Thursday, August 30, 2007

Clonmacnoise and New Orleans

People make mistakes. When they do they can throw good money after bad to fix them or they can admit their error and rectify the situation.
Clonmacnoise is a small monastery in Ireland that was once a thriving town it “flanks the east side of the River Shannon, in a shallow valley close to the flood plain”.

When over the course of many years the town kept flooding and the expanded settlements could not be protected people moved on. There were other places more suitable to live in. The same has happened in many locations. When people learned the area was prone to natural disasters they choose to live elsewhere. Sometimes it takes years to happen but sitting like king Canut denying the power of nature will result in you getting your feet wet eventually.

In some cases the cost benefit analysis is such that it is worth engineering your way around natural obstacles. Holland and London have both for the moment succeeded in keeping out tidal flooding.

New Orleans is underwater and sinking. You can pay billions to save areas that are underwater but would that money serve better helping those who were displaced from these areas? The argument that “The Bush administration actually wants these neighborhoods below sea level to die on the vine” is meant as a damning indictment but may actually be the factual and sensible policy of the Bush Administration.

Are the subaqua areas of New Orleans worth saving? Or is that throwing money into a hole. Money that should be spent helping the people who decided to live in an area that nature likes to beat up occasionally. Do these people want to live in that area anymore having seen first hand how Canut style ranting at the sea does nothing? At the end of the day a city is just a bunch of people, The people of New Orleans should be listened to to see what they want done with the money donated to help them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

This posits an interesting question. Would you take a million euro if
it meant that some random person you had never and would never meet in
China died? I would hope I would not. But would I buy a product that
cost 1 euro less if the money saved meant that the Chinese worker had
a 1 in a million extra chance of dying? I probably would or at least I probably do every time I go shopping.
This is an economic paradox. People make the same mistake about betting all the
time. But betting with peoples lives is wrong is it not?

An apology to Neanderthal man

The Danes have apologised for the actions of their ancestors 1200
years ago. Well it's a start but I think we need to go further.
Shouldn't Homo Sapiens apologist now to the homonids we wiped out in a
act of inter species genocide. Actually lets dig up the dinosaurs and
apologise that our rat ancestors ate their eggs into extinction.

Is God a conspiracy theory?

I just read this article by Bruce Schneier and he made two points about conspiracy theories
1. They seem to be cause because people want to believe that big
results must have big causes. So the human eye could not just be made
by "chance mutations"
2. Once people accept them all evidence is used to confirm them.
Contrary evidence is ignored or used to show how some grand conspiracy
is covering up the truth. So evidence that atheists commit less crime
becomes part of a scientific and media attempt to destroy theism and

So does theism follow any other patterns of conspiracy's or am I
overstretching an analogy?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why do banks never prove their identity to you?

I Just had the following phone conversation. My bank phoned me up and then asked me to confirm I was me

Bank: We will just need your address there
Me: Sorry I cannot give you that unless you confirm you are my bank
Bank: Well if you give us your address we will confirm it here
Me: Well if you give me my address I will believe you are my bank
Bank: Did you get the letter we sent you last week saying we would be calling?
Me: No I didn’t but that letter would not prove you are the bank calling now anyway
Bank: Ok then it must be in the post we will ring you back later when it arrives

Unless the bank proves to you who they are, or that the ATM you are using belongs to them, how are you supposed to have trust?