9am with David & Kim is a threat to public safety

•August 25, 2009 • 2 Comments

I’ve always found 9am with David & Kim inane. It represents the worst of morning television at the best of times. (Just look at the current poll: “Should underage teenagers be allowed to drink alcohol under parental supervision?” How about, “None of your fucking business.”)

A segment on yesterday’s programme (Monday, 24 August 2009), however, went above and beyond stupid into the realm of dangerous.

This needs a response.

At approx. 3:00:

The one advantage with (sic) the homeopathic option is that, because it works on different principles, it’s not an attempt to mimic vaccination. The remedies which are prepared, provided the symptom profile of the disease doesn’t change greatly, can still be used.

Conversely, the major disadvantage is that you’re just getting really fucking expensive water.

Isaac Golden is a smug bastard and this is not helped by the fact that David and  Kim are gullible idiots. They both accept without question the efficacy of the homeopathic treatment. This has been presented on national television as a viable alternative to vaccination.

That is not just incompetent.

It is grossly negligent.

Write to 9am at Channel 10 to complain. As Chris H commented on the YAS blog, write to Media Watch as well.

(Hat tip: Richard Hughes at Young Australian Skeptics)

My letter to Channel 10 and Media Watch:

The morning show, “9am with David & Kim”, on Monday, 24 August 2009 featured “Dr” Isaac Golden promoting an homeopathic alternative to swine flu vaccination. Both hosts of the show accepted unquestioningly the homeopathic remedy as if it were a viable alternative to vaccination for the swine flu.

“Dr” Golden also presented as facts a number of points relating to the efficacy of homeopathic treatment which can be (and have been) shown conclusively to be false.

By presenting this as a medical segment (the other guest was Professor Nicolai Petrovsky, chairman of Vaxine) and presenting a bogus remedy in such an uncritical light, Channel 10 and the hosts of the show have done a great disservice to the Australian public. This is not just incompetent; it is grossly negligent.



Congratulations, IFPI

•August 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

You’ve fucked up again.

Eircom has agreed to block access to The Pirate Bay as of 1 September. Assuming the deal with GGF goes through, this will be approximately 1 week after the site becomes a ‘legal’ operation,* complete with the backing and ‘good will’ of the entertainment industry.**

If you were interested in doing anything other than protecting an outdated business model, you would leave the fuck alone.

* Legality of the current incarnation of TPB notwithstanding.

** Meaning, of course, that no-one will use it anymore, preferring to use any number of the clones which have (or will have) popped up as a result of a torrent of TPB’s content.

‘Risen’ Refused Classification

•August 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Several sources have been reporting on the ban of Risen, and now Gamespot has the full details of the Classification Board’s report. I thought I’d support Risen‘s developers by providing a little ‘prior art’ where a similar depiction of the banned elements has existed in a game given an MA15+ rating (or below). Anyone interested should feel free to list more games with similar properties in the comments. (This list was compiled from memory; I didn’t do any research for it, so it shows how prevalent the prior art is.)

The game contains ‘quests,’ which a player may choose to complete by acquiring the sexual service of prostitutes. Though it is purportedly not a necessary element of the gameplay, players gain rewards or advance through the game more easily by engaging in sexual activity with prostitutes.

The first game that came to mind here was Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines. In Los Angeles, there are three possible solutions to the ‘Romero’ quest.

  1. The character may fend off the zombie hordes while Romero heads off to solicit a prostitute.
  2. The character may solicit a prostitute on Romero’s behalf and lead her back to the graveyard.
  3. The character may (if female with a high enough charisma attribute) perform the deed herself (which has the reward of allowing you to feed on Romero periodically; options 1 and 2 reward you with money and/or a weapon).

So VTM:B has a clear-cut case where prostitution (or the solicitation of prostitutes) leads to a reward. In addition to this, there are numerous instances where the character may ‘seduce’ NPCs to gain rewards.

The next game that came to mind was The Witcher, where the player is rewarded with ‘trading-cards’ of his female conquests. Frequently, sexual interaction with the characters is the reward of a quest (often very minor); sometimes it may be a traded item; in one or two cases, it serves to advance the plot.

[Brugleweed is] commonly referred to in text and dialogue as ‘weed’ or a ‘weed reefer’ and rewarded players who used it with experience points, failed to meet acceptable classification guidelines. In Risen, a player can both trade and smoke this drug, which mirrors an illegal ‘real-world’ drug in its terminology, use, and depiction.

Apart from the ‘terminology’, that description also essentially applies to tobacco. But enough semantics, onto some examples.

Velvet Assassin, which somehow got through the censorship process unscathed, allows Violette to enter ‘morphine mode’ which enhances her abilities. (And places her in a nightgown — does that count as a sexual reward?)

Fallout 3, although the name had to be changed from ‘morphine’ to ‘Med-X’,* features the use of this drug as a painkiller, complete with addictive properties.

Bioshock has you injecting shit into your arm, visible on the fucking screen.

VTM:B features a quest early on, in which one is required to steal painkillers to provide aid to a quest-giving NPC.

(Although it doesn’t depict the use specifically, Assassin’s Creed has the character ‘meditate’ before going out on assassinations; anyone with a little background in history and/or linguistics knows exactly what that means.)

The fact that Australia is still lacking an R18+ classification for games is ridiculous in and of itself; however, the arbitrary nature of the Classification Board’s rulings is even more bizarre. The complete lack of consistency (Fallout 3 vs Velvet Assassin being the most obvious clash) makes me wonder if there isn’t just some giant ‘wheel of censorship fortune’.

Knowing our current luck, upon seeing this list, the Classification Board will probably decide to ban retroactively all these games.

* I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: How is the use of a ‘real world’ name for a fictitious drug in an overtly fictitious setting any worse than using a fictitious name for a fictitious drug in an overtly fictitious setting? The properties and context are identical.

GI Joe: Rise of the … um …

•August 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Perhaps I just have a dirty, dirty mind. When I first saw this image

GI Joe Cobra

particularly when resized to, say, this

GI Joe Cobra Small

Well, let’s just say that “Cobra” was not the first word that came to mind. I’m sure there’s nothing subliminal about it at all. Either that, or we shall have a new euphemism entering the vernacular.

Bad MySpace. No.

•July 21, 2009 • 2 Comments

I don’t really use MySpace very often anymore. The novelty wore off pretty quickly and it’s rare that I’d even log in more than once a month these days. (I use Facebook slightly more frequently, and still haven’t found a real use for my Twitter account.)

In the interest of improving the security of my various online presences, I’ve started using KeePass (technically KeePassX), and decided that the social networks would be the first to undergo maintenance. Random string 24 characters long for Facebook — no problem.

Then MySpace gave me this:
Bad MySpace

Why the hell would you limit a password to 10 characters? I can understand a lower limit (e.g. no less than 6), but to have a maximum allowable size of 10 characters is just retarded in this day and age. Especially when (as you can see from the photo) my old password was 12 characters long. So MySpace is now restricting my password to be shorter. Very. Bad. Idea. Then again, this is MySpace we’re talking about.

History repeats. Already. All hail the PMS blog!

•July 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Less than a year ago, the public was inflicted with the poorly-implemented DBCDEQWLEKNQWLEIRGNQ blog by everyone’s favourite senator, Stephen Conroy, which presented us with snippets of a whitepaper cunningly disguised as “blog posts” by tacking a lame-arse question on the end. Now KRudd has come out with his very own blog, which, by the eternal laws of the internet shall be known as “The PMS Blog” due to its somewhat unfortunate URL.* (It is at least easier to remember than the DBCDEQUASNDFGALJWENR blog. First thing they should have done there was purchase a fucking domain name.)

Yet it has exactly the same failings. It has 9–5 weekday moderation of all comments, no links, no webpage link for the commenter, and very little (read: no) interaction on the part of the blogger. So far. It only has one post to date, and you only get 5 days to comment on each post. The fr0sty p!ss suffers from the same “press-release” quality that marred Conroy’s attempt to join the 21st century.

KRudd’s peeps have shown once again that he is, in the words of An Onymous Lefty, “hip to the kids… of 2004”.

Just like everything internet-related done so far by this government, it’s about 5 years behind the times.**

We can hope that, in time, the blog may improve, but I, for one, will not be holding my breath.

(Hat tip: Stilgherrian).

* As pointed out to me by a co-worker, that would at least explain the hairdryer incident.

** A filter based on a 2003 report by a Catholic apologist (with no credible evidence to support it then, and even less now), a national broadband network that I have extreme reservations about being implemented in a useful manner, since it’s targetting today’s internet standards, rather than aiming for the standards that the rest of the world will have by the time they get the damned thing finished, and now a (second) blog that spews information like a press-release.

Set your irony meter to ‘Spoing’

•June 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

From ABC News:

Country Liberals Senator Nigel Scullion says as long as same sex couples are treated equally, there is no need for them to marry.

“As long as there is absolutely no discrimination against individuals materially when they enter into a union for life the definition of marriage simply means that we can come up with another name for another union.”

Not allowing people to marry on the basis of sexual orientation is not treating them equally. Requiring the union to have a title other than ‘marriage’ because it doesn’t fit your preconceived notions is discrimination.