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He’s thinking of the children

At least one member of the British Government is thinking of the children:

Richard Caborn, the sports minister, has backed a drive by shooting groups to increase participation in the sport among children as young as 12. He believes that the sport helps young people to become more responsible and disciplined, and vowed that significant funds would be made available to help boost participation.

And what better way, I ask you, to foster a gun culture than to get them while they are young?

Truly, as volte faces go this has to be one of the most volte we have ever faced and, offhand, I can think of only three possible explanations: (1) the government is running out of projects at which to throw public money; (2) we have finally reached the apogee of the safety/nanny paradigm (probably a bit optimistic); (3) the “broken watch” principle rears its head.

But, whatever the reasons, a taboo has been broken.

35 comments to He’s thinking of the children

  • …backed a drive by shooting groups…

    Unfortunate phrasing. When I think of “drive by shooting groups” I tend to think of the Crips and Bloods :-)

  • Midwesterner

    urged teenagers to take up shooting to improve their behaviour.

    Hhmmm…

    When I was growing up, my dad followed something similar but he had the order the other way ’round.

    This may be a wobble in the weather vane. The winds in the area of firearm public opinion may have gone light and variable. However, it is definitely time to set straight people like David Penn, who said:

    However, according to David Penn, the secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council, an umbrella body for shooting groups, there is no correlation between gun crime and the level of gun ownership.

    There most definitely is a correlation and it is an inverse one. People purporting to speak in defense of lawful firearm ownership need to know their facts.

  • Midwesterner

    Okay, linguistics obsessives, I see I botched the David Penn ‘quote’. Oops.

  • (3) the “broken watch” principle rears its head.

    So, at this rate we can expect another outburst of common sense in about 12 hours!

  • nicholas gray

    Yes, Alisa, except a digital watch will only be right every 24 hours.
    And what’s wrong with kiddies learning to shoot? I just read an article about a boy (in Texas, of course) who just shot a really big pig. When he grows up and wants to assassinate a politician, his aim will be incredible! (We wouldn’t want him shooting the wrong people, would we?)
    Maybe some taboos should be broken?

  • Midwesterner

    Just in case the reality is unknown to anyone here, this(Link) is just one study of what really happens. From the full text summary:

    Despite the large amount of work that has gone into analyzing right-to-carry laws, the results have shown a remarkable consistency. Whether one uses Poisson or weighted least squares estimates or whether robust standard errors with clustering is employed or whether the “placebo law” technique is used, or whether one accounts for measurement
    error in reported crime rates, there is still a clear and statistically significant drop in violent crime rates after these laws are adopted.

    Alisa, I think governments move in geologic time frames. This would have to be their ‘stopped clock moment’ for the cenozoic era. :-)

  • The reasoning behind this is more obvious than other commenters have spotted.

    Caborn is looking at the Olympics. Most of the medals won by the UK are in rowing or shooting. Mr. Caborn needs shooters to massage the medals tables.

  • Bearing in mind the direction the government is taking society at present, the onset of the authoritarian state, I am surprised no-one has seen the analogy with state sponsored shooting classes and the Hitler Youth scheme, or is that the new Youth Community National Movement announced in the speech that Gordon had given in Manchester in September last year.

  • Julian Taylor

    Dare I presume that henceforth criminals making use of illegal weapons in pursuit of their crime will be absolved of their crime and given suitable encouragement and re-training for the England 2012 Olympic squad?

  • Well, I was going to grab the every-24-hours proposal with both hands, but Mid had set me straight…

    Julian: talk about social re-engineering. Echoes of Clockwork Orange.

  • Paul Marks

    Alabama not Texas Mr Gray.

    But then (so I am told) Alabama is a lot more like Texas than Texas is these days.

    The taxes are lower (overall, total State and local taxes as a percentage of the economy – see the Tax Foundation stats) and the people are less worried. Anglos in Texas seem concerned that 1836 is going to get reversed (although their problems do not really compare with the problems of California – an out of control Welfare State and de facto free migration make a toxic mixture).

    Also (perhaps more importantly) Alabama has a lot more forests that Texas – I doubt there are many giant wild pigs on the bare plains of Texas. Although those plains are rather wet right now.

  • nick g.

    I must be so conditioned to think of Texans being raised with weapons, that any unusual ‘shooting’ incident is automatically assumed to be from the ‘Lone Star’ state. Now I will reprogram myself. “Texas = Alabama = Texas”. Got it!
    Can anybody tell me, to settle an issue here in Australia, about the status of Puerto Rico? Is it an american State, a Colony, a Territory? Or is it proof that the US of A is an empire?

  • vivictius

    It is a commonwealth territory, as is the Northern Mariana Islands. In general they control their own internal affairs (to a greater degree then the 50 States) and the US Federal Government controls everything else. Puerto Ricans are American citizens and they could, if they wished, request statehood.

  • Sunfish

    To expand on Vivictus:

    Periodically, elections are held in Puerto Rico in which voters are asked to decide whether they want statehood, full independence, or to maintain their current status. Ever since I’ve been alive, the status quo has won overwhelmingly.

    It’s not like DC, where many want statehood. Personally, I’d rather grant them full independence, but my opinion is rarely sought in such matters.

    (Governor Marion Barry! Could you imagine that?)

  • n

    Puerto Rico etc…

    So what exactly are those deliciously intangible territories known as the “US Minor Outlying Islands”.

    Mid,
    I must beg to differ. I suspect what Mr Penn said was broadly correct in the context of the UK. We have a very different “gun culture” to the US. There is a whole different dynamic and in the UK gun ownership is sufficiently low that it doesn’t deter crime because the risk to a burglar/robber/rapist of facing an armed civilian is so miniscule it doesn’t put them off. Even if gun ownership doubled in the UK the risk would still be so small as to not deter crime.

    I would love us to have something like US 2nd Amendment rights but I can’t help but feel that if that happened overnight we’d have a bloodbath. We have had the concept of responsible gun ownership bred out of us to such an extent that… Well, guns are seen as exceptional and seriously cool because they’re illegal and “evil”. If us Brits had grown-up around guns (so to speak) maybe we’d just treat them as normal but we don’t.

    I’m not a qualified electrician and I astonish people by fixing electrical things. I have no fear of electricity because I understand it well enough (physics degrees) to be safe with it. In a way, I was brought up* playing with electricity and am therefore not going to make a twat of myself with it. It’s the same with guns. Unfortunately, like many (most?) Brits I’ve never even touched a working firearm.

    Mr Caborn’s arguments could be re-hashed for any sport imaginable. Possibly even cricket. The fact that such sporting activity has to be a subject for HMG is a serious indictment of our civilisation. In my day (not so long ago) it just took a load of kids and a ball.

    *With a few exceptions I count my education as starting at 19. University was wonderful compared to the grim route march of school.

  • Sunfish

    Something just occurred to me: These people who are constantly talking about the need to “Think of the children! Won’t anyone please think of the children?”

    By any chance have they been spotted near schoolyards wearing trench coats and driving cargo vans with “free candy inside” painted on the side?

  • Sunfish: you are sick (in a good way…):-O

  • Nick M

    “n” should’ve been “Nick M”. Well, Sunfish, touche! I really don’t think there’s much left to add to that. Although I’m also concerned about those preverts poisoning our natural bodily fluids. Sunfish is clearly shilling for NAMBLA.

    I’ll stop before I make an even bigger disgrace of myself.

    Except… An appeal to “think of the children” is almost the last political refuge of the scoundrel. I think that’s what Sunfish was getting at. Almost anything can be passed through parliament/congress by claiming it’s for the children.

  • guy herbert

    Yes, it is those preverts that are the problem. They give postverts a bad name.

  • Midwesterner

    Hey, speaking for us interverts, I feel left out!

  • Midwesterner

    n, I was going to gently enlighten you regarding the history of firearms in the UK. Then you re-identified yourself as Nick M, and I realized I need not be gentle, only funny. (Hense, my obligatory humorous remark prior to this one.)

    The Home Office is an astonishingly blatant manipulator of data. But perhaps the anti self defense league’s biggest accomplishment is the unchallanged use of static data to conceal the consequential trends after disarming people.

    England used to have a gun culture comparable to the car culture it used to have. During the past century or so you have gone from being a nation with wide and deeply entrenched gun rights and culture to being a nation where people like you have never even touched a gun. England did this during a time when US gun rights where being rationed on grounds of ethnicity and economic status.

    You were consequentially a very safe culture. We are a nation that did and does have crime highly (almost exclusively?) concentrated in places and populations where gun restrictions are the highest.

    As America has had sweeping re-recognition of gun rights over the last twenty or so years, England and perhaps all of the UK have gained speed in the other direction.

    In an earlier thread, I addressed this comment to somebody named “Nick M”:

    “Robberies in the UK outnumber Wisconsin by almost 2 to 1 but Wisconsin has more rapes by a 4 to 3 margin. Homocide is greater in Wisconsin by a 2 to 1 margin, but assaults went to the UK by almost a 7 to 1 margin. Robberies went to the UK by ~3 to 1 margin. Statistically this plays out to trading 14 homocides for ~23,900 assaults, 840 robberies and 9,522 burglaries. Your terror of violence in the streets seems to be, at the least, exaggerated. Many people would consider exchanging 23,900 assaults, 840 robberies and 9,522 burgluries for 14 murders to be a good swap. Especially considering that virtually 100% of murders are reported and a great many assaults, robberies and burglaries are not reported so the true numbers could be far more extreme.”

    Which is a cut and paste from a comment I made in this thread, to which I could add that a hugely disproportionate share of those few murders are of people who are themselves criminals.

    And to which I add now that those murders occur proportionally to the degree of local gun restrictions. The greater the local level of gun controls, the greater the level of crime.

    When you think about violent crime and lawful firearms, think fundamental trends, not statistical variation contrary to long term trends. Don’t let short term noise blind you to long term consequences. Also, the trends lag the laws by, IIRC, anywhere from 2 to 5 years. So there may be a short term adjustment period. But a free and open gun culture is your history as much or more than it is ours, and you can return there again.

  • vivictius

    So what exactly are those deliciously intangible territories known as the “US Minor Outlying Islands”.

    Quite tangible actually, they are just a few small islands with no permanent residents. Wake Island and Midway are the only two that most people have probably heard of.

    You can find a list of them here -(Link)

  • Maybe a digital watch would be right every 24 hours if it could be stopped; a politician can’t be stopped, is almost never right, and we don’t know how to take the batteries out.

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    I’d really like to think so.

    I decided that I’d get into shooting one summer when I was a student. I thought I’d join the pistol-shooters because for whatever reason the university had excellent facilities and I just fancied pistol. For whatever reason rifle didn’t do a thing for me. Then Dunblane happened so I was stuck with Badminton.

    The knee-jerk ban by Johnnie Major of all hand-guns under any circumstances whatsoever was perhaps a wake-up for me. The gun-clubs bent over backwards (all weapons in locked cabinets on gun-club property with extreme security) but that was not cathartic enough… It’s not even clear now where some of the shooting events for the 2012 Olympics are going to be held! In anycase the British team has to practice in Switzerland!

    I really like Badminton, but still…

    I appreciate what you’re saying. I appreciate that we would quite probably get back into the groove but I don’t relish the period in between. I believe that the great tragedy is that we have made guns so exceptional that they have become desirable for all the worst reasons. But, as you say, that’s a temporary thing.

    Practically the legislation would be difficult because the first time a kiddy was even scatched with a legal bullet the tabloids would agitate in the usual ridiculous (yet rather effective) fashion. It’s vaguely similar to the capital punishment debate. There generally seems to be a majority in favour of stringing ‘em up in the UK for the most heinous crimes. I suspect that this majority would evaporate the first time there was a high-profile misscarriage of justice that resulted in an innocent being hung. Our politics are dominated by such knee-jerk reactions. Ian Huntley murders two pretty little girls – string ‘im up. Some poor sap is the fall guy for a murder he didn’t commit – execution is barbaric. Our media works on exceptions and individual cases and is utterly shameless about espousing the latest story as an exemplar.

    Of course our gun control is nuts. It’s nuts because it isn’t control. It’s bonkers utopianism and very dangerous. Guns are generally very illegal in this country (I could get 5 years for even having someone else’s gun in this house) but d’ya think that deters anybody who might actually murder with a gun? It would indeed, in every sense of the word, be a wonderful state of affairs if nobody ever used or carried a lethal weapon. Unfortunately my kitchen and workshop are testimony to how unreal that is. The Rwandan genocide carried out with machettes and matches is testimony to that in spades.

    I think Penn Gillette said it best in his show “Bullshit!”. He pointed out that gun-control only penalises the law-abiding and that criminals break gun control laws because (shock, horror!) breaking laws is what criminals do. And making laws is what politicians do. And then they go back to filching money from the till because once they’ve passed a law obviously it isn’t their problem anymore. It’s solved isn’t it?

    I’m well aware of our history with firearms. We built an Empire with the Martini-Henry .45 calibre rifle. I would so go down for even holding one now… I used to live in Stepney, East London and many’s the time walking home late at night from some debauch the sage words of Mr Holmes came back to me, “Never go east of Whitechapel without a pistol, Watson”. It was true in the 1890s. It sure as hell was still true in the 1990s.

    I would go down for even owning a taser and, personally, an air-taser would satisfy my own protection requirements.

    Alas, I don’t see sense prevailing. Far too many of my country-folk regard the Americans as being gun-crazed maniacs. It is truly bizarre. A lot of Brits give NYC a bye but regard any of the interior (or Gods! the South!) as being utterly beyond the pale. I remember well educated fellow Brits going pale when I told ‘em I was off to Atlanta. They thought it would be like something out of Deliverance. But then I’ve frequently been lectured on the evils of the USA by people who freely admit that not only have they never been but that they never want to go. For some reason, the fact that I’ve travelled the Eastern USA extensively is clearly irrelevant to them. And back to the point, the fact that I’ve been scared more witless on the streets of Nottingham than I ever was in Atlanta, Memphis, NYC, Miami or even good old New Orleans is of course completely irrelevant. Although Memphis came close.

    Mid, I recall your crime stats the first time around. I suspect they’re terribly difficult things to compare. Apart from murder, obviously. That’s a pretty dificult thing to get around not reporting. Rape for obvious reasons is especially tricky. But if we stick to the issue of guns… A lot of the “evidence” produced by the anti-gun lobby concentrates on shooting homicides. I contend that these will be greater in a country with more liberal gun laws but that that doesn’t really mean anything. If in the next five minutes I were, for example, to decide to do in the missus then I would probably use my hammer or a kitchen knife. If I had a gun then obviously that would be my weapon of choice. The end result is exactly the same though. Just like Rwanda…

    Right I’m going to round-up this long missive by explaining something about myself. There is a crime I live with every day, a crime which is not exactly the work of a Moriaty but it pisses me off extremely. Round where I live there are hordes of kids riding their bikes on the pavement (sidewalk). They do so very aggresively. This is against the law but the cops do nothing. No, I’m not suggesting I shoot ‘em (though spoking them has occurred to me) but I would feel much safer in Manchester if this was targetted rather than “gun-crime”. Manc gun crime is almost exclusively red on red. There was a recent case where a young lad got shot dead in a boozer. His mother was weeping and wailing and saying he wasn’t a bad lad. Apparently he was a trainee hit-man and on his first mission he came up against someone faster on the draw. The local press regarded him as a victim of Manchester’s gun “scurge”. I regarded it as almost poetic justice.

    Oh, and just one more thing. I’m really scratching my head at when the last innocent person in the UK was shot with a completely legal firearm. I honestly can’t think of an incident since Dunblane or that poor sodding Brazilian sparks. Or actually, now I come to think of it, there have been a few involving the dibble…

    BTW why do you think the WI murder rate is twice the UK murder rate? I would’ve expected it to be similar.

    I hope y’all know where I got “prevert” from?

    vivictus,
    Thanks for the clarification. I hope I didn’t sound too Homer Simpson. He once couldn’t pronounce “non-contiguous” and resorted to referring to Alaska and Hawaii as the “freaky states”.

  • Jim Rockford

    Responsible drinking within the family, at teen age years, tends to mitigate drunken teenage binges. Because alcohol is no mystery, something to be used responsibily. Like a father teaching a son how to drive, properly.

    Safe gun handling under instruction removes the mystery. It’s a gun. That’s all it is. It’s not magic, must be used responsibly, and requires discipline and focus. Both useful traits. Thomas Jefforson advised shooting over other sports for this reason.

    With handguns, you are asking people to hold a small explosion in their hands. Putting rounds on the target requires the body control, focus, discipline, and safe gun handling that translates into other areas. A habit of discipline is useful for young people. Particularly since the discipline required to handle a gun safely is one that can only come in the end internally.

  • nick g.

    Guns don’t kill people- it’s those pesky Laws of Physics! If only we could call them Lores of Physics, or helpful suggestions, or Tendencies of Physics! That would solve everything. Any takers???

  • Nick M

    nick g,
    Exactly. We ought to ban kinetic energy. Apart from anything else most of the ways in which high kinetic energy is achieved involves the production of massive amounts of greenhouse gases. Projectiles should only be allowed if their propulsion is from sustainable, renewable resources.

    Pass the javelin, I’m just going to impale Sir Jonathan Porritt in order to ensure his eternal carbon-neutrality in a sustainable manner. I’d need a bloody ballista to even make a dent in Al Gore’s “I ate all the pies” corpulence. I’ve actually always fancied owning a trebuchet. Did ya know that in medieval times they would frequently use them to hurl bee-hives into besieged cities? Now that’s the sort of pure evil (TM) that can keep me chuckling for hours…

  • Eamon Brennan

    Richard Caborn, the sports minister, has backed a drive by shooting

    Like Perry, this is the first thing that occurred to me on scanning that line.

    Needless to say the rest of the post was a bit of an anti-climax.

  • Kim du Toit

    Caborn is looking at the Olympics. Most of the medals won by the UK are in rowing or shooting. Mr. Caborn needs shooters to massage the medals tables.

    Smart money on this side of The Pond has it that the Olympic shooting events are going to be held in France, not Britain.

    I speak in jest (only partially — Britain’s hoplophobia seems to know no bounds), but it’s a real issue for me personally, as my Son&Heir has a decent shot [sic] at making the US Olympic team in air-pistol and smallbore free pistol in 2012. (He won’t make Beijing — not enough match experience yet.)

    This means that come the Year Of Our Lord 2012, instead of lolling about with my friends in London and Wiltshire, I could be trapped in Calais or something, surrounded by mullahs and chadors, if the current trends continue in France.

    Of course, there’s an equal chance of the above happening in Britain, unless the Stout Bulldogs reassert their bulldoggishness.

    It’s not a

  • Kim du Toit

    ..pleasant prospect, either way.

  • Midwesterner

    Nick M, I can’t remember the source fast enough to find it for you, but as I recall, when Australia did their thing with guns, the gun suicide rate went down. But the overall total suicide rate went up.

    And as for the handiness of a weapon facilitating crime, I can assure you that if Bill Gates had walked into my house in the last 17 hours through all of the grief he has caused me, I would most certainly NOT have shot him. I would have duct taped him to a chair in front of a computer and made him recover the system again everytime he wanted another bit of food or water. And I would have made him doing by following some peon’s poorly written and frequently erronious instructions. And just before putting a bite of food in his mouth, I would have changed the terms and made him start again. (I’ve been crashed for the last day and finally restored back to May 23rd. The entire intervening time is missing from my computer’s life).

    I oppose the death penalty for the same reason I oppose social security, Amtrak, nationalized health care, and almost everything else. I don’t trust the government not to $%^& things up. I grew up in a (different) state where a ‘conservative’ DA (from my home county) framed defendents he knew were innocent so he could look like a law and order candidate. It took the county taxpayers a vast fortune to keep a half dozen alleged law enforcement officers out of hard jail time. And state wide, there were so many framed or negligently convicted people on death row that the (himself rather corrupt) governor finally commuted all of them to life sentences.

    Kim du Toit will probably order me attacked by people throwing things found in restaurant dumpsters for admitting this, but… um … well… you see…. I haven’t actually fired a gun in at least fifteen years! There were a few summers back in the eighties when I probably averaged 500 to 1000 rounds a week; I loaded my own. But when my favorite abandoned gravel pit got a house built and we got so many more houses built around us, it just became inconvenient. And I’m too cheap to go to a pay range.

    nick g and Nick M, you guys have it more right that you realize. People who handle guns choose to handle guns. People who drive cars tell themselves they have no choice and treat it accordingly. They talk on phones, change radio settings, try to drink scalding coffee, any number of deadly reckless activities. Where is the out cry?

    Also, Nick M, you made a comment that suggests I need to nudge you into your scientific, not psychological mind-set. It only takes a very… a very very … small number of law abiding gun carriers to make a rather quick difference in crime rates. Criminals may be cowards, bullies and thiefs, but they are not generally suicidal. And if they are, Darwin is our friend. 2% concealed carry means that by thug’s 50th assault of the year… well, math is your departement.

    One other thing Nick, it seems like you may have slipped into the ‘static data’ fallicy. Present levels of guns v. crime do not mean much. What matters is what they were and what they are becoming. Look at long term trends.

    Also, regarding Wisconsin’s double England’s murder rate,

    # The Southeastern Region (Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties) had the highest rate of firearm homicide (5.2 per 100,000).

    # Wisconsin’s firearm homicide rate among black males was ten times higher than black females and 37 times higher than white males.

    More data here(PDF). In a nutshell, Wisconsin had 103 firearm homicides. 68 of them occured in Milwaukee. Bear in mind that in Wisconsin, convicted felons are not allowed to possess guns. It’s a long prison sentence. And absolutely nobody except cops are allowed to carry a concealed one. (Yeah, we are one of those few states.)

    By approximating data for two consecutive years that were 154 and 160 total homicides in Wisconsin, I was able to subtract just Milwaukee from our data. Without Milwaukee, Wisconsin balkparked at .15 per 10,000 and the UK at about .14 per 10,000. Yeah. Almost a dead heat except in Wisconsin we are overrun with guns, right? But you have multiple times most other kinds of violent crime.

  • nick g.

    Midwesterner, please stop regaling us with facts, we like our prejudices just as they are!
    Nick M-
    I remember your previous statements about using bows and arrows on Welshfolk, and I live in the Australian state of New South WALES! Would those laws apply to me?
    Everyone- I read a fascinating item about Paul Davies and his ideas about the universe. He thinks that there is no reason why the Universe couldn’t have been fine-tuned by us now, acting backwards in time to the moment of the big Bang! If true, then there must be a way to travel faster than light, because we, and every other intelligent species out there, WANT to travel faster than light, and that want will be carried backwards, and built into the Universe at the ‘beginning’! So let’s get together and simply add to Einstein’s laws, just as he modified Newton’s! Where do you think we should find an FTL loophole? Maybe we’ll find a naturally-occurring wormhole, open for our business!

  • Nick M

    nick g,

    A charming young lady named Bright
    Found she could travel faster than light.
    She set off one day,
    In a relative way,
    And returned the previous night!

    Well, yes, I suppose it’s possible*. From what you describe of Mr Davies theory it sounds vaguely reminiscent of the Omega Point theory contained within Frank Tipler and John(?) Barrow’s 800 page epic – “The Physics of Immortality”. It is of course absolute bunk ranging between general relativity and Biblical exegis via the Socinian heresy and all manner of esoterica, apochrypha and mysticism.

    It does though have one thing really going for it. It’s compelling bunk.

    Personally, I prefer to think in terms of the weak anthropic principle. If the fundamental constants were much different we (or indeed anybody) wouldn’t be around to ask such questions. Simple, neat, tidy and the problem is down.

    Although, there is another view I sometimes take. We tend to view the laws and the constants seperately from each other. We tend to assume the laws as a given and the constants could be, in principle, anything. What if that’s not the case? What if the fine structure constant is 1/137 (near as damn it) because it couldn’t be any other way? In a manner not disimilar to the fact that the square root of 2 has to be irrational.

    I suspect I wouldn’t be allowed to shoot at you with a bow and arrow. Can you think of a compelling reason why I might be tempted?

    There is a major problem with naturally occuring wormholes. Well, actually there’s a great many problems but we’ll pass on that for the mo. You don’t have any control over the destination. It’s quite possible that it goes somewhere really, really awful.

    FTL. Bloody hell. I’d be quite happy if hypersonic becomes routine in my lifetime!

    *There is an objection that is so obvious, I’m not going to state it. As a great Australian philosopher once stated “Can ya guess what it is yet?”

  • Nick M

    nick g,

    A charming young lady named Bright
    Found she could travel faster than light.
    She set off one day,
    In a relative way,
    And returned the previous night!

    Well, yes, I suppose it’s possible*. From what you describe of Mr Davies theory it sounds vaguely reminiscent of the Omega Point theory contained within Frank Tipler and John(?) Barrow’s 800 page epic – “The Physics of Immortality”. It is of course absolute bunk ranging between general relativity and Biblical exegis via the Socinian heresy and all manner of esoterica, apochrypha and mysticism.

    It does though have one thing really going for it. It’s compelling bunk.

    Personally, I prefer to think in terms of the weak anthropic principle. If the fundamental constants were much different we (or indeed anybody) wouldn’t be around to ask such questions. Simple, neat, tidy and the problem is down.

    Although, there is another view I sometimes take. We tend to view the laws and the constants seperately from each other. We tend to assume the laws as a given and the constants could be, in principle, anything. What if that’s not the case? What if the fine structure constant is 1/137 (near as damn it) because it couldn’t be any other way? In a manner not disimilar to the fact that the square root of 2 has to be irrational.

    I suspect I wouldn’t be allowed to shoot at you with a bow and arrow. Can you think of a compelling reason why I might be tempted?

    There is a major problem with naturally occuring wormholes. Well, actually there’s a great many problems but we’ll pass on that for the mo. You don’t have any control over the destination. It’s quite possible that it goes somewhere really, really awful.

    FTL. Bloody hell. I’d be quite happy if hypersonic becomes routine in my lifetime!

    *There is an objection that is so obvious, I’m not going to state it. As a great Australian philosopher once stated “Can ya guess what it is yet?”

  • nick g.

    Presumably, Nick M., anything is possible (like winning a lottery), but it isn’t likely. But don’t we, in Bell’s theorum and quantum interconnectedness, already have information acting faster than the speed of light? If that is done by space naturally warping continuously, we might be able to control it. Lasers are photons marching in step. Maybe other quantum effects, like wormholes and spacewarps, can also be manipulated!