How the NRA suckered its membership into financially supporting international arms dealing
Saturday July 28th 2012, 4:22 pm

The NRA is crowing about their influence after the UNODC was unable to get an international small arms trading treaty ratified. The NRA’s line to the rank-and-file membership is that this treaty would allow the UN to take guns out of the hands of US citizens. Yep, ‘Obama & the UN are comin’ fer yer gunnnnz- so give us money!’

Except they’re not.

But NRA supporting members’ dues certainly did pay for this NRA lobbying effort.

One little problem with the NRA’s claim; the 1957 landmark Supreme Court case Reid v Covert established that US treaties with foreign nations do not supersede the terms of the US Constitution. The treaty would have had no effect whatsoever on US citizens’ rights under the 2nd Amendment.

So, if there was no possibility for the treaty to interfere with 2nd Amendment rights, what was the NRA’s interest in this UN international small arms treaty?

US gun manufacturers and sellers most definitely have an interest in international trade- and the NRA is their peak lobbying body. The NRA were protecting gun rights- the rights to massive profits from international small arms sales.

But, the punters bought the NRA’s scare story. You see it over and over again on Twitter; ‘Oh yes, the NRA has SAVED our gun rights again!’

Except they didn’t.

Yet NRA members made NRA President Wayne La Pierre a millionaire again this year. You’d think the ever-passionate La Pierre would put some of his not inconsiderable wealth back into fighting the good fight, as it were… but he has never put in a penny.

Well played, NRA- and by that, I refer to the way the NRA played their membership like a cheap fiddle.


US presidential elections: The practical effect of voting your conscience
Sunday July 01st 2012, 9:39 am

The two-party US electoral system is rubbish. It does not afford minority representation as does a Parliamentary system. Voting for a 3rd party candidate in US presidential elections is, in the most generous of estimations, the same as not voting at all.

Some of Obama’s policies are morally indefensible, specifically the use of drones in Pakistan etc, where pretty much anyone killed beyond the predetermined targets is counted by the US military/CIA as an ‘enemy combatant’ anyway.  I’m no happier about this than any other progressive voter.

However, if one’s intent by voting for a mathematically unelectable yet progressive/left 3rd party candidate is to drive the political landscape further to the left than Obama, know that the practical effect of such a wasted 3rd party vote is a vote for Romney. Your ineffective protest vote simply puts Romney one vote closer to victory.

Romney is unlikely to change the drone usage policy- if anything, given how beholden Romney is to big money interests such as the military industrial complex, such a program will be stepped up.  It’s equally likely that Romney will follow his puppetmasters’ desires for more war in general, with boots on the ground, likely in Iran.  At that point, your 3rd-party vote not only didn’t support your idealistic aims, it will be directly responsible for even more death and destruction, but now including US armed forces personnel.

Further to that, there’s no small likelihood that there will be some US Supreme Court retirements during the next 4 years:

Justice Ginsburg, a stalwart of the court’s liberal bloc, has been treated for pancreatic cancer. Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s most visible conservative, is 76. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, frequently the swing vote, is 75. And Justice Stephen G. Breyer, like Justice Ginsburg a Democratic appointee, is about to turn 74.

The median age for retirement of Supreme Court justices is 78.4 years.

When you consider the extremely narrow escape for the Affordable Care Act and the wrack and ruin of the US political landscape- the outright legitimisation of political corruption- wrought by the Citizens United decision on party lines by conservative SCOTUS appointees, the importance of as many as four potential Obama appointments to the top court cannot be understated.

Idealism is wonderful. You should be idealistic. However, you must consider the practical effect of your idealism, given the fetterment of the US electoral system. Your idealism may well have the precisely opposite effect to your intent- if not worse.


Yshield: New scam artist flogging ‘EMR shielding paint’
Tuesday April 10th 2012, 6:15 pm

For as long as there’s been new technologies, there’s been scam artists ready to take money from people who have irrational fears about them. This phenomenon dates at least back to the introduction of home electrification, which was quite mysterious to many at the time.

More recently, scammers have flogged fears about mobile phones purportedly causing cancer- and it’s been investigated over and over and over, with sample sizes in the tens of thousands and sampling periods of more than a decade. Not a single proven case of radio signal induced illness- of ANY kind, cancer included- has ever been recorded.

With the introduction of ‘smart’ power meters, the ignorant are again being exploited:

HAVE YOUR SAY: Just not what an Ormond doctor ordered

9 Apr 12 @ 12:01am by Jesse Wray-McCann

AN Ormond doctor has had her home painted with electromagnetic shielding paint because she says smart meters in her street are making her ill.

Federica Lamech said she could not work due to debilitating health problems caused by smart meters – even through she did not have one in her own home.

Dr Lamech said she had suffered continuous palpitations, chest pain, lethargy, dizziness, fainting and insomnia since the meters were rolled out in her area in February.

“I am not able to function,” Dr Lamech said.

YShield Electromagnetic Radiation Shielding general manager David Mould said it had painted hundreds of houses since the smart meter rollout began.

“We’ve done four houses this week, in Ormond, East Bentleigh and St Kilda,” Mr Mould said last week.

“Demand is so high we’re having to book jobs weeks in advance.”

She has taken sick leave from her Aspendale Gardens GP practice.

“I can’t work, I can’t look after my family and I need my husband, now the only breadwinner, to take care of me,” Dr Lamech said.

Stop Smart Meters Australia spokesman Marc Florio demanded the State Government follow the lead of the UK Government, which was reportedly planning to make smart meters voluntary.

Government spokeswoman Emily Broadbent said the meters were safe and their radiofrequency emissions were weaker than many other household devices.

Ms Broadbent said the World Health Organisation determined electromagnetic hypersensitivity was not a medical diagnosis.

Wow. A GP, no less, has been conned by an outfit called ‘Yshield Electromagnetic Shielding Technologies‘ into painting her home with ‘electromagnetic shielding paint,’ which Yshield claims has only carbon and no metallic matter in it.

First of all, any device with a microprocessor in it will have a circuit called a ‘clock oscillator’ in it. Clock oscillators generate extremely low level electrical pulses in the radio frequency range.  These pulses are used by the microprocessor to time the execution of lines of code which make digital widgets do what they do. Everything from pocket calculators and digital watches/clocks to TV sets as well as desktop, laptop and tablet computers have clock oscillators. ‘Smart meters’ are no different. Even with highly sensitive receiving equipment, the radio emissions from a clock oscillator are difficult to detect from more than a few centrimetres away.

Second, there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that radio signals- including extremely weak clock oscillator signals from calculators, watches and WiFi, to the very weak signals from mobile phones, the much stronger signals from microwave ovens to the very strongest RF sources you’re likely to find on earth, those being megawatt-level TV transmitters- cause ANY malady. ‘Electrosensitivity’ is completely imaginary, despite the hordes of unscrupulous ratbags (often on the internet) trying to sell cures and/or mitigations to salve this imaginary malady.

If you REALLY want to block radio signals- and there’s good reasons to do so, particularly if you are working with  sensitive electronic equipment that may not function correctly in the presence of stray RF fields (such as when performing an alignment on a radio receiver), you need what’s known as a ‘Faraday cage.’ A Faraday cage is normally made from brass screening or other highly conductive material that is connected to an earth ground.  There are paints around that will, to some degree, limit passage of radio signals, but all of them have highly conductive metals in them- but none of them will reduce RF field strengths unless connected to ground via a low-impedance path.

The nonsense being sold by Yshield is highly likely to do nothing at all, and worse, to solve  a problem that doesn’t exist.

If you believe you need RF shielding paint, could I interest you in my tiger-repelling rocks? See any tigers? Of course you don’t!

If someone wants your hard-earned dough to ward off those scary radio signals, they’re a scammer, plain and simple.



Why ‘pro-life feminist’ is an oxymoron
Sunday January 22nd 2012, 2:26 pm

In today’s Fairfax op-ed section, Anne Summers writes expansively on how feminism and ‘pro-life’ positions on abortion are mutually exclusive. Of course, she’s dead right.

First, the term ‘pro-life’ is nonsensical. Every normal human on the planet is ‘pro-life.’ To suggest otherwise implies that there’s some ‘pro-death’ people out there who would like to see the termination of the human species in toto. Such is clearly not the case; it is our primary evolutionary purpose to make more copies of ourselves and thus continue the existence of humanity. Genocide is hardly the desire of any normal person.

The actual meaning of the term ‘pro-life,’ as used by fundamentalist Christians, is ‘anti-choice.’ This is to say that said fundies are authoritarians, bent on denying to women the choice on how and when they operate their reproductive organs. Authoritarians deem themselves superior to all others, believing they are more qualified to rule the lives of those they deign to regulate than the poor, feeble plebs themselves. Christian anti-choicers appear to derive their sense of authority from Christian doctrine that they are ‘chosen people,’ though to me, it is utterly gobsmacking that anyone, by mere virtue of their espousal of belief in an imaginary friend, should somehow get the right to tell others how to live their lives.  ‘Pro-life’ is thus a disingenuous fundie buzzphrase which is politically loaded and should be eliminated from the stylebooks of all proper newsgathering operations. The term has no place in neutral reportage. It’s right up there with the oxymoron ‘unborn child,’ since no child exists, nor ever has, that has not first been born.

Feminism is a response to patriarchal domination of women in all their affairs, from women earning their own incomes and owning their own homes to determining when, and indeed if, they will bear children. Feminism is all about women’s self-determination and independence. Feminism is as such anti-authoritarian in its very core. Mind you, it is not only possible but everyday reality that feminist women may not choose abortion for themselves. The point is that it is their own choice to bear children- it is not a decision imposed upon them by some authority, be that patriarchy, church or state.

All that said, it is an absolute logical impossibility for one to identify as a ‘feminist’ while at the same time advocating state control of reproductive choice. ‘Anti-choice feminist,’ deconstructed, translates directly to ‘Authoritarian anti-authoritarian,’ a straight-up oxymoron.

Now, as regards the prompt for Summers’ op-ed bit today (as well mine), that being Melinda Tankard Reist’s threats to sue Dr Jennifer Wilson over her ‘No Place For Sheep’ bit in which Wilson asserts that it is in fact fundamentalist Christian doctrine which drives MTR’s anti-choice posture, a question is prompted: If it is not Christian doctrine informing MTR’s anti-choice stance, what exactly is informing it, given there is no reasonable secular or medical objection to abortion that would justify state interference in women’s reproductive choices?

Only Mrs Tankard Reist knows for sure- and she’s well and truly prepared to use financially ruinous legal threats to make sure no one ever finds out.


Melinda Tankard-Reist is not the internet nor sex police
Monday January 16th 2012, 9:39 am

Unsatisfied that she’s completely unable to police Australians’ sexual behaviours, sex-hating anti-porn activist Melinda Tankard-Reist has paid her local Dennis Denuto to send a threatening letter to the No Place For Sheep blog, shaking her rattle & wailing that if NPfS doesn’t delete all posts about MTR, she’ll sue for defamation:

MTR threatens Sheep with legal action if we don’t censor our posts about her immediately
Posted: January 14, 2012

Just got home to find a letter from the lawyers of Melinda Tankard Reist demanding I withdraw all my posts about her or very bad things will ensue.

This is pretty amusing when you read some of the things MTR writes about those she does not approve of.

She’s going to have to sue a few more blogs than just mine, because I’m not the only one who’s written that she’s a Baptist, and attends Belconnen Baptist Church. It’s well in the public domain.

And how bizarre it is that someone who is a devout Christian is so cagey about her faith and her practice? Why not be open about her religious faith? Christians usually are. What does she have to hide?

At least I know now why Rachel Hills didn’t ask those questions, or if she asked the questions, didn’t publish any answers!

“Write about my religious beliefs and I’ll sue you!” Now that’s novel.

If you want to see just how cagey MTR is about this watch this interview with ABC TV’s Jane Hutcheon when Hutcheon asks about her religion and how it affects her work. She tries to follow Jesus, she says, but she doesn’t want anybody focusing on her religion because that will distract from her work.

Well, we might all be about to find out just exactly what MTR’s religious faith is, because she’s going to have to come clean if she wants to sue me.

Just when you think things can’t get any more bizarre…

Apparently MTR is upset that she’s been identified as a member of a Baptist church congregation (which is, admittedly, somewhat embarrassing). MTR has admitted in an interview on the ABC that she’s in fact a Christian. So, what’s the problem? Nothing as far as I can tell, beyond the fact that VERY public figure MTR is unable to control criticisms of her.

MTR is about to learn some very hard lessons:

    1. You cannot control the private sexual behaviours of the population at large

    2. You cannot control speech on the internet, even that critical of you

    3. Bullying with impotent legal threats will attract the ire of tens of thousands of internet users

    4. Bullying to suppress speech will invoke the ‘I am Spartacus‘ effect, where many thousands of internet users will repeat the message one is trying to suppress, in solidarity against the bully

    5. Repetition of the speech one is trying to suppress is known as the Streisand Effect, where many, many more people will become aware of the speech you are trying to suppress than would have been aware of it if you had not tried to bully your critics into silence

I have offered NPfS space on mgk for the purpose of mirroring their posts about MTR and any threatening lawyeresque letters related to the same, fulfilling the ‘I am Spartacus’ and ‘Streisand’ effects.

You want to try to bully me into silence, Melinda? Have a go. Ain’t my first fuckin’ day at the rodeo- and I’m not afraid of you or your conveyancer.


UPDATE: The Age has done a bit:

Tankard Reist – who briefed lawyers to warn off liberal blogger Jennifer Wilson – says it’s not being called Christian she objects to, but the claim that she is ”deceptive and duplicitous about her religious beliefs”.

Vaccination saves lives- no thanks to Meryl Dorey
Thursday December 29th 2011, 2:45 pm

For far too long, professional misinformationists like Meryl Dorey have gotten free rein to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about vaccination through assorted lies and conspiracy theories. Couple that with Dorey being a plain old con artist who earns a crust selling magazines that never get delivered to people whose fears she’s validated and you really have to wonder why she is given airtime on the ABC and at public events like the Woodford Folk Festival.

Free rein no more. Dorey’s appearance at the Woodford Folk Festival, originally scheduled to be open-slather for Dorey’s shenanigans, will be moderated by a veteran of Doctors without Borders and her misinformation rebutted by an expert on immunovirology- oh, and right about now, festivalgoers will be be seeing an aerial banner being flown over the Woodford Folk Festival site.

Australia is experiencing a wave of vaccine preventable childhood disease, which has killed several infants like Dana McCaffery, because of nonsense from public health hazards like Dorey.

Failing to vaccinate your children is nothing short of child abuse, but comes with the special benefit of endangering others’ children as well.

Vaccination is safe and effective– and saves lives.


Occupy a brain – or lose the moment
Wednesday November 02nd 2011, 4:11 pm

While I’m pleased to see some popular opposition rise up to Wall Street’s manipulation of the US (and hence world) financial system, after following numerous Occupy groups over the last 6 weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s noisily going nowhere.

The NYT’s Nelson Schwartz and Eric Dash penned this bit which calls out protesters as ‘unsophisticated.’ That ain’t the half of it. I’ve chatted directly with a number of the occupiers in several cities and found a miasma of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccination liars, anti-science loopbags and wholly politically naïve babes-in-the-woods. No small number of occupiers are fully distrustful of the political system and believe, quite earnestly, that they can get political change merely by standing in a park with a bullhorn and ‘demanding’ it.

The mind doth boggle.

Occupiers had better quickly catch a clue- ‘demanding change’ only works if you can orchestrate a revolution by force- and that means outgunning the US military. Good luck with that. Failing being able to foment a proper revolution, you participate in the political system- find sympathetic officeholders who will drive your policy agenda into public law- or field and elect your own candidates. Then, and only then, will you be able to effect ‘change.’

Moreover, many of the basic concepts seen on occupier signage are just plain silly. Being wealthy, in and of itself, is not an evil. Using absurd levels of wealth to buy political influence to protect the legislative environment that allows one to amass absurd levels of wealth, on the other hand, is full-on evil. Money, truly, cannot be defended as a constitutionally protected form of speech- this doesn’t even pass the giggle test. Eat the rich? No. TAX the rich. Also, capitalism per se is not a particularly evil thing. It certainly beats the alternative of centrally planned economies as one might find in pure communism or Marxist/Leninist socialism.

‘Soft’ socialism, where excessively high earnings are taxed at a correspondingly high rate and redistributed to improve the general social condition, as one finds in Australia and in Scandinavian countries, not only works, it works really quite well. Having lived the first 30-odd years of my life in the US and then traveling the world, finally winding up in Australia, has been illuminating. Australia in particular doesn’t have swathes of bombed-out looking neighbourhoods as one finds in many inner-city locales in the US.

On the upside, US occupiers have exposed the militarisation of US law enforcement and are driving a certain level of education as regards the function of the US Constitution in the everyday lives of ordinary Americans. That’s good stuff- and I hope they keep it up. However, occupy movements had better quickly learn that nutbags and twits are NOT helpful. A leaderless movement is all well and good, but sensible people had better start stepping up and leading the movements in a direction where some actual change can be effected, turning the raw rage into votes- or the moment is lost.


Sydney Morning Herald led down the rosy garden path by Lyn McLean
Saturday September 03rd 2011, 12:02 pm

image: xkcd

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Tim Elliott has allowed himself to be suckered by Lyn McLean, dowser, ‘energy healer,’ ‘crystal healer’ and self described expert in the harms of exposure to radio frequency signals:

Ear-bashing: feeling the heat in a city that forever beeps
Tim Elliott
September 3, 2011

MARTIN PLACE has plenty; George Street pulses from moderate to high; the QVB is surprisingly low, but parts of Market Street are swimming in it. It’s radiofrequency radiation, and according to consumer advocate Lyn McLean, “we are essentially living in a sea of it”.

Ms McLean, who advises federal and local government on “electropollution” and runs her own company, EMR Australia, recently took the Herald on a tour of the city centre, together with a radiofrequency detector that measures levels of radiofrequency radiation.

“Because of the proliferation of mobile phone technology, cordless phones and wireless networks, most people are continuously exposed to low-level radiofrequency radiation,” Ms McLean said.

Chronic background exposure, like that routinely experienced by city workers, was thought to be harmless as it was below the limits set by regulatory agencies, including the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. In May, however, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a statement saying radiofrequency radiation was “possibly carcinogenic”, classifying mobile phones as a category 2B carcinogen, similar to the pesticide DDT and engine exhaust.

Ms McLean said the agency’s statement was important because it underscored what she regarded as the deficiencies of the standards governing RF exposure. “Mobile phones currently comply with the safety standards, but if mobile phones are possibly carcinogenic, what does that say about the standards? she said. ”The standards only protect against short-term, high-intensity exposure, enough, for example, to heat the body by one degree Celsius.”

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association regards the exposure standards as sufficient.

In the CBD, low-level RF radiation is continuously emitted from a range of sources. Even standing on the Town Hall steps, Ms McLean’s Acoustimeter RF detection device registered 1000 microwatts per square metre. This was well below the Australian agency’s uppermost limits for mobile phones and wi-fi usage, which are between 4.5 to 10 watts (10 million microwatts) per square metre. But as Ms McLean pointed out, “This device shows ambient levels – what you’re exposed to on top of your own mobile phone or wi-fi usage.”

Walking south on George Street, the level jumped to 2500 outside Woolworths then up 5000 outside the police station and Energy Australia. Heading north, through the QVB, it dropped to 25 to 50, but leapt to 25,000 at the corner of Market and Kent streets. The readings in Martin Place varied from 5000 to 10,000.

The highest levels Ms McLean sees are in people’s homes. “Cordless phones can be the worst. If you have it by your bed you’re basically being irradiated the entire night. Same goes for baby monitors.”

Mr Elliott did not consult any real scientists for this story, instead allowed himself to be guided by a complete con-artist with no qualifications whatsoever in the field where she claims expertise. Consequently, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this story is shot through with errors and distortions which serve only to alarm the reader.

Let’s unpick them all, one by one.

First and foremost, there is no reliable, peer-reviewed evidence that exposure to non-ionising radiation in the form of radio waves is harmful to humans. None. Ever. In fact, there’s solid evidence to the contrary, as revealed by the Interphone study. There’s 6 billion mobile phones in service at present and no evidence that the prevalence of cancers (or any other malady) has increased in correlation with the explosion in numbers of mobile phones and other radio signal sources.

The WHO’s classification of radio signals as ‘2B’ or ‘possibly carcinogenic’ also includes coffee and pickled vegetables. ‘2B’ is NOT a class of known carcinogens. It is a list of substances or effects which WHO scientists think may merit further investigation to find out if they are carcinogens, though no evidence indicates they are known carcinogens at this time.

Ms. McLean’s “Acoustimeter” is not a standard piece of test equipment. The name of the device would seem to suggest that it measures sound. The measurement scale of this device is designed to produce very scary sounding numbers. 25,000 MICROWATTS PER SQUARE METRE? Terrifying, right? It’s supposed to be. Consider that one microwatt is .000001 watts, a vanishingly small figure.

Common AM radio receivers (yes, receivers, not transmitters) have a device in them called a ‘local oscillator’ which generates a very small signal which is used to demodulate the audio component from an over-the-air received radio signal for amplification and playing through a speaker. Local oscillators normally generate about 500 microwatts (normally expressed as 0.5 milliwatts). Bear in mind that there’s no evidence that exposure to non-ionising radiation, especially in the form of radio signals, poses any health hazard, so what’s the point in measuring such minuscule field strengths anyway? Yep, no point at all.

Did you know that there’s 4928.9 microlitres in a teaspoon? OH NO! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

Lyn McLean is a charlatan- a plain old con-artist. She has convinced herself that radio signals are a hazard and has gone looking for evidence to support her conclusion, precisely the reverse of how the scientific method works. Worse, McLean earns a crust by selling books describing her false conclusions, which are specifically designed to frighten people who do not have the technical knowledge to understand her falsehoods. Once they’re scared enough, McLean will happily sell RF field-strength meters (which produce meaningless readings) and ‘RF shielding paint’ to these poor, frightened people. Both articles stand a very high probability of doing nothing at all- aside from lining the pockets of the snake-oil seller. CHA-CHING!

Tim Elliott completely failed as a journalist in this story by not consulting actual experts in physics and biological effects of non-ionising radiation. Instead, he allowed a well-known con-artist to write his copy. Nice free-kick for the charlatan, though. SMH could have at least charged McLean standard advertising rates!

This is utterly shameful journalism, normally only seen on News Ltd. outlets. The Sydney Morning Herald is usually above this manner of fearmongering rubbish. How on earth did Elliott get this story past the edotirs?

Credibility is the only product of a news op- yet this is the very sort of nonsense which completely destroys the credibility of otherwise reliable news sources.


O’Farrell reverses course on NSW solar
Tuesday June 07th 2011, 6:52 pm

Thank you, Barry, for doing the right thing.

Screw you, Barry, for ever having considered doing the wrong thing. You’re the freaking Premier, Baz. Even making noises about nobbling the Solar Bonus Scheme shakes the earth under the solar and renewable energy industry.

So far, O’Farrell is demonstrating all the political nous of a hand grenade in a Swarovski shop.

Gonna be a long few years until the next election in NSW.


We don’t need NBN! Wireless will do it! …not
Tuesday June 07th 2011, 11:09 am

A comment from a random on Twitter has brought to my attention that some folks don’t quite understand the limitations imposed by sending data via radio links. This lack of understanding is aided by misinformation about NBN and fibre optics from shock-jocks and Ltd News.

While I could go into the nuts-n-bolts of why wireless can’t ever match the data capacity of optical fibre, I’m going to simplify this as much as possible for the lay audience.

First, let’s talk about radio signals. Any radio transmitter, whether it will eventually send TV, audio or data, begins with an oscillator which generates a carrier wave on the operating frequency. However, the carrier doesn’t occupy only the operating or centre frequency. It has a character known as bandwidth, as well:

An unmodulated carrier is quite narrow, only a few tens of Hertz wide. When modulation is added, the signal becomes wider. A carrier which has been amplitude modulated with low fidelity voice information, as in CB or ham radio, is about 3kHz wide, or 1.5kHz above and below the centre frequency. An AM broadcast band signal is 15kHz wide- 7.5kHz above and below the carrier frequency. An FM broadcast band signal is about 150kHz wide- that’s right, 75kHz above and below the carrier frequency.

The more information you modulate onto a carrier wave, the wider the signal will become. This is why high-fidelity FM radio sounds better than AM- a broader range of audio frequencies is modulated onto the carrier. Better quality sound, but a much wider signal. A single analogue TV signal, with video and audio, is 6MHz wide- that’s 6 times the width of the roughly 1MHz wide AM radio band (550kHz-1600kHz).

If two stations try to transmit on the same frequency, they will interfere with one another and neither signal will be intelligible at the receiving end. The same will occur if the skirts of the transmitted signals (known as sidebands) overlap. Consequently, radio signals’ carrier frequencies must be coordinated so there is enough separation between them to prevent interference.

The same thing happens when you modulate a carrier wave with digital data. A slow data rate will produce a rather narrow signal. Digital data sent via packet radio at 9600 baud will be about the same width as a voice signal- around 3-5kHz wide. The faster you go, the wider the signal.

Radio spectrum is a finite resource. You can only put so many stations on the AM or FM band before they interfere with one another. Same with digitally modulated radio signals- there’s only so much radio spectrum bandwidth available. Similarly, there is a finite limit to how many wireless data streams will fit into each MHz of radio spectrum bandwidth.

Yes, it’s possible for two wireless data users to share a single frequency- but not at the same time. Station 1 sends and receives a few packets of data, then goes silent. Station 2 is then free to use the frequency. If they both try to transmit and receive at the same time, they will interfere with one another and neither will successfully exchange packets with the greater (or wide-area) network (WAN), aka internet. This is called time-division multiplexing. The downside is that with each station sharing the frequency equally, each station can only transmit and receive, at best, 50% of the time. The stations might be capable of 300Mbps (as in 802.11n WiFi), but their effective maximum rate will be 150Mbps. Start adding more stations on the same frequency and you quickly see what happens- data rates drop like a rock as all stations try to share the frequency (or ‘channel’). Wide-area wireless (3G) users are already well and truly familiar with this problem.

It is possible for users to share the same frequency if there’s a large physical separation between the systems and the range of the systems is limited.  Low power wireless systems can be set up on microwave frequencies, which have a very short range, so that a user on one city block won’t interfere with a user on the next block, who happens to be using the same frequency.

Don’t be confused by generation identifiers such as 2G, 3G, 4G, etc. It’s all data via radio link. The modulation method or frequency used doesn’t get around the issue of co-channel interference. The co-channel interference problem is a function of physics and has nothing to do with and will not be resolved by upcoming wireless data communication standards, such as 4G. If you need to provide fast network access to a large number of users in a small physical area, over-the-air radio spectrum bandwidth is a bottleneck which must be eliminated. The solution is modulated lasers, with their light ducted through optical fibre.

In optical systems, a laser is modulated with data and the data is decoded on the receiving end. However, laser light passing through free air is readily blocked or diffused by airborne moisture- rain, fog, etc. While it’s possible to send data on a laser light beam through air, it’s not very reliable. The solution is to contain the laser light within a glass optical fibre.

The greatest thing about a glass optical fibre is that you can jam more than one laser light signal through it. Lasers can produce light of different wavelengths, or colours. These can either be generated in a single multi-coloured laser, or the light from several lasers of different colours can be combined with a prism and fed into a single fibre. The different coloured, modulated laser light streams are then separated on the far end of the optic fibre and fed into decoders so the data can be extracted and sent on to its intended destinations. This means is known as wavelength-division multiplexing. It permits multiple parallel data streams to co-exist on the same fibre, as well as provides future expansion capability. The number of different coloured lasers is limited only by the precision of the prisms.

By now, you’re beginning to see why wireless, aka data over radio links, is not a suitable solution for many thousands of network users in a small geographic area. A wide-area optical fibre network, as is being built for Australia’s NBN, is not only the best solution, but the only solution for providing connectivity as is needed now- and into the future, as it is highly scaleable.

This is not terribly complex stuff. Anyone with enough on the ball to use the internet can understand these concepts. If anyone is trying to convince you that some new wireless communications standard will magically solve the problem of co-channel interference or dramatic slowing due to time-division multiplexing, they either don’t know what they’re talking about or are trying to confuse you for the purpose of driving their political goals (I’m looking at you, Alan Jones and News Ltd).