Friday, August 18, 2006


From Slashdot by way of Bruce Schneier (Bold mine):

Back in the 1980s, Yosemite National Park was having a serious problem with bears: They would wander into campgrounds and break into the garbage bins. This put both bears and people at risk. So the Park Service started installing armored garbage cans that were tricky to open -- you had to swing a latch, align two bits of handle, that sort of thing. But it turns out it's actually quite tricky to get the design of these cans just right. Make it too complex and people can't get them open to put away their garbage in the first place. Said one park ranger, "There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists."

In a happy coincidence, last night I watched the classic Simpson's episode Much Apu About Nothing. The following exchanges are pure gold:

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
[Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
[Lisa refuses at first, then takes the exchange]

Quimby: Are those morons getting dumber or just louder?
Assistant: [Takes a moment to check his clipboard] Dumber, sir.
Quimby: They want the bear patrol but they won't pay taxes for it. This is a situation that calls for real leadership. [Opens the door to his office to confront the angry mob.] People, your taxes are high because of illegal immigrants!
Moe Szyslak: Immigants! I knew it was them! Even when it was the bears, I knew it was them.

So...this episode depicts a society that enacts over-the-top security measures to protect itself from a rare threat and a government that exploits the issue of illegal immigration in order to deflect criticism (although to be fair Quimby was put in a tough spot). A bit too spot-on for my comfort.


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