from the memories dept
Five Years Ago
This week in 2011, Occupy Wall Street was in full swing, leading (of course) to video of NYPD cops wantonly pepper-spraying nonviolent protestors. It soon became clear that people were being targeted just for recording the police, despite attempts to justify their actions with explanations that conflicted with the video evidence. Meanwhile, in Illinois, prosecutors were trying to put a guy in jail for 75 years for filming a traffic stop, and seeking 15 years for another guy for the same reason.
Amidst all this, in the realm of higher-level questionable police activities, the world was first coming to terms with the existence of Stingray devices.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2006, LimeWire hit back hard against the RIAA with a lawsuit for antitrust and consumer fraud. Meanwhile, the RIAA scored a scary win in its crusade against Morpheus (originally part of the famous Grokster case). The MPAA, most bizarrely of all, got the access to bring "pirated DVD-sniffing dogs" to inspect packages coming into the country (despite there being no way to distinguish pirated DVDs from legitimate ones by smell, and it's not clear why they should have this access to begin with).
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2001, we saw the birth of one of the earliest and stupidest 9/11 conspiracy theories: the idea that Microsoft hid foreknowledge of the attacks in... the Wingdings font. We also saw momentum continue to pick up on new laws that threatened civil liberties and would bury the FBI in more data than it could possibly make real use of. Bruce Schneier wisely pointed out that proposed surveillance efforts wouldn't have stopped the attacks. Others were tracking the cultural fallout, such as nearly-immediate changes to the nature and tone of advertising. And finally, The Onion released its brilliant and now-famous issue focused on the attacks, which stands alongside A Modest Proposal and Stephen Colbert's White House Correspondents Dinner speech as one of the finest works of satire in history.
One-Hundred And Ten Years Ago
The first ever demonstration of a radio remote-controlled apparatus was by Nikola Tesla, but the second and arguably more influential such demo happened on September 25th, 1906 when Leonardo Torres y Quevedo remotely steered a ship out of the port of Bilbao before the king of Spain and an assembled crowd using his Telekino device.