Retired-Dictator Island (“ze plane! ze plane!”)

Is the lack of retirement options for murderous dictators perhaps one of the world’s least talked about but most obvious and destructive problems?

Sure, extra-judicial killing of problem journalists and political opposition is firmly in the “not nice” category, but if these crimes then lead a dictator into believing he (for they are nearly always male – New Zealand and Queen’sland notwithstanding) has no feasible chance of retiring in peace with their ill-gotten billions, then they will feel forced to double down and continue on their murdering trajectory.

Let’s consider a few “sliding doors” thought experiments from the recent past:

Bashar Hafez al-Assad

If Assad had been offered a Learjet and a couple of military transport planes, escorted by NATO jets, to evacuate his family and trinkets to a well-defended tropical island in early 2011, perhaps the Syrian Civil War might have been avoided, or at least have been shorter in duration and with less devastating human cost?

Robert Mugabe

He held a firm and stifling grip on Zimbabwe for decades longer than probably he or any of his original supporters would have wanted. But he stayed stubbornly in power, destroying the country’s society and once-thriving agricultural economy in the process.

In reality, he probably felt trapped in the job; stepping down and enjoying a long and quiet retirement would have seemed to have a low probability of success.

Far better, perhaps, for a deferential court official from The Hague to have sought a private counsel with him where he obsequiously offered a golden ticket on The Retired-Dictator Express to a luxury resort with courtesans, chilled Krug on free pour and a lifetime guarantee of immunity from prosecution.

Muammar Gaddafi

One imagines Gaddafi would have grabbed that golden ticket if it were offered in late 2010 but, instead of playing squash on Tuesday evenings with Bashir al-Assad, 18 months later he ended up with a bayonet suppository and an uncomfortable final rideshare in an Uber Toyota Landcruiser.

Bill’s Opinion

A Chinese proverb tells us, “He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount“. Perhaps that’s what it’s like in the latter stages of the job of dictator? You had to make some tough decisions, you broke a few eggs to make the omelet, but now the popular support has atrophied and your once-secure position is feeling a little less permanent.

The problem is, your options are often limited to a long stretch in a cell in The Hague, extra-judicial execution Ceausescu style, cyanide pills with Eva Braun or doubling down and shooting anyone who looks even mildly disapproving of your decisions.

The relative cost to the world of housing these people with immunity from prosecution on a five star luxury island resort with a permanently-enforced 100km radius no fly/no sail zone would be trivial. The UN could diarise an annual diplomatic visit with a reminder of the open invitation to skip town before things got too hot.

Imagine the internet meme fun we could have sending fake invitations to Justin Trudeau, Jacinta Adern and Mark McGowan:

Congratulations Justin! You’ve finally made it into the world’s most exclusive club. A military transport plane will be waiting for you at Ottawa international airport at 21.00, bring as much gold as you can carry. Please advise us of your ‘plus one’ as soon as possible so the appropriate immunity from prosecution paperwork can be quickly lodged“.

Of course, there is a risk that the prospect of an all expenses retirement might incentivise the opposite outcomes of those we desire. In much the same way there was a definite business model in the early 2000s of creating an Internet start-up without needing to turn a profit, but just get noticed by Google, or the way Australian microbreweries seem to only aim to become popular enough to be bought by one of the members of the brewing duopoly, perhaps we might find nascent dictators pop up with the express intention of getting that coveted invitation.

Regardless, the lack of retirement plans for dictators remains a global concern.

(Full disclosure; this not an original thought – I recall hearing Scott Adams mention the lack of retirement options for dictators being a problem)

The Taliban are wetting zherselves laughing at us

Remember how we’ve not been consulted on the language change that our legal and media institutions have decided we have to make? Yet we have to play whatever manipulative game criminals and those accused of some of the worst crimes decide they want us to play?

Well, it’s contagious. Gone viral like a Fauci research grant:

In case you weren’t aware, Pusey is accused of reckless driving. When he was pulled over, the police were struck by a lorry and four died. He posted a video on social media of the final moments of one.

Even before the conclusion of the court case, we can be fairly certain we’ll all be better off with him locked in a dark hole and then losing the key. Sure, due process an’ all that, but the preponderance of evidence suggests this is not a pleasant individual regardless of whether he’s convicted of a crime.

So, he announced his new pronouns to the judge, attendant court officials and media.

What was the response?

Exhibit A, your Honour:

I’m sure the journalist Erin Lyons is only following the approved style guide for News.Com.Au, but I’d love to ask her what she really thinks about having to write “they” instead of “he” or even the more accurate “despicable cunt”?

Bill’s Opinion

In law, we rightly operate on the principle ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies).

But sudden announcements of a change to preferred gender pronouns do not fall into this category. The burden of proof must surely lie with the person who claims to be something the physical and biological evidence refutes.

Sure, we can be polite to these people and, in general day to day life, accomodate their preferences. It’s a free choice we might make, not a request which must be obeyed in all circumstances.

We might debate where in the range of circumstances polite society should ignore a person’s demand to comply with unusual uses of language. But if you feel convicted criminals or those accused of serious crimes should be granted a sudden demand to call them by new names, you and I are living in a different reality.

As with the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, it often takes innocent eyes to see the truth. Ask a child what they are looking at in these cases and their answer will be straightforward.

Perhaps Erin Lyons should unlearn her recent education and be welcomed back to the reality the rest of us inhabit.

Security theatre

The term “security theatre” is credited to cyber and physical security expert, Bruce Schneier. His books and blog are highly recommended, by the way, even for people outside his industry, as he touches on the human aspect of subjects like airport security and online protection.

What is security theatre?

Remember a couple of decades ago when people other than politicians, elite sportspeople, multi-millionaires and Caitlyn Jenner were able to travel freely between counties? If your recall is accurate, you might remember being “randomly” selected to have your shoes checked through the X-ray machine.

Of course, it wasn’t random at all; each lane had a quota and that usually resulted in every, say, fifth person being selected. At one point in my career, I flew out of Heathrow so frequently, I could quite easily work out which line to join to avoid the footwear genuflecting ceremony.

Did you ever pause to wonder why this check happens? Supplemental question for you; how many shoe bomb attempts have there been in the history of aviation?

The answer to these generally unasked questions can be found on the wiki page of this Sarf Lahdan scrote.

Richard Reid was an utter loser at life who converted to Islam and became a wannabe terrorist (but I repeat myself.) Being from South London, he wasn’t the brightest candle on the menorah (hopefully that metaphor offends him), therefore he failed spectacularly in his attempt to bring down the Paris to Miami flight he’d hoped would be his last.

How many attempted shoe bombings have been thwarted since? Zero. We’ll come back to that statistic later.

The consequences of the failure of the Brains of Bromley include the ridiculous ritual of removing shoes at the airport. How effective do we think that is in reducing the threat of terrorism? Well, also from Reid’s wiki (highlighting mine):

As a result of these events, some airlines encouraged passengers departing from an airport in the United States to pass through airport security in socks or bare feet while their shoes are scanned for bombs. In 2006, the TSA started requiring all passengers to remove their shoes for screening. Scanners do not find PETN in shoes or strapped to a person. A chemical test is needed. However, even if the X-ray scanners cannot detect all explosives, it is an effective way to see if the shoe has been altered to hold a bomb.

In 2011, the rules were relaxed to allow children 12 and younger and adults 75 and older to keep their shoes on during security screenings.

So, we can’t actually scan for Reid’s preferred explosive type and we’re going to assume nobody is faithful enough to the tenets of radical Islam to use a child or a pensioner to bomb a plane. Sure, that makes perfect sense then.

Similarly, if you ever found yourself annoyed at the litter on the London Underground in the early 1990s, it was as a consequence of these two attacks by the IRA. As a Ben Elton stand-up routine at the time pointed out, “every piece of litter is a Pyrrhic victory for the cause of the Irish Republican movement”. A year or two later, a genius at the Met Police (words not normally found together) realised the problem could be solved with transparent bin bags.

The Good Friday agreement was signed later that decade. One likes to think it was the demoralising results of the litter countermeasure that forced the IRA to disarm…

On an unrelated subject, isn’t it fascinating how different jurisdictions are dealing with reality?

The UK has lifted the mandatory mask requirement and backtracked on no jab no job employment rules for healthcare workers.

Denmark and Sweden have dropped all covid measures.

Israel has binned its “green pass” vaccine passport.

Meanwhile, various locations are still trying to fight a war they lost long ago (as we parodied earlier.)

Victoria has mandated a booster shot for hundreds of thousands of workers.

New Zealand has decided 23 days isolation is what der science requires of people who waved in the street at someone who ever said the word “covid”.

Austria has police roaming the streets with throwback powers their predecessors would have recognised to stop people and demand, “papier bitte”.

Even New South Wales, a jurisdiction with a marginally better track record than most, still requires masks to be worn indoors for reasons yet to be explained.

Bill’s Opinion

We’ll be enduring the covid security theatre for years, long after anyone can remember the reason why or when it started.

Nobody seems curious as to the justification or the actual effectiveness of the measures. Yes, another study emerged this week claiming lockdowns caused more harm than good, but anyone with a brain worked that out years (yes, years) ago.

Look at this data from the NSW health website:

Remember when we needed to get vaccinated and wear masks to “stop the spread”? Well, 95% got the jabs, nearly everyone complied with the masks and still one in every 7 people in New South Wales have caught the virus. Can you imagine how widely spread it would’ve been without all those highly-effective measures? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Coming back to those shoe bombing statistics:

My aunt and uncle drink a lot of gin and tonic, “because the quinine protects against malaria”.
“Has there ever been a case of malaria in Kent, Uncle Dave?”
No. See how effective it is!”