Letters for December 15, 2005

Speaking of speech
Re “Sticks and stones won’t keep me awake at night” (Right Hook, Dec. 8):

The only reason I read the RN&R is to read the Right Hook column. I always find it interesting discussing it with my friends here at UNR. It seems that the conservative viewpoint is not welcomed by most people. I almost always agree with Lafferty’s column or at least check the facts to verify some of the things I don’t agree with, and I have to say I’ve been very impressed. I like the fact that Lafferty cites his sources and that I can verify what he is saying. This is compared to most papers that seem only to quote “unnamed officials” and third parties that heard the info secondhand. I find it funny that the people who always cry out for fairness, understanding, compassion and all the other stuff never seem to have it themselves. Last year, I was protesting against Edwards along with the whole 150 other conservatives and Republicans at UNR, and all of these people kept coming up to us and threatening us and insulting us and a variety of other nastiness. People actually came up and tore up our signs. I found it quite funny because those same people usually have bumper stickers that say, “Your mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open.” It’s as Soren Aabye Kierkegaard said of free speech: “People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.”

Scott Briscoe

Private lives
Re “Fear the chip” (Feature story, Dec. 8):

Mark Roberti’s comments in the article “Fear the chip” are almost comical. He first states that opponents of RFID technology “don’t understand the fundamentals of business.” He then states, “Businesses never share information about their customers. The company is always going to do what will make it money.”

Doesn’t Mr. Roberti know that the business of sharing information about your customers is lucrative? I worked for a company in Reno that gathered all the information it could from every single one of their customers. I and other employees were instructed to tell our customers that their information would never be shared with anyone. Within a year of those information gathering efforts, that same company sold customer information to a marketing company for target-marketing practices.

James Cavanaugh

Fear the phone
Re “Fear the chip” (Feature story, Dec. 8):

I like your article on RFIDs, however, you missed one tracking device: the cell phone.

The cell phones equipped with the GPS chip can determine your location when you make a call. This information is currently available to emergency services such as police or fire. If it hasn’t been done yet, it soon will be (and will become) a method of live tracking of your location. One day someone will devise a way for the average citizen on the street to gain access to information that is now kept secret. Already for less than $300, you can buy a radio scanner that allows listening in on cell phone conversations from your nearest cell phone tower. The radio scanner comes with a disclaimer that says you aren’t supposed to listen in on private conversations.

One day, in the near future, if you suspect your spouse of wrongdoing you go to a private detective, give him the spouse’s cell phone information and he “pings” the cell phone, that is, sends out a signal to the phone without making it ring asking for the phone’s GPS information, which would be sent back to the detective’s computer screen. Now the suspecting spouse can not only have a list of people called but a step-by-step map of one’s travel.

You call your friends’ cell phone. How does the system know where the phone is at any given time? Your friend could be having a meal across town or at a restaurant somewhere in Paris or Tokyo. Does your cell provider send out the phone number from every cell tower in Reno, then Carson, Nevada, California, the West Coast, etc., waiting for a reply? No, the system knows where your friend’s cell phone is at any given time. It’s not that much of a technological leap from knowing the phone’s nearest cell tower to knowing the actual street address of the phone’s location.

RFID may tell how many pairs of socks you bought, but cell phone tracking will let someone know how many pairs purchased and what stores you were at before you bought the socks.

Dewey Quong

Assault rankles
Re “Sticks and stones won’t keep me awake at night” (Right Hook, Dec. 8):

I’ve been reading RN&R for several years now, and I have to applaud Mike Lafferty. The fact that he can step up in the face of so much unfounded criticism is really admirable. I’m often embarrassed to read what fellow readers have to say about Lafferty. I typically agree with what he has to say. When I don’t, however, I feel no need to verbally blast him or his character. Nor do I assault the liberal views represented in this newspaper. I’m a UNR senior, and I want people to know that there are folks who look forward to reading his column each week.

Dave Martens