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Mail 650 November 21 - 28, 2010
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November 22, 2010
Terrorism as an insurable risk.
The recent announcement by the terrorists that they plan to use mail bombs and similar tasks to administer a "death of a thousand cuts" to the global economy should cause us to think anew.
I spent over 20 years in the security industry as officer, executive, consultant and columnist and the problem was always that we were were the Rodney Dangerfield profession; we got no respect and, unlike the military and the police, had no corporate culture to sustain us. Since 9/11 that has changed and we have gone too fat the other way. The recent dust-up with the new TSA security procedures is proof of that. These measures are a result of the fear that someone will be found wanting if there is another 9/11. But terrorism is a hazard that has been part of life and warfare since the Civil War (if not earlier.) And it is an insurable risk. We can adjust our behavior and our financial planning to compensate for this threat.
Right now the terrorists are winning because we live in fear . If we accept, going in, that there is no perfect security and the cost of prevention has to reflect actual risk, then we can plan. Security is not theatre if it is done right.
Perfect aviation security is easy: you don't fly the planes. Beyond that, risk enters in. So we can dial back the TSA procedures, but people will have to accept the inevitable "I told you so" that officials will offer the next time we have a plane fall out of the sky or crash into a building. Reasonable security measures will prevent 99.9% of the attempts. We won't prevent everything. The best countermeasure right now seems to be the drones that demolish the terrorists' training camps. This is a cost-effective way to fight the threat.
Bottom line, it's time for people to "man-up" and accept that there is a risk to flying. Fear is not a good response. Fear serves the enemy.
Agreed. There needs to be a rational discussion of all this. What we have is not working, and costs $7 billion a year.
Obama is moving further left and more towards oppressive central government, just as many feared. The moderate Dems were expendable for Obama's socialist agenda, and what remains of his party is further left. One friend says:
"I have studied Soviet techniques for psychological conditioning. This is right out of the book. Those people being groped are being conditioned for something far worse. Now they are going to force you to be groped or be fined and imprisoned. This is right out of Soviet Russia and how they determined who would go to the gulag. What happened to the choice of simply getting out of line? This is dangerous, very dangerous. The only way people can get away from the influence of being conditioned, is know what conditioning is to begin with."
Obama has found the enemy, and it is us. There are no plans to back off from the TSA gropes. This is a signal that power is not "by the people and for the people," but instead resides in his Imperial Presidency and Czars.
I've always thought TSA was a dumb idea: "Thousands Standing Around" -- Expensive, ineffective, and diversionary from any substantive measures to oppose Radical Islam. Foreign friends thought it ludicrous that a few hundred terrorists (and Political Correctness) were allowed to paralyze major nations and mire America in prolonged, expensive conventional wars.
This was dumb under Bush II. Under Obama, it's a totalitarian nightmare.
Well, I might not put it so strongly. Thanks for the pointers to the horror stories. They illustrate some of the consequences of bad policies.
Watching the train-wreck:
If you want it bad, you get it bad--research management <http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101117/full/468347a.html>
NASA couldn't manage a whelk stall <http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v468/n7322/full/468346b.html>
The UK needs the best researchers more than they need the UK <http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v468/n7322/full/468346a.html>
UK colleges and universities were planning to survive the cuts by increasing the number of full-fee-paying foreign students. And now the shoe drops <http://tinyurl.com/3ybd35p>
Remember when I was asking about the demand elasticity of UK higher education? Here's an analysis <http://tinyurl.com/37s3j6r>. Cum grano salis.
Why I now have students do less written coursework. <http://chronicle.com/article/The-Shadow-Scholar/125329/>
The UK Government is proposing to eliminate the education maintenance allowance that currently pays 16-18-year olds to stay in school. <http://tinyurl.com/27cq3cv>
"The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is." (Tom Vogl)
Rock Throwing Numbers Wrong in Mail: Thursday Nov 18, 2010
I hate to rain on a good parade - but I fear that Mike Smith has exaggerated our ability to move mountains.
As limestone weighs about 2 tons (2000 kg) per cubic metre, his 4 million ton weight estimate for Ayer's Rock only allows it the dimensions of a 126 m cube.
I suggest that the visible bit of Ayer's Rock is closer to 4000 million tons - which somewhat dampens his projected elevations.
Still be fun though.
November 23, 2010
I am still energy sapped by something like flu. It doesn't feel like the walking pneumonia I had twenty years ago. It just makes it hard to concentrate. Anyway, I took the day off.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
November 24, 2010
For those who might be interested. a little history on Thanksgiving.
By the President of the United States of America.
Jerry: When pencils are illegal, only criminals will have pencils!
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