ID Card Consultation scandal

Anyone following the ID/Entitlement Card issue here in the UK might have been aware of the Stand campaign to get people to feed into the consultation process that closed early this year. At the moment it appears that all 5000 submissions made via the Stand website are being treated as one submission, which enables the government to claim that the consultation resulted in 2:1 in favour of the cards.

According to this BBC report, there is a response being prepared by the government to a question concerning the Stand responses, so it will be interesting to see what they have to say. At least this is being reported by larger media companies.

Danny O’Brien, one of the volunteers who run the Stand project, has written an open letter to Beverley Hughes, the government minister who made the announcement, asking why the Stand responses were not included in the count. He sent his letter two weeks ago and as of yesterday hadn’t had a response.

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Earth From Mars

Earth From Mars

I saw this picture in the papar the other day, and promptly forgot about it until reminded at Futurismic. Pretty cool. The pictures were taken by the Mars Global Surveyor a few days ago.

There are more photos and a bit more detail over at the Marlin Space Science Systems website. MSSS built the Mars Orbiter Camera used to take the pictures.


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Lindisfarne Gospels

This incredible Dark Age manuscript is the centre of an exhibition running at the British Library at the moment, and will be until 28 September. Around 1300 years old, the Gospels are one of Britain’s greatest historical treasures. I have always felt an affinity with all things Northumbrian, as my father’s side come from the borderlands and I have many memories of childhood holidays spent in the area. Lindisfarne was often on our itinerary and I loved the feeling as the tide swept over the causeway marooning us on the narrow island with its ruined monastary and castle for a few hours.

The exhibition features the Gospels themselves together with a facsimile that can be examined. There are lots of other artefacts and books on display providing background to the period and the religious and artistic culture to which the Gospels belong. There are also examples of Islamic, Japanese and other asian manuscripts, equally beautiful and intricate, which provide a more global context. Altogether a fascinating exhibition and one worth an hour or so of your time should you find yourself near the British Library before it ends. The Gospels are on permanent display normally, but it is worth catching them as part of this exhibition as the extra context is fascinating, and there are several other pieces which are worth the visit in themselves. For the more vitually inclined, there is an interactive online way to look at parts of the Gospels.

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Sarin Scare

The BBC Reports: It is apparently very easy to buy the necessary precursors needed to manufacture the Sarin nerve agent. I notice that this is yet another report in the constant stream of impendingterroristthreat type reports that have come to dominate the British media again since the end of the fighting in Iraq. It seems that now the war is over, we need to be reminded about the terrorists every five minutes again.

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Everest Anniversary

I have to say I’m not overly impressed by today’s anniversary. I mean, who cares? I suppose that it was a great feat of endurance and determination, but at the end of the day it just seems to be another case of marking territory, homo sap. style.

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Pschedeliciously sonic

[Hawkwind logo]Went to see Hawkwind last night at the Astoria. I’m not exactly a Hawkwind afficionado, but as a SF fan have always been somewhat intrigued by their association with Michael Moorcock and their use of explicit SF/Fantasy elements in their performances. Any band that names an album after Stormbringer has got to be good.

It was an experience that I feel I lack the ability (not to mention the vocabulary) to do justice to. The show was both a visual and a sonic attack. The crowd was a friendly mix of aging rockers and hippies (people who look like your mother wearing Motorhead t-shirts) and younger people. There was no pretension, everyone was there to enjoy the show. Even Dr and the Medics were pretty entertaining as the support – I never thought I’d get to see “Spirit in the Sky” performed live.

The songs flowed into one another, and the sense that the evening was one long jam session rather than several discrete tracks was there despite the familiarity of some of the songs. I can’t even remember exactly what happened – the evening has blurred into a memory of flashing lights, spinning images and bizarre noises, and that’s with nothing more sinister than a bit of alcohol in my bloodstream. A show worth going to – I’d go and see them again.

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ID Cards, yet again

So, ID cards have returned to the agenda this month. Right now they are being touted as important in the fight against “illegal immigration” – just as the government are claiming a Great Leap Forward on the issue. So let me get this straight – asylum claims are (allegedly) down, so we need to introduce a highly invasive and no doubt horrendously expensive system of surveillance on everyone, whilst charging them for the pleasure, to help alleviate a problem that is already being successfully alleviated? Of course! I must be one of those liberal civil liberties idiots not to see the clear thinking logic here! No doubt some dickhead politician out there also thinks that they’ll help in the “War against Terror”, too. I really am beginning to despair of this country.

Here’s what some media outlets have to say:

Nothing at time of writing had appeared on the STAND website.

(And on the subject of being sick of this country, civil liberties etc, Avedon Carol provides us with a nice assessment of the reality behind a certain large “Civil Liberties” group here in the UK. If these are the people we rely upon to stand up for us, then no wonder I’m feeling depressed. Sigh.)

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Family matters

I like this:

Chimps are human, gene study implies

The latest twist in the debate over how much DNA separates humans from chimpanzees suggests we are so closely related that chimps should not only be part of the same taxonomic family, but also the same genus.

The new study found that 99.4 percent of the most critical DNA sites are identical in the corresponding human and chimp genes. With that close a relationship, the two living chimp species belong in the genus Homo, says Morris Goodman of Wayne State University in Detroit.

Oo-oo-oo! Oo-oo-oo!

(Via New Scientist news service)

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