Thursday, July 20, 2006

Frothing madness on the ID card frothing madness

Yes, it's quite possible that I am a little over-obsessed, somehow, with the ID card issue presently concerning almost no-one in the UK. But it's really serious, honest! Please read the following reasonably well-reasoned reasoned diatribe to persuade yourself of its Evilness(R), written by the Good Guys from no2id.


You may well have seen reports suggesting that the Home Office ID programme is in trouble. A series of e-mails leaked to the Sunday Times [1] from OGC (the Office of Government Commerce, part of the Treasury) and UKIPS (the new Identity & Passport Service) revealed that senior civil servants believe the project to be yet another fiasco in the making.

Government spin has been predictable, first claiming that the ID scheme was 'under review', then "broadly on track", and now proceeding "at the same pace" [2].

So what is fact and what is fantasy?

FACT: the ID scheme that the government has been selling for the last two years or more is a lie. With no clearly-expressed goal or justification, 'feature creep' almost every time ministers opened their mouths, and a complete unwillingness to listen to real experts in the field, the Home Office has lumbered itself with something impossibly complex, horrendously expensive, and utterly unworkable.

FACT: they passed the Act anyway, spending tens of millions in the process. The biggest threat to everyone's civil liberties is leaving a law on the statute books which permits compulsory registration, lifelong surveillance and population control by ID. But we also risk seeing billions of pounds of taxpayers' money (which could be far better spent elsewhere) being thrown away in pursuit of this authoritarian delusion. Even worse, a botched attempt could expose all our most personal information - leaving some with no control over their private lives or identities for the rest of their lives.

FACT: the government will proceed regardless. This programme has been politically driven from the outset and will remain so. Blair can't afford a U-turn, and the ID programme (or more accurately, the National Identity Register) is at the heart of government strategy [3]. The bureaucrats would love for us to all be neatly numbered, so our data can be shared ever more 'efficiently' - and the suppliers still stand to make billions, whether they deliver or fail.

The danger from the ID scheme is greater than ever.

Now the government is looking at issuing cut-down 'early variant' ID cards that would 'protect' your identity with nothing more than a four-digit PIN. A gift to fraudsters. The government will still fingerprint, iris scan, background check and interrogate you for a passport - but then simply store all your data in their database. No 'benefits' or services for the public. Just all the costs, risks and intrusion.

We have to redouble our efforts. It is more important than ever that we get the message out to a public that may think 'ID cards' are off the agenda. Street stalls, leafleting - even going door-to-door. Now is the time to wake people up to the real and present danger of the ID scheme.

If you can't spare the time to get involved with a local group, or even set one up (send a mail to for more info) then please help support those who are fighting hard on your behalf. Join the campaign at - it's just £15 per year - or send a donation.

The battle continues...





When it's that obvious, one has to wonder what the fuss is about.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some useful information for once, that isn't really that useful

Surely the prospect of listening to what our respective world leaders chat about between gravely serious and puffy declarations wrinkles your forehead with its sheer brilliance, its sheer lunacy, its sheer honesty for Damn's sake? Then a transcript of what Current American President the Rightly Honourable George Bush Jr. was caught fumbulating on during the recent (at the time of writing, no warranty implied) G8 summit while the microphone was left on should leave you in paroxysmal delight, right? Then click on the bloody link and stop bothering me already. The best bit follows (no objectivity implied, but I'm always right so it shouldn't concern you):

The camera is focused elsewhere and it is not clear whom Bush is talking to, but possibly Chinese President Hu Jintao, a guest at the summit.

Bush : Gotta go home. Got something to do tonight. Go to the airport, get on the airplane and go home. How about you? Where are you going? Home?

Bush : This is your neighborhood. It doesn't take you long to get home. How long does it take you to get home?

Reply is inaudible.

Bush : "Eight hours? Me too. Russia's a big country and you're a big country."

At this point, the president seems to bring someone else into the conversation.

Bush : It takes him eight hours to fly home.

He turns his attention to a server.

Bush : No, Diet Coke, Diet Coke.

He turns back to whomever he was talking with.

Bush : It takes him eight hours to fly home. Eight hours. Russia's big and so is China.

I'm so glad I voted for him. When can we stop kow-towing to these mere humans already, please? I'm starting to become really bored of taking them seriously. Can something be done about it within 28 days? [Source for some postal things: The Washington Post. How appropriate.]

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

An important announcement

Oy! Calling all UK citizens: RENEW YOUR PASSPORT NOW! I'm hardly a political activist, but this is so obviously and justifiably scary that I just have to do something about it, even if it's not much. According the UK Passport Authority itself, from October everyone who applies for a new passport will have to be interviewed, and it implies that biometric characteristics will also be collected. Oh, and it'll reportedly cost about £90 for the privilege, instead of the current £51 for a more convenient and less intrusive service, which is still too much. The stupidity and pointlessness of it is the most scary part. Alas that government should be run so clumsily in what is supposed to be a most "developed" nation. Alas.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Interesting stuff, honest

What with all the Sino-bashing going on around the world (except, strangely, in China... maybe it's not a masochistic sort of place, on aggregate, though it has more of a claim to being machoistic, so don't confuse the two terms, kids!), with a prominent example [if only due to the power of the people involved rather than any inherent truth-value or insight, but that's the nature of the human life it seems, and you really should try to get used to it if you haven't already] being the obsession of American politicians with the dollar-yuan exchange rate, the following fact might be particular interesting, short-attention-span readers of mine. This fact is the answer to a question, so in keeping with convention and tradition, I'll write the question first. You'll find out the fact eventually. Question: What is "(American) dollar" in Chinese? Answer: In Chinese characters: 美元; romanized: mei yuan. Highly interesting, right? What?! How can you disagree? Oh right, you don't know any Chinese. [If you do know enough Chinese to understand, you have no excuse, obviously]. It's interesting, I would argue, because "yuan" is the name of the Chinese currency of the moment, and "mei" means... beautiful. Isn't that sweet? So the US dollar is called the "beautiful currency", sort of. I'm sure this choice stems from a desire to suck up, but I dare not consider any further. Or maybe it's heavy irony. Hmm. Either way, interesting, as I said earlier, you skeptic. This is all proven here (to your low standards of proof, anyhow, which on this occasion is good enough for me). What's "concise" in Chinese, you ask? I have no clue. In every sense of the phrase (in English). Ha.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Terror fear over Clash fan's song" -- excellent headline, Beeb!

From BBC NEWS Online: Terror fear over Clash fan's song

"Harraj Mann, 23, asked a taxi driver to play The Clash's London Calling through the vehicle's stereo. But the cabbie rang police after he heard the song which includes the line: 'War is declared and battle come down'. Police said Mr Mann, from Hartlepool, was released without charge after his arrest on board a Bmi plane at Durham Tees Valley Airport."

Durham Police said a security check revealed he did not pose a threat.

A spokeswoman also said that it was not just the music Mr Mann requested, but the "overall impression" he gave that aroused the taxi driver's suspicion.

I must leave the country while there is still a chance. But where? People have forgotten how important liberty is, including as a creator of wealth, and they will come to regret it one day. Me? I'm getting a passport as soon as possible so I don't have to pay £90 or so for one due to all the ID card nonsense. Fair enough, it's also because my current one is about to expire, but that's not the real reason. Honest guvnor. People don't arrest me. Argh!

Man flogs wife's box on eBay | The Register

Ho ho ho: Man flogs wife's box on eBay | The Register Please come back soon for more intellectual titbits [unlikely to be meant literally, for the pseudo-intellectuals out there]. I agonise for weeks over important matters (or rather matters that make me feel worthy when I consider them, which is a superb definition of "important", in my humble yet utterly, infallibly correct opinion), and then post this trivial fluff-stuff. Bah. It is funny though, you gotta admit that.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


From Ha'aretz:

"In October 2000, Israel police killed 12 Arab citizens in disturbances that erupted in the wake of Sharon?s visit to the Temple Mount. Immediately the demand arose for a commission of inquiry. The left demanded a commission, the right bridled: What for? What is there to investigate? 'The prime minister is prepared to sacrifice the police on the altar of his survival,' said MK Silvan Shalom from the Likud. 'Toadies!' shouted MK Benny Elon from the National Union at members of the government who supported the establishment of a committee in the Knesset plenum. 'You are spineless!' 'What do you want from the police?' cried MK Uzi Landau of the Likud. 'It stood in the breech to protect the rule of law.' MK Landau announced he would propose a law that would prohibit commissions of inquiry from submitting findings against individuals, but only 'recommendations for improving the system.' MK Zvi Hendel from the National Union said he was ashamed: 'Instead of giving the police a medal, the Knesset is spitting in their face.' And MK Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party expressed real concern about the continued functioning of the police in such conditions: 'The police are liable to feel castrated and will be afraid to grapple with manifestations of nationalist violence in the future.' Philosophers from the right published sharp articles in the newspapers. What will happen, asked one of them, if, heaven forbid, the next time riots break out the police will be afraid to use force and 12 of them get killed? What will we say then to their families? The head of Meretz at the time, Yossi Sarid, welcomed the establishment of the commission. "It is too bad the government had to be dragged into this and did not initiate and lead," he said. The Arabs welcomed it. Yossi Beilin and Matan Vilnai, who were Labor ministers at the time, warmly supported the commission of inquiry. The point of this reminder does not need to be stated, because it is so clear and obvious. But anyway: Five years and a bit have gone by. Governments have come and gone. Ministers became Knesset members and Knesset members became ministers, but the hypocrisy and the double standards that characterize the politicians have not passed from the world with the strong wind that blew here yesterday. This week, in the Knesset plenum, the Kadima, Labor, Meretz and Arab factions voted against the establishment of a parliamentary (not even state) commission of inquiry to investigate the events at Amona. The right, headed by the Likud, voted in favor. The arguments and the justifications were absolutely identical to what was heard in the plenum in November, 2000, but the advocates and the opponents had traded roles. They had their say with the same fervor and with the same profound inner conviction that the minutes tolerate everything, and so does the microphone.
The details are unimportant, the conclusion all-important: don't trust politicians (or anyone with unaccountable power over you). How long will it take before people learn that and do something about it once and for all?