Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

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NPM

September 19, 2009

National Preparedness Month.

I mean really. It’s been eight years since Pearl Harbour v02, when the second round of evil furriners with aircraft made their presence felt. If you’re not prepared yet…

And a month?

How long does it take to get prepared, when you’ve had eight years’ lead time?

I despair. Especially when I see that they weren’t even prepared to hire a designer to do the logo. And the slogan – I’m having a Seinfeld moment – what’s with that? “Are you prepared or are you prepared?” Huh?

I refer you all to this. Perhaps the most coherent thing to be said on the subject.

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neologism time

April 21, 2009

Well today I came across a good new word, in an article about the death of Ian Tomlinson at the recent G20 unhappiness in London, and the state of British policing in general: testeria.

Built directly on the foundation of the outmoded, anatomically ridiculous ‘hysteria’, ‘testeria’ has an apparently greater claim to bodily relevance, referring as it does to those testosterone-fuelled raging enthusiasms for violence that many men seem prone to, and have come to characterise the expected behaviour of the police involved in crowd control.

I’m just waiting for the adjective to come into vogue – “settle down, you’re getting testerical!”, or the substantive “pay him no mind, he’s always been a bit of a testeric…”

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Brussels – not always boring!

March 25, 2009

easily excited

I’m working, at the moment, at the arse-end of Evere, on the north-eastern fringe of Brussels, just shy of NATO headquarters, and halfway between the city and the airport.
At least the locals, Flemish, Walloon, Moroccan, Turkish, whatever, seem friendly enough. I visited a small pub with a cow orker, and it’s the only place I’ve ever been where everyone in the place bought a round for everyone else. There were only about 6 of us, but still…

And then there was the ‘manifestation.’ No, Belgium is not noticeably haunted – it’s apparently the word they use when Something Important is happening at NATO, just around the corner from where I’ve been working.

I noticed a lot of police activity in the morning, convoys of (mostly empty) police buses, but that happens. I thought nothing of it, until I tried to go to work. I unlocked the gate to the driveway – the building I work in is set in a largeish yard with lawn (kept tidy by bunnies) and trees and a car-park – and locked it behind me. Suddenly a small car with four un-uniformed but very efficient looking men pulled into the drive. They got out, and the driver came forward. “How did you get in there?” he asked. “I have a key,” I replied. I could see lots of heavy-duty equipment bristling under his jacket. This is where I learnt about the ‘manifestation.’ “Manifestation?” I asked, wondering if Belgium really took its ghostbusting that seriously. He explained briefly that it was a term that was used in the context of NATO ‘security,’ then asked me to prove that I actually let myself in with the key I had brandished. So I opened the gate, not having seen any form of ID from these fairly threatening-looking dudes, and a little voice in the back of my head said “this a the part where they rush the gate, kick the crap out of you and cut off your thumb for the biometric front door lock.” Luckily that little voice had been watching too many Hollywood movies. The men thanked me and went about their other business.
But this is the kind of security that, a couple of hours later, had 5 mounted (heavily armed) police come into the company’s premises because my colleague, who is a lightly-built blonde Kiwi girl (that day wearing a miniskirt, presumably that’s interpreted as terrorist chic here), wanted to go home. 100 metres around the corner. They came onto the company’s privaat eigendom (what they call private property in Belgium) and bailed her up against a hedge, and told her that she needed to go back inside – forbidding her to leave work, or indeed be on the streets at all!
Our manager was not pleased when he heard about it, but that was an hour later and the ‘manifestation’ was more or less all over by then, save for the constant drone of helicopters…

Note to self: stay the hell away from centres of bureaucracy, military or otherwise, and other hotbeds of security theatre. They do nothing to reinforce ones faith in humanity.

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Eternal vigilance

March 3, 2009

Is eternal vigilance ever going to be enough to combat the horrific admixture of eternal stupidity and eternal malevolence that governments seem to embody?

Just when I hear some potentially good news about the proposed Australian net-nanny, or to be more accurate, slap-you-around-’til-you-(want to)-forget-which-way-you-voted censorship, laws, the UK comes up with another in a long list of terrifying idiocies, Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill.

In short, it appears that the UK Government is attempting to gain the power to access any information about anyone, from any source, and aggregate it, and be allowed to use it for any purpose. That includes passing it on to private sector bodies doing ‘governmental’ work.

It has been suggested that this is an attempt to overcome the energy crisis with the use of a couple of large magnets and a careful winding of copper wire around George Orwell’s bones.

It may, on the other hand, be that 1984 has turned into more of a blueprint than a cautionary tale.

Either way this has to be one of the most outstandingly egregious grabs for power in any supposedly civilised country.

Here’s an open letter from a number of Britain’s top health officials outlining some of the dangers from their perspective. With any luck, arguments like these will hold some sway. If not, the EU might prove itself useful in helping to shoot this idiocy down – I’ve heard some rumours about the proposed legislation falling foul of EU human rights conventions, which, unless Britain’s considering seceding from the union, should be able to override illegal local policy.

Here’s hoping for the best.