Re: SCIENCE!

1

idioticness

idiocy.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
2

This bit of idiocy is being roundly mocked on all quarters.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
3

This is dumber than idiocy. Idioticness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
4

dumber than idiocy

younger than yesterday.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
5

Alex pointed this out as well. The crumb of comfort may be that Blair is on his bike this week, and while Brown is no saint, he doesn't seem to have Tony's weakness for unqualified nujobs.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
6

nutjobs


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:37 AM
horizontal rule
7

The story is really improved, from an American point of view, by the fact that the guy has a title: there's nothing like dragging out all those Wodehouse-based stereotypes of cripplingly stupid aristocrats. Which is unfair, I'm sure, but it makes the story better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
8

Triesman isn't actually in charge of deportations (that's the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which is just rebranding to Borders & Immigration Agency) - he's apparently in charge of persuading other countries to accept their dubiously-verified nationals. (this is actually quite a big problem - if you can't persuade the place the guy came from to give him a travel document of some sort, you can't send him back)

This might not be so bad, if it wasn't the policy of the government to try and deport people to places like Algeria and Iraq. The law forbids deportation if the deportee might be subject to a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights on arrival, and Triesman's job is to persuade Algeria, et al, to sign pieces of paper promising not to torture their returned dissidents. This is, of course, profoundly sick.

Clearly he is insane. His qualifications for this job are as follows - he used to be a communist from 1968 to 1977 before rejoining the Labour party, and made a career in the NATFHE teachers' union before ending up as the Labour party's general secretary.

Don't laugh. (Note that the UK teaching unions are notorious for machine politics and very far-left nutters; we're talking left of the communists here, or alternatively right of the Tories if it's the PAT.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
9

Which of course makes Lizardbreath's point really, really off-beam - far from an aristocrat, he's a commie. On the same theme, I should point out that the teaching unions were especially crazy in the period he was a delegate.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
10

re: 7

He's not a heriditary peer. He's someone who had the title conferred upon him, i.e. a life peer. The vast majority of members of the House of Lords are now life peers. Hereditary peerages no longer carry the right to sit in the House (apart from a few exceptions).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
11

there's nothing like dragging out all those Wodehouse-based stereotypes of cripplingly stupid aristocrats. Which is unfair, I'm sure, but it makes the story better

Sadly, as Alex says, "Lord" in the context of the current government means a 1970s Stalinist who got neoliberalism at roughly the moment he saw where house prices were going.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:44 AM
horizontal rule
12

Doesn't matter, this is ignorant stereotyping. I'm going to assume that being given a life peerage makes you stupid.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:44 AM
horizontal rule
13

Gods, this is funny. Can you imagine this applied to New York or London? NONE OF YOU ARE FROM HERE. OUT OUT OUT.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
14

"Special Envoy for Returns" just has a really nice consumer/retail ring to it.

"I'm sorry, sir, if you don't have your receipt, we can only offer you an exchange..."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
15

But LB is wrong. What will really kill this program is when they find out the Iranians aren't Arab.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:50 AM
horizontal rule
16

13. He's precisely trying to apply it to London. Yes, funny doesn't get halfway there.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:50 AM
horizontal rule
17

Oh come on. This isn't as bad as all that.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
18

Well, I figure it's too silly to go anywhere, but it is exactly that silly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
19

I'm going to assume that being given a life peerage makes you stupid.

It's a fair assumption, but it gets the causality the wrong way round. Life peerages are generally a reward for being some combination of the following: as placidly stupid as a cow, as easily led as a sheep, and as vicious as a rottweiler.

What will really kill this program is when they find out the Iranians aren't Arab.

I think you have an unrealistic view of the British civil service. It's the US that has MidEast policy makers who think Iraqis are Muslims, not Sunni or Shia; ours usually wrote their PhDs about 13th century texts from the Great Mosque of Al-Amok.

Not that it seems to help over much.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
20

I need to know: did you have the terms "brachycephalic or dolichocephalic" at hand, or did you have to turn to PhrenoloWiki?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
21

No, I don't think so. Triesman says: "we are looking at the scientific and technical identification of nationality." Some spokesperson somewhere speculated that "this work 'probably' involved DNA sampling." Sounds like a "huh? what's Triesman on about?" to me. And the rest of the column runs with the idea of DNA analysis as a predictor of nationality. (One can imagine things that fall under "scientific and technical identification of nationality" that are not related to DNA and are not ludicrous, though they're most likely small-scale.)


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
22

Like what? I'm assuming that you wouldn't need this program if it were a matter of, say, finding the guy's birth certificate or fingerprinting him and comparing it to a database.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
23

The best way to determine nationality is to ask the immigrant about TV shows in the homeland. Anyone who claims they "don't even have a TV" gets sent to Albania.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
24

Maybe his fillings are stamped "installed in Albania" for example. There might be a danger that he could communicate by blinking.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
25

20: I had to google for the proper spelling of dolichochephalic -- the other I knew.

21: (One can imagine things that fall under "scientific and technical identification of nationality" that are not related to DNA and are not ludicrous, though they're most likely small-scale.)

Really? I can't. It's not that you can't tell lots of stuff about the geographical origin of someone's family through various biological tells (starting from skin color and going through DNA), but believing that's going to establish their citizenship politically seems very farfetched. Geographic lines between ethnic groups aren't hard lines, they're continua, and they don't lie on political boundaries.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
26

Remember that we need high correlation, not a necessary connection.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
27

Geographic lines between ethnic groups aren't hard lines, they're continua, and they don't lie on political boundaries.

And that's before you take into account mass migration, immigration, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
28

26: You do if you're trying to convince Foreign Country X that this guy you want to deport is Their Problem.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:10 AM
horizontal rule
29

Is Labs still angling for that peerage? God, he's so white.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:10 AM
horizontal rule
30

re: 26

If the idea is to prove that someone is from nation X it's not enough that, say, physical trait t is found in 90% of all X-ians. Correlation surely isn't what is needed if what is being asked for is a method of proving national origin.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:10 AM
horizontal rule
31

bah, cala-pwn'd.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
32

No, we need a necessary connection. For purposes of deportation, what use is it to know that someone might come from Ghana? If you're going to deport them there, you need more than that.

If the point of this is to make contact with a variety of governments to see if anyone knows and is willing to claim the guy, wouldn't you think that an unscientific eyeballing and whatever languages he speaks would narrow down the likely countries of origin to a dozen or so? Calling that something that SCIENCE! is going to be a big help with is overblown.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
33

Cala&ttaM-pwned. I'm slow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
34

28: yeah, I see the point, since we're dealing with people that no nation wants.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
35

One thing I tried to bring out in my post about this is that Blair's govt has been attracted to things that seem vaguely scientific, without having any understanding or real interest in science. I think I may name it "scienciness" by analogy with "truthiness".

There's certainly a sense in which the British left in the 70s and 80s leant towards the view that science was somehow rightwing and probably smelt of nuclear power, and I suspect Blair for one of espousing rather 70s-ish technical projects as part of his general self-definition against the left.

Hence his love of big mainframe databases, GM crops, and GenII nuclear power. More broadly...but AARGH! I'm about to use a perfectly good post as a comment on someone else's website.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
36

And it's complicated because as I understand it, a lot of these cases are where the person has naturalized, so all the identification they have is from Country X, but their family immigrated from Country Y. Country X decides to dispute their residency or citizenship, and Country Y doesn't want them back, because they're country X's problem.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
37

Look, someone had to troll this thread.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
38

35: I do that all the time. How many of your readers are reading this thread, and will it kill them to read the same thing twice if they are? Cut and paste is your friend.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
39

Don't you always wonder when something seems transparently silly and unconvincing if we're misreading whom the target audience is? Foreign governments aren't going to be convinced, but is there a constituency in Britain whose demands for action, and concomitant need for absolution for the charge of callousness and racism this might be targeting?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
40

re: 38

I read his site, but I'd have read it twice anyway.

re: 39

I suspect Alex's self-definition against the 'left' is probably a more apt explanation. It fits a lot of Blairite policy. If you combine that with remembering that they are all essentially self-important wimps who have taken Young's Rise of the Meritocracy as a manual rather than satire then you get more or less a full-spectrum explanation of their behaviour.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
41

I think it's Sherlock Holmes territory -

"ahhahhhha, you have the pollen of Iran under your fingernails, the nicotine stains on your index finger has the characteristic oval shape associated with Khomeini Ultra Lights, and hair analysis reveals traces of Hidden Imam Brand pomade! You're a bloody Iranian mate!"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
42

Heh at 41.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
43

41 gets it right. Nowadays we have thousands of scholars writing monographs of the style on which Sherlock Holmes so prided himself. Get those professors in to help us decide who to deport and where to.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
44

40:Not to deny the existence of personality and internal factors, but that implies that there is, or that they think there is, a constituency for periodic self–definition against the left; it plays well somewhere.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
45

I would some sort of spectrometer to help me play "European Tourist ... or GAY?"


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
46

did you have the terms "brachycephalic or dolichocephalic" at hand, or did you have to turn to PhrenoloWiki?

LizardBreath has clearly read Agatha Christie's The Man in the Brown Suit, in which these terms turn into major plot points.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
47

Is that the one where the spunky (oh, shut up, British people) heroine ends up in South Africa? I have read it, but I was thinking of stuff I've read about race science more specificially.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
48

On the plus side, this technique could offer a solution to the problems of Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
49

45: I would some other kind of spectrometer to help me verbs.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
50

Didn't Sherlock himself dabble in phrenology?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
51

Yes. The spunky heroine's father was some sort of archeologist, and so when she first sees the Man in the Brown Suit, her description of him to the police includes the scientific term for his head shape. Later, I think, she distinguishes the correct Man in the Brown Suit from an imposter with these highly advanced skillz.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 10:53 AM
horizontal rule
52

"this work 'probably' involved DNA sampling."
Won't they have to send everyone to Mongolia?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
53

Ethiopia, no? ("Science reveals you to be an East African Plains Ape. Back to the Great Rift Valley with you!")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
54

"No, we need a necessary connection. For purposes of deportation, what use is it to know that someone might come from Ghana? If you're going to deport them there, you need more than that. "

Not if you're the British Government you don't. As long as the destination is a weak, poor country, who cares? Not the privatised guards on heavy overtime who "escort" the prisoner.


Posted by: dave heasman | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
55

53: Ethiopia, no? ("Science reveals you to be an East African Plains Ape. Back to the Great Rift Valley with you!")

M/tch M/lls & I went to Austin's only Ethiopian restaurant this weekend (newly re-opened after the family returned from a 10-year stint in No. Virginia -- I'm so happy!) and he looked askance at the signage, which reads "Food from the birthplace of humanity." Ignorant ape.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
56

Who returns the returners?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
57

Looks as though Science is being tested in Iraq - on some of the non-compliant populations they have there.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
58

19:

I'm going to assume that being given a life peerage makes you stupid.

It's a fair assumption, but it gets the causality the wrong way round. Life peerages are generally a reward for being some combination of the following: as placidly stupid as a cow, as easily led as a sheep, and as vicious as a rottweiler.

The only life peer I ever met was Alan Bullock. It was at a Guy Fawkes' celebration in Wolvercote. His wife was friends with an elderly friend of mien, and I used to see her on the bus. He did not strike me as stupid. Nor do the Scientists who make it to the House of Lords, but I'm no expert.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:31 PM
horizontal rule
59

58 was I.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:31 PM
horizontal rule
60

Bostoniangirl has a good point. The cow/sheep/rottweiler better describes life peers who end up in the Government.
Quick explanation: if you, as PM, want your old mate/university tutor/favourite millionaire in the Cabinet, you can't just appoint them and have them confirmed, as in the US; everyone in the Cabinet has to be a member of one of the Houses of Parliament. So you make them a life peer, and thus a member of the House of Lords, and get them in that way.
Other ways of getting into the Lords include being a former PM, being frightfully eminent or clever, having the right father, being an archbishop, or lending a lot of money to the government of the day.

45: it must be tragic to live in a city where everyone even remotely well dressed is either foreign or queer as a coot.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 2:58 AM
horizontal rule
61

I was about to say that I used to eat lunch now and again with a life peer, but I checked, and he (the ex-principal of my college) is actually a hereditary peer (and a life peer).

http://tinyurl.com/36drxp


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 3:56 AM
horizontal rule
62

"but you'd think they'd have figured out the idioticness of it all before making public speeches about it."

Clearly you're unfamiliar with Blair's long history of half-baked initiatives that get canned a week after being announced to a bewildered media.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 4:22 AM
horizontal rule
63

Richard Meinertzhagen once delivered a baby in the immediate aftermath of a train crash in central Europe, with the assistance of the King of Saxony.

Or so he said.

(Or so Meinertzhagen said, that is, not or so the King of Saxony said.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
64

ttaM GcM dined with Lord Windlesham eh? Lady Windlesham was Prudence Glynn, fashion editor (I write from memory) of the Times in the 70s. Her writing was so good it made fashion, and the surrounding design topics, interesting.


Posted by: dave heasman | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 10:19 AM
horizontal rule