Letters Tony Blair has set out to defend his ludicrous and intrusive ID card and national identity register project with an opinion piece in The Telegraph. We'll not go into this in detail again, but suffice to say that you have (again) failed to be convinced by his arguments:
Blair, self confessed science-dunderhead, assures us that the ID cards scheme is going to work, based on what track record, I don't know. He says that the cards will only cost £30 as well as your passport £66; even if this is what we will have to hand over for the privilege of having our privacy invaded, does he really think that we believe the short fall won't be made up by tax? ie: money that we have to pay the government.
Incidentally the only biometric that is required on passports is a picture on the chip, this is hardly the same as a full scale national roll-out of a multi-biometric ID card system. They seem to be getting away with this little white lie more and more often.
So, here's a question from America. The Register is of course rightly worked up over ID cards, and rightly so. But is the message getting through to citizens in the UK, or is it a non-issue to Joe Public? I'm glad W is distracted by his war, because you can stop a war, but it's harder to turn off surveillance once it's started. In 1999 I would have bet big money that Americans would never have put up with being stopped by uniformed guards and having their travel papers scrutinized. Maybe that's why I don't like to fly anymore.
Sigh. - Kurt
"Biometrics give us the chance to have secure identity"
Which shows exactly how much he knows...
As it happens, my identity is fine, thanks, although my identification may occasionally get screwed up, usually by government agencies.
Once you substitute the word 'identification' for 'identity' in this sort of rhetoric, the paranoia begins to deflate, and the real issue becomes a bit clearer. No wonder it doesn't get used...
"He goes on to promise ID cards will cost no more than £30 on top of the £66 the biometric passport will cost"
What on earth does this mean. Could it mean that if I don't have passport, an ID card will cost me 96 quid. Or more likely, does it mean that ID card and Passport are a "2 for 1" deal and you can't have one without the other.
But then you have to wonder why one needs two different IDs, two different databases, two different issuing bodies? Why not use passports for all purposes?
"I simply don't recognise some of the figures that have been attached to ID cards which, too often, include the costs of biometric passports."
There's something of a pattern here, the Dear Leader also had trouble recognising some of the figures attached to the number of Iraqi WMDs.
YouTube? No, that's MyTube, thank you. And this is my lawyer. Notice the shiny lawsuit:
Have a quick solution for this quandry : Universal Tube should buy the domain universaltube.com, or unitube.com, and settle the issue on their own. For the modest price of a few dollar bills, they can get themselves out of the storm and continue doing business on the Internet. It's amazing how companies and people just go to the judge instead of looking at things critically.
Is Universal Tube going to lose customers because of a change in domain name ? I think not.
Is Big U going to gain anything by raiding YouTube's domain ? Not really.
So why not do the sensible thing ? Besides, getting the utube domain for Universal Tube was lazy in the first place. YouTube can arguably maintain that they have nothing to do with the mistake, and it's not their fault. Nobody is going to win this one, and while the lawyers get more pork, the situation stays the same.
I like a man who knows a good revenue-generating opportunity when he sees one. Maybe Google should hire him to find a viable business model for YouTube. Good on yer Ralph.
Well, it seems they are doing a whole lot of nothing to fix the problem. The front page of their site is a whole 1mb in size! Had they used semantic markup, css, and appropriate image compression techniques they probably would have felt very little impact.
You've got to laugh. I assume Universal Tubing is American, as only in the Land of the free (well until G Dubya passed all those nice anti terror laws recently) could a company start throwing the lawyers about because they got too many web site visitors. It's not like these visitors aren't going to realise their mistake in the first 30 seconds and go ask their mate how to correctly spell the second person singular pronoun in the nominative case. (Although I fear these days the reply would be "Da wot?").
Oh well, got to admire their nerve though, personally I wouldn't fancy upsetting Google and finding myself magically vanishing from their search index!
Maybe they should be going after Nokia et al for making mobile phone keypads so small people gave up spelling correctly, or whatever bright spark decided on such a small size for the SMS so abbreviations became required...
You should be careful though, they might come looking for you next. I'm sure more than a few Register readers have gone to have a look at their site. Be afraid!
An observation about Thomas C. Greene's obvious newbie error in his early reports from Dublin:
Your Dublin correspondent, Thomas C. Greene, can't have lived here for very long if he has to be corrected by a Sunday Times hack regarding our PM's speech patterns, or rather mangling.
Bertie Ahern is renowned throughout this Emerald Isle for his inner Dublin accent and lack of oratory prowess, frequently stumbling over himself, "eh-ing" and "ah-ing" and generally striving for that right word and failing miserably to find it.
Even more amusing is the odd occasion in our House of Commons, the Dail (pron: Doyle), when he comes under sustained attack from members of the opposition. At times like these he descends into an inner-inner Dublin sneer-type rant with spittle flying everywhere and words picked seemingly at random as he retaliates like the boot boy he is. The end result is that the observer is left nonplussed as to the point of his rant as word follows meaningless word seemingly at random.
Plus, he drinks Bass, an ale-like local beverage that not even the most desperate down and out would use to reach the land of inebriation in place of his Buckfast.
May Thomas soon attune himself to the peculiar pattern of Bertie song so that he need no longer demean himself to the world-wide readership of The Reg. However, a word of friendly warning Mr.,Greene; don't, whatever you do, try to decipher the Mayo accent of the esteemed leader of the opposition, Enda Kenny (or Indakinny as our national press fondly remonickered him).
Another opportunity to smack the Dear Leader (Mr. Blair) around the head. This time in relation to his comments about science being fundamental to the future of the British economy:
"He said failure to engage in rational debate ... contributed to the scare over the MMR vaccine."
So this would be the same Mr Blair who refused to confirm that his toddler had been given the MMR jab, then? The one whose wife buys into any new-age tosh that happens along?
Something about motes and beams springs to mind.
If the Dear Leader is so keen to promote science in Britain, he should prevent creationism from being taught in state schools such as the Gateshead Academy, which is sponsored by the anti-evolutionist Vardy Foundation.
He should also reverse the recent decision by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to allow manufacturers of homeopathic products to make claims about the medical efficacy of their products, a move that has been condemned by a dozen of Britain's leading scientific and medical institutions (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6085242.stm).
Blair really just doesn't get it. The reason people are not falling over themselves to get a science degree is because it simply doesn't pay. Someone in Marketing earns more money, gets more respect - and faces less risk of having their job outsourced to the lowest bidder in the Far East. Is it any surprise that science graduates are in short supply?
I've said this before, and I'll say it again: Cheap labour for industry and a science-literate population are mutually exclusive goals. (The state of dumbed-down television has done nothing to generate any scientific interest since the 1980s, anyway!) Labour has opted for the former, but is now lamenting the state of the latter. But that's just life - you can't have everything!
How exactly does Blair's new stance on science align with his religious beliefs, his unrelenting support for 'faith-based' schooling at the taxpayer's expense and his public support for the teaching of biblical myth as historical or scientific fact. He publically supports, and provides government subsidies to, Sir Peter Vardy and his Emmanuel College, where fundamentalist biblical literalism is taught as fact - Flood Geology, for instance, and, of course, the perennial favourite 'intelligent' design.
Science isn't just a career option. It involves thinking about and questioning the world around you. To fill kids heads full of bronze-age mythologies as fact and then expect them to pick up a career in science is completely self-defeating. We either bring up our kids to think and explore or we keep them in the dark, hating all the others who don't use the same dark age texts.
"Tony Blair is set to deliver a speech in Oxford today calling for Brits to "stand up for science", in a bid to make scientific careers more attractive to young people."
Excuse my French, but what a load of bollocks - he might want to start by making scientific careers more attractive to those who are already in them. Only in this godforsaken armpit of a country could someone a) be penalised for having the audacity to better themselves, educationally or otherwise and b) have a PhD in physics, several years of commercial software development experience *and* a shiny new P45 ...
Oh, and while he's at it, our beloved PM might want to look at the dumbing down of science courses at both GCSE and A-Level although this isn't a new thing despite what the meeja would have you believe; I had the misfortune to have to teach undergraduates at what is supposedly one of the top 5 universities (York, in this case) and let's just say that I'd expect people embarking on physics degrees to have at least a basic grasp of mathematics ...
It were never like this when I were a lad, etc.etc.
Simon (boffin, and proud of it)
Shame he didn't take his own advice! But then he's probably not bright enough for science.