Saturday, December 02, 2006

why I hate to fly

When I told family members why I wasn't flying to Arizona for Thanksgiving, I couldn't make them understand. I told them that airport security is just too infuriating and they thought that I meant the long lines or the inconvenience. But that's not what it is. What infuriates me is something deeper; it's not the inconvenience itself but the fact that I and millions of other Americans are made to suffer these inconveniences and humiliations for stupid political reasons.

Every passenger on every flight has to suffer because the Bush administration is not willing to take the heat from the politically correct and perpetually outraged for doing security the right way. I have to suffer indignity because my fellow citizens prefer to offend me than take the risk of offending Muslims. They prefer to offend because they know that I won't kill them for it, but the Muslims might. I am a victim of my neighbor's cowardice, and that is what infuriates me so much.

I'm glad to see that I'm not alone. La Shawn Barber understands.

Friday, December 01, 2006

best villains

Good grief. How could Hawkins have failed to list Zorg from the Fifth Element? Or Professor Chaos from South Park?


Donald Crankshaw is hosting Storyblogging Carnival LIX. Be sure to get your admissions in by Saturday night.

Also, despite the name, I'm pretty sure Donald doesn't intend for this to be a pornoblogging carnival. It probably refers to punches as in like "getting your licks in" in or candy as in "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll?" or something.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

funny muslims

Well, the big story of last week was those Muslim clerics (imams) who terrified the passengers on a plane and were taken off by the police for questioning. They are all playing the "I was just innocently minding my own business when..." game and claiming religious harassment. Some pundits have opined that this was a deliberate provocation. How could anyone think such a thing? How could clerics of the religion of peace possibly be suspected of such a nasty, unpeaceful activity? Well, maybe because of things like this activity in a mosque reported by Laura Mansfield
Khaled and his friends were pretty unhappy about it, and while in New York, they came up with a plan to "teach a lesson" to the passengers and crew. You can imagine the story Khaled told. He described how he and his friends whispered to each other on the flight, made simultaneous visits to the restroom, and generally tried to "spook" the other passengers. He laughed when he described how several women were in tears, and one man sitting near him was praying.

The others in the room thought the story was quite amusing, judging from the laughter. The imam stood up and told the group that this was a kind of peaceful civil disobedience that should be encouraged, and commended Khaled and his friends for their efforts.
I spent quite a bit of time googling around for this article but just wasn't able to find it until I hit on it indirectly through a blog post at The Dread Pundit Bluto, a blog notable for having a name almost as cool as Doc Rampage.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mist Magic part 20

The story begins here. The previous week begins here.
In fact, Androgiar was not telling the entire truth; he was Presaron's nephew, the son of Presaron's sister, but as the Aghianar counted descent though the mother rather than the father, the Greeks would only understand the nature of their relationship if he said he was Presaron's son.

Before they met the Greeks, the Aghianar did not even realize that there is a direct connection between sex and childbirth, and some of the more traditional Aghianar still denied it even in those days. The Greek story of Eurynome and the creation of the Earth descended from a satire told by Aghianar women about Yasasarame (called Ashtoreth Yam by the Philistines) who was caressed by the wind before she gave birth to the world. Then the wind boasted that it had created the world by caressing Yasasarame so Yasasarame kicked out its teeth and threw it to the earth.

But if the Aghianar mocked the Greeks for their patrilineal descent, so the Greeks mocked the Aghianar for their matrilineal descent. The Greek satires have survived in the form of the stories of the Amazons, the women of Lemnos, and the Danaides among others. Most of the stories about women killing their husbands are exaggerated.

drug-raid strategy

In the midst of the no-knock-raid controversy, several people have claimed that there is no other way to get the evidence in a drug search warrant because the drugs will be flushed. But I doubt that; there must be other tactics that could do the job without terrorizing people.

Now look, I'm not a policeman or a lawyer; I'm just an engineer, but changing people's behavior is not that hard when you have as much power as the government does. It's just a matter of setting up incentives and penalties, making it harder for people to make the decision that you don't want them to make. In this case, you want to make it harder for a drug dealer to decide to flush the evidence.

Well for starters, pass a law that makes it a more serious crime to destroy evidence that has been the subject of a search warrant. Or failing that, at least the prosecutor could announce a policy of not plea bargaining on the destruction-of-evidence charges. But don't just increase the penalty; also increase the risk of paying the penalty. Police investigators should start using a plumber after a raid where they think evidence has been flushed to recover the evidence and to help prove that evidence was destroyed.

Make sure that drug dealers know about the new penalties and about the new tacitcs, so they have a more complicated decision about whether to flush the drugs: "maybe I'll get off, or maybe things will get a lot worse." You wouldn't have to use a plumber every time, just often enough to make the dealers afraid of the possibility.

In addition, the police should start doing warrantless search attempts. When the police are suspicious that there are drugs in a house but they don't have enough evidence for a warrant (or they do have enough evidence but don't want to bother), they go to the house just like they were serving a knock-and-announce warrant, clearly announce themselves as police so everyone in the house knows it, and then ask for permission to search the premises. Some criminals are dumb enough to allow the search and some of the others were smart enough to flush the drugs as soon as the police knocked on the door. So even if you don't send the dealer to jail, you may get the drugs off the street and cost the dealer money.

The warrantless search attempts should be very convincing so that the residents don't know whether it is real or not until the very last second. If the police want to burst in after everyone in the house knows that they are police, that is a lot less objectionable.

There should be about three or four warrantless raids for every real raid because this makes the question of whether to flush the drugs even more complicated for the dealer: the police knock on his door and he's thinking, "The last three times the police knocked on my door I flushed the drugs and they didn't even have a warrant. Now I'm in serious debt to my supplier and can't get away with flushing any more drugs because my supplier will do something a lot worse than sending me to jail. And if it is a warrant and I flush the evidence, it could cost me a lot of extra jail time."

If there are two drug dealers in the house then one of them can stand over the toilet while the other answers the door, but that doesn't work out because the police won't show the warrant until they have clearly announced themselves and been recognized. Then they might just barge in and catch the dealer in the bathroom destroying evidence and they would have a conspiracy to destroy evidence as well.