Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hope for civil liberties yet

Today I was extremely impressed to see the Modern Liberty convention website. It is proof to me that many people are united in their disliking of and resistance to excessive and disproportionate surveillance and the curtailment of civil liberties.

I found the "Petty Britain" page to brilliantly highlight the problems of poorly designed and written legislation and the brandishing of essentially innocent people as criminals. For example one man got a criminal record because his wheelie bin's lid wasn't firmly closed (see the site for more information). This is absolutely ridiculous.

As I've been growing up, increasingly I've seen the British civil liberties campaign evolve. What was once just a few disparate individuals trying to raise awareness has now grown into something which now unites NGOs and has cross-party support in government. Since the ID card bill was passed, I firmly believe it is only the Labour party whip which is keeping things going. The surveillance state is more vulnerable than it might first appear. The people of Britain will reclaim their liberties yet, and when we do, we will be able to turn to the rest of the world and say once again, this is how a liberal democracy should be.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Government travel database plans

Civil liberties in the past twelve years or so have faced an unprecedented attack. Technological advances coupled with the decline of liberalism and the rise of a form of we-know-best socialism have led to numerous schemes from road charging to ID cards to the children's database to ISPs storing records of all emails sent and sites visited and so on.

The latest nail in the coffin is an attempt to keep track of the travel patterns of all British citizens for 10 years at the moment (though probably for life with an amendment near the end of the firt 10 year period).

It seems to me through all this that the government is right to want to help us, but wrong in its execution. There is no point in making people safe if they don't have any quality of life and live in fear of breaking one of the numerous new rules that have been passed and having to give up more personal information to the dna database.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

"One of your five a day".... yeah right.

I'm not a health nut. I don't spend my life looking for reduced fat, high in omega 3, carol vorderman approved yoghurt.

Nonetheless I think the "5 a day" campaign to help people eat better is not necessarily a bad idea. Now naturally any advice from the government should be taken with a great deal of suspicion e.g. don't save your money but spend it = save as hard as you can, but this seems reasonable, if a bit of a hassle.

Anyway I took fruit and veg to mean one banana, a few raisins, a bit of salad in a sandwich and so on. However apparently this isn't good enough.

Today I bought a bag of grapes and according to the advice to get "1 of your 5 a day" I must eat 20 grapes! Now I don't know about you, but 4 or 5 grapes is about all I normally want. To put it another way, to get your full five you'd have to eat 100 grapes. That doesn't sound very healthy for me or my digestion.

This isn't the only case though. Whenever I'm in supermarkets now most of the supposedly healthy products firmly tell us just how much we have to eat get 1 of our five a day and normally it is such a high figure, you'd have to eat half the world's supply.

I think the problem is two-fold. Firstly a lot of food which claims to have fruit or vegtables has such a tiny amount that it is irrelevant (I've seen drinks and juices with less than 4% fruit before now). Secondly some companies are deliberately stating you have to eat a set large amount of the product to convince you to over consume (and then buy more).

Either that or the "five a day" advice actually means a lot more than it suggests.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mozilla firefox nagging

I've been a long term fan of Mozilla, back when Mozilla was the name of its browser and I think it is still the best browser. However today I discovered several problems with firefox and the community websites which were frustrating.

I'd been playing around with a beta version of Firefox, and decided to uninstall it and revert back to the stable release. Firstly I ended up with a duplicate Firefox entry in my add/remove programs list. Then I opted to remove my preferences whilst uninstalling the beta version and lost my preferences for the stable version of firefox I also had installed. Doh!

So I went about setting up my browser again. I wanted to add some less common searches (such as youtube) to the dropdown list within firefox which are not available on the main addon site, so I had to hunt around for Then I wanted to installed a "paste and go" addon, but discovered because it was "experimental" I would have to register. Normally I'd download it from another site, but it seems the alternative download locations are drying up.

Then I tried to re-install Adblock, and found that a hash key error meant I couldn't, even after I tried a manual installation. Then for some reason I wanted to connect to and got a "Secure Connection Failed" warning. Eventually I found a second install location and got it working.

All in all, Firefox today was a pain. But I still love you.

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