The “war” on drugs.
The “war” on crime.
The “war” on terrorism.
The “war” on piracy.
The “war” on spam.

Is there a thing that can’t be fought in the context of a war anymore? Concise wording has been replaced by sensationalistic hyperbole as the norm, it seems. Many of the words used in english to describe a struggle against something are just words about physical conflict. Words like ‘struggle’, or ‘fight’, or ‘resist’. The obvious penultimate physical conflict being war. If you aren’t fighting a war against something, you must not really be opposed to it. Or so the government (past and present administrations included) would have us believe. Politics in the US are extremely polarized. Issues are portrayed in black and white with each side having their own laundry lists of supporting evidence. No one will look for ways to reduce crime. Not when you can wage war on it. Anything less would be inadequate for todays extreme politics.

The concept that war is the answer to everything that we don’t like in society is insane. Can we wage war on poverty? What about healthcare problems? How about war on drunk driving? Or maybe war on AIDS? War on war?

I Want to Believe

Why do people let their desire to believe something become a barrier that seperates them from the truth of reality?

There is a book, “The Frightening Fraud” by Thierry Meyssan, that postulates that something other than a Boeing 757 crashed into the Pentagon. The author suppositions that the United States government performed some kind of fraud and lied about flight 77 hitting the Pentagon. You can read more about this here. I am not sure what Thierry Meyssan’s credentials are for aircraft crash investigation, but every aspect of this book falls apart under any investigation. There are also flash presentations and web pages that go over the same false reasoning. Being shown the right photos and given topical, leading statements, I am sure many people swallow this non-reality whole.

I watched a show on TLC or Discovery, I forget which. This program was about a group of amature investigators heading out to a Norwegian glacier lake to search for a mysterious monster. A few people on this team eventually came up with some evidence that rules out any very large creature living in the lake. Essentially, the lake lacked any real ecology that could support such a creature. The head of the team outright refused to acknowledge any damning evidence against the concept of a sea monster living in the lake. It was pretty obvious to me that this leader felt it was more important to believe in this creature than to find out the truth.

This motif is repeated over and over in TV shows, movies, and I even see it in some of my co-workers. An overriding desire to believe in some idea or concept that furthers their own personal world view. Holding such a belief leaves that person’s viewpoint of the world hanging in limbo when the reality comes to light in a way they can not avoid, overlook, or escape. Though, this probably doesn’t happen enough for my tastes. Being able to see the world from all different views and still maintain your own understanding of the universe is a hard thing to do, but it has great value.


What used to be known as United Parcel Service has some really nice advantages. Primarily that their delivery dates are dead-on. FedEx, on the other hand, just tried to beat their delivery date and not let you know ahead of time. UPS will leave packages at my doorstep, which is also fine by me. But, when a company ships me something and requires a signature, UPS gives you the option of re-delivering tomorrow or you can pick it up at their warehouse tomorrow. So, either way, you wait a day. Also, not a huge problem. The “issue” is when you go to get your package from their pick-up location. FedEx has a nice building with a customer desk with several people working the desk to help you get your package. It’s heated and cooled as needed and has nice carpet. UPS, on the other hand, has a roped off section of pavement near a guard shack. You have to go into the guard shack, have him call up to the UPS warehouse and someone will eventually wheel a dolly down to the roped off section to hand out some packages to everyone waiting. I’ve been there on a hot day in the sun and it was tolerable. I can’t imagine being there in the rain or when it’s freezing outside. FedEx seems to accept the fact that they deliver packages when most people are at work and they will be picking up packages after delivery times (even on the same day). I get the impression that UPS would rather not do anything that doesn’t involve a truck coming out to your house.

Stupid criminals

At work, I was having a discussion with a (smart) co-worker about stupid criminals. I came to the conclusion that I think there are two distinct levels of people in relation to commiting crimes.

There are those who are very smart and know a great deal (if not almost everything) about every aspect of a potential crime. These people probably get away with a lot of criminal acts. These types of people know the risks involved and play the odds to their benefit. Into this category I’ll also toss people who are smart enough to know the odds are against them. They realize that the police have forensic science and advanced investigation techniques and they probably would only evade the law before eventually being caught. This entire group, in my opinion, makes up a small minority of people caught committing crimes. Mostly because they know better or because they have specific knowledge that allows them to get away with it most of the time.

The second set of people are those who never even imagine that law enforcement officers could do something like find fingerprints on a plastic trash bag that’s been sitting in the dump for two weeks. They think the police are stupid or that they are smart enough to outwit anyone or deceive forensic investigators. Some probably never even consider the actual odds of success, or they are ignorant of what they are actually pitting themselves against when they commit a crime. Granted, some level of success can be reached by sheer willpower and viciousness, but that only serves to create more and more evidence used to capture and convict them. Their success is also helped by the sheer number of criminal acts relative to theirs. It can take months to process evidence for non-important crimes. Sometimes manpower is so short that criminals just “go free” because no one has the time to go back and do the legwork on something that isn’t a high profile crime.

So, ultimately, this was an exercise in trying to understand why criminals do stupid things. I don’t think they do by nature of being a crook. I just think that stupid people do stupid things and comitting crimes tends to be one of them.