Archive for the ‘ Rants ’ Category

Ya know Girls like it too

Yes I am aware of the fact that it has been nearly half a year since I last posted, but these days it takes something rather major to get my attention once more.

I recently read a blogppost from Carrie Goldman, who writes the Portrait of An Adoption blogger about an issue that recently happened to her daughter one day at school. Young Katie is in the First Grade and she loves Star Wars, so much so that she owned a Star Wars Water Bottle and took it to school with pride, until cruel little boys made fun of her because of the fact that “Star Wars is only for Boys.”

I read this article, and it got my blood boiling, sure by this time I had effectively lost all faith in humanity, until I read the scores of comments that everyday people, namely other girls that liked Star Wars, that I realised that I needed to do something. I wrote a piece earlier about bullying, and as a victim of bullying growing up, (with me it was Star Trek) I know what this girls going through.

I have to applaud her mother for having the idea to post this online, however I doubt even Carrie expected the level of attention her little girl has now received right now from Geeky Girls around the world, including voice actors from the Clone Wars.

The blogpost is located below and I welcome everyone to comment on it and offer their support

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/portrait_of_an_adoption/2010/11/anti-bullying-starts-in-first-grade.html

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Don’t you even think about it

Following the tragic stabbing death of a child in Queensland a few weeks ago, Facebook memorial groups have sprung up by the dozens and unfortunately, not everyone feels the need to show their respect on them.

Individuals, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, to say comments they wouldn’t otherwise have the fortitude to do so in public, has been around since the privatization of the internet some 30 years ago, this form of keyboard courage is not new, and will continue to exist, because of the method in which the internet transmits its information. Facebook is not the first time that this kind of ‘cyber-bullying’ has existed, its just the first time that it has entered public domain. This time of cowardly act has existed almost as long as communication has existed on the internet, where individuals act cruelly online, and all smiles and happiness in person.

However, if it where up to Independent Senator Nick Xenophan, and yes the Rudd Government, the Australian Internet Experience would be monitored, by way on an Online Ombudsman, because ya know it sounded like a good idea when they thought of it.
The problem with such an exercise is one that has highlighted the failures of the Mandatory Internet Filter is its enforcement; considering the notion that the Internet is an international experience, no one Sovereign nation has the right to enforce laws on another Sovereign nation, meaning that while Australian activities will be monitored and enforced, International Activities wont be.

So if anyone was so desiring to say spam tribute pages on Facebook with derogatory comments, or in some cases, Porn, as seems to be the reason why this thing is coming into effect… because the Federal Government has the spare time to be checking their Facebook Status in between running the Country. They simply need to hope onto a Proxy Server, VPN, or well any of the methods in place to circumvent the Mandatory Internet Filter, and get away with their plans without recourse, because once again, THIS WILL NOT WORK.

The only people this will catch are those too ignorant at covering their tracks, which will be people who while doing nothing illegal, have the misfortune of having opinions, or school children who simply didn’t like whoever the person the tribute page is made about. Though it doesn’t help that in a recent report, Legal experts have actually come out to say that these Tribute Groups actually harm, not help criminal convictions.

And the next news person that says that hackers have attacked these Facebook Groups, please be aware that it is NOT considered hacking if the integrity of the site has not been comprised. The Correct Technical term for posting a large quantity of questionable/illegal photos is called Porn-Spamming, and the act of posting content that may be deemed offensive is called Wallspamming. However that doesn’t mean that its spam if its just people having opinions of their own, yes, its nice and all to have these tributes, but NO ONE IS PERFECT, there are people that will always find fault in people, and especially if they have issue with the popularity the individual had in death.

Guys, what the hell???

Last week, several websites relating to the Australian Government went offline following what the online presence known collectively as Anonymous fired the first salvos in an issue that should have been dropped over eight months ago. While Anonymous’ Directed Denial of Service (DDoS) of Government websites did raise the issue to public attention, they have also caught the ire of e-Liberty groups like the EFA, who condemn them of ‘not helping the issue’.

On that point my personal opinion conflicts itself; yes it was about time that the Mandatory Internet Filter was brought to public view, but I have my doubts as to ‘Operation Titstorm’ was the right way to do it.
While most advocates of a Free and uncensored Internet, the DocNetwork included, have highlighted the various intentions of the Government to strip the Internet bare of any content they deem inappropriate, however, continuing to allude to just what ‘inappropriate content’ means. This has long since gone from an attempt to protect children, as Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy himself has stated that this Filter “Will not stop child pornography or exploitation,”, however, this admission was made a good six months after the rest of the technological world told him so. The issue that now stands that if the Government is already aware that their Filter will not work, then why are they continuing with it.

Fetishism, Hardcore Intercourse, Inter-racial pornography, Terrorism, Euthanasia and end of life alternatives, Criminalist activity, Para-military Organisations, pro Anorexia and Bulimia sites, Homosexuality. All these items exist on the Blacklist leaked last year, a list that the Government stated, was ‘similar’ to the one used by the ACMA. The presence of Fetishism, Hardcore Pornography, Inter-racial Porn and Homosexual content, subjects, might I add, are currently LEGAL under the ACMA’s guidelines for content, shows a heightened sense that the Government is trying to push its own agenda.

For those of the female persuasion, especially those who ‘are not well endowed in the bust’, or those who experience ‘orgasmic discharge’ I have this lovely piece of insanity, courtesy not of Stephen Conroy or Michael Atkinson, but the Liberal Parties personal crack pot Barnaby Joyce has decreed that you are all criminals. Changes to the ACMA’s ratings standards, has decided that female ejaculation is abhorrent, and small breasted women help promote paedophilia. On behalf of gamers who have also been labelled as criminals by a political crackpot (Michael Atkinson) welcome to the group, though I would be weary as to where if you do post pictures of yourself, because you will get in trouble.

Unfortunately the Mandatory Internet Filter is still on the table, despite the fact that it has no support, with the exception of one small country town in north-west Queensland, who were the focus of a recent poll… of a thousand people, and found that 86% support the filter, as opposed to 98% of the rest of society who are against it. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but 1000 doesn’t seem to be an accurate number to gauge the intents and interests of 21 million, but then I’m not in politics, and the adage runs true, if you word your questions the right way, you can spin a poll to read just whatever the hell you want it to.
The Filter gets put to a senate vote in March, and while hopefully the Opposition is STILL Against the Filter, like number 3 ISP iiNet still is, this will hopefully be the last we hear about this thing. But once again this is politics, and anything can happen.

As for Anonymous, I have to say this, and unlike most content providers, I welcome response from Anonymous. What took you so long? We have been campaigning against this thing for over a year and a half, why now do you decide that this warrants your attention?

Government Spam

Don’t we all love a bit of Spam? How would you like that Spam to be from your Federally Elected Government? It would seem that the Australian Government, and in particular the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Electronic Economy have the free time to spam people with unwanted drivel.

I have been speaking to a number of regular readers of the blog, in particular Trapper, who was the first to let me know of this event, it took a week for the same email to reach the inbox of the DocNetwork, but it has not reached my personal inboxes just yet. From what I’ve been able to tell, this email is the same in all accounts, to all recipients, and that it is being sent out in sporadic intervals.

Below is the email that the DocNetwork received… you would think that they would check before hand.

 image

Now What I find Hilarious is the fact that this email has no Intended Recipient, which by law equates this to spam, who would have thought, that a Government Agency, let alone the one for the Broadband and the Electronic Economy, would stoop so low as to break the law?

The attached file was essentially an ‘open’ letter from my nemesis, and if anyone wishes to view said letter, let me know and I will email it to you.

However, this ‘letter’ was more ‘press release’ than ‘response’ to my criticisms. Now I have never openly emailed Stephen Conroy, I mean I’ve thought of it, but on the same hand, said email would equate to someone spitting on paper and mailing that.

The four page pdf file essentially shoots the internet filter to pieces, by highlighting lies and falsehoods, and by citing references from countries that optionally allow their citizens to filter their internet, (and that’s usually just child porn, not the thousands of items our favourite Nanny state wishes to block), and yet not mentioning anything from the two countries that actually do have Mandatory Filtering, being China and Iran.
Now citing facts from countries offering the same level of filtering, as opposed to those where only a minute portion of the population is filtered, would be a lot more credible, and to be honest, a lot more logical, unfortunately, those same countries are also receiving a lot of criticism from the global community in regards to restriction of information from the masses, and policing what the Government deems appropriate.. so the same comments made about this government.

In more pleasant news I recently received a message from the Member for Mitchell, in Northwest Sydney, Mister Alex Hawke MP.

AlexHawkeMP @docwinters I am against a mandatory filter of the nature proposed by the Government.

I love the internet, its a place where the masses the the people entrusted to look after them can communicate as equals, unfortunately, some politicians actively respond to their constituents, and even to small time Bloggers from Western Sydney, and others just email out 4 page press releases and hope that it all goes away.

Enough is enough Atkinson!

Like tens of thousands of Australian’s, I have pre-ordered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and I even went as far as shelled out $200 for the special edition version that came with the night vision goggles, why? Because this franchise is freaking awesome, and it comes out in exactly 9 days, well that’s if our favourite SA Attorney General doesn’t have anything to do with it.

‘Leaked’ game play footage which can be accessible from YouTube displaying what is listed as a skippable mission where the player has to infiltrate a terrorist cell; as a result the player has to run through a airport shooting up unarmed civilians. Once again THIS IS A SKIPPABLE MISSON… well it was a skippable mission in Australia, if the Australian Council on Children gets their way, one of two things will occur, this mission will cease to exist, or the game in its entirety will be banned from sale.

Now its somewhat hilarious that the Australian Council on Children would even think that they would have an opinion on a game that at the moment has an MA-15+ rating, a rating by all definitions means that children aren’t even allowed to purchase or play it. But this once again raises an issue I have raised a number of times before, and I will continue to raise it. If Parents actively paid attention to the content they are buying their children, this wouldn’t even be a problem, granted yes an R-18+ rating would help as well, but the bigger issue is yes Children should not be playing these games… though that has more to do with the fact that they are not targeted at children.

InfinityWard, the Developer of the Call of Duty franchise came out earlier this week stating that the whole reason for the level is to bring home the atrocity of terrorism, and also stated that the mission while not only being an optional one, but also stated that the mission was graphic and depicted scenes that would be traumatic to some people.

As a result of this, and the fact that shooting civilians incurs a penalty in the rest of the game, the Office of Film and Literature Classification approved the game for sale and game it a MA-15+ rating, the highest that can be given, despite the fact that the game itself warrants an R-18+, but since one does not exist, MA-15+ is the highest available.

As a part of gaming reality occurs, games are becoming more and more realistic, becoming more interactive movie than game, unfortunately until game ratings fall in step with the rest of media, this will continue to cause friction between the OFLC and the growing number of technologically gifted individuals who wish to play games that the purest definition of the OFLC Code of Conduct allows them being that Adults should be allowed to do watch what they want.

The OFLC can only make a ruling on a game they have already cleared for sale up until the day of release, before having to resort to other methods to have content removed from sale.

Stop banning Bottled Water

A month ago I was on a late night AM radio debate about the concept of a small Rural town in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, banning bottled water in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. I was naturally against the notion, being an avid bottled water enthusiast, people who see me out and about will see cell phone in one hand, bottle of water and sometimes Coke in the other.

Sure I’ve griped about the ever rising cost of the bottled convenience, but like many out there, I am stuck with no alternative, I am incapable of stomaching Mains water, either the Fluoride, or the Chlorine, or the fact that its stored and transported in outdated and decrepit infrastructure, every time I have had to drink from a tap, I gastronomically regret it.
The argument made by the ‘Bundy-on-Tap’ initiative Organiser Huw Kingston, is one that the carbon footprint generated by the manufacture and transport of bottled water far outweighed the hydration benefit, as well as the waste caused by their bottles. At this point their argument fell on itself, in that other water based products, Carbonated Beverages and flavoured Sports drinks, which according to Coca-Cola Amatil (the Australian subsidiary of Coca Cola) far outsells Bottled Water, which reported that bottled water only accounted for about 20% of their yearly beverage Sales, However, Coke and Powerade like beverages would still be allowed to be sold in the town.

So despite boycotting Bottled water, the towns Carbon Footprint would not have been reduced, as the same trucks that deliver Bottled Water, would now be used to ship in the myriad of Beverage alternatives that are still available. The town’s Bottled Water replacement; Biodegradable clear plastic bottles that actually cost more than the bottle of water that they replaced, the incentive, locals can then go and refill them at four free refilling stations scattered throughout the town. Kind of like how people do with Mount Franklin bottles once they’ve finished with them.

I have been looking into this on a number of occasions, to see if there has been any additional news on this apparent attempt to introduce a prohibition on Bottled water, namely, what happens if someone brings bottled water into the town, or if they don’t use one of these tacky looking ‘Bundy-On-Tap’ Bottles at their fountains, even if I’m still convinced Bundaberg Rum will be suing them on misuse of their trademark. To date, it seems that they simply have a blanket ban on Bottled water, but nothing in place should anyone try and ‘subvert’ their boycott. 

Now, their ‘Save the Environment’ spiel tends to lose its effectiveness when you dig deeper, and discover that the sole reason why the boycott was introduced, is in response to plans by Coca Cola and Norlex who together produce most of Australia’s bottled water to operate a Pumping Facility out of the towns ground water supply.
If it wasn’t bad enough that people are even thinking of removing a persons choice, the ever inept Premier of New South Wales, Nathan Rees in yet another attempt to divert attention from his ever-increasing list of failures, announced that all NSW Public Servants would be banned from using Bottled Water, however, this move was even less about saving the planet, but more about jumping on a bandwagon.

In any rate, this attempt has no strength behind it, and will be met with the same opposition as prohibition, but if it does spread, you will still see me out and about, cell phone in one hand, Bottled of Mount Franklin in the other.

Can someone Gong this please?

On Monday morning I had an breakfast meeting with an old colleague, while I was getting ready and on the way, I became aware of something happened the night before, what surprised me is that this was the first time where I didn’t hear about something from my sources before it was broadcast, and unfortunately, it has become one of those things that’s become round table debate in places I regularly frequent, and as a result I have been brought into it a number of times since it happened.

During Sunday’s taping of the ‘Hey Hey its Saturday’ reunion show’s, its usual talent segment known as Red Faces, where talentless hacks perform various skits akin to the ‘Gong Show’ where a panel of judges rate the performance with the staple character Red Symonds, usually votes lower than all others. The skit originally appeared on the show 20 years ago, and on that occasion won the competition. This time around, the skit, somewhat updated, managed to offend guest judge Louisiana singer, Harry Connick Jnr.
The skit in question involved 6 Medical professionals in Blackface, and one in Whiteface, impersonating the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson performing a rendition of  ‘Believe it’ with accompanying ‘dance routine’. While the skit was cut short after about a minute and half, and by all accounts was on par with the standard Red Faces skit, in being ridiculous and unfunny, it has managed to cause quite a stir on both sides of the Pacific, and in the United Kingdom.

Like most things that occur outside the continental United States, it took a day and a half for mainstream US news services to start covering the event, but American bloggers where quicker to jump on the story, most quickly condemning Australia of being Racist and backwards, and that the Australian response to the skit was to ‘laid back’ for a skit that would have been down right illegal if shown in America.
Australian’ talk back radio and Daytime Television callers where equally divided on the skit, were some agreed with the American online response, and others whose response boiled down to the standard Australian Response of ‘Harden up Sunshine’.

There are a number of things both sides of the pond have failed to grasp while shouting their various opinions at each other, and my hope tonight is to alleviate a little of the confusion.

Firstly, even though it is like all other Red Faces skits, poorly written, choreographed and generally badly performed, its intention was not to be offensive, or racist, but was supposed to be a humorous homage to Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. Unlike other countries in the world, Australia never had a ‘Blackface’ period like those in America or South Africa. Australian media that depicted indigenous individuals generally utilized indigenous actors. To that end, the notion of ‘blackface’ never gained the negative connotation that it does in other countries, as it was only ever used in comedy, which it did at its zenith in the 80’s before more recently focusing on jokes targeting redheads.

On the opposite side of the table, in America, blackface, was almost always used in a derogatory context, or in those used in film, used as at the time, it was illegal for African American individuals to be on film. Its Zenith was in the 30’s before it started becoming acceptable for black actors to be on screen. This day and age, thanks in no special part to the Civil Rights movement, it is generally illegal for blackface to be performed. As mentioned in the below video by Harry Connick Jnr, if Hey Hey had been aired in America and the skit went to air, not only would the show had been cancelled, but the performers who did the skit arrested, but the network that aired it, sued.

Understandably, Connick Jnr., was offended by the skit, going as far as saying that if he was aware that it was going to be on, he would not have agreed to be on it, as would have been his upbringing, being the son of a Louisiana lawyer in the middle of the civil rights movement, and having a number of African American band members in his band. So far I have only heard one Australian that seemed to understand it, Channel Seven’s US Bureau Chief Mike Amore stated, “How can I explain to my African American son that that was funny?” 

This is not Political correctness gone mad, this is a case of our world being an international one. 20 years ago, we didn’t have the internet, content like the below skit would never have been seen in America, and we wouldn’t have the dialogue we do now, but to that end, if Harry Connick Jnr. had been replaced by a different regular, like John Farnham, it is doubtful that it would have made as much waves and received as much press as it did.

Also, our last post was our 100th post on the blog