HB 213 passed – kayakers got screwed

April 1, 2009

Well, Idaho HB 213 passed in the Senate today. All it needs now is the governor’s signature, which is guaranteed. All out-of-state motorized boats will have a $20 annual fee. In-state motorized boats will have a $10 fee. Nonmotorized boats will have a $5 fee. This doesn’t hurt me too badly. I only have one boat. Some kayakers have 10 or more. They’ll be stuck paying $50 yearly, while posing zero risk of importing invasive species. It will also hurt people coming into the state to boat. They’re stuck paying a $5 fee per boat for a few days’ worth of boating.

The goal of this bill is to raise money to fight invasive species. I’d be less mad about this if the plan for fighting invasive species was likely to be effective. Rumor says this money will be used to set up boat wash stations at major lakes. Well, the people who are going to use these boat wash stations are the same people who were already paying attention to the issue. The people who are actually a risk are a risk because they don’t use things like boa washing stations! As for people like me, the odds of my kayak being within 100 miles of a boat washing station are amazingly slim – yet I’m stuck paying for them.

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Books: Little Brother

March 30, 2009

I just finished a very well-executed and scary book by Cory Doctorow. This book is called Little Brother, and is available for free through his website, under the Creative Commons license.

The book is a peek into the near future. Terrorists have blown up the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. The Department of Homeland Security responds, taking everyone into custody near the blast. The main Character, Marcus, is one of those detained. He is isolated, interrogated, and released several days later with the warning: “You will never speak of what happened here to anyone, ever. This is a matter of national security. Do you know that the death penalty still holds for treason in time of war?”

The book shows this 17 year old’s efforts to reveal the horrible abuses conducted by the DHS in a misguided campaign to fight a “War on Terror” by cracking down on anyone who doesn’t fit the DHS’s concept of “standard behavior”. His campaign of sousveillance (everyone monitoring the activities of the government) shows a plausible approach for resisting a powerful secretive government agency.

I highly recommend this book for anyone, but especially those of a political bent. While our government has not reached the point shown in this novel, the scenario presented is the next logical step to the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, and detaining suspected terrorists without a warrant and without appeal. If your senator doesn’t know your feelings on these issues, it’s time you give them a call before even greater injustices are perpetrated.