Sunday, May 21, 2006

In Flames!

In a distinct change of style, I shall present myself today in a random scattered assortment of facts. Nobody seems to like my factual tech-heavy style, so I present you with storytime goodness.

Yes, last Thursday, myself and my best friend said a hearty "Screw it all!" to any sense and reason, and after a commute down from Vancouver to Seattle, myself and him motored all the way to Spokane for the Washington date for the In Flames concert, opened by American metal act Nevermore, and Sweedish sensation Evergrey..

Now Spokane isn't just a quick hop out of Seattle, like Renton is to Kirkland, or even Squamish is to Vancouver. It's 280 miles of pure high-speed motoring. Streets and Trips predicts 4h10m. Of course, what Streets and Trips doesn't tell you, is how unpleasant the interior of the state can be in 34 degree C weather can be.

Interesting factoid: my Scion tC can reach speeds of 200kph in a straight line on a highway. With standard unleaded gasoline. Not that I tried of course, that would be illegal. Of course. Moving right along.

It's wierd - we expect Spokane has some sort of noise laws. By the time we were in the bar (maybe 7:20pm), we had already MISSED Evergrey. I can't believe this! FOUR HOURS IN THE CAR, AND EVERGREY ONLY PLAYS FIVE SONGS, ALL BEFORE I ARRIVED! Such a horrific turn of events won't be soon forgotten. Nevermore (a passable act if one enjoys the American style metal) plays a similarly short set. Following up is some unknown, a band called Throwdown out of California. Nothing to get excited about. In Flames make it in around 9:30pm, about the time most doors are opening for real concerts. Except for some mixing issues, an amazing show, covering many tunes I like. Some off the new Come Clarity. Some old ones. Cloud Connected, one of my favourites. But, by 10:30pm, zero encores later, it's all over.

WTF? Four hours driving, and we're done by 10:30pm? What sort of crap is this? So, debating whether it's worth heading home or not, we wander Spokane. We find a bar called "Jamie'z" or something like that. Amazing. Wood everything, with a massive bar, and an impressive array of beers on tap (not just local, which is strange for an American bar, I find). Many pints, and some whiskey later, we're pleasantly pleased at our situation. If anyone is passing through Spokane, stop for a pint.

A greet out to the young lady we met, a "world travelling" "lawyer" we ran into at the bar, who pilfered our chicken wings, and served as great amusement for a short while as she discussed her exploits of "manhandling random French people" who gave her flak for being American. (note, the quotes should indicate how much I believe each element of her story). Way to justify a stereotype. Doubly amusing was her "friends" who literally bolted when she turned her back for a second. A true *LOL* moment, costing us only some wings (incidentally, some of the best damned chicken wings I've ever had! Another vote for Jamie'z!)

Random drunken quote: The white men said "Whoh", and the natives said "whoh"... and then Monahan said "whoh.... I'm dead!"

We made it home the next day, despite traffic, and a short excursion to Arby's (mmmm beef) in under 4 hours, including Seattle traffic.

Spokane is a cool place - despite expectations, it is indeed a bona fide city, skyscrapers, panhandlers, and traffic. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Denver. It's worth a visit if you're ever feel the need to head towards Idaho.

Likewise, In Flames is worth seeing. They, as expected, are loud, crunchy, and heavy beyond imagination.

The new Evergrey CD, Monday Morning Apocalypse, very very good. True to the best elements of their style, while not going off on too many religious folktale sidetracks like the Inner Circle. One day, I'll hear them play live.

The point of this post: Metal and booze with good friends makes for good times. That's pretty much it.

Carry on.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Want to Hack?

This is, without a doubt, the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.

Here, you get to try your "hacking" skills. It's not traditional network intrusion, so you have no issue with overloading networks or doing anything illegal. The objective is to complete levels - starting at level 1, each page asks you for a password to get to the next page. Your objective? Discover the password, or skip the password and just discover the URL of the next page directly.

The first level is easy. It gets harder after that, requiring you to have knowledge, an eye for details, and the ability to use tools. Of course, don't think the same tricks will save you every time, or you'll find yourself good and duped.

Give it a try! I cleared the first four levels pretty quick - L5 will take some time, so it can wait for the weekend.

Quiet you, I have plenty of life!

Citizenship Redux

Okay, I've been actually getting a few messages/emails/comments about this lately, so perhaps it's time for a new topic.

One of my earlier posts commented on the difficulty of a Canadian like myself obtaining dual US-Canadian citizenship. Since then, many have tried to tell me "No Mike, you absolutely can obtain dual citizenship." And thus refer me to some website or another, or relate tales of some friend or another.

There is the rare reference that at least implies that US naturalization into dual citizenship is perfectly valid. For example, straight from a .gov, "A U.S. citizen may acquire foreign citizenship by marriage, or a person naturalized as a U.S. citizen may not lose the citizenship of the country of birth". Encouraging. Another link, with some interesting references and details.

The law itself say practically nothing on the subject, leaving it to case law, USCIS rules and memos, and in the end, the whim of those who may oppose you. The primary factor that makes these things different are "renunciation oaths", requiring you to pledge to give up your previous citizenships. Canada used to have such an oath, but it was made illegal in 1973 by the courts and removed. The US renunciation oath remains. However, an mportant point - most countries in modern times, including the US and Canada, simply ignore foreign oaths of this sort. Basically, this means, from a country's perspective, they don't lose you as a citizen, regardless of what you said, until you march into an embasy office and tell the government directly (and probably fill in a million forms).

However, I found this link to be the most telling resource, citing cases and giving many many FAQs, including one or two with details on this specific case. Here is what I found to be the most telling quote:
"Finally, some people who become US citizens hope to take advantage of the fact that the US didn't make them actually go to their old country's consulate and get their citizenship revoked (all they were required to do was make a renunciatory statement as part of the US naturalization oath) -- and so they continue to exercise rights of citizenship in the old country as though nothing had happened. The US State Department used to take a dim view of such behavior if they found out about it, and people acting in this way were known to lose their US citizenship on the grounds that their pledge to renounce their prior status had evidently not been made in good faith. Now, though, the State Department almost never pursues such cases."

So, in the end, we're right back where I said we were when I wrote my first post on the subject (see? I'm not TOTALLY stupid) - it's against the oath, but not any explicit law. However, wee now know that such oaths carry little weight in practice, and that after 1990, the US has done very little to enforce them.

Of course, this still does not answer the question: if I could have it, would I really want it?