This weekend, Londoners have been rioting, and the police were unable to control several streets. Why? This is not a rhetorical question, and I am not asking about tricky issues like the best way to calm down angry mobs. I’m talking about force. When the Met knows where to expect trouble, it can put down a riot. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, around the Israeli embassy and Chelsea FC. In fact, people usually don’t start trouble at all when they are surrounded by horses and vanloads of cops in armour. But if they do, those cops can charge in like a medieval army.
Around the city this weekend, the trouble arrived before the police. Was that why it could not be controlled? Or were the police too polite to treat looters as they would football hooligans? My guess is the former, but I just don’t know.
Computer zealots are told to cool down about lots of stuff. For example: practical, rational people just roll their eyes knowingly and just accept it when patent trolls win ill gotten riches by making companies settle silly patents suits without a fight. Julian Sanchez points out that fighting rather than settling is for good of all, but not of any one victim. He forlornly suggests a solution:
If the companies together can credibly commit to fight such suits, then assuming sufficient transparency, the existence of the mechanism should create enough of a deterrent threat that they’d seldom actually have to. But …
Let me point out that a time tested way to “credibly commit to fight” is to be well known as an irrational zealot.
I make coffee when I crave it. The problem is that by the time it’s made, I usually crave tea.
P.S. If you didn’t do it in the last post, or even if you did, you should really read Orwell.
This week’s attack by the Sri Lankan army on the last holdout of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) has succeed. This is good, it might even end the war. It was wrong of Westerners to oppose it; did they want the bloodshed to drag on?
Yet no victory can excuse the army for making scant effort to spare civilians. Worse, the government seems not to know that Tamils are citizens – unless they are armed terrorists who have changed their allegiances but not their methods. Lanka’s rulers must change their attitude if they are to have peace, but triumphant and authoritarian, they will not do this of their own accord. They will need a hard shove from the West.