Tuesday Bag o’ Surveillance

speedcameraThat’s a speed enforcement camera. The reason you can’t see it is because someone put a bag over it. This rebellion against the police state happened in England; click on the photo to learn more.

Here in Tucson we have speed enforcement and red light cameras: they’re not yet everywhere but we’re getting there. Just like where you live, I imagine. Apart from some low-level grousing (and the occasional attempt to take out a camera the old-fashioned American way), we as a people don’t seem to have a major beef with traffic surveillance. True, my fellow Arizonans successfully fought the installation of speed cameras on freeways, but cameras are still clicking away on surface streets and most of us, I’m willing to bet, let out a cheer when a scofflaw gets flashed. So long as it isn’t us on the receiving end of a ticket, we accept the idea that driving on public roads is a privilege and that we must obey certain rules for safety.

Why should it be different when it comes to guns? An overwhelming majority of Americans agree on universal background checks for gun sales. The driving equivalent of a universal background check is that first license, when a new driver has to a) provide a birth certificate, b) take a written test, c) pass a driving test. The NRA and other gun lobby groups are calling background checks tyranny, and they’re just getting wound up. I’m trying hard to imagine the AAA lobbying against driver licensing and openly encouraging members to water the tree of liberty by running red lights … sorry, just can’t make that leap.

Speaking of speed cameras, this morning a driver ahead of me hit the brakes and slowed to 45 miles per hour as we approached a photo enforcement zone on Valencia Road, where the posted limit is 50 mph. The cameras only go off if you’re over the posted limit, and even then not unless you’re 10 mph over (the exact number is probably a secret, but most Arizonans will tell you the cameras trigger on vehicles going 11 mph or more over the limit). Why do drivers over-react like that, slowing to below the posted limit when they see a cop or a speed camera? It has to be the Ticket Fairy. You know, the one who slips Untickets into your glove compartment every time you’re extra good. Untickets from the Ticket Fairy confer negative points which you can subtract from the points you get for real tickets. There must be a Ticket Fairy, because I’ve never seen a cop write anyone an Unticket.


I drove to the air museum today for a team leaders’ meeting that wasn’t (my fault for putting the wrong date on the calendar). Fortunately I had a backup plan: to pick an airplane to photograph and write about for a future Air-Minded post. What caught my eye this morning was a nicely restored T-37 trainer. I have over 1,000 hours in type … I once taught new USAF trainees to fly in the T-37. When I tried to take photos, though, the camera crapped out. My backup plan wasn’t much good without a backup battery (here’s hoping they still make replacements for my 10-year-old camera). So it turned out my entire trip this morning was wasted, other than the inspiration to write about traffic cameras, gun control, and the Ticket Fairy.


Here’s a Facebook “friend” I dropped last week:

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Libertarian my ass. Racists hate to be called out as racists, you ever notice? To me it’s dirt simple: anyone who questions Obama’s birth certificate after he showed it … I’m talking about the first one, the short version he showed during the 2008 campaign, the one that looks exactly like mine and yours and everyone else’s … is a racist, plain and simple. The whole idea behind birtherism is to brand Obama as an alien. The ONLY thing alien about Obama is the color of his skin, and that’s only alien to a subset of the American population … namely, white racists.

Meanwhile, here’s a Facebook friend I’m going to keep:

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She was talking about yesterday’s presidential inauguration and the orderly transition of power in the United States. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

© 2013, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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