Archive for May 25th, 2005

Your Query Is Important To Us. Please Hold.

ID cards are a bit of a concern these days for Britishers. Many people worry about the potential for abuse of the information they hold, and the scope for intrusion into private lives.

But what is the potential for abuse? Supposing I had access to the National Identity database, and a couple of lazy afternoons to kill at work, what sort of queries would I write?

I have taken some liberties in imagining some of the other data sources that are available to the government. Here are a few, in line with my own interests:


select subject_name, prescribed_medication, prescribed_dose
from nhs_patient_register npr join national_identity_database nidb on nhs.patient_name = nidb.subject_name
where nidb.profession like ‘Politics’
and nhs.prescribed_medication like ‘Viagra’
and nhs.prescription_reason like ‘%5%Times%A%Night’

Northern Ireland Politics

select subject_name, contact_details, regular_drinking_haunt
from national_identity_card_database
where profession like ‘All%Body%Masseur’
and city_of_residence like ‘Belfast’
and eyes in (‘Blue’,’Dark Brown’)
and height > ‘180’

Arts and Entertainment

film_name, subject_name
from digital_porn_pictures spp join
national_identity_database nidb on
dpp.buyer = nidb.subject_name
where dpp.purchasedate between ‘2005-01-01’ and ‘2005-04-30’
and nidb.profession like ‘Royal’
and dpp.category in (‘Gay’,’Animal’)

The Truth About Jacko

Just finished After Theory by Terry Eagleton, which was a bit of a tonic. I’m not too sure what it was a tonic for, but it was very refreshing anyway. Lucid and often hilarious.

He’s writing in the Guardian today about the postmodern spectacle that is the Michael Jackson trial.

On ‘Michael Jackson’:

There is a double unreality about staging the fiction of a criminal trial around a figure who has been assembled by cosmetic surgeons. Jackson’s freakish body represents the struggle of fantasy against reality, the pyrrhic victory of culture over biology. Quite a few young people are not even aware that he is black. If postmodern theory won’t acknowledge that there is any such thing as raw nature, neither will this decaying infant.

and his wishes:

It is hardly surprising that he has expressed a wish to live forever, given that death is the final victory of nature over culture. If the US sanitises death, it is because mortality is incompatible with capitalism. Capital accumulation goes on forever, in love with a dream of infinity. The myth of eternal progress is just a horizontalised form of heaven.

and the courtroom:

If courtrooms are quintessentially postmodern, it is because they lay bare the relations between truth and power, which for postmodernism come to much the same thing. Truth for them, as for the ancient Sophists, is really a question of who can practise the most persuasive rhetoric. In front of a jury, he with the smoothest tongue is likely to triumph. On this view, all truth is partisan: the judge’s summing up is simply an interpretation of interpretations. What determines what is true for you is your interests, which in turn are determined by gender, class, ethnicity and the like.

I on Twitter

May 2005