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The creeping hand of authoritarianism

Little by little the creeping hand of authoritarianism reduces us to sheep-like cyphers, and as usual the vastly overstated threat of terrorism is used to justify it. The innocuously named Assistance and Access Bill 2018 is intended to force companies to provide information about how their systems work, thus compromising their cybersecurity. It’s an extraordinary overreach by officialdom in the name of fighting terrorism, which is nowhere near the level of threat suggested by the … Read more

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Further customer disservice

As I mentioned in a previous post, Telstra sent me a letter threatening to cut off my Internet if I didn’t pay my overdue bill. After I finally contacted a human support person, Telstra conceded it was their system failure that was at fault. This week I received an email apologising for the system glitch and assuring me that all was well. A day later, I received my August bill. It showed I’d … Read more

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My experience with religion

My experience with religion is interesting (at least to me). I was brought up as “no religion” by my parents, one of whom was a failed Catholic, the other with barely any comprehension of religion. I and my brothers were sent to Sunday school so that our parents could have some “afternoon delight”, but after the required ten weeks to score a bible, we stopped going and went to play instead. After … Read more

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Customer disservice

When I received a letter from Telstra saying that I hadn’t paid my bill and if payment wasn’t made by two days earlier (!), I risked having my phone and internet service suspended, I was close to being ropable. First off, they hadn’t sent me a bill for July, and secondly I’d  already taken the precautionary step of paying enough to cover the likely charges. I phoned and was given the usual … Read more

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The worst political attribute

Hypocrisy. It can be deliberate or — I hate to use the word ‘innocent’ — unknowing. If deliberate, it smacks of deceit and ruthlessness. If the perpetrator is unaware of their hypocrisy, it is symptomatic of a mindset that is incapable of impartiality, an inability to self-examine, a static belief in their, or their party’s, absolute rightness. What brought this to mind recently was the LNP’s claims that Bill Shorten is a … Read more

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Recalcitrant Kindle

I have a Kindle Paperwhite ereader that’s over three years old. It’s worked well, which is just as well as I use it every day. Occasionally, though, it freezes and I have no choice but to reboot the device and then everything is back to normal. Today, that didn’t work. Repeated attempts at pressing the on/off button were in vain. I was weighing up whether to buy a new one when I … Read more

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Falling out of bed

I fell out of bed last night, first time ever. It wasn’t my regular bed. One of our grand-daughters had taken up that space, and I was relegated to a spare room. The mattress is long past its use-by date, and there’s diminished support at the edges. I rolled over in my sleep and got a rude awakening when I landed on the floor, hurting my right hip. That was our previous … Read more

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Spam, spam, spam

Recently I’ve experienced an upsurge of spam email in my inbox. Out of curiosity, yesterday I decided not to delete any but to allow them to fill up my Junk Email folder. By the end of the day I had received 41 items, the most I could remember. The main culprits were spammers promising to provide drinks that would reduce my waistline or drop my dress size (oi, watch it!), pills to … Read more

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Massaging the message

The “medium is the message” is an expression coined by Marshall McLuhan to describe how the presentation of information (spoken, filmed, textual) affects our senses. He was concerned with the form of communication rather than its content. He ought to be alive today to see how we are manipulated by both form and content. A particularly egregious and well-known example is the British Sun newspaper’s front page headline ahead of the Brexit … Read more

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A slave to technology

I bought a FitBit a few months ago to help me stay fit. I set a target of 6000 steps a day, a modest total if you’re in the prime of life, less so when you’re my age. I manage to achieve this most days, but I can’t deny its effect on my daily activities. The FitBit counts steps by the swinging of the arm bearing the watch, so I avoid riding … Read more

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A new left future?

If you believe the mainstream media you could be forgiven for thinking that Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez’s victory in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional district against the 10-term incumbent Representative Joseph Crowley was merely reactionary, a need for change. In fact, it was more reflective of her constituency and its rejection of the status quo. Ms Ocasia-Cortez is a young socialist activist. She’s a third-generation New Yorker whose family has roots in Puerto … Read more

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The peril of ignoring history’s lessons

One more thing about the creeping erosion of liberty in the name of security: underlying public acceptance of these measures is the assumption that we will continue to live under a benign government. History gives the lie to that. Look at Turkey, for example. Or Italy and Germany in the thirties, where the expectation that embracing authoritarianism would make everyone much safer. Except it didn’t.