Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I am the enemy you killed, my friend

This year I want to think of the many different types of people who contributed to stemming the tide of imperialism and Nazism. And also, let's not forget those who refused to take part in war, which is a very brave decision also.

Black veterans, Asian veterans, LGBT veterans, the poets and writers and artists, medical personnel, conscientious objectors, Bevan Boys, Land Girls, Lumber Jills, the Little Ships that went to Dunkirk, and other groups who get forgotten in the general remembrance. And what about those who fought on the other side, whose memorials just say they lost their lives, not that they laid down their lives for their country.
When so many have been slaughtered,
Let us mourn with tears of sorrow,
And treat victory like a funeral.
~ Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 31
What about all the refugees and civilian casualties? What about all those who were shot for desertion, or died of disease, or from "friendly fire" or accidents? Did they lay down their lives for their country, or did their country lay down their lives without thought of the cost? Let us not treat victory as anything other than a funeral, because the fact that war ever came to seem like the only way to solve a conflict is a cause for mourning. Yes, we must resist oppression and persecution, but let us study peace-mongering ways to do it.
Strange Meeting ~ Wilfred Owen

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said that other, "save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also, I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now . . ."

Friday, November 07, 2008

word verification

Recently Google has been generating quasi-meaningful-sounding word verification - so far today I've had besserso (as in, "Ja, es ist besser so.") and vocurdst:

I vocurd
Thou vocurdst
He vocurdeth
We vocurden
You vocurden
They vocurden

(to vocurd: archaic English verb meaning to vocalise through emulsified substances associated with whey.)

And the latest gem is pologami - that's either "the art of folding small round mints with a hole in" or a love-in at a polo match...

Why ID cards suck

  1. I carry a driving licence to prove that I am capable of driving; I carry a bank card to gain access to my bank account (which no-one else should have access to); I carry ID for my workplace because it is a secure building and I can't get in otherwise; I carry a passport to prove who I am at the border so I can get let back into my country of origin. These are all special resources or services to which limited access is required. I shouldn't have to carry an ID card to prove that I am allowed to live and move freely in my own country, where I was born. I don't want to live in a police state.

  2. The underlying database is costly and time-consuming to build, and judging by other government IT projects and data-loss fiascos, will be easy to hack and easy to mislay data from. It's also the largest and most complicated government IT project yet.

  3. ID cards won't help to catch terrorists or prevent terrorism. All the people involved in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade centre were carrying ID cards. There are other measures which would be far more effective.

  4. ID cards will not prevent cases of mistaken identity; they are more likely to exacerbate the problem, because law enforcement officials will assume that the system is more robust, when it isn't.

Bill for ID cards rises by £50m

Hopefully this will now mean ID cards are dead in the water, but we must remain vigilant...
clipped from www.guardian.co.uk
The costs of the national identity card project crept up by a further £50m yesterday as the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, announced that a small number of transport workers will be able to volunteer to get the cards next year before the official launch date.

Despite this effort to reduce the costs of creating a national network of ID enrolment centres, the latest cost report for the scheme shows that the projected overall bill continues to creep up. The bill for issuing ID cards to all foreign nationals who are long-term resident in Britain, which began this month, has risen by £7m since March to £326m. The cost for British nationals has also crept up in the last six months by a further £45m to £4.7bn over the next 10 years. This figure does not include the costs to any other government department of using the ID cards to check identities.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

DNA database to be cut back

This is good - the House of Lords introduced an amendment that says the DNA records must be deleted.
clipped from news.bbc.co.uk
The government has been defeated in the House of Lords over the issue of keeping peoples' DNA and fingerprints on the police national database.

Ministers said the safeguard was not needed and could hinder anti-terror operations but critics said innocent people should not be stigmatised.

The defeat is the latest inflicted by peers on the counter-terrorism bill.

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