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My response to comments like "Knock yourselves out - track me all you want. I don't care what you see, hear or keep. I've got nothing to hide from anyone. If it helps establish patterns of behaviour that could lead to stopping a terrorist attack or solving a crime then go right ahead. " by Peter to an article about mobile phone tracking in Brisbane's Queens Street Mall.

To those repeating the 'nothing to hide, then nothing to fear' argument. Please. You might think this is innocent. You might think it is not targeted at you. You might think you've done nothing to warrant attention. This is not the point.

There is already camera surveillance, now tracking phones. Once anyone has a taste of power, they will want more. It will be abused. It is quite possible to make trouble for someone even if they have done nothing obvious wrong. Nothing to hide argument. First they came... Censorship by another name.

"First they came for our privacy, and I didn't speak out because I'd done nothing wrong. 
Then they came for the bikies, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a bikie.
Then they came for ........, and there was no way left to speak."

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I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Way late to this, but as a secular humanist AND a feminist, I find it doubly offensive when people say “‘Feminism’ is too exclusionary, I’m a ‘humanist’” because it’s an inaccurate use of “humanism,” which is a secular worldview that suggests that our “moral” values should come from our life experiences rather than religious dogma, and that life can have meaning and value without belief in a higher power or afterlife. Humanists generally do believe in equal rights for all people, but that’s not what “humanism” is about. Humanism IS NOT an alternative to feminism, it is a complex world view. — belongsomewhere commenting on FAQ: WHY "FEMINISM" AND NOT JUST "HUMANISM"? OR "EQUALISM"? ISN’T SAYING YOU’RE A FEMINIST EXCLUSIONARY?.

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A recent science literacy survey is floating around, noting particularly the lack of knowledge about how long the Earth takes to orbit the Sun, and whether dinosaurs and people existed at the same time. While great fodder for jokes and superficial talk about science education, I'd prefer some more pressing, and perhaps more probing, questions be asked. here are some examples:

  • Open-ended question: Should government policy be guided by public opinion or scientific evidence?
  • Open-ended question: If a policy or initiative of the government does not involve you, should you care about whether it does what it was intended to do?
  • Open-ended question: Is investment in alternative energy sources important?
  • Open-ended question: Do you think it is more important to remember specific information and concepts, or be able to effectively search for and evaluate specific information and concepts?
  • Do you think there is scientific consensus that global climate change is primarily driven by human activities? [answer: yes]
  • Approximately how many Australians require food relief each year? [answer: 2 million]
  • Are water quality problems in the Great Barrier Reef catachment area and climate change two of the biggest threats to the Great Barrier Reef? [answer: yes]
  • What percentage of the world's asylum seekers does Australia take? [answer: 1-2% of asylum claims, 0.2% of refugees]
  • Is there evidence that prohibition of illicit drugs does not work, and that other approaches may be more effective? [answer: yes - NZ is the latest country to test this]

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I learnt quite a lot from this article on Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists. There's also quite a lot in it that is sad and disgusting.

The last paragraph was a good, brief summary of how I see Feminism.

... feminists who echo Flavia Dzodan’s battle cry "My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit." Feminism is not just built to cater for rich, white, cis women any more - it’s there for everyone. It’s there to ensure that everybody gets the same opportunities in society, and to do that it has to fight for everybody - even you, Men’s Rights Activists. Feminists hate the patriarchy, not other people.


I've been using spotify for a little while now, and I thought I'd put down some of my observations.

First of all, here's one of the playlists I've made - Upbeat, the encouraging songs that I like.

I'm paying $11.99 per month for access to a huge array of music, in addition to the large collection I have locally. Let's start with some of the things I think could be better:

  • I find songs that I want to listen to that Spotify doesn't have more often that I'd like.
  • They still don't seem to support the video and audio elements. Which means all sorts of cool apps - visualisations, generated music, equalisers, games - can't be made or used.
  • There are some issues in navigation - some clicks start tracks playing, some go to info pages.
  • On occasion an app will just not work for a few days. This has happened with the lastfm, triple j and tunewiki apps.
  • Please, please, please, when I click on the close button, just close! Get rid of this silly 'close means minimise to the task bar/tray' stuff!
  • Are there really exactly 50 apps available? I would have thought there'd be many more than that.

And now for the good:

  • It is well past time that great desktop programs were simply wrappers around a browser. This is the way almost all desktop programs should be made.
  • Having said I find tracks Spotify doesn't have, there are so many excellent tracks available, it's usually not a problem.
  • The monthly $12 really does seem worth it to access pretty much any song I think of, when I think of it.
  • I like that queued tracks and other state is shared between computers. It doesn't always work, but it seems like it does. If I'm imagining this, then I guess my tastes are just that consistent.
  • Being able to see what other people are playing has been a great source of new tracks, bands and genres.

So all in all, there are still some gaps, but worth the $12/month, and I've certainly enjoyed the access to existing favourites, and new favourites.


I really get annoyed when I read this in a news article, or quote or show of some sort. There's rarely reasonable discussion about it, and almost never pressure against it. Identity fraud is usually the only push-back, and that's usually responded to with "oh, it's not likely to happen to you".

"if somebody's not going out to cause trouble they shouldn't have any problems having their ID scanned" - ID scanner company director Joel Sheehan quoted in ID scans raise privacy fears on The Age

The guy obviously has a vested interest. Some good discussion on why this is never a reasonable point of view. E.g. "Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance." - Bruce Schneier

Also this MetaFilter thread.

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