July 6th, 2014

i95 Coalition wish list for states

I'm a little puzzled by this. I feel like they are not asking for enough/the right things, which probably means I am underestimating just how much of an uphill battle they are fighting. I'm approaching toll interoperability from a travel planning perspective: if I actually get to start traveling a variety of places up and down the East Coast (long term goal, somewhat interrupted by the more important exercise in The Having of Children), I'm going to want to have the ability to pay tolls without slowing down (much). While EZPass gets us a lot, and SunPass gets us still more (really, that's probably all I'm gonna need, given how SunPass is starting to cover GA, NC, etc.), I cannot help but think about what it would be like _today_ to take the long road trips I used to go on when I was single and child-free. At a minimum, I'd probably be adding Good to Go! and FasTrak accounts, and maybe something else, too. So in my head, I think, hey, I bet there are a lot of people who own multiple transponders (the EZPass/Sunpass dual transponder household is _real_ common among people who winter in Florida and live elsewhere in the Northeast the rest of the year, and the desire for interoperability is very clear in online forums).


If I were writing a wish list, I'd be thinking along the lines of getting legislation _I_ wrote passed in a whole bunch of states, and that legislation would enable toll authority employees to work at the DMV (subject to all kinds of background checks and training and etc. for privacy purposes), so the toll authorities could get a prompt response out of the DMV when they were trying to identify a violator. That employee/those employees would have a right to at least observe and hopefully participate in architecture decisions made at the DMV to ensure that technology/database modifications supported what the toll authorities need to do business (both internal to that state and across state lines). And I'd have pre-calculated a couple of ranges of how much I'd be willing to pay the DMV out of toll receipts in order to _fund_ tech upgrades at the DMV and tech integration with the toll authority, if I could convince the legislature to allow that (I'm not sure that's a great idea, actually, but someone with a lot more knowledge and experience than me should be working out the best privacy/security policy and how to structure the interaction/integration between the DMV and the toll authorities).

I think that sort of approach would get me a long ways toward everything I might want now and in the future, but I don't see it on this wish list, which is a mixture of detailed license plate advice (make it more visible, reduce ambiguities, plates front and back) and law enforcement support. That latter actually gives me the heebies: I'm not sure I want some other state to be able to suspend my vehicle registration because they think they read my plate at a toll somewhere I've never been. That said, better enforcement on violators is, in general, an excellent idea.

The other thing I would want, longer term, is to replace or supplement the visible license plate with an identifying transponder. However, I think the toll authorities are thinking that they are going to _be_ that thing over the long haul, once they get something resembling national interoperability going, and they don't want to set off the nut jobs too soon. I suspect law enforcement would _love_ a transponder plate, which may mean I should not. And yet I do. *shrug*

ETA: About those front and back plates:


I know that there are people who object to plates front and back. I believe that some of them really do have an aesthetic issue (I suspect the rest are a bunch of scofflaws, but that's just me being a bourgie mom). It might be easier to mandate a front transponder (especially if it could be made aesthetically invisible through integration with the vehicle, sort of like expensive cars come with integrated garage door openers), rather than a front plate for people who care about stuff like that. If nothing else, you could divide and conquer the coalition opposed to front plates.

ETA: License plates of the past future:


2015 bar code plates! I had totally forgotten.

I want to be clear that even if we had "better" license plates (transponder or whatever), we would probably still need a separate toll tag that could be moved from vehicle to vehicle (if we don't want to get ripped off by rental car companies, for example).

Automatic plate reader tech currently in use:


700 per hour is way low vs. what transponders can support for tolling (2200/lane, IIRC) especially if there is no toll plaza (open road tolling).

Whoops -- page 1 says it can do 1800/hour but the person driving the car is on patrol so they won't pass that many.

Federal participation in vehicle tracking and registration: NMVTIS


I didn't know this existed, and I stumbled across it when I was trying to figure out exactly what car cloning included (just a plate swap? Nope -- VIN replacement with the VIN of a car of similar make and model that is legal and Somewhere Else. Yikes! Identity theft on cars!).

This is a pretty recent development, and I think it's an indication that the federal government is not completely unwilling to get involved in license plate and related issues on cars. I think the i95 coalition might want to explore this as an option, in the unlikely event we ever have a functioning legislature again.

Data retention of license plate reads: two sides


Unsurprisingly, the ACLU doesn't want this kind of stuff collected and if it is collected, it doesn't want it associated with personal information and regardless, it wants it all flushed in a timely fashion.

Here's the other side, maker of license plate read products and their natural consumers, people who feel a need for security cameras and the police they call when there is a problem:


Me, I used to be Poor and read a lot of old paperbacks that I bought for Cheap at used bookstores. For a while (hey, I was quite young at the time), I went on a Perry Mason binge (yes, that series and those movies started with books). And I always thought it was a hoot that the hot PI guy could just sort of look through the window of a car and get the name and address of the owner off the posted registration.

We change our rules over time.

Are Laws Against Automatic Plate Reading a First Amendment Violation?


As the article points out, this isn't just a matter of the government taking pictures of license plates. Commercial enterprises and individuals also make use of this technology (you could sort of imagine a good business case for using these for parking enforcement and security in office parks, say, never mind the much more entertaining -- for fiction writing purposes -- use by a personal security firm).

Why _can't_ I take pictures of licenses plates, have software that automates the process of reading what is on the plate and then stores that information? Can I do it with pen and paper? And what's the difference, anyway, other than money in the pocket of DRN?

Article is from February and they were seeking preliminary injunctive relief. The suit is part of a larger strategy; they took on Arkansas a few months later:


That article indicates Utah amended their law:

"TechDirt believes Arkansas will have a high hurdle to leap in proving that it is not discriminating against DRN’s and Vigilant’s right to free speech, and notes that Utah had to heavily amend its law to get the companies to drop the suit. Utah now allows private entities to collect and sell license plate data to other third parties (which government agencies are prohibited from doing), and allows for the companies to hold the information for up to nine months."


I understand that TechDirt is skeptical of the idea that these automated systems are just like doing it in a more labor intensive and manual way, but I would invite TechDirt to contemplate what, precisely, is the difference between any automated process vs. one entirely dependent on human labor. There's a difference, for sure. Commercial viability. But commercial viability isn't really a factor in privacy considerations, much less first amendment considerations.

A short list of uses for ALPR: http://miovision.com/blog/awesome-alpr-applications/

Kookiness knows no cultural bounds: it is as human as apple pie


I kept looking at the URL going, am I really here? Is this person really picking on a listicle over at Buzzfeed about hand pies? And is she really claiming that pie is a Latin American ... invention?

A wheat and butter crust does not, somehow, sound like it came from the Americas. Or, honestly, even Galicia. While the author _could_ have been making the argument that empanadas were brought over to these continents by Columbus, I have some suspicion that's not where she was going with this. I have posted before about theories of the origins of pie, and how terrible most efforts to track the history of pastry and pie are. R. and I decided to poke around a little more at it, with a focus specifically on the apples.

Apples come from Kazakh. That's the definitive word, apparently, based on whole genome sequencing. (Thanks, R.)


Wheat comes from the Levant.


In order to have pie, you need wheat (altho please don't hesitate to argue with me on this, because new recipes are Fun!). And you need some kind of fat/oil, and you need a heat source. I always think you need an oven, but you need a heat source and it can't be boiling (I haven't met anyone yet who thinks that boiled dough produces a pie, but again, speak up!). It can be an oven, it could be a closed pan on or in a fire, you can _definitely_ fry those little fuckers. So the Kazakhs probably didn't invent apple pie, because they boiled stuff and that was more or less the extent of it (not knocking boiling. Boiling is amazing).

I, personally, would like to nominate Turkey for the original home of pie. They retain an impressive array of pie-like variations: oil and butter pastry, every kind of filling, every imaginable size and configuration. Also, they had apples, and I am a traditionalist. If you don't have apples, I feel you cannot really claim pie (I recognize this is a prejudice on my part).

In any event, I don't see how you can make a plausible claim that pies of any form (and all forms, ultimately) got their start way out on the Iberian peninsula, which is pretty much where any empanada based claim for "hand pies" would ultimately devolve. If it was in Galicia, it got there either from the north or the south, but either way, somewhere east of the peninsula.

Cultural appropriation arguments are often problematic, but rarely this ridiculous. Which is sad, because the author is _right_ to point out that it is horrible to take so much from people and then treat them with contempt. That is a real problem; it's just that while empanadas are small pies that can be carried about and eaten without benefit of plate or fork, not all small pies that can be carried about and eaten without benefit of plate or fork are empanadas.

I don't care what your mother told you.

ETA: OMG, it was way back in 2010. Yikes.

Review of a book about pie:


Additional posts about same and related:



This is about the apple pie recipe in the Forme of Curry (I've ordered the Baghdad cookery book with the newer translation, now that I know about it), and more discussion of pies in general:


Ironically, a lot of this bout of picking at bad books was started by an effort to read Spivey's shudder inducing volume with the super amazing cover art. And Spivey engages in a whole bunch of absolutely false claims about cultural appropriation, too. Hmmmm. The primary appropriation claim I mention in this post:


involves an assertion about Grafenberg that is just untrue in every possible way. But there's also weird claims about Abu Bakr II in there as well.