(Above: Scott Brown testing the strength and power of the staple in the middle).
"Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government."
It has to be asked.
It has to be asked.
Is the current Massachusetts, Washington and north eastern American snow storm snowpocalypse the result of god's displeasure at its citizenry voting into the senate a man willing to pose nude for Cosmo?
Sure you can see more looking at Tony Abbott smuggling budgies - he never puts his hand where it's most needed - but does She take a firm view about the exposure of masculine skin and hair to the fragile eyes of women? Or does being a Republican give you a 'get out of jail for posing in the skinny' card for free? (Senator Is the Centerfold).
Just asking, just saying, and now we've flung that troubled question into the turbulent snow-laden air for Christians and theologians to consider - they had no trouble coming up with the right answer in relation to Hurricane Katrina and its assault on a god-forsaken city - it's back to important domestic matters.
First let's get Peter Garrett out of the way. As the few long term visitors to loon pond will remember, this site's favorite metaphor for Garrett is Fame is the Spur, in which a politician's radical Peterloo principles are embodied in a sword rescued from that massacre ( in the case of Garrett, lyrics in his many allegedly radical pop songs?).
At the end of the show, when the failed, once liberal, now conservative politician goes to pull the rusting sword from its scabbard, he can't extract the thing at all. Michael Redgrave did the flailing about, puffing and wheezing as he struggles with the sword, his principles spent, and and day by day Garrett grows more and more Redgrave-ian in his posture.
Apart from the current incompetence in the matter of insulation, Garrett has managed to muck up the film and television production industry through inertia and misapplied action, and seems to think being the Minister for the Arts mainly involves acting like the Governor-General, turning up to openings to sip the tea and scoff some scones.
Perhaps Chairman Rudd should arrange a prisoner exchange - Garrett for Barnaby Joyce - and the pair can spend their retirement together in balmy North Queensland.
Alternatively Rudd should be thinking about a little shuffle, as should Abbott, since supporting geese might be wise for a farmer, but not so wise for a politician in an election year.
But that still doesn't exhaust the topical highlights of a loon pond week where the squawking didn't subside for a day.
Perhaps our favourite moment was when the incomprehensible Stephen Conroy made an uncomprehending comparison between his great big filter scheme and the great big filter currently deployed by the Chinese government.
After admitting that applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow the Internet down - so that canard, that Conroyian mallard, is at last shot down by words from the horse's very own ass - Conroy willingly invited comparisons between his government and others:
Oh indeed. Well played sir. Yes, let's be like the Chinese or the Thai government - they do so hate people saying things about the royalty, and we could do the same techniques for make glorious benefit of Chairman Rudd. Or why stop there? Why not deploy the techniques used in Iran or North Korea?
Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy's comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not "helpful or relevant".
Years after Paul Keating, at last a government determined to make Australia a banana republic.
Well good on Google - disclosure, this site is hosted by Google outside the realm of Australia - for telling Conroy, ever so politely, to go take a flying fuck:
"YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can't give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube," Flynn said.
"The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy."
You know, I have my difficulties with the United States, but as a country, the commitment to free speech isn't one of them. In fact it's rather grand that Scott Brown got elected as a senator, and a Republican at that, despite flashing a bit of flesh in his younger days.
You've got to love the sensuous and the secular balance to the mad fundies living cheek by jowl and spending more time online accessing porn than their secular brethren (or so the preacher on the Christian channel assured me last night, as I heard that Christians can't get enough of the stuff, and simply can't leave it alone once they've got a taste for it. Feel the guilt, brothers and sisters).
Meanwhile, Google is maintaining a noble American tradition - how can we thank them enough for Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner, Hooters and rampant feminism - by pointing out the difficulties to Conroy, safe in the knowledge that YouTube is hosted outside of Australia.
Here's that legally tricky insight, as outlined in Asher Moses' Google baulks at Conroy's call to censor YouTube:
... if Conroy includes new YouTube regulations in his internet filtering legislation, it is not clear if these would apply to Google since YouTube is hosted overseas.
"They [Google] don't control the access in Australia - all their equipment that would do this is hosted overseas ... and I would find it very hard to believe that the Australian government can in any way force an American company to follow Australian law in America," Landfeldt said (University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt).
"Quite frankly it would really not be workable ... every country in the world would come to Google and say this is what you need to do for our country. You would not be able to run the kind of services that Google provides if that would be the case."
Conroy's position on this?
"What we're saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws," Conroy said.
Yep, what an internationalist. We will decide the information that's allowed in to this country, and the circumstances in which it may come (that is not a joke, that is all).
Well if it's good enough for the Chinese comrades, surely it's good enough for Chairman Rudd's comrades.
And now fair dibs. This story came about because Hungry Beast asked a few young person type intelligent questions of Conroy, and generally took a dim view of the filter in their show.
You can - thanks to the miracle of an uncensored intertubes - still see Conroy being a goose in that show by heading off to iView at the ABC. Look for Hungry Beast, episode 11, under comedy, here, for the next fourteen days or so.
Alternatively, you can head off to the program site here, and if you have the intestinal fortitude, and want to take a look at Dan Ilic's extended interview with Conroy, you can find it here. I liked Conroy being a goose so well, I downloaded the show as an mp4.
But why, you ask, is it that it's left to a show like Hungry Beast to challenge Conroy? Where are the commentariat columnists? Where is their righteous fury? Where is an indignant Janet Albrechtsen rabbiting on about freedom of expression, and the dangers of an illiberal society?
Well, they're off with Senator Conroy, content in the knowledge that when the Maoists are kicked out of office, Opus Dei can step into their shoes.
As well as providing a succinct outline of the issues involved, the Beast also produced a sketch involving three teenagers, and calculated how long it would take them to get around Senator Conroy's great big new filter, in their quest to get their hands on a bucket of porn. Pay attention to their tips, they might come in handy in due course. *
Here's the bucket of porn:
And here are three typical fifteen year olds trying to get to the bucket of porn.
Fifteen year olds? Is the ABC suggesting fifteen year old boys access porn?
I must confess I quite fainted away at the notion, and could only be revived by my partner gently wafting a copy of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility over my face. The gentle restorative breeze, the sweet zephyr of Victorian values, quite revived my spirits, and even made me feel a little frisky. We settled down to a reading from George and Weedon Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody, while having a nice cup of tea. Perhaps at some point Mr. Conroy can join Mr Pooter, by publishing a diary about his time in politics. Mr. Pooter was also a believer in government control:
We had to walk home in the pouring rain, nearly two miles, and when I got in I put down the conversation I had with the cabman, word for word, as I intend writing to the Telegraph for the purpose of proposing that cabs should be driven only by men under Government control, to prevent civilians being subjected to the disgraceful insult and outrage that I had had to endure.
If it's good enough for hansom cabs, then certainly it's good enough for the newfangled intertubes.
* Answers: used a proxy server
used an anonymous private network (go in search of Virtual Private Networks)
The humour of Hungry Beast might be a little heavy handed - young people, don't you know, full of energy, like bouncing beans - but for sharpness and content, they left Conroy looking like a complete goose. Or just looking like Conroy. Here he is as he appeared on the show, declaring China a useful precedent for the Australian government.
Sadly there was one question left unanswered by the show. When might Conroy do something interesting, and go off to pose for Cosmo?
My scoring to date:
Peter Garrett v Barnaby Joyce - self cancelling dills. Nil all draw.
Tony Abbott's budgie smugglers and lycra clad lout posturing 1 v
Stephen Conroy's suit-clad red tie desire to imitate Chinese censorship 0
Google 5 v Conroy's horse's ass 0