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04/23/08 11:18 - 62ºF - ID#44114

CCTV Part 2

Today I learned something about the cameras that may be worth testing.

This "first of its kind" citywide system, the Buffalo Integrated Wireless and Intelligence System, is designed to assist the Buffalo Police Department in crime prevention, support the City's commercial districts by providing additional public safety support, enhance Buffalo's Homeland Security activities and provide city residents with free access to a high-speed broadband system.

Can someone test this out? Even if its true, would you EVER transmit sensitive data through it anyway? Lets see - freedom or free internet. Which do you choose? I wouldn't be surprised if this was bullshit anyway - Peter Cutler is a fucking goon.

I think the city should have considered something - if these cameras can be accessed via wireless broadband then certainly someone with the knowledge and the tools could hack the camera sooner or later.

The Snooze Loves Freedom-Sapping Cameras

The Buffalo News has an article today about the cameras, like presto.

There is also mention of it on the local radio today - there is a bit of a multimedia PR blitz being pursued if you ask me.

I don't know Brian Meyer but I can't help but feel a strong desire to eviscerate his article, and basically every single lying word that comes out of the mouths of our city officials.

By the end of the year, more than 100 cameras will be placed in high-crime areas, business districts and in locations deemed important to homeland security.

I'm insulted beyond words by the assertion that ANY of this is related to homeland security. If a city official were to suggest this to me my first question would be, "well, if this is the case then is it true that the Department of Homeland Security are tapping into these cameras as well?"

"Everybody is really excited about the system," said Linda J. Freidenberg, president of the Board of Block Clubs of Buffalo and Erie County. "People are hoping it will end up reducing crime."

Who is this person? Now is when I do my best (e:hodown) impression and drink deep of the Interweb in an attempt to gather information. Well well well, look who is on the board of the New York-New Jersey Regional Center for Public-Safety Innovations? It appears that this lady is a professional not-for-profit teet sucker. How do people get careers like this?

According to this the Board of Block Clubs is "loosely" under the auspices of the city's Department of Community Services. Guess who is President? Working with the city to achieve common goals is one thing but being "loosely" under the city's thumb is another. If you perceive that I'm suggesting the possibility for funny business then you are "loosely" correct. I fully recommend reading the article and drawing your own conclusions not just on this but a few other things that raised my eyebrow. I wonder if she has a camera on HER street.

Back to the original Buffalo News article.

David M. Spinda has lived in Riverside for more than a half-century and is a member of the Public Safety Committee of the Black Rock-Riverside Good Neighbors Planning Alliance.

"I think people feel a lot more comfortable, and they want more cameras," Spinda said. "It's like candy - everybody wants more. But this is a start."

I pity this fella. THIS IS NOTHING LIKE CANDY.

Eventually, the system will be able to stream video into police cars, giving officers new vantage points as they arrive at crime scenes.


Police officers on light duty have been monitoring some cameras on a 24/7 basis since early March. This summer, civilians will be hired to perform monitoring chores.

Then this organization should be infiltrated by freedom-loving people who won't hesitate at blowing the whistle when the police inevitably abuse this system.

The city plans to spend up to $5 million for the 100 cameras, financing the project through state grants. In the longer term, the Police Department hopes to expand the system by obtaining viewing rights to cameras that the Buffalo Public Schools and the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority plan to install around some of their properties.

So the police wants access to other camera systems as well. Should the police be given this access, and should parents have the ultimate say? After all, this whole thing is going to be sold as something thats in the best interests of your kids. Shouldn't YOU be the one to make that judgment?

Gipson agreed that even sophisticated surveillance cameras can't replace officers.

"They help enhance our ability, but the real job of policing is still left to boots on the ground," Gipson said.

This is what I've said all along, and the city of Buffalo largely does a shit job to begin with. Did the one cop/one car policy undermine their efforts to effectively patrol our streets and is this camera policy a taxpayer-funded attempt at correcting poor decision making? When homicides skyrocketed as they did it after the introduction of that bad idea it certainly makes you wonder if the cameras are the paper for the cracks in the system... that could possibly have been avoided if wiser decisions had been made.

A new class of officers will hit city streets this summer.

I can't wait to crack open this can of suds. Let the endless speculation begin as to what "class" of officers is being introduced. Gestapo? Bicycle riders with cameras? Even worse, undercover cops who monitor citizens within a certain number of feet of the cameras?

Gipson said he knows of only one property owner who expressed concern during the pilot project; she wanted to make sure the camera couldn't zoom in on her window. Gipson said the system has filters to block out specific areas, so cameras can't, for instance, take images of residential windows. Gipson insisted that the Police Department has no desire to "play Big Brother."

I call bullshit on multiple counts. Until this "filter" is demonstrated to the public I think this is an absolute steamy load. I am sorry, but yes - the police and the city DO have a duty to allay the fears of the people, and just saying "trust me" isn't good enough. Only one property owner complained during the pilot? Well, all I think our Commish has to do to realize a lot people hate this idea is to walk up and down Elmwood and ask people about it. You might not be able to see into windows but I'm telling you right now, the camera on Elmwood WILL see normal everyday civilians doing what they do on their own properties. If I lived merely on the other side of the street the cops could zoom in while I grill, or watch while an attractive neighbor of mine sunbathes. I refuse to believe that our Commish is this naive. Is this guy a cop or an ostrich?

While our Police Commissioner "insists" that they don't want to play Big Brother, I "insist" that they shouldn't have been given the tools to make this a possibility to begin with.
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04/22/08 11:51 - 63ºF - ID#44097

CCTV, Buffalo and Me

To continue with (e:paul,44064) and his earlier journal entry regarding the new cameras -

At this point everybody knows that my brother and I live on a block where one of the cameras has been placed. If you haven't noticed it yet, its hung directly off of the light post in front of the parking lot between Globe and Wilson Farms.

(e:jason) and I have been talking this over lately. I'm inclined to believe without much consideration that this is an incredibly poor idea, but if they were to place a camera where they have I can't say that its in a bad spot in this case. My block first and foremost is a commercially zoned area, including the property where our building is located. Where they have placed the camera was a relatively wise choice - it will cover and theoretically act as a deterrent for any trouble makers goofing off and harassing people in a very well traveled shopping area. That is, if you believe in the power of these cameras preventing crime via its qualities as a deterrent.

Had the camera been placed 200 feet in either direction I'd be a raving lunatic because the camera would more than certainly be too close to a residential corner. It may seem like splitting hairs but in the case of my block its an important distinction. In my view if they were going to do this, putting the camera where it is, as opposed to sticking it directly on the corner or Elmwood and Auburn, or Elmwood and Cleveland, or Elmwood and Breckenridge, or Elmwood and West Ferry was a more prudent choice. Setting aside my objection to the whole idea to begin with - that exact spot was not a bad choice if they had to make one because it is centrally located on one of the busiest commercial blocks of the city.

Is my block unsafe? Not in the slightest, in my view. I'm coming up on my 8th year of living here and in that time I can count the number of times I've seen or experienced something off on one hand, and half of those I could attribute to my own laziness or lack of foresight. It is certainly possible, and in the case of one instance almost certainly plausible, that if the camera had been there it may have prevented a crime from happening. That is if you believe that these cameras provide enough of a deterrent force to justify unnerving and angering everybody that lives in the neighborhood.

People are a tad paranoid in the 'hood to begin with - could you imagine a more famous liberally inclined area than ours having this imposed on them and what their reaction might be? These cameras perpetuate a suburban myth - that the City of Buffalo is dangerous. I don't see a guaranteed enhancement in any regard whatsoever as a result of installing these cameras. At best, and to be fair I did notice this, the cameras may prevent the beggars from bothering people. Way to go get those vicious criminals!

This doesn't erase the fact that something this important to our civic life was IMPOSED on us, and in the end will not prevent a crime in progress. You'd think if City Hall wanted to begin popping CCTVs around the city they might consider asking the citizens what they think about such a provocative and freedom-sapping action. The fact that they didn't speaks to the arrogance and utter lack of fear of backlash that these public officials continue to get away with.

At this point we know the drill. There is virtually nothing that City Hall does that doesn't make people cringe. Who wasn't immediately cynical when they heard about this development? These cameras will not prevent a crime from happening any more than the thousands of CCTVs in London could not prevent a terrorist from bombing the Underground. Ultimately these are meant as a deterrent force, and that is exactly how it will be defended. I see it as an investment in the perpetuation of the laziness and potential for corruption that have always plagued our civic life. Who doesn't actually believe that the camera on my block won't be occasionally used to spot cars to tow or ticket? This potential for misuse is central to my brother's argument that they are inappropriate, and I think he's right. If a tool like this can be abused and misused in Buffalo, it almost certainly will be because that is simply how things are here. The potential for abuse is almost limitless so lets ask ourselves - do we trust our local officials or don't we?

Fuck Buffalo Rising, by the way. They have no interest in the well-being of the area outside of the preservation of the economic well-being of the local businesses.
I approach them with the same skepticism as I do the Elmwood Village Association, to be honest. Buffalo Rising is a deplorable publication. I absolutely loathe those people. They will promote and protect a local business to the utter detriment of the residents and the neighborhood that it rests in. It is truly shocking how inept and rife with greed they are. Just a question - who or what has granted them credibility anyway? I read the article and comments that (e:paul) linked to. Anybody outright defending this CCTV policy has shit for brains. To make such poor excuses for a bad policy is something I can't tolerate and my patience for these people completely withers away when I listen to their warbling. Its as if I'm in an echo chamber in the basement of City Hall.

I also have to trash the EVA as well. It would have been impossible for them to not know something about the advent of this idiotic program. EVA could never stop the city from doing this, but you'd think the city would at least ask an organization like this where the best place for a camera might be. I have always criticized EVA for being basically useless outside of administrating the art festival every year and putting the flower pots out when the weather breaks. This year at the art festival when I go to the kiosk, introduce myself as an 8-year resident of the very block their kiosk is located at, point up to the camera and ask them what they knew about it, what do you suppose the response will be? We'll find out in August but I expect a lot of stammering and stuttering.

In the end, the camera on my block will likely only prevent beggars from harassing shoppers, which is exactly what the businesses want. They want Suzie Suburbanite to feel as safe and as comfortable here as they do in Clarence, or wherever they hell these people come from. Prior to the CCTV being there they have been coming in droves anyway so that argument is moot.

When the shoppers, and a vast amount of the business owners for that matter, head home do they have a CCTV pointing at their front door? None of the interested parties actually care about the needs of the residents. Something like this has to be well planned out, in consultation with residents. When is the last time anything remotely well planned out has occurred in Buffalo? UB North location - genius. Metro train closing off and choking Main St. to death - brilliant. Bass Pro? Non-starter. Luxury condo development in Empire zones clearly meant to benefit the poor? Well done - we are on the rise now, baby! Waterfront development, new bridge construction? When the best example of our public servants acting in our best interest is the demolition of the Black Rock and Ogden tolls on the 190, my friends we are in some serious trouble.

The people behind this imbecilic idea scare me as much as the cameras do, if not more.
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04/18/08 01:01 - 69ºF - ID#44045

Ha! Victory!

Just when I was bitching to my brother about the fact that we haven't gotten an issue of SPIN Magazine in a long time...

... the new issue comes in today!

  • raises arms in triumph*
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04/17/08 11:46 - 63ºF - ID#44035

Do you doubt the existance of God?

Then read on. This is a true story. You've all met me and hung out with me a few times - I think its clear that I'm not crazy in the traditional sense. This is something that nobody can rationally explain. Think what you like, choose not to believe that the spiritual realm exists, but consider this story and weigh it on its own merits.

I have a personal stake at what goes on in Iraq - I have two cousins who serve in the United States military. The older cousin is in the Air Force and is based out of Beale AFB in California (the home of the U2 spy plane, for the nerds out there). The younger cousin is an Army paratrooper who is now being trained in radiology. Both have served more than one tour in Iraq, and my cousin in the Army has seen some particularly gruesome and dangerous activity in the traditional hot spots during the apex of the violence in that country. I don't ask a lot of questions because I know all the answers. Did he have to kill somebody? Did he get shot at? Did he see a friend die before his very eyes? Did he wonder about whether or not he'd come home alive? For my part, I've always let them know that I love and support them, that I'm proud of them and their unwavering willingness to sacrifice on our behalf. My cousins, if I do say so myself, represent the best of what our military has to offer. I'm proud and relieved to say that neither have been injured.

That is a worry, however, that never really subsided from my aunt and uncle while my cousins were serving in Iraq. My aunt and uncle are very religious people - they are the only ones in my family that I have religious discussions with on a semi-regular basis. One particularly desperate night, they sat at home and prayed to God. They had not heard from their son in a long time, were in utter despair and told God that they were scared that perhaps the lack of news meant something negative. They told God that they asked local officials to help them get news but nothing came of it.

Then a voice said to my aunt and uncle, "Why didn't you ask me?" By relaying this story to me, it brought my uncle to tears. An angel spoke to my aunt and uncle, and told them that their son was in harms way but was safe, and even told them that he was occasionally behaving badly. The angel even displayed a slight sense of humor in divulging my cousin's bad behavior, which alleviated their concerns and made them smile during a very low moment. The angel told them not to worry - that they would see him again and he would be unharmed.

My aunt and uncle did not have a mass hallucination, nor are they crazy. They are more in tune with the spiritual world than I am. Its not to say that I don't believe in God, because I do. Its just that in some ways I feel that they are closer to that world than I am because I know they are more devoted. This event happened to them, in their own home. How do we explain occurrances like this?

I think the answer is that we can't - there are some things that are utterly beyond our human understanding. Sometimes things just are what they are, and open ended answers are the only way.
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04/16/08 11:26 - 54ºF - ID#44028

German Schoolboy One-ups NASA!

Well done, well done.

A 13-year old corrected a NASA projection on how likely it was that a specific asteroid would hit Earth. NASA said it was 1 in 45,000. The young fella said it was 1 in 450. It turns out the boy was right, and NASA has publicly acknowledged his correction. Not to mention probable job offers when the kid graduates from college, lawl. Cheers guys - here's to enjoying our time until approximately 2036!

In another story - I honestly had no interest but at a glance clicked on a link to an article titled "EPA urges Great Lakes residents not to flush old meds." Of course, the report was filed from Buffalo.

I'm not going to be alarmist about this one. We honestly have no idea to the extent this may be going on, or even if its dangerous at all. Its obviously not good, however, so I see this as a good practice being put in place. I wonder why they are worried about the drugs though - we've been dumping raw sewage into Lake Erie for decades. That is sort of like licking someone's butt every time we go for a drop of water out of the tap. Isn't that a more urgent waste control measure we should be considering for the Great Lakes?
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04/10/08 09:49 - 40ºF - ID#43969

Funniest Description of a Golfer

Behold - 1986, Alan Partidge of the BBC on Seve Ballesteros.

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04/07/08 08:37 - 42ºF - ID#43931

Condi for VP?

We have a beautiful morning yet again! Just had to say that. I'm glad the better weather is coming because really there is only so much Battlefield 2142 (nearly to Brigadier General on online play) or Guitar Hero III I can play (I got my first 5-star on Expert!). Call me crazy but I kind of like digging my surroundings - maybe I'm a bit of a nerd but on nice days I like to get out and walk around the neighborhood checking out the houses. Winter robs me and all my neighbors of that joy, which is a true shame.

Anyway - on to the article.

First of all, I don't know if this is true, although I suppose if it came from a Republican strategist chances are they aren't lying about something like this. Personally I'd rather see Colin Powell do it, but he has no apparent interest in a political career. To be honest, who could blame him these days? Lawl.

Right now I don't really have an opinion on Condi as VP - she has cabinet level experience, which is as executive as you can get outside of the top two seats. Say what you will but she is an astonishingly brilliant lady. This strategist is claiming that Condi is actively courting the VP slot, which is, I have to say, what I find hard to believe about the whole thing. The previous word is that she was eager to go back into the academic world. If I'm John McCain and I'm picking between Condi and say, Mitt Romney, who do I choose?

On the Democrat side - I wonder who Barack Obama will pick. If he were clever he'd find a retired General that sees things his way, or maybe Bill Richardson. Many cynical raisings of an eyebrow occurred after seeing his La Raza-esque goatee he wore the day he endorsed Obama. Forget the potentially cynical use of facial hair angle, which I happen to think is funny but a bit silly. The goatee just looked shady, period! I think Bill Richardson should shave - he can more than stand on his credentials and he is a Democrat I have looooong respected. It would have been a coup for Al Gore to have picked him in 2000 instead of Lieberman.

I'm beyond Hillary getting the nomination - at this point for her to use the flaws in the system to her advantage would cut the party right in half. The numbers in NC right now are embarrassing. I think she likes being Senator if she can't be President... she won't throw away her entire political career. My brain tells me to insist on taking her at her word and that she'll ride it all the way to the convention, but a part of me also thinks when the cat calls finally get loud enough that they penetrate that Clinton cloud, for the sake of both her and her husbands reputation she will bow out before July. DNC rules as they stand are a mockery, and disenfranchisement is bad not just for Democrats but for the American political system as a whole. I would extend it and say that Clintons are bad for the American political system as a whole but you know, thats just me - and (e:james) possibly!

This just flashed in my head - if Hillary got the nomination, what would be the chances that she would pick her husband for VP? Is that even legal? Taft became Chief Justice after serving as POTUS but I don't know what the rules are for VP, since there are executive term limits and I don't know how or if that extends to VP. They are in the same branch of government, which is what makes me wonder about the legal angle. It may be inconsequential. Anybody know?

In other news...

Our landlady replaced our broken doorbell with one of those RF jobbies. Now my bell goes off randomly and nobody is ever at the door. Either they somehow set it up wrong, or something is interfering with the signal. You can imagine how annoying this was at 6:22am this morning. I'd ask how to fix it, but I think I'm just going to turn it off!
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04/06/08 03:27 - 60ºF - ID#43922

Gen. Petraeus

Liberals will simply never get it. I mean NEVER.

General Petraeus is not a political figure, he is a general officer in the United States armed forces.

I'm not making any friends by mocking this transparent pile of donkey shit cynically referred to by Democrats as support for our military men and women, but to be honest the facts are on my side. Nobody that claims to support military men and women would openly mock a general officer for saying something they disagree with by posting this while at the same time propping up military commanders that say things they do agree with.

It is an issue of respect. Liberals have none for military men and women. When you try to broadside David Petraeus while simultaneously sucking Wesley Clark's cock, you obviously don't respect the military - you use them to bolster political arguments and you think they are pawns on a political chessboard to be knocked over and cast aside on your way to the king.

Liberals aren't really being very clever here. Nobody actually believes that by and large liberals support the military, and liberals that are trying to make the argument are being utterly trumped by their own bretheren. Really, what is being portrayed is a startling lack of respect for Americans that have earned their place in this society. If I'm choosing sides, who am I choosing - a man who has a 30 year career and has dedicated his life to protecting the country, or am I going to choose some asshole blogger armchair quarterback that has absolutely no sophistication with military matters and an axe to grind? I'm not picking the loser at DailyKos - sorry.

You see, liberals have never understood something that is vital to why they have always failed at popularizing progressive politics nationally. Because you see literally everything through a politically motivated prism you are blind to the fact that everyone else really don't operate that way - not even the GOP. In the United States of America people get offended when they see you treat Gen. Petraeus the way you did because they know that he's earned every single piece of metal he wears on his uniform, and that by and large they think that liberal cynicism over Gen. Petraeus' motivations is completely unfounded. You cannot cheap shot a military officer and get away with it, and frankly, that is exactly what has happened.

This is why Americans don't trust liberal politicians with military issues. The last Democrat to give two shits about the military was JFK, and I have news (apparently) - Barack Obama is no JFK and never will be. I'll wait to see Jim Webb run for President before I trust a Democrat iwith the military, because there isn't one sorry example amongst his peers that is qualified to speak on behalf of military men and women besides him.

I know that liberals have not learned their lesson yet w/respect to General Petraeus. You'll see I'm right, and that is hardly something I get off on - if anything its depressing.
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04/04/08 01:38 - 42ºF - ID#43899

Hydrogen Battery Powered Aircraft

Its being hailed as a historic first - Boeing, as proof of concept, has successfully flown the first manned hydrogen battery powered airplane.

I tend to have a wild imagination, so when I see developments like this I get really excited. By their own admission they do not believe that this technology could be transferable to larger passenger aircraft but I don't see that as a failure. After all, what is wrong with marketing hydrogen-powered Cessnas that private individuals can fly at a drastically reduced operating cost? Seems like a winner to me. Or even better - perhaps in their quest to find more efficient means of running airplanes on alternative fuels they end up developing even better hydrogen technology that could be use in cars and trucks.

I think our government should be plowing money to companies who are doing work like this so that research can be sped up. After all, as far as I'm concerned anyway, for 30 years we've known how vulnerable our economic and political stability can be when crude prices fluctuate. It has to end, but where do we start? With ingenuity and technological developments like this one, which is being developed in private industry.

I happen to think that the only answer to effective and faster energy independence will be partnerships between government and private industry, in exactly the same way that military technological advancement takes place between the military and say, Skunkworks, or NASA and Northrop Grumman. Its too important - we have to pool public and private resources and intellectual capital to make it happen, just like we have in the past when quick technological advancements were in our best interests.

Then, maybe when China still insists on stealing secret American technology - - perhaps they will incorporate it into their own power scheme. China's pollution rate is climbing faster than its economy, which is scary.
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04/02/08 06:37 - 35ºF - ID#43877

In Other News... FROM HELL

Thats right - I have a fresh news update from hell. Mariah Carey has now trumped Elvis Presley's previous record for #1 singles.

The thing is, I don't appreciate Mariah Carey for her singing voice - I appreciate the fact that at 40 years old she looks amazing and I'd pretty much do anything to her that she asked me to do. A woman like Mariah Carey makes me realize how naughty I actually am.

As a music fan I'm concerned, but as a horny single guy I say, "congratulations!"
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New Site Wide Comments

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

joe said to grandma
OMG welcome!...

joe said to mike
New years resolution to top (e:strip)?...