Michael Wharton There Is Always A Theory: politics, anarchy, religion, atheism and science. now with poetry!

13May/100

Internet Censorship: Cause

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Internet Censorship: The Internet Is Under Attack?

According to many key sources of internet trends, the recent governmental seizure of control over the internet has been perceived as a threat to global freedom. The internet culture has flourished from what once was the domain of the knowledgeable few, to what is often called "Web 2.0"; user generated and driven content, shared and open to all interactively and easily. Nowadays, most people between their childhood and retirement age will spend time online regularly. They do so to catch up on the latest news, kill time watching funny videos of cats, keep in touch with long lost friends and relatives, etc... The list of activities people perform regularly online is pretty endless, as new applications of the internet are coming along every day. Some of the things people do online are currently illegal, in quite a few countries, and for years now the governments of those (often developed) countries have been trying to figure out how to enforce laws on the internet. From copyright infringement to "Indecent Pornography", it has been a game of cat and mouse, as technology on both sides is developed to outsmart the other.

We were all made aware of this arms race when sites like Napster and The Pirate Bay were legally challenged, when news of sting operations on paedophile and terrorist networks hit the papers. We were glad of our Government's action against those who would harm or way of life. Now however, it is our governments themselves who are threatening our way of life; in a new development in this arms race, we the people are being targeted with internet censorship.

The ACTA has been implemented in several "Freedom Loving" countries such as Australia, America, and now the United Kingdom has followed suit with the Digital Economy Bill (The DEBill is now The Digital Economy Act since it was pushed through parliament... shouldn't have dragged my feet writing this blog...). Now we have internet censorship, blacklisted websites and filtered content.

Internet Censorship: Spreading The Word!

Internet Censorship Youtube Video Playlist:

So as far as I can tell, the internet is going to become more strictly controlled, surveilled, filtered and censored worldwide. Copyright piracy, inappropriate porn and terrorist communication are simply convenient distractions, so that dissent can be monitored and controlled. If any of the videos in the internet censorship playlist are removed, or if you can no longer gain access to this page then you will know that I was right.

Since the development of the internet, it has been used to express opinions and information freely with the rest of the world. Don't allow this tool to be used to gag and control you, speak out against this right infringement. Several organisations have interactivist campaigns you can join to let your voice be heard; The EFF, The ORG, 38 Degrees and of course Project Freeweb.

If we do nothing, we are in very real danger of losing access to the "real" internet like other less than free countries with more extreme levels of internet censorship ( an obvious example is the People's Republic of China (oh no, I guess that my site's blocked there now...)). Internet superstars such as Tim Berners Lee and John Perry Barlow have declared their opposition to internet censorship. Internet deity Google have spoken out against the global trend towards internet censorship measures and the state controlling the web. Google even released this handy tool to see how much your internet content is being filtered. We have to all stand together and say "No, we DO NOT WANT internet censorship, filtered content or our internet to be arbitrarily cut off!". Of course as with anything online, you have an overwhelming choice of mediums for interactivism to convey such a message!

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19Aug/095

Cyclists Cycling Wearing Earphones/Headphones: Bad Idea

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Headphones & Earphones On A Bike - Is It A Distraction?

As somebody who very occaisionally will take his bicycle out for a spin, and only on cycle lanes, I can honestly say I have never even contemplated the idea of listening to music whilst cycling. For starters, when listening to music I can't help but move some part of my body along to the rhythm of the beat. This is a very Bad Idea when urban cycling, which requires fast changes in tempo all the time. If I was listening to music I would be slower to react to a change in the speed of what was going on around me.

The other downside is that, essentially, you can't hear very much of what's going on around you on the road. This is obviously very dangerous considering how quiet cars are getting these days, and they will practically be silent assassins when they are all electric cars. As much as you should be looking around you at all times on a bike, you should also be listening. Most times a change in revs in the cars around you can be a great indicator that they are about to do something to endanger your life.

Is Cycling With Headphone/Earphones On Dangerous?

Here is a great example of the kind of accident that can happen due to this incredibly Bad Idea. I have seen so many people doing this on a regular basis, I'm surprised that there haven't been more accidents. Obviously, there have been more than just this one, they just don't all get reported, probably because the embarrassed cyclist doesn't want people to think of them as the fool they are.

Cyclists also seem to find it hard to understand what a red light means, I have seen so many near misses out of the bus window at traffic lights. A cyclist will come steaming past us (Red Light Jumping or RLJ) as we roll to a stop, and nearly get side-swiped by a car coming towards the lights from the left as they change. Combinations of two or more bad road habits are all it takes to guarantee a road traffic incident.

The worst example of stupidity I have seen recently on this subject has to be when I saw a cyclist on a road coming towards me in full proffessional gear, pointy helmet, shorts and all. Despite all of his expensive stretched latex and nylon strapping, he was using both hands completely off the handlebars to send a text message as he stared intently at the screen of his expensive looking phone. He was also wearing earphones, at first I thought he was changing tracks but he clearly had a separate mp3 player hooked up to his headgear.

Can Cyclist Listen To Music Whilst Cycling In Safety?

With products like the Soundwalk Audio MP3 Cycling Speaker Vest, or Slipstreamz Cycling Earwear for Headphones out there I'm not sure if this Bad Idea is going to end without government intervention. These products are trying to market themselves as safety devices, as in you won't have to wear earphones to listen to your music. You don't have to listen to your music on your bike in the first place surely, music is distracting no matter how it is blasted at your ears.

So dear reader I leave it up to you to spread the word to the people who are still putting their lives, and the lives of innocent others, in danger. Proclaim (loudly, earphones/headphones remember!) to them that it is indeed a "Bad Idea!", with optional mime of taking off a pair of headphones.

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18Aug/096

Texting And Walking: Bad Idea

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Text Walking - A Modern Phenomenon Menacing The Pavements

If you live in a busy bustling city anywhere in the world, chances are there will come a point in the next week where you will directly observe this modern phenomenon. A person marching towards you, head down, staring intently at the screen of their mobile phone as their thumbs stab wildly at the keypad or touch screen. Texting and Walking is a growing habit of the masses, yet it is a REALLY Bad Idea.

These people are completely oblivious to the world around them, even to you, as you casually sidestep them on the bustling pavement. Trouble is they didn't sidestep you at all, you did all of the sidestepping action. What happens when two people like that are heading towards each other? Two guesses...

While I was working as a charity fund-raiser on the streets of Manchester, I witnessed people walking into lampposts, bollards and each other on many occasions whilst text walking. I have even seen old ladies forced to give way, to people trying to change tracks on their mp3 player. Texting and Walking is so much worse when there are earphones or headphones involved, or a hood, sunglasses, or baseball cap.

As you may have already guessed, Texting and Walking is especially dangerous when crossing the road or walking down a flight of stairs. In fact there was a story about a man fairly recently, who fell down some stairs in a multi-storey building. He was on one of those reality talent shows last year if I recall correctly, and I also remember police stating that he may have been using his phone at the time. I myself have seen people walking lazily across the road, as they text their loved one that ultra important lol reply SMS to a joke they were sent.

Texting And Walking - Is It SO Dangerous?

After a little googling, I couldn't find what I was looking for, but I did find one that was even funnier! This young girl seems to have gone for the old classic slapstick staple of falling down an open manhole. Clearly if she hadn't been texting and walking at the time, she would have seen the massive gaping hole in the ground ahead of her.

People of the world, this practice isn't just dangerous, it isn't just plain ignorant, it's fully inconsiderate, deadly and a very Bad Idea! Simply stop, text then walk; or alternatively win a text walking Darwin award! Let people know of the danger and warn them with a stern "Look Out Where You're Going!".

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