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Sousveillance in Seattle - Watching the Watchers 489

Posted by timothy
from the steve-mann-my-hero dept.
Eh-Wire writes "At the recent ACM Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy, Steve Mann - cyborg numero uno - led a troop of conference attendees on a surveillance camera hunt and digital capture. Their antics confounded rent-a-cops in a downtown Seattle shopping mall who had difficulty with the concept of having their surveillance cameras surveilled."
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Sousveillance in Seattle - Watching the Watchers

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:27PM (#12236489)
    "What I argue is that if I'm going to be held accountable for my actions that I should be allowed to record ... my actions," Mann said. "Especially if somebody else is keeping a record of my actions."

    Does this make sense to anyone?

    Taking pictures of cameras taking pictures of you is not keeping a record of your own actions.

    Further, unless he's alleging that video will be doctored, the record that is kept of him, privacy issues aside, is just that. How is taking pictures of the devices recording YOU going to prevent them from improperly keeping an accurate photographic record of your own actions. Again, whether they SHOULD be keeping record of your actions is beside the point for this specific question.

    All these are - wallets that require someone else to swipe their ID to see your ID, etc. - are just publicity stunts to get people thinking about privacy. Great. People should be thinking about it. But then they jump from the likes of the GAP in a mall to government (???), and apparently liken a lowly employee in the mechanics of either someone who should themselves have to give up personal information for simply asking for identification for whatever purpose (again, the extent that it is appropriate is beside the point).

    Seems a little wrongheaded to me.

    To say nothing of the fact that almost all malls are private property.

    Mann asked the guard why, if the Mont Blanc cameras were recording him, he couldn't, in turn, record the cameras.

    Why should a random private mall employee have a philosophical privacy and surveillance discussion with some self-righteous, cynical privacy advocate. Who, by the way, expects exactly what happened, i.e., worthless responses, to happen?

    But sure to please and amuse countless slashdotters, I'm sure. (Yeah. Because confusing near-minimum wage mall security is really hard.)
  • by selectspec (74651) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:31PM (#12236542)
    Do we need some new government work programs here? Do these people really have this much free time? One of those wack jobs actually was a professor, getting paid to be a nutbag off tax payers' and students' dime.
  • by sellin'papes (875203) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:37PM (#12236629) Homepage
    There is a strong philosophical argument being made here. It is that authorities are able to expose our personal information (image, id, fingerprint, etc) but we are unable to do the same in return.

    The relationship then of authority to civilian is one of dominance and subordination. The ideas presented at the conference are attempting to redefine that relationship.

  • by cnelzie (451984) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:38PM (#12236645) Homepage
    ...on what constitutes Mall Security. In my years of working retail, I had some working relationships with the security teams of several department stores.

    More then a few of them were quite effective, ex-military and reservists that enjoyed providing protection, whether it was to people, goods or property. They weren't morons incapable of rational or deep philosophical conversations. They just ended up where they ended up and felt comfortable where they were.
  • by william.gunn (864377) <william.gunnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:38PM (#12236655)
    ...that give privacy advocates a bad name. He's not a professor, he's a performance artist.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cavemanf16 (303184) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:40PM (#12236669) Homepage Journal
    Points well taken, but I think the meaning of Mann's comment at the end that you quoted was meant to be broader than the context of their mall outing. In other words, let's say he was accused of mugging someone in the parking lot, but he has photographic evidence of his own, which when matched with the surveillance cameras from two different store locations - i.e. The Gap camera, and the parking lot camera - could prove that he was indeed more likely to be at The Gap than in the parking lot when the mugging occurred. The idea is that when accused with the parking lot cam data, he could counter with his own photos from The Gap, and then when they pulled The Gap cam data they would see that he was indeed at The Gap. Without his photo evidence at The Gap he's relying on "Big Brother" to be providing ALL of the evidence which might or might not happen.

    Granted, all of this is mostly philosophical in nature and USUALLY wouldn't be a problem in day-to-day life, but there is always that 0.01% chance that such a thing WOULD happen to you. Nevertheless, the dude seems like a privacy elitist to the extreme - and a major geek.
  • by tyates (869064) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:40PM (#12236681) Homepage
    These kind of publicity stunts annoy me because they're devoid of any real solutions. Stores need cameras to catch shoplifters and prevent petty crimes. Is Mann advocating that these cameras be removed? No - he's just saying we should be "aware" of all the surveillance. Okay, fine, we're aware, but what's your specific solution? Oh, you don't have one? Then go away.
  • by stlhawkeye (868951) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:43PM (#12236731) Homepage Journal
    Mann asked the guard why, if the Mont Blanc cameras were recording him, he couldn't, in turn, record the cameras. But the philosophical question, asked again at Nordstrom and the Gap, was beyond the comprehension of store managers who were more concerned with the practical issues of prohibiting store photography.

    It sounds like a bunch of people who are trying to make a good point are basically just making life more difficult for the new generation of blue collar workers who staff service industries and who consider their days blessed if they can get through them uneventfully. Especially middle-layer managers of mall chains, whose job description is basically to make problems go away as quickly as possible before somebody notices.

    Then again, when I was slinging burgers as a youth, somebody creating a scene would have been a welcome distraction. Still, I think their point is well-meant but poorly-executed. Most retail chains are going to disallow photography inside the retail space for a number of reasons, most of which your typical manager is utterly ignorant. So the fact that stores were ushering them out is irrelevent. If they were taking pictures of the color of the walls or the brand name of the urinal cakes, they should have expected a similar response.

    A cute idea that, like most of these kinds of demonstrations, ultimately makes transparent that the people engaging in these kinds of stunts aren't that bright. I'm all in favor of privacy advocacy but this kind of stuff ... well, at best it raises awareness, at worse it paints privacy advocates as misguided loonies. I question whether or not the stunt is worth the tradeoff, especially since it doesn't really prove or demonstrate anything other than the obvious fact that private retail spaces typically disallow photography of any kind on their grounds.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rocko Bonaparte (562051) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:43PM (#12236736) Homepage
    I think the point of the mall survey--however misguided as you say--is that these cameras can unnerve the public, and the public can't do squat. However, When a camera unnerves security, they can do whatever they want to stop it.
  • Immaturity in TFA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:43PM (#12236743)
    At Nordstrom, an undercover security guard who looked like Baby Spice and sported a badge identifying her as Agent No. 1, summoned a manager who told Mann that customers would be disturbed by the handheld cameras.

    Illogically, she didn't have a problem with participants pointing their conference bag domes around the store to take photos, just with the handheld cameras.


    The author needs to read his own article before calling this illogical. She was concerned with customer comfort, and people often don't like to see folks taking pictures in a place where they're trying on clothes. Her logic is perfectly consistent in that she knows that the bag domes go virtually unnoticed by the customer, whereas the handhelds don't.

    Also, what does the "Baby Spice" dig contribute here, other than letting everyone know how immature the author is?

    RTFA be damned, I stopped reading at this point.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LionKimbro (200000) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:47PM (#12236802) Homepage
    "What I argue is that if I'm going to be held accountable for my actions that I should be allowed to record ... my actions," Mann said. "Especially if somebody else is keeping a record of my actions."

    Does this make sense to anyone?

    Hell yah it does.

    What part is hard to get?

    You: Want to hold me accountable for my actions.

    Me: Okay. Then, let me keep a perfect record of them.

    You: Oh, no- we're going to be watching you, and we're going to control all watching of you.

    Me: What if you doctor up some photos of me? How do I defend myself?

    You: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that. And, further, you never said it.

    Me: Wha?

    You: See, here's the complete audio recording of our whole conversation.

    Me: You cut out everything after-

    You: I said that this recording was complete.

    Me: But-

    You: None of this is happening right now. Move along, citizen.
  • by zkn (704992) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:49PM (#12236831)
    Is a great ideer. I should at least be able to record who recorded my ID.
    So when I get my creditcard bill, I can see that Greg Pinpolowsky wanted to see my ID when I bought my last computer. However I think the shops would dislike of this, private persons "gathering" personal information is generaly disliked, since few would trust them not to misuse it.
    Corporate bodies however, who are actually in a position to misuse personal information, are generaly trusted.

    In Soviet Russia the system is watched over by you!
  • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:50PM (#12236852) Homepage
    Say what you will about the paranoia of all these sousveillance nuts, but don't pretend that it doesn't serve a valid purpose. For instance, remember all those RNC convention protestors [nytimes.com] who got arrested last year? And those sworn affidavits from cops saying that those kids had been kicking and screaming, resisting arrest and so forth? Yeah, those cops were making shit up.

    I wonder why this hasn't gotten wider play. Are we now entirely unsurprised when cops perjure themselves? Had it not been for some paranoid kids with camcorders, a lot of people would have been unjustly imprisoned. I mean, more than they already were.

    --grendel drago
  • Hang on a sec (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:54PM (#12236898)
    It isn't private. It is opened to the public. The public are invited in. Publicly. As in not a private invite-only.

    PS your taxes have gone in subsidies for these places. So it isn't entirely privately funded, either.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IanDanforth (753892) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:55PM (#12236913)
    Your arguments are logically inconsistant.

    >>Taking pictures of cameras taking pictures of you is not keeping a record of your own actions.

    People take pictures of places they have been even if *gasp* they arn't in the photos. Our environments are key to our experience. Recording those environments is closely akin to recording your actions even if the camera isn't focused on you.

    >>How is taking pictures of the devices recording YOU going to prevent them from improperly keeping an accurate photographic record of your own actions.

    Knowing that a record exists is the first step to knowing how it might be used against you. Weather it ever *is* doesn't matter. Just as survelliance prevents crime out of the fear of being caught, counter survelliance deters data manipulation, "accidental loss", or misinterpretation by providing a secondary record.

    >>almost all malls are private property

    I dislike this statement because it gives rise to a false dichotomy where you only possess rights on public land.

    >>Why should a random private mall employee have a ... discussion with some self-righteous, cynical privacy advocate[?]

    1. For attention as you noted
    2. Because even mall security guards are people, with brains, and might be convinced to ignore stupid rules like "No Photographing the Cameras."

    -----------

    Finally I must remark, while you call Mann a cynic you are utterly wrong. He is the most outrageous kind of idealist. To think that a mall guard could care about privacy rights. Or that normal people can be rallied around works like "Panopticon" or "Kafkaesque." That is brilliant and praiseworthy optimism.

    What is truly offensive is an atitude which says that people who work in malls are dumb, corperations can do whatever they want, and ultimately any fight centered on philosophy is stupid and untenable.

    That is cynacism of the worst kind.

    -Ian
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tmasssey (546878) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:55PM (#12236914) Homepage Journal
    You know what? I too agree with you: the idea of taking pictures of cameras is pointless.

    But the more I thought about it, the more clever it becomes. It forces people to think about the actions of the cameras based on an action that, in and of itself, is harmless and non-threatening. The fact that people were *threatened* by such a non-threatening, even pointless action should cause them to think long and hard about how they should feel about the impact of the actual surveillance.

    So, after futher reflection, I would have to say that their actions are brilliant. Will most people think that deeply about it? Maybe not immediately. But I think that at least *some* people will reflect upon this.

  • Unnerving? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stubear (130454) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:55PM (#12236916)
    "Mann sported his signature camera eyewear, while some of the other participants wore CFP conference bags around their necks. The bags had a dark plastic dome stitched on one side -- modeled after store surveillance domes -- which they pointed randomly at passersby, unnerving them."

    No kidding this was unnerving. Whenever anybody displays behavior ooutside the norm and tries forcing themselves upon passerbys it's always unnerving, Mann et al are not special in this case. I'm guessing the large group of pale, nerdy looking people would be unnerving enough, the plastic bubbles were merely icing on the cake.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:02PM (#12237001) Journal
    and apparently liken a lowly employee in the mechanics of either someone who should themselves have to give up personal information for simply asking for identification for whatever purpose (again, the extent that it is appropriate is beside the point).

    Why shouldn't a lowly clerk who asks for my license need to swipe their own to see it?

    My license serves exactly three tasks - It lets me legally drive on public roads; the edge works really well for smoothing the bubbles out from under CD stick-on labels; and it provides some degree of proof who I am.

    The first ONLY has relevance to police while I sit in the driver's seat of a vehicle on a public road. The second doesn't matter to anyone but me (and those who appreciate the quality of my CD labelling skills).

    The third, though?

    In almost all of the situations where someone asks for my license to ID me, they either don't actually need it, or the license doesn't say anything more than they already know. Two examples come to mind...

    First, buying age-sensitive things such as alcohol. Guess what, I don't care if kids get alcohol (I did as one, as did we all), and I passed my 21st birthday quite a good number of years ago. Unnecessary to show an ID. As an aside, I don't look even remotely under 21, but I consider that nearly irrelevant to the bigger issue - The law doesn't say a store needs to ID me, just that I can't buy before turning 21.

    Second, using a credit card. It ALREADY has my picture on it! What the hell do they think they'll prove by seeing another very similar picture of me on a different small plastic card?


    Personally, I think making clerks swipe their own ID seems like a VERY good idea, and I would very much like to have a wallet with such a feature. I have just as much right to their information as they do to mine - Absolutely none, and I want them to fully realize that fact.
  • by Politburo (640618) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:03PM (#12237010)
    owners of private property have the right to do anything they want

    Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    Property owners are not gods! They are required by law to do many things, and are prohibited by law from doing many things. Simply owning property does not mean you can completely control what goes on on that property. Yes, it does give you broad powers over the use of the property, but you do not instantly become a dictator because you own some arbitrarily defined piece of land. This is a very common misconception that property owners love to see spread around.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:10PM (#12237097) Homepage
    Steve Mann isn't a nutjob -- he's essentially been a Cyborg for a while, now. He's one of the pioneers in this area, and some of his work is truly pathbreaking (such as the Eyetap device).

    Being Steve Mann and being a nutjob aren't exclusive.

    Yes, he's been a cyborg for a while. Yes, he's done some groundbreaking first-steps type work.

    But I've seen interviews with this guy, he goes everywhere with his funky head gear and attitude. He has been having that same exact conversation with every security guard he can get to look at him -- it's always "if you can record me why can't I record you -- and BTW, you're on the web". It always ends up with the security guard sending him on his way. He does this in airports for crying out loud.

    Heck, I've seen interviews with his damned parents, and as much as they've accepted what he does, they think in ways he's a bit of a nutter.

    Do I think there needs to be someone who is out there pushing these boundaries? Absolutely. Do I think he's also a bit fo a nutjob? You betcha! Do I accept that he's a 'cyborg'? Only in the loosest possible terms.

  • Perfomance Art (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:12PM (#12237119) Journal
    This is more performance art than a real privacy issue. Mann should have expected, or more likely actually gleefully hoped, such random illogical responses from underpaid mall security staff.

    Of course some would say the real purpose of art is to provoke, and this certainly passes the test on that front. In a Post 9/11 era world it's amazing the surveillance-surveillance wasn't halted on possible terrorism suspicions.

    I have a nice cell phone I can no longer bring to work because it contains a digital camera. The Gym where I work out prohibits camera cell phones as well and not just in the locker rooms, but the Gym area, which ironically is on complete view from the street with floor to ceiling windows.

    I have friends who like to snap pictures of random individuals and then deride these strangers later for their looks, clothing, or activity -- "Look at this Bozo." There are people who don't like to have their pictures taken for just this reason, with digital photography costing next to nothing these days it is happening more and more. In the past such people were just being paranoid, today they are being realistic -- not that it really should mater if someone you don't know is making fun of your clothes behind your back.

    I guess I'm a bit conflicted about all this. I would like to be able to take my pictures anytime anywhere I would like, but I understand why some people would have a problem with it. Storeowners don't typically like people behaving in ways that discourage patronage. Someone clicking away uninvitedly at you while you shop kind of has this feel.

    I would support stores having to clearly mark possible surveillance equipment, whether real or not. I would also support public access to government surveillance equipment that monitors public areas.

    As for what I can do with my camera on private property, perhaps the privacy issue lies with the storeowners and not the camera wielding performance artists.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:20PM (#12237214) Homepage
    Your comment ignores the rights of those being under survelliance.

    I will admit that the ownder of the camers does not WANT them to be photographed. So what? So do criminals, and so do people cheating on their wife, and so do people simply trying to protect their privacy.

    The question is not "is there a reason", but instead is "Is the reason you want to stop people taking pictures of your cameras BETTER than the reason you came up with to let you set up the cameras in the first place"?

    Why? Because ANY reason that lets you prevent others from taking pictures of your camers can be turned around and used to prevent the store from taking your picture

    If you have the right to take my picture to prevent criminal actions by me, I have the right to take YOUR picture to prevent criminal actions by you. Yes, if I were a criminal, I could analyze the pictures I took to plan a crime against you. SO WHAT. If the employees of the store are criminal, they can analyze THERE surveliance tapes to plan crimes against shoppers.

    The management clearly wants the power to observe their shoppers and does not want shoppers to have a similar right against them. Shoppers want the power to observe the management and does not want the management to have similar rights against them.

    But the law is not a slave to EITHER side, so gives BOTH the rights to observe and record.

    I do agree that the management has the right to require the shoppers to hide their cameras, as the store has hidden their own cameras.

  • by MoneyT (548795) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:21PM (#12237233) Journal
    Or unless they don't want to move across country every year or so. My dad was in the air force for quite a few years and then decided he was sick of moving arround all the time, got out and went and worked security at a nuclear research facility.
  • by kokoloko (836827) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:23PM (#12237262)
    Isn't that an argument for MORE suveillance, rather than less?
  • by Skye16 (685048) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:30PM (#12237353)
    No offense, but it sounds like you're saying "if you don't know exactly how to fix something, you shouldn't even mention it's broken".

    I guess I should stop sending bug reports in, then.
  • by Politburo (640618) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:33PM (#12237386)
    While you are technically correct, if your "rules" are in violation of law, then you are in violation of law and can be held responsible for it. Furthermore, as a property owner, you give up the right to make some "rules" if you choose to be a landlord or otherwise use your land in a commercial application. i.e., my landlord cannot drop by at any time of the day simply because he owns the land. It's illegal (statewide). As a citizen, those are my "rules", and they better damn well be followed. Deal with it.
  • no "Earth" here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxpublic (450413) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:37PM (#12237438) Homepage
    In David Brin's "Earth" (science fantasy, but a good read anyway) a percentage of the citizens commonly walked around wearing small cameras, recording/transmitting live everything they saw. In the book these citizens were complete assholes, trying to force everyone else to conform with their narrow moral views, but in our world it could also be used to record the actions of authorities and use those transmitted recordings to keep abuses in check. Which is why at some point I'm sure you'll see legislation banning these devices from use in public places, as even bulkier camcorders are tripping up authority-types who like to break the law and lie in court to cover their asses (RNC being the last big example I can think of). No way, no how is the government going to allow the citizens to surveil *them* with the ease that it surveils *us*.

    Mark my words - you heard it hear first, on Slashdot. The legislation will come up, and it will be passed. I give it six, seven years at most.

    Max
  • by PapalMonkey (774698) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:39PM (#12237455)
    It speaks more to the idea of supplying your own surveillence. If the cops in New York had videotaped the protests themselves, do you really think they would have presented them to the public? There is no way in hell they would supply their 'opposition' (i.e. innocent citizens that they are paid to protect) with evidence of their own wrongdoing. Only by 'watching the watchers' were the protesters able to reveal the blatant lies of the NYPD.
  • by javaxman (705658) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:39PM (#12237458) Journal
    Isn't that an argument for MORE suveillance, rather than less?

    Yes it is. We should outfit all cops with these cameras this guy wears, and secure their data. *poof* problem of corrupt cops addressed, *poof* lots of great court evidence. It's hard to see a downside, except for expense.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:47PM (#12237550) Journal
    But his point above is valid. He should be able to make a record of his own actions.

    But he also has no right for his own actions to be in that mall, see?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:50PM (#12237579)
    I haven't seen any mention of why they might not want people photographing their cameras, but it seems to fall in this category.

    The first step in a major robbery is to case the joint (For the computer geeks: do a portscan). If you know where the cameras are, then you know where they aren't. You can also record where the wires go, so as to disable the cameras. The security guards might be going overboard, but in security it pays to be paranoid.

    Now, why is it asymmetrical? Well, they aren't filming you for the purposes of ripping you off. They are trying to protect their store, they don't give a shit about you. If somebody swipes something, they can roll back the tape and have evidence. Now, you, the customer, what is your reason for recording the cameras? Anyone?

    The philisophical questions are somewhat interesting, but the practical ones are pretty simple.
  • by fish waffle (179067) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:59PM (#12237706)
    The choice is the only thing you get to decide. Deal with it.

    Here's a test for you. Declare that on your property you don't have to pay taxes. When the tax collector comes by offer him or her your two choices. Post back and let us know how it went when you get out of prison.
  • by ScuzzMonkey (208981) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:01PM (#12237717) Homepage
    That's been my experience, too--the real losers (and there certainly are those as well) tend to float through for a few months then are gone as they find that the job isn't quite the ego-stoking power-trip they were looking for. A lot of who are left are CJ students, or retired military or police who are just looking for some extra spending money.

    Of course, effective or intelligent as they may be, none are inclined to have a gentle philosophical chat about the nature of privacy and security--they're paid to provide security, and if you're causing a problem as defined by their employer, you need to leave. Quite properly, they understand the debate, if it needs to happen, needs to happen with people who can actually make a change. If they don't do the job, the owner will just as happily hire someone with fewer philosophical inclinations and the situation will remain the same.

  • by i41Overlord (829913) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:08PM (#12237829)
    Before everyone yells at them and tell them to take off their tinfoil hat, let me clear something up.

    I think that many people have a rightful distrust of those in authority, because often those in power tend to abuse that power to stay in power.

    For instance- Let's say that you're pulled over by the police. They have their cameras recording your every action. If you had complete 100% trust in your government, there would be no need to film the police doing their job, since they're already filming it for you. But all too often they abuse that power and selectively lose/find recordings. If an officer unlawfully beat someone, do you think the recording would ever be used in that person's favor? Not likely, since it wouldn't be in the police department's best interest to share that information.

    This is about more than just videotapes. This is about keeping the balance of power in the citizens' favor, the way it should be. Remember, the US is supposed to have a government run by the people, under the citizens' supervision. The citizens control and monitor the government, it's not the other way around.
  • by HermanAB (661181) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:53PM (#12238321)
    The sad thing is that America IS a police state, but most Americans don't realise the fact. Exactly what current emergency is served by the Patriot Act?
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:34PM (#12238768) Homepage Journal
    The malls are private property, but they are public places. They do not restrict entry. The same is true of a wal-mart, for example. You have certain rights (and lack certain rights, like privacy) in public places.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flink (18449) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @06:32PM (#12239315)
    Me neither -- weed and acid were much easier to get.

    Kind of a sad state of affairs when it's easier for a minor to get illegal substances than legal, regulated ones.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @07:35PM (#12239802) Homepage
    I think you're highly overestimating the amount of "skill and specialization" it takes to serve in the military. And "low-paying civilian security work?" In most cases, civilians get paid much better than their military counterparts, and the hours are usually better as well. People don't join the military to get rich.. they join for patriotism (at least at first), to get out of a bad situation (usually low income family, was in debt, unplanned family to take care of, couldn't afford or wasn't accepted to college, etc), or because they have stars in their eyes and they think it's going to be like living in a video game. Don't get me wrong, I served six years and the only thing I regret is that I allowed myself to reach the point where joining the military was the best solution. And I am grateful that I had that option, but it's not exactly a collection of the best and brightest. In my experience, I've found that the converse of your claim is actually the truth far more often than not:

    No one with that amount of skill and specilization stays in the military unless they are really failures at what they tried to do in the real world. Or they're just too scared to try.

    There are those who stay in because they love what they do, and they honestly care about the people who work for them, but they're few and far between.. just like any other job.

"Pull the trigger and you're garbage." -- Lady Blue

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