Stephen Fry on language and pedantry

Mister Fry is a master of the Word. Personally, I am much like him in that I cringe at improper uses of words, grammar and syntax. I think that our society is not getting the linguistic education it should. But if people want to make “mistakes” then they should be allowed to, as long as they know why it’s “wrong”, and that their choice is conscious and informed.

The great firewall of Australia

I’ve stayed generally clear of commenting on my democratically elected government’s plan to slow down censor the internet. After all, the majority of the Australian voting population put their ballots in and chose them for the next four (if not eight) years. They must want their already substandard broadband connections further choked by mandatory filters put in place and regulated by the lowest common denominator standards that already govern books, movies, music, and video games.

Fine, I guess. They are idiots, but I’m all for rule of the people, and that’s what they want.

But now they’re planning to scan P2P sharing as well. I’m aware that the majority of consumer internet traffic is P2P, and that the majority of P2P traffic is illegal, but this really says to me that my government – which is supposed to uphold rights and freedoms like Privacy – is more interested in monitoring every little thing I do on the internet for illegal activity. It’s like I’m presumed guilty and have to prove my innocence. If a government agency wants to monitor who I talk to on the phone or intercept my mail, they have to apply for a warrant. Why should it be any different?

Also, if this is being done “to protect the children”, then who gets to make that call? I agree that there are things out there that children should not have access to. In some ways, I’m more conservative than most, but I still assert that it is the parent’s responsibility to be actively involved. There are plenty of good commercial filters available for installation on your home PC. But you shouldn’t leave it up to automation. Go out, do some research, talk to your kids about what is and isn’t acceptable, and why.

If adults want to abdicate their responsibilities as parents, then perhaps they should ask themselves why they are parents in the first place. But that’s for another rant, and not for this blog.

Anyway, I realise that this sort of debate is often quite polarising. Can you think of a rational reason why state-sponsored censorship would be a good thing?

My Mac’s a Lemon (And I Want My Money Back)

It’s no secret I’m an Apple loyalist. The first computer I set eyes on was an Apple][e when I was four. I touched my first Mac when I was 6, and the first PC my family owned was a MacSE 30 with an ImageWriter II. I’ve had a couple non-Macs over the years (running everything from Windows to Linux and a shade of BSD in between), but I keep coming back to the products produced by Steve and co.

And that makes my disappointment with my MacBook so much harder. Since I got it about 12 months ago, it’s been in for repairs three times. One for a cracked topcase, and twice for hard drive failure. That means I’m on to my third hard drive now. Continue reading