The law is an ass

Need more proof that the law is not as relevant as it should be? Via Slashdot comes a link to a report in the Times of India about a recent case in the High Court of Bombay. The court had received a complaint filed by an NGO, Janhit Manch that sought action against ‘fake’ astrologers, tantriks, practitioners of Vastu shastra etc.

The outcome was probably a lot more surprising than most would expect. Instead of confirming that astrology lacked any scientific foundation they came to the conclusion that:

“So far as prayer related to astrology is concerned, the Supreme Court has already considered the issue and ruled that astrology is science. The court had in 2004 also directed the universities to consider if astrology science can be added to the syllabus. The decision of the apex court is binding on this court,” observed the judges.

Decisions such as these could hardly prove to be negative on the reality of science – even if the perception of science may be dented in some quarters, but any people who chose to be affected by this are hardly the most scientifically rooted. On the other hand scientists, and thankfully a whole bunch of lawyers, can only shake their heads in despair.

All we can do is agree with Mr Bumble: “the law is an ass”

Blaming the wrong technology

When Google Earth launched there were security concerns. Could this kind of technology be used for the wrong reasons? Well this may or may not be a problem but what is really silly are the attempts to use the events in Bombay as an illustration of the dangers of technology. Computerworld:

The terrorists who attacked various locations in southern Mumbai last week used digital maps from Google Earth to learn their way around, according to officials investigating the attacks…Google Earth has previously come in for criticism in India, including from the country’s former president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Kalam warned in a 2005 lecture that the easy availability online of detailed maps of countries from services such as Google Earth could be misused by terrorists.

So what if the terrorists used Google Earth? According to Wikipedia they attacked

…the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Orthodox Jewish-owned Nariman House, the Metro Cinema, and a lane behind the Times of India building behind St. Xavier’s College.

Most if not all of these locations would be listed in any guidebook, many of them are century old landmarks and yet some people are attempting to blame Google Earth as if the attacks could not have been carried out without technology.

It is very popular and easy to blame IT for attacks, take for example the shootings in Finland were all but blamed on YouTube since the gunman left films there. It’s a pity that these types of arguments are not used against the acual weapons used. Instead of blaming a software company maybe the blame should be placed at the small arms industry.