Archive for the ‘UK annoyances’ Category

Heathrow security “compromised”

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

According to the BBC, London Heathrow is to begin trials of a new biometric security system. The system, like many others being tested/used worldwide is “voluntary” at the moment, and only in use for certain flights, but it’s part of a worrying trend towards 2-tier security that will (over time) degrade the security of the traveling public.

As Bruce Schneier has pointed out previously, when you introduce two different classes of security into the security theatre, you degrade overall security because now all the bad guys need to do is defeat a machine and they’ve overcome all your anal-probing, abbrasively annoying manual human inspection and any other security used for “regular people”. But the bad guys don’t know this, so we’re ok.

I’ve often thought Heathrow security was an annoying, humorless joke, and this just serves to back up my thoughts on the subject – closed source biometric security systems are not only a bad idea but they’re actively dangerous because people don’t see what could be wrong with them. But they’re digital! They use computers! They use words like biometric in their descriptions! How could they possibly be a bad idea? :-)


UK to fingerprint everyone

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Earlier, the UK announced plans to flush itself down the toilet. Thanks to new government hysteria, you now won’t be able to walk down the street without police stopping and fingerprinting you. It’s already impossible to have a quiet drink in a pub without giving away your identity at the door but now they need to update the HM Wankerbase 9000(TM) with more life history.

And they don’t even see the police state coming.


Why I won’t fly with Monarch

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

Last week, a flight bound for Manchester was disrupted by unruly passengers demanding that two men of Middle Eastern origin be ejected from the plane. They were apparently guilty of speaking more than one language (something that most British people struggle to do at all) and the other language happened to be Arabic. Some Daily Mail readers[0] later tried to explain away this institutionalized British racism but it’s pretty clear these guys were guilty of flying while having the wrong colored skin and not speaking English loudly and obnoxiously. This stupid British racist hysteria makes my blood boil.

Next time this country accuses other countries of being Xenophobic, I think people need to take a long hard look at what we allow people to get away with in the UK today. It’s called introspection folks. Many of these Daily Mail, The Sun, The News Of The World “people” seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to treat foreign people like dirt. It’s somehow acceptable not to embrace other cultures and welcome them but instead, we need to fear them for some reason. Monarch should know better than to pander to racists – they should have delayed the flight and ejected those making the unfounded accusations. I won’t fly with an airline that openly panders to these British racist extremists.


[0] I saw the BBC News TV reports in which the couple being interviewed were actually holding a copy of that foul newspaper whilst being “interviewed”. That pretty much destroyed their “credibility”.

The importance of tolerance

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

I guess I need to learn a lesson in tolerance from time to time. Even though I disagree with the right wing media and most of the things that they stand for, they should have an opportunity to make their point. And not all football is bad – I’m sure for every English football hooligan there are a dozen kids in Africa having harmless fun through football (and yes, I’m sure there are smart football supporters in England – do us a favor, go ask the violent traveling hooligans to stop being a waste of time and energy).

Things that pissed me off so far today:

  • BBC Breakfast interviewed two people about lesbian/single women getting IVF and similar treatments. A Liberal Democrat (the party I support) was suggesting that such women should have equal access to treatment, while a right wing sociologist with an agenda repeatedly “informed” us that single parent families work out much worse on average, so they shouldn’t be promoted or furnished with opportunities through new medical treatments. The sociologist really pissed me off – she’d be up right against the wall in my revolution.
  • MPs are apparently calling for the immoral 28 day terror detention limit to be raised. This is the time that the UK can run “gitmo” prisons, holding people for 28 days without due process. Fundamentally, this is possible because the UK has no constitution (and thus is not a free country by definition), so the government can arbitrarily decide to lock people up and throw away the key, without any reasonable possibility for recourse. They wanted 90 day detentions originally, and they’ll probably get them now. After all, Friday is the one year anniversary of “7/7″ and I’m sure that mentioning that a few dozen times will be all that’s needed for the idiot press to get with the programme.

We live in very dangerous times. I’m not talking about terrorists with WMDs, dictators with or without oil, or any of that. I’m refering to governments who will happily throw our civil liberties (the right to tell the government to fuck off) right down the toilet. Sure, on some level I can understand the desire to keep known bad guys off the streets – even if the evidence isn’t quite there to justify it – but there are many other ways to achieve that goal. For example, court ordered monitoring of those individuals so they don’t have time to make evil nasties, and many other mechanisms that exist in law and which have worked for hundreds of years so far. Ah, but now “9/11″ and “7/7″ have happened…

I’m not just some left-wing nutjob who is defending the rights of terrorists, I’m defending the rights of the rest of the population, who are often far too dumb to realize what’s going on even when it is too late. I know the UK has been around for a long time, but these days there’s too much MTV and cheap crappy TV to keep people sedated enough to refrain from taking action. This country will, very soon, have a national ID card (I give it a couple of years), start holding people without trial (trial by jury is itself under threat) for 90 days or longer, and generally just continue with the big brother crap until it’s not possible to take a crap without it being recorded, analyzed and processed by some government agency.

Anyway, two major annoyances so far today and it’s only 8am. If only regular people would care so much about these things, we’d be living in a better world by 9 o’clock. I’m talking about the kind of people who watched the Live Aid/Live 8 followup programmes for the Madonna and U2 content, not the message that was allegedly being sent through such popsical farce.


ID Cards – Pet Shop Boys

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Well, they’ve sold at least one copy of Fundamental so far. I’ve pre-ordered the album due to the final track, with the following lyrics:

If you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to fear
If you’ve something to hide you shouldn’t even be here
You’ve had your chance now we’ve got the mandate
If you’ve changed your mind I’m afraid it’s too late
We’re concerned you’re a threat
You’re not integral to the project.

I happen to like the Pet Shop Boys quite a lot too. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t a lot more people out there who realise the distructive damage of the ID cards legislation on the UK way of life. On that subject, I just renewed my passport until the end of 2016, don’t require another renewal for the US (since the deadline for biometric passports just got extended) and can probably get by for the next decade without renewing again. That’ll hopefully give me time to not need another UK passport in the future (I really don’t plan on returning here in the longer term – this country is getting worse by the day).

I suggest that any other UK passport holders immediately renew their passport in case the legislation is repealed before the mandatory introduction of ID cards in 2010 as you really don’t want those evil fuckwits having all of that personal data in their giant wankerbase. They’ll be selling your details on ebay, thanks to some missing laptop, before not too long. I’d rant for a bit longer, but it’s just not worth it. This country has gone to the dogs. Who can really claim that the US is any worse? They’ve both got idiots at the helm.

Did you know that you too can join liberty?


Heathrow Fun

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Photo: Adding insult to injury. A late train leaves Paddington on a Sunday night (as usual).

I’ve added a new category to my blog – “UK Annoyances”. That’s so you don’t have to read them if you don’t want to (I’ll figure out a cool way of spliting this out into sections later). Some of you are quite happy with this country and not as pissed off with things as I can be – but I’ve created this section for anyone who ever agreed with me that signage in the UK is designed to be confusing, that it’s not acceptable to expect bad service every time and that things could actually be better.

Heathrow Fun

Ticket to Brussels: 92.50GBP return.
Time inflight: 45 minutes.
Time spent being fucked over: 4.5 hours.
Spending more time in Heathrow: priceless.

There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else, there’s London Heathrow.

So, I got to Brussels airport (BRU) earlier. The gare central in Brussels might be ugly, but the train was exactly on time and got me to the airport right in time for my flight. Great. The flight was even on time (though it was the second BA flight this weekend and has helped me to confirm that I dislike them as much as the rest of One World) and got me to Heathrow within around 5 or 10 minutes of the anticipated time.

There then followed the typical “I’ve only got hand luggage but it still takes 40 minutes to get out of Heathrow” problem that seems to be unique to this one airport (even Mumbai was better. And that’s saying something). So I get out through the silly passport control stuff (they’ve now got one of those Iris systems that myself and others know to be a weakpoint stupid waste of time and effort – but I bet that’s a really good way for people to enter and leave the country with only a machine to stop them, and nobody was using it either) and into the lobby and debate the fact that I know I’m going to now have to go to the central bus station to get the Railair bus service to Reading (this I found out through imperical experimentation last time, while they were figuring out how to fuck it up even more.

They should just accept that Heathrow will forever not be “quite right” and it’s better to leave it alone than constantly “revamp it”. This means that almost every time I come into Heathrow they’ve done something slightly different – moved things around like supermarkets do, just to annoy regularly paying travellers. They love to leave little inadequate signage which is only usable if you follow the exact routes that they did when they printed it, and they hate the idea of redoing signs when it’s possible to leave the odd confusion around for good measure. I decided to risk going straight to the bus station on this occasion, since I had previously learned that there is a grand plan to centralise everything (you get dropped off at your terminal, but come back tired out and have to walk miles and take trains just to get the bus home again). I did this, stood in line and got a ticket. I was helpfully reminded how I’d just missed a bus but assured that there was another one “in 20 minutes”.

Except, there wasn’t. In this country, we don’t have clear signage with bus times clearly displayed at otherwise high tech bus ticket counters and there is some apparent need to guesstimate things (the timetable was available outside the bus station by the stop for said bus after I had bought the ticket but all of those wonderfully useful looking flat panel displays that seem to have such potential within the station building were of course not functional at the time). Of course, it being a Sunday evening and because I was trying to get a bus, they decided this would be the time when there would be a new timetable and a 1.5 hour random separation between services. So much for the “from Reading to Heathrow, we’ll get you there, Railair” jingle and 20 minute claims. Even Saddam was closer to that. But I disgress.

So, I decide to get a refund. Of course this requires at least 20 people and lots of “umming” and “ahhing” before the computer system (which invariably is overly complex for the purpose) is finally used to get me a cash refund – since they can’t refund my credit card for some reason. Fine. I decide to get a taxi. Except those are 80GBP from Heathrow (quite excessive), so I decided that I was too fucked off with Railair (it had become a matter of principle by this point) to sit and wait and got the train into London.

Normally, getting a train into London isn’t such a bad idea. There’s a Heathrow Express to London Paddington and I live in Reading, which is a major interchange from Paddington. Except on Sunday evenings (they regularly try to screw me over there, but I know about it). Tonight it was another “waiting for a member of train staff” (which always means the driver – I know it was because I was listening to their radio. It pisses me off that they can’t just admit that) after the train was already late and a medical emergency then delayed matters further. Still, our chirpy pal in the buffet car is happy to continually announce such wonderous services as might be obtained if I’d only be bothered to get out of my seat. I wasn’t. I sat there while an overnight train and some engineering works ahead of us delayed my journey still further.

Anyway, it’s 01:24 and I just got home. I landed at 08:50, got out of that hell hole at 21:40 and finally finished getting shafted by various transportation companies just a few minutes ago. All in all, I’m fucked off with public transportation and have decided it’s easier, faster and cheaper to just pay the 30GBP weekend parking rate next time. Yes, I’m going to get that driving license sorted out and just give in to the car.


P.S. I’m not entirely wrong about some of the comments above. I’ve been bouncing some of the points raised here off friends in N.A. for a while now. Few of them would put up with this crap.