Razer: ‘Get your grubby mitts off my porn, Conroy’
Sunday January 25th 2009, 7:14 pm

Senator Conroy merkin, only $19.95...

In her SMH opinion piece from yesterday, Helen Razer both demands that Senator Conjob not interfere with her ‘private internet time’- and bravely admits to being a pornocriminal.

Australia has some of the most restrictive censorship laws in the English-speaking world. It is unlawful under Australia’s long existent draconian censorship regime to possess sexually explicit materials which have not been vetted by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). Under OFLC rules, you can only legally buy ‘softcore’ porn in what are known as ‘restricted premises’ (aka adult shops) in most of Australia, including NSW. Only in the ACT & NT can you even legally buy explicit sexual imagery. In the meantime, every single internet viewer of explicit sexual imagery in Australia is a criminal waiting to be arrested, under the OFLC regime. (more…)

Obama’s acknowledgement of reality
Friday January 23rd 2009, 9:31 am

In a first for any American President, Barack Obama pointedly acknowledged ‘non-believers’ alongside xtians, Jews, Muslims, etc. in his inaugural address.

While it’s nice for this atheist to be included, it’s not so nice to have that acknowledgment sharing the stage with Rick Warren, an especially wretched extremist xtian hatemonger. I mean, Obama could have invited Fred ‘God Hates Fags’ Phelps and would have done no worse.

you go, Mikhaela
image: ubertoonist, the 50 foot Mikhaela B. Reid

While the majority of Americans, if asked, will claim to be xtians, you won’t find many of them far away from the football game on teev on Sundays.

Despite some exposure to Islam in his early school days in Indonesia, Obama’s upbringing was absent religion. Obama writes in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope:

“I was not raised in a religious household . . . Without the help of religious texts or outside authorities, (my mother) worked mightily to instill in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school: honesty, empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work.”

Certainly, as part of his political education, Obama learned about Americans’ general ersatz xtian beliefs and began attending a church soon after his move to Chicago, clearly to avoid impeding his political aspirations, not because he has any particular interest in religion. It’s plenty that the man had to overcome the political obstacles of having an Arabic name and being not just black but of mixed race. Being an out-n-proud atheist would surely have been a showstopper for a man with ambitions in US politics.

Hypocrisy? You bet. However, sometimes you have to break a corrupted system from the inside- can’t score unless you have the ball. I’ll suggest the strategy works. Look who’s President now and look who included atheists in his inaugural address. I’ll cope.

One of these days, faerie-taleists, no matter how happy the face they put on their hatreds, will be consigned to the same historical rubbish tip as witch burners. I reckon they’ve already been loaded on the garbage truck.


Obama retakes oath of office
Thursday January 22nd 2009, 4:46 pm

Thanks to partisan ‘newsfotainment’ from right-wing pundits like Rush Dimbulb, tripe fountains like Fux Noise and to a lesser degree from irresponsibly written conservative nutbag blogs, what sensible folk once all rejected as drunken pub-spew now not only sees the light of day but has a few 750W klieg lights shone upon it and is then given international exposure via the ‘net. What used to be simple nonsense is now nonsense on very tall stilts.

Malcontents, conspiracy theorists and nutballs have been around as long as there’s been such a thing as bullshit which can be labelled a personal opinion, thus justifying public dissemination of nonsense, since opinions can never be wrong… or can they?

click for full size imagetoon by the brilliant Matt Bors

In the only moment I’ve ever seen him even slightly nervous, President Obama fluffed a line when taking the oath of office. The line that Obama was to repeat was misread by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Obama dutifully repeated the line as read to him.

Obama, keenly aware since well before his run for the White House of how asshats are known to spin shite into political gold, had Justice Roberts re-administer the oath of office, though law scholars saw no particular legal need for him to do so:

Jeffrey Rosen, a US constitutional law expert and professor at George Washington University in Washington, said stumbling over the oath had “no impact. News flash: He’s President”.

Let’s hope Obama doesn’t make a habit of getting mired in defences against internuts.


Separated at birth #226
Wednesday January 21st 2009, 7:51 pm


Sympathy: you’ll find it between shit & syphilis, Mr Cheney
Wednesday January 21st 2009, 8:26 am

Dick Cheney appeared at President Obama’s inauguration in a wheelchair.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says that the former President of Vice pulled a muscle in his back moving boxes while clearing out of the VP’s residence.

Now, here’s a multimillionaire who has had four heart attacks- do you think he’s moving boxes anywhere? I sure don’t. I think this is the beginning of a Pinochet-style sympathy campaign, intended to keep the 68-year-old son-of-a-bitch from ever standing trial for torturing prisoners of war.

Keith Olbermann describes why Bush, Cheney and others must be tried for war crimes:

Don Rumsfeld barely escaped France in October 2007, where he could have been arrested for war crimes. The former King and his Executioner have the same sort of fun to look forward to when travelling- for the rest of their miserable lives.

Welcome back to reality, gents.


It is finally over. It has finally begun.
Wednesday January 21st 2009, 4:40 am

Barack Hussein Obama has been inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, ending the darkest eight years in American history.

I have deliberately avoided traveling to my mother country in these last eight years, primarily because the former king president famously broke the promise he made on his illbegotten inaugurations, specifically the promise to uphold and defend the Constitution. The golden document which makes the United States what it is, that parchment which has been replicated and emulated by new nations the world over for the last 233 years, was not just ignored but openly defied and defiled by the former wannabe king. I could not rest assured that my rights as enumerated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would be protected were I to chance to travel to my mother country.

I’m looking forward, finally, to coming to visit my family in the USA- hopefully soon.


Lyn McLean: How to make money from the ignorant by being a complete charlatan
Monday January 12th 2009, 7:36 am

While we’re on the topic of painful ignorance, I note that some folks have managed to make a cottage industry out of professionalised stupidity and purveying complete and utter nonsense as medical advice.

Lyn McLean calls herself the director of pseudoscience promoting ‘EMR Australia.’ She is the very same Lyn McLean, who via her ‘Energy Connections‘ website, offers:

* dowsing classes and tools
* energy assessments of home and work
* theta healing
* workshops
* talks for groups
* handmade jewellery

Yes, Ms McLean wants to take your money for teaching you ‘dowsing‘ and for jewellery made with chunks of glass which are apparently supposed to heal your ‘thetas.’ I frankly wasn’t aware I had any thetas. Readers, please turn me on to the anatomy lessons I have quite clearly missed…

The selfsame Ms McLean is offering up herself as an expert on the supposed hazards of electromagnetic signals. McLean can’t grasp the fact that her ‘complimentary medicine’ is complete silliness, so she’s branched out into offering technical information on the supposed health damage from radio signals- and is making a buck off it, to boot. I’d like to see McLean’s medical and electronics engineering qualifications. I’ll put my BSEE up against her wives’ tales and conspiracy theories any day of the week.

If McLean’s information on the health effects of radio transmissions is anywhere near as good as her other wives’ tales, I’d sooner take medical advice from Tom Cruise.

Ms McLean is completely within her rights to privately believe any absurd nonsense she likes. If she feels all good and gooey inside when she hangs bits of glass off assorted parts of her person, more power to her.

Where she gets my back up is when she offers bullshit up to community groups as valid and viable factual objections to provision of adequate mobile telephone services in the Blue Mountains, an area where the lack of effective communications can be lethal to the general public. Ms McLean’s crazy guesses and crystal-gazing suppositions should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to compromise public safety.

Dowsing! Kid you not.


Pseudoscience kills
Sunday January 11th 2009, 9:59 am

cellular telephone towerI live in the incredibly beautiful Blue Mountains, around 100km west of the Sydney CBD. Get a look at the area in Google Maps. Sydney’s sprawl stops dead, right at the Nepean River. Place names in the Blue Mountains National Park, such as ‘The Devil’s Wilderness‘ and ‘The Blue Labyrinth‘ ought to give anyone with some commonsense a fairly big clue as to just how rough and rugged the undeveloped, virgin bushland in the Blue Mountains really is, despite its proximity to a city of over 4 million people. This undisturbed nature makes it a massive attraction to international visitors and domestic tourists alike.

Because of the Blue Mountains’ deceptively close proximity to civilisation, many tourists are blithely unaware of the dangers caused by general inaccessibility to most places where they go exploring. I’m not talking about simply 4WD accessible places, I’m talking about those where the only motorised transport going in or out are helicopters. About 10 people die each year abseiling or bushwalking in the Blue Mountains. Many more survivors are winched out by rescue helicopters. This is of course after emergency services actually locate the distressed hikers. Rescue helicopters flying at low altitude mark our seasons- on summery days and holiday weekends, they’re like mosquitoes around here. Well, it’s summertime again… and more tourists are lost in the Blue Mountains.

While a few well-prepared tourists carry water, maps, GPS units, general survival gear and other supplies with them, many don’t. Why would you, when you’re so close to a city of 4 million? About the only thing classifiable as survival equipment which most tourists carry is a mobile phone. However, the vast majority of the Blue Mountains area, aside from a ribbon of villages alongside the Great Western Highway, has poor or no mobile phone coverage. Coverage even along the well-travelled GWH corridor is dodgy in many places. Even at my house, in the populated corridor, about half our mobile calls drop out.

Despite this potentially lethal tourist trap, some underinformed and unnecessarily fearful Blue Mountains residents actively oppose the expansion and improvement of mobile phone base station coverage along the GWH corridor, on the basis that mobile phone towers are rumoured to pose a danger to human health. These beliefs are based in ignorant suppositions and cherry-picked pseudoscience. The fact that no deleterious effect on human health from base stations (or the mobile phones themselves) has ever been identified or proven means nothing to those purveyors of fear, uncertainty and doubt. (more…)

Mark Newton: the man who saved the internet
Thursday January 01st 2009, 10:49 am

For those four Australian internet users who are not up to speed on Rudd’s plan to enforce mandatory content filtering, let’s recap:

* During the HoWARd regime, ‘NetAlert’ filtering software, for installation on the PCs of residences with children, is offered at no cost to users. Millions are spent, yet the takeup rate was almost nil. It’s obvious that few users want it.

* Prior to the 2007 Federal elections, Labor proposed an optional filtered ‘clean feed’ as an election promise.

* Almost a year into the Rudd government, the goal posts got moved- suddenly, the filter is no longer optional. All internet feeds are to be subject to mandatory filtering at the ISP level. There will be an optional, stricter ‘child’ level filter for those subscribers who wish to opt in. Peter Garrett’s comment that once elected, Labor would ‘change everything‘ was beyond prescient.

* The Australian government blacklist is to be kept secret from users. We don’t even know what will be blocked. However, the blacklist will have to be made available to all Australian ISPs. The chance of the blacklist being leaked is not as much ‘high,’ as ‘absolutely certain.’ Witness the leaking of the banlists of Denmark (blocks a lot of ordinary porn sites which market images of 25 year old women in pigtails as ‘teens’) and Thailand, which criminalises criticism of the Thai monarchy.

* Closed-circuit test results of Labor’s proposed filter are leaked to the media. The most effective filter, the one which stopped the greatest amount of ‘objectionable’ traffic while falsely blocking the fewest number of unobjectionable sites, is found to slow access times by up to 87%.

* Goal post shift #2: Senator Conroy is flummoxed by critics who claim that Labor’s filtering scheme will only address HTTP traffic, not P2P file sharing, the mode via which the vast majority of child porn material is trafficked, per Australian law enforcement. Conroy, not given to explaining himself, pipes up and claims that Labor’s filter will in fact block ‘objectionable’ P2P traffic. Conroy gives no explanation as to the technical means by which this will be done, despite most P2P users encrypting all traffic by default.

* Conroy has also not addressed the matter of filtering encrypted traffic, either via HTTPS or P2P. If you’re going to filter traffic against a blacklist, you have to know what’s in the packets you’re filtering. Any effective filter will have to be able to decrypt such secure traffic on the fly (which not even the US CIA nor NSA can do, given the ready availability of strong encryption). To any system monitoring internet traffic, all encrypted packets look the same- unreadable. If a filtering system somehow is developed which can decrypt and filter encrypted traffic, it will render legitimately private encrypted traffic, such as internet banking and online purchases, as public as plaintext. So far, Australian banks have not addressed this matter with their online customers, claiming that the filter has not yet been implemented and thus they have nothing to say on the issue.

Enter Mark Newton. (more…)