August 31, 2005

A very neat system developed by the French company Poseidon just saved a kid from drowning. Powerful survelliance/recognition systems are the core technology for tracking terrorists – Poseidon should move into the security market.

A young girl has been saved from drowning in a swimming pool by new high-tech underwater safety cameras and dramatic footage of the rescue was released today.

The 10-year-old girl lost consciousness in the deep end of the Bangor Swimming Pool, North Wales, last Wednesday and dropped quickly to the floor of the pool, 12ft 6ins under the surface.

Within 10 seconds, one of four underwater safety cameras spotted the girl and alerted lifeguards via a pager message. A lifeguard dived into the water and pulled the girl to safety. She was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and made a full recovery in hospital.

The Poseidon technology can detect movement, trajectory and texture of underwater objects. It then compares images to a database of thousands of examples of swimmers in trouble.
If it finds a match, it alerts lifeguards using a pager message which also displays a diagram showing the location of the stricken swimmer.


Brit State Violence (Not)

August 31, 2005

Brit libertarians believe their state has killed lots of them and so should be prohibited from using violence. They’re wrong – on a historical basis, Brits are about 5,000 times safer from their state than the citizens of Iran, the role model of the recent murderers of Brit innocents.

I’m reacting to this:

The one thing the last century has taught us is that while terrorists may be dangerous, much more dangerous is the uncontrolled state, the state that kills some of its citizens in the name of making life safer for the others.

And this:

I take as the great lesson of the 20th century that it is the State that is not your friend, it is the State, when allowed to get out of hand, that is the greatest threat to your health, safety, continued liberty and yes, even your life.

But Anglosphere nations aren’t “uncontrolled” states, but beacons of freedom and liberty. Treating them with the same suspicion as one might, say, Iran, is nonsensical. The “great lesson” of the 20th Century is that the sacrifices of the Anglosphere states, including the deaths of about 1.2 million Brits, secured the “health, safety & continued liberty” of much of the world.

And Brits are very safe from their own state, as shown by an exhaustive analysis of state violence published by R.J. Rummel at the University of Hawaii. He surveys the 20th Century to 1987 and calculates the % of their own citizens different states have deliberately killed each year.

State Average % of citizens killed per year
UK (1900-1987) 0.000003
US (1900 -1987) 0.000016
France (1900-1987 0.000315
Iran – Islamic rep (1979-1987) 0.015
Iraq – Baath (1963-1987 0.067
Germany – Nazi (1933-1945 0.087
China – Red (1949-1987) 0.12
USSR (1917-1987) 0.422

These numbers exclude executions after due process and accidents. I had to delve into the spreadsheets to get the French numbers.

So on a historical basis, Brits are 100 times safer from their state than French citizens are from theirs, 5,000 times safer than Iranians are from the Mullahs, and 40,000 times safer than Chinese citizens are from their rulers.

Game over.

Glow-ball Vorming

August 31, 2005

Most of the German MSM is gleefully hailing Global Warming caused by US energy profligacy as the cause of Katrina. Strangely, spite of this the $ is holding up fine.

This is a common European fantasy, satirized by the late, very lamented, Diplomad. Here are some quotes from Spiegel Online, always a rich source of humor.

Scientists are quite calmly saying that we will see this kind of thing more often. After all, this is what they have been forecasting for years — climate change, human-caused and irreversible.

“People will argue about the causes of climate change for a long time to come,” the paper writes. “But its effects are already reality. They are called Katrina…

US hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that shows a rising tendency for hurricanes that exactly reflects the curve of greenhouse gases. German scientists from the Max-Planck Institute hail the study as the first proof of a real link. “If this man-made warming continues, we will have to expect stronger storms in future” Emmanuel tells the paper.

I’m guessing the guys at Max-Planck skipped the statistics lecture that taught that correlation does not imply, let alone provide “first proof of”, causation. For example, the fact that all states voting for Kerry in 2004 are next to large & cold bodies of water does not prove that cold water causes delusions.

All is not lost, one German paper talks sense:

“hurricanes are a natural phenomenon. They occurred long before humans could be affected by them. Whether the frequency and intensity of these storms has truly increased in recent years has not yet been proven with statistics.”

Whether humans have aversely affected the Earth’s climate or not, the paper says, one thing is clear “we have modern technology to thank that Katrina was not able to do more damage.” Indeed, thanks to early warning systems, the people of New Orleans were evacuated before the storm hit. “One hundred years ago, a tropical storm as strong as Katarina would likely have caused many deaths, because it would have hit people unawares.”

Indeed! Opinion Journal quotes (gasp) the NYT:

Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.

But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught “is very much natural,” said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.

From 1970 to 1994, the Atlantic was relatively quiet, with no more than three major hurricanes in any year and none at all in three of those years. Cooler water in the North Atlantic strengthened wind shear, which tends to tear storms apart before they turn into hurricanes.

In 1995, hurricane patterns reverted to the active mode of the 1950’s and 60’s. From 1995 to 2003, 32 major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater, stormed across the Atlantic. It was chance, Dr. Gray said, that only three of them struck the United States at full strength.

How To Help

August 31, 2005

You can best help the people of the trashed Gulf Coast by sending money to the US Red Cross.

It’s a completely different outfit from the America-hating International Red Cross.

…there is no connection between the International Committee of the Red Cross (a Europe-based organization with an anti-American, anti-Israel agenda) and the American Red Cross, who support the United States whole-heartedly, and have even withheld dues from the ICRC, out of disgust at their agenda. Don’t target the wrong group, just because they have a similar name.

The link is here – you can donate by credit card.

Tim’s Vacation

August 30, 2005

The higher echelon of the Brit blogosphere has insulted London’s cops, lined up with the Marxists, and now decided the 52 dead from 7/7 don’t count. He needs a break, so how about a weekend in London? Here’s a guide and itinerary…

Meet London Cops

The police are now encouraged, nay ordered, to execute people on suspicion. Walk out of your house while Plod’s relieving himself, show no other suspicious characteristics at all, no bulky coat, no rucksack, no running, sit down on the Tube and die.

For American readers, here’s the definition:

Plod (O/C) British, usually offensive, from Enid Blyton’s Noddy books. Can connote Ineptitude.

Maybe Worstall thinks “Plod” is a term of respect – if so he can check it out on arriving in London by asking a cop: “Heh Plod, stop relieving yourself and tell me the time!”. A video recording of the encounter would be good.

Practice His Incisive Management

Something went wrong with the system. Someone, somewhere, must be held accountable for that. It doesn’t matter that “we are at war”, whenever and wherever there is such an error there has to be someone to carry the can, for if there is not then there is no sense of responsibility in the system. And as the man at the top that’s Sir Ian.

Buh Bye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Now that’s decisive – working brilliantly on so little information – and so guaranteed to fix the problem!

While he’s in London he can practice this management style in restaurants when he gets bad service (I’m guessing he will). Just summon the Manager and give him the “Buh Bye” line. Easy – the guy’s bound to do what he’s told. Again, video would be good.

Comfort The Bereaved

I still think that the killing by the State of an innocent is worse in many ways than the killing of 52 by religious nutters.

Here’s a light Fisking.

Strip off the redundant “still” and the weasel-phrase “in many ways”; insert “accidental” (unless he wants to argue murder); clarify the State as British (the most-free, least-corrupt, big economy in the world); insert “innocent” to characterize the 52 dead on the equal terms; replace “killing” with “murder”; modify “religious nutters” to identify their objective. The result reads:

I think that the accidental killing by the British State of an innocent is worse than the murder of 52 innocents by enemies of the British State.

Of course, the 52 innocents might outvote Worstall’s one.

Still, I could be wrong and to check this out, Tim should travel around London (on the Underground) and visit the relations of each of the 52 dead, explaining to them that the death of their wife/husband/mother/father/daughter/son/brother/sister is sooo much less important than one guy’s. Because their relations were murdered by terrorists, not accidentally shot by cops. Once again, lots af video please!

I’m happy to help with recommendations of Notting Hill hotels where he’d feel at home…

Ad Hominem

August 30, 2005

Giles takes me to task for being disrespectful to the higher echelons of the Brit blogosphere. He argues that my detecting Brit class-prejudice in the twaddle published by these illustrious folks is an Ad Hominem smear.

Gandalf replies to my earlier post, but not as impressively as before; ongoing disagreement from myself and from (in the higher echelons of the blogosphere) Tim Worstall seem to have tempted him into the public debater’s habit of playing the man, not the ball. Those on the left who disagree with his conclusions? Marxists. Libertarians? Young and naive. The remainder? Typically british class-ridden moaning minnies. And all of these people despise policemen. They don’t disagree with the current police policy, or believe it’s been misapplied in this case – they loathe and despise the person who happened to carry it out.

“Play the player, not the ball” is a Brit name for the Ad Hominem argument that is so loved by lefties (“Bushitler” etc.), which is defined so:

1. A makes claim B;
2. there is something objectionable about A,
3. therefore claim B is false.

My argument was rather different:

1. (Following 7/7, the higher echelon of the Brit blogosphere) claims, along with Brit Marxists, that (Brit “Plods” are ruthless killers and that the Brit state is a bigger threat than terrorists).
2. These claims are demonstrably false and differ markedly from US reaction to 9/11.
3. And here’s why I think 1 is occurring.

My step 3 is a deductive argument, based on data.

Of course, falsely accusing someone of Ad Hominem is, er, Ad Hominem. And seeing hierarchies in the democratic blogosphere might just hint at unconscious class prejudice…

America Pulls Through

August 30, 2005

The Gulf Coast has taken a terrible beating (WSJ, subscription), but New Orleans was not swamped, our friends are OK, and European pessimists are disappointed.

Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, leaving more than a million people without power, lowlands swamped and at least 55 dead. New Orleans was spared utter devastation, but Mississippi beach communities to the east felt the full fury. Winds early Tuesday were still a dangerous 60 mph. The storm shut down a big chunk of oil and natural-gas production, rattling energy markets.

In spite of which the $ has strengthened about 1% against the Euro and £ since yesterday.

As expected:

Private citizens were already conducting rescue efforts. In New Orleans, Mark Morice, 35, steered his boat through four feet of water, downed power lines and broken tree limbs. “We are going out, there are people out there on top of homes,” he said.

Volunteering in a crisis is an Anglo characteristic. When Mrs G and I crossed London’s Edgware Road (eerily deserted of traffic) 2 hours after the 7/7 bombings, the workers in the local Marks and Spencer clothing store had set up a field hospital on their own volition and cops were taking the walking wounded there from the site of one of the bombings.