All entries for February 2006

February 21, 2006

Nude Rambling

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4735024.stm

This is all very well and good, but why do it during one of the colder times of the year? Surely you could challenge public attitudes to nudity during the summer when its nice and warm?

February 16, 2006

Boris (Again)

Writing about web page http://www.boris-johnson.com/archives/2006/02/_the_elf_and_safety_racket_has.php

Ok, so its an excuse for another rant about the Government – but, thats right, Boris Johnson mentions Takeshi's Castle – an event I would have never thought could happen, just happened.

February 13, 2006

The cost of Iraq

Writing about web page http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0117-20.htm

Following up yesterdays stats about terrorism, Stiglitz has convieniently written a report calculating the cost of the war in iraq to the US. He estimates its total cost at between one and two trillian dollars, compared with the Bush administrations original claim of $60 million. The links article cites a whole load of areas that the government didn't even consider as costs to the economy. Bear in mind this guy is a former nobel laureate for economics, I'm believing his figures ahead of Bush's. I wonder if anyone has done a comparable investigation for the UK? Just another time when I'm glad I don't pay much tax.

February 12, 2006

Terrorism Statistics

This post comes out of a mistaken calculation about the relation of the number of people killed on July 7th and the number of people killed by Vending Machines falling over, with me taking the internal rather than uk figure for the vending machines. After this mistake, I thought I would do some quick stats on death related figures and see what July 7th is ball park comparable to.

Readers be warned: these are only statistics but people did actually die in their creation. It should be also be noted that the 7th July 2005 attack was the deadliest since Lockerbie with 56 people killed. The Government's continued attacks on civil liberties are such, however, that we need to take some perspective. We ought to think about how problematic the actual war on terror really is. It should also be noted that what follows is a poorly sourced sunday morning scrapbook exercise, not a piece of indepth quantitative analysis.

If we assume that the start date of the threat to Britain happened with the invasion of Iraq (Mar 20th 2003), and recognise that the London Bombings have been the only attack during the intervening period, we have a 33 month threat period. Therefore our annualised death rate is: 20.4 people.

Unfortunately I could only find the 2004 figures, not the 2005 ones, but like I say this is a scrapbook exercise, I am not going to the effort of generating figures averaged over several years, one year is a long enough time period. The National Office of Statistics is quite useful sometimes. You can look at the exact figures yourself, but 20 puts is in the ballpark region for the following diaseases (They all have 40–10 deaths a year)

Kaposiís sarcoma
Diseases of the eye and adnexa
Diseases of the ear and mastoid process
Influenza

None of these are important enough to get the government seriously agitated. And that compares with total deaths of about 250,000 that were registered for health related reasons. This is obviously not the whole picture, but I thought was interesting none the less.


February 08, 2006

Cartoon Crisis

Well its been nearly a week and one coursework deadline since I last blogged, and I 'm rather tired and irritable. This hardly puts me in a mood to figure out the current international crisis. It seems like we have one every week – I wonder if someone collects stats on these things. I know somewhere people keep tabs on the number of times the word 'recession' is mentioned in major newspapers, and apparently its quite a good indicator of negative economic conditions.

So, lets run through whats happened:

1. cartoon published, a few people notice and kick up a fuss.
2. a few months this grows into a major row as more people hear about the problem.
3. publication criticised by many, replicated by others.
4. embassies burn

Well, I'm sure its a little more complicated than that but that'll do for the minute.

1. I can understand – who reads the Danish press in the middle east?
2. Word of mouth, understood.
3. Criticism – justified, it was insulting. Replication – given the current fear about freedom of speech in light of the terrorism legislation getting knocked around in the uk I am surprised no one here copied the image. I am not aware of how much this is an issue on the continent.
4. Its quite hard to see how we got here from 1–3 on the surface of things. It looks really bad: cartoon about terrorism leads to riots and violence. But that analysis kinda misses the point. This Guy puts it best as far as I can tell. "But imagine if we had stayed quiet, the day after tomorrow they would do something much worse than this against our beliefs." Its an engineered situation of binary opposition. Look at all those snippets in all 7 of them its the 'us vs them' attitude.
Its gone so far that Denmark, a small country famous for using goalkeepers to advertise bacon (sic), is being targetted. America would be expected, but Denmark?
Set in this light the burnings suddenly are comprehensible, if not expected. This isn't so much a reaction against the cartoon, but another event in the current chaos. I'm sorry if readers were looking for something more insightful. I cannot offer it, why and how this happened is bloody obvious, to be completely frank.

I only state it because some people seem to think its about a cartoon. Just look at some of the other blogs on this website.


February 02, 2006

A Change of heart

"I don't think its America's role to walk into a country and say: 'we do it this way, so should you'." – George Bush, september 2000.

February 01, 2006

Beards & Terrorism

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4666132.stm

Great article. Does having a beard make you more suspect? Of course it does. I am not sure where this prejudice comes from, but beards definitely make you look more suspect.

Is it a good idea to maintain this prejudice, ie is it a heuristic which offers any valuable insight? No. I must at this point make it clear to any casual readers that I have a beard. I suggst that its not a good heuristic because there is patently no causal link between beards and terrorism. And even if there were, all the people would have to do is to shave in order to blow stuff up. Is this not obvious to everyone? Clearly not to the met.

I hereby propose a solution: everyone grow a beard. Initially this may not seem like a very appealing idea (especially to women), however, over the years I have observed some merits:

1. You never loose the food that you can't fit into your mouth.
2. You have the oportunity to form a ZZ-Top tribute band.
3. People like to stroke it.
4. It is clearly better than all the alternatives, except being a ninja
5. You can enter the world beard championship

I would also to like that some awesome people have beards and moustaches, including:
Standley Kubrick
Albert Einstein
Jesus (if you haven't heard of him he was a carpenter from modern day palestine)

Enjoy


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