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Use technology to fight technology

May 27, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

o If you like reading Tim Rowland, you'll love watching him. See what else Tim has to say

I'm not anti-technology, I just don't see how anyone has time for it. E-mailing, blogging, Facebooking, texting, twittering.

Like, when do these people eat? Technology was supposed to make our lives easier, not crazier than the blazes.

If I can keep up with half of my e-mail, I'm happy. Facebook just seems like a colossal time drain; I agree with our smart friend Karen, who says Twitter is technology's version of the Pet Rock; and after a day of writing for a living, blogging bears an unpleasant resemblance to homework.

But I'm willing to change.

I say this because I have finally discovered a good use for Facebook, which is being used as a tool to collect signatures for repeal of Maryland's new speed-camera law.

I'm clueless as to how this works, exactly, but if it somehow promotes the forces of good over the forces of evil, I'm all for it.

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Apparently, speed-camera opponents need 53,000 signatures to get the issue placed on the ballot. If they succeed, I'd think the law is doomed. Who is going to vote, "Yes, by all means, feel free to send me a ticket for the slightest little transgression."

Of course, you know how sneaky the government can be when writing the ballot language. It will probably read, "Law would allow Kodak roadside memories through strategic digital enhancement of numeric plate values while eliminating wallet stressors created by a surplus of paper ordnance."

It should be obvious that speed cameras are little more than the broad nets of government cast into the public waters of transit for the purposes of maximizing the catch while minimizing the effort.

For now, the law would allow cameras only in school work zones, and flag drivers going 12 mph over the speed limit. And mark my words, it will be about three seconds until the money-hungry legislature removes those restrictions and allows speed cameras everywhere, for any speed over the limit.

You might as well have a device strapped to your car that notifies the state every time your speedometer noses above the posted limit.

And I'm old, I don't even speed anymore. Speeding is too much effort; you have to pay attention to what you're doing. When I'm driving, I like to take my time and have a look around.

But the cameras still annoy me, in part because the General Assembly pretends this is all about safety, not money. Where politics is concerned, I live by a very simple rule: Any time a government starts talking about your "safety," grab a towel, because you're about to get hosed.

Sen. Brian Frosh told the Washington Post, "Speed cameras actually have an extremely salutary impact on people's conduct in places where people shouldn't be speeding."

Well, I've had just about enough salutarizing out of this legislature. If lawmakers were that salutaryotory, they would ban hand-held cell phones while driving, which they will never do because they all gab while driving themselves. Instead, they ban texting while driving because that's something kids do.

Frankly, I trust the kids more. When behind the wheel, a kid trying to type a couple of words is less of a risk than a lawmaker trying to form a thought. Thinking is enough of a burden, don't ask them to do it while making a left turn on red.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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