Thank God for shopping online.
TV: Scenes We Would Like to See: Hugh Laurie guest-stars on ER as Dr. Gregory House. Being his usual maverick self, he clashes spectacularly with the eternally rules-oriented Chief Attending Carrie Weaver.
House: "You don't scare me."
Weaver: "I should scare you. I kissed the Kurgan."
House, wide-eyed: "Damn, even I have better taste than that."
Weaver: Whaps House with her crutch.
House: Whaps Carrie back with his cane.
A brawl ensues, with Malik taking bets on who will win the fight.
Politics: This link courtesy of shusu.
I have to admit that I would be rather non-plussed, were I to be visited by two federal agents of the Homeland Security Department in regard to a book I had checked out of the library.
My personal opinion is that a book like Mao's Little Red Book does not belong on a watch list. Why? Because it is philosophy, and because, in this country, people are supposed to be allowed to think whatever they wish to think, as long as it harms no one else.
Now, something on the order of The Anarchist's Cookbook or some other book that outright shows you how to build a bomb--I would worry about people reading works like that and checking them out multiple times.
This does cause a conflict between the concepts of someone being innocent of a crime until a crime has actually been committed and stopping a crime before it happens. We would like to think that, up until the moment we actually commit a crime, we have the option of reconsidering the idea and not going through with it. You shouldn't be arrested for seriously thinking about robbing a convenience store. You shouldn't even be arrested for the legal purchase of a gun to assist you in this act--unless you go through with your plan and do rob the convenience store.
On the other hand, when you have an interest in saving many lives, and when many people can be involved in the commission of a crime, you have to consider pre-emptive strikes at some point.
In any criminal investigation, the majority of the information and leads gathered by investigators will not be useful to the case. The same thing is bound to happen in homeland security cases. The difference is that a crime has not yet been committed, and the primary task is one of information gathering, surveillance, and assessing the threat level of a large population of possible suspects. The vast majority of people investigated are not going to be terrorists. But the agents have to check them out anyway, if only to eliminate them from suspicion--and then they have to pray that they were correct to eliminate them from the focus of their investigation. They always know that they might let a guilty person go.
So, while yes, this should make us uncomfortable, and we should keep an eye on who/what is being monitored and why--I do think it is necessary, and I think it is justified.
If you're hunting for a serial rapist, you round up all the sex offenders on or off parole in the vicinity and question them. 99.9% of these men are not going to be the unknown serial rapist. Maybe none of them will be Criminal X. But you still have to question them. So yes. I'm wary of having my reading habits monitored, but I do support it. The challenge for our government is to use this responsibly and only in justifiable ways.
Parting Thought: "I wish King George felt like my big toe all over!" --Benjamin Franklin, in 1776