February 26, 2006
February 14, 2006
ID cards: this time it's personal
The Register: "Cards will be imposed on anyone who renews their passport - the voluntary element supposedly being that people could choose not to carry a passport."
It's not voluntary for all of us.
I'm pledged to refuse to carry an ID card, and to go to court if necessary in support of that pledge. That means I won't be able to renew my UK passport, or will have to fight an expensive and complicated court battle on the other side of the world to do so.
But hist! Under New Zealand immigration law, I don't become eligible for NZ citizenship until I've been a permanent resident for five years, i.e. April 2010. But my passport expires in September 2008. I don't mind not being able to leave New Zealand for a couple of years, but my passport contains my residence permit. If my passport expires, what's the status of my permit? We, like the Smothers Brothers, got trouble right here in River City, with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for passport.
Now I may have got lucky. Under the previous NZ law, one was eligible for citizenship three years after entering the country, which in my case would be January 2008. The new law was passed on 14 April 2005. My residence permit was issued on 12 April 2005, and the Citizenship Office indicated at the time that the new regulations would not be made retrospective, as was apparently the initial plan.
If the Citizenship Office's promise is good, I've escaped becoming an international test case by two days. If not, I have a choice of accepting a 'voluntary' British ID card, or being deported for not carrying a 'voluntary' British ID card... deported to Britain, which would refuse me entry because I couldn't renew my passport because of the requirement to accept a 'voluntary' British ID card.
Hey, Tony, explain again about the 'voluntary' bit?
February 13, 2006
Fetch the brains
Somehow this evening's game turned from a discussion of zombie movies, and in particular Mash's plans for escaping the zombie hordes both at home and at work, into a challenge to my scripting skills. I'm not sure whether I really want to post any real content apropos of said challenge, since after all any content would only fall victim to the voracious zombies, but then again, I'm not entirely comfortable posting waffle like this. Oh well, done now I guess.
February 11, 2006
Multi-touch interaction research (requires Flash). Some of the demos are no more than noodling, but the photo manipulation and map navigation demos open one's eyes to just how much the primitive vocabulary of the mouse/pen single-cursor interface is holding graphical user interfaces back.
February 09, 2006
"It's only a theory" strikes again
New York Times (via No Right Turn): "George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word 'theory' after every mention of the Big Bang." Pedantic, but not necessarily wrong: after all, scientists refer to even well-tested laws as "theories," as in "theory of gravity" or "theory of relativity."
But read on. Astonishingly, it seems that the presidential appointee's orders were motivated by more than just a desire to conform to the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. (Aside: "Libel Manual"? Am I the only one to whom that sounds wrong? Surely a Libel Manual is what Private Eye issues to each new editor as he assumes the chair?) "The Big Bang is 'not proven fact; it is opinion,' Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, 'It is not NASA's place, nor should it be, to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator.'"
Oh. Considering the amount of money and time NASA has put into sending up satellites like the Hubble Telescope and Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe to collect images of the young universe and echoes of the Big Bang in order to help scientists understand the origin of the universe, it must be disappointing for them to learn at this late stage that they would have been better off sending an intern with a digital camera to Rome to take pictures of the Sistine Chapel, and spending the rest of the budget on Flying Spaghetti Monster merchandise.
But there's good news too. "On Friday evening, repeated queries were made to the White House about how a young presidential appointee with no science background came to be supervising Web presentations on cosmology and interview requests to senior NASA scientists. The only response came from Donald Tighe of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 'Science is respected and protected and highly valued by the administration,' he said." So that's all right then.
February 07, 2006
The price of freedom of speech
As usual, when I have a nebulous political worry which I cannot articulate, Idiot/Savant is there with the pithy soundbite: "Freedom of speech is not subject to the veto of the business community."