Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Great news for the Gurkhas

Gurkhas win right to stay in UK, the BBC says. And they quote Nick Clegg: "Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said it was a "wonderful vindication" for those who had campaigned for a change in the law. "I've always felt that if someone is prepared to die for this country, then they should have the right to live in this country," he said.

"The key thing now is to look at the ruling in detail and to make sure that the government now translates that into action and doesn't try and squirm out of it.""

Sunday, 21 September 2008

URGENT: Can you help the Ghurkas’ legal team?

From Anthony Hook:

Gurkha Justice campaigner Lib Dem Peter Carroll has issued an plea for evidence to back up the legal team representing the Gurkhas in the current High Court hearing on the lawfulness of the 1997 ‘cut off’ date for citizenship.

The case received huge coverage earlier this week when Joanna Lumley and others gave their backing to the cause. The Gurkha’s legal team urgently (by Wednesday 24th September) need to find an example case of a soldier recruited directly from a Commonwealth country to disprove statements being made by the Home Office.

Peter Carroll says:

“We need to find a person who joined the British Army between 1962 and 1997 who was a citizen of a Commonwealth Country and joined the Army directly from his own country - that is, they had not entered and settled in the UK before applying to join the Army.

“The reasons behind this requirement are complex. However, our legal team say that the finding of even one such instance would fundamentally improve the chance of victory in this case.”

If you meet the criteria above, or know anyone who does, please email Peter Carroll on pdcarroll@cix.co.uk or call 07866 800755 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND BY 24TH SEPTEMBER 2008 AT THE LATEST.

Even if you do not know directly of such people, please email this message to others and ask them to pass it on as well to anyone they think might be able to help, especially army contacts.

The success of the Gurkha’s claim for citizenship rights for those retiring before 1997 would be STRONGLY helped by finding people as above to disprove the Home Office’s case in the next two days: you can make it happen, and help right this wrong.

You can read more about the Gurkha Justice Campaign at www.gurkhajustie.org.uk

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Thunderbird, Lightning and Google calendar

I just got to integrate all three. A bit fiddly but worth doing.

First of all, Lightning adds calendar and task list functions to your email client.

That didn't want to play the first time I tried adding a couple of tasks, but it cleared itself after a couple of restarts of Thunderbird. Apparently this has happened to other people too.

You switch between email client, calendar and tasks by using the icons at the bottom left of the screen.

So I now have lots of tasks up, some repeating, and two calendars, one for me and one for HPI. Setting up a new calendar is dead easy. In Calendar view go to "Calendar" menu item, then "New", then follow the wizard.

Then I wanted to integrate my Google calendar. This doesn't work with the normal calendar wizard, though it does do other networked calendars. For google you need the "Provider for Google Calendar" which I duly downloaded and installed. But it wouldn't work.

After quite a bit of fiddling about on the forums etc, I deduced that the Provider (version 0.4) was built to work with Lightning 0.8, and I was on Lightning 0.9. I tried downloading and installing the 0.8 version of Lightning, but it wouldn't let me because it knew it already had a different version installed. And it was still obstinate when I uninstalled Lightning 0.9. I guessed that was because it was keeping the data stored somewhere, even after the uninstall, and didn't want to overwrite it. I considered deleting the data, but then decided to try a nightly build on the Provider. I didn't try this before because I'm not a debugger. (Just a bugger, some say.)

Anyway I went off to find the nightly build of Provider here, uninstalled it, installed the new one, and lo and behold it worked. Google Calendar appeared as an option in my New Calendar wizard which-version-do-you-want-page.

There were still a couple of trickinesses to work out, but I was greatly helped by this tutorial at bfish. Note that the tutorial itself is based on old versions. In particular, you don't find "Manage" on Google calendar - it's "Settings".

I found quite a lot of other bits and pieces while I was tracking this down. Not least the developer of Provider says that Google are developing CalDAV for their calendar, a standard that Lightning supports, so Provider may not be needed long term. But he's still supporting it.

And OpenOffice are developing a Personal Information Manager around Lightning.

I'm off to play with Lightning again. At some point I expect the integration of Lightning and Provider to fall over again because the builds won't match, But till then, I'm very happy.

Update 22nd Sept:
Doing this on Tbird in the office today, I found I needed the nightly build of Lightning to work with the nightly build of Provider. Seems like you have to pick your builds.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Talk Like A Pirate

Well me e-hearties, it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day today. Shiver me timbers and splice the mainbrace, it's lucky I'm not at work today. Ah haaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. That feels better.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Blow me down with a feather

Simon Heffer thinks Nick Clegg is competent. I had to pinch myself. I had to check the date - no, not April 1st. Simon Heffer thinks Nick Clegg is "the only prominent politician even heading towards the right set of economic values" to deal with the financial crisis we're facing. Wow.

On certainty, politeness and science

I watched the editor of Debretts on TV this morning arguing that political correctness has meant the end of politeness. I forebore from using the various expletives that came to my mind, but I do think he is talking rot.

What he is talking about, of course, is the fact that men no longer lift their hats to women, open doors for them, or offer them their seats on trains. And there was the predictable woman interviewee who is very disappointed that that no longer happens, because she doesn't feel the slightest bit belittled when it does. And the man who doesn't do it, because he has no idea if he's going to offend the woman by doing so. So far so good. But to say that that is the end of politeness is, to put it in a Boris way, piffle. The whole purpose of politeness is to make other people feel comfortable. It involves actually thinking about other people, paying attention to them. Not a knee jerk reaction that, as soon as I see a woman, I get to my feet, whether she wants me to or not.

Politeness as such grew in the days when strangers (usually men) began to mingle in public and it was a way of enabling people who hadn't been introduced to get on with each other. The hat lifting form of politeness was the gift wrapping around the carefully unacknowledged fact that men had a lot more power than women. Men do, unfortunately, still have more power than women, but not so much as they used to, and that fact grates on some people and causes uncertainty in others. And when people are made to feel uncertain, they get resentful. I find that after going through a period of uncertainty, and therefore inaction, myself, I now open doors and offer seats when I think people need it. I do so for men and women, the young and the old. I still remember when I was working as a receptionist dealing with a child at the desk, and a woman walked up behind the child and started speaking at me straight over the child's head. Yes, I am going to stereotype, but she looked like the kind of woman who would have been livid if a child had done that to her. Politeness should work for everybody, and I try and make sure it does.

I can appreciate that many people feel the difficulty of being uncertain about it. All I can do is suggest they work on it.

I think the same issue about uncertainty is at the root of the popularity of creationism. It is, frankly, in my opinion a recipe made by idiots but welcome to a large number of people precisely because it offers certainty in an apparently increasingly uncertain world. Certainty becomes more attractive than truth, particularly when truth is so complicated. I also think that its popularity is due to it not having been taken on properly by the scientific establishment. We have to find ways of presenting the truth more photogenically. It's not easy to tell the truth about the way the universe was made in a couple of short snappy sentences. It is easy to give the story told by creationism in a couple of short snappy sentences and people delight in doing it, to the detriment of the intelligence of their listeners in the end.

There is also the issue, I think, that science has become frightened of taking creationism on. Lots of people avoid criticising Islam today for fear, not so much of giving offence, as of the furore that will ensue. Today's reports of Sadiq Khan's remarks and the robust responses to him on both sides of the argument are typical of the kind of dust up that people don't want to get into. Similarly, I can imagine that a lot of science teachers don't want to have to deal with regular rants from committed creationist parents if they put a foot "wrong" in a biology lesson.

But there comes a time when you have to start standing up for what you believe in. Science teachers do need to refer to creationism, rather than completely avoiding it. They don't need to "teach" it, but they do need to tackle it in order to point out the difference between the way science works and the way creationism works. And I don't believe the Royal Society should have sacked Professor Reiss just for saying so (though exactly what he said is not easy to ascertain).

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Newspapers and the crunch

We are in the middle of a great difficulty - the credit crunch which has accounted so far for one bank, and may well account for more. But I wonder how much media coverage tells the story right, and how much it exaggerates what is going on. If you read or listen long enough, most commentators get round to saying it's going to be manageable. But the language routinely used does make it seem almost apocalyptic. According to the newspaper you read, share prices have crashed, tumbled, collapsed, or plunged..... by 4%. That means if you had £1,000,000 in shares yesterday, you have £960,000 today. Not yet reason to stop mixing the martinis.

And apparently the credit crunch means "more bad news" (almost uniformly regardless of which paper you read) for house prices. Forgive me, but I believe it's actually good news for house prices. A lot of owners are losing a very small proportion of the value of their house, but this is a correction that is long overdue and which will in the end result in a housing market that is more affordable for everybody.

I note that Indie readers at least still have their priorities right. The four most viewed articles in descending order are:
- the ten best seduction techniques
- the 50 best cookbooks
- the ten best romantic wedding locations
- and only in fourth place - Canary Wharf turned into a cardboard city as thousands clear their desks


Best cartoon of the day so far is in the Independent. The caption is "Damien Hirst's Lehmann banker". You have to imagine the picture (but surely you can) as it doesn't seem to be available online. If you can't imagine it, this will give you a clue.

Monday, 15 September 2008

If somebody is prepared to die for our country...

"... then they should be able to live in our country" (Nick Clegg). I was very glad to see today that the Gurkha campaign for justice has been given time and space at the LibDem conference, as part of a week of activities marking the beginning of a judicial review into the situation faced by Gurkhas who have fought on our behalf.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The universe still exists!!!

Though philosophically of course we could all be features of each other's imaginations.

And good luck to everybody at CERN and the LHC.