UTA Flight 772

On Tuesday, 19th September 1989, UTA Flight 772 took off from Brazzaville (the People’s Republic of Congo) to Paris (France) via N’Djamena (Chad). Forty-six minutes later, a bomb on board exploded. Everyone aboard died.

Eighteen years later, a stunningly beautiful memorial was built at the site of the crash in the Sahara desert.

TRiG.

Japanese Addresses: ways of thinking

Recently I was rereading Joel Spolsky’s introduction to distributed version control, Hg Init. (To be precise, it’s an introduction to Mercurial, but it also functions fairly well as an introduction to git or to distributed version control in general.) Of course, Joel is writing about this partly because he built a product around it, so he has something to sell, but Hg Init isn’t commercial.

Anyway, Joel’s tutorial begins with some reeducation for people used to other forms of version control, notably Subversion (svn). To illustrate different ways of thinking, different ways of looking at the same problem, he uses the example of Japanese and American addresses. The same problem — uniquely identifying buildings — is solved in notably different ways in Japan and the US. In the west, we think in terms of streets; Japan thinks in terms of blocks. A different conceptual model.

Interesting.

TRiG.

Film: Calvin & Hobbes

Bill Watterson has said that there will absolutely definitively not be a Calvin & Hobbes film. That’s probably a good thing. I can’t imagine that any such film could be anything less than a travesty. However, there is going to be a film about Calvin & Hobbes and Bill Watterson. It’s called Dear Mr Watterson, and looks like it might be interesting and rather pleasing.

TRiG.

Rachel Maddow: Democracy Begins Its Death In Michigan

Here’s the summary: In Michigan, the Republican-controlled legislature has been using its powers to strip democracy from local communities within the state. Many many local governments no longer exist, with towns now run by government-appointed overseers. (Half of all African Americans in the state now live in such an area, or in an area under consideration for this treatment.)

Worse, they’ve been using an emergency provision to push through their horrible laws (not just this one, but many many others) significantly — vastly — faster than they would normally.

Worse, they don’t have permission to use that emergency provision: they’ve been committing voter fraud all year to do so.

So, when does the entire Michigan Republican party get arrested for voter fraud?

TRiG.

Eurostar and the “Lille Loophole”

  1. The Eurostar travells from Brussels-Midi to London St Pancras via the French station Lille Europe.
  2. The Eurostar has an unusual border-control arrangement, whereby passport control is done while boarding the train.
  3. France and Belgium are both in the Schengen Area, which means that people can pass freely between them. The UK is not.

The practical upshot of all this is that UK border control agents in Brussels check the passports of only some of the people getting on the train. Those who have tickets only as far as Lille are not checked by UK border control. It is then fairly easy for them to use standard fare-dodging tactics, stay on the train beyond the station where they should have alighted, and get through to Britain without going through any border control.

The simple and obvious solution would be to change Point 2 above, and do the border control in London, at least for the Brussels trains (this problem doesn’t apply to the Paris trains: they also pass through Lille Europe, and many of them stop there, but for pick-up only, not set-down).

That’s the simple and obvious solution. The solution the UK Border Agency actually tried was to attempt to profile “Lille loopholers” and interview them. The Belgian police soon put a stop to that: The UKBA has no legal authority to interview people travelling between Belgium and France. In at least one case, Belgian police actually threatened to arrest UKBA staff.

TRiG.