April 6th, 2008

Honey Badger

the abyss gazes also into you...

A couple of pieces about how the internet is watching you. The first is an op-ed from the New York Times, the second from the BBC about the continuing debate over Phorm.
I'm in three minds over the issue of oversight of content on the internet. On the one hand, the Internet is not the Wild West, there are a lot of very crazy people out there, and they need policing somehow. On the other hand, the internet is the Wild West and it needs to grow without interference (and anyway, who watches the watchmen?) and I will resist anyone trying to restrict it. And on the third hand, I'm pretty sanguine about the whole thing; my own views and interests are mild enough, so why worry?
But on the fourth hand, I am really annoyed (especially as BTInternet is my IP) at commercial firms datamining my browsing habits for profit. Phorm is an abomination, and the way it's been road-tested is a scandal.
Should we be surprised? Nah.
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celebrating the olympic ideal

This was never going to be a roaring success, but today's Olympic torch relay in London was worse than I'd expected.
Briefly, the Olympic torch is on tour. It'll be visiting some 21 nations on its way to Beijing for the start of the Games in the Summer, and today it was taken on a procession across London by a relay of British Olympic stars and celebs.
You can guess where this one is going. There's been endless comment about whether these people should be taking part in the relay, given that it was a big ad for the Beijing Olympics, and, by extension, the Chinese government. Given the situation in Tibet, there was always going to be some kind of protest. And there was.
But it wasn't the protest - and the sight of the Met's finest taking demonstrators down - that made the day such a disaster. It was the sight of Sir Steven Redgrave leaving Wembley on the first leg of the procession.
Now, I have no problem with Steve Redgrave - possibly among our greatest ever Olympians - carrying the torch. I have enormous respect for him. He's over 21 and he can make his own decisions and it's none of my business. But what gave me an uncomfortable feeling was the sight of him leaving Wembley surrounded by the group of Chinese security men torch attendants which arrived with the flame, and a group of policemen, all jogging as a group. This scene was repeated all the way through, with the torchbearer and security men accompanied by a big group of policemen on mountain bikes. Everything was carried out at a fast jog, and on occasion the torch was put aboard a bus to get it past demonstrators, which took off followed by more jogging police.
It was ludicrous. This event, supposed to promote The Friendly Games, taking place with all the security of a Nuremburg Rally. And it's going to be repeated, over and over again, until the flame reaches Beijing.
In the Times, Simon Jenkins has a suitably splenetic view of the whole circus.
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    kaiser chiefs

new worlds

I'm getting used to seeing stories like this, but I still have a hard time getting my head around the science involved. Anyway, astronomers have identified yet another planetary system orbiting another star. This one's just five light years away, which in cosmic terms is pretty much right next door. I love this stuff.
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    julian cope