ANOTHER DARK, SNOWY DAYFriday, 8:45 AM. 19 degrees F, wind NW, light with stronger, biting gusts. A few lake effect snow flakes are drifting down. It is overcast and looks and feels like snow. The city plow just passed by, winging back the snow to make room for more.
With all the hype and doom and gloom about the "sequester" happening today, perhaps you have over-looked what to me is a far more ominous development. The "black box"of airplanes is likely coming to your automobile soon, courtesy of the National Transportation Safety Authority. No congressional legislation necessary, not even an executive order we can protest. Simply an administrative ruling. So what, you say? This is Big Brother gone mad, a continual auditing of every move of your vehicle. Were you five miles over the speed limit? Ticket's in the mail. Where were you last night? Might as well 'fess up, we already know. No, no, this black box will only be used to investigate accidents and such. Are you kidding me? Look for it to be subpoenaed in every tawdry divorce case, every suspected felony, and every reason an invasive, out of control government can think of.
Oh, but wouldn't it be great to keep an eye on your teenage driver, to be sure he or she didn't speed, or go somewhere other than where he or she said they would go. Just the thing to build lasting trust between child and parent, don't you think? And don't think there won't be an ap for your smart phone to allow that to be done.
Boy, I sure am glad there wasn't one in my 1939 Ford pickup truck. "O.K., young man, " the leering officer says, "We know your vehicle was parked down on the beach for two hours last Saturday night. Tell us what you were up to". Or, in Joan's red 1957 V8 Chevy; "We have you clocked at 110 MPH on US 30 on the morning of Sunday, July 4, 1964. That will be $100 and nine points."
But, to be serious for a moment. Is this sort of invasion of privacy really worth whatever safety data that could be gleaned from these black boxes?
I have friends who are avid ice fishermen, and the latest gimmick is a little TV camera that goes down with the hook, line and sinker to spy on the fish. I haven't heard any of them say it really helps to catch the fish, it is just interesting to watch them take the bait. We are increasingly like the fish in the lake, constantly watched, probably as much for amusement as for anything else. It takes all kinds, and there sure are all kinds out there. There are TV cameras everywhere. I used to "flip the bird" at one every so often, but I don't do that anymore as I am likely to end up on U Tube. It is only a small step from the black box recorder in your car to a surveillance TV camera recording your every move in your car. Don't laugh, technologically it's a snap. Wouldn't the Gestapo and the KGB have loved to have had little black boxes in every one's Volkswagen and Lada. But of course not the FBI or the Attorney General.
Oh, but all this technology will only be used to keep us safer from accidents, criminals and terrorists. If you believe that one, I have a fishing trip I would like to take you on.