Letters Well, it is quite a short haul today, but that is what happens after a bank holiday. We'll kick off with a fabulous example of how stating the bleedin' obvious is something only highly trained professionals can do with a really straight face. Yes, we are on about the startling revelations from relatively senior members of the medical profession that pointed knives can, when pressed into soft belly-flesh, do serious harm, and even kill:
I'd like to add, plastic glasses (preferably beakers with lids that not only prevent grievous injury, but are useful in preventing spillage of the old claret as well! while we're at it - plastic plates (not enamel, as rusting over the years can cause sharp edges) so a dropped plate won't create a potentially lethal weapon. Boiling water - a definite no-no. Coffee and Tea should be served at no more than 38 deg. C - using heated water from the tap - so there's no potential to be scalded. While we're at it - ban all gas and electric hobs - there is clearly no need for such dangerous instruments to be in the hands of people who are clearly too stupid to own and operate them. Fu*k me. Nanny state? Who are they kidding.
Might indicate to these doctors that the sharp edges on knives are also hazardous. They may want to suggest that manufacturers make duller knives, and that whet stones and other devices for improving the edges of knives also require control, registration, or perhaps should be banned.
I'd seen this story a day or so ago in either the Independent or The Scotsman, I can't remember which, but there was a bit about knives longer than 3 - 3 1/2" being illegal to carry on your person in the UK - if memory serves.
Given that, wouldn't said doctors be better served working on limiting the amount of force that a given individual could potentially stab someone with a 3" knife? I mean laws can be changed, correct? So why not start calls for the government to rewrite the laws of physics for public safety? ;)
Hell, what's next. Sticks are dangerous because you could poke someone's eye out? Do we start to ban trees?
Yes, indeed. Dangerous things, trees. Ask any golfer. Hmm, actually, we can add golf clubs to the list of items that need to be banned, along with candles, on account of their heat... books, because you might get a paper cut...
This isn't ridiculous at all. For cooking purposes, why do you need the _end_ of a knife to be pointy? All you need is for it to be thin and for the edge to be sharp.
A pointy end is only useful for killing people with. You also carefully ignore the part of the story which involves the researchers talking only about _long_ knives, and the bit where they asked chefs whether there's any useful culinary purpose in long, pointy knives and they said 'no'.
I can't see a problem with the idea - for the v. rare occasions where a pointy end is actually required you can just use a short knife (say, a steak knife), and long knives can have rounded ends just like table knives and no longer be available as handy domestic weapons (table knives used to be pointed, but they were rounded a few centuries ago to reduce injuries and deaths caused in fights in public eating houses).
I have a friend who was nearly killed when he was attacked in his apartment with knives from his kitchen, so I understand what the researchers are trying to do here...
Revealing yourself as a boiled-egg and baked beans-on-toast man...try cutting an onion sometime.
"the rate of violent crime in Britain rose nearly 18 per cent from 2003 to 2004, and that in the first two weeks of 2005, 15 killings and 16 nonfatal attacks involved stabbings"
Statistics are flaky things to use at best when drawing conclusions. But these are even stranger. I could have sworn pointy things, including knives, were around before 2003. So how exactly are they being linked to this rise in violent crime?
I suppose legislation against pointy knives could help. There's no way anyone with any intent to stab someone could follow up his scheme; no way could they fashion any kind of pointy stabby implement of their own in order to meet the prerequisite for a stabbing.
...unless of course they have an IQ higher than a bucket of fish fingers.
...which would probably put the government in the clear.
You may laugh, but none of this is particularly new. It is, for instance, the reason why 'classic' English table knives (the ones with the "ivory" handles) have round ends and are blunt. This is because there was a similar "scare" at the end of the 18th/early 19th century.
For those of brought up on the continent (or at least in continental families), it has always been a source of bemusement as why it was that all English table knives were blunt and (BTW) that strange ritual called "bringing out the sharp (and serrated) knife" occurred whenever someone had a steak. Especially when the rest of us had chosen some other type of meat which was invariably harder to cut than a decent steak!
Hey, don't knock soft plastic claw hammers. I once saw my cousin take a chunk out of an expensive antique chair by attacking it with just such a tool. He also managed to damage a beautiful mahogany table with a plastic saw before he was finally restrained.
Of course he was only six and we didn't have ASBOs in those days... Nevertheless, to this day we daren't let him wear a hoodie for fear of the consequences.
As a Yankee living downunder and it seems to me that there is no need to soften the blows caused by baseball bats here since they only seem to be used in team sports here. The interesting thing is that the local team sport being played never seems to involve a field nor a ball but somehow always seems to involve some other sporting but dodgy character such as a spammers or os2 lovers. I don't see a reason to soften such sporting implements.
Eh? Tim, we think you might have missed something here. Perhaps you have been taking too much sun...?
Next a couple of thoughts prompted by last week's letters haul. The idea, in particular, of space advertising, is one that merited further attention:
With regards to the U.S. seeking to prevent adverts in space (an idea I whole heartedly agree with), your correspondent Oliver said "Nobody can truly own space in the way the US thinks it does - the moment someone starts shooting down someone elses' satellites/placards/space stations/nuclear armament/etc, then it's open season on their kit".
This is a situation the U.S. is well aware of and exactly why they abandoned the ABM treaty and are planning on testing to eventually deploy space based weapons - so they can get in first and prevent attacks against their satellites (which their military is increasingly dependent on).
It is entirely likely that successive U.S. administrations will go to great lengths to suppress other nations attempts to gain a military presence in space so as to protect their own infrastructure (just look at how heavily they leaned on the EU over it's global positioning system).
Oliver also referred to airspace. The regions above Earth's atmosphere are not part of any nations airspace. Rather cleverly the Eisenhower administration saw to it that general agreement was reached in the U.N that space would be an unbordered environment (which they did by arguing airspace ought be extended to infinity - a preposterous position severely criticised by the then very successful at launching satellites Soviet bloc). Once the principle of no borders in space was established (as they planned) the U.S. immediately developed their spying satellites - which they now want to protect by being in a position to deny access to space to others at will (the U.S. air force has said as much in their plan for procurement).
Which is a perfectly logical way for a military to plan.
Similar thing, but from a slightly different angle:
If The Dome, sorry, The 02, can be seen from space, and there is going to be a great big 02 logo on top of the dome, does this contravene the American law that there can be no advertising in space? Fair enough it's not IN space, but is visible FROM space.
Perhaps the yanks will nuke it for us?
We can only live in hope...
This one we just liked for its sheer randomness:
I've just finished reading letters of the week and I've realised that most of the original stories (not the responses) are what happens when you let stupid people loose on technology. Seems to me these are all ideas of the "ooh, look at the flashing lights" genre.
I would hope that people making decisions would have the clue to know or work out what's feasible and what isn't as opposed to stumbling wildly from one cock-up to the next.
Perhaps there should be a law forcing people to use their own new tech first before subjecting anybody else to it. I'm fairly certain if this had been around for a few years we wouldn't have polyphonic ringtones and that sodding Crazy Frog.
We admire your optimism, but can't help feeling that the sodding frog, as you put it, is some kind of karmic judgment on our society...
And finally, in response to a recent pan-European call for proposals, we can bring you a decent use for GPS technology:
The mind boggles. but the answer is a dead cert. The only useful use of Galileo is to make certain whether or not the football crossed the goal line! Thus eliminating any dispute with the linesman! The US system does not have the resolution for that kind of accuracy and as reported Galileo is supposed to off a much higher resolution!
Or tracking the annual distribution of that beaujolais wine oenophiles go crazy about.
A fine plan. And on that note, we bid you adieu. Enjoy the week and don't forget to write. ®