Surveillance as crime prevention is like homeopathy when seriously ill

Dear Reader,

Before I return to the good things in life, let me quickly tear apart Glynsky’s comments here. The man wrote:

Lets drop the whole idea of prevention – medical, crime, terrorism etc. Grand. Your favourite (as with Pete) is also, who needs soldiers.
Right, so I don’t try to stop anything. When inevitable shit happens, I have no one to investigate it, chase them or try them. Fine.
Don’t try to prevent crime – OK, will immediately take all the locks off everything and invite anyone passing to help themselves.
The only balls to be taken off are yours – reason has obviously already been lobotomised.
‘Communist states’ – this tripe leaves room for a million more comments/articles/views and this is probably not the place.

Clearly, I have nothing against medical prevention, or any other, if it works. Here that Glynsky? IF IT WORKS!

So, how well does terrorist prevention work? Not at all. Here is a nice post by Bruce Schneier (quote):

Remember back in 2013 when the then-director of the NSA Keith Alexander claimed that Section 215 bulk telephone metadata surveillance stopped “fifty-four different terrorist-related activities”?

Remember when that number was backtracked several times, until all that was left was a single Somali taxi driver who was convicted of sending some money back home? This is the story of Basaaly Moalin.

And The New Yorker, linked above, starts with (quote, emphasis mine):

Almost every major terrorist attack on Western soil in the past fifteen years has been committed by people who were already known to law enforcement.

One of the gunmen in the attack on Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, had been sent to prison for recruiting jihadist fighters. The other had reportedly studied in Yemen with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, who was arrested and interrogated by the F.B.I. in 2009.

The leader of the 7/7 London suicide bombings, in 2005, had been observed by British intelligence meeting with a suspected terrorist, though MI5 later said that the bombers were “not on our radar.”

The men who planned the Mumbai attacks, in 2008, were under electronic surveillance by the United States, the United Kingdom, and India, and one had been an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

One of the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon was the subject of an F.B.I. threat assessment and a warning from Russian intelligence.

The so-called terrorists, including the ones from 9/11, had been under surveillance, on no-fly lists and what not. And that did not prevent anything. Zip, nada, nothing. For the simple minded, let me spell it out:

Surveillance does not prevent crime or terrorism!

It is PROVEN to NOT work. Got it, Glynsky?

Surveillance as crime or terrorism prevention is as helpful as homeopathic treatments. They might make you feel better. But they do not have any impact. Except in your wallet, which will be empty.

Stay healthy and sane,

Engine Room


love for sale…

Dear diablog,

I have no idea (nor do I care) what the rest of the world may think of me – but some bonkers Italian obviously thinks I am totally deluded!

A couple of days ago I received an email from a friend (?) offering me 14, yes 14, cars which ‘may appeal to you – let me know and they are yours’!

Mme. would be ecstatic – I think – and so I shall share a few with you, dear reader, as I become suddenly ‘cash poor’ –


A Lancia – any time.


Alfas – those too!


A Triumph Mayflower – who? me? do I seem old and boring/bored enuff to even remember this crap!!! What does he think of me for Gawd’s sake.

But, now guv, you are really talkin’


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light hands…

Dear diablog,

Mme. and I had the immense pleasure of a visit last week by the redoubtable


Lyndsey who came round to discuss her new album, an upcoming (who coined that word?) gig and ‘stuff’ – which included an intro to Jason Kerston.

Before you say ‘who’, watch the vid and marvel at what a 12 year old can do – and keep your eyes peeled for him in the near future! A ‘band’ with the hands – percussion, bass and melody.




Yours, diablog, stringin’ along



so what’s not to like…

Dear diablog,

Glynsky’s back on the move and got stuff to report from the outside world.

I am lucky enough to have a sort of surrogate ‘son’ who is young enough to find good new things and places and who decided it was time for me to ‘leave the compound’ for an afternoon of silliness.

At the appointed hour I arrived in Marylebone Lane (to me, a previously unexplored London jewel) which seems crammed with all sorts of interesting ’boutiques’ and eateries. Still, I think, a poor cousin to Marylebone High Street but worthy of investigation as I arrived at the door of the unimposing


’28-50′ (don’t ask, have no idea) Wine Workshop and Kitchen – of which there are 3 other locations in town – which is rather nice inside!


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Glynsky’s blinders

Dear Reader,

In his comment here, Glynsky showed his blinders. Shall we lift them a bit?

1. What a load of bollocks couched in pomposity. How do you find them in the first place to lock them up ?

“Them” refers to terrorists. Glynsky seems to think, one can find find them, before they commit a crime. Either he believes in mind readers, or – worse – he wants to make thinking and speaking a crime.

The obsession with “preventing crime”, proven to not work by the way, just takes the eyes off the ball. Which in this case would be, to catch criminals, prosecute them, and – if found guilty – punish them. No, let’s instead chase the bogeyman and build a surveillance state. It did work so well for the communist states, didn’t it?

2. If all these Government Departments and politicians (most of whom you lambast for not understanding the internet) don”t do their (albeit sometimes misguided) best to sort some sort of safety for all are there any other takers?

Safety from what? At what price?

You English lived through hundreds of real IRA terror attacks. Did you bomb Ireland in response? No. Did you lock up all Irish? No? Was everyone Irish under surveillance? No. Why? Because that would have been unreasonable, unjustified, out of proportion, etc. Yet today, all it takes is one incident, and you, your politicians, and media go crazy. And you are willing to give up the few freedoms you have, for what can only be called the illusion of security.

By the way, France had full telecommunications data retention since 2006. That worked well.

The supposed terrorists were on various French and international spy agency watch lists. Luckily that prevented the slaughter.

But don’t let mere facts get in the way of stupidity. After we lost direction, we doubled the effort.

3. Does it not occur to you that most (including you) properly civilised/cultured people can’t even glimpse at what drives them let alone understand and react to it in a way you find acceptable.

Nobody has a problem with catching, prosecuting, judging and punishing criminals. And in that order, please. But this is not, what the hysteria around Charlie Hebdo is about.

4. Magna Carter? Isn’t that ours (and the empires)? And you keep saying we have no constitution but quote MC when it suits.
I await with interest your detailed solution/s.

Magna Carta is one, just one, milestone. And no, it is not a constitution or a substitute for one, Glynsky.

Magna Carta gave a few rights to the barons against the king. And to nobody else. Similar to how the Greek and Roman democracy was for those, who did not have to work to make a living. You had to be able to hang around the forum to participate. Slaves and working people were either by law of de facto excluded. Except for voting once in a while. Usually for the one candidate, who paid the most. No too different from today, I admit.

Anyone preferring safety over freedom, should consider moving to North Korea. I hear it has perfect safety.

Engine Room

PS: If you find irony or sarcasm in this post, congratulations.


From RTFM to How-To and ELI5

Dear Reader,

I owe you an apology. More specifically, I owe our beloved commentator The Inverness Druid an apology. As he pointed out in his comment here, I left him – and maybe others – in the dark, how to fix an issue. My bad, I am sorry.

Before I get to the missing information, how-to switch to plain text email, let me take you back 20 years. Bare with me.

Prior to the breakthrough of the world wide web in the early 90s, the internet was made and used by technically advanced people mostly. And there was no Google yet, no, no , no, or other comparable search engines. Fans of AltaVista, early Yahoo, and others are free to disagree.

When looking for technical help, usually one searched for a mailing list, or a news group dealing with the issue on hand. There one posted a message asking one’s question, which in our case could have been:

How do I switch off HTML emails in … (enter your email program)?

If you were lucky, someone posted an answer or a link to a webpage, giving you the solution. But more often you would get:


That sounds rude at first. But then, in the early 90s noobs were flooding the internet. The early internet people still refer to the 80s as before September. Because every September thousands of new college students got internet access for the first time. And they often did not bother to read the manual. Instead they bombarded professionals with very basic questions.

Fast forward to today.

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