Archive for February, 2007

14
Feb
07

Obscurity.

Obscurity never had an easy childhood. When she was growing up she was beaten by her adjective father for long periods of time, horribly. When he finally left she was the only noun in a house full of verbs. The verbs weren’t much nicer to her and essentially shunned her. When they went out and did lovely things, because they are doing words, little Obscurity was forced to stay inside because of a terrible case of asthma. School was no refuge. Every day after class a group of quotation marks would gang up and pick on her.

One day when Obscurity had grown up and finally put this whole ordeal behind her she entered into a reality television show and became very famous and much in demand. Especially to describe others who had competed in reality television over the years. Now Obscurity lives with her husband Proper Name and their beautiful baby boy, Tmesis, in a wonderful Idiom by Figure of Beach.

Jokes for nerds!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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06
Feb
07

Random politico.

Ever since the events of 9/11 the western world in general and the United States in particular have been obsessing over the dangers of terrorism. There are certainly many real threats, but the tools available for fighting terrorism are often very intrusive. At which point does personal freedom and privacy end for the benefit of the general public’s wellbeing and the protection of society? How much should we be willing to give up for safety and peace of mind?

The word ‘terrorism’ of course implies that you cannot have terrorism without terror in some form or another. The terror is essentially always the threat of bodily harm or death in seemingly random acts of violence perpetrated by some aggressive and remorseless assailant. The strategy of a terrorist is to use isolated acts of violence in order to instill fear and confusion into the population. That means a very small group of people can cripple an entire society with relative ease.

They are able to do so since normal people have an inability to understand risk. Allow me to demonstrate by using an example. After the large-scale terror attacks against America in 2001 airline travel essentially stopped completely for days, even weeks. After the first couple of days it was not because of any government control, people were just too afraid to fly. The industry’s stock plummeted and thousands of people lost their jobs, furthering the damage upon the fabric of society. This is despite the fact that even after these horrendous acts it is safer to fly than drive your car. It is probably even safer than before considering the increased security and fewer number of terrorists.

This fear and inability to understand risk drive people to accept their leader’s infringing on their personal freedom and rights. Sometimes it even seems as if they demand that their rights be reduced in order to at least give them the semblance of safety. We are simply fooling ourselves. Society and the world we live in contains far too many dangerous situations to ever be completely secure. Even an airplane can never be secure beyond a shadow of a doubt, far too many people have access. This is necessary to ensure the operational safety of the mechanics of this incredibly complicated piece of machinery.

A much more effective method than law enforcement going to extremes in their surveillance of the populace is to educate the population to think rationally about the perceived dangers from terrorism. What are the odds of being killed or even injured in a terror attack? What are the odds of an attack taking place in your neighborhood, or even your country?

Curtailing the rights of huge swaths of the population is not only wrong from a moral standpoint but it is also as I have argued ineffective. The only way to disarm the terrorists is to take away their main weapon, terror itself. It is our government’s responsibility to guarantee our safety to a certain extent; I have no objection to this, obviously. However it is also their responsibility to guarantee that fear among the population does not grow completely out of proportion to the reality in which we all live.

We do not need generalized statements from our leaders and reduction of our rights. What we do need is competent leadership and reassurances based on facts.

01
Feb
07

Worst ever.

Super Stalin Sunshine

Worst Super Mario Bros. fan art ever!