Anybody planning on traveling internationally in the next 10 years would be well advised to head over to the passport office as soon as they get the chance. The U.S. State Department plans to embed Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RFIDs) in every new U.S. passport in the next few years.
RFID chips use radio signals to broadcast data to a radio reciever. Used mostly by shipping companies who don’t want scan every box individually, RFIDs function like barcodes, but can be read from a distance instead of scanned. The chips would contain an electronic copy of all of your passport information as well as information like a digitized photo and your fingerprints.
The issue is that anyone with a compatible scanner could walk by you in a crowd and take your passport info and fingerprints. Though the State Department initially insisted that the chip could be read only from a few centimeters away, demonstrations by the ACLU have shown that it can be read from as far as 30 feet away, according to Wired News. If reciever technology improves in the next 10 years, that distance will only increase.
One also wonders why they want to use a broadcasting chip if the intended range is only a few centimeters: why not use a contact-based card like many public transit systems?
Aside from putting metal wires into the passport cover to weaken the signal, the State Department is considering an encryption program called Basic Access Control, but the idea is self-defeating. Under BAC, the data being transmitted by the RFID would be encrypted and a unique password would be required to decrypt it. How does immigration control get the password, you may ask? By physically scanning the passport!
Long story short, this is a terrible idea, but it is going to happen: Colorado passports are already being issued with the chip. For non-Colorado residents the best idea is to get your passport before the project is implemented. Fortunately for Colorado residents, passports with a faulty chip will supposedly still be honored. For those already stuck with one, Washington Post columnist Bruce Scheiner pointed out that a few seconds in the microwave easily destroys most electronic chips.
Posted by Michael J. Bruns, Assistant News Editor
I was in Healy Circle last night around 1:00, checking out Mustard’s Last Stand, when all of a sudden the sound of police sirens became deafening, and the front gates turned an eerie purple color from the red and blue lights of multiple MPD vehicles. My friend and I ran up to see what was going on, but the scene seemed weirdly placid for the amount of police presence. A minute or so later, a big group of student ran by us, out the front gates, and away from DPS officers in hot pursuit.
Apparently, according to some rumors making the rounds among intoxicated partygoers (and, more legitimately, from some kids who were at the party in question), there had been an altercation at a beach-themed party in Henle where a fight broke out between Georgetown students and students visiting from Howard University. When DPS was called in, the Howard students turned on them, severely beating two officers. Panicked kids kept coming from the blocked-off Henle walkway talking about a pool of blood, and I saw one DPS officer completely unconscious, wheeled away into an ambulance by a grim-looking GERMS crew.
On my walk home to Burleith, I saw another ambulance, more kids and more cop cars on Reservoir Road. Everyone who was out on campus seemed pretty unsettled by the atmosphere of our usually peaceful campus—as my friend put it, apparently the D.C crime wave no longer stops at the Healy Gates.
Check our website for a full-length story on the incident by tomorrow.
Posted by Noreen Malone, Contributing Editor
According to the awkwardly translated Bahrain News Agency, the Crown Prince of Bahrain visited campus on Wednesday and met with University President John J. DeGioia. The Bahrainis report that Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa was looking in on the many Bahraini students at Georgetown and weighing the possibility of expanding post-graduate scholarships.
We got a tip that His Royal Highness had an 8:00 reservation for dinner at Morton’s and promptly dispatched a pair of paparazzi to grab a picture of the Prince with his reported team of nine body guards. The Prince was more clever, however, and snuck around into a back alley to enter through the restaurant’s kitchen.
University spokesperson Erik Smulson never got back to us to explain what the prince was doing on campus. What’s up with all these shadowy visits by Middle Eastern leaders, anyway?
Posted by Chris Stanton, News Editor
Hot dogs are something I will only eat when I am drunk—and I mean KRUNK—so thank god that I’m a two-beer-queer and Mustard’s Last Stand is only open from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The dogs are straight from the grill and served with a choice of ketchup, mustard and relish. I for one hope the experiment is a success as, with time, Brady Hiatt, the stand’s founder, hopes to branch out into onions and kraut. And now is the time to go, because for the next couple of shifts Brady will be running the stand himself before his team of freshmen take over. Check it out in Healy Circle tomorrow.
Mustard’s Last Stand is open Thursday through Saturday nights.
Posted by Kathryn Brand, Contributing Editor
Is The Hoya‘s editorial board even trying anymore? In yesterday’s top editorial spot, they called for the University to improve technological services, with one of their two main arguments being that we need wireless all over campus. Sound familiar? That’s because you read it in last Thursday’s Voice, Duke example and all (albeit a little more vividly argued and whimsically titled in our pages).
But that’s not all—their Friday editorial on season basketball tickets was also lifted straight from the editorial pages of Thursday’s Voice, and the second ed on the page was a muddled recap of our editorial from the previous week on safety cameras and town-gown relations.
If I were trained to write like a Hoya staffwriter—that is to say, unoriginally—I might say they were a day late and a dollar short. But since I write for the Voice, I can just be honest and say it’s kinda embarrassing.
Posted by Noreen Malone, Contributing Editor
So you just got a sweet bike. One of those hip road bikes, you know? The ones with the downward-curving handlebars and the skinny wheels, to go with your skinny jeans. You’ve got that messenger bag that sits high on your lower back when you cross it over your chest: maybe it’s recycled plastic, or maybe it has a revolutionary patch on it. You ride it to school now, even though you live five blocks away and walking never bothered you before. Now that you’ve got a bicycle, though, you can’t imagine how you ever did it. And sometimes you ride it around the city, maybe even in the street, and you chain it to a variety of sign posts and structures, to make sure no one rides off with it or, god forbid, carry it away.
And now the question arises … helmet? No helmet?
PROS of the helmet:
-If you get hit by a moving vehicle, if you tend to run into parked cars or if you are a dare-devil and like to cross highways on your road bike, that helmet strapped tightly under your chin will absorb the impact that would have splattered your brains across the road, a la “Red Asphalt” educational videos.
-You can decorate your helmet with a different theme every month. You might try glitter, a layer of fine feathers or small action figures tucked into the grooves (remember, it is best to leave some of the surface slick to enable sliding across pavement in the event of a crash landing).
-You can pretend that you are a NASA spaceship operator and your helmet is a rocket launcher that makes you go even faster down the streets of Georgetown.
CONS of the helmet:
-Even if people say, “hey, sweet helmet” they are probably saying to themselves within, “god, does she think she’s like, gonna get hit on the Georgetown campus?”
-Exceptional hairstyles, such as mullets, pompadours, ducktails and fauxhawks are prone to flattening under the tight grip of bicycle helmets, even the ones that look like rocket launchers.
-Wearing helmets may have the adverse effect of making bicycle riders brazen in the face of other vehicles on the road. This encourages running red lights and stop signs, and cutting off pedestrians with a swerve and optional apologetic cry over the shoulder, while already half-way down the next block.
So, avid Vox Populi readers, the answer of whether or not to wear your helmet lies within your agency. And remember, there are no rules to the game. You can choose to wear your helmet if only riding the streets of downtown DC, if you venture out of Georgetown, never, or even always. Enjoy and ride safe.
Posted by Lauren Gaskill, Associate Editor
D.C. is voting for a new mayor Tuesday, and it’s pretty much the only thing I’ve been thinking about for the past two weeks (shameless self-promotion alert). Here are a couple of things to chew on before the polls open:
1. The Washington Post’s endorsement: I’m not offering my own opinion, but the Post is a good paper. Of course, their editorial board has been a little loco lately, what with their Lieberman endorsement and all, and they also once endorsed Marion Barry. Lesson: draw your own opinions. But, hey, the Post is a good paper. Just saying.
2. A Washington Post op-ed running today (Monday) about how and why they endorse candidates. You may use this to illuminate your reading of the previous piece.
Also, for propriety’s sake, I should let you know I worked for Washington Post-Newsweek Interactive this summer. Still, it is a good paper. Despite me.
Posted by Mike Stewart, Feature Editor
If you’re one of the five people (my editors included) who read Saxa Politica last week, you’ll know that I was ridiculously excited about Margaret Atwood’s visit to campus today. Not only did her talk not disappoint, but I actually got to meet her and ask her a few questions in the ICC elevator before the official lecture.
Maybe it was the fact that I already had blogging on the brain, but in my two minute interview I asked her how she thought the Internet had changed the state of reading and writing literature. Her response? “The Internet is a very literate form, of course … You’ve probably noticed these blogs that are everywhere…[they are] similar to the novels people used to write in the 18th century.”
Later, two friends and I crashed the lecture event in Gaston, and the technology question came up yet again. During the Q & A, a curious freshman asked Ms. Atwood whether she owns a TV. It turns out that she does, along with a DVD player, and she messes around online just like the rest of us. If a serious author uses the Internet as a procrastination technique, maybe it doesn’t kill as many brain cells as I thought.
But if Halo 2 is your thing, you’re still not off the hook. “I don’t play interactive video games,” Atwood said. “Yet.”
Posted by Anna Bank, Assistant News Editor
I never thought I’d say this, but check out this month’s issue of The Georgetown Federalist, the University’s conservative publication. Despite Editor J.P. Medved’s direct shot at the Voice in his “From the Editor” column, the issue does have a very worthwile piece by junior Alexander Bozmoski on why conservatives should be united against climate change (no link to this one–they don’t have a web site).
Bozmoski argues that the true conservative stands against drastic change of any kind. The tradition of Edmund Burke stresses the fact that we should pass onto our children the same great civilization that we have been fortunate enough to grow up in. God knows that global warming threatens all the progress that human society has made in the last 200 years.
The fact that this argument has hardly been voiced at all by any member of the GOP indicates that today’s Republicans are more interested in the immediate needs of big business than in a truly “conservative” stewardship of our society.
Posted by Chris Stanton, News Editor
We all saw signs around campus; there was a Facebook.com event registration with an RSVP; it was looking to be the hot event of the minute, with the sophisticated and intriguing title, “The Art of Kissing.”
Michael Christian, who told the Voice, “kissing has taken over my life,” is touring the college circuit with a live stage show based on his book of the same name. The show did not live up to expectations, though, and while it got laughs, it seemed to me more of a tasteless scam posing as an informative evening of discussion and innovation with demonstrations to richen the show. It entertained, but fell short on information.
Freshmen and transfer students were the target audience, some attending in groups with their floor mates. Students were there to learn a new trick or two or simply to see how the advertised attraction of kissing demonstrations would play out.
“I hope to see making out on stage,” said Jen Lancaster (COL ’09), with a laugh. “I wanted to see how they were going to go about demonstrating”.
Marcus Howard, (COL ’08) said jokingly that he was, “working on my kissing skills”.
Chelsea Irwin, (COL ’09), attending with her boyfriend Marcus, was interested in hearing about the social psychology of relationships and kissing, a frequent topic of casual conversation with her friends. Perhaps the blurb introducing the event that read, “topics covered include the psychology of kissing,” caught her attention.
But as soon as the show began it was clear that it would play out more like a Vegas stage show than a book tour. With music accompanying choreographed movements and a stiff, rehearsed script that nevertheless drew laughs from the crowd, the show could have had success as just that: an entertaining moment.
There were some successful moments, namely the demonstration of tongues inside the mouth during a French kiss, in which two male subjects put red pillow-cases over their arms and heads and play-acted the twirling of tongues in the mouth. Katie Elder, (SFS ’08) agreed with her friend, “We liked the tongues—very insightful … flicking action is a great idea.”
Some of the other displays were less agreeable to some of the audience, namely the repeated spanking throughout the show. The demonstration of the “spank” to accent a kiss was performed of the males on the females, a big SMACK on the bum followed by hoots and cheers in the audience. Linsey Purdy, (SFS ’08) said about the spanking, “I thought it was kind of aggressive and weird.”
In the end, people seemed to have been entertained but did not necessarily leave with any new kissing knowledge. One of the on-stage participants, who asked not to be named, said that he had thought it would be more informative and educational, “not just play acting the weird fantasies of this guy.”
Given the choice, he would not have participated again.
Posted by Lauren Gaskill, Associate Editor