Wednesday, November 4, 2009


This makes me sick. Literally. I really feel like I want to throw up from a mixture of anger, incredulity, and sadness. Please, please read this article from the New York Times about the "bomb detector" that Iraqi security forces have been buying by the hundreds. I can't do the article justice in a summary, but basically, this "bomb detecting device" (the ADE 651) is completely ridiculous. There is no way in hell that it works at all, yet the Iraqi government has bought at least 1,500 of them at prices from $16,500 to $60,000 each (that's tens of millions of dollars total). There are about a thousand warning signs that the device is a complete scam (read the article), yet even Major General Jehad al-Jabiri, head of the Ministry of the Interior’s General Directorate for Combating Explosives, is whole-heartedly convinced that it works.

The ADE 651 doesn't have a power source. It has been independently tested and proven ineffective. The company that sells the device will not talk to any reporters. The company has refused to authorize any independent tests even when offered a $1 million reward if they passed. The device looks like a $2 plastic toy from China. It is primarily used by less-developed countries in the middle east and Africa. The technical explanation of its operation is mumbo-jumbo… I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

When I see cosmetics commercials with pseudo-science in them, I laugh. If people are silly enough to believe that bamboo extracts will make their hair springy like bamboo, then I think they deserve to lose $5 on some overpriced hair product. But in Iraq, on this enormous scale, with the dupes spending millions of dollars and entrusting millions of lives to something that would probably raise skepticism in even the average American consumer, this blatant deceit is infuriating. I cannot believe so many people are being taken in by this scam. It does not leave me with a lot of hope for Iraq; we are trying to let its people go back to governing themselves, but its leaders are still taken in by the crudest of schemes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mum Mum Mum Mah

Christopher Walken performs a poem by the great female poet laureate, Lady GaGa: