Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lacking compassion

Prince Charlie reckons the public lacks compassion by being mean about him and Camilla.

I don't call a few rude comments a lack of compassion - this showed a lack of compassion!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Legislating for Spam

The government is planning anti-spam legislation introducing swingeing fines for sending unwanted messages.

You could arge that this is unnecessary - the BrightMail filtering provided by Xtra passes very few spam messages through to my (old and spammy) mail accounts. The only stuff I seem to get are mailouts from companies I have used (and I guess subscribed to) and the odd individual message from some hopeful looking at my website and wanting a job.

If they do think legislation is needed, then possibly we need some that works. I have thought up a model for this in the past, roughly based on a similar principle to international banking (where banks are allowed into networks like Visa on condition that they play by the rules and (try to) only process genuine transactions).

Here's the scheme:
1. set up a regulatory body with the power to rule on whether a reported message is illegal (subject to appeal to the courts, obviously)
2. allow this body to issue fines and ban offenders from using the Internet for various periods
3. require all NZ ISPs to "know their customers" and be in a position to collect fines / enforce bans, e.g. by having a credit card on file
4. after a suitable grace period, require that NZ ISPs only peer with overseas ISPs that follow the same rules for their direct customers
5. after a further period, require that overseas ISP's peering with NZ in turn enforce "the rules" on their peers
6. Have an opt-out allowing those who need access to dodgy places to gain "whole internet" access (with the obvious caveat that they should expect spam)

So once the scheme is fully in place, anyone sending an unsolicited email can be tracked and fined/banned. We will probably be able to collect the fine and/or enforce the ban. There will be a blacked-out zone of the Internet invisible to NZ - and the spammy will presumably be able to get accounts there.

This would work better if the EU were to do it of course - many ISPs wouldn't worry about not being able to talk to NZ, but few would want to be blacked out from over 300 million people.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Fox gets away from Appeal Court

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the attempt by fox-hunting interests to overturn the UK governments ban on their "sport" through court action.

The case has now been considered by the Appeal Court, and their judgment is here.

Contrary to my original thoughts, the case turned on whether the 1949 Parliament Act was "subordinate legislation" to the 1911 Act, and thus unable to amend the parent Act. The Appeal Court found that it *was* subordinate legislation, but that it was able to amend the parent - they drew on numerous colonial precedents for this. They did suggest suggest that there were circumstances where an Act introduced under the 1911 Act would *not* be able to amend the parent act, but this was not one of them.

Relevance to New Zealand? This kind of entanglement does raise questions about our abilities to review and amend our constitutional arrangements. I think in framing any new written constitution, the government of the day would need to take some very high-level legal advice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Military problems

The Chief of the Defence Staff is in a bit of bother over writing letters trying to dissuade employees from giving evidence in an employment case.

It's interesting that there has been no comment on many NZ blogs - I guess the right don't want to criticise a military officer, and the left don't want to criticise a senior government employee.

Or is that too cynical..

Friday, February 11, 2005

I say Ginger, they're on your tail...

The Holmes show seems to have developed engine trouble and is struggling to make it back to the airfield..

One can usually tell how much of earner a show is for the TV station by the quality of the adverts - big budget beer and bank ads = lots of dollars. Ads for the local chippie produced in Powerpoint by the owners 12-year old = scraping the barrel. Prime tends to the latter..

(for those mystified by the headline - it's a quote from "Biggles flies undone")

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Holmes ratings

The Herald has the first ratings for Holmes new show on Prime. Homer Simpson did better - as I've mentioned before, the Simpsons offers more incisive political comment at 7pm than any of our "news" programmes are likely to..

The trouble with Holmes is that he is, undoubtedly, an excellent drawcard for the "old and cranky" segment of the population. Appealing to this group has a number of commercial drawbacks for Prime:
  • They'll be dead soon - a media outlet that targets oldies has to continually renew its audience
  • They're less attractive to advertisers who want to do long-term brand building
  • They watch a lot of telly - so advertisers have a lot of choice on how to reach them, and reruns of "the young and the restless" are a lot cheaper than primetime news
  • They don't spend as much or as frivolously as the youth
  • Many of them don't have UHF - those that do may well not have the tendency to watch "new" channels

I suppose Prime's motivation is that a "full service" TV station needs to get people watching at the start of the evening with a current affairs programme, in the expectation that they will stay with the channel. Given that, it's cheaper to pay Holmes to do a personality-driven show than to spend big dollars on news gathering.

Incidentally, regarding the "tree story" isn't it technically criminal damage to dig up someone elses land and plant a tree on it? And aren't broadcasters meant to refrain from instigating illegal activity?

Monday, February 07, 2005

More on UK detention

The Guardian reports that, following last years House Of Lords decision declaring that their detention without trial in Belmarsh prison contravened their human rights, some of the detainees are taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

They are arguing that (as Lord Hoffman thought) Britain does not face an emergency "threatening the life of the nation", that being the test set down in the ECHR (article 15). Britain is the only signatory country to have made such a derogation.

Should the UK lose in Strasbourg on this point, they will have few options. The planned "house arrest" scheme would almost certainly fall foul of the same provisions. Repudiation of the ECHR would leave Britain the only EU country to have done so (and in breach of an condition that has been applied to all aspirant EU members). Perhaps it won't be until car factories start closing down that Blair realises that the UK has international as well as moral obligations to respect human rights.

Muldoon with Monetarism

This is a test...

I have discovered that if you create a webpage/posting containing a unique phrase, such as "Muldoon with Monetarism" and link to a site with a high Google rank, then this can result in Google associating the phrase with the linked site, so that searching for the aforementioned phrase leads to the National Party website at For instance, typing "swivel-eyed loons" takes you to the UK Independence Party site.

Hopefully, this will have the desired effect.