2008-02-27

National DNA database

I find myself in favour of a national DNA database that holds a DNA record for every UK citizen. Isn't this an infringement of civil liberties? I strongly support civil liberties such as freedom of speech and due legal process, but I feel that privacy issues belong in a seperate category.

I personally don't mind being on CCTV for example, and I wouldn't mind my DNA being held on a database. Of course, it cuts both ways. I suspect that one would be thrown out of a shop if one started filming it, and the police probably don't allow people to film them. I support the principle that if they can film you, you should be able to film them.

2008-02-24

Web feeds that make you visit the site

I'm a subscriber to the web feed of Willem Buiter's blog on the FT website. They've recently changed it so that in the feed you only see the first bit of the post; to see the whole thing you have to click on a 'more...' link that takes you to the web site. This is presumably so that you have to look at the adverts on the page. I don't like this approach.

Fountainhead

I'd heard lots of talk about Ayn Rand, and I'd already read Anthem online, so I ordered Fountainhead from Bath Central Library using their online reservation system. The system worked really well. Ultimately of course, books will be like music, where you just download it. Hopefully books will be licensed under a free content licence.

Anyway, Rand uses the book to promote her philisophy of objectivism. I think that the book is good, and the philosophy is interesting but not something I can really adopt. Rand says that one should always act in one's own self-interest, she abhors altruism. Well, maybe, but then she goes on to elevate the lone genius, and denigrate working as a group. This clashes with my experience of life. I often swap ideas with other people, to mutual benefit. Cooporation, that's the word. She could have kept her idea of selfishness, because cooperation is often the most selfish option.

Does the philosophy work if you're not a genius? Rand doesn't seem to think much of ordinary people, and yet the book is widely read, so we must like her! I think the hero of the story, Roark, has a particular type of personality. In fact I know someone a bit like him. It's possibly not what Rand intended, but the book kind of says it's okay to be like Roark if that's your nature. My opinion is that it was wrong of him to dynamite the building.

Reading the book prompted the question, 'does not being a genius mean you get on with people better?'. Yes, because if you have a technical skill that's very much in demand, you can get by without having to learn how to get on with people.

The Power that Preserves

This is the last book of the first Thomas Covenant trilogy by Stephen Donaldson. I've written about the first two books previously. This third book continues the intense tale of relentless suffering and struggle. I must admit I've not always been in the mood for this trilogy, and have interspersed it with other, less emotionally draining stuff. (Bob at work agrees).

Donaldson has overturned my prejudices about fantasy books. I wouldn't compare him to Dostoevsky, but Donaldson deals with morality, innocence, guilt and suffering in a sophisticated way.

I've just started on a Malcolm Bradbury. Paddy shook his head when he saw it, saying despairingly, 'Tony, Tony..., that's the sort of book that old people read..'

2008-02-03

Trowbridge East by-election 2008

On Thursday there's a Wiltshire County Council by-election for my ward, Trowbridge East. I've done a little table to help me decide who to vote for. Don't rely on this table for your own information, look at the primary sources.







IssueTom JamesPeter FullerDavid McQueenMe
Local post office closuresOpposesOpposesI think that this is a commercial decision for the Post Office themselves.
Local hospital closureOpposesThe private sector should compete to provide health care, funded by central government, with patient choice at its heart. In the meantime, I don't know whether it's right to close Trowbridge hospital or not.
Doorstep cardboard collectionSupportsSupportsI favour doorstep collection, together with a disposal tax on products. The current administration isn't managing to collect cardboard even at the current collection points.
More pedestrian crossingsSupportsYes, as long as they're zebra crossings.
Affordable housingSupportsParticularly on brownfield sitesI'd like a building area tax.
Hilperton GapSupportsSupportsI support the preservation of this green space.
More school placesSupportsI'd like education to be privatised, but still funded by the state.

Actually I still don't know for whom I should vote. Okay, let's rule out Fuller because my direct experience of the conservatives' running of the cardboard recycling has been lamentable. Alright, I'll support the Green. I'm against his policy of subsidising public transport though.

Grandad's office on Mount Olympus

My dad's on holiday in Cyprus and in a postcard he mentioned he visited Mount Olympus, and said that Gilbert, my grandad on my mum's side, had his office there. That must have been when he was in charge of the generators at the British Army base. As Gilbert died before I was born, I like these little bits of information about him.

Cardboard recycling

I've said to West Wilts District Council:

Almost every time I take our cardboard to the recycling point (the one by Trowbridge College), the container is overflowing. This must mean that cardboard has such a low value that the District Council has to pay someone to remove it. On the other hand, cardboard must have a higher value than general household waste, otherwise there wouldn't be any point in collecting it seperately.

Therefore, by allowing the cardboard recycling bin to overflow, which means residents put cardboard in with the general waste, the District Council is increasing the council tax bill. Is this correct, or am I missing something?

I'll let you know what they say.