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).


Crimespeak: Victoria Government’s swear jar
Tuesday May 31st 2011, 9:03 pm

Victoria’s Premier Ted Baillieu has apparently solved all the other problems in the state, as he now has time and money to waste on criminalising speech.

Beware the swear word or cop a fine

By Jean Edwards

The Victorian Government plans to introduce laws this week that will give police permanent power to issue on-the-spot fines to people who swear.

Under the proposed legislation, people could be fined close to $240 for language that is considered indecent or offensive.

Attorney-General Robert Clark says the changes mean police will not have to use the courts to deal with people who use bad language.

“We’re going to be confirming the power of police to issue on-the-spot infringement notices for these sorts of offences, which will free up police resources,” he said.

“It will also enable them to more effectively act against the sort of loud-mouthed, obnoxious behaviour that can make going out to public places unpleasant for other members of the public.”

Lovely! Government by fiat- no trials needed to determine nor appeal ‘indecency’ or ‘offensiveness’ of the speech. The arbiter will be the Victoria Police. Perhaps the police operating manual will be upgraded to include what words are indecent and/or offensive. We can have no moral relativism- speech will be indecent/offensive or it won’t.

However, classification at kerbside may be a bit problematic for the officers. For example, exhorting Ted Baillieu to ‘ram a jam jar up his poop chute’ may indeed be indecent, offensive or both, while not using any the more or less standard list of indecent/offensive terms such as shit, piss, cunt, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. Fart, turd and twat have certainly been decriminalised in recent times as one can normally hear all three on commercial television in Australia. Consequently, asserting that ‘Ted Baillieu is a turd farting twat,’ could not be prima facie deemed to be either indecent or offensive.

There appears to be no mention of whether it will be indecency or offensiveness expressed in English which will be criminalised or whether one will have sufficiently violated the law by uttering epithets in, for example, Hebrew, eg. ‘טד Baillieu מבאס הפין של סוס בגלל שהוא אוהב את הטעם.‘ As such, there may be some discrimination issues afoot, as well as the expense of hiring on-demand translators for all of the 300 languages spoken in Melbourne.

Oh- and I haven’t even touched on the civil disobedience factor

…and I can’t wait for Tim Minchin’s next appearance in Melbourne.

Consequently, I’m not quite as sure of the reduction in the load on the courts and police as Attorney General Robert Clark appears to be.

I predict great humiliation for Baillieu and Clark. Let the games begin.


Barry O’Farrell: ‘Solar policy will deliver jobs’ – straight to the dole queue…
Sunday May 29th 2011, 1:29 pm

This video was uploaded to YouTube by liberalnsw on Jul 13, 2009. Reposted for truth, since O’Farrell now is deleting anything he can to hide his former support for the Solar Bonus Scheme.

O’Farrell: “Gross feed-in tariffs make environmental sense. They make economic sense. They help the environment and they help create jobs. The gross feed-in tariff system provides a real incentive for people to install solar electricity systems. The gross feed-in tariff system can help businesses like this to expand the number of jobs available at this time.”

All quite true- except when O’Farrell, once in power, wants to use inflated scheme cost figures to make the former Labor government look even worse (than they made themselves look) and attempt to justify retrospectively slashing the feed-in tariff from 60c/kWh to 40c, screwing mum & dad solar scheme investors and devastating the solar power industry, not just in NSW but in other states and territories as well.

Mike Carlton nails it:

Barry’s no longer the golden boy
May 28, 2011

That didn’t take long. After just two months as Premier, Barry O’Farrell has shown that he is entirely capable of the shameless political trickery he denounced so piously in opposition.

We’re talking the Solar Bonus Scheme and the decision to cut the household tariff rebate from 60¢ to 40¢ per kilowatt. In one stroke, O’Farrell has dudded about 100,000 punters who stuck solar panels on their roofs in the belief they had a solid contract with government, any government.

It is a grubby stunt worthy of his Labor predecessors, and if he is taking political pain for it, then good. He deserves to. Panicky fiddling at the edges with hardship compensation is lipstick on the pig.

Hypocrisy is never a good look, Baz. Being a welcher is even uglier.


Mobile phone and baby monitor RADIATION!!
Sunday May 22nd 2011, 11:41 am

Thanks to pop-culture pseudoscientists flogging nonsense about mobile phone headsets and mobile phones killing bees in the mainstream media of late, mgk has been getting a ton of hits on all my past posts on the topic. It’s pretty obvious to me from the search terms showing up in my statistics engine that the general public isn’t clear on the meaning of the term ‘radiation.’

While the term ‘radiation’ is commonly associated with gamma ray emissions from radionuclear materials such as uranium, plutonium, caesium, etc., what ‘radiation’ really means is ‘the emission of something from a single point.’ When you throw a stone in a pond, there is a ‘radiation’ of ripples in the water. When you light a candle, there is a ‘radiation’ of heat and light from the flame. No sane person to date has implicated pond ripples and candle flames as causations of cancers.

There’s clearly more than one kind of radiation. The dangerous sort is ionising radiation.

image source: US Environmental Protection Agency

When an emission has the ability to knock electrons off of atoms, it has the ability to damage DNA in living cells. Damaged DNA can cause the cell to improperly replicate, sometimes expressing as cancers. Ionising radiation can come from a number of different sources beside radionuclear materials. Ultraviolet (UV) light, x-rays and cosmic rays from objects in space are all sources of ionising radiation.

However, non-ionising radiation does not have the ability to knock electrons off of atoms and thus damage DNA. As you see in the above illustration, non-ionising radiation includes all types of electromagnetic radiation, from magnetic fields around a wire carrying DC (direct current, as from a battery) through to violet-coloured light. Way, way down on the scale are radio waves, which include signals from mobile phones and baby monitors (which are quite close to the FM broadcast band, commonly around 72MHz).

Consequently, anyone trying to tell you that you need a special headset to keep your mobile phone away from your head or some sort of ‘radiation shield’ for your phone isn’t trying to keep you from getting brain cancer. They’re trying to sell you headsets and useless stickers.

Some mobile phone makers include with their products instructions to keep your phone a few millimetres away from your ear when using them. Why this is done is a total mystery to me. Their products do not emit ionising radiation. Keeping the phone a few mm away from one’s ear will not do anything significant to reduce the strength of the radio frequency (RF) field in the vicinity of one’s head. SAR ratings also are equally unnecessary.

Some users of mobile phones remark that the side of their head feels warm after extended periods of phone use and attribute this to the RF energy being emitted from the device. It’s simpler than that. When you discharge a battery, it will warm up due to current passing through the battery’s internal resistance. Also, the components in most electronic circuits, notably amplifiers, also warm up as currents are passed through them. If you held a warm brick to the side of your head, you’d get the very same result- and this can hardly (rationally) be thought to be carcinogenic.

As of 2008, there were 4.1 billion mobile phones in service on this planet. Strong low-frequency electromagnetic fields have been around as long as there has been an AC mains electrical grid (1920s). RF signals have been around since Marconi sent long-distance and trans-Atlantic radio signals from 1899-1901. Multi-hundred-thousand watt radio signals have been around since the 1930s, megawatt-level TV signals since the 1950s. Cellular telephony has been around since the late 1970s. Handheld mobile phones have been ubiquitous since the mid-1990s. Everyone born since about 1935 has lived their entire life bathed in LF and RF fields.

If electromagnetic fields and radio signals cause cancer, where are there billions of brain cancers? They don’t exist. The 10-year Interphone study looked at millions of mobile phone users and found no correlation with mobile phone use and brain cancer.

If you anyone tells you that mobile phones, their associated base stations and towers, baby monitors, microwave ovens or other radio signal emitting devices cause cancer, they’re a) ignorant of the science involved, b) trying to inflate their self-importance by being too helpful by half or c) trying to turn a buck off your own lack of information. Fear of the unknown is curable with just a little education.

Relax and phone up a friend for a good, long chat. It’s safe!


NSW Premier O’Farrell welches on Solar Bonus Scheme promise, screwing pensioners
Wednesday May 18th 2011, 10:48 am

Do you do business with or have contracts with the State of NSW? Do you own bonds in the NSW Government? Would you have done so if you knew the NSW Government would unilaterally rip up your contract or change the terms of your agreement without your consent? Barry O’Farrell has done just that with the Solar Bonus Scheme.

The NSW Solar Bonus Scheme worked like this: You invest a few thousand dollars out of pocket in a solar power generation system which is connected to the NSW AC mains power grid through an inverter, which converts the panels’ DC output into 240V AC power. The AC power your system feeds into the grid is bought by the State of NSW at the contractually agreed feed-in tariff rate of 60c per kilowatt-hour (kWh). If your system generates more power than you use in your home, your power bill is zero and the NSW Government sends you a cheque for the difference. If you use more kilowatt-hours than your solar panels feed into the grid, the value of the amount you generate is taken off of your electricity bill.

I’m a pensioner, which means I have next-to-no disposable income and certainly no savings. My savings account has a $0 balance twice each month, on the same day my pension payment is received, as it all goes out on bills and living expenses. You might say my budget is extremely tight- it’s calculated to the penny every month.

When former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced on 27 October 2010 that she was cutting the feed-in tariff on the Solar Bonus Scheme from 60c to 20c/kWh as of midnight on that date, I had to make a snap decision as to whether or not to participate. I searched around a bit and found that Origin Energy was offering a 1.5kW solar package for $2990 on a 2-year, interest-free basis with a $299 down payment and repayments of $112 per month. The 1.5kW system was described as producing an annualised average of 6kWh per day. At a feed-in tariff of 60c/kWh (and barring an excessive amount of cloudy weather), the system would produce about $108 worth of feed-in tariff (FiT) income per month, coming within $4/month of paying for itself. The cost of the feed-in tariff meter and installation would be $300, over and above the cost of the installed solar panels and inverter.

Given that I believed the NSW Government had a contractual obligation to maintain the 60c/kWh FiT rate for those who signed up  for installation before midnight on 27 October 2010, for the life of the scheme (until July 1 2016), I decided, in good faith, to bite the bullet and borrow money for the $299 down payment and $300 FiT meter and installation cost. The system’s estimated $108/month output would come very close to covering the 24 months worth of $112/month repayments to Origin. My $599 capital outlay would be covered by about 8-9 months of FiT income. Any FiT income thereafter would go towards offsetting my electricity costs, until the end of the scheme in 2016.

However, despite his explicit pre-election promise to honour all existing Solar Bonus Scheme contracts if elected, new Liberal NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has now decided unilaterally to breach existing Solar Bonus Scheme contracts. O’Farrell plans to retrospectively cut the FiT rate to 40c/kWh, which means that my solar generation system can produce no more than $72/month worth of FiT income. Instead of being $4/month in the red ($108/mo FiT income, less $112/mo repayments to Origin), I’ll be $40/month in the red.

When your total monthly income as a pensioner is less than $1460- and it’s ALL committed, every single month- $40 less per month means something! What it means is $10/week less for groceries- and I only spend about $40/week on groceries now. BAM, 25% cut in my food budget! Would Mr O’Farrell have me supplant my now dented grocery budget from the local food bank? Perhaps sit with a tin cup and beg for coins in front of Roza Sage’s office? Dr Sage has already replied to a letter I emailed to her last evening, with her clear sentiment that she doesn’t give a damn about my problems and the present NSW Government is going to retrospectively screw anybody on the Solar Bonus Scheme, no matter how much they have invested and no matter their financial situation.

If bonds rating agencies are not considering revising the rating applied to NSW Government bond issues, they should be. Anyone who is party to a contract with the NSW Government should hedge their bets because the NSW Government is simply not trustworthy.


NEW STUDY shows mobile phone RADIATION!!!111!!one!! causes teh CANSER!! Except it doesn’t.
Tuesday May 17th 2011, 5:09 pm

The Hun takes another swipe at their pet scare story, ‘mobile phone radiation‘…

Council of Europe calls for ban on mobile phones and Wi-Fi in schools

* Wireless gadgets emit radiation – study
* Differs to WHO’s advice of little to no risk
* Jury still out on cancer, mobile phone link

EXPERTS have called for internet-connected mobile phones and wireless laptop computers to be banned in schools.

A major new study has found cancer-causing electromagnetic radiation generated by wireless gadgets – including baby monitors and cordless phones – may be harmful for children’s developing brain, reports the Herald Sun.

The influential Council of Europe examined evidence that wireless technologies had “potentially harmful” effects on humans and found that immediate action was required to protect children.

The respected body’s findings contrast sharply with advice from the World Health Organisation that exposure to electromagnetic fields posed little or no risk to human health.

Glen Iris mother of three Donna Latter Jones said the news was a concern given our wireless world.

Home-based Ms Latter Jones sells devices such as children’s aeroplane safety harnesses through kids travel essentials website www.littlesomethingoranother.com.au. [spammy link redacted -Ed.]

She said a combination of cordless phone, iPhone, desktop computer and laptop running all day meant her young children – Hayden, 4, Carly, 3 and Matthew, 2 – had grown up running freely through a field of potentially harmful magnetic radiation.

“Both my husband and I have definitely had concerns for a while over mobile phones and radiation, and try not to keep them close to our body,” she said.

She said the risks of internet-connected devices such as laptops to children was a cause for concern.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to support them being banned from classrooms, but if it turns out there are significant problems, then it should definitely be looked at,” she said.

“Parents should be able to make up their own minds based on what is important to their own families, but we are bombarded with so much information these days, it’s hard to know what to believe.”

After decades of often inconclusive research, the jury is still out on a link between mobile phones and cancer.

Sydney University professor Bruce Armstrong was among an international panel of researchers who participated in a decade-long investigation into the health effects of mobile phones.

Carried out by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, on behalf of the World Health Organisation, the Interphone Project found no clear evidence of mobile phones causing ill-health.

Experts did, however, establish a possible link with brain tumours.

The Hun’s story is based on this Council of Europe document, which, first and foremost, is not a study. It’s a draft report which collects of a bunch of rumours and ‘public concerns,’ but it is most definitely not a scientific study. It contains no hypothesis, no data, no analysis, no discussion, no conclusions… and most importantly, no evidence- not of ‘cancers caused by electromagnetic radiation’ (as claimed by The Hun) nor of anything else, for that matter.  It’s a fact-free ‘preaching the controversy’ bit, designed to freak out non-critical thinkers.

I’d really like to know why The Hun likes to burn their mobile telephone service advertisers (such as Vodafone) like this.

Someone out there is benefiting from News Ltd publishing rubbish like this, but I can’t imagine who that may be. Could News Ltd be fishing for some cash to stop running scare stories about mobile phones? Lawsy sure lightened up on certain businesses after they ponied up some coin. Blackmail works- until you get busted.


God’s man in Canberra
Tuesday April 26th 2011, 6:45 pm

Brigadier Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby is apparently a good Christian. You’d think he’d have to be a good one to head the organisation which purports to represent the interests of Christians to the Australian Federal Government.

Good Christians don’t like gays or Muslims, so the Brigadier felt obligated, on Anzac Day, to tweet:

“Just hope that as we remember servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!”

Wallace was nearly immediately called to account by numerous news ops. Shameless Jim apologised for making such statements on Anzac Day, a celebration of the service of Australian war veterans where politicisation is considered to be in gravely poor taste, but in no way apologised for his offensive remarks.

After about 10,000 Twitterers let the Brigadier have it with both barrels over his homo- and islamophobia, he deleted the tweet, which is preserved here for posterity. Of course, the internet never forgets. It certainly didn’t forget when Wallace insinuated that being gay causes priests to rape children.

On the day after Anzac Day, Wallace appeared on Sunrise on 7 to clarify how he had been ‘misinterpreted’ by ‘a few Twitter activists’:

Wallace isn’t just into distorting and prevaricating, he also digs an outright lie. In the Sunrise bit, Jimbo begs off with the excuse, “If you just accept that I’ve been on Twitter seriously for one week.”

In fact, Wallace’s first tweet was on 3 February 2010. 1 year, 2 months and 23 days ago.

Mind, a 447 day week would come in handy for Jim as it might be useful in explaining how Methuselah came to live 900 years.

But don’t mind me, I’m one of those ‘Twitter activists’ who ‘manipulate media‘ and Jim’s lies are usually our fault.

What’s really frightening is the level of privileged access this lying con artist has in the Australian Federal government.

If Jim Wallace is a good Christian, I don’t want to meet the bad ones.


Wisconsin: Democracy tastes like pepperoni
Sunday April 24th 2011, 11:49 am

Socialism with pepperoni.If you haven’t been following the story of the people’s revolt against GOP/teabagger government in Wisconsin, you’re missing one of the most riveting tales of democracy on the hoof since the American Revolution.

Despite mainstream media (with the exception of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow), either ignoring this story or providing unwarranted favourable coverage to teabaggers and the GOP, as well as active interference on Twitter by Koch Brothers funded professional astroturfing trolls, ‘Sconnie democracy activists are taking back their government.

The story so far:

* A complacent electorate and unlimited corporate political funding (due to the Citizens United case, where corporations were deemed by the US Supreme Court to have the same 1st Amendment speech rights as actual people) from the oil billionaire Koch brothers allowed extreme-right GOP candidates to take over the Wisconsin state Senate and governorship.

* Newly elected Governor Scott Walker decided the time was right to enact corporation-driven legislation that stripped collective bargaining rights from unionised public employees and did so with dubious if not outright illegal parliamentary procedures. Walker pretended that union-busting was necessary to ‘repair’ the debt-ridden Wisconsin state budget. 14 Democratic senators fled the state to deny Walker a quorum and thus halted the passage of the ‘budget repair’ legislation. GOP senators attempted to intimidate the 14 by (illegally) calling for their arrest to bring them to the Senate chambers to force a vote on Walker’s union-busting bill.

* Unionists and sympathisers staged a protracted, noisy occupation of the Wisconsin statehouse in Madison in protest of Walker’s union-busting. During the statehouse protest, people from all 50 US states and 50 countries phoned in orders to Ian’s Pizza for pies to be delivered to the statehouse to feed protesters.

* Walker eventually modified the ‘budget repair’ bill to remove all fiscal components, leaving in the stripping of collective bargaining rights from unionised state employees- an admission that union-busting has no effect on the state budget. The legislation could purportedly then be passed by GOP senators in absence of a quorum. However, the Walker administration failed to provide appropriate notice to all legislators under Wisconsin’s Open Meetings law, which may render the legislation void. A lawsuit filed on the basis that the union-busting legislation violates Wisconsin’s Open Meetings law has resulted in Dane County Judge Marianne Sumi issuing a temporary restraining order preventing the union-busting legislation from taking effect. Walker has since been forced to admit under oath during testimony before the US Congress that the union-busting had no effect whatsoever on Wisconsin’s state budget.

* Judges are elected in Wisconsin. A ‘non-partisan’ April 5 election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court between incumbent Walker sympathiser David Prosser and challenger Joanne Kloppenburg turned into a referendum on the Wisconsin GOP’s union busting and has become quite the cause celebre for Wisconsin Democrats and unionists. In the primary election leading up to the actual election, Kloppenburg got 25% and Prosser got 55%.  On the morning of April 6, the Wisconsin election board announced Kloppenburg as the victor with a razor-thin margin of about 200 votes. 2 days later, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, who has a decade-long history of dubious practises in managing elections in her county and a prior employment relationship with Prosser, announced that she had ‘found’ some 14,000 untabulated votes, resulting in a roughly 7300 vote lead for Prosser. Nickolaus explained she had ‘failed to hit save’ in Microsoft Access (which automatically saves data without user intervention) when recording the votes for one burg in her county. This resulted in a 0.488% margin of victory for Prosser. Wisconsin law provides for recounts when the margin is under 1%. When the margin is under 0.5%, the state will pay for the recount. Kloppenburg has now exercised her right to ask for a recount, the details of which are under negotiation as we speak, but in many wards, votes will be recounted by hand to eliminate any errors introduced by electronic tabulation methods.

* Wisconsin law provides for citizen initiated recalls of elected officials. Once a legislator has been in office for one year, petitions may be filed for a recall election. Volunteer Democrats and unionists have so far succeeded in obtaining signatures and filing petitions for recall of 5 of 8 eligible GOP senators, in each case obtaining 130-160% of the number of signatures needed for the state to conduct a recall election. In retaliation, paid GOP activists attempted to obtain signatures to recall some of the 14 Democratic senators who left the state to deny Walker a quorum. Absent genuine public support for recalling the ‘Fab 14,’ GOP activists have resorted to some truly nefarious tactics to obtain signatures to recall Democratic senators, including buying shots of liquor in exchange for signatures and misleading people about what they were signing. Petition signatures may be challenged- and that’s exactly what the Democrats are doing right now. A call was put out on Twitter via the #wiunion hashtag for volunteers to come to Democratic HQ with their laptop computers for the purpose of validating the signatures on petitions to recall Democratic senators. So many people turned up that Dem HQ ran out of workspace and had to turn people away. Ian’s Pizza is again taking orders for pizzas to be donated to the ‘#datadefenders’ at Dem HQ.

The Democrats need to gain 3 seats in the Wisconsin Senate to take back majority control- and at this point, it’s a sure thing that recall elections against at least 5 GOP senators will be held. A large majority of the signatures required have been obtained for the recall of a 6th GOP senator- and Walker himself becomes eligible for recall in January 2012.

If you’re on Twitter and want to follow the action, watch the #wiunion hashtag.

I’ll be utterly dumbfounded if someone doesn’t step up and make a documentary film about the Pepperoni Revolution. Definite Oscar potential. You listening, Mike Moore?


Microchips & the kooky cop
Monday January 24th 2011, 4:30 pm

Top cop’s wishlist: microchipped crooks

South Australia’s police commissioner says some people should be microchipped as a crime prevention measure.

Commissioner Mal Hyde made the remark while answering a question at an international Australian Crime Prevention Council forum in Adelaide.

Mr Hyde said his comments were light-hearted, but added that society could embrace such a concept in the future.

“I’d like to microchip a lot of different people, just to be a little bit flippant about it, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said.

“I say it sort of flippantly, but who knows, because attitudes change so much?”

Mr Hyde said widespread CCTV had once been considered an unlikely concept because of privacy concerns.

He said community attitudes usually changed in line with perceived threats.

“If the world became more concerned about crime and internal security then changes would be flowing through much more readily and technology would be much more acceptable in that change as well,” he said.

While Mal Hyde has just outed himself as an authoritarian crank who really shouldn’t have a job in law enforcement, he’s also likely put on display his ignorance of what RFID tags (microchips) actually do.

The vast majority of RFID tags are passive devices, which have no internal power source. They contain either an LC circuit which causes them to resonate at a specific frequency (for triggering anti-shoplifting detectors) or a programmable integrated circuit which can transmit a number, but in both cases, must be within a few centimetres of a reader device, which generates a magnetic or radio frequency field, which is rectified into DC current to temporarily power up the RFID device.

One thing RFID tags don’t do and never will is allow monitoring of the tags from a distance. Some crazed paranoiacs have the idea that RFID tags can be monitored by satellites- or are small enough to be introduced into the body via flu vaccine injections.

One wacky lady out here in the Blue Mountains wrote a letter to the editor, registering her objections about ‘being monitored’ by a microchip installed in her new recycling bin. She should thank her lucky stars (or perhaps her healing crystals) that her comment no longer appears on the Blue Mountains Gazette’s website.

Whatever Mal Hyde thinks microchips do, one thing’s certain- implanting RFID devices in people as though they were dogs, for whatever reason, is about as acceptable in a liberal democracy as tattooing an identification number on the arms of concentration camp prisoners.


Meryl Dorey’s Trouble with the Truth
Sunday December 19th 2010, 5:39 pm

Ken McLeod, assisted by Tabitha-Ann Gooley & Tom Sidwell, succeeds in nailing jelly to the wall:

Meryl Dorey’s Trouble with the Truth, Part 1

Dorey is famous for her manner of bullshitting, which due to extensive explanations required to rebut her, is difficult to counter in time-limited forums such as media interviews or debates.

Meryl, Ken’s got your number.