Monday, December 10, 2007

I was kindly given a copy of the history book, Thunderstruck (signed by the author, erik larson, thank you kindly, sir!), by Rex Hughes at a luncheon to celebrate his recent doctorate. In this book is a marvellously rich, deeply researched history of the twin tales of the mild murderer, Crippen, and the seminal entrepreneur, Marconi, and how their lives (like many later) were entwined by long distance wireless communication!

but more to the point, there is a description of london in the late 19th and early 20th century - around that time, italian and french anarchists were highly active (see Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent (filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as Saboteaur) - apparently, half the houses on Charlotte Street (near UCL, in London) were under surveillance by the New Scotland Yard and the Surete (interesting that the victorian and edwardian british let the french secrete service operate within london) - there was of course a famouse bomb at new scotland yard, amongst others

so today's hysteria by UK (and other) goverment agencies saying there's a "new threat from terrorism" and we must reduce rights so that terrorosts can be tracked and caught, is yet again shown to be completely bogus- there was always such a threat, and, of course, we need eternal vigilance, but that doesn't mean there's a change such that we need to relax habeus corpus or other (inalienable?) rights

oh, the way the marconi wireless telegraphy (sometimes beatifully known as "space telegraphy - prescient of Vint Cerf's Interplanetary Internet:), was used to warn american police of Crippen's imminent arrival on a boat, is eerily reminiscent of the way that cell phones were used to track the 2nd lot of london bombers to....italy, where Guilgemo Marconi came from...

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