The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'war on terror'
WIRED News has an article on the Kafkaesque world of US "terrorist watch lists". If your name (or some approximation thereof; which is why it can suck to have a common Arabic name) appears on them, you can be detained for interrogation should you attempt to board a flight in the US, or denied credit. You are not entitled to any explanation and have no right to recourse, and the very existence of some of these watchlists, or how many there are, is not officially acknowledged. Which, as you can imagine, lends itself to abuse:
Despite that, last month constitutional scholar Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Princeton University, found himself unable to check in curbside at a New Mexico airport. A check-in clerk with American Airlines told him it was because he was on a "terrorist watch list," Murphy says.
"One of them, I don't remember which one, asked me, 'Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying for that,'" recalls Murphy. "I said, 'No, but I did give a speech criticizing George Bush,' and he said, 'That will do it.'"
While there are almost no American citizens on the OFAC list, it is routinely used during home purchases, credit checks and even apartment rentals, and has caused people with common Latino and Muslim names to be denied mortgages for having a name that only vaguely resembles a name on the list, according to a recent report (.pdf) from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.
One of the lesser-known casualties of the Age Of Terror: shoes that charge your phone batteries as you walk. Invented by Sir Trevor Roper, of wind-up radio fame, they were all ready to go, and then shoes with embedded electronic devices suddenly became deeply unpopular:
"After 9/11, anyone wearing electric shoes would look like a bomber. That's what you have to watch with any electric kit that you carry nowadays," he muses. Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a plane by carrying explosives in his heels - which made customs officials particularly nervous about footwear - has a lot to answer for.The shoes were one potential application of piezoelectric generation, which extracts energy from movements such as people walking or the vibrations of trains; plans exist to use this energy to power all sorts of things, from sensors and transmitters in railway goods cars to wireless controllers powered by button presses to MP3 players in jackets made of piezoelectric fabric:
Markys Cain, who runs the Sensor Knowledge Transfer Network at the National Physics Laboratory, hopes to see fabric that generates its own power using piezoelectric fibres woven into frequently moving joints such as elbows and knees.
Dr Swallow puts it simply: "Your iPod will run on so little power, and your trousers will contain so much."
With finger motion, Starner believed he could give a wireless keyboard enough power to transmit keystroke information to another device.