And then totally lose my marbles.

Tuesday, July 26

World

Complaints?

No, that's next door. This is getting shot in the head lessons:
Heavily armed police swarmed a double-decker bus packed with tourists in Times Square today and later shut down Penn railway station after an irate passenger said he had a bomb.

In a dramatic sign of the city's edginess since the London bombings, police evacuated buildings, shut Midtown Manhattan streets and forced about 60 terrified tourists to march off the double-decker bus, with their hands up, in the heart of Broadway.

Officers in riot gear handcuffed a group of apparently harmless South Asian-looking men with British accents because a jittery tour bus worker thought they were suspicious.

...

A Gray Line dispatcher called police saying the men had backpacks and their pockets "stuffed" - a possible warning sign of suicide bombers, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

Well, that one we can chalk up to nerves following the attacks in London, but the second case is something special:
Later Penn Station was paralysed when a disgruntled passenger walked up to a ticket counter, put his suitcase on the counter and declared he had a bomb, authorities said.
Not too bright, as Best of the Web would say.

Meanwhile, what the hell is this?

By the time the bus neared Times Square, cops carrying heavy weapons decided to cordon off Broadway and stop the vehicle, a decision police officials defended as appropriate.
I know that you try not to repeat particular words too frequently, but I don't think that "cops" has any place in a serious news article outside of a direct quote.

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Thursday, July 21

World

On Being The Wrong Size

And just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of demo­cracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democratic state. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible, and the possibility was first realized in the United States, and later elsewhere. With the development of broadcasting it has once more become possible for every citi­zen to listen to the political views of representative orators, and the future may perhaps see the return of the national state to the Greek form of democracy. Even the referendum has been made possible only by the institution of daily newspapers.

To the biologist the problem of socialism appears largely as a problem of size. The extreme socialists desire to run every nation as a single business concern. I do not suppose that Henry Ford would find much difficulty in running Andorra or Luxembourg on a socialistic basis. He has already more men on his pay-roll than their population. It is conceivable that a syndicate of Fords, if we could find them, would make Belgium Ltd or Denmark Inc. pay their way. But while nationalization of certain industries is an obvious possibility in the largest of states, I find it no easier to picture a completely socialized British Empire or United States than an elephant turning somersaults or a hippopotamus jumping a hedge.

J. B. S. Haldane, On Being The Right Size

Haldane was a biologist, and the problem with socialism is really one of information, but nonetheless he nailed it. Socialism suffers dreadfully from scaling problems. It works fine for small, close-knit groups (families), and inevitably collapses into ruin for large heterogenous groups (the Soviet Union).

Haldane - a socialist himself - pointed this out in 1928. It took several more decades for others to realise just how right he was. Some still haven't grasped this fact.

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Friday, July 15

World

PM Material

These people are opposed to what we believe in and what we stand for, far more than what we do. If you imagine that you can buy immunity from fanatics by curling yourself in a ball, apologising for the world - to the world - for who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in, not only is that morally bankrupt, but it's also ineffective. Because fanatics despise a lot of things and the things they despise most is weakness and timidity. There has been plenty of evidence through history that fanatics attack weakness and retreating people even more savagely than they do defiant people.
John Howard to ABC Flack Maxine McKew

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Friday, July 08

World

7/7/05




uk-flag.gif as-flag.gif us-flag.gif

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Tuesday, July 05

World

229 Today!

Happy 4th!

I'd say more, but dammit Jim, I'm dead again.

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Sunday, July 03

World

The Biggest Idiot in the History of the Human Race

I was never that impressed with Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, because it seemed to me that Diamond had come up with the conclusion first, and then carefully sifted through the facts to select those that supported it. It's perfectly reasonable to create the hypothesis first, but what you then have to do is search for facts which don't support it. Karl Popper and that whole falsification thingy.

What I hadn't realised before now was that Jared Diamond is a complete loony. Andrea Harris has the goods.

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