June 2006 Archives

WiFi Freeloading

A relatively new offense that is gaining some attention in our society (e.g., this ars technica piece) is WiFi freeloading, a situation where someone or a group with a laptop (sometimes even a desktop) find a wireless access point (WAP) available and log on to it, surfing the web on another person's dime, or checking e-mail, whatever. Some see it as opportunistic web usage, others a form of "theft of service". This is an issue that has come up in classes repeatedly.

It will be of interest to see how this issue is managed in the future. It is a very simple matter to make WiFi access restricted but people refuse or don't know how to do it; the media grabs the issue and puts a panic-like spin on it. Thus far it is something to keep an eye on.

Methamphetamine use declines

The latest study of methamphetamine (and other illicit drug) use has again declined, as shown in the latest CESAR study. See the table below:


These data are consistent with the earlier observation that the panic surround methamphetamine is just that.

By the way, here is a link to an enormously detailed review of the literature on methamphetamine, entitled A Key to Methamphetamine-Related Literature".

The latest data on meth use from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use & Health is available in the table below. The source of this table is also cited below. The description of the study design is technically written but fairly easy to understand. To obtain the data on self-reported drug use they use in-person confidential interviews with a representative sample of U.S. citizens, with a few known exceptions.

2.3 Past Month Methamphetamine Use and Illicit Drug or Stimulant Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by Year: 2002-2005.

The study states:

The rates for past month and past year methamphetamine use did not change between 2004 and 2005, but the lifetime rate declined from 4.9 to 4.3 percent. From 2002 to 2005, decreases were seen in lifetime (5.3 to 4.3 percent) and past year (0.7 to 0.5 percent) use, but not past month use (0.3 percent in 2002 vs. 0.2 percent in 2005).

We have purposefully restricted attention to meth use, not other stimulants.

2005 National Survey on Drug Use & Health: National Results
Appendix A: Description of the Survey

In the News Today

Today (6.13.06) the local paper, your basic local newspaper owned by the New York Times, is riddled with crime stories; is yours? There's an article on the banning of smoking in public parks, outside restaurants, the downtown square, and the like; an increase in violent crime using FBI statistics--the highest in 15 years!; another on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision yesterday that presumably makes it easier for death row inmates to challenge lethal injection and have DNA evidence brought before judges; the rising costs of coyote costs for illegal immigrants; the autopsy results of a terrorist the U.S. killed in Iraq along with a half dozen other terrorist stories from around the globe; the hate crime commited against Aviance, who performs in drag; the overturning of a San Francisco city and county law that banned handgun purchases on private property by residents; the snipe attack on a Reno judge by an unhappy party in a domestic issue through a courthouse window; a sunbather in Oxnard is accidentally run over and killed by two police driving an SUV; two San Francisco city cops are held liable for damages by a jury in the so-called "fajitagate" case, for a total of $42,000; a priest in Clayton resigns in the midst of a scandal involving sex with a minor; the Duke lacrosse incident gets op-ed treatment, which has taken a different turn; and many other stories.

Today seems like any other day--the more things change, the more they remain the same--an exemplary example of the media's love relationship with crime--here in the West but of course also in the North, the South and the East, and of course the Middle West, what the heck, all around the world where news sells. If you didn't know any better (i.e., didn't trust your personal, lived experience) many people would think that their daily lives are bombarded with crime, injustice, vulgarity, licentiousness, vice and random victimization. Some people do in fact live their daily lives in crime, injustice, etc. But for most in the U.S., if you believe victim surveys and studies of media coverage of crime, well, it's virtual, digital, and perceived but not objectively real in the realm of immediate sensory or physical perception.

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