September 24, 2002



Skeptical Inquirer (article not online) is worth picking up this month, for a think-piece on the Sept. 11 aftermath by risk perception experts Clark Chapman and Alan Harris. It's pretty much guaranteed to offend everybody. A couple tidbits:

...when police chiefs of countless middle American communities beef up security for their anonymous buildings, and search fans entering hundreds of sport fields to watch games of little note, official reactions to terrorism have run amok. To imagine that Al Qaeda's next target might be the stadium in, say, Ames, Iowa, is far-fetched indeed.

Fair enough, most bloggers would say. But would they also agree with:

Why should terrorism command our exceptional attention? That the 9/11 terrorists maliciously attacked the symbolic and actual seats of our economic and military power should concern us if we truly think that future attacks might destroy our society. But who believes that?

How about this line, which may speak to an unacknowledged authorial bias:

Charitable funds that would have nurtured the homeless flowed, instead to wealthy families of deceased Wall Street traders.

On the other hand, I totally agree with this (I haven't heard the seemingly reasonable stun gun option brought up before):

To prevent terrorists from using airplanes as flying bombs, it would be logical to secure the flight decks of large jetliners: strengthening doors, enhancing the security of aircraft controls, perhaps equipping pilots with stun guns, perhaps tightening certification of pilots...

Who said statisticians were boring? One thing's for sure, these two were looking for an argument. The must-read magazine piece of the week.

Posted by BruceR at 05:52 PM



Canada's foreign minister shows his general cluelessness: "[An attack on Iraq] is not consistent with the world order we have been trying to build for the last 70 years through the United Nations." Seventy? Young Bill Graham evidently skipped the class that said the UN was founded in 1945.

Eighteen Canadians are trapped in Bouake in the Ivory Coast. Bill Graham interrupted his latest anti-American tirade to say this:

Bill Graham, the Foreign Affairs Minister, condemned the violence and called for "restraint and an end to further bloodshed. We encourage all parties to respect human rights and to engage in peaceful dialogue aimed at resolving the crisis."

Unfortunately, the predominantly Muslim rebels couldn't hear Graham over the gunfire. Fortunately for the Canadians, the Americans are sending troops to save them (It goes without saying that we couldn't). As soon as the Americans get his charges safely back in international airspace, you can expect Graham to start condemning them again.

Not that our government isn't busy giving its soldiers stuff to do, though. Yesterday they ordered every Canadian Forces website and email address to be amended to include the letters "gc" (Government of Canada) in them. (To make it clear to taxpayers that they fund the army, apparently, just in case they hadn't figured it out for themselves.) Hence, becomes, becomes, etc. We'll get around to thinking about how we might have helped our citizens trapped in an African civil war, or for that matter how we're going to address that 10 per cent unfunded shortfall in our operating budget, right after we change every last piece of stationery, business cards, etc. that we have... we'll have to get back to you.

Meanwhile, the campaign to demilitarize Canada's largest city continues to chug along. The Homes Not Bombs coalition has been staging their little weekly vigils for a few months but the army still has offices in Toronto for some reason. So they've now vowed to escalate, to "begin the physical process of transforming the site" of the largest National Defence establishment downtown, Moss Park. To those in the know, that means squatters and a tent city, more of a round the clock live-in protest, really. The coalition claims that for many hours of the day and weekends, large parts of the federally-owned buildings lie unused, so it's only fair that they be handed over to the local mentally deranged and substance abusers. It would be only fair to note that the same could be said for City Hall, the CBC headquarters, and just about every downtown office building as well. After their victory in this battle, we look forward to the sitters-in's next challenge, liberating the Bank of Montreal tower... (Look forward to this file heating up, as the local left uses this particular local military establishment as an easy-to-reach substitute for striking out at Americans and their foreign policy.)

Posted by BruceR at 03:02 PM