tell them to do and the people who lead them.  John Dean referenced Altemeyer heavily in his book Conservatives Without Conscience.  Getting into the heads of the authoritarian follower is useful if you want to understand where right wing politics are going.  Don’t bother trying to convert the authoritarian follower.  They’re tough nuts to crack.  But it may be possible to head off potential problems and plan for the future by studying this group and understanding the era that produced them.

To that end, here is a very interesting talk about dogmatism from Judy Johnson professor of cognitive psychology at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.  By the way, it’s curious that the authorities on authoritarianism and dogmatism are in Canada, isn’t it?  It’s like Canadian ethologists are studying Americans to try to figure out what makes us tick and maybe building even higher fences to keep us out.

When I viewed this talk, I was struck by the similarity of the highly dogmatic to the typical Fox News viewer.  Now, it is probably not a revelation to anyone that the typical Fox News viewer is highly dogmatic.  But I often ask myself, did they start out this way or did Fox News indoctrinate them?  After this talk, I’m pretty convinced that the Fox News viewer is a product of the 1950s and that the right wing is taking advantage of this natural constituency to drive politics even further to the right.  Johnson’s research also reinforces my hypothesis that the reason why the right wing has stepped up the crazy in the last couple of years is because it is running out of time.  There isn’t another demographic with this high degree of dogmatism on the near horizon until the helicopter parent generation of children is of voting age, and the degree to which they adhere to dogmatism may depend on how the internet is regulated in the future.  So, the authoritarians who are presently in charge are going to ram everything they can through federal and state legislatures in this election cycle and the next because their target demographic and critical mass is dying off.

With that in mind, we should ask ourselves why it is that Democrats are not simply digging in their heels and waiting it out.  Are they being lead by morons or not really an opposition party?

Anyway, here is Judy Johnson’s talk on Dogmatism: A Scar on the Face of Reason: