28 May, 2004: Back to the grindstone

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So, today in Government cock-ups news:

  1. The Police will keep tabs on offenders (especially sex offenders) using `satellite tracking', by which they mean some kind of GPS thingy which transmits its position back to Mission Control periodically.

    (Now, this does sound a bit draconian, given that some of the people who might be affected are parents who take photos of their kids and fifteen year-olds who kiss their girl/boyfriends, but just remember: if you don't agree, the terrorists will win! Oh, sorry, wrong war. Whatever.... Anyway, the intention here is supposed to be to deter vigilante action by being so mean to offenders that the Sun-reading hordes won't feel it necessary to try to lynch any local paediatricians. I have not the slightest doubt that this will play out exactly as intended by the Home Office.)

    How well will this tracking idea work, then? In an attempt to find out, the Home Office is currently running a trial. But actually it doesn't matter:

    Although Mr Blunkett will take note of the outcome of the pilot scheme, aides say he is determined to push ahead with the plan.

    Now, where have we seen that attitude before?

    (The answer to the question, by the way, is, ``pretty well, so long as you're not worried about offenders travelling around on the Underground, inside cars or trains, in very built up areas, or anywhere else that a GPS receiver may not be able to see enough of the sky to get a decent fix.'' So that's alright then.)

  2. Simultaneously those same offenders are going to be interviewed using lie detectors to make sure that they're not breaking the conditions of their parole. Now, if you've read anything on the subject you'll have discovered that lie detectors don't work at all, but of course Blunkett Knows Best, and has pointed out that he's not talking about just any old lie detector; this is twenty-first century technology. Just like biometrics. So that's alright then.

    (Actually it turns out that this is a bad idea that's been around for quite a while. Like ID cards, I suspect that the polygraph belongs in the Idiocy Which Will Not Die bucket.)

  3. And in unrelated developments, the government turn out to be unable to ship postal ballot papers to victims of their all-postal-voting pilot in the north of England.

    (Note, of course, that the inability of the government to ship out correct ballot papers -- containing a list of candidates and a unique number, and not very hard to print -- shouldn't make us doubt whether they'd be able to ship out 40 million ID cards -- containing all kinds of complicated and untried security features. Because they'll hire Crapita to do that. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?)

    But it doesn't matter. Nobody's going to vote in the elections anyway, are they?

I promise I'll write something which isn't about cock-ups, government or otherwise, in the near future. In the meantime, yet another holiday photo:

The glorious countryside

Copyright (c) 2004 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.