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The state is mother.

And that means, ladies, that if you bring any children into the world you are in fact bringing them into the world on behalf of the state, and as you lie exhausted and drained and drenched in sweat by the effort of childbirth, and as the hours of labour and the straining of both your body and your entire vocabulary of swearwords is swept away by new maternal feelings as you see and hear and touch for the first time that being you have created within yourself, the state would very much like you to fucking remember whose kid it really is and how they’re to be brought up. So tits out for the sprogs, girls, because breast is best and the state’s drones want to ensure you don’t have any other option.

A CONTROVERSIAL call to make infant formula available only on prescription to boost breastfeeding rates has merit, the Australian Breastfeeding Association says.
A Melbourne expert argues that infant formula should be available only on prescription to boost breast feeding rates.
Doctors say a push to restrict infant formula could create difficult hurdles for young mums.
But association spokeswoman Kate Mortensen said RMIT University expert Jennifer James’ proposal had merit and should definitely be seriously looked at.
Ms Mortensen also backed Dr James’ proposed ban on infant formula manufacturers marketing their products to the public.

Yes, this is still bottle milk formula we’re talking about, not tobacco.

“We support more support for mothers in general because most mothers do want to breastfeed, and they’re able to with better support and better information,” [Kate Mortenson] said.

It sounds like she’s nicked half the supports for that Delhi footbridge. Look, Kate, our species is about 200,000 years old and our ape-man antecedents go back maybe twenty times that, and in those thousands of years we’ve managed get along without any need of support for support in support of breast feeding. We’re good at the whole sex and child rearing thing, including breast feeding infants. We’re so good at breeding and raising children that we managed to rebuild the population from possibly as low as a couple of thousand individuals 70,000 odd years ago to its current 7 billion despite war, famine and disease wiping out uncountable millions of us in the meantime. Individuals may not be, which in the past meant they’d be unsuccessful at raising children and in the present means they’ll buy formula, but as a species we’re bloody good at rearing replacement humans not only without supportive types supporting supportive efforts of support but, for much of that time, without a even a language with which to offer any bloody support. Christ, my cat managed, and in her case six million years of evolution has produced a creature that, while capable of surprising affection, is also so daft that she’ll walk over the food in the near side of the dish to see if the stuff on the other side tastes better. Thick as two Planck length planks, I’m telling you. But despite being dense enough to bend light she still managed to feed a litter of kittens without some bossy tortoiseshell earth mother cat offering support for support of support to support her. In a supportive way.

I’ve got no problem with Kate Mortenson or Dr Jennifer James or anyone else thinking that breast is better. Hell, I’m prepared to believe it probably is better since we’ve evolved for it and it for us, whereas drinking cow juice and formula is a very recent move. And I have no problem with that information being put out there and I have no problem with trying to remove social barriers that might discourage breast feeding. Obviously in an ideal world everyone would just be able to look at breasts very functionally and mothers could simply feed whenever and wherever they needed to without anyone being bothered, but the world is not ideal and breasts do have a sexual significance. Sorry, sisters, but they do, and denying it is not dealing with it. And so prudes will complain about the dreaded breast while most of us men will either try to sneak a peek or look in absolutely every direction but the breast feeding mother unless forced to, and even then we’ll try to look at a point at least twenty feet above her head. Yes, I am one of those, and yes, I realise that while it’s a lot less embarrassing for her than staring straight at them and going, ‘Phwoar’ it’s still going to make the poor girl feel self concious. It’s often embarrassing for the mum and for men around her doing their best to respect both her privacy and her right to do one of the most natural things she ever will. We all know it shouldn’t be, but it is. A very brave girl might go to extremes and bare her breasts with the announcement that the gents have a few minutes to admire the view after which she’s going to feed her child, thank you very much, and she’d deserve nothing less than a twenty minute standing ovation for it. Others would be mortified at the thought and choose – the operative word, for the benefit of Jen and Kate – choose a more private environment. Probably the majority these days take the middle ground of lifting tee shirts or undoing some buttons and ignoring the extra attention drawn by what is really a pretty modest amount of skin being exposed, and there are even products available to help with that. Not surprisingly the breast zealots (is ‘brealots’ a word?) disapprove of them.

Nursing covers – the postnatal clothing accessory designed to allow mothers to breastfeed “discreetly” – are becoming an increasingly common sight as mothers cover up for fear of accidentally flashing a bare breast or midriff in public.
Mothers and breastfeeding experts are firmly divided over whether they are a wonderful idea or a step back to the Dark Ages.
Firmly in the “pro” camp is Murrumbeena mother Rebecca Azzopardi, who says her Peek a Boob cover allows her to feed six-month-old daughter Maya in situations where she might otherwise feel too self-conscious.
“I’m not ashamed of breastfeeding, but [the cover] is something that comes in handy when I’m out in public by myself, or even when I’m in a group with some male friends or around people that I think might feel uncomfortable,” she says.
“For example, I used it at the doctor’s surgery the other day. I had to feed her in front of quite a few older men and I thought they would probably be a bit embarrassed to see me breastfeeding. It comes in handy for those times when you’re not sure how people are going to react.”

Fair enough. She wants to breast feed and has chosen – Kate, Jennifer – chosen to buy a product that means she’s comfortable doing it in places where otherwise she’d rather not. Sorry the world’s not perfect yet but in the meantime isn’t something that gets more women who want to breast feed actually doing it a good thing? Apparently not.

Jennifer James…

Oh, gosh, what a surprise.

Jennifer James, a senior lecturer in breastfeeding at RMIT and a lactation consultant for 28 years, believes breastfeeding covers only reinforce the idea that nursing women should cover up.
“It’s time that women stood up and said, ‘Sorry, don’t like it? Then look away’,” she says.

As I said, it takes a brave girl. Or possibly just one more intent on making the point than feeding the baby.

“It also sends an incredibly negative message to the baby.”

What, more negative than, ‘Sorry about lunch, kid, but your mother’s tits are political now’?

Breastfeeding is meant to be a very interactive thing. When they are awake and feeding they are learning, so if you cover them up with a tent, the baby loses that contact with the world.

Oh, come on. What about the millions and millions of us who were born at a time when mothers had to leave the room? Did we all lose that contact with the world, and if so did we miss out? Or did it all take place at an age where we couldn’t even focus on the world, which we would entirely forget within five or six years, and actually had few desires anyway beyond mum, milk, cuddles and not being in our own shit for too much of the day? I’ll credit the Australian Breastfeeding Association spokesbrealot – not Kate this time – with being a bit more practical.

Australian Breastfeeding Association spokeswoman Karen Ingram says there are arguments for and against the cover-up range.
“We need to be really clear that women don’t need to cover themselves while they are breastfeeding and by law they are allowed to breastfeed anywhere, any time, whether they have a cover over their baby or not,” she says. “But for some mums it does help. Whatever assists the mum to breastfeed her baby should be accepted.”

Quite. It’s simply a matter of choice, and if the brealots are right that most mothers want to breast feed – and again I suspect they are – then given half a chance those mothers are likely to make that choice of their own volition. Ideally there’d be boobs on every street corner (and not a car crash to be heard) as women exercise their right to breast feed anywhere, but in this less than perfect world some women would rather minimise the exposure of their breasts.

But the ultimate sin against the sacred boob is that other women don’t do it at all and buy formula milk instead. There are lots of different reasons why but again it boils down to a personal choice, the most offensive c-word in the vocabulary of the righteous. Choice is bad when the wrong choice might be chosen, so what Dr James and her ABA pal Kate want to do is to make breast feeding the only approved choice – approved by them and, since they want the law to remove the option of formula for any woman whose nipples aren’t sufficiently wrecked to convince a doctor to write a ‘scrip’, approved ultimately by the state itself.

So let’s just imagine a scenario where this actually comes about and let’s imagine what the results will be when, for whatever reasons – and the actual reason is none of our business – some women want to bottle feed their babies. ‘Breast is best’ is already orthodoxy and there’s an element who’ll judge and criticise mothers who’ve chosen bottle, which must make them feel really good about themselves if they’ve tried to breast feed and given up with cracked nipples or just didn’t produce enough. So let’s imagine that formula milk is basically off limits to anyone who is feeding a baby and who isn’t in fact a man. How many will feel judged and looked on as failures, inadequate mothers, by society and by their peers and by the medical profession itself because the orthodoxy of breast is best is even stronger than now? How many of them will go to the doctor to ask for the government permission slip to buy formula milk, and how many will be too embarrassed and ashamed to? How many will be bullied and cajoled or shamed into carrying on as best they can despite pain and discomfort, or a possibly underfed baby? How many of them will actually have to beg milk, breast or formula, on the QT from their most trusted friends or relatives? And how long will it be before a black market supplies that which Dr Jennifer James and Kate Mortenson want to have put beyond the casual reach of mothers, and the nourishment of a significant minority of babies becomes reliant on the activity of criminals?

Ridiculous? Impossible? Not at all. Why wouldn’t there be when there’s already a black market in breast milk?

A BLACK market in breast milk has developed in Australia as families desperate to feed their babies the natural elixir are being charged up to $1000 a litre on the internet.

A thousand bucks? ‘Elixir’ had better be right. That’s… that’s… that’s more than petrol for God’s sake. Does it come in a 24ct gold bottle? Was it expressed by Scarlett Johansson? It’s MILK, not cocaine.

One mother contacted the Gold Coast based Mother’s Milk Bank to ask what the real “going rate” was for breast milk after online sharks demanded the extortionate amount when she placed a web advert seeking human milk.
Mother’s Milk Bank director Marea Ryan told her that the not-for-profit bank sold milk for $50 for 1.2 litres.
“I think it is increasing more and more as people become a lot more aware of the benefits of breastfeeding,” Ms Ryan said.

Or as they’re increasingly made to feel like lousy parents if they’re buying formula.

“It is very dangerous because in an unregulated fashion there are no checks and balances, the milk would not have been tested for viruses and bacteria,” Dr James said.

Well, yeah, obviously, but … hang on, Dr who?

“Women are being put in this insidious position because of a lack of breast milk banks nationally.”

Which will be the same as if government controls the supply of formula. But what did you say your name was again?

“They have no option but to look outside the system.”

Exactly what I’ve said will happen if women have no free choice between breast and formula. In fact it sounds like you’ll not only create a black market but you’ll boost an existing one. And sorry, but I’m sure you said your name was Dr James, am I right?

RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) lactation expert Dr Jennifer James said she was aware of the growing unregulated black market.

It is you! Bloody hell, Jen, you may know more than I will ever care to about lactation but how the hell can the likelihood of a formula black market escape you when you’ve got the evidence of a breast milk black market in front of your face? It’s demand and supply – what the fuck did you expect was going to happen when you inflate that demand by nagging about breast milk all the bloody time?

The risky practice has increased with the advent of the internet where women advertise their milk for sale.

[sarcasm]No? I’m in shock.[/sarcasm] And her solution?*

Dr James said there should be breast milk banks in all major hospitals but blamed inconsistent legislation for making them difficult to set up.
“In some states it is classified as a food while in others it is human tissue or bodily fluids,” she said. “The milk bank at the Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney had to close down because it was classified as bodily fluid. We need nationally consistent guidelines.”

Ah, yes, of course. The answer is central government. The answer is always central government, especially when it comes to raising future generations of the taxpayers that are essential to governments’ own survival.

Quite often I blog with a slight element of despair because someone has suggested giving government even more power to intrude and micromanage lives, and rather than howling them down vast numbers of people begin to nod and mumble that yes, it would be just super if the government would monitor and rule on the minutiae of their existence, and yours and mine and everyone else’s too because the government have to do it for/to everybody. Happily, stepping between mums and their children looks to be one step too far (my emphasis).

Avondale Heights mum Christine Rookas said it should be a mother’s choice whether to breast feed or not.
“I would be very frightened and afraid to think that formula will be prescribed,” Ms Rookas said.
“I think there’s already a paranoia for mothers. They feel guilty enough about using formula milk.”
… other mums who commented on the heraldsun.com.au were scathing about Dr James’s suggestion.
“What do these people know about every person’s situation?,” Dee said in a post at 12.57am this morning.
“Unless you are in a situation such as my family, please don’t speak for us. Don’t push your ideas on us if you haven’t walk in our shoes. These are personal decision that is made (sic) by each individual.

They are woman, Jennifer, hear them roar: ‘Piss off and leave us alone’. You would force mothers into breast feeding despite the fact that many would choose to do so anyway, even if many of them would rather keep their breasts covered up instead of partaking in the open display of maternalism that you advocate. Surely it’s best if mums can find whatever level of exposure or screening they as individuals are comfortable with and then carry on with the job of getting milk down babies’ throats, which I thought was the whole idea. But if you get government to intervene, if you get it literally to lay down the law on how babies must be fed and to force mothers, who by nature overwhelmingly want the best they can do for their children anyway, to breast feed regardless of whether they’re comfortable, then once again government takes away a little bit of our ownership of ourselves. Parents may still conceive their children and mothers may still give birth to them, but the state, which already demands so much control over a child’s upbringing and education and yes, diet too, will also control how they are fed from birth. With that level of needless interference over both of them how much could a new mother honestly say that her child, and even her breasts and milk, are hers and not the governments?

I’m sure your intentions are the best, Dr James, but the road to hell is paved with many more like them.

* That is the process which will solve the issue, not her personal solution. That’d be yucky and not what I want to think of when I’m about to get a milky cup of tea.

Sorry, no refunds.

Many years ago I bought a car. In fact it was my first car, and I was moderately pleased with myself because it was fairly cheap. However, it was also a Fiat and nearly everyone I knew told me that Fiats had a reputation for being a bit useless. ‘If it starts first time it’ll never make it all the way to where you’re going,’ they said. ‘It stands for Fix It Again Tomorrow,’ they said. ‘Don’t for Christ’s sake buy that bloody Fiat,’ they said. And although many journeys were completed without it breaking down, proving that there was a lot of hyperbole in what I’d been told, it was nonetheless true that these were broken up by periods of absolute rage and misery because the fucking thing was off the road for some reason or other. Even when it was working it seemed there was always something that needed to be fixed, even if it was more an annoyance than an actual hindrance. There were probably good Fiats around (I had a decent Fiat years later) but this one was a dog.

It wasn’t as bad as I’d been told it would be but I had been warned it’d be a dog and it was. And who’s to blame? Who was responsible for inflicting the bastard thing on me? Who should have paid the price for my misfortune? Only one name comes up, a certain Mr A Exile. I chose to ignore advice and buy a car with a poor reputation just because it was a cheap set of wheels, and neglected to consider that the everything between those cheap wheels might be more demanding and less stable than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

Oil pressure light.

And I did indeed pay the price, literally and figuratively, for not listening to advice. Caveat emptor, as the Romans said, meaning ‘you bought it, tough shit’. Nobody made me do it and I did so knowing that others had advised me against it. There is nothing to be done in this situations but accept it and move on, though bizarrely some don’t see it that way.

Labour have failed in an eleventh-hour attempt to get compensation for people who bought ID cards as MPs approved legislation to scrap them.

It had to be Labour, didn’t it? The party with absolutely no concept of people being responsible for their own decisions.

Shadow ministers wanted people who own cards to be refunded, saying they had bought them in “good faith”.

Like I did with that car? Look, sometimes you just have to accept that you’ve made a bad decision. It’s part of being human and imperfect, and when all it’s really cost you is thirty quid and some face I’d suggest you’ve got the benefit of an important life lesson for a bargain price. Refunds? Pah!

Labour’s Denis MacShane, a cardholder himself, said his money was effectively being “confiscated” and said if someone’s house had been taken by the state, that would get recompense.

Demonstrating that Labour also has little grasp of what happens when you buy something. In return for getting something you want or think you need you give your money away. It is not confiscated, and since governments and politicians in general and socialists in particular are experts at confiscating money I find it very disappointing that Denis McShane is unable to tell the difference. You still have your card, Denis. What you are unhappy about is that it has become worthless and without any useful function, even though many felt they always were and it was never a secret that the ID card scheme would be scrapped if Labour lost the election. The value of pointless government shit may go down as well as up.

… SNP MP Pete Wishart said it was “tough luck” on card owners as they had made an informed choice to buy one.

“We have to be absolutely and abundantly clear with this – ID cards are exclusively and solely a New Labour creation,” he said. “All other parties in this House made it absolutely clear that we would have nothing whatsoever to do with them.”

Ministers say cardholders were aware they would be invalidated with a change of government.

Quite. But if McShane wants to press the point maybe it would be worth conceding that perhaps both parties should settle up.

Rejecting calls for compensation, Immigration Minister Damian Green said the scheme had cost £292m but fewer than 15,000 cards had been issued – equivalent to £20,000 per card.

“This is by any standards a scandalous waste of money which lies squarely at the door of ministers in the previous government,” he said.

“We don’t see why the taxpayer should have to pay out yet again.”

No, but here’s a thought. Denis McShane and nearly 15,000 other pricks who wanted ID cards got them in the face of all the opposition and in the knowledge that their future wasn’t assured, and they got the rest of the country to bloody pay for it all. Compensation, Denis? Sure, but first let’s discuss the 19,970 quid difference between the cost of the card you wanted and what it cost the rest of the country. Alternatively you could just grow up, accept the fact that you made a poor buying decision that is your responsibility and your’s alone, and shut the fuck up.

H/T Looking For A Voice.

Your waistline and national security.

From that fascinating and occasionally incomprehensible land across the Pacific (or the Atlantic depending on whether I’m thinking as a Brit or an expat down under) comes the latest assault on anyone who simply wants to be left alone to live their own lives, a joint attack from the foodie health police and the perpetual war mob as well.

Increasing rates of obesity among young Americans could undermine the future of the US military, with potential recruits increasingly too fat to serve, two retired generals said today.

“Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our military,” generals John Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton, both former chairs of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a commentary.

Obesity disqualified more potential recruits for military service than any other medical factor, the two former commanders wrote in the Washington Post.

The two generals urged Congress to adopt legislation that would ensure better nutrition in schools, offering children more vegetables, fruits and whole grains while cutting back on foods with high sugar, sodium and fat content.

“We consider this problem so serious from a national security perspective that we have joined more than 130 other retired generals, admirals and senior military leaders in calling on Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation,” wrote the commanders, part of a non-profit group called Mission: Readiness.

Child nutrition legislation? Oh good grief. You just know that it’s only a matter of time before this is repeated here or in the UK (if it hasn’t been mentioned already).

“We must act, as we did after World War II, to ensure that our children can one day defend our country, if need be.”

I can see where they’re coming from, but Jesus Christ… The most admirable thing about America is that it’s a nation founded on the idea of liberty.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator* with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

How does legislating people’s diets fit in with that?

‘Kinell.

* Which should still apply even if you think your creators were a couple of people bumping uglies because there was nothing on TV.

Blogosphere power at work?

This morning I noticed that this year old story in The Australian on the ‘soft totalitarianism’ of modern Britain, which has had a permanent link on my sidebar for ages, is suddenly the 8th most read article. How come, wonders I. Could it be that the news of Gordon Brown’s ‘bigot’ gaff and the talk of the TV debates has generated a renewed interest in what’s going on in the old country among British expats and Aussies of British descent? That was certainly my first thought, but then I over at Leg-iron’s blog I noticed that his blogging on the Australian federal government’s plan to de-brand tobacco packaging had attracted this comment.

It’s a shame there aren’t more writers like this bloke in both countries: Thought police muscle up in Britain

Since it made the most read list during the night while most here would have been asleep I’m now wondering if Leg-iron, his smoky drinky blog and readership, and an anonymous commenter gave it a boost, especially as two hours later it’s no longer on the list. I’ll never know but I hope so, because I still feel that it’s an article everyone in Britain should read before they put an X on a bit of paper this coming Thursday. There might well be nobody on most people’s ballot papers who wants to do something about it but that’s not going to change unless many moree become aware of the creeping influence of the real life Thought Police and are prepared to shout:

“Enough!”

Fuck Calais.

Just over five months ago I blogged that as a result of the Lisbon Constitreaty coming into force I now call Australia home.

Why? Because for all practical purposes the country in which I was born no longer exists and Australia is all I am left with. I was born English and British in the same sense than someone can be born a Londoner or a Lancastrian, or for that matter Norman or Bavarian or Tuscan, but England and the UK no longer exist because the Czechs have dropped their opposition to the EU Constitreaty:

Vaclav Klaus, the only European Union leader who has still not signed the document, said he could not wait for a British general election next year which could lead to a Tory government and a possible referendum to bury the Treaty.
Mr Klaus said: “The train carrying the treaty is going so fast and it’s so far that it can’t be stopped or returned, no matter how much some of us would want that.”

Oh fuck it.

And that’s desperately sad not just because in the back of my mind the UK was always there to return to if Australia didn’t work out for me, but because millions of people who want to think of themselves as British, to say nothing of those French, Germans, Spanish, Italians etc. who feel love and pride and patriotism towards their respective countries, can just fucking forget it from now on. It may not look it yet but Britain is dead.

So the choice is made for me. Home is here in Oz by my own decision to move here, but it could have been the UK once again in the future. Not now though. I can never go to that home again because it’s not really there anymore. It is an ex-country.

Once or twice before then I’d blogged on some outrageous Orwellian move on the part of Her Majesty’s Repulsive Bunch of Self Serving, Nest Feathering, Deceitful Cunts and said that it made me want to go no closer than Calais, but as a result of the EU’s ever closer integration we now have a good reason to steer clear of the whole fucking continent.

MILLIONS of Britons face being snooped on by a new European intelligence agency which has been handed frightening powers to pry into our lives.

Europol can access personal information on anyone – including their political opinions and sexual preferences – if it suspects, rightly or wrongly, that they may be involved in any “preparatory act” which could lead to criminal activity.

It is understood the agency will concentrate on anyone thought “xenophobic” or likely to commit a crime involving the environment, computers or motor vehicles.

This could include covert monitoring of people who deny the existence of climate change or speak out on controversial issues.

This is genuinely worrying and goes further than my most tinfoil hatted dreams. Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance, at whose blog I picked this up, says:

“It doesn’t surprise me that Europol has been handed these rather frightening powers,… We now live in a pan-European state so it was to be expected that it would have a federal police force with powers over us….There is a real danger that opposition to EU policies could make an individual liable to arrest…. For example, if Brussels adopts a hard-line stance on climate change, it’s conceivable that someone who broadcasts their scepticism of climate change may be accused of committing an environmental crime because they have undermined the EU’s efforts to save mankind.”

The Angry Exile says, ‘Fuck Calais, it’s somewhere in southern Norway now, possibly Switzerland if Mrs Exile wants chocolate.’

As with all these things the worry is not so much a government of today which is granting itself these powers with a kind of ‘just in case’ attitude, but the unknown governments of the future who may decide to abuse these powers for their own benefit. But even before that there is a worry for the here and now: ‘mission creep’ as the machinery of state, the various little cogs and wheels with their quotas of toothbrush moustached cunts in high-viz jackets whose empty lives are made more full by exercising these powers over the little people, will take it upon itself to use these powers more and more and for a wider range of situations than was ever envisaged.

And what have the 300+ million people in Europe got to protect them from this? The European Commission, the European Parliament, and the national parliaments that have already ceded power to the above, that’s what.

They’re fucked, aren’t they? Welcome to Stasiland, Istanbul to the Atlantic Coast.

Your personal mail? Not anymore.

Via the LPUK blog I see that Badgerbrows has snuck in another little bit of Big Brother legislation. Now the bastards can open your mail.

Officers will be allowed to intercept any suspicious mail anywhere in the country and open it before it is delivered, under plans being drawn up by the Government to amend the Postal Services Act.
The measure is billed as a bid to crack down on tobacco smuggling. However, a HM Revenue and Customs spokesman said the powers could be applied much more widely.
Currently, Royal Mail staff have a legal right to intercept suspicious letters and parcels in mail centres and sorting offices and pass them to HM Revenue and Customs.
Tax inspectors must then notify the addressee and agree a mutually acceptable time to open the letter or parcel, before deciding whether to take any enforcement acdtion.
However the Government is now proposing to remove the legal requirement which will now allow inspectors to open suspicious post without asking permission first.

Like Guthrum at the LPUK blog I’m confident that they won’t abuse the privilege for, oooooh, it’d have to be minutes at the very least.

‘Kinell.

Net nannying and censorship – the same fucking thing actually.

As I mentioned yesterday Senator Conroy appeared on The 7pm Project this evening to justify the Great Firewall of Australia, his pet ISP level internet filtering project. Now obviously in the short term this is only going to affect people living in Australia, and if you reading this from somewhere else and are confidant that your politicians respect liberty on or offline then you can skip the rest of this – it doesn’t apply to you, you lucky soul. If you’re not so sure about the liberty thing – and if you’re in Britain then news like this and this suggests that you bloody well shouldn’t be – then bear in mind that you may be next, and watch out for a politician giving an interview not unlike this.

So how did Conroy do? How did The 7pm Project do? Did they give Conroy an easy time of it? And most importantly of all am I sold on the filter? Not bloody likely. Please bear with me while I fisk this fuckwit, which unfortunately won’t be brief since the very first question Conroy was asked – the very first – he ducked.

Charlie Pickering: ‘Now, first thing’s first, will this filter stop Aussie kids from accessing X-rated adult material, which is probably what most parents are worried about, on the internet?’

Conroy, being a politician, promptly answered a different question that had not actually been asked.

Senator Conroy: ‘This filter is only designed to block web pages which are defined under the classification processes as Refused Classification. That’s child pornography, pro-bestiality sites, pro-rape websites and material like that.’

Nicely ducked. The answer he was actually looking for would be something along the lines of ‘No, Charlie, it can’t stop kids accessing adult material. That is the responsibility of parents’. Conroy then went on to clarify that the filter would block only RC material, that is material which is already banned in Australia and can’t be seen at the movies, on DVD, in books, or hosted on Australian websites. Are you sure about that, Stephen? Because one of the concerns I had when I first blogged about this more than a year ago was that the phrase “illegal and inappropriate content” being used here and there – one of your own press releases for example – and I wanted to know if that meant that legal content that was deemed inappropriate would be blocked as well as illegal content, and also who the fuck decides what’s inappropriate anyway. Since that in that PR you say (my emphasis):

‘Filtering specifically against a black-list of illegal content as well as the ability to filter additional material will be one part of the upcoming pilot trial.’

I think it’s fair to ask if you will also filter legal content that you don’t like. But okay, let’s assume for now that your government really will just stick to RC stuff. That leads to the next question about what effect the filter would actually have on restricting the availability of child porn on the web in Australia. Again, the answer to that was for a totally different and unasked question:

‘Well, there are a number of complete misrepresentations in that opening package.’

Er, Stephen? He didn’t fucking ask you how accurate the intro film was. He asked what effect the filter would have on the availability of child porn. Stay awake. And ‘package’? Oh, never mind. Call it a package if you want to.

‘The first was that it’s not generally on the internet. That’s not true.’

It’s not strictly what was said either. The point being made was that the majority of muck the nonces are distributing among themselves is done via P2P networking, and that this will bypass the filter anyway. I presume you were conceding this very point in March last year when you admitted that this won’t stop child porn.

Sorry for interrupting, Steve, do go on.

Sen. Conroy: ‘There are currently today 355 websites that are banned because they are websites on the public internet that show child pornography.’

Charlie Pickering: ‘But there are millions and millions of sites on the internet, Senator Conroy, that’s not a huge number.’

Took the words right out of my mouth, except that I’d have said billions. In fact even if that linked article is out by a factor of ten then the odds of randomly stumbling across one of those 355 sites are more than 283 million to one, hugely more remote than, say for example, getting struck by lightning and probably much more remote than being hit by lighting while holding a winning lottery ticket. For it to happen once would be massively, massively unfortunate, and almost everyone would simply navigate away or call the cops or both. For it to happen more than once, or for someone to stick around once they’d got to one of these 355 sites? Almost certainly they’d have to be looking for it, and if they’re doing that in the presence of a filter then they’ll almost certainly be taking steps to bypass the damn thing anyway.

The questions then swung around to the fact, which Conroy didn’t dispute, that the filter doesn’t affect peer-to-peer and that this is the preferred means for nonces to swap their porn. Credit to Conroy here, he did actually answer the question put to him by saying that they’d never claimed the filter would stop P2P but there are other means of monitoring that. For a moment at this point I thought that Charlie Pickering was going to ask why, if the desire is to stop child porn (among other things), most of which is spread by P2P and according to Conroy is being tackled by other means, why have the bloody filter at all. Perhaps he was but he allowed Conroy to get a verbal wedge in and begin to repeat his first answer. The guest panellist (or whatever), whose name I’ve forgotten, did get that question out… sort of.

‘If it’s banned already what’s the point of the filter.’

This let Conroy off the hook somewhat since he was able to say quite truthfully that the problem was websites outside of Australia’s territory. Well, duh, Steve. Obviously you don’t control websites in the rest of the world, and I bet you were relieved that you were able to say so rather than be hit with more questions about the amount of web hosted material you’re going to stop with the filter versus the amount spread via P2P which the filter won’t touch, and what each is costing us in actual dollars. And potential liberty.

It fell to Dave Hughes, a stand up comedian for Christ’s sake, to bring up the point about the government’s secretive attitude towards what gets blocked.

Dave Hughes: ‘So you’re gonna ban websites and, and…’

Senator Conroy: ‘Individual pages within websites that contain this…’

Dave Hughes: ‘Alright. But you won’t tell us which ones you’re banning so I mean … how can we trust you as a government that you’re not influencing it for your own good?’

Thank fuck for that. I was beginning to think this wouldn’t get raised at all. But even though Dave Hughes brought it up he didn’t ask the second part: even if this government can be trusted what is guaranteeing that no future government can abuse it? Because as far as I can tell it’s fuck all. Conroy’s response was, not surprisingly, a mix of evasion and emotion with a dash of logic and illogic in equal measure.

‘This is probably the most complex of the issues that we face.’

That’s one way of looking at it, Stephen. The other is that it’s very simple: how can we trust not just your government but all future governments? Because once the ability is there a future government could add websites of opposition parties or supporters to the blacklist. To put it another way, I’ve called you some unpleasant names on this blog, Senator Conroy, but if I’m still blogging in twenty years and being similarly rude about the Communications Minister of 2030 how do I know that this blog will still be accessible inside Australia? On that basis should I call him/her a cunt now while I still can? I realise the Communications Minister of 2030 might still be at school and calling them a cunt on my blog is a little unfair whatever they’re doing, but at the moment I don’t know if I’ll be able do so at a more reasonable time. See the problem?

Anyway, go on, Steve.

‘The difference between putting up a list of titles of movies that are Refused Classification is you don’t provide access to them.’

Yes, understood, but how hard is it to burn a copy of Wombat Felching in the Outback and print a Sound of Music label on the disc and box cover before mailing it off to some fellow sick marsupial fetishist? How would you know if it happens? Don’t think that just because it’s not being shown at the fucking Crown means you’ve prevented all access because you haven’t. You’ve just made it more difficult.

Sorry, you were saying?

‘If I list the 355 child pornography websites, that’s an address of where to go and see them.’

Now this is a good point and admittedly it will prevent what we might call the perv-curious from shuffling along for a quick look. The thing is that this doesn’t seem likely to be a large number. The sick bastards who already know they like that shit will, as has already pointed out, be operating in such a way that the filter won’t affect them. So these 355 sites will already be known to the perverts who use them and vice versa. Ah, you’ll say, but the page won’t be accessible from Australia once the filter is up. Bullshit, I say. Proxies and TORS, I say. Determined nonces will find ways and, as I’ve already said, even if it does work – which it won’t – then you will have succeeded only in blocking a small proportion of filth accessed by a small proportion of perverts.

And at what cost – not just monetary – will you have achieved ‘all’ this? This sledgehammer you’ve created to miss a nut will have swallowed a fortune and as far as I can see will allow any future government who feels so inclined to quietly block anything on the web that they dislike or find threatening. Even without that every web user in Australia is going to find their ISP is passing the filter costs on to them and that in return they’re not just being treated as a potential perv-curious but will have slower internet connection to boot (and Australia doesn’t have a great rep for internet speeds as it is due to the crappy connections in many rural areas unless you’re willing to pay through the nose for satellite broadband).

Let’s come back to that since Conroy was in mid flow there.

‘And so what we’ve proposed as part of this… we’ve invited public submissions and those – we’ve just published them all yesterday. The public submissions are to say, “Look, help us devise a new transparency mechanism’. We don’t want it to be the government that is making these decisions. What we, what we want is a new mechanism with an industry body perhaps, er, a retired judge, anyone of those sorts of mechanisms that people might suggest, that they will vet the list, say, every six months to make sure the government hasn’t slipped something on that shouldn’t be there.’

Or alternatively you could just not fucking do it. Look, you’re just moving the problem out of your office and down the fucking hall. If it’s down to whatever body or retired judge or other ‘mechanism’ (not sure judges are robots by the way) you have, then it simply becomes a question of whether their personal views coincide with the government that’s blocking content that it really shouldn’t, and if not then their susceptibility to being leant on. In short, it’s no fucking guarantee at all and is hardly better than if the decision remained in your fucking office. On the other hand if the list is public then millions of people can see whether or not you’ve slipped something on that shouldn’t be there. Yes, they’ll also be able to see these 355 sites, or rather the URLs – and the fact that you think this is still a problem is a bit of a giveaway that you know access will still be possible via proxies etc. – but if you feel that defeats the object doesn’t it make more sense to drop the whole silly idea completely?

Now, on to another bit of question ducking where Conroy again answers a question that this time Carrie Bickmore didn’t ask.

Carrie Bickmore: ‘Senator Conroy, I want to ask as a mum: I just wonder whether … using this filter is actually, I guess, almost misleading ’cause it lulls parents into this false sense of thinking, ‘Oh, okay, you’re gonna filter everything. I don’t want my child to see, you know, naughty stuff [“Naughty stuff”? Boggle – Angry Exile] on the internet.’ In fact it’s not going to do that so will it lead to families being, I guess, lax and not watching their kids online?’

Senator Conroy: ‘The focus of the government’s cyber safety policy has been on this one item. Our cyber safety policy actually has more money for more police, more money for court action, more money…’

Charlie Pickering: ‘But a disproportionate amount of money is on the filter. Most of what you’re spending is on this filter, which is, er, if it’s going to have 100% it’s gonna slow down the internet.’

Oh, Charlie. It’s a good point but so was Carrie’s and now Conroy’s never going to have to answer her. Granted, he probably wouldn’t have anyway, but still I’d have liked to have seen him pressured on that because it was probably the most blatant bit of alternative question answering he resorted to. Will it lead to misplaced confidence and parents dropping their guard? Well, we’re giving more money to police and courts. Right. Thanks for that, Steve, it’s just fucking crystal now.

Oh well, since we’ve moved on to costs let’s here Conroy out on that.

‘No, look, that was, that was something that Mark Newton – appeared in your package at the beginning – knows is untrue. let me be very clear about this. All of the tests, all of the trials, and these have been done independently by Telstra who did their own, separate from the government. There is zero impact, zero impact in accuracy. It is 100% accurate.’

Really? So when you said in 2008 (well, that PR again):

‘Successful blocking (the proportion of illegal and inappropriate content that should have been blocked that was successfully blocked) was between 88% and 97% with most achieving over 92%. Overblocking (the proportion of content that was blocked that should not have been blocked) was between 1% and 6%, with most falling under 3%.’

you were talking about some other tests? Tests that for some reason don’t count anymore and shouldn’t be considered. And actually tests that actually were slightly worse than in your PR if these are the same results, which is a fair assumption given it’s the same date.

  • One filter caused a 22% drop in speed even when it was not performing filtering;
  • Only one of the six filters had an acceptable level of performance (a drop of 2% in a laboratory trial), the others causing drops in speed of between 21% and 86%;
  • The most accurate filters were often the slowest;
  • All filters tested had problems with under-blocking, allowing access to between 2% and 13% of material that they should have blocked; and
  • All filters tested had serious problems with over-blocking, wrongly blocking access to between 1.3% and 7.8% of the websites tested.
  • The trial tested speed on a simple ‘black listed or not’ basis for all simulated clients on all systems, yet the report outlines the ability of the filters to provide customised filtering to each client (as would be required by the two levels of filtering which ACMA is proposing) which would significantly impact test results.

Perhaps a special kind of mathematics applies in Canberra that allows 87% to be the same as 100%. Now, on to the issue of speed.

Charlie Pickering (interrupting): ‘But (unclear) a YouTube page said that you are gonna slow down the internet.’

Senator Conroy (slowly and deliberately): ‘This is not true.’

Ahem, according to you (PR again) in 2008 it fucking well is true.

The performance or ‘network degradation’ for one of the tested products was less than 2%, whilst three products were less than 30% and two products were in excess of 75%.

And 22% degradation on one just from fucking being switched on? Would you like me to tell you where you can shove that? Look, if the possible filters have improved since then and what was the case in 2008 isn’t any more, fine. One lost only 2% so that’s not implausible – just say so clearly and unequivocally and we’ll all let it drop.

Stephen, why aren’t you saying so clearly and unequivocally? Could it be that the speed issue is still there?

Senator Conroy (continuing reply to Charlie Pickering):  ‘We’re not including high traffic sites.’

Oh for fuck’s sake, you soppy cunt, you can make nothing into anything or the other way round depending on what you decide to count or ignore. You might just as well measure road traffic only outside metropolitan areas and declare that Australia virtually never has a traffic jam. I cannot believe you said that and it’s a shame that time was clearly running very short at that point because they began to wrap the interview up. None of them were able to take you on about your continued appeal to the authority of Telstra, a telecoms company that last year had every reason to curry favour with your department so as not to be broken up – they didn’t get their way so there might well be nothing in that and they really did get incredible – literally incredible – results of 100% accuracy with no speed loss, disproving the 2008 tests. Or maybe the tests were just a bit shit.

Enex TestLab did not test ISP-level filtering products on internet connection speeds greater than 8 Mbps, raising questions of possible degradation at ADSL2+ and fibre speeds.

Further, none of the nine ISPs who piloted filtering technologies could provide an environment to test Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), an addressing scheme the internet industry expects will be necessary in the coming years as IPv4 addresses run out.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday revealed the long-awaited Enex report on the Government’s controversial trials of ISP-level filtering technologies [which] concluded the filtering technologies did not degrade internet performance – except when filtering content above and beyond the ACMA blacklist, in which Enex found the filters were hampered by over-blocking.

But the report also shows that only internet speeds of up to 8 Mbps were subjected to the tests.

Internode network engineer Mark Newton – a fervent opponent of the filter proposal – said it was “extraordinary” that the Federal Government had not tested the impact of content filtering on higher speed connections.

“If the Minister thinks this report puts the speed question to bed, he’s sorely mistaken,” Newton said.

“[He] has to accept that this report leaves open questions about whether or not his censorship policy is compatible with his 100 Mbps national broadband network.”

Indeed. Why the fuck spend millions of dollars of our money on the national high speed broadband network if you don’t know if it’s going to be fucked up by this ridiculous and flawed net nanny on which you’ve spent millions of dollars of our money. But beyond the money and beyond the protestations of unrealistic perfection (only with certain allowances made) and a perfect test record (not counting the tests that weren’t perfect and not testing for all real life conditions) we’ve still got the massive issue of being forced to trust not only this government not to abuse it, but also the next government, and the next, and the next, and the next and so on. One day one of them will be handed a print out from some annoying bastard with a website and a big gob and, instead of just wishing that the annoying noise would go away, give instructions to have it blacklisted. That, Senator Conroy, is why you got awarded Internet Villain of the Year and why we’re now being compared with countries like Iran and North Korea. It’s not you – though your personal track record doesn’t fill me with confidence – it’s the unknown politicians who are still to come. If there’s no filter it can’t be abused. If it exists it’s just a matter of time before it is.

And the Grand Prix grid girls’ new uniforms look shit too.

Censor news, and for a change it’s good.

Despite my occasional pessimism that everyone in Australia is going to be treated as a retard incapable of having any contact with a computer or the internet without government nannying things are looking up. First, good news for Australian gamers – Michael Atkinson, the principle barrier to getting an R18+ classification for games, has resigned. I’ve blogged before on Australia’s nannyish attitude to computer games and how even games aimed at adults have had to be altered to suit the squeamish attitudes of the Puritan fuckwits here (see here and here). Finally those gamers who are perhaps more than 20 years older than the current maximum age classification have a realistic chance of being able to buy an unedited, not specially ruined for Australia, copy of Demon Zombie Smash Hack Blam 3 or whatever.

R18+ video games are a step closer to being allowed in Australia following the resignation of South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson.

Mr Atkinson’s decision to leave the front bench means he will no longer be in a position to vote on changes to the country’s classification system, including the introduction of an R18+ rating for games.

As a quick refresher to save anyone picking through my other posts on this, the relevance of one resignation at the state level is that to create a new R18+ classification for games all states must agree, and this decision is up to the Attorneys-General. Fuck knows why but the practical upshot was that Michael Atkinson was opposed to it and that meant that in theory everyone in the whole country could have personally written to Kevin Rudd demanding it and he’d have been able to do precisely fuck all, his hands being legally tied by one politician in a state government. Now in some ways this need for unanimity is not a bad thing – if used to prevent loss of liberty I’d be heaving a sigh of relief. In this instance it’s been the other way around. of course, South Australia may replace Atkinson with someone else who feels the same way but hopefully they’ve sussed the mood. Part of it is that the Australian Labor Party (please donate any spare lower case ‘u’s here) got a bit of a shoeing in the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania.

The decision came after voters gave the Rann Government a kicking in last weekend’s state election. Mr Atkinson won his seat of Croydon comfortably but still suffered a 14.3 per cent swing against him, according to ABC reports.

Heh. It’s a safe seat, won by Atkinson in 2006 with a 6.8 swing in his favour. To lose all that and then more than the same again has to be significant. Not that a politician would ever admit that.

Mr Atkinson said he was stepping down so there could be “renewal” in the Government’s leadership and so he could spend more time with his family, including his son Johnno.

“He was supposed to play his first (soccer) game last night at 7pm and like so many times in my time in Parliament I wasn’t there,” Mr Atkinson said yesterday.

“I am pretty disappointed about that.

“So I resolved that every time Johnno walks on the pitch this year his dad is going to be there even if it embarrasses the hell out of him.”

Depends on whether the other kids start chasing you around the pitch with Nintendos and pointing behind you and yelling “AAAAAARGH SPACE INVADERS”.

That’s not all. With Atkinson gone hopefully we won’t have to hear any more of this sort of thing.
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/22881388001?isVid=1&publisherID=22717159001
Dick Puddlecote will be a happy bunny, because the other way of looking at that is that fags are less harmful than videogames. Jesus Christ, what cock socket was behind this? Oh, sorry Michael, was that you too?

A GROUP that says video games and violence are like smoking and lung cancer has received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from politician and outspoken R18+ game critic Michael Atkinson.

An expert from the Australian Council on Children and the Media this week told a TV news program the link between violent games and youth violence was stronger than tobacco and cancer.

Fuck, so that’s this year’s footy and Rugby League seasons called off, is it? Or is it okay because it’s real people?

Twats.

“It’s much greater than the effect of smoking on lung cancer,” psychologist Dr Wayne Warburton said.

It’s the strongest claim yet in the war of words over video game ratings which has heated up after a call for public input on the issue that drew 55,000 submissions.

A spokesman for Mr Atkinson told news.com.au his department provided an annual grant to the council under its trading name Young Media Australia.

The grant is to support a project called “Know Before You Go” that offers parents information about which films are suitable for children.

Mr Atkinson’s spokesman could not say how much the grant was for and declined to provide an estimate, however fellow Labor MP Gay Thompson previously put the figure at up to $33,000.

“The South Australian Attorney-General recently provided $33,000 for the project ‘Know Before You Go’,” she told parliament in 2006.

I’m almost certain that it would be more accurate to say that this group has received funds from South Australian taxpayers courtesy of Michael Atkinson, though if it turns out he gave them $33 grand of his own cash I’ll happily correct this. In the meantime this should delight Dick Puddlecote, Leg-iron and other smoky people. Great news guys, smoking is less harmful than playing videogames.

The final icing on this cake, and probably the most important of all*, is that apparently Michael Atkinson also had a hand in this frankly rather scary law.

SOUTH Australian laws censoring anonymous political comment on the internet have sparked national and international outrage, with readers comparing the “draconian laws” to those in Nazi Germany and China.

Well over 1000 people had posted comments on the AdelaideNow website up to midnight last night – most vehemently against the Rann Government’s legislation which will force internet bloggers and anyone publishing a comment on next month’s state election to supply their real name and postcode.

A poll reveals more than 90 percent of readers are against the laws, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 for media organisations who do not hand over such information to the Electoral Commissioner.

In an extraordinary response to the story, readers have compared the law to those used in Nazi Germany, China, George Orwell’s 1984 and North Korea, including Mark Burns Springer from the United States.

What the cunting fuck were they thinking over there? They sure as fuck can’t blame it on smoking weed because I imagine the Puritan State will be the last one in Australia to accept legalising a bit of puff. Atkinson, to my not especially great surprise, was all for it.

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the law would not impinge on free speech and claimed that he expected The Advertiser and AdelaideNow to “publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me”.

Mr Atkinson described AdelaideNow as “not just a sewer of criminal defamation” but also “a sewer of identity theft and fraud”.

In a press conference today, Mr Atkinson said the law was “all about honesty”.

The state Liberal Party – which supported the law – also drew fire from readers.

Maybe I’m wrong about the puff. Anyway, it didn’t last long.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL Michael Atkinson will move immediately to repeal controversial laws which sparked an outcry over censorship of the internet.

After backing down late last night to say the laws would not be put into effect, Mr Atkinson told reporters he would follow the advice of Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Vickie Chapman and use a section of the Electoral Act to immediately repeal the section.

Earlier, Mr Atkinson said it would be repealed but could not do it until after the election and had promised that no action would be taken against internet users during the election campaign.

Not completely mad after all then. And in fairness I have to give him credit for this (my emphasis):

“I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively.”

Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable.

“It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps,” he continued in the statement.

“This way, no one need fear now that they are being censored on the net or in blogs, whether they blog under their own name or anonymously. The law will be repealed retrospectively.

I think he’s a paternalist and patronising tool, but he’s got more guts than some (probably most in Westminster).

Of course none of this changes Australia’s other big censorship project, the Great Firewall of Australia. This proposed ISP level, government controlled filter is Senator Stephen Conroy’s pet project (blogged at length more than once – see this tag), and in turn is one of the main reasons why I believe Senators (or ‘Senatopeers’ as I called them since I was talking about the UK), who should be part of the brake on the power of the government, should not be allowed to serve in the government unless they want to give up their seat and contest one in the Lower House. Conroy is determined that he knows what’s best for everyone in Australia and is appearing on The 7pm Project tomorrow night tonight to try to sell it to us all. It’s not mentioned on their site but I caught a trailer and it looks like I wasn’t the only one. Conroy is as determined as Atkinson was over the R18+ certificate, and being a Senator he’s not easy to get rid of. I’m hoping to be home in time to watch and I do hope The 7pm Project hosts grill the bastard properly. The fact that Google has both given up co-operating with Chinese censorship and, with Yahoo!, attacked the Australian filter plans should give them some decent ammo.

Both Google and Yahoo say the government’s plans to introduce a mandatory internet filter threaten to restrict legitimate access to information.

“Our primary concern is that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide,” Google said.

Google said that while protecting the free exchange of ideas and information could not be without some limits, people should retain the right to freedom of expression.

This is something else I’m planning a post on but I can do a quick summary for Google right here and now. Whenever anyone says they’re all for free speech and then adds the words ‘but’, ‘however’ or ‘as long as’ at the end what they’re actually saying is that they support free speech as long as it’s speech they find agreeable. Freedom of speech is an absolute, a black and white issue in an all too often grey world. If you have no restrictions on speech then it’s free, simple as. If there are restrictions then by definition it is not free. You might say it’s mostly free, and that’s true in a literal sense, but it’s just as true to use a term like ‘only moderately restricted’. This is ‘slightly pregnant’ stuff, fellas. ‘Free exchange of ideas and information’ can, and should, and fucking well must be without limits, because otherwise it’s not actually free, d’you see? Like being able to buy land and do what you like with it I regard this as a litmus test of my libertarianism – if I can stand to see something I loathe and vehemently disagree with in print, on TV or on the web, even though I might wish it hadn’t been said and that the speaker contracts some virulent genital pox, then I guess I’m still supporting free speech. The day I think ‘they shouldn’t be allowed to say that’ I’ll be too ashamed to call myself libertarian.

Google, stop knocking cocks with the politicians and tell ’em the facts. You’re supposed to be the ‘do no evil’ people, remember? Fucking live up to it.

“Some limits, like child pornography, are obvious. No Australian wants that to be available – and we agree.”

Want? It’s not a matter of what we want – it’s there. We don’t want car crashes either but the solution isn’t to dig up the roads or put a speed bump every 50m on the freeway. Child porn is revolting and evil and, sadly, a fact of life. By all means go after the sick bastards who produce it by raping kids, and if – if – they violently resist arrest (oh please) then I wouldn’t shed a tear if the result was a couple of well aimed 9mm rounds in the cunt’s chest. But it’s almost certain, as Conroy himself has admitted, that the filter will not achieve this. Oh sure, it might catch some less net savvy perverts but they’d be what you might call low hanging fruit and most or all will have been caught by now. As I wrote just over a year ago,

…the technically savvy can and will find ways to defeat the filtering, and that there are some very tech savvy nonces out there in cyberspace. In fact I’d go further and suggest that the majority of web using pervs and other genuine internet menaces have had to get reasonably savvy. There will have been a kind of Darwinian selection going on among them in that those who have failed to get savvy and learn to cover their tracks have got arrested, jailed and locked in solitary to prevent the rest of the prison kicking the shit out of them too much. Those that are left, I think it’s safe to assume, are those who’ve learned how not to get caught.

Yep, the ones to worry about are the ones using proxies, TORs and other means to avoid the firewall, which will be giving them the added bonus of lulling a lot of people into a false sense of security. Hey, we’ve got the firewall now so let little Johnny chat away on IM to this other (4)9 year old that he met online. Well done everybody, fucking well done.

Unfortunately Google apparently didn’t mention any of these points and just said they were already taking steps and that it’d bugger things up for the millions of innocent net users.

The company said it already had a global, all-product ban against child sexual abuse material which it filtered out from search results and removed from its products.

“But moving to a mandatory ISP level filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy-handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information.”

The company also said the introduction of a mandatory filtering regime could negatively impact on user access speeds.

Joined in quick order by Yahoo!

“We are concerned that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide,” the company’s submission said.

Senator Conroy has said the filtering plan was about blocking access to material on the Refused Classification or banned content list, such as child sexual abuse imagery, sexual violence and detailed instruction in crime.

Yahoo said it was entirely supportive of any efforts to make the internet a safer place for children.

But the company said mandatory filtering of all banned material could block content with a strong social, political and/or educational value.

It could block access to safe injecting and other harm minimisation websites, euthanasia discussion forums, anti-abortion websites, as well as legitimate discussions of the geo-political causes of terrorism.

“Clearly some of this content is controversial and, depending on one’s political beliefs, rather offensive. However, we maintain that there is enormous value in this content being available to encourage debate and inform opinion,” the company said.

Good, though I still think someone from Google or Yahoo! could have pointed out that even if this government doesn’t abuse the power – and I’m not holding my breath – with these mechanisms in place there’s nothing to stop a future government from doing so. The question to Kevin Rudd (because I don’t see much value in dealing with Conroy) should be: would you trust the Liberals and Nationals with this? Would you trust a far right party? If the answer is anything other than an enthusiastic yes then it should be obvious that the fucking thing needs to go, as does the swivel eyed window licker who wants to inflict it on us all.

* And yes, I was busy when the news came out and forgot to blog about it. Bad Exile. Bad.

Last orders.

Oh for fuck’s sake, is this serious?

Having noticed that rural pubs are closing in droves, the Government has rallied round, offering to match funds raised by local people to support efforts to run such places themselves as community enterprises. Picture Gordon Brown, pint mug in hand, swapping wit and wisdom with the village elders, while the horse brasses twinkle in the firelight.

Fucking hell, it’s enough to drive a man away from drink, which is possibly the whole idea. But how come the writer, Clive Aslet, isn’t pointing out the obvious flaw in this lame idea: that as with any form of apparent munificence on the part of the government any money it provides must first be taken away from someone else. Pub going volunteers trying to save their locals will certainly be among those who contribute towards this and every other daft scheme these power hungry authoritarian twats come up with.

Still, Aslet gets at least one hugely important point in, though he’s missing something there as well.

There is a tiny irony in this.

Tiny? I hope the use of that word was, uh, ironic.

Not only might it be argued that the Government itself has precipitated the closure of many pubs by making it illegal to smoke in them — a blow to the traditional boozer, where sons of toil would spend all evening, perhaps several nights a week. Without this trade, licensees have only been able to survive by reinventing their establishments as gastro pubs, serving meals at prices that few locals could afford.

True, Clive, go on.

I shouldn’t worry; I don’t smoke. I like the fact you can get a decent meal on your travels.

Then I should worry even less as I don’t smoke or drink, right, Clive? No, wrong. Very, very wrong. Actually, Clive, we should both be very fucking worried indeed because, like you, I like a good meal. But unlike you I’m painfully aware that it hasn’t stopped with the smokers. Unless you’re living in a fucking cave it’s beyond belief that you could have failed to notice that what was being done to tobacco smoking twenty or thirty years ago is being done to alcohol now, so if you like a drink it might not be too many years before you find yourself being treated like the kind pariah a smoker is now. And it’s not just drink, Clive. Those good meals you like may contain things the government decide is bad for you. Niemöller, Clive, Niemöller.

First they came for the smokers,
And some drinkers like those twats from CAMRA didn’t stand up because they didn’t smoke and got à la carte menus instead of table d’hôte

The sauce béarnaise that you might be thinking of asking for could one day cause raised eyebrows on the waiter and hysterics in the kitchen where, thanks to the decrees of the fucking fat police, nobody’s had the bad taste to ask them to make it for a few years. Eggs and butter? Doesn’t the sick bastard know that we get children in this place? Oh, you might think of making your own at home and taking a little pot of it out with you, but make sure you do it somewhere safe where you won’t be seen and later denounced.

But now the Government is considering making it impossible to get into a car if you’ve had so much as a single pint of bitter. That means they’ll lose my custom too.

Clive, have you been paying attention? Yes, that’s stupid and annoying and won’t significantly, perhaps even noticeably, improve road safety. Doubly so because it’s being touted that it’s all to bring the UK into line with Europe, but the reality is not only that there’s a lot of variation there but in places you only get a fine and points for levels as low as the proposed new limit (they do ban and jail people too, but at levels of blood alcohol around that of the present UK limit*). But you can always get a cab or share a car. Not a biggie. Far more relevant is that there are people, or things that look just like people do, that would cheerfully welcome a return to prohibition. Only this time they’re not going to make the mistake of banning what people want without first trying their damnedest to make people not want it any more. The good news is that they won’t actually win since, as with tobacco, the government’s (any kind, any party, just about anywhere) addiction to the revenue surpasses that of smokers and drinkers by many orders of magnitude.

The bad news is that they can and will fucking ruin what was once a pleasant evening at the pub for everybody, including non-smokers and non-drinkers.

* Though as I’ve said more than once before hard limits are often full of problems. As a non drinker I expect a pretty small amount of alcohol to impair my driving, so I could be below the limit and drive as badly as someone who’s half a pint’s worth over. Someone with a high alcohol tolerance could have drunk twice as much as either of us and be in better shape to drive. Inflexible alcohol limits are a very coarse tool when you’re dealing with individuals. The solution is not to look for a certain level of alcohol but a certain level of impairment, no matter whether it’s caused by five pints of Wife Beater, two big cones of Moroccan Black, an inadvertent extra dose of prescribed dihydrocodeine, a medical condition, age, tiredness or just being a shithouse driver. Seen those Police, Death, Crash, Ccamera shows? Seen the American cops making people walk up and down lines, stand on one leg and touch their noses while their eyes are shut? Not remotely as silly and primitive as they look.

Let’s hear it for Google.

Google does plenty that’s attracted criticism and to be honest some of it is probably merited. However on this they deserve a standing ovation.

Google says it will not “voluntarily” comply with the [Australian] government’s request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad “refused classification” (RC) content rules.

Go Google! You tell ’em… but by the way, who was asking you to, as if I couldn’t guess?

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy…

Oh, surprise surfuckingprise. Senator Stephen bloody Conroy again. Regular readers (if I have any) may recognise this as a name that crops up in my rantings on a semi regular basis. I’d link to a few of them but it’s got to the point now where I think the bastard deserves his own tag – Censortor Conroy (believe me, I was sorely tempted to use ‘Senator Cuntboy’). Anyway, I digress.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy referred to Google’s censorship on behalf of the Chinese and Thai governments in making his case for the company to impose censorship locally.

Can you believe this fuckwit? Look you vile, authoritarian, smear of excrement, do you really want to use China as Australia’s role model? It’s a country where non-violent crimes such as tax evasion or official fraud can get you executed* and, if such stories are to be believed, having shot you in the head for whatever it was you may have done the state sends your family an invoice for the bullet. It’s a country where you, Stephen, would find life difficult – as a practicing Catholic you would be unable to occupy your current job since they’d expect you to be an atheist, and helping to slot your mates into nice jobs might be on the list of things that would get you slotted as well. It’s a country where the idea of being able to criticise the government freely and without fear of retribution is a distant fantasy. Of course, for all I know that last one might sort of appeal to you. On top of everything else the argument that Google did it for China is weakened by Google’s recent threat to clear off and leave China to it, even if censorship isn’t the exact reason behind it.

Google warns this would lead to the removal of many politically controversial, but harmless, YouTube clips.

University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, one of Australia’s top communications experts, said that to comply with Conroy’s request Google “would have to install a filter along the lines of what they actually have in China”.

Which is pretty much what Conroy has been planning to inflict on Australian ISPs for a while now.

In an interview with the ABC’s Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, “so we’re currently in discussions with Google about … how we can work this through”.

You can’t and you know it. You can only make the internet slower and more expensive for everyone in Australia.

“What we’re saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we’d like you to apply our laws,” Conroy said.

You high and mighty prick. They’re not an Australian company and the content which you claim breaks our laws – and incidentally you’ve got a cheek saying that without having even tried to prosecute anyone for it – might not have broken any local laws where it was loaded. Why the fuck should they be interested in our laws? Try to understand how the internet works, will you. You cannot control it any more than you can control the thoughts of the billions of individuals around the world with internet access – for all practical purposes the two are the same thing. What good are our laws, though the reality is they are more your laws imposed on the rest of us, if they’re fucking unenforceable? You might as well pass a law banning the emailing of dirty jokes not just in Australia but anywhere.

Fortunately Google aren’t playing ball.

“YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can’t give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube,” [Google Australia’s head of policy, Iarla Flynn] said.

“The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.”

Slightly disappointing that Flynn didn’t simply ask why enforcing this particular area of the law was the duty of a private company rather than the various services and agencies for which the Aussie taxpayers have already paid. Again it suggests the law is unenforceable and prompts the question of what the fuck was the point in us all being forced to fucking pay for it.

Asked for further comment, a Google Australia spokeswoman said that, while the company “won’t comply voluntarily with the broad scope of all RC content”, it would comply with the relevant laws in countries it operates in.

However, if Conroy includes new YouTube regulations in his internet filtering legislation, it is not clear if these would apply to Google since YouTube is hosted overseas.

“They [Google] don’t control the access in Australia – all their equipment that would do this is hosted overseas … and I would find it very hard to believe that the Australian government can in any way force an American company to follow Australian law in America,” Landfeldt said.

“Quite frankly it would really not be workable … every country in the world would come to Google and say this is what you need to do for our country. You would not be able to run the kind of services that Google provides if that would be the case.”

Frankly you could have stopped with the point that Australia can’t enforce its laws outside its borders.

This week the Computer Research and Education Association (CORE) put out a statement on behalf of all Australasian computer science lecturers and professors opposing the government’s internet filtering policy.

They said the filters would only block a fraction of the unwanted material available on the internet, be inapplicable to many of the current methods of online content distribution and create a false sense of security for parents.

CORE said the blacklist could be used by current and future governments to restrict freedom of speech, while those determined to get around the filters and access nasty content could do so with ease.

In fairness to Senator Conrod (lots of noise and energy spent going up and down and round and round) I believe he honestly thinks this idea of his is in everyone’s best interests and does not intend that it should be used to restrict freedom of speech. He’s a fully paid up member of the god squad and I’m sure it’s just morally iffy stuff he has a problem with. But I in turn have a problem with that since I’m strongly opposed to government at any level acting as any kind of moral authority. If you want morality lessons don’t go to the fucking government, go to church (synagogue, temple, mosque, whatever). Or better yet, sit down and nut it out for yourselves instead of being someone else’s brain slave. As night follows day when governments begin imposing the morality of government ministers on their citizens freedoms are lost and liberty suffers, which is why it’s one of the vast and increasing number of things that they absolutely must not be allowed to do.

The best thing the government could do for Australia

Conroy might not want to restrict my freedom of speech as such, but if I want to make a YouTube video on topics like abortion or euthanasia and assisted suicide then he might do it anyway. Worse, far worse, once the legal framework is in place his successors will have the legal ability and the fucking precedent to really fuck us up.

It’s got to stop.

* Not being Chinese must be a huge relief to certain British MPs and Lords.

The Khan body scanner story.

As I said yesterday it might well be bullshit, and since the refutation by BAA rests on the pretty easy to verify point that the scanners don’t have any means to store or print images I’m inclined to believe them. However, with mobile phone cameras being so ubiquitous (someone told me a few years ago that technically the best selling camera manufacturer in the world at the time was Nokia) I can’t see the lack of printing or recording facilities on the scanner equipment itself being much of a hurdle to overcome. Presumably there are other policies and procedures that are there to prevent someone whipping out their mobile and grabbing a few pics of what’s on the screen but ultimately it comes down to telling the staff not to do it and trusting that they don’t. Sure, you could make them leave their phones in lockers or something but you’d need to search them to be sure they haven’t smuggled in one you don’t know about. Even if you did that a determined individual could probably get around it. I’ve seen spy cameras convincingly disguised as pens for less than this example, and preventing something that size from being smuggled in would require a more thorough search of both individual staff and the items they bring in with them. We’d move from asking who watches the watchers to wondering who searches those who search us.

Of course all this misses the point completely. I don’t want to belabour the point I made yesterday but the overwhelming majority of flyers are just people with a need or desire to be somewhere else more quickly than other forms of transport can manage. As the Israelis have shown it’s not necessary to scan everyone. As German TV has shown it’s not always effective. And it’s self evident from wandering around an airport terminal and looking at all the people staring at their third hour on the receiving end of suspicion and distrust that it’s not fucking desirable.*

Stop fucking about and treating us as if we are all a threat – and worse, subjecting everyone to the same indignities as the tiny number of people you think might actually be terrorists so as to appear sensitive to racial and cultural issues – and start trying to identify the tiny number of fucknuts who really are dangerous. It’s worth re-iterating how good at this the Israelis have become and how, despite all our security theatre, the religious nutters still seem to prefer playing their games with American and western carriers to El Al. You shouldn’t need to be a fucking security expert to take a punt at what that means.

* People might say they support it when selected to take part in a survey and asked carefully worded questions, even when they’ve flown before and already know what a miserable fucking experience it’s become. But I doubt many of them saw it that way when they’ve finally got to board their flight after hours of checks and scans and questions, and I wonder how many of them know that the Israeli model is an alternative.

Security Theatre.

Two non surprises over airport security recently. First is that the new body scanners are going to be inflicted on us here in Australia as well as the rest of the free-for-a-given-value-of-‘free’ world that is governed by knee jerk politics and poll obsessed fuckwits. Second, the first claims of abuse of the system and the copying and circulation of images have already emerged.

Now maybe this is bullshit and it’s just a bit of self publicity on the part of Shah Rukh Khan, and to be fair it is being denied by BAA. But on the other hand any staff that did do what’s been claimed are hardly likely to have circulated it round the whole company. Even if they had done so in my tin foil hat moments I might well be prepared to believe that they might have been taken aside somewhere and told that it was all very embarrassing for the company and the government, and that their ongoing employment would therefore be tied closely to their continuing silence on the matter.

As I said not so long ago, far from helping win the fight against religious headcases all this security theatre is handing them a major fucking victory.

… why is the UK even bothering to carry on fighting in the ‘Stan? Why, when the chickenshits in charge have already let terrorists score so many victories? Attacked supposedly for our decadent, western, freedom loving ways the whole fucking west responds by restricting the freedom of its citizens. Thanks to knowing which buttons to press a few headjobs have ensured that getting on a plane is now a colossal pain in the arse and that you can’t take a photograph without attracting the attention of some overbearing, gum chewing, busybody, bullying cocksocket who makes Constable Savage look reasonable.

What the fuck happened over the last ten years? When did we become such softcocks? When did we let other people decide for us whether it’s safe to go somewhere? Why do so many of us roll over so meekly and allow our fucking governments – the cunts that are supposed to be elected to make sure what we say gets done (yes, ahahahahahahahahaha, I know, ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha) – to hand the win to religious nutters because there might be yet another one prepared to set his underpants on fire?

The bottom line is that by changing our lives so much for the terrorist threat we lose and they win.

And I still stand by that now. This is a step backwards for freedom and therefore a massive own goal. At this point I’d be inclined to say harden the fuck up, but as I discovered via Obo not long after I wrote those words it’s not even fucking necessary. If the Israelis don’t have to put up with all this shit and three hours of fucking security checks at the airport – yes, the Israelis DON’T go through all this* – then there’s no plausible reason why the rest of us should have to either.

“Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don’t take s— from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for – not for hours – but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, `We’re not going to do this. You’re going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.'”

And they did. Without reiterating it all (read the links for details of how Israel does things at Ben Gurion International) they don’t put travellers through the purgatory experience we do but they don’t feel like they sacrificed security – if anything they’d probably argue the exact reverse. In the USA, UK, parts of Europe and now Australia our governments have taken the approach of buying very expensive pieces of equipment that they make lots of claims about but that potentially can be defeated by a number of techniques, and in any case have already been shown to miss things that they are supposed to pick up.

Still, as long as the companies that make the fucking things are coining it in, eh?

But what really fucks me off is the number or people who are completely missing the point. It’s not that someone gets to see your cock or your tits, or in some cases both.

The real outrage is that the default position of governments, airport operators and security staff throughout nominally free societies – most especially the Home of the Unfree and the land of the Slave, whose collective overreaction to what Europeans had been putting up with for decades I suspect is behind much of this – is to assume that each and every passenger is a terrorist. Remember that next time you fly. It was bad enough in the days when you were thought of as Self Loading Freight wanting a fortnight in Benidorm. Now, just by the act of buying a plane ticket, we are automatically suspected of being Suicidal Looney Fruitcake after an eternity in Paradise.

Cunts.

* Until they arrive in Europe, Australia or the United States, obviously.

The blackout is over…

… at least for now. However, the threat of internet censorship in Australia is still alive and well. Some will use TORs and proxies to get around it but I can’t see any way around the fact that the combination of the federal government’s patronising opinion of our intelligence and it’s desire to nanny us all as if the most fragile person in the country typified us all will almost certainly make the internet slower and more expensive. As I said at the beginning of the week, if you’re outside Australia don’t think for a minute that this doesn’t apply to you too. It just doesn’t apply yet. It’s already gone too far here, don’t let it happen where you are.

UPDATE: At Leg-iron’s I see the UK have got their own version of Conroy web control freakery in the form of the Mandelsnake.

The Count of Mandelsonia has a spiffing wheeze that will help him shut down those naughty people who call him names and point out the idiocy in his government’s systems. It’s all based on the filesharing nonsense that they’ve been harping on about for ages. I couldn’t see why the Count would care but it’s perfectly clear now that the pieces are all in place.

It’s simple. If you are accused of filesharing, your internet connection is shut off. Not filesharing and want it back? Well, nothing to hide, nothing to fear, right? Just go to that Ofcom place and tell them you aren’t filesharing and there’s been a mistake. A quick look at your internet records will clear you. No problem.

Well, there is a problem. You now have to pay for asking for your connection back, whether the accusation is true or not. How much? That’s not specified yet. Will you get the money back if you’re innocent? No.

Why don’t we all just move to China? At least the food’s good.

Australia Day

Blogging will be light – those lamb chops won’t barbecue themselves, you know. In the meantime I hope a few people may take a look through some of the EFA links on the pop up when the blog loads, and if you’re here in Oz and have a website or blog yourself maybe you’ll join in the Great Australian Internet Blackout for the rest of the week. For everyone else please do look into it – it’ll give you an idea of what you’re probably going to be in for in the not too distant future.

Everybody say cheese.

Looks like the mass photo gathering in Trafalgar Square organised by photographernotaterrorist.org, and I’m sure attended by at least one, if not more, of the regular reads on my blogroll*, has been fairly successful in that the tanks didn’t roll in Tianamen style and everyone ended up being dragged away to waiting hosepipes. More importantly that they seem to have got a decent turnout.

http://boos.audioboo.fm/swf/fullsize_player.swf

A couple of interesting points though: around 0:32 there’s mention of some booing because a uniformed goon tried to stop people taking photos of the National Gallery, and roughly 0:50 it’s said that there were a few plastic plods about but they left everyone alone. This suggests that the way to go about taking photos in the UK these days is to have 3,000 friends with you (or if you’re a pro an unfeasibly large number of photographic assistants), and that’s not really much to shout about. The media coverage is also a bit disappointing. Naturally there’d be stuff in the professional and hobbyist photo publications but the mainstream media have let the side down a bit, with only the Grauniad and the Beeb devoting much space to it in the UK. The Telegraph cover it well (that’s their author in the audio clip) but it was only in their blog section, which presumably means it’s not in the print version at all. The Fail gave it a couple of paragraphs but online at least it looks like column filler stuff. Other than that right now (Sunday lunchtime for me) it seems to be non-UK news sources, and that is odd. Surely the MSM must be at least as big a target for S44 abuse as all the amateur photographers, terrorists tourists and freelance pros who’ve been getting hassled. Why the fuck aren’t they banging the drum about this?

I have a feeling that more protests might be necessary for this to get the coverage it really deserves.

UPDATE: Rather more at G.O.T.

* For very obvious reasons it was never on the cards that I was going to go, which is a bit of a shame as I used to live only an hour or so by train from London. But needless to say if the same thing happened here I’d be on the way to Canberra – I’ve been tempted to buy a new camera for a while now.