Some Rights Reserved

January 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I happened to be reading a column that roughly followed the now-standard “I support free speech, except…” model. Their particular justification was based on the EU Convention on Human Rights, specifically article 10:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Read that again, see if you notice the particularly gaping hole – apparently the right to free speech can be overridden “for the protection of health or morals“. I’m well aware that, politically speaking, absolutes are difficult; the majority of the other caveats up there could at least have a spirited argument made for their tangible purpose, whether or not one personally agrees with them. Morality, though? They really didn’t foresee any problems with including that one!? In writing a supposedly universal declaration of human rights, the EU have decided that those rights only apply if whoever is in power happens to agree that they are ‘moral’, whatever one may claim that to mean. Well done, guys.


January 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.
2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.
3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.

No, it’s not a life or death issue, but I assume I’d have some trouble if I put up a sign offering an unlimited supply of tasty, tasty marmalade for only £2.86, and then explained to people that due to my fair use policy, ‘unlimited’ actually amounts to ‘three spoonfuls’. I should probably try it and see, however, to provide a rigorous scientific basis for this post.

As the more astute among you may have guessed from my subtle analogy, I’m less than pleased about the fact that ISPs seem to get away with doing exactly the same damn thing. 500MB per month does not even resemble unlimited. T-Mobile are by no means the only offender, just the ones who happen to have pissed me off most recently. No other industry in existence can get away with lying to the customer quite that blatantly. I suppose I should probably be impressed.

At this point I want to say something like “Tell the fucking truth or don’t be surprised when the Office of Fair Trading shuts you down”. Unfortunately the crotchety-old-man complaints I sent to Ofcom (because that’s just the kind of exciting person I am) don’t appear to be garnering any kind of useful response. So far they’re still at the stage of sending canned responses explaining (quite reasonably) why ‘fair use policies’ exist, and gleefully ignoring what I actually said about the false marketing claims.

I’ll probably find a new and exciting way to complain about this same issue when they next send me something bearing little to no relevance to what I actually said. I’m sure you just can’t wait.

“We’re going to take this kind of thing seriously, whether they’re joking or not”

January 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Some kids drew a map of their school, and apparently decided to add possible bomb placements to the map. It was intended to be part of a game, and there was no evidence of any actual explosives. Rather than talking to them, and perhaps explaining to the 11 and 12 year olds that this might be construed as threatening when taken out of context, the school has decided to recommend that they are kicked out, and passed the case on to the Sheriff’s office, who charged four students with criminal conspiracy to commit terroristic threatening, a misdemeanour, and one student with felony terroristic threatening. Again, these kids made absolutely no threat – the teachers chose to interpret the map as such – yet one of them has been charged with a felony. The title of this post is not even paraphrased, it is what a spokesperson for the school district actually said.

Worst of all, Lauren Roberts, the district’s public information officer, has commented that she doesn’t think a felony charge is too harsh, even if it was meant as a fantasy game. People actually believe that 11 year olds deserve life altering criminal proceedings even though they did not cause any harm, did not make any threat, and had no negative intent whatsoever. Their ‘crime’ was to show slightly poor judgement in their choice of game. She even had the gall to say that “The safety of children is our first priority”, as if charging these children even though it was not a threat had any impact whatsoever on the safety of others. I honestly cannot adequately express my anger here – I’m too frustrated to even joke about this one.

As Bad as Reading Palin’s Email

January 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Although I would never question the infinite wisdom of the fine US legal system, it does appear that there may be just be a tiny amount of inconsistency in sentencing. On that note, here are a few things that the courts consider equivalent to publishing someone else’s email:

Air Travel, etc.

January 13th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

My first post, and I’m using it to decry the indignity and unpleasantness of modern air travel. I am the king of originality. That, in itself, makes a point: we are all sick of [rudeness/genital scans/overbooking/missing luggage/mysterious surcharges/dubious food/Godzilla-related turbulence], yet nobody has thought of a solution. And neither have I. I’m just going to bitch impotently about my experience, exactly the same as everybody else.

So, to business: I was heading home for Christmas, filled with cheer, goodwill and so forth. Shocked as they were by the annual arrival of winter, the airline cancelled my flight. Nothing special there, although it did result in my birthday being spent staring at a departures screen rather than rolling off a plane and into a pub as I had intended. Long story short, I ended up in the UK two days late, on Christmas eve, and my luggage did not. Even then, my shining holiday spirit was not crushed – still I radiated love, or at least a slightly less vitriolic brand of hatred, to all those around me. If my story ended here, people would question what the problem was; a 48 hour delay and a lost bag are hardly enough to even be considered worthy of complaint, after all.

The real fun started a few days after Christmas, as I was sitting around in borrowed clothing, strongly resembling someone who had staged a slightly inebriated robbery at a charity shop. The news that my bag had been located and was on its way only four days late filled me with the kind of joy usually only found when you notice that the mugger took your cash but kindly left your credit cards. So, one day wasted sitting around waiting for the promised delivery. The next day came renewed promises, and renewed disappointment. The following day it seems they felt it was time for a change; rather than promising that my bag would be delivered, they decided to tell me that it was still at the airport and offer the option for me to pick it up in person. I’m sure the customer service rep had a great laugh at my expense as I came home from a six hour round trip to the airport to collect a bag that was not, in fact, at the airport.

The bag did eventually turn up, two weeks late, and missing the one piece of expensive electronic equipment that I had been foolish enough not to put in my hand luggage. Rather than doing anything so dignified as offering an apology, and perhaps even some kind of reimbursement or compensation, the airline have decided that the best course of action is to totally ignore me in the hope that I go away and stop my whining.

I would say that I hope Lufthansa go and die in a fire, but then I would probably end up in the same boat as Paul Chambers, so I suppose that hoping those responsible suffer some mild discomfort until such time as they apologise will have to suffice.