Well I walked in late - what can I say - we need more yappy little dogs, let me know next time you need a form pack.
We got married for a visa, 25 years ago, these days we'd probably CU. Families come in all shapes and sizes, there is no one size fits all (disclosure: one of my kids has 4 mothers, none of them my wife, though it was her idea ....). I'm all for diversity - religion or the state shouldn't be making these choices for people.
I am in favour of the French system where one goes down to the town hall and gets married by the mayor, then (if you want to) zoom off to the church of your choice to be blessed by your god. Once you make that distinction there's no reason why the word 'marriage' can't be used by everyone since it refers to civil marriage - it's just a word and not allowing everyone to use it creates second class citizens (I'm not running down CUs here - I just see them as marriage with slightly different rules).
I do think that one way to defuse this issue a little is to explicitly state that churches are allowed to choose who they marry
I have to say one thing for NZ scanning of carry on stuff - every single time in NZ I have to explain my harmonicas (apparently they look like something evil and what that is is a state secret) but in the US no airport security (other than Seattle every time) notices them.
Probably it's just that most American TSA people are so jaded they don't notice anything (attn TSA people in Oakland, I still want my ethernet tools back)
An in Guatemala the military police are reputedly hunting down and arresting twitterers - well at least it's not Fiji .....
I have to agree - customs/immigration in Auckland (and NZ in general) are some of the best around.
Auckland airport on the other hand sucks tghe big one - especially the recent change to force incoming passengers to traipse through a duty free shop - it's so tacky, to the point of being embarrassing - and always leaves me arriving at immigration with my eyes streaming from being forced through a cloud of perfume reminiscent of sitting next to that little old lady on the bus who's lost her sense of smell - place needs a well signed "duty free shop bypass" door
deepred: agreed - but couldn't be happening to a nicer bunch of bozos
I think that Melissa Lee's idea that criminals don't know how to get off a motorway unless it ends is a wonderful idea - it means our motorways will fill with stolen cars that will eventually run out of petrol dumping the miscreants at random points - thus spreading crime evenly all over Auckland.
Of course the best part will be the way it helps the police:
"How can I help you Sir"
"My car has been stolen!"
"Not a problem Sir, borrow a can of petrol and get a friend to drive you around the ring road until you find it"
"Oh we can't go on there, we don't know how to get off...."
"What did you say your address was Sir?"
Scott: so taking a list of bases and creating a genome (an expression of that idea) would be copyright?
I realise we're on the cutting edge here - but think of it this way - the genome is an embodiment of a set of instructions that can perform certain actions (create proteins that can do other things) just like a computer program is a set of instructions that perform certain actions
You can copyright the program because it's an embodiment of the idea and patent its use in a process to transform one thing to another
Equally I'd argue that a strand of DNA is an embodiment of a genome and can be copyrighted - and it's use in a process (creating a particular drug for example) could be patented.
(maybe I should have used 'DNA' when I used 'genome' above)
I guess the way I look at it is that copyright applies to information and patents applies to processes - you copyright a genome, you patent something you can do with a newly invented gene is a process
Well I have something like 20-odd patents with my name on them - they're mostly all shite, the product of employer's attempts to build a legal fortress against competitor's potential law suits - maybe 3 of them are things I'm actually proud of - genuinely unique ideas that I actually think ought to be patentable.
That's one of the main problem with the current patent system - it's the death of a 1000 cuts - everywhere you turn someone's patented the bleeding obvious and you can spend all your time designing around them - the patent system is supposed to be there so that people are encouraged to disclose bright ideas so that others can build on them and create even better stuff - these days it's become something that's used to do almost exactly the opposite.
Which gets us back to protecting new genetic entities - genetics is basically programming writ in DNA I think we run the same risk we do with programming of ending up with the death of a 1000 cuts - I think you should be able to patent applications, but not genomes, any more that you can patent a particular software program (just a use of one in a process).
Equally copyright should apply to genomes - but at some minimal size - you can't copyright a single character, or even a word, equally I don't think you should be able to copyright a sinhle base pair, or for that matter anything shorter than some minimal length - lets say 100 base pairs just as a strawman. Unless the entire genome is de-novo you shouldn't be able to copyright the bits you didn't invent.
Somehow we have to be able to protect stuff that shows up in nature through normal
reproduction too - just because you created a new type of apple in the lab doesn't mean you should own the hybrids that show up in the wild, whether they contain your DNA that you let loose or DNA created by natural hybridisation - in essence you need genetic copy protection if you want to claim copyright and only the first ongoing copy is covered by law - so if you release a new breed of apple and it copies its DNA and releases it as pollen you're out of luck (remember new apple varieties are sold and reproduce by cloning, not using pollen).
What I do think is dangerous is applying copyright to our genome - do you want some giant corporation telling you you can't breed (or even perform simple cellular replication) just because you've picked up some sequence in your DNA, even if you ate some GE corn and some of it hung around. I think we need to say that once you have any sequence in your particular genome you have a life time license to make as many copies of it as you like, including making more humans - who automatically get licenses at birth.
Bart - I kind of draw the line at being able to copyright or patent a genome - I think that way lies all sorts of potential future evils - should I have registered my kids at the patent office when they were born? (or the copyright office? and if so are they a derived work or a wholly new one - I did seriously consider sending in some toenail clippings)