Terry Pratchett on Dr Who

From SFX:

The unexpected, unadvertised solution which kisses it all better is known as a deus ex machina – literally, a god from the machine. And a god from the machine is what the Doctor now is. A decent detective story provides you with enough tantalising information to allow you to make a stab at a solution before the famous detective struts his stuff in the library. Doctor Who replaces this with speed, fast talking, and what appears to be that wonderful element “makeitupasyougalongeum”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would dare try to jump-start a spaceship that looks like the Titanic by diving it into the atmosphere… but I have to forgive the Doctor that, because it was hilariously funny.

People say Doctor Who is science fiction. At least people who don’t know what science fiction is, say that Doctor Who is science fiction. Star Trek approaches science fiction. The horribly titled Star Cops which ran all too briefly on the BBC in the 1980s was the genuine pure quill of science fiction, unbelievable in some aspects but nevertheless pretty much about the possible. Indeed, several of its episodes relied on the laws of physics for their effect (I’m particularly thinking of the episode “Conversations With The Dead”). It had a following, but never caught on in a big way. It was clever, and well thought out. Doctor Who on the other hand had an episode wherein people’s surplus body fat turns into little waddling creatures. I’m not sure how old you have to be to come up with an idea like that. The Doctor himself has in recent years been built up into an amalgam of Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ (I laughed my socks off during the Titanic episode when two golden angels lifted the Doctor heavenwards) and Tinkerbell. There is nothing he doesn’t know, and nothing he can’t do. He is now becoming God, given that the position is vacant. Earth is protected, we are told, and not by Torchwood, who are human and therefore not very competent. Perhaps they should start transmitting the programme on Sundays.

And yet, I will watch again next week because it is pure professionally-written entertainment, even if it helps sometimes if you leave your brain on a hook by the door.

Libertarian Commercial Points Out the Horrors of…… Regulation

Found on Slog where one of their commenters noted:

Just change the tone of the background music, and the snarky questions at the bottom, and this exact same video would be a pretty good advertisement for your federal tax dollars at work for you. Starting with, when you turn on your radio, and hear only one station at each frequency, instead of an unintelligible jumble of stations trying to drown each other out, yep, that’s the FCC, just as the arrowed caption says. And so on through the video.

If You’re Going to Arizona, Be Sure to Have a Passport in Your Car

From Reason:

The law recognizes a driver’s license from another state as proof that one is not “an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States,” but only if that state “requires proof of legal residence in the United States before issuance.” According to this fairly recent summary, about half a dozen states don’t. So Latino drivers from, say, Michigan could be in for a real hassle if they happen to be pulled over in Arizona, even if they are native-born U.S. citizens. Considering that a perfectly legal visitor from Mexico was nabbed by Arpaio’s deputies and detained for almost nine hours even though he presented several forms of ID, including a valid visa, Latinos from states that don’t meet Arizona’s criteria probably should carry a passport. Or just avoid Arizona.

Why Aren’t There More Terrorist Attacks?

From Schneier on Security:

Terrorism sounds easy, but the actual attack is the easiest part.

Putting together the people, the plot and the materials is hard. It’s hard to sneak terrorists into the U.S. It’s hard to grow your own inside the U.S. It’s hard to operate; the general population, even the Muslim population, is against you.

Movies and television make terrorist plots look easier than they are. It’s hard to hold conspiracies together. It’s easy to make a mistake. Even 9/11, which was planned before the climate of fear that event engendered, just barely succeeded. Today, it’s much harder to pull something like that off without slipping up and getting arrested.

Few Terrorists

But even more important than the difficulty of executing a terrorist attack, there aren’t a lot of terrorists out there. Al-Qaida isn’t a well-organized global organization with movie-plot-villain capabilities; it’s a loose collection of people using the same name. Despite the post-9/11 rhetoric, there isn’t a terrorist cell in every major city. If you think about the major terrorist plots we’ve foiled in the U.S. — the JFK bombers, the Fort Dix plotters — they were mostly amateur terrorist wannabes with no connection to any sort of al-Qaida central command, and mostly no ability to effectively carry out the attacks they planned.

The successful terrorist attacks — the Fort Hood shooter, the guy who flew his plane into the Austin IRS office, the anthrax mailer — were largely nut cases operating alone. Even the unsuccessful shoe bomber, and the equally unsuccessful Christmas Day underwear bomber, had minimal organized help — and that help originated outside the U.S.