Friday, 30 January 2009

Vigilante Express now boarding at platform 5

As if the 'extreme pornography' law itself wasn't bad enough along comes a bunch of vigilante thugs calling themselves "extremeporn".

Their website starts with the rather worrying statement:-

Welcome to the website of the one and only (at present) enforcers of the 'Extreme Porn Law'

and while parts of the website seem to be somewhat ambiguous - mentioning technologies intended to evade unwarranted censorship and snooping - the overall message is quite clear. If the police won't actively pursue these 'criminals' then they will.

From what I understand of their proposed methods, accuracy is not a high priority. As my techie friend explained it to me, these methods are identical to those being used by ambulance chasing shysters Davenport-Lyons who in November of last year falsely accused an elderly lady in her 70's of unlawfully filesharing gay porn.

In fact apart from their motivation, the only area in which they differ is their intended use for the IP addresses they 'acquire' by these methods. Davenport-Lyons currently use them as the basis of misleading and factually inaccurate threatening letters, while this group intends to submit abuse reports to the appropriate ISP. Which I presume they will expect the ISP to act upon without any supporting evidence whatsoever.

Naturally there is alway the possibility that the whole thing is a hoax along similar lines to that of Think of the Children. Paul Carr's sarcastic and now rather notorious satire on tabloid reporting which was unlawfully closed down in 2002 at the request of the Metropolitan Police following a complaint from an editor at one of the publications being parodied. A copy of Think of the Children can be found <here>

In contrast, this website seems to be missing a significant number of key elements one would expect to find in a hoax - exaggerated claims, elaborate and unworkable technologies, ridiculous demands, etc. The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) does contain the tabloid-esque statement "Media trials can be just as effective as court ones", but it's not a obvious satire in the way Think of the Children was. The overall tone is much more serious and much darker.

However as a senior physician recently suggested to me in connection with another matter, you should read it for yourself.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Coming Soon: Skunk - The Movie

Another piece of stupidity which came into effect yesterday was the re-classification of cannabis as a Class B drug. Something which Ms Waccy-Baccy has been pursuing for some time now despite incontrovertible evidence that cannabis is considerably less harmful than alcohol and that it's use has actually fallen since being downgraded to Class C by David Blunkett in 2004.

And once again we are being told that this is for our own good. That skunk cannabis - whatever the hell that is - is "lethal".

Hmm... This must be some alternative definition of the word 'lethal' which has not reached this part of England yet. I thought a lethal substance was something which brought about death when ingested yet I've not been able to find a single case, verifiable or otherwise, of anyone dying of a cannabis overdose. Not even this 'skunk' which Gordo seems so frightened of.

In fact, when I broached the subject to a senior physician of my acquaintance he was rather amused by it and suggested that next time I should try reading the research for myself. In short, cannabis does not kill!

Now a real skunk, that truly is something to be frightened of. It won't kill you either but as a former colleague of mine from the US once remarked "You're gonna wish it had." Apparently it's a bit like the old Mal-de-mer in that respect.

Still, at least the local dealers can look forward to a more prosperous year since it is absolutely certain that re-classification will stimulate demand and as a Class B drug, it will also command a higher price than before.

But then, that was the whole point wasn't it?

Friday, 23 January 2009

American Puritanism in the United Kingdom

The American Puritanism in the United Kingdom Act - or as it's more commonly known, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (s63-66) - is due to come into force on Monday. This leaves those with an interest in what has been euphemistically referred to as 'an Alternative Lifestyle' with just two more days of freedom in which to enjoy that interest before they are re-classified as 'violent sex offenders'.

Yet despite the huge number of people who will be affected, very few are prepared to speak out for fear of being victimised as some members of the Consenting Adult Action Network have been.

One of those who has is Baroness Miller who said - amongst other things - that "No legislation should leave law-abiding citizens criminalised for private sexual behaviour which harms no one."

I have to agree with her on this one. They're certainly not harming me in any way and in the words of Lady Nancy Astor - a very upright and proper Victorian - "I don't care what they do providing they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses."

Naturally the government does not agree and some of the legislation's less charitable opponents have suggested that this is what you must expect from a government led first by a Catholic, then by a Puritanical Scot. While this is a bit unfair to both Catholics and Scots, the majority of whom are fairly decent people, I have to admit they do have a point. The 'equivalent' legislation proposed north of the border - where the Catholic Church has a much greater influence and there are many Puritanical Scots - goes much, much further and may eventually lead to the criminalisation of perfectly normal sexual activities. The fact that Gordo's father was a Minister of the Church of Scotland only adds weight to their argument.

As usual with such controversial legislation, the government has changed it's tune several times since the bill was introduced in an increasingly desperate struggle to justify it. This - the government claims - is for our own good. First it was to protect us from the evils of sex, erm... I mean ah, pornography, um... extreme pornography. Then it was to protect our children from the sort of pornography which very few are ever likely to see even as adults.

Now it seems that it's because terrorists are using digital images and video of 'extreme pornography' to hide messages.

Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous?

Well, yes I have actually. The often repeated claims by media and software industry associations that copyright piracy funds drug trafficking and terrorism. But that's another story.

As any halfway competent police officer could tell you, the key to running a successful criminal operation is NOT to draw attention to yourself. Hiding secret information in 'extreme pornography' would be like hiding diamonds inside blocks of cocaine. The cocaine is far more likely to attract unwanted attention than the diamonds ever would.

A much safer method would be to use those old photographs of Aunt Mable and her kids, but you'd better hurry up before the government bans those as well. Why? Because they're images of fully clothed children with their mother of course!

Amusing as that may seem let's not lose sight of the fact that most schools have already banned all forms of photography at school events on the instructions of the education authorities.

However the ban on 'extreme pornography' is not an isolated case but simply another step along the road to American style Puritanism and all the evils which go with it.

In 2006, despite openly admitting that they had no evidence pornography caused harm, the government made last minute changes to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons Act which made it possible to bar individuals from 'regulated jobs' simply for possessing pornography depicting 'violence'. No evidence of misconduct required. A simple accusation will suffice.

The next step is already on it's way in the recently published Coroners and Justice Bill (s58) which amends the Public Order Act 1986 by removing 29AJ which permits "discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices."

In English, this means that anyone talking about or criticising any form of sexual behaviour outside a private dwelling is committing a criminal offence which can carry up to seven years imprisonment!

And it doesn't stop there. Sources inside the party have indicated that the government intends to extend this into other areas including homosexuality. From there it's only a short step to re-criminalising it and once again we'll have packs of thugs hunting queers through the streets just like their fathers and their grandfathers did before them.

Potential victims can draw some small comfort from the fact that their pursuers won't be able to use dogs this time as Hunting with Dogs was banned by the Hunting Act 2004.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Can you move your taxi please

I was taking a short cut through New St. at lunchtime today when I saw a confrontation between a young lady from W.H.Smiths and a taxi driver. This is not the first I've seen, nor is it likely to be the last and the reason - as per usual - was the drivers had parked their taxis around Smiths' car park gates in a way that had completely blocked any vehicle from entering or leaving the car park while technically leaving the gates clear.

Certain 'professional' bodies like to claim that taxi drivers are statistically less likely to be involved in a traffic accident than other road users. However this fails to take into account accidents caused by taxis but not directly involving them such as the infamous 'u-turn in the middle of a busy street manoeuvre'. Nor does it take into account accidents caused by careless parking. Had the young lady from Smiths tried to manoeuvre her car out and hit one of the taxis in the process she would have been held solely responsible for it. In addition, she would become another statistic for chauvinistic vermin to hold up as further prove that women are bad drivers despite all the evidence to the contrary.

More importantly, despite double yellow lines on both sides of the street for it's entire length, local traffic wardens completely ignore this blatant disregard for the law except when they've received a specific complaint. Now we all know what traffic wardens are like so is it really that much of a stretch to imagine they might have received instructions to ignore this?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Behind the Scenes

The revelation that daytime television shows such as Bargain Hunt, Cash in the Attic and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is are 'pre-scripted' - and later edited - for dramatic effect will come as no surprise to anyone with an I.Q. exceeding their shoe size.

Despite this, the BBC has always denied accusations, most notably that of Jim and Maureen Samuels, that these shows are 'faked' while at the same time admitting that certain parts of them are 'reconstructed' for the camera. A subtle difference perhaps and one to which the corporation obviously attaches a great deal of importance, but not one which could by any stretch of the imagination, be considered a closely guarded secret.

So why have the BBC's lawyers suddenly found it necessary to contact a local couple who appeared on Bargain Hunt more than three years ago and remind them of the confidentiality agreement they signed at the time? Surely they can't seriously think there is anyone still living who actually believes that this rubbish is real?

I'm reminded of Otto Von Bismarck's famous quote about Sausages and Laws and wonder if perhaps we should add daytime television to that list for the benefit of it's few remaining fans.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Must Try Harder

One of the problems with something like this is the amount of time it takes up. I don't get a lot of free time as it is and I've been particularly busy over the past few weeks, so it came as quite a surprise to realise that it's been almost exactly two weeks since my last entry. Even then that was an item I had written the previous week but not had the time to publish.

I'm reminded of a phrase which used to appear on school report cards many years ago and wonder if perhaps those cantankerous old sods knew what they were talking about after all.