Thursday November 13th 2008, 7:07 pm

Timing is everything.

The time for Kevin Rudd to reach out to Australian internet users is NOT while his government is planning to censor residential internet feeds, under the guise of protecting children. It’s apt that Rudd would use a tool called Twitter. Rudd pissed and moaned about Chinese internet censorship while he was at the Beijing Olympics, but comes back home… and does… what?

When Stephen Conroy has been challenged (and he doesn’t like being challenged much) about his proposed mandatory internet filter, his primary excuse is that a ‘clean feed’ was one of Labor’s election promises.

Stephen Conroy: This is a long-standing election commitment. We made this commitment back when Kim Beazley was leader of the Labor Party, so just to give you an indication, this is a long-standing position we’ve been advocating.

However, at the time, the promise was for a ‘clean feed’ for parents who wanted it, but there would be an opt-out for those users who didn’t want it. The goal posts have officially been moved. We expected an optional filtered feed for families with children, not the Great Firewall of China.

What Conroy’s really annoyed about is the leaking of closed-circuit test results of the now mandatory filtering system, which slowed access times by as much as 87%. Thank the stars for a few incontinent public servants.

The list of filtered sites is likely to be unavailable to the public, so you really won’t know what you’re missing. If this ill-conceived scheme goes ahead, every politician and their dog will have a whole list of sites they’ll want banned. Xenophon wants gambling banned. Fielding wants anything not suited to a 5-year-old banned. Bob Brown doubtless wants coal-mining advocacy sites banned. Where does it start, where does it stop and who will know the difference if gubmint has their fingers on the ‘off’ switch?

Mark Newton nuts it in this great piece on the ABC:

One of the most common basic factual errors was repeated on these pages on November 4, when former Victorian Family First candidate and Australian Family Association researcher Anh Nguyen magically transmuted into a network security expert by suggesting that “ISP level filters are being trialled due to the difficulty of securing PC-based filtering solutions.”

While I’m sure the writer has a deep understanding of the needs of his cause, he clearly doesn’t have a grasp of the technology he’s talking about. To put it simply: There is no security difference inherent in taking filtering from the PC and moving it to the ISP. In either case the systems work in the same manner and the same bypass methods are available. And yet, as the recent ACMA-commissioned report showed conclusively, the ISP version will slow subscribers down and reduce the ability of parents to adjust their filtering preferences to suit their own parental judgement about what is best for their children.

How is that better than PC-level filtering? And can we agree, for the purpose of future discussion, that everyone will be able to bypass it at will no matter what proponents come up with, and that anyone who suggests otherwise must immediately stop being taken seriously?

It’s perhaps not surprising that a family expert who misunderstands technology could get something this basic wrong, because the Minister in charge has blazed a trail of such colossal blinding wrongness that it’s probably difficult for listeners to distinguish truth from fiction.

I’m not talking about normal, everyday wrongness. I’m talking about the kind of wrongness that comes with its own theme music and marching band.

For example, on page ECA 76 of Senate Hansard on October 20, 2008, the Minister, a man who is paid a lot of money to know what he’s talking about, emitted this stand-up howler in reference to other countries that have already implemented his proposed Australian system:

Senator Conroy– Just to indicate the countries that have implemented along the lines that Abul [Rivni, deputy secretary, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy] is talking about include Sweden, the UK, Canada and New Zealand. This is not some one-off excursion.

In actual fact, none of the countries Senator Conroy cited have anything like what he’s proposing for Australia. With the exception of New Zealand, which doesn’t filter and has no plans to introduce it, all of the other nations he’s ever cited as examples to emulate offer voluntary, non-government, industry-sponsored, opt-in schemes very much like the one which the Internet Industry Association has already created in Australia. Indeed, the only countries which feature government-imposed internet censorship are nations which place more emphasis on opinion suppression than internet access, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

I know the Minister doesn’t like those comparisons, but if the shoe fits…

As the Minister’s marching band plays, the chorus repeats, and he inserts his factually challenged international comparisons into virtually every press statement on the subject, so much so that it’s clear that he lacks even the most basic grasp of his own policy.

In this world, there’s nonsense… and there’s nonsense on stilts. Rudd and Conroy will be bringing their high-handed circus act to an ISP near you unless you have something to say about it.

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Palin: STFU
Wednesday November 12th 2008, 9:28 am

Governor Palin, the horse bolted and then dropped dead, right out of the gate.

You can stop flogging it now. 😆


CSI: The White House
Monday November 10th 2008, 7:15 am

President-Elect Obama looks CSI cool in Ray-Bans and a wool suit from Hart, Schaffner & Marx.


If this president thing doesn’t work out, Obama is headed for a career as an actor or model.

When was the last time that a US prez was a fashion plate?

Go git ’em, Barry… and look way slick in the process.


President Obama: The first 100 days
Thursday November 06th 2008, 9:20 am

(image: ABC)

King George is going to do his ‘Saddam exits Kuwait’ imitation, slashing and burning, in an attempt to leave the neo-con brand on the US government.

From The New York Times editorial, 3 November 2008:

So Little Time, So Much Damage

Published: November 3, 2008

While Americans eagerly vote for the next president, here’s a sobering reminder: As of Tuesday, George W. Bush still has 77 days left in the White House — and he’s not wasting a minute.


Here is a look — by no means comprehensive — at some of Mr. Bush’s recent parting gifts and those we fear are yet to come.

CIVIL LIBERTIES We don’t know all of the ways that the administration has violated Americans’ rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed out new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use chillingly intrusive techniques to collect information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Agents will be allowed to use informants to infiltrate lawful groups, engage in prolonged physical surveillance and lie about their identity while questioning a subject’s neighbors, relatives, co-workers and friends. The changes also give the F.B.I. — which has a long history of spying on civil rights groups and others — expanded latitude to use these techniques on people identified by racial, ethnic and religious background.

Will President Obama have the political will and even the time to fix all of King G’s bastardry?

Lots of eggs to unscramble.


Yes, we can- and yes, I did
Wednesday November 05th 2008, 8:39 am

And we’re off!

Live updates through the day. Hit a SHIFT+F5 to load the latest.

Australian readers – the first polls to close will be my voting state, Indiana, which shut at 10:00am AEDT. Sorta. The state presently straddles two time zones, Eastern and Central, so eastern Indiana on EST closes at 6:00pm EST. Polls in ‘western,’ or more accurately, extreme northwest (near Chicago and so in the Central time zone) and far southwestern Indiana, close at 7:00pm EST (11:00am AEDT).

If Obama takes extremely conservative and often racist Indiana, it’ll be not only a miracle but a sign of a potential landslide. Indiana has not voted for a Democratic president since LBJ in 1964. McC leads Indiana on the last aggregate poll by 4.5%.

Time & has a Personal World Clock so you can watch the time zones roll by. SwingStateProject has a great time zone map which lists all times referenced to EST, to make it easy to convert to Aussie time.

Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, famous for opening their polls just after midnight on 4 November, voted Obama in a landslide.

Live electoral map from Daily Kos.

HuffPo’s guide to watching the election

RealClearPolitics: polls map Be wary of exit polls

WaPo, The Fix: Hour-by-hour breakdown of states to watch

WTHR channel 13, Indianapolis – results begin release at 7:00pm EST (11:00am AEDT), live stream available. Indiana weather is unusually warm (75F/24C), sunny and dry for early November, increasing the chance of a high voter turnout.

Indianapolis Star/News, a traditionally conservative newspaper in a one-newspaper town (despite about 3 million people in the greater Indianapolis area)

Obama makes surprise last-minute stop in Indianapolis, his last public appearance before heading home to Chicago to watch the tallies come in

Indiana results, county-by-county (disable adblock to view)

8:06pm EST: Obama wins Pennsylvania, all of New England, leads 55%/45% in Florida, 69%/30% in Ohio

10:50pm EST: Obama 207 electoral votes, McC 141

11:12pm EST: Obama 293, McC 142 – GAME OVER

President-elect Obama sounds soooooooooooo nice.