Big Brother Is Watching.

As someone who believes that citizens ought to view their government not as a hostile force but as something they, as participants in a democracy, have the opportunity and obligation to both monitor and help shape, I find this ad from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (via Andrew Sullivan) profoundly disturbing:

I don't know whether anyone will believe that the department actually has its own satellites, and might right now be looking at you to see if you're picking your nose. And maybe the ad could be an effective way to get tax cheats to come in for the state's tax amnesty. But it also reinforces the image of government as a malevolent, privacy-invading force that views you as something tiny and potentially squashable, which isn't really good for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the long run.

Speaking of large malevolent forces, it's not just the government that's looking down at you. Over at Gizmodo, Dan Yoder gives the "Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook," most of which involve the fact that the company seems to exist in large part to gather personal information about you and pass it to companies that want to sell you stuff. Is it enough to convince you to delete your account (which, by the way, Facebook makes incredibly difficult to do -- that's reason No. 3)? Maybe, maybe not. But you might want to check your privacy settings.

-- Paul Waldman

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