The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Archive for the ‘Strange happenings’ Category

Loose Change: a promising form of civil disobedience

Posted by rantingkraut on December 3, 2008

The telegraph reports that a 63 year old woman from Kent was issued with a parking fine because her pay and display ticket did not stick to the windscreen. That apparently was due to the quality of the pay and display ticket rather than her willingness to pay. Being understandably annoyed over the fine and the council’s failure to see reason, our bureaucracy victim then decided to pay the fine (£80) using pennies only.

Nice idea. Things will really get interesting if Richard Branson decides to pay his taxes that way…

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Posted in In The News, Strange happenings | Comments Off on Loose Change: a promising form of civil disobedience

The Abu Ghraib Torture Scandal – an anti-feminist conspiracy?

Posted by rantingkraut on May 30, 2008

In this clip –apparently an outtake from “Standard Operating Procedure”– former Abu Ghraib prison commander Janis Karpinski alleges that the Abu Ghraib torture scandal was needed by the Pentagon which was desperate to tarnish women’s image in the Iraq war. She alleges that the positive image of Jessica Lynch had to be counteracted by that of Lynndie England and herself.

She doesn’t state, however, whether Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Middle East, Strange happenings | Tagged: , | Comments Off on The Abu Ghraib Torture Scandal – an anti-feminist conspiracy?

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?

How many journalists does it take to change a light bulb?

Posted by rantingkraut on March 29, 2007

The answer of course is: one. The problem is that journalists at the BBC are banned on elf&safety grounds from using their transferable skills in this context. They have to call in the experts to perform this dangerous task –and then it officially takes 5 BBC employees to change a lightbulb.

(source, HT: pcwatch)

Posted in In The News, Strange happenings | Comments Off on How many journalists does it take to change a light bulb?

Just say Yes!

Posted by rantingkraut on March 6, 2007

Who would have remembered that the Reagans were as enlightened as that.

Posted in Meaning of Life, Strange happenings | Comments Off on Just say Yes!

Is it OK if some governments do it?

Posted by rantingkraut on December 17, 2006

Rulers like Bolivia’s Morales and Venezuela’s Chavez are receiving their fair share of criticism for their cavalier attitude towards property rights. Yet at least one US state government is doing pretty much the same thing and few people notice.

Lauren Canario, one very active protester against the ongoing eminent domain abuse has been detained for more than 80 days for trespassing, and is likely to spend Christmas in prison. The international libertarian has more on this here.

Posted in Property Rights, Strange happenings | Comments Off on Is it OK if some governments do it?

The Megalomaniac Masterchef is at it again.

Posted by rantingkraut on September 7, 2006

The success of his televised complaint about school lunches seems to be going to Jamie Oliver’s head. Having told schools what to cook he now wants to tell parents how to feed their children:

He said 70 per cent of packed lunches in the country were “disgraceful” and he would like to see them banned.
(Source)

70%? Where did he get that figure from? Did he gather a large sample of packed lunches which he then categorized into graceful and disgraceful observations? What criterion did he use to quantify the gracefulness of a lunch?

The likely answer is of course that he did nothing of the kind. There is an obvious temptation to throw invented data around when all you have to go by is a wild guess. Prefixing outrageous demands with a phoney percentage may fool some into believing that your demands are backed up by solid knowledge of the facts rather than gut feeling and personal preference.

Jamie also took the opportunity to demonstrate his linguistic acumen:

In the film Oliver said: “I’ve spent two years being PC about parents, now is the time to say ‘if you’re giving your young children fizzy drinks you’re an a*******, you’re a t*****. If you give them bags of crisps you’re an idiot. If you aren’t cooking them a hot meal, sort it out’.
… he was particularly critical of parents who give their children Red Bull – an energy drink – when they are tired, saying it was not much better than giving them a line of cocaine.

Jamie, there is nothing un-PC about ‘food fascism’, on the contrary! It is almost tempting to reply in kind but it would unfair to the rectum to call Jamie Oliver an arsehole. The arsehole maybe lacking in prestige, but at least is very useful. Jamie Olivier has plenty of prestige –he also seems to know cocaine well enough to compare it with other stimulants—I just very much doubt that he is of any great use.

(Last edited 26 January 2008)

Posted in In The News, Strange happenings | Comments Off on The Megalomaniac Masterchef is at it again.

Rubbish!

Posted by rantingkraut on August 27, 2006

The BBC today reports on plans for usage related waste disposal charges. Not that there is anything wrong in principle with usage related charges as opposed to flat-fees. There a number of problems in this case though. First, it appears that any change in local services charges will be seen as an opportunity for a tax increase.

IPPR director Nick Pearce said that for the new system to be fair, rubbish collection would have to be removed from the council tax.
(Source)

Nice idea Nick, but I believe that when I see it. Second, new labour seems to see any green issue as another opportunity to impose yet more ridiculous and intrusive measures:

Electronic spy ‘bugs’ have been secretly planted in hundreds of thousands of household wheelie bins.

The gadgets – mostly installed by companies based in Germany – transmit information about the contents of the bins to a central database which then keeps records on the waste disposal habits of each individual address.

Already some 500,000 bins in council districts across England have been fitted with the bugs – with nearly all areas expected to follow suit within the next couple of years.
(Source)

The mail article quoted above is headlined “Germans plant bugs in our wheelie bins”. This is silly at first sight: Germans are barking mad about recycling and the bugs are manufactured in Germany, but the decision to use them has been taken by elected UK authorities –or has it? The BBC reports:

The “pay as you throw” system is also backed by the Local Government Association (LGA) which has warned that council tax bills will have to rise if councils have to pay big EU fines because of poor recycling rates.

The LGA said councils faced fines of up to £150 per tonne of rubbish if they failed to meet targets under the EU landfill directive.
(Source)

And this is the problem. We are essentially looking at a domestic policy problem with no repercussions on the rest of Europe and yet elected regional authorities are forced to take this measure because of an EU directive. Why?

Add to this the ongoing controversies about just how useful recycling really is and you may not mind spending the next 30 minutes watching this.

Posted in Regulation, Strange happenings | 1 Comment »

Under Suspicion

Posted by rantingkraut on August 20, 2006

Flight security was high on the news agenda this week –with some unusual stories. First with reports of passengers insisting on the removal of two fellow passengers who were thought to behave suspiciously. And then, there was this 12 year old who almost managed to dodge his fare.

Of course, I don’t know how well founded the suspicions against those two unfortunate travellers were. I can see why they would be annoyed in the extreme (as I would be). But unjustified as the suspicions may have been, they have given us the wonderful opportunity to juxtapose these two passages from the BBC news page:

Mr Mahmood (…) called for air passengers to understand that once people were allowed through security “they should be OK”.

David Reynolds, from the British Airline Pilots Association, said there were “very tight procedures” in place to ensure only the “right sort of people” boarded flights.
(Source)

and, as quoted earlier:

An airline boss has admitted to “multiple failures” after a boy managed to board one of its planes without tickets during the security alert.

The 12-year-old, believed to be from Penrith in Cumbria, was found on Monday’s 0600 BST Monarch flight from Gatwick Airport before it took off.
(Source)

Priceless! And, didn’t Richard Reed, the shoe bomber, make it through airport security?

Posted in In The News, Strange happenings | Comments Off on Under Suspicion

Going on a Holiday by Mistake

Posted by rantingkraut on August 16, 2006

In Aviation, the law of diminishing marginal returns seems to manifest itself as the law of diminishing marginal security. Whatever the guys at lewrockwell.com might think, banning firearms from carry on luggage possibly improved aviation security and scanning luggage for guns and machetes will have made a further contribution. I am prepared to believe that excluding knifes led to some modest safety gains, but I do have my doubts about the importance of outlawing such dangerous items as toothpicks and nail-clips.
There comes a point when ever more laborious check-in rituals consume disproportionate amounts of time and other resources, while failing to improve overall control of the boarding process. And just in case anyone missed the point, we recently had an enterprising brat to remind us:

An airline boss has admitted to “multiple failures” after a boy managed to board one of its planes without tickets during the security alert. The 12-year-old, believed to be from Penrith in Cumbria, was found on Monday’s 0600 BST Monarch flight from Gatwick Airport before it took off.
(Source)

Posted in Regulation, Strange happenings | 1 Comment »