Points of Interest: January 12, 2005

Map Term Comes Out on Top. Attendees at the annual convention of the Linguistic Society of America last Friday chose the word or phrase that dominated national discourse over the course of the last year. It was "red state, blue state, purple state." I suppose we should be honored that representational idea like this, keyed to a map, rose to the top of the pile. Perhaps, just perhaps, it will help non-map user respect the power and value of maps in politics and other pursuits.

Chipping the Soccer Ball. A German company has devised location-emmiting chips that can be put in soccer balls and players' shin pads. The idea is to provide more information to fans ("How close was the miss? 3.9 cm"), coaches ("Who's hustling?"), and referees ("Who hit who when?"). With some much technology already in sports, its hard to imagine something like this will not be widespread very soon. Moreover, it would be valuable to use on fans, perhaps, to track the rowdy.

Pay As You Go Auto Insurance for Young Drivers. The U.K.'s Norwich Union insurance company will offer a "Pay As You Drive" coverage for drivers between the ages of 18 and 21. A GPS tracks miles traveled and sends them via cell phone network back to the company. Premiums are based on time of day, distance, etc. The company suggests that insurance costs may fall 30% for young drivers. It also argues that it may encourage safer driving, that is driving during safer hours.

No Warrant Required for GPS Tracking. A ruling by U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd contends that law enforcement need not pull a warrant to attach a GPS receiver to a suspect's car. The argument is that it's effectively the same as officers tailing a suspect in cars or via a helicopter. The case in question involves a federal trial to be held in Utica in which seven alleged Hells Angels members and associates face drug-trafficking charges. One challenge? Another county in New York made the opposite decision last spring. Many suggest a federal law on the matter will come in time.

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Source: Material used herein is often supplied by external sources and used as is.