Not funny

…but worthwile. This cartoon is a disturbing and moving picture of how ‘peacekeeping’ looks in Iraq at the moment.

Pulling out the troops is something I’ve opposed so far – but with the vast majority of ‘resistance’ attacks targeted at coalition troops not locals, are we really helping Iraqis by keeping soldiers there? I don’t know any more.

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Unfocused Mondayage

It’s nice to be able to combine cute animal photos with rants about the lunatic waste-of-time that is airline security.

What, did they think the penguins were tuxedo-wearing suicide dwarves? As I’ve said before, if there were an airline with no overt security checks and a 10-minute check-in, I’d use it (and I’d also bet sizeable amounts of cash that its fatality rate would differ insignificantly from mainstream airlines). Picture from here.

I don’t know why I like Jim Bliss’s presentation-structured analysis of Octopus’s Garden, but I do. I also don’t know why I like The Register’s bizarre Rise of the Robots rants, but I do. I’m entirely certain why I like the LRB’s personal ads.

Gene at Harry’s says, "I’m honored to be mentioned in the same cyber-breath as Hitchens, Sullivan and Massie". I’m an obliging man, so: like Hitchens, Sullivan and Massie, Gene at Harry’s is utterly deluded about George W Bush’s desire and capacity to do good (he has none, obviously). Harry at Harry’s, however, has a good quote: "Blair couldn’t betray me because I’ve never had any faith in him in the first place."

Oh, and I agree with Laban, which is a little worrying. The case he highlights is an excellent example of why legislator-imposed minimum sentences are always a terrible, terrible idea.

All done. Now go and read the latest Britblog roundup.

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Good drug policy shock

Tim is right. The plan to increase the level of heroin prescriptions for junkies is a good one, partially reversing the disastrous failure of all British drugs policy between 1971-2002 (not to mention 2004-present).

What the hell drove the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in the first place? Before it was introduced, we didn’t have a serious drugs problem, and certainly not a serious drug-related crime [*] problem. It then became a major factor (alongside many others) in ensuring that we did.

This is an example of a wider phenomenon: halfwitted government attempts to tackle mostly-imaginary (at least in extent) problems can have the effect of creating conditions where the original problem becomes a real and significant one. I wonder if anyone can come up with another recent instance of this?

[*] In case anyone sarcastic wants to say ‘well, of course there wasn’t any crime if it wasn’t illegal’, this means drug gangsters and drug muggers.

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The Joke

"Dost’s satirical penchant had gotten him into trouble before. After he wrote a poem lampooning an Islamic cleric in Peshawar, he said, the man bore him such a grudge that he fingered him to Pakistani intelligence agents, leading to his arrest…

"At Guantanamo, he said, he had to spend hours explaining to interrogators a satirical essay he had published in 1998, after President Bill Clinton offered a $5 million reward for Osama bin Laden. Dost’s essay offered a reward of 5 million afghanis – then the equivalent of about $113, he said – for Clinton."

Fabulous. So an unaccountable expansionist superpower and its cowering client state are locking people up in prison camps for making anti-government jokes. Now, where have I heard that one before?

(via Belle. I hope she’s right when she says "Look, my country is better than this.")

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Stupid plan

The Association of University Teachers has decided to partially boycott Israeli institutions.

As Chris Bertram says (but more politely, because he’s a polite man), the main impact of this will be to make mouth-breathing idiots believe that the UK is a hotbed of Nazism, rather than actually having any impact on real academics’ real ties. Nonetheless, it’s still a stupid plan.

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Links to clever people

Chris Lightfoot has a very sensible electoral reform plan, while Project Implicit finds your hidden bigotries (UK site here).

Apparently I moderately prefer young people to old people and thin people to fat people, which doesn’t surprise me. I very slightly associate men-with-science, women-with-arts, and I very slightly prefer Europeans to Asians (a bit worrying). I don’t give a monkey’s about people’s sexuality, which is just as well.

Oddly, however, I strongly prefer the US to the UK. This isn’t something I expected to find, and it’s a finding I’ll gladly use next time someone accuses me of ignorant Yank-bashing…

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Fuck Galloway and fuck Respect

George Galloway is "attacking [Oona] King for her "soft" views on cannabis and calling for a "much tougher" war [on drugs]". (Mr Hari)

This inherently makes him a wanker; it also makes anyone non-authoritarian who would support him a wanker. As well as criminalising non-harmful citizens, drug prohibition is the main driver behind violent property crime (robbery and burglary). Meanwhile, anyone who wants harmful drugs can easily get them, so even bullshit ‘protecting people from themselves’ justifications don’t apply.

The two sane solutions to society’s drug problems are decriminalisation or effective enforcement of prohibition – the latter of which would require brutal totalitarianism. I’m not going to make a stab at guessing whether Mr Galloway is a brutal totalitarian, or merely insane.

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