The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Archive for April, 2007

Mayday 1987 Remembered

Posted by rantingkraut on April 30, 2007

20 years ago traditional May Day celebrations in Berlin degenerated into one of the city’s worst riots after World War II. This event started a tradition of ritualised May Day riots lasting to the present day. As part of the original ‘celebrations‘ 20 years ago, one major supermarket was looted and burned to the ground. The German left wing daily ‘taz’ now reports that the fire in that supermarket was unfairly blamed on militant left-wingers, the real culprit was a pyromaniac with no political background.

Just how blameless the left-wing militants (the autonomen) really were is something anyone can judge from the taz’ interview with said pyromaniac:

The ‘black block’ started rioting. The police retreated, They were throwing stones, torching cars and a supermarket was being looted. At some point they started to throw Molotov Cocktails into the supermarket. I just thought: that’s not going to work. There will be hardly any damage. Let me show them how to do it properly …” (Source)

Then, towards the end of the interview:

taz: Can you say something about the 1 May 1987 as this has been celebrated as a popular uprising by parts of the left?

loony: From what I have seen, people just wanted to loot shops and chase cops. They even attacked small shops. In the end, the looters started stealing from one another.

Whatever myths are being busted now, this tradition is unlikely to die soon. If you are in Berlin this Tuesday be careful where you park your car…

Posted in Crazy Krauts, In The News | Comments Off on Mayday 1987 Remembered

There is no such thing as positive discrimination

Posted by rantingkraut on April 19, 2007

The BBC reports that senior police officers are to consider calling for racist quotas to assure ethnic diversity targets in the police force. These quotas are –as is customary–proposed under the euphemism of “positive discrimination”.

What is ‘positive discrimination’? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in In The News, UK politics | 2 Comments »

Science Repeating Itself?

Posted by rantingkraut on April 12, 2007

A School in Texas reportedly decided to teach students ‘the problems of intolerance’ by dividing them up into Jews and Germans and then telling them to role-play. To the great surprise of the teachers, the whole thing got out of hand:

“Some students said the exercise got out of hand when the German students spat on or hit the Jewish students.

“They would spit on them. They would push them down the stairs. They would be really rude,” student Tiffany Zimmerman said. “I think it was too rough and over the edge.”

It is hard to see the need “

(Source)

Now there is a surprise! The first question one should ask is what the merit of such an exercise could possibly be. If someone tells me that Nazi Germany deported Jews to death camps, do I really need to engage in role-playing to find out that all was not well in Hitler’s Germany?

At least as relevant is the question what those teachers were expecting. One assumes that they were trained for their jobs, so haven’t they heard about Prof. Zimbardo’s experiment? The only thing that really surprises me is that it apparently took them five years to replicate Zimbardo’s result.

Posted in In The News, Strange happenings | Comments Off on Science Repeating Itself?

O’Reilly’s Code

Posted by rantingkraut on April 10, 2007

A Little Fable

“Alas,” said the mouse, “the whole world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into.”

“You only need to change your direction,” said the cat, and ate it up.

(Franz Kafka)

Tim O’Reilly has drafted a code of conduct he would like bloggers to adopt and has also designed a very ugly batch he would like them to display. Most of what needs to be said about this has been said (see here and here). I will add just one point:

O’Reilly links his code with a badge labelled ‘civility enforced’. My concern is that once one such code is widely accepted, others will follow. Those others may not be voluntary any longer –at least not in all countries. Add the fact that some people have very odd ideas of what constitutes civility, then imagine where this may lead…

Posted in Civil Liberties, Freedom of Speech, quotes | 1 Comment »

The second IPCC report on climate change… ???

Posted by rantingkraut on April 6, 2007

The BBC reports on ‘political wrangling’ prior to what it calls the release of the second IPCC report on climate change. Three things are worth noting here:

1. There are political negotiations about what should be emphasized how strongly in the ‘report’. This is no bad thing as such—all forecasts come with some uncertainty, so subjective expectations and preferences would normally have some impact on the interpretation of forecasts. However, reports of this kind are often presented as completely objective scientific research so one should remember—and quote this BBC news item as evidence—that this is a multilateral policy document, and nothing like a peer reviewed journal article.

2. The EU seems to be more alarmist than most, with developing countries and the US pressing for a calmer message: “Correspondents say the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India were unhappy with the strength of the language in the draft summary, due to be released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” (source)

3. The BBC again gives the impression that the document released is a major UN report—the second one this year. It doesn’t seem to be! From what I can see on the IPCC website, the first ‘report’ released earlier this year was a summary of a chapter of a report which is yet to be published. I would expect the upcoming publication (the ‘WG2 release’ as the IPCC calls it) to be the summary for the next chapter. There is nothing wrong in principle with publishing this kind of press release, but one should remember this: the IPCC is gradually releasing summaries on work in progress, not one major report after another.

[UPDATE]: There are some worthwhile critical comments on this posting here. (There is a link in the comment section but it is not too obvious what is being linked to.)

As a result of the above, I have corrected the first sentence under 2. This sentence originally began ‘2. According to the BBC, the EU seems to be…’ thus attributing my own interpretation on the BBC.

As for 3. I originally referred to the chapters as drafts. That was the impression I got from the first summary released in February, where it was clearly indicated-at the time of publication-that figures are still subject to checking and editorial adjustments. The link to the first summary now leads to a different copy, where it states that text, table and figures are final and subject to copy editing only.

Posted in Global Warming, In The News | 1 Comment »

Will CCTV facilities ever be abused?

Posted by rantingkraut on April 5, 2007

You bet they will. Anyone who thinks that public CCTV cameras can be relied upon to be operated in the public interest by upright professionals should watch this:

And anyone who has 5 minutes to spare and wants a laugh should too.

Posted in Civil Liberties | Comments Off on Will CCTV facilities ever be abused?

Another day, another pathetic government initiative…

Posted by rantingkraut on April 5, 2007

It seems that the government really is hell bent on emulating 1984 in all respects. Having plastered the country with a record number of CCTV cameras, the latest INGSOC project aims at equipping more of them with loudspeakers to bark orders at citizens in the street. If that isn’t cringeworthy enough, they are also recruiting kids to whine into the microphone for them.

It is almost unbelievable how closely fact follows fiction here: in the novel not only were public spaces plastered with cameras, but the surveillance equipment did actually talk back –most memorably the one announcing to Winston Smith and his partner that ‘they are the dead’. In the novel too, they recruited children to spy on adults.

When one moves on from the technical detail to focus on the overall tendency to replace civil society by a system of government planning and micro-management the parallels become even more worrying. CCTV apologists tend to argue Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Civil Liberties, UK politics | Comments Off on Another day, another pathetic government initiative…