Sunday, December 09, 2012

Reductio ad absurdum 1

I once heard the comedian Dave Allen tell this story as he took a drink from his whiskey glass:
"You know I read that 40% of accidents on the road are caused by people who drink. If you look at that from the other side that means 60% are caused by people who don't drink...," he paused and took another drink from his glass. " why don't they get off the road and leave us drunks to drive in safety?"

That's an example of 'reductio ad absurdum' or following implications to an absurd extent. I love them and I've been collecting them over the years:

From 'Monk-e-business' at

  • How are you feeling? Buddhist monks are reckoned to be happy, enlightened folk. They are not burdened by possessions, and in fact they carry their material wealth around with them. All they own is a plain robe, and a simple bag containing a wooden bowl, a water strainer and a needle and thread. Last time Zygote checked, the full monk kit would only set you back twenty quid from Tesco’s “you shop, we drop” online service. Meanwhile, Zurich Insurance has recently profiled the exact amount of wealth the average British citizen carries around with them. Staggeringly, and the use of that word is highly appropriate, we are toting an average of £1,043 worth of kit around with us when we step outside the front door. Most of that is in the form of accessories and electronic gadgets, including MP3 players, laptops, phones, cameras, sat-navs and the like. If you think about these things at all, you may think that the more we are weighed down by all these bits of expensive kit, the less enlightened we are. But according to yet another government report, you would be wrong. There is one more important item that most of us carry around with us at all times, and it is represented by plastic credit cards encoded by smart little electronic chips. And what they represent is debt. Steaming great piles of debt. The average UK adult is in debt via credit cards, overdrafts and unsecured personal loans to the tune of £4,506. According to Zygote’s diamond-studded calculator, if you subtract the average UK portable wealth from the average UK portable debt, then we clock in at minus £3,463. In other words, thanks to useless electronic gadgets and virtual debt the average UK citizen is 173 times more likely to reach Nirvana than the average Buddhist monk. Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

From SOPA and Writers at

  • SOPA as I understand it wants to block sites which contain pirated content. Presumably that will be done by removing the domain name from DNS servers. You would still be able to access the site provided you knew it’s IP address.
  • Sounds fine in theory but let’s take it to it’s logical extreme.
    In the UK a student, Richard O’Dwyer, is being extradited to the US because he created a website which contained links to pirated material on other sites. HE DIDN’T HOST OR SHARE THIS MATERIAL! That’s not against the law in the UK. To support his very successful site he used advertising on it. That too is not against the law in the UK. According to the US he made thousands of dollars from this advertising (something I find hard to believe.) Now in the US it’s against the law to make a profit from promoting in any way pirate products. The US used laws created in the UK to ease the extradition of terrorists to ask for Richard’s extradition. He’s never been to the US and hasn’t broken any UK laws.
    Now hang on a bit – I’ve seen pirated content on YouTube. I found it easily using Google. Both US sites and both making a LOT of money from advertising. Why are they not being prosecuted?
    To make matters worse if you post a YouTube video or link to it from your blog or web page you will be breaking the law if your page contains advertising from which you profit. You will be linking to a site which contains pirated content and be making money from it. SOPA will make your prosecution easier for the US law.
    I’ve done this myself here:
    This is plainly ridiculous and if SOPA goes through – the law is the law and justice is blind.
    SOPA does censor the internet – it will say which websites you can and can not look at. It’s a step too far and open to abuse by the law.

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