I love the way reading on the internet leads to all sorts of previously-unimagined knowledge. This morning I saw an article about a siege in Melbourne: some man wanted for an armed burglary is holed up in a suburban house, but the fact that jumped out at me was this:
When trying to speak to the man (then only a suspect) in a restaurant:
“One of the [police] officers dropped his radio … the man bent down and picked the radio up and made good his escape through the back of the restaurant.”
– Erin Michael, Gunman fires another shot from a house in Keilor East overnight, News.com.au, 22 May 2012
I wouldn’t have understood that the loss of a police radio is bad news, except that some time ago I read an article about the US Secret Service’s protection of visiting foreign dignitaries in New York, which mentioned this:
During the 2010 [United Nations] assembly, a command center, code-named “Broadside,” was set up at the heart of the field office. Here, agents followed the movements of the many dignitaries and their security details in real time, in part by monitoring 16 distinct radio channels set aside for the summit. (This was considered a luxury: radio bandwidth is a precious commodity, and only 12 channels had been available the prior year.) Encryption keys for each channel are supplied by the National Security Agency, and the agents protect their radios as scrupulously as they protect their guns. “If only one radio is lost, we have to rekey every radio,” the agent in charge of this process told me.
Marc Ambinder, Inside the Secret Service, The Atlantic, March 2011, single page
I don’t know whether the police require such a high level of security for their own radios, but I can see that a secure means of communication might be more valuable than a gun to them, and worth a lot to a criminal organisation. The theft of the radio in this siege case might have been just opportunism – the officer dropped it, the suspect picked it up – but presumably the suspect wouldn’t have stopped to pick it up unless he’d understood its value. I expect criminals can get their hands on a gun any day they want, but a police radio? Gold.
The point is: until reading the Secret Service article, I wouldn’t have ever thought about radios at all, and wouldn’t have noticed the significance of the siege man’s theft. It’s only reading and learning which made the significance noticeable, and it was only the internet which made that reading possible in the first place.
In summary, I love the internet. Reading and the internet. Learning and reading and the internet. My own gold.