Another Day, Another Blog

September 5, 2007

1984, the sequel

Filed under: politics, what not to say — iamza @ 9:53 am

A U.K. judge thinks everyone should be on the national DNA database. Currently, any person arrested in England for all but the most minor of offenses can expect to have their DNA added to the national database. Even if they are not prosecuted, or are found innocent of all charges down the line, their DNA remains on record in the national database. Senior appeal court judge, Lord Justice Sedley, thinks this is an unfair state of affairs. His solution? Expand the national DNA register so that it includes samples for the entire U.K. population, and all visitors.

There are not enough words in the world to describe how repugnant I find this suggestion, and that it should come from a judge just reinforces my utter distrust of the British justice system.

This is the same justice system that was recently overhauled to remove the double jeopardy clause, so that people can now be tried for the same crime more than once.

It is the same justice system that promotes the idea that passersby remove themselves from the scene of a mugging or beating, and not attempt to help the victim because, if they do, they may end up facing charges for assault or GBH (and, incidentally, also have their DNA added to the national DNA register for the rest of their natural lifespan).

This is the same justice system that puts people into prison for ridiculous offences like not paying council tax, but also releases serious and repeat offenders because there’s not enough space to house all the convicted felons.  

And now they want to add my DNA to their national register? What, so that when PC Joe Bloggs finds he hasn’t quite met his quota of arrests for this year, he can mine the register for an extra suspect or two? I don’t care who ultimately winds up in charge of the national DNA register, the potential for misuse/abuse of the data contained therein is enormous.

The current system is unfair. What this judge is proposing is even worse.

August 30, 2007

All I want for Christmas…

Filed under: bright ideas — iamza @ 5:34 pm

Dear Santa Claus 

This year, I’d really like a flying saucer for Christmas. No need to drag it down the chimney, or park it under the tree. Just have one of your elves drop it off when ready. I’ll even give him a lift home afterwards, if you like.

Love, etc.

August 27, 2007

Food for thought

Filed under: bright ideas, the joy of life — iamza @ 8:03 pm

At last, I own my very own kettle braai/barbeque. Woo! Charred sausages on demand, any day (well, night, anyway) of the week.

It only took us an hour to put together (or “ten minutes” according to the box and paper directions), but that was mostly because we spent “ten minutes” searching for a lock-washer that I dropped in my newly-cut lawn. I swear, it’s easier to find things when the lawn looks more like an African jungle; I am never cutting the grass again.

Once the kettle braai was assembled, it took us another “ten minutes” to get the “easy-to-light” heat beads (a.k.a. super charcoal) to catch alight. Two thirds of a box of firelighters, half a cylinder of lighter fluid, a can of gasoline, a box of dynamite, and a tank of jet fuel later, the heat beads finally started to glow red. So did the house, the neighbour’s house, the other neighbour’s house, the house out back, and the house across the way. We did what any good neighbour would do, and ran down to Sainsburys to pick up some extra sausages. Good thing, too, because when the fire service showed up, they were really hungry…

August 24, 2007

Writer’s block: Time travel

Filed under: the joy of life, writer's block — iamza @ 1:38 pm

If you could travel back in time to spend a day with someone, who would it
be and why?

Nobody. I think I spend too much time thinking about the past as it is, and I’d prefer to save my energy for something more useful, like planning for the future.

I’d like to travel into the future, though, to see how the world might look sixty, or a hundred, or even a thousand years from now. Will people be looking at this as the Stink/Pollution Age? Or will they think of us as living in a golden age, full of hope and wonder?

Then again, I remember watching James Cameron’s Aliens, and pitying Ripley because she’d slept through her daughter’s life. Here’s this woman who finally gets to sleep after an incredibly traumatic ordeal, and when she wakes, she finds herself trapped in a world she never wanted. Her family is gone, and she is alone. So, perhaps travelling to the future isn’t such a good idea. What if I can’t get home again?

August 23, 2007

Lessons learned from Mills and Boon

Filed under: books, the joy of life — iamza @ 5:36 pm

1. The unknown female ringing him at odd hours is the pet goat he adopted on his travels through war-torn Africa.

2. A night spent making passionate love makes even the most insufferably arrogant man look sensitive and caring in the morning — especially when he remembers to turn on the coffee machine.

3. To really get to know somebody, you need only have two fights, a bit of snarky flirtation, and a steamy night in bed. Really, if you time it right, that works out to three point four days.

4. Deserts are full of mysterious princes, and the American midwest is populated by about a billion (plus or minus three) hunky, but angsty, cowboys. If you’re looking for a husband, those are the places to go.

5. No means no except when it means yes, and he’ll always know which one you really mean because he’s a mindreader. (Except when he’s not, but that only happens twice; see point 3 above)

5a. (Corollary:) She’ll never know what you’re thinking, so, for God’s sake, man, just spit it out and save us the thirty pages of abject misery and self-doubt before the happy ending.

6. If there’s a car to be crashed or a horse to fall off of, she’ll do it. But she’ll do it with a spirit he can’t help but admire.

7. When he says something unforgivably mean, she’ll realize she’s in love. (Also known as the WTF?! clause).

8. Nobody works for a living in romance novels. Or, if they do, they’re having it on with the super-hot boss, and not the kinda ugly person in the next cubicle. 

9. If you’re a writer, an artist, a journalist, or a business prodigy, and you’re still single, don’t despair. You’re about to meet your soulmate on the next page.

10. (Mills and Boon) love is more about lust than it is laughter. Too bad, because laughter is likely to last longer and bring one more joy.

August 22, 2007

Strange days

Filed under: curiosities, random, the joy of life — iamza @ 10:15 am

British drivers in a nutshell. Yes, VW drivers really are the British equivalent of Mercedes and BMW drivers in South Africa.

Had the oddest dream last night. I was visiting a college residence which had been taken over during the summer months by a film crew, who were filming who knows what. The college residence was part hotel, part shopping mall, and was bordered on one side by a soil-packing plant, complete with cranes and heavy machinery more likely to be associated with a large shipping port.

I didn’t have a room, so I spent my time sneaking into various crew rooms, and stealing naps on their very uncomfortable twin beds, nicking coffee from the neon-lit coffee shop, and relaxing in a cane chair in the glass-walled lounge which overlooked the soil shipping yard.

Then, all of a sudden, this huge mound of dirt just fell out of nowhere, and crushed the corrugated tin-roofed building next to the lounge, taking out two cranes and a couple of bulldozers. The lounge was half crushed, and I had to make my escape through the shipping yard because I was cut off from the door back into the college residence.

I was locked in a shipping container on my way to who knows where, when, thankfully, my alarm clock started beeping insistently. It’s not often I find myself so happy at the arrival of morning…

August 21, 2007

Dear brain, please die…

Filed under: ficlet, random — iamza @ 11:45 am

“The problem with lambs,” said Mary, “is that all that gambolling leads to shake-and-break brains.”

Miss Muffet leaned back against the tree trunk behind her, and sighed. “But they look so cute.”

“Cute, yes. Clever, no. Just the other day, I found them curled up in Jack Horner’s oven. He’d promised them a dinner of roast grass and mint sauce.”

Miss Muffet gasped. “He didn’t!”

Mary nodded grimly. “He was just about to turn the oven up when I walked in.”

“Really, that man thinks he can have his cake and eat it, too.” 

August 20, 2007

Heh

Filed under: curiosities — iamza @ 4:42 pm
What Be Your Nerd Type?

Your Result: Literature Nerd
 

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it’s eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today’s society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It’s okay. I understand.

Science/Math Nerd
 
Social Nerd
 
Anime Nerd
 
Drama Nerd
 
Gamer/Computer Nerd
 
Musician
 
Artistic Nerd
 
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

D’oh

Filed under: the joy of life, what not to say — iamza @ 8:33 am

Dear Virgin Media,

Thank you so much for responding to my email notifying you of a fault with my phoneline, and for reconfirming that, if I call you on 151, I can speak with your customer services team for free. Unfortunately, I have no dial tone on my Virgin phoneline. This makes the free call somewhat problematic.

No love,

Iamza

August 17, 2007

The Cloud

Filed under: books, science fiction — iamza @ 10:46 am

The Cloud, by Ray Hammond: The search for extraterrestrial life is finally over, or so everyone thinks when lunar-based Setiville scientists discover a signal being broadcast from the constellation Aquarius, almost fifteen light years from Earth. A return message is sent even as work begins on decrypting the alien transmission. Sadly, the decryption proves more challenging than initially thought, and thirty years pass with no significant progress being made. Then, just as Earth readies itself for a second message from Aquarius, the alien transmissions stop, and a fast-moving nebulous cloud is spotted on the fringes of the solar system. Suddenly, the idea of being alone in the galaxy starts to look more appealing…

On the whole, not a bad read. The plot ticks over nicely, and if the characters aren’t quite enough to keep one engaged, at least the story itself is reasonably entertaining.

As with so many other science fiction novels, the underlying message seems to be that, as a species, we ought to appreciate mother Earth more. Technology is all well and good, but we should limit our advances because we don’t really know what we’re messing with. And we ought to focus all our energy on Earthbound activities because space is too big and too alien and too wasteful of resources to be worth the effort. I’m not sure that I, personally, agree with any of these assessments.

There are also other bits and pieces that trouble me about the story. For one thing, the Cloud was designed to automatically seek out any and all civilizations who have developed to the extent that they are capable of generating radio waves. Apparently, this is a fundamental step on the path to developing a program of spaceflight. Earth survives because they play dead by turning off all the radios. What is to stop any other advanced civilization from doing the same? How is the Cloud able to regenerate itself? Matter has to come from somewhere, so the idea of a self-regenerating space-cloud is a little hard to swallow. Is the Cloud alone? If not, it seems terribly convenient that it happened to stumble across Earth just fifty or sixty years after SETI started searching in earnest.

If anything, for me, the Cloud reinforces the need for a viable space program. If there are multiple planets populated by human beings, we have that much less of a chance of becoming extinct. Not to be specist, or anything, but I kind of like the idea of human beings spreading amongst the stars like a virus. If nothing else, it’s sort of a cosmic, “Screw you!” to all the naysayers and doom-mongers.

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