Tuesday, September 12, 2006

For the last time, Donald Rumsfeld, repeat after me: Correlation does not equal causation

Like all exciting young sophisticates nowadays, DD and I spend many an evening working on our growing collection of puzzles and watching/making snarky comments at the evening news. Despite the somber anniversary which last night's program covered, the snarky comments flew fast and frequently. Not because there is anything remotely snarkworthy about the events of that day - far from it. But because certain individuals (who are either mayo-for-brains doofuses or who believe that we, the audience, are mayo-brained-doofuses, which is pretty goddamn frustrating either way because I don't want to listen to idiots or people who think I'm an idiot unless there is something in it for me, like unintentionally enlightening irony, or a doughnut) who kept on insisting that all the restrictions on freedoms and human-rights-violating laws were totally worth it because, hey, there hasn't been another terrorist attack in the US, has there?

So let's sum up this argument:

1)Since September 11th, 2001, there have been increased restrictions on freedoms.
2)Since September 11th, 2001, there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil.
3) Therefore, increased restrictions have prevented terrorist attacks.

HEY! This is a fun game! Let me try.

1)Since September 11th, 2001, people are more nervous when they fly.
2)Since September 11th, there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil.
3)Therefore, passenger nervousness has prevented terrorist attacks.

Oooh! What else can we dredge up:

2)Since September 11th, 2001, there have been no Twin Towers in New York City.
3)Therefore, the destruction of the Twin Towers have prevented terrorist attacks.


2)Since September 11th, 2001, I have aged five years.
3) Therefore, aging prevents terrorist attacks.

But wait! Why stop at violating human rights when you can use a false causality to claim responsiblity for any event and thereby justify any action, as outlandish, unreasonable or asinine as it may sound?

1)Last night, my friend gave me $20.
2)My friend was not attacked by a polar bear last night.
3)Therefore, giving me $20 prevents polar bear attacks.
4)No, I'm serious, send me money right now, or you'll be sorry. Polar bears are really vicious.
5)For $50 I'll throw in comprehensive dragon coverage as well.
6)Look, I've been doing this gratis for years, okay? I mean, come on, you've never been attacked by a polar bear or a dragon, have you? So obviously it's because of me.
7)I accept personal cheques.
8)Or doughnuts.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Death by toothpaste!

So - three flights in two weeks and my brain is about to explode.  I can only take so many arbitrary, unfounded and asinine "security measures" before the part of my brain that processes logic and reason (a small node, nestled between the part that produces sarcasm and the part the contains my undying love for Skittles) overheats and shuts down.

So - a bunch of dudes were allegedly going to blow up a bunch of planes using liquid explosives.  Now, apparently airline security measures are put in place by people whose scientific knowledge of explosives comes primarily from watching Die Hard: With a Vengeance, and films of that ilk with their totally-stable-separate-but-mix-any-small-amount-together-and-BOOOOOMMM variety of binary-liquid explosives. 

But here's the rub - THEY DO NOT EXIST IN REAL LIFE.  So what the hell was going in the heads of the people who came up with this "security restrictions"?  I imagine it's something like this:

"So, this plot was "near impossible"?  Says who?  Us administrators of transport security can't listen to a buncha scientists, for goodness sakes!  Evolutionary, revolutionary, Big-Banging, godless scientists! What could those four-eyed geeks possibly know about The War on Terror, stuck in their little labs with their little white coats and their little nerdy glasses, just waiting to be wedgied....no, it's far better to just ban all liquids than to have to listen to a bunch of geeks lecture us important people on the actual real threats to planes!  We'll just ban all liquids from planes!  Oh wait...I think I remember from some high school science class...biometry or something...that people have to drink...okay, we'll ban all liquids except beverages.  But those will only be served in cups, not bottles! Because bottles are dangerous.  I mean, look at cousin Jimmy - lost two fingers to a bottle rocket!"

I mean - HOLY FUCK.  After 9/11, if you wanted to bring an unsealed, unlabelled container of liquid on the plane (like, say, a FREAKIN' water bottle) - they made you take a sip.  Ta da!  No mysterious liquid here!  But now - not only can you not bring ANY liquid of ANY sort into secuirty - you can't even buy a bottle of water at the gate or on the plane.  Because, secretly, terrorists have also discovered the secrets of alchemy - sure, Starbucks can sell the contents of a bottle of water - but if they allowed people to take the actual bottle, terrorists could use their evil powers to turn it into - um...that mysterious explosive that only terrorists know about.  But fortunately, some quick-thinking security experts foiled that plot by making sure the contents of the bottle are poured into a cup!  HA!  Take THAT, terrorists!  Because even the stupidest morons to ever crawl out of a dog's anus know that you can't perform alchemy in a plastic cup!

Anyway - two last thoughts to wrap this up.

First of all - check out the fabulous piece at McSweeney's, which sums this whole issue up much better than my Skittle-infused brain can (especially the one called Your Flight Three Years From Now - scroll down).

Second of all - I found it very fitting that the hand-drawn signs posted up on the now-dangerous vending machines in the airport read:

                                        Do Not Use

                                        Due Security