America – Wake up

James pointed this out over twitter: http://is.gd/4MV1s

Doesn’t surprise me, it seems that the US has taken the line the ends justify the means for a while, including torture, and the (slightly) indirect causing of torture.

Just one thing, America. You really cannot complain when your troops are tortured. There is a reason everyone accepted the Geneva Conventions, but it looks like the US has decided to ignore them. (Like the UK is ignoring Human Rights in some cases now, and is trying to eat away our privacy.)

Haymarket Metro Station, Newcastle

Fore note: Garreth has gone up to Newcastle to study Building Services (foundation) at Northumbria University.
This has to be the most random and unrelated note (i won’t call it a blog, it’s not worthy of that).

Tonight after chowing down on a awesome kofte kebab from Get Stuffed (Newcastle fast food 😉 ) and feeling much better from having some sugar in my veins I was in a chatty mood. Here is the information I gathered!

Guy with guitar, looks like a student, sitting on a chilly step eating a kebab:
Newcastle Student Union hold a Open Mic night every monday!
(Finally some real music!)
There’s a Jazz club that also hosts real music, there’s a guy who hands out leaflets for it during the day near the church.
He’s a fresher.

Builder on St Mary’s street, by the church:
Turns out tonight they are removing the cabins located literally right next to the church. They’ve just completed the new Haymarket Metro station after a 2 year build. Coincidentally, he mentioned off the cuff that they had to use 125ft drilled piles!
Phew! It’s coincidental cos that’s what I was studying today in my Building Construction lecture with Kevin Elliot.

So they drilled 120ft (presumably couldn’t use displacement piles cos it’d disrupt all the buildings nearby, and the underground!), put steel in and poured concrete.

Mr Builder said they had to be really careful with the positioning of the piles or they’d have gone bankrupt – after all the client is not going to be too happy if you drill into the tube you’re building a station for!

It’s strange how you can reinforce your learning with random late night chats with builders! I’d recommend anybody studying built environment courses give it a try 😉

Now about that darn assignment :'(

Btw I have some half decent posts in draft too (Web 3.0, firefox addons), if only I had the motivations to finish them!

Time, privacy and its lack thereof

Over the weekend I watched “V for Vendetta”. Its come up recently in a forum I frequent, specifically the quote at the beginning – about ideas being impossible to kill.

Its wrong.

Ideas can be killed. Eventually. It takes time, patience, and willingness on the part of those whose minds you are changing.

I wonder, do you ever worry about this country? (I’m talking to the Brits here. Sorry everyone else, this post is aimed at the UK, our laws and situation though you may find parallels about where you live.) We have a government that (almost) no-one likes. We have a leader, who at best could be termed ignorant. At worst a devious schemer.

Not worked out what I’m talking about yet? This is what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the erosion of our privacy. I’m talking about the surveillance state we are in. Do you even know what powers our oh so wonderful government has over us now? Read some of the above links. Heck even the Information Commissioner, the guy supposed to be looking after our privacy as relating to computers is saying its here!

I’ve been reading all these news items one by one, slowly, over a period of the three or so years that I’ve been watching and reading all articles that come up in BBC News’s tech section. As I’ve read them one by one, and not put them together, I haven’t worried too much. Till now. Apart, each are only merely slightly worrying. Together, we’ve got a problem. If you’ve not already, I recommend you now go and watch “V for Vendetta“, and then read “The Traveller“. Then continue reading below the line.

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You think the technologies to create this don’t exist? As someone who sits on the edge (or maybe inside) of geek-dom, I can say with knowledge and certainty, they do. We could be living in George Orwell’s 1984’s level of observation in a simple matter of 6 months. Heck, if you’re in London, you’re probably already carrying at least one unique ID tracker, most of which can be read remotely at 30 feet (or more). Your RFID Oyster card. Your mobile phone. Your RFID chipped passport. Your RFID credit/debit card.

Don’t believe me? Read up on RFID and RFID skimming.

Literally, all we have to do now is wait, as our last safeguards are removed or bypassed, and before too long all it will take to bring us to the societies depicted in “1984”, “V for Vendetta” and “The Traveller” is one crack pot power maniac in government. Need I mention, I don’t have a high opinion of Gordon Brown?

Its not as if it hasn’t happened before in history, one man taking over a democratic country and turning it into a dictatorship. But much worse, as in our country is all the tools needed to *keep* our country in a dictatorship and aid its passage to one.

Now, I can say all this, as we’re not there yet. However, I see the day fast approaching when I would be arrested for what I have written here, and asked to relinquish my encryption key’s pass phrase. (You’ll have to torture me before that happens.)

Someone once told me, that we’d never get to the point where the EU constitution comes into play. The treaty that was ratified by the UK merely a few weeks ago, was basically the EU constitution.

I have heard many times, “I’ve got nothing to hide”. No, not yet. Until you have to hide your sexuality. Your Race. Your religious beliefs. Your musical preferences. Your secrets.

I leave you with a link and this old, poem. How long before it becomes relevant once more?

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When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out.

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