Two remarks about flight MH370

I don’t understand two things about flight MH370:
– If I buy a 150 quid smart phone, it can track me anywhere and everywhere on the planet, all the time, via GPS. And a several-hundred-million dollar commercial airliner does not have a multiple-redundant GPS device? With its own little power supply? What’s the point of all the black boxes if something simple like GPS is not included? (and did none of the passengers accidentally leave their phone on with GPS enabled?)
– The NSA and GCHQ spend billions of tax payer dollars and pounds on watching the porn we download, browsing our texts about where to go for dinner tonight, and listening to us talk about football with our friends over the phone. But they don’t, post 9/11, actually track airliners to, perhaps, see if they are headed towards a skyscraper? Do we need even more damning proof of how useless their programs are?

What’s wrong with the ‘left-wing’ newspapers recently?

Putting a DENT in Independent: in one week, Independent publishes outlandish attack on “new atheists” for their being “Islamophobic” and follows this up by giving a free, unedited, unbalanced platform to Andrew Wakefield, utterly discredited and dangerous MMR scare lunatic. Comments not allowed (anymore in either of the articles either.

The Guardian going down the same road, publishing one attack on new atheism after the other and publishing an uncritical “science” piece about a clearly bogus “remote hepatitis C detector”.

What is it about left-wing newspapers lately? Is it the humanities graduates running them? Who never learned to think critically? Who think that in every debate there are two, equally worthy, sides? There’s no need to suck up to religion, superstition and other woo. Leave it, please.

Iraqi civilian deaths v Latin American body count

I’m not going to say these are fully comparable, but it does make me wonder why we hear so much about Iraq and relatively little (to nothing) about Mexico, Colombia and the other Latin-American countries’ War On Drugs-related deaths.

Iraq: between 106.000 and 116.000 civilian deaths between 2003 and now. Roundabout 12.000 deaths a year, tailing off recently.

Mexico: around 220.000 deaths since 1990; or 50.000 deaths since 2006. Pretty much exactly 10.000 a year, constant even over last 5 years (if not rising, to over 15.000 in 2010 according to this source).

Colombia: around 450.000 (!) deaths since 1990. Astonishing. Colombia does have a larger population 46 million; Iraq’s is around 30 million. Mexico is quite a bit bigger at over 110 million (all from Wikipedia).

The questions that I have then, are: why don’t we hear much more about the carnage going on in Latin America (fortunately the local leaders are starting to push back against the US); does it not bother the US that actually more people are getting killed on their doorstep than in that far-away country; and will the US ever learn not to try and fight costly holy wars against what it perceives to be evils, and instead turn to more cost-effective – more effective full stop, really – ways of dealing with their problems? I’m not holding my breath.

Psychics are useless

Just saw a newsitem on Maddie McCann, who is missing now for nearly five years (7 May 2007). OK, she’s not been found by the police, but in the absence of hard physical evidence, that is difficult, perhaps even impossible.

However, there is no single a priori reason I can think of why any psychic should not have been able to give some useful information on her whereabouts – or fate.

Has any? Asking the question is answering it. Of course they haven’t. Given the high profile of the case, I guess there have been numerous attempts by psychics to guess at where she can be found. Even by sheer numbers and random chance, statistically something should have popped up.

It hasn’t.

The reason is trivial: psychics have no psychic powers whatsoever. It’s all bullcrap. I’d love to hear from the General Assembly of Psychics as to the reason for this colossal failure, but I don’t assume much is forthcoming.

All the more surprising then, that so many people still believe in that shit. Wake up everyone, use your brain. Psychic powers are poor entertainment at best – and cynical fraud at worst.

Meanwhile, cases such as Maddie’s will only be shoved through hard work, luck, and down-to-earth forensic science – all very much part of the real world.

Two obvious questions for the Tories

Actually, it’s only one.

If “this” is indeed not the way they raise money, and if the treasurer indeed never could promise access to the PM or influence of policy… then why did the treasurer claim exactly that?
Seems a very unlikely bout of amnesia to forget how your party’s funding works, especially if you are the treasurer.

Oh that funny government we’re having

My opinion on the UK’s current government should be well-known (I think they’re crap, and that’s putting it mildly), but today sees a seldom-seen triple condemnation of various aspects of this government.

If three different newspapers including a right-leaning one can point out a wide variety of incompetence, surely there is some truth to the criticism?

First off, we have the Independent citing the Trades Union Congress, not a small organisation, who call this government’s not just bad for women (which was already pointed out before the elections, but then to the people who vote Tory this will probably have been an edorsement) but ‘the most female-unfriendly in living memory’. The newspaper article also cites Women Like Us with similar claims.

Then we have the Guardian, in its turn citing the Office for National Statistics in claiming that austerity measures have stripped away 271.000 jobs from the public sector. As above, this was predicted based on election programs and thereby seems to have actually encouraged the Tory voters, who generally don’t work for government or public sector anyway so hey, why don’t these lazy desk hippies get a real job or go home to take care of their kids instead.

And as has been said time and again, as women are overrepresented in this workforce, they have been hit by far the hardest. The article says:

With women disproportionately represented among the public sector workforce, the Fawcett Society calculated that more than 80% of the increase in unemployment in the latest quarter came among female workers.

Nice job there, men of the Tory party.

And finally from an unsuspecting corner, the normally quite right-oriented Telegraph, a scathing smackdown of a plan floated by our beloved councellor to issue 100-year gilt bonds. Even if the details are beyond you, the why it will not work is pretty clear from this piece.

The C of E and the Catholic Church contradict each other

They really need to coordinate better and make up their mind.

In this (pretty appalling, of course, but I don’t have time to point out all the errors) piece a senior catholic figure pointed out (mistakenly) that same-sex marriage would violate the ‘rights of a child to have a mother and a father’.

At the same time, archbishops of the Church of England have spoken out against gay marriage, but for other reasons. One would think, at first sight, that these two religious behemoths would (excuse the pun) sing from the same hymn-sheet.

But wait a minute… why is the Church of England different from the Catholic Church to begin with? Precisely –

the CofE supports DIVORCE.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but if there’s one thing that is bound to violate the ‘right of a child to have a mother and a father’ it is the right to allow those same mother and father to divorce.

I’m waiting for the campaign, run by the Catholic Church, to make divorce illegal for everybody for the same reasons they oppose same-sex marriage, and publicly attack the CofE over this. I’m not holding my breath though.