Tag Archives: blacklist

The sustainability of the word sustainable

Once upon a time, when I wrote media releases for a living, media releases about economic development projects in regional Queensland, I banned myself from using the word sustainable (it’s even in my blacklist). Words like sustainable function on a law of diminishing returns – and as XKCD points out – the use of the word sustainable is unsustainable.

Via XKCD.

Some words to remove from your vocabulary

I haven’t updated my blacklist for a long time. But that’s ok. Because the head of one of America’s ailing media conglomerates has spent his time (that probably should have been used bailing out the company) writing a list of 119 words his employees are no longer allowed to use.

Here are some of them (and here are the rest).

  • “Flee” meaning “run away”
  • “Good” or “bad” news
  • “Laud” meaning “praise”
  • “Seek” meaning “look for”
  • “Some” meaning “about”
  • “Two to one margin” . . . “Two to one” is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points. It’s not a ratio.
  • “Yesterday” in a lead sentence
  • “Youth” meaning “child”
  • 5 a.m. in the morning
  • After the break
  • After these commercial messages
  • Bare naked
  • Behind bars
  • Behind closed doors
  • Behind the podium (you mean lecturn) [sic]
  • Best kept secret
  • Campaign trail
  • Clash with police
  • Close proximity
  • Complete surprise
  • Completely destroyed, completely abolished, completely finished or any other completely redundant use
  • Death toll
  • Definitely possible
  • Going forward
  • Gunman, especially lone gunman
  • In a surprise move
  • In harm’s way
  • In other news
  • In the wake of (unless it’s a boating story)
  • Incarcerated
  • Informed sources say . . .

So in summary, avoid redundancy and cliche. But what about you – what words do you think should be taken out the back and shot? I’d say anybody over the age of 35 saying “funky” – I do not think that word means what they think it means…

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Common sense prevails

The ISP filter has been scaled back from any black listed items to just Refused Classification content – which some people have argued was their policy all along (particularly one debate on Craig’s blog. It may well have been – but that was poorly communicated. Here’s the SMH story.

“Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has long said his policy would introduce compulsory ISP-level filters of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s blacklist of prohibited websites.

But he has since backtracked, saying the mandatory filters would only block content that has been “refused classification” (RC) – a subset of the ACMA blacklist – amid widespread concerns that ACMA’s list contains a slew of R18+ and X18+ sites, such as regular gay and straight pornography and other legal content.”

I’m a lot less worried about that – it seems to be much more transparent than the previously stated policy. I’m sure my freedom loving friends will still have problems, as do the Australian Christian Lobby. Nice work guys…

“The lobby’s managing director, Jim Wallace, wants the Government to introduce legislation forcing internet providers to block adult and pornography material on a mandatory basis, in addition to illegal content. Australians would then have to opt in to receive legal adult material.”

That sounds nice. It really does. Pornography is a blight on society. And it would be nice to protect vulnerable people (particularly vulnerable Christians) from its insidiousness. But. It isn’t really up to Christians to make the laws in a country where we are in the minority (despite the number of people ticking the Christian box on the census). Why should we expect those given over to sinful desires (which is surely how the Bible describes the state of non-Christians) to conform to a Christian standard of living?

CD Burners

When I was trawling through old posts to pick my favourites for that last post – I came across this site that I linked to a while back – it’s the “God Hates Fags” music blacklist. I can’t pick a favourite part of the text on the site to quote – so I’ll include it verbatim (that’s a little play on my title too).

One of the most dangerous ways Homosexuality invades family life is through popular music.  Parents, please keep careful watch over your children’s listening habits.  Especially in this age of Internet mp3 piracy.

There are multiple levels of Gay Music.  Some bands are what we like to call Gateway Bands.  They lure children in with Pop Grooves and Salacious Melodies leaving them wanting more.  They’ll move on to more dangerous bands and the next thing you know you’ve got a homosexual for a child.
We’ve taken the time to highlight the bands that are particularly Gay.  Please take the time and dissect your child’s CD / iTunes catalog. If you find 3 or more of these bands in their collection it is time to take action.
We Strongly recommend that you burn the CDs.  Make sure your child is watching.  Make sure they can feel the heat. It is crucial that the image remains emblazoned in their young minds. They need to know that if they continue to listen to these bands they may Burn eternally as well.

I’m thrilled to see the Jonas Brothers in the list – but there are many bands there that are in my CD collection or iTunes library. Definitely more than 3.

Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s a parody…

On the blacklist

I’m on a blacklist. The Education Queensland blacklist no less. Apparently…

Tim says:

“Just thought i’d let you know your site has been blocked by eq hierachy. Congratulations on making it to the level of facebook and my blog… the question is now what am i gonna do when i should be working…. hmmmm i wonder if stick cricket can be tracked”

Was it something I said?

Now I know a little of what all those nasty sites will feel once the clean feed begins in earnest.

My advice for Tim – and for others in the same boat – is just subscribe to my blog using Google Reader – no school in its right mind will block google. You may have to rename the feed.

Facebook is blocked at my work too – but I get my friend’s status updates via RSS.

Full disclosure

Apparently Senator Conroy is not the Internet killing free speech hating barbarian the Internet community claims.

I’ve been having a lengthy email conversation with the guy who called me a Greens Party Stooge (which still hurts) and he pointed me to this article and these quotes:

Conroy also reiterated that the Government has made clear which content is to be filtered and how.

It will attack RC [refused classification] content, he said, by the same rationale ACMA already classifies content under the existing Broadcasting Services Act for television, radio and print publications.

“There is no political content banned in the existing Broadcasting Services Act,” he said.

“We are not building the Great Wall of China. We are going after the filth – like child pornography. Its been done around the world and it can be done here.”

How it is done “will be guided by the outcome of the trials.”

Most of the assertions otherwise are “patently a scare campaign [against] a policy objective we think is fair and reasonable,” he said.

I have no doubt there is good intention behind this plan. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like child pornography or other illegal stuff being on the internet – including piracy.

But while I think this “policy objective” is fair and reasonable the policy being promoted to achieve it is not. If this is the case – why the secrecy? If this is the case why are there two trials – one of the ACMA blacklist, and one of a smaller list of illegal sites? And why is Whirlpool facing fines for providing a link to the leaked ACMA blacklist – which demonstrated the lack of vetting of content added to the list (eg a dentist’s site).

So, Conroy wants us to “show good faith” – how bout showing the people of Australia some good faith by making the blacklist process as open and transparent as the classification process? The argument that the blacklist based filter will be “opt in” doesn’t hold water if those who don’t opt in don’t know what’s on it.

Personally, given the choice, I’ll sign up to the filtered version. But that should be my decision – and we should know what we can’t access when signing up.

Uncategorized

Sanity prevails… maybe

iiNet has pulled themselves out of the cleanfeed trial citing an inability “to reconcile participation in the trial with our corporate social responsibility, our customer service objectives and our public position on censorship.”

Their decision came after wikileaks was blocked last week for publishing the ACMA blacklist. Which was meant to be a top secret “for government eyes only” document…

“It became increasingly clear that the trial was not simply about restricting child pornography or other such illegal material, but a much wider range of issues including what the Government simply describes as ‘unwanted material’ without an explanation of what that includes.”

Can K-Rudd hear me

Some time ago I posted a link to one man’s audacious bid to be heard by google. Can Google Hear Me won the hearts and minds of millions. Including Google – who were interested enough to take this man’s journey to the next level.

And now – following news that the Federal Government will now trawl critical blogs I ask the question. Can Kevin Rudd hear me?

It hasn’t taken long for people to make a connection between trawling blogs for criticism and the clean feed/blacklist campaign – particularly because the Government’s own media release listed Whirlpool.net.au’s criticism of the blacklist as one of the examples the Government’s beady eyes were watching.

I have said several things about the Ruddster and his ability to make even the most clear things unclear through erudite obfuscation. That was Rudd speak for using simple words in a complicated way so as to make things impossible to understand.

Kevin, if you’re here, and you can hear me – of if your staff are and they can – let me know in the comments. Perhaps you’d like to give me a job making your unclear communication clear.

Who knows. Perhaps you’d like to read through all the things I’ve had to say about you in the past.

Regards,

Nathan

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Clean feed ship listing due to leaks

There’s a lot of debate still raging about the proposed clean feed. We all thought it was dead when Nick Xenophon decided he didn’t like it. But no. It’s alive and kicking. And costing money for anyone who dares link to the leaked blacklist.

Obviously there’s a fair bit of support from the Christian side of the fence for anything limiting people’s access to pornography – particularly child exploitation material. But these objections are, in my opinion, misguided. There’s also a fair bit of reasonable Christian objection to the proposal. Examples here from Craig and Seamus.

Here’s some reasons I think the policy is a bad idea…

  1. It won’t actually address the problem it claims to address – I have not read about any court cases involving prosecution of people who took part in illegal pornography via an http website. The filter only addresses these sites. Illegal material is traded via complicated, secure sharing systems.
  2. It provides no deterrent for wrongdoers – a better way to tackle the problem would be to invest in better policing and increase the penalties for people involved.
  3. It gives the government an opportunity to act without accountability – The blacklist is a closely guarded secret – as is the process for sites to get on it. There are fines for people who reveal any of its content. The process is secretive and arbitrary – how long before “objectionable content” becomes “things we don’t agree with”… despite the constant cry from Christian supporters of the policy that “this isn’t censorship” and we should act to protect children and keep harmful material from adults the system we’re introducing is more like the system in China and Iran than the system in the US and New Zealand. It is censorship. In fact, it’s worse. By keeping what’s being censored secret and not addressing the criteria involved other than with motherhood statements it’s more akin to policing thought than to protecting the population from unwanted nasties.

Libertarians want the policy scrapped because they think people should have access to whatever material they believe is in their best interest. I don’t agree. And I don’t think you have to agree with that idea to oppose what is a stupid piece of policy that was only tabled in the first place to appease the Christian vote.

The debate at Craig’s blog continued into a second post – where I joined the fray.

From here on in I’m just reproducing what I said there.

Here’s what Conroy had to say about the issue from an ABC story on the matter of the blacklist and how it will be used… from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Senator Conroy: A whole range of people have said, ‘Hey let’s expand this’. That’s a debate that we will come to. What we’re trying to establish at the moment, we’re no further than establishing at the moment, whether it’s technically feasible. So in terms of what some of us senators want to claim should be included on the blacklist, I’m sure that when we get to the debates down the track, if it proves to be technically feasible, there’ll be a whole range of people with a whole range of demands about what should be on the blacklist. But what we’ve committed to do is practically implement what’s on the blacklist at the moment, if it is technically feasible.

Conroy is basically admitting that the technology will allow the Government to pretty much block whatever they see fit. It’s scary.

Hansard from this Senate estimates hearing (it’s a PDF) makes for interesting reading (at least when they’re talking about getting newsradio in Townsville and the Clean Feed).

Quotes like this one worry me:

“As I have said, whether we will consider other items will be determined by the live trial.”

It’s not simply restricted to illegal content – this trial is restricted to illegal content – the filter may be open to further suggestions once they know it works…

Having read the entire discussion in that Hansard report I’m still not convinced. I know they say that they’re only dealing with material in line with the current classifications system – but their statements are far too open ended when dealing with the future of the scheme and the way sites are added to the ACMA blacklist – which like it or not is a secret list controlled by the Government and will play a vital role in identifying blocked content.

Nobody is arguing that there aren’t good intentions behind the scheme – just that in its current form it is far too open for abuse in the future for my liking. It also won’t do anything to stop or deter those who use the internet for nasty means – because as has been argued time and time again – they don’t use standard http websites.

Now I know my ABC

blacklist

I listen to the ABC a lot. In the car. At work (sometimes). And at home when the cricket is on. I like the ABC. One thing that strikes me over and over again is the type of language government types use when answering questions – even about the weather. It’s obfuscation at its best.

There really is no excuse for not using normal everyday language when talking to normal everyday people. You don’t need to master this new government speak lingo in order to communicate effectively.

Unless you’re trying not to communicate at all – but to hide and spin.

So it pleases me greatly to see that the Local Government Association of the United Kingdom has released a list of 200 words that councils and their employees should not use in order to make their communication more effective. The list is at the bottom of that media release. Here’s the SMH story.

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Green on the black list

There are a number of words I’d like to blacklist at work. Identified, sustainable, showcase… a bunch of buzzwords robbed of their meaning by overuse and the ability to fit into any context. I don’t like weasel words – and I recommend removing them from anything you write/produce/say lest you fall into a position where your colleagues play bingo based on the predictability of your speech.

The Lake Superior State University has published a list of banished words. They’re not arbitrarily selected. They give reasons. And also include popular, overused phrases. Words on the list include: green, first dude, bailout, maverick, carbon offset and others.

What words/phrases would you ban given the chance?