Archive for December, 2006

Fabric explosives

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

The UK government has recently uncovered a series of plots to blow up 55 aircraft using fabric based explosives. An undisclosed source in MI5 said the government had reason to believe that an Al Goldstein terror cell had been working on wearable explosives and was planning a multi-pronged attack at all of Britain’s airports.
As a result, new regulations have been put into force requiring naked travel on all flights out of the UK. Exceptions have been made for clothes bought on board or in the airports as it was felt that more money could be made. All passengers discovered to be wearing clothes were required to put them in the hold so that they could be stolen by airport staff.
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Personal responsibility and public good

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

One of the biggest problems in society is that you can’t get people to agree to do something if it depends on everyone else doing it in order to get a good result. It’s a social bootstrapping problem. People often say things like – well if I stop driving my SUV, what difference will that make? If I stop driving it, nobody else will, so there’s no point.
I personally believe that one should usually act such that if everyone acted the way I act, then the overall result would be good. My basis for this is that if you look at a positive final result in such situations, then the only path to that postitive final result is almost always a few individuals taking responsibility independently of any certainty about whether the other members of the group are going to follow their lead. In getting from state A, with high Co2 emissions, to state B, with low emissions, how is it possible unless some individuals initially take responsibility. It’s like the “journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step”. I don’t see any route to reduction of Co2 emissions for example, other than a few individuals and then gradually more changing their lifestyles. Of course policy and scientific progress and technology will help, but the same thing is now happening on a national scale – the EU doesn’t want to be the first to take on economic disadvantage to take the lead in emissions reductions.