Sunday, July 06, 2014

In which Fairfax goes down the gurgler and George Brandis sets the black hat hacker pace for a meditative Sunday ...

(Above: Is this a dagger I see before me? Or do I see four fingers and a thumb? Or is that five fingers?  Is a thumb a finger? If a finger is used to extract a plumb, which digit should be used for the nose and which for the bum? And other deep thoughts suitable for a meditative Sunday).

(Above: gobsmacked? I was good at charades, I think you'll find this look will help people understand the word).

Sunday is as good a day as any to meditate on the decline and ongoing fall of Fairfax.

Now according to the best reports to hand, this is the front page of the Sunday edition of the Sydney rag:

Sure, Sydney is a vulgar emerald city, obsessed with superficiality and harbour views, but even in a city where the gutter is a constant companion, that's about as wretched a tree-killing front page as could be imagined, even for the tabloid tart that struts the Bondi boardwalk on a Sunday ...

An exclusive interview with a man whose most recent claim to fame is to introduce the art of bubbling to the innocent?

Now the pond doesn't have a problem with people who like to drink their own piss. Bear Grylls showed it was the Christian survivalist thing to do. Whatever.

The pond is even up for a masturbation intertubes joke of the kind to be found at Christian Anti-Masturbation Group's Mascot Arrested For Public Masturbation.

But at some point the click bait has to be taken firmly in hand, or the next thing you know, the trolls turn into the Huff Post or the Daily Mail or any of the wretched Murdoch tabloids ...

BTW, here's what you get today with the Sunday Terror ...

Women will fix the bubblers in Rugby League? Why do women always have to clean the toilets and do the toilet training?

It all seems designed to cultivate an ineffable sense of moral superiority in crow eaters and sand gropers, and the Mexicans lurking in the unsettled lands to the south, and even, long absent lord help the pond, the toads running rampant in the deep, deep north.

But back to Fairfax. The pond really began to pay attention to the decline and fall with the departure of Richard Ackland. Then on Friday, thanks to Crikey, in its media briefs here (paywall affected) the pond read this:

Fairfax’s loss is Guardian, Saturday Paper’s gain as Ackland joins upstart stable. Guardian Australia has pounced on long-standing Sydney Morning Herald legal commentator Richard Ackland after his column was discontinued by editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir when Ackland revealed he was writing for The Saturday Paper. He’ll be Guardian Australia’s legal editor-at-large, as well as a columnist, writing an opinion piece and a news story on alternating weeks. He’ll also keep writing Gadfly, the diary-style column in The Saturday Paper that got him boned. He’ll also start writing a law piece for the Sat Paper every five or so weeks. 
“It all unexpectedly fell into place after an unsettling departure from the Herald,” he told Crikey this morning. Of the circumstances that caused him to leave the SMH, he says it was his understanding that doing the Gadfly column would be fine, as he’d previously discussed it and there was nothing in the contract he signed with Fairfax forbidding it (Goodsir wrote in a statement that he hadn’t given approval for the column). (other links Crikey paywall affected).

Now up to this point the pond hadn't paid the slightest attention to The Saturday Paper. Yet another tree killer for the weekend? Good luck with that.

But there you go, there's Richard Ackland scribbling his Gadfly yesterday under the header Soapy Opera.

It's no great shakes, just common gossip of a kind suitable for people interested in things other than bubbling.

Rigoletto kicks off Opera Australia’s winter season in Sydney. Opening night at Bennelong Point was a blast, with an audience composed of an alarming number of short men with poorly dyed hair. What is going on? At least Tony Abbott’s dye job looks reasonably slick, so it would be helpful if he could declassify the name of his barber. 
The main distraction of the night was the arrival of agricultural minister Barnaby Joyce, slap bang in the middle of the A-reserve section. Maybe he was representing arts minister Soapy George “Bookshelves” Brandis, who was occupied fine-tuning section 18C. 
Let’s hope Barnaby’s attendance at the Verdi extravaganza was a perk of office, like his expense-claimed appearance at the wedding of shocker-jock Michael Smith (money later refunded after he was pinged).

Tish tish boom. Kaboom. A payout on Abbott dying his hair (gee that patch seems to be turning house of Windsor), and  then one for Barners, the man who single-handedly turned Tamworth from being the centre of the known universe to stumblebum city.

And a joke about slickly soapy Brandis, always appreciated.

Such outings would have been absolutely no threat to Fairfax, and the Fairfaxian reptiles could have run it themselves if they'd thought to lift their snouts away from the bubblers ...

But then thinking of Brandis, the pond was reminded that The Saturday Paper ran other stories, as prompted by a pond reader wanting to draw attention to seriously soapy matters.

And so Fairfax lost another click and a little more pond time, while we cogitated the deeper meaning of Sophie Morris's story Hiding spies behind jihad.

Now in a field of hot contenders as to the worst minister in the Abbott government, a government fully of aspirational worst ministers, Brandis has at various times been at the top of the field, and Morris's story gives the lie to Ackland's joke about spending his spare time tuning up 18C.

In fact Brandis fucked up 18C big time - is that another racist outburst on Sydney public transport we see before us? - and so he's finding a new area in which to exercise his profound futtockry.

Recently Brandis has been banging on about the evils of piracy, and paying attention to Graham Burke at Roadshow, who has gone bizarrely feral.

Maybe it was the news ("exclusively" reported in the Hollywood Reporter here) that Roadshow had been cut out of the sequel to The Lego Movie) that finally sent Burkey off into la la land.

Maybe it's the news exclusively reported in Variety here - oh there's so much exclusivity in the world - that Roadshow had inked a deal with Sony to shovel even more gigantic heaps of crap exclusively into the cinemas, and so pirates beware ...

Sony! The pond can't say anymore. Once it was a noble brand, with its monitors and players the state of the art in every online suite in town. Then it got into the content game, set the lawyers loose, produced crap, and generally went gurgling down the tubes.

Brandis's war on piracy would be comical enough - even the Ruskis at RT couldn't help chortling at Hacking revenge: Argentinian music industry turned into Pirate Bay proxy.

Even the reptiles at the lizard Oz found the time and the space to note Steven Dalby's Brandis-targeted tirade:

“Let’s ask our elected representatives to learn from the experience of other jurisdictions and do that by examining the evidence; the actual, verified, empirical evidence of what works and what doesn’t.” While Attorney General George Brandis has raised the spectre of legislation forcing ISPs to send warnings to repeat offenders and blocking file-sharing websites like Pirate Bay, Mr Dalby maintains that the measures are destined to fail. 
He argues that the file sharing horse has already bolted, with the industry sophisticated enough to bypass any proposed barriers, legislative or otherwise. 
“The internet has no gate that we can put a padlock on,” Mr Dalby said. 
Forcing ISPs to block sites may work in theory, but Mr Dalby points out that the plethora of alternatives (virtual private networks, proxy services) that infringers have at their disposal make such measures useless.
He adds that the only way to put the VPNs and proxy services under lock and key is to block all encrypted traffic, a task well beyond the capability of Canberra. 
With policing access a futile endeavour and attempts to force the ISPs to take harsher steps likely to pose significant cost implications for consumers, Mr Dalby says that the federal government and the content providers need to focus their attentions on highlighting why Australians are illegally downloading content. (Blocking sites like Pirate Bay a futile chase: iiNet)

Ah yes, but that would involve looking at the behemoth monopoly known as Foxtel (Dalby's post is available at iiNet here).

Now the pond is all in favour of Brandis demonising and prosecuting fourteen year olds, and attempting to turn Australia into China or East Germany.

What's the point of having an idiot at the helm unless the full extent of the idiocy is routinely revealed?

But that brings us back, in the pond's meandering way, to Morris's story in The Saturday Paper (yes, the pond is a Fairfax free zone today).

You see at the same time that Brandis is carrying on about the evils of piracy, he wants to turn government into a kind of "Über hacker spy", up there with the very worst of everything black hat hackers and the dark or the black intertubes has to offer ...

Cue the full header for Morri's piece, George Brandis's creeping spy powers, The attorney-general is exploiting fear of returning holy fighters to push through ASIO's long-sought powers.

Yes, the coalition came to power through fear, and they govern and they legislate using fear, and the jihadists are being used to introduce yet another attempt to fuck over the users of the intertubes:

The chapter four recommendations include allowing ASIO to hack into a “third-party” computer of an unrelated person in order to access the target computer; allowing the “disruption” of a targeted computer, which privacy advocates argue could pollute evidence and lead to a target being framed; and broadening the scope of interception warrants so they apply to an entire network of computers or all devices associated with a person. 
Other changes include facilitating joint operations between ASIO and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Signals Directorate (DSD), which operate overseas; allowing the attorney-general to renew warrants, which would remove the need for ASIO to apply for a new warrant after six months; and introducing “named person warrants”, allowing ASIO to use multiple powers against a single target covered by one catch-all warrant. 
Under such powers, spooks could hack into entire computer networks, even using the computers of innocent third parties to access their target. And once they’ve hacked in, they could install surveillance devices or malware to disrupt communications or erase their digital footprints.

It's astonishing, appalling stuff.

Imagine if instead someone were to run a story about black hat hackers who'd managed to turn personal third party computers into 'bots and drones for their evil purposes.

Yet this is what it's proposed that the Federal government and the spooks be allowed to do.

Now, now, you say, the pond and the Saturday Paper are getting hysterical and even sounding a tinge greenie:

Greens senator Scott Ludlam says he is not surprised the government is starting with the chapter four changes, given that Brandis’s chief of staff, Paul O’Sullivan, is the former head of ASIO. 
“This was cooked up long before Iraq started floating into the abyss. The real reason for this is that the agencies want continual expansion of their powers,” Ludlam says. “The powers are being expanded and the checks and balances are not.” 
“There’s no question at all that a lot of these tools are directed towards economic espionage or repulsive activities like bugging the East Timorese. My concern is we would never know to what extent they are used against civil society and climate change groups.”

Well yes, would you trust George Brandis? On the one side of the face, he blathers about libertarian freedoms, on the other side of the face, he talks about draconian intrusions into private spaces. No wonder he has trouble counting fingers ...

Now the Labor party has talked about not rolling over on these matters, but when it comes to a fear campaign, they always head to water like loons on a pond.

The pond's response?

Well we've already upped our pirate activities, and we'll be giving the VPN a right royal hammering.

You see, if it's okay for the federal government to license people to act as black hat hackers, and intrude in astonishing ways on private lives, why then bugger it, all the rules of the game are off, and let the devil take the hindmost ...

Meanwhile, the Fairfaxians can go on with what matters to them. Bubblers and such like.

So it goes, and so they go down the drain, as bubblers are wont to do ... while others drift to the Graudian, or the Saturday Paper, or even The Conversation. Yep, you can find places that are free of cockroaches and Peter Reith ...

And now because it's a meditative Sunday, please allow the pond a little investigative fun.

You see, in the dead of night an agent of the pond caught the Newtown firies in an act of industrial sabotage and tribal warfare (we've obscured the faces to hide the guilty):

And here's the offensive message in light of day.

Shocking, vile, outrageous stuff.

You see, there's the cop shop down the road, and when interviewed by the pond's agent, all the hapless cops could come up with was a retort that the firies had got their message back the front. 

The poor dears don't have their own notice board, and so they're fighting with one arm behind their back.

Now it might be that the firies have got it right. Would you want a copper turning up to put out a fire? On the other hand, would you want a firie on hand to apprehend a villain?

Thanks to George Brandis, the pond has a solution. The fuzz should hack into the firies' computers and leave offensive messages as screen savers. And then the firies can hack into the coppers' screens, and publish their personal details on the intertubes. And so on and so forth ...

Yes, let the cyber wars begin ...

Just another friendly thought from a pond as keen as George Brandis to do the right thing ...

Oh Sydney, Sydney, what a strange and wonderful town, always bubbling away, except when the Abbott government's making the pond blubber at their follies ...


  1. Speaking of going to non-Fairfax/News sources for decent news and analysis, try Independent Australia and the Australian Independent Media Network. I think many people are moving to news sources like these to get away from the stranglehold of the lizard-people.

    Try this -

    "What are we going to do with you, Tony Abbott? Your performance to date is enough to make me want to “put you in a chaff bag and throw you out to sea“. Or perhaps I should get Scott Morrison to do it for me, at least that way it would simply be passed off as an ‘On Water Operational Issue’ and there would be no accountability required.

    The problem Australia now has with you Abbott; is that you assumed that the average citizen would simply accept the long list of lies you made in the final hours of the 2013 election campaign – “No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”"

  2. I've often wondered why Abbott could employ vexatious ignoramuses like Brandis, Andrews, Sutton and Pyne in his ministry, or loudmouth innumerates like Hockey and Cormann in his key economic positions. I've concluded that the only reason must be to make Abbott look good in comparison. Having Hunt and Turnbull sell out on every professed principle they have must also be part of the magic. It works in one sense that we've forgotten how many stupid things Joyce has uttered or done. Like Bishop, he almost seems like a modest fool in this company.

    Yet it doesn't work. Abbott remains repulsive and incapable of stringing together a sensible utterance, and it cannot be hidden by others behaving worse.

    The only reason I'm not scared out of my socks by Brandis's latest Stasi plans is that he's too incompetent to execute them in any effective way. It will be like 18C, which is such an unpopular mess I believe even he has now given up, albeit at the expense of upsetting the Bolta.

    1. 'Sutton', of course, should be 'Dutton'.

    2. The pond would have forgiven Mutton too

    3. Mutton is good. But in my old age (except for the fact that he is a person you dearly long to forget) I ought to be able to remember his name by running through alliterations. "Dunce, Dunderhead, Drongo, Dupe, Duplicitous, Dullard, Dope, Drip, and Dill" spring readily enough to mind to get it right.

      I will try harder.

  3. Rolf Harris' supporters close rank.

    "The Vatican has told the child sex abuse royal commission that it will not hand over all information about members of its clergy who abused children in Australia."

    And for whom did Tony Abbott o0nce provide a glowing reference?

    In 1997 he insisted on providing a character reference for Catholic priest John Gerard Nestor following child sexual abuse allegations. His character reference described Fr Nestor as “a beacon of humanity”.

    The Catholic Church never allowed Nestor to return to ministry, he was struck off the clergy list by the Vatican after lengthy inquiries. In a letter sent to the Wollongong diocese in 2009, the Vatican said it made the decision on “grave reasons“.

  4. Today is World Kissing Day!

    So pucker-up peeps.

    :* :^* ( '}{' )

    1. I salute you, you little ray of sunshine, you :)

  5. It's free-for-all here, DP, and Thank You for that. Over at The Saterdee Paper, I'll be sitting back, quietly, to watch whether their "Comments are moderated and will generally be posted if they are on topic and not abusive" adds to the collective good. Meanwhile, I recommend 6 online identity safety tips from the most private woman on the Internet but please do not tell Brandis about the portable Faraday Cage.

  6. Asylum seekers in Sri Lanka

    March, last year, the couple with their two children arrived in Sri Lanka and registered themselves with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They moved to Negombo, and led a quiet life, while their asylum application was being processed by the UN refugee agency. But on 10 June, all hell broke loose. Tariq was arrested by the immigration authorities, for no apparent reason. Officials, then, promised Zahira that he would be released in a day. Tariq, who served as an engineer for a leading soft drink giant, before fleeing Pakistan to save his dear life, is still languishing in a detention facility in Boossa along with 141 Pakistani asylum seekers. Zahira is left alone in an unknown country to tend to their two kids.

    The earlier sense of security in their new country has crumbled. Fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Zahira and Tariq are hounded in Sri Lanka.

    A pervasive sense of fear and despair has enveloped the Pakistani asylum seekers in Sri Lanka.

    " We don't talk loud at home, we are scared, we cringe at the sound of one opening the gate. We cannot eat, we cannot sleep, we are only weeping," laments Zahira. She is about to break into tears.

    Zahira and two other women of the neighbourhood, who had their male guardians arrested, have forged a friendship. They share their woes and trauma and comfort each other.

    " We spend the night together, We are scared of our lives," she says.

    Things are worse for some other women. Three pregnant women and another with a three-month infant are struggling in the absence of their male members. The immigration authorities have detained the male members of the asylum seekers, leaving women in the lurch in an unknown country.

    The Ahmadiyya community had taken the brunt of the government crack down on the asylum seekers, while minority Shias and Christians who also fled the persecution in Pakistan have also been locked up.

    The Controller of Immigration and Emigration, Chulanada Silva is gung ho about the prospect of rounding up more asylum seekers. His disdain towards the vulnerable community becomes evident as he justifies the crackdown- with sweeping (and largely unsubstantiated) allegations.

    " They are a harmful element to our country," he says. "They come here on visit visa and then register with the UNHCR as asylum seekers. They should be deported."

    Silva alleges that the Pakistanis are engaged in illegal activities and are taking up local jobs.

    "There can be terrorist elements who misuse these channels." He says intelligence agencies should look into potential terrorist links.

    The backlash against the Pakistanis took place in the wake of the allegations by the hard-line Buddhist organization Bodu Bala Sena and ultra nationalist Jathika Hela Urumaya that Pakistani 'terrorist groups' have infiltrated the country. The military spokesman has since denied any presence of Islamic terrorists groups in the country. However, Silva and his ilk in the Department of Immigration are purportedly trying to give currency to the allegations of the ultra nationalist elements.

    Sri Lanka is not a state party to the UN Refugee convention, however, under a bilateral agreement signed in 2005 between the Sri Lankan Government and the UN refugee agency, the government agreed to allow the registered asylum seekers to stay in the country until their asylum applications are processed and they are resettled in a third country.

    (BTW Do you realise that Sri Lanka has over 70 newspapers on-line?)

  7. "3) Kill geolocation" not parsed by copper mesh.


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