All entries for Monday 14 August 2006

August 14, 2006

Ahmadinejad online!

The president of Iran, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, has started his own blog. you can get it in English if you click the little American flag (well, it's not really but it's too small to see what it actually is). It will be interesting to see what he has to say on many topics (as long as he keeps it up to date).

The poll gave me a bit of a laugh though
"Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word war?"... can we expect more "so, have you stopped beating your wife"–type questions? we'll have to wait and see.

More info on this can be found at the BBC ( link ) or on the website. WARNING The site may or may not contain a virus (I have no idea since I'm on linux running firefox) but a fellow who was using windows and IE reported a problem... but here it is anyway if you want to go ahead ( link )... Upon further reading I feel this might only be aimed at people who are from Isreal, as always security no matter where you are or what you are doing is important.

It is also interesting to note that the website is based on Microsoft technology (which was created by "the great satan USA") and the website maintainer has a gmail account ( why are they so reliant on the infidell?

You can add comments as well, though I think free speech will be restricted.

Threat levels: doing the numbers

Being interested in world event, and also a student of statistics, I'm always intrigued by the language of politicians when it comes to threat or risk.

For instance, this week we reached the dizzying heights of a 'CRITICAL' terrorist threat level, which is distinguishable from 'SEVERE' simply by the imminent nature of the threat. However, when we were downgraded to 'SEVERE' this morning, the questions started to surface. Recently politicians haven't said much of the terror threat level, but in the last few days I'm constantly hearing about how a threat is 'highly likely' now we are at the SEVERE level.

What does that mean? It seems it can be misleading in two distinct ways:

  1. How likely is highly likely? It suggest a very high probability that an attack will happen, but what is that? 0.5? 0.7? 0.99? More than likely it is an extremely low probability figure if we talk of an attack in the near future, maybe less than 0.01. Certainly, the impact of such an event could be catastrophic, which may justify using such language in a relative sense.

  2. Once we retreat from the immediacy of an event (ie the CRITICAL level), we have no reference to the timespan of these threats. We are expected to assume the level is describing the 'climate' in which we live. But does this mean an attack is actually highly likely? The language used does not make sense if we consider the intended message..

Perhaps I shouldn't think so much about it. Maybe they should publish estimated probability figures with 95% confidence intervals.. That would satisfy pedants like me.

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