« Give Up Education as a Bad Mistake | Main | Professionals Talk Logistics »

May 14, 2010

Comments

Barack Obama claims the right to assassinate Americans far from any battlefield and with no due process of any kind.

By being placed on a secret list based on secret evidence that the public is not allowed to view/hear. The assassination will also take place in secret and no investigation after the fact will be allowed. How does one get off of such a list? Heck of a job, Barry.

even 9/11 doesn't justify treating the accused as the convicted

Sadly, this is the default assumption of a great many Americans even with respect to petty crimes.

the US is a nation of cowards.

Somehow, what are really expressions of cowardice are taken to be tough talk, along the lines of the stuff Dirty Harry would say. It's very strange.

That aside, I had a discussion with my wife last night about a friend of our who was planning to let her six-year-old kid, dare I say, walk a few blocks to school next year. My wife thought this was terribly risky.

I walked to school in kindergarten, at first, before I even turned five at the end of September. That was different. Times have changed. Pedophiles are everywhere now.

Now, maybe it's not a good idea to let a six-year-old walk to school. But there was no consideration of the risks of not giving the kid the experience of walking to school by himself or, more likely, just with other kids. There was no consideration of the benefits of gaining independence and confidence, of growing and learning. No, it was just a matter of the worst-case, nightmare scenario of abduction.

This is a very real and increasingly important problem in the "cybersecurity" realm. Basically, there's a growing industry (dare I call it a complex) that would like to get a lot of government money. Plus, there are a lot of privacy/neutrality protections that might get swept away in the hunt for the nightmare scenario.

As Eric coorectly notes, it applies to lots of other things too. But cybersecurity is a good (and emerging) example

Pedophiles are everywhere now.

Are there any scientific studies documenting a significant increase in the fraction of the population with pedophilia over the last few decades? I can certainly believe that people's awareness of pedophilia has increased a lot, but perception of risk is rarely the same as actual risk....

If we hadn't taken six-year-olds' guns away and started reading pedophiles their Miranda rights, we wouldn't have to assassinate Americans.

Another good lesson gained walking to and from school is how to deal with bullies you meet along the way, but now the dang schools are defanging the bullies and ruining the fun.

Now the bullies have to wait until they're recruited by the Republican Party to get elected to Congress to steal our lunch money.

Turbulence, I thought hairshirt was being sarcastic.... ??

Are there any scientific studies documenting a significant increase in the fraction of the population with pedophilia over the last few decades?

None that I know of. I think it's 24-hour news channels looking for whatever pushes peoples' buttons, and child abductions by pedophiles certainly do that. It's the Nancy Grace Effect.

Oh look, the NYTimes has an article on extra-judicial assassination of US citizens today. First an aside:

Counterterrorism officials, with the support of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, say the drone missile strikes have proved to be an extraordinarily successful weapon against militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the location of all the known C.I.A. strikes except one in Yemen in 2002. By their count, the missiles have killed more than 500 militants since 2008, and a few dozen nearby civilians.
(my emphasis)

Uh, do we really believe that our militant to innocent kill ratio is ~10 to 1 from pilotless drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan (assuming "few" dozen means less than five)? And, even assuming this is correct, why is that even acceptable? Wouldn't we be outraged if for every 10 guilty-in-fact people who got the death penalty there was 1 innocent person who received the same? Oh wait, we're talking about terrorists, nevermind.

Moving on:

Another former C.I.A. lawyer, John Radsan, said prior judicial review of additions to the target list might be unconstitutional. “That sort of review goes to the core of presidential power,” he said.

Judicial review of putting American citizens on a death list for summary execution without due process is "unconstitutional." Why? Cause the Preznit sez so. Thank you, William Mitchell College of Law. Hmmm... I sense a "but" approaching:

But Mr. Radsan, who teaches at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, said every drone strike should be subject to rigorous internal checks to be “sure beyond a reasonable doubt” that the target is an enemy combatant.

"Beyond a reasonable doubt." Gosh, where have I heard that phrase before, and in what context? I don't know, it's escaping me somehow, so mysterious. And I guess a law professor couldn't be asked to figure it out either, given the lack of historical development and application of the phrase. That said, I'm pretty sure the phrase has not been applied in the context of the highly disciplined and adversarial process of "internal checks." YMMV.

Scrolling down:

American officials say an arrest may not be possible. “If we need to stop dangerous terrorists who hide in remote parts of the world, inaccessible to U.S. troops, law enforcement, or any central government,” said the counterterrorism official, “what do you do — cover your ears and wait for a truly devastating explosion in Times Square?”

Well, yeah. If they are "inaccessible to U.S. troops, law enforcement, or any central government," as you just fncking said, what the fnck else can we do? What is putting them on a death list going to accomplish that U.S. troops, law enforcement, or any central government, can't do? I suppose we could take off and nuke the site from orbit, which, come to think of it, would solve a whole host of problems. Costs? What costs?

Fnck, fnck, fnck-itty, mcfnckstick. Hallelujiah, holy sh!t, where's the Tylenol?

American officials say an arrest may not be possible. “If we need to stop dangerous terrorists who hide in remote parts of the world, inaccessible to U.S. troops, law enforcement, or any central government,” said the counterterrorism official, “what do you do — cover your ears and wait for a truly devastating explosion in Times Square?”

Well, presumably when they were making their way to Times Square they would at some point enter locations that were not so "inaccessible." At the very least, NYC should be accessible to U.S. law enforcement. Just sayin.

Eric, what about the "cover your ears and wait" part? I mean, you either kill them on some godforsaken mountain on the other side of the globe or you wait for the explosion in Times Square. Those are your two options. Stop muddying the waters.

Allow me to reassess in light of your devastating rebuttal ;)

I mean, you either kill them on some godforsaken mountain on the other side of the globe or you wait for the explosion in Times Square. Those are your two options. Stop muddying the waters.

But the American official said there is only the "wait for the explosion in Times Square" option because said "dangerous terrorists" are "inaccessible to U.S. troops, law enforcement, or any central government." Thus, it's a false dichotomy, the only option is Times Square Explosion. Turn to page 38.

I too walked to school in a fairly dense urban area (Coolidge Corner, Brookline MA) in the early 50's.

However we were absolutely forbidden to cross the street unless the crossing guard (don't remember if it was actually a cop) had stopped the traffic.

A few years later, at 11 and 12, I was allowed to ride my bike to and from the grade school (in then-quite-rural Aberdeen MD) maybe 1.5 miles away to meet the camp bus (the school bus actually picked us up at home). I don't know what the adults talked about among themselves, but our conversations were always around basic traffic safety issues.

My parents knew very well that pedophiles existed, but they (and most other parents at the time) thought that traffic was by far the greater risk.

Yes, similarly this government overreaction on environmental cancer hazards.

I asked an admiral in charge of cybersecurity at a conference whether the federal government does cost benefit analysis before layering on more security requirements (like disabling all USB ports on all Army computers). I gave him an example as an end user that often we can't get any work done because of so many limitations.

He said "no, we don't."

The perception of risk has certainly taken off. It may be the real growth industry of the last half of the 20th century (and shows no signs of abating).

Like hairshirt, I didn't exactly get shepherded to and from school. It was 4-5 miles away, and we either rode our bikes or took the bus. And, if we took the bus, we (perhaps a half dozen of us) were left alone at school for 45 minutes to an hour, while the bus made a second run for kids who lived closer. And after school, we had another unsupervised hour before the bus home arrived. Somehow, there were no parents in a panic because there were routinely kids alone at school with no supervision.

Nobody was worried that we might make a 5 mile trip alone during the summer, and spend the afternoon in town alone (either at the high school swimming pool or the library). So what if we were still in grammar school??? Granted, the adults we did encounter would keep an eye on us . . . at least while we were near where they were anyway. But does anyone believe that adults today wouldn't help a child in trouble? (OK, maybe a few would be too terrified of a law suit, should they try to help and fail. But not most, IMHO.)

In short, the way we treat children has changed enormously. Although, in fairness, I think it is part and parcel of our decision that everything must be risk free. Too bad the universe isn't set up that way. Someone should complain to the architect, I suppose....

The percentages of pedophiles is almost certainly the same, and the number of children harmed is proportionately the same, as I understand it. However, since most kids today are supervised 24/7, it probably means that those parents who choose to allow more freedom and experience have a greater risk. The pool of easy targets today is significantly smaller, so unilaterally sending your kids out unsupervised probably is more dangerous today than when we were kids.

The pool of easy targets today is significantly smaller, so unilaterally sending your kids out unsupervised probably is more dangerous today than when we were kids.

While this may be true, it's hardly a cost/benefit analysis, jk. In fact, it sounds similar to terror-hysteria - not the same, but similar.

Re: liberty and security - I'm done with Obama. I didn't expect him to be a civil libertarian-paragon, but I was unprepared for his essential mediocrity, his shallowness, his smugness. He reminds me of Clinton (Bill) and not in a good way. I think he's even worse, in some ways; Clinton did things which were cynical and base, but he did them because he (thought he) had to, politically. Obama seems to do cynical, base things not because his survival depends on his doing them, but because his career goals possibly might. He does them because he wants to do them. And he's snippy and self-pitying if he's called on it. For example, why did he pick a fairly conservative Establishment careerist for SCOTUS when just about anyone he picked this time would be confirmed without much problem? Because he wanted to. He picked someone just like him. feh.

The pool of easy targets today is significantly smaller, so unilaterally sending your kids out unsupervised probably is more dangerous today than when we were kids.

Just as with any other rapist, child molesters tend to go for victims they already know/have a relationship with. A pedophile is much more likely to molest a girl (or a boy) who's his daughter, granddaughter, niece, stepdaughter, or the child of a friend. Children are always more at risk of being raped or murdered or beaten by their immediate family than they are by any stranger.

This is not something that gets talked about in "family values" much, but it's not stranger-danger that children need so much to be protected against: it's family-danger.

According to a study done in the UK two or three years ago, the proportion of children relative to the size of the population murdered by strangers was the same in the early 21st century as it had been 40 years ago: most murdered children then as now were killed by close relatives. Fear of "stranger danger" had gone up, but not the actual threat.

Similiarly, because of the extreme reluctance to publicly acknowledge that children who need protection usually need protecting from their parents or other close relatives, I would guess that those parents who choose to allow their children to play outdoors or walk back and forth to school unsupervised, are not in fact putting their children at more risk.

I don't disagree with the question of actual risk, but there are some cultural factors that are also at issue. First is that life has become, in a sense, more precious. My mother lost her younger brother when he was a toddler because he swallowed a button and his appendix burst. My father lost three brothers/sisters, two who died at or short after birth and a third one at the age of 6, who was the twin brother of the youngest sibling. I don't want to suggest that my grandparents cared less about their kids than I do about mine, but on a background of that kind of loss, it might be more explicable to lose a child to some freak accident or happening, but now, one feels one should be able to shepherd their child to adulthood. I can't find any stats, but I would be very surprised if awards for negligent homicide and similar events didn't show a steep rise as we move into the present day.

I've always thought one of Spielberg's most powerful movie moments was in the Minority Report, where the scene where Tom Cruise loses his son is recounted. They are at the pool and the son is sitting on the edge of the pool and is challenging his father to see how long he can hold his breath. The last time, Tom Cruise surfaces to find his son gone. Unrealistic to be sure (wouldn't the kid have started kicking and screaming?), but no matter how you logically analyze how unrealistic it is, you can't really escape the sharp cold thought of 'what if that happened to me, what if I lost my child because I turned away at the wrong moment?'

jonnybutter,

I agree it is not cost-benefit: just that it is a change that probably makes free-range children at greater risk today. It may still be negligible, or worth the risk.

Hmmmm...free-range!

Ugh, re your 3:55: was that a choose-your-own-adventure reference? It occurs to me that that as-it-were level of fantasy is about what our most powerful politicians seem to be operating on these last few years.

LJ, it's tangential to your point, but there's a book I read about a couple of years ago, unfortunately not the book itself, because then I might remember it, but it was a study of attitudes towards grieving in societies with high child mortality rates. I do recall that the finding was that there was no discernible difference in the amount of suffering parents underwent when a child died, even in those societies with exceedingly high child mortality rates . . . one of the most woeful things I can ever recall reading. If I wasn't still working! at 12:33 am g--d--mmit! I would look around a bit more to see if I could find the name of the book.

I do recall that the finding was that there was no discernible difference in the amount of suffering parents underwent when a child died, even in those societies with exceedingly high child mortality rates . . . one of the most woeful things I can ever recall reading.

This simply can't be right. Those People in Those Sort of nations just don't have the same Culture of Life we do; otherwise, wouldn't e.g., they be angry if their families were collateral damage? As we all know, in cases like that they just look at their corpses as cash-money to be extorted from their liberating, civilizing saviors by means of unseemingly PC guilt-mongering and suchlike.

Wait, I've rebutted my own objection. They're just as torn up when a child dies as we more advanced people are when our IRA dips, for much the same reasons! It all makes sense now! They really are real people, with real emotions, just like us!

Ugh, re your 3:55: was that a choose-your-own-adventure reference?

Heh, yes it was.

I don't know if people in general suck at risk management or if this problem is particlular to Americans.

I ssuspect that Americans of the middle classes and up are especially prone to hysteriacal over reactions to outlier events.

What is this based on? WEll not much. I live in a neighborhood of middle to wealthy people and hyserical overreactions are the norm. In fcct there is a great deal of peer pressure to support it. If one does not react hysterically one is labelled irrespnosible. Of course that one is me. I seem to be the only person living here who isn't terrified that a tree might fall on me or a sudden lightening strike might start a firesgtorm. ( I live in a gated community in a forest in the Pacific Northwest where trees fall on houses all the time without hurting anyone and lightening strms don't happen).

People drive there kids to the bus stops and sit in their cars and watch until the kid is in the bus.

I think the media has some responsiblity for this. The vast majority of sex abuse events happen between relatives but people fear the stranger danger. Why? Becuase stranger danger makes the news. Pitbulls account for a tiny fraction of dog bites (In proportion to their numbers Great Dnes, shar peis, akitas, and huskies bite people more than pits) and the real cxorrelation is betwenn unneutered chained dogs and bites, but because of misleading sensationalized "news" pitsw have been demonized in the public imagination. WIldfires started by lightening are characgteristic of the Rokies and California and gets lots of media coverage everywhere hence the fear in wet fire resistant Puget Sound area where lightening is rare and firestorms don't happen at all.

Seeing is believing. People react viscerally to what they see. Our brains are hardwired to be far more responsive to fear than to fact especially if the fear is liked toa visual image.

And especially ( my theory!) in the mind of a person who has little ro no experiennce with serious risks. My neighbors with their safe well isulated lives simply do't have any pracgtice dealing with threats to their fundamental well being (other than heart attacks and cancer which they don't panic about even though people around here get heart attacks and cancer all the time).

September 11th was such a vivid image and powerfulu event that for many it remains as if it happened a merely few months/weeksdays ago. It does for me in some ways, though it never justified gross rollbacks of our legal protections. (A certain amount of rebalancing, hopefully temporary, I always thought was inevitable and reasonable, but we've gone far further than I ever thought that might entail.). But for some it clearly did justify that. 9/11 was nine years ago, and we should remind people of that, but I'm not sure we're going to succeed in putting much real distance between ourselves and it for some time yet, just judging by reactions I see in the media and among people I talk to. One can judge this fact negatively, but it remains a fact we are forced to work with.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad