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Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's special about porn?

Today's news contains an exciting announcement about the internet in the UK.

The UK government plans to legislate to make households "opt in" to be able to access porn on the internet. ISPs are expected to put some kind of registration, age-related classification and/or filtering mechanisms in place.

[From Racingsnake - Robin Wilton's Esoterica: UK Govt plans to "turn off" internet porn]

Well, this is excellent news: someone has discovered how to read and interpret the contents of internet traffic so that ISP can filer out porn. But I'm curious as to why porn is the only category for blocking: what about Islamist hate sites and anything to do with the X-Factor? Surely the government's commitment to protecting the children should extend to bomb-making instructions, Facebook pages connected to gang crime in South London and political parties espousing demonstrably harmful philosophies, such as socialism.

Sounds like a joke? Of course: no such filter exists, the ISPs will just have list of IP addresses to block. Will we get to vote which IP addresses go on this list? Will the police compile it? Or Mumsnet? And another thing. I'm not being facetious, but what's special about porn? I already have my own filter at home, which blocks porn and a variety of other categories of sites (eg, gambling). I'm far more upset about the Daily Star being on open sale in the local newsagents (typical front page: paparazzi shot of the knickers of some soap actress falling drunk out of a cab), because I have no control over that.

You can understand the government's desire to have some control over the material reaching the ill-educated masses, but I guarantee it will only be a matter of time, once this magical filter is in place, before you'll have MPs calling for Wikileaks and Frankie Boyle's blog to be banned as well.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Friday, December 17, 2010

Traditional value

A few days ago, my son found some money in the road outside our house. A few tens of pounds. It was a little soggy, which suggested to me with my CSI:Woking hat on, that one of the local drunken louts had dropped it on the way back from the pub on Friday night. He came back in with the money and asked what to do. I told him that we would hold it for a couple of days to see if anyone came round or put a note through the door asking about money lost in the street, and then we would give it to charity, and he could choose the charity. All fair enough.

After he left though, I got a lump in my throat: we raised a good kid. I'll bet a lot of broke teenagers who desperately want every penny they can get to funnel to Phillip Green's wife via the local branch of Top Man would have just put the money in the their pocket and said no more about it.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The whole "law" thing is very confusing

I am not a lawyer, hence I don't understand the English legal system in the slightest, since the system is constructed by and for them.

There was a fuss among the twitterati, led by Stephen Fry, because a chap twittered that he was going to blow up Nottingham airport. The police, who presumably monitor twitter diligently, arrested him and he was found guilty.

A man who posted a Twitter message threatening to blow up an airport is facing a £3,000 bill after losing an appeal against his conviction.

[From BBC News - Man in Twitter bomb threat against airport loses appeal]

A few days later there was another case, involving the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, following on from some of her typically deranged ranting on the BBC.

A Conservative Birmingham City councillor has been arrested over allegations he called on Twitter for a female writer to be stoned to death.

[From BBC News - Tory councillor arrested over Twitter stoning post]

Now, in both of these cases, the person arrested was clearly joking, although the "joke" was pretty poor. Contrast this with the treatment of some people who don't appear to be joking at all.

On November 12, he wrote: ‘Burn your apartment with your family tied to the couch. And slit your throat, so when you scream, only blood comes out.’

[From Facebook death threats: 5 Muslim boys and white girl excluded from school | Mail Online]

Facebook "is the problem"? Oh please. I couldn't find any reference to this story on the BBC, so I've posted the Daily Mail link instead. But I'm curious: why weren't these people arrested? Could a lawyer please help me to understand the difference between the cases? I really don't want to fall foul of the law, but there is a possibility that I may call for someone to murdered in the future, and i want to make sure that I do it the right way. So am I on safe ground if I tweet that I'm going to cut your throat, but not if I tweet that I'm going to blow you up or stone you?

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Well I have to say that the blitz spirit was very much in evidence at Woking during the whiteout. It's not surprising, since commuters used to dealing with South West Train during clement weather are already used to standing up in overcrowded, cold trains. Therefore people were friendly, helpful and understanding. Since I had work to do, and suspected that the trains might be intermittent, I opted for a 1st class ticket. What a waste of money. The first train that arrived was full and standing even in 1st class so I couldn't get on it at all, the second train that arrived had space in 1st class so I got on but there was no heating. Oh well. On the way back, the 1st class carriages were completely jammed full, since the proletariat had (correctly) determined that there was not the slightest chance of a ticket inspection. I was crushed into the middle of an economy-class cattle truck in conditions that would be illegal if employed to move cows around.

Coming back from Waterloo was an eye-opener. First of all, it was total chaos. But second of all, it was most un-British chaos. This must be something to do with New Labour's policy on uncontrolled mass immigration over the last decade. But people were - literally - fighting to get on to trains (to the point where the police were called to try and keep order) and as people were jamming themselves on to any train they could find heading in the right direction there was considerable unpleasantness. There were voices raised, abuse and jostling. It was very disappointing. I don't understand why people don't understand that an orderly queue is that natural state of affairs.

What turned it into a natural disaster, though, was that because it took so long to get home - I was on a slow relief train that stopped at every station - my iPhone battery ran out. I was instantly cut off from Mott the Hoople Live in Los Angeles (Welcome to the Club) and forced to listen to the people around me. Aaargh. I woman behind spent at least twenty minutes yelling into a mobile phone in a language I couldn't identify (it sounded South Asian) while the guy that I was crushed up next to was talking to a loved in an unfamiliar slavic tongue, perhaps Bulgarian. I couldn't read my book with one hand standing up so i ended spending an our vowing to never, ever get on a train again with a fully charged backup battery for my iPhone. Never, ever, again.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]