Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Not that SmartWater


Dum de dum de dum

Is it Wednesday already?

It’s gone a bit quiet on news of the London bombing investigations since last week hasn’t it?

And it was all going so well

Within a few days the police had established that four suicidally fanatical Muslims were responsible for blowing up London with explosives made in a bath tub by a brilliant Egyptian biochemist. There was even evidence on CCTV tape.

And then it all started to unravel, piece by piece, and the authorities and media have had to resort to all sorts of displacement activities and distractions.

I particularly enjoyed last night's 20 minute piece on Newsnight about people smuggling aphrodisiac worm fungus through the mountains of Nepal. Well, there’s not much else going on is there?

That’s not to say there’s been no absolutely no coverage of the bombings. But the flow of new ‘evidence’ has slowed to a trickle and, even by the standards of what went before, it’s pretty low quality stuff.

A few days ago we were informed that three of the bombers had visited Pakistan last year, so they clearly had to be Islamic terrorists but then, whoopsy, the Israeli government confirmed that one of them had visited Israel the year before that. So what does that mean? Obligingly, the newspapers avoided over-taxing our brains by considerately not running the story.

And today, the Daily Telegraph has criticised London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone for being so sick as to suggest that our involvement in foreign wars has put us more at risk of terrorism. By some oversight, the Daily Telegraph forgot to mention that the body set up by the government to deal with intelligence on terrorism, JTAC, issued a report last month that said "Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the UK". So they must be traitors as well.

Oh, yeah, remember that Al Qaeda guy who supposedly slipped in and out of the UK to possibly mastermind the attack? Well that story was bollocks too.

And so on and so on and so on. This is all so very, very 9/11 - dozens of nonsense stories, supporting the government, leaked to the press by someone called 'It' and given headline coverage. All of which turn out to be rubbish and quietly corrected some time later. Classic misinformation.

I’d guess that after the shambles of last week the authorities are taking more time over the next version of the official explanation of what happened on 7th July. I hope so. The original versions were so nonsensical there wasn’t any sport. Having said that, lots of people still swallowed it all.

Update 21/7/05

That story that three of the bombers visited Pakistan last year is looking like it may be a horse's arse as well now. As I said before, If 50 people hadn't died this nonsense would be funny.


As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not at all anti-police. They do a difficult, arguably impossible, job. Their biggest handicap these days is the sheer politicisation of their function. Put aside the London Bombing investigation for a minute and consider general crime in London for example.

It’s rising.

Not all categories of crime admittedly. Just the nasty stuff that involves people being hurt.

Our politicians tell us it’s falling but we all know it’s on the up. The government has tackled this mismatch between what they want us to believe and what we are experiencing by the simple expedient of labelling us all as being deluded. No, it’s not crime that’s rising. It’s the fear of crime that’s on the increase.

And, so, our government has set our police to tackling fear rather than crime.

Smart move.

I pity the poor policeman having to shovel the resulting nonsense almost as much as I pity myself.

I had a visit from a Community Support Officer last week. He’s doing a security check on every home in my area. Apparently, even though crime is falling spectacularly across the country, my local area seems to be the one place on this island where a lot of people have had their houses broken into recently. The CSO seemed like a genuinely decent man, so I wasn’t as hard on him as I could have been. It really is never fair to shoot the messenger. It was tempting though. I was particularly amused by a couple of highlights of his visit:

At one point he was looking at my front door. It’s rather secure. The previous owners of my place had an emergency one day and it took three firemen with full-size axes several minutes to break through it.

CSO: ‘Well, it seems strong enough but have you ever thought about putting a spyhole in this door?’

Me: ‘Why would I want to do that?’

CSO: ‘Just in case a nutcase was waiting outside for you’

Me: ‘Errr, do you have any local knowledge that makes you think that’s likely?’

CSO: (unconvincingly) ‘Oooh no, of course not. Just a precaution. That’s all’

Strike One for the CSO there. He'd just increased my fear of crime quite markedly.

A few minutes later he handed me a tube of goo and a window sticker. The goo in question is called SmartWater and is rather clever stuff. The goo in each individual tube has a unique ‘signature’ that can be identified under a microscope. If something stolen from my flat is subsequently recovered by the police they can trace it back to me, provided I’ve put a dab of this goo on my precious things before they are stolen.

SmartWater - clever, presumably expensive and a complete waste of fucking time …

Me: ‘So I dab this stuff on my valuables?’

CSO: ‘Yes’

Me: ‘Can someone scratch it off?’

CSO: ‘Yes, it’s like a spot of glue’

Me: ‘Is it invisible?’

CSO: ‘Yes, you can only see it in ultraviolet light’

Me: (gets out keyring) ‘Like one of these here?’

CSO: ‘Yes’

Me: ‘So, it’s easy for someone with a £1 keyring light to see and it can be scratched off with the back of a fingernail. You’ve told me the local burglaries are being carried out by professionals, so I guess they’ve probably already figured this out?’

CSO: ‘Er, it’s a possibility’

Me: ‘And if I put this window sticker up saying that I’m using this stuff, wouldn’t this advertise that there are things worth stealing in my flat? A burglar won’t even have to turn the lights on. He could just shine a UV torch around the place and anything worth stealing will be lit up with shiny dots’

CSO: ‘Well, er, you could look at it that way but we believe that it serves as an effective deterrent’

At which point I stopped playing. I was looking like he'd just just handed me a puppy turd and he was looking embarrassed. It just wasn’t fun anymore.

After discussing the fabulous SmartWater technology with Tracy, we still haven’t tagged anything or put up our ‘Things Worth Stealing Here!!!’ sticker in our front window. Actually, the sticker really says ‘Protected by Forensic Science. The Solution to Theft’, complete with a very 1950’s looking representation of an atom. But, what’s the difference?

We’re waiting to see what all our neighbours are going to do.

more bollocks

If the majority do put the stickers up we’ll do the same so we don’t stand out. Then we will tag the nastiest objects in the flat, mostly unwanted gifts, with the SmartWater juice. Our hope being that any burglars will think they are collectors' pieces and take that crap instead of anything that’s important to us. Candidates for tagging so far include:

  • A bottle of Rumanian licquer that looks like a raffia covered dildo
  • A mug featuring a teddy bear having intercourse with a rubber doll and the caption ‘I like Juice’
  • A really nasty salt cellar

I’ve thought this thing through and have concluded that that there are only two logical ‘takes’ on SmartWater

  • The people who run the Metropolitan Police genuinely believe that this is a very effective means of countering property theft
  • The people who run the Metropolitan Police know that this is nonsense and are cynically wasting public funds on the assumption that we are too stupid to realise this

So, the people who run the Metropolitan police are either idiots or in the business of deceit-driven politics or both.

Hmmm, that doesn’t bode well for the ID card scheme and a successful conclusion to the London Bombing investigation does it?


Sparkling said...

Someone else thought the London Bombing news had gone a little quiet too...

Stef said...

well, er, yes - I've just been outside admiring the consequences of their handywork

this coincides nicely with the story today that one of the bombers had phoned a man in Pakistan armed with a bomb belt, £8000 and a British Passport

The atmosphere outside on the street, from our politcians, from the media is bizarre. I lived in London throughout the IRA bombing campaigns and it was never like this. I'm just about ready to pack up and skip the joint - and it wouldn't be because of the bombings. Like I said, we've had those before