Propaganda Targeted With Propaganda?

Today has seen another episode of “completely missing the point” released by the Australian Government.

“Terrorist propaganda posted on social media and the internet will be monitored and analysed under an $18 million plan announced by the Abbott government.”

How will they target the propaganda?

“The government will also produce online material that challenges the claims of terrorists and promotes Australia’s values.”

Much like terrorist groups produce material that “challenge the claims of [insert-name-of-country-here] and promotes [insert-name-of-terrorist-group-here]’s values”?

Basically, tackling propaganda by issuing……………propaganda?

Just as we don’t see the material produced by terrorist organisations as something we would ever agree with, why would they see the material we produce as something they would ever agree with?

They are not going to change their view one iota – this is just another piece of populist politics, designed to appease the masses who can’t think things through for themselves.

Don’t get me wrong – I certainly don’t believe we should do nothing…but this is just a pointless waste of money from a government who believes in not wasting government money.

Almost hilarious.

The Metadata Minefield

Despite there being little or no evidence on the effectiveness or usefulness of mass data retention in jurisdictions where it has been implemented, our current Australian government seems determined to steamroll legislation through the parliament to introduce it here.

For its part, despite some noises against the idea, the current opposition Labor party – (the party that brought us that dumbheaded idea of a mandatory internet filter) – seems at least – (although wavering) – to be fairly open to the idea also, with some caveats.

“The letter, obtained by Fairfax Media, comes despite reports last week that Labor would “roll over” and support the bill as long as there were amendments in it that protected whistleblowers and journalists.”

On the surface, the protection of whistleblowers and journalists seems like a noble stance to take, but exactly what form would that ‘protection’ take?

The problem with ‘protecting’ whistleblowers with respect to this is actually pretty simple.

How will the authorities know who a whistleblower is, until they’ve actually blown their whistle?

Presume for a moment Edward Snowden was an Australian citizen who would have this legislation applied to him.

Until he actually acted in leaking information as a whistleblower, since he wouldn’t be known to the authorities as a whistleblower, he would apparently be afforded no protection.

Because technically until that moment of blowing, he’s not a whistleblower. Do they then throw out any and all data collected in relation to him?

I bet I know the answer to that.

And what about who he ‘whistleblew’ to? Of course, that would be a journalist, who would supposedly also be protected.

So would a Labor-supported version of the legislation include provisions to automatically exclude the communications associated with a recognised journalist?

I bet there would be a sudden upswing in the number of people applying to journalism courses around the country.

Consider the following.

Edward ‘Aussie’ Snowden – (who, remember, we don’t know is a whistleblower yet) – calls journalist Glenn ‘Aussie’ Greenwald with the information he wants to leak. Snowden’s communications are being captured, Greenwald’s are not.

The collected data still shows that Snowden called Greenwald, because Snowden is in the default dragnet.

It would’t matter what ‘protections’ are supposedly in the legislation.

Greenwald publishes without revealing his source. The authorities look up who has communicated with Greenwald, without specifically looking up Greenwald’s communications, and Snowden’s name shows up.

Who was protected here?

Presuming there was a good reason to introduce mandatory data retention – (and I’ve not heard a good reason yet) – getting it ‘right’ and having reasonable protections in place will be all but impossible.

There will be so many corner cases – (like my hypothetical here) – where even the best intended ‘protections’ will still fail the test of protecting those who need to be protected.

It will be a minefield.

Accidentally Revealing Your New Livery Early

It was great to see the return of Shell to the list of major sponsors in the V8 Supercars championship, particularly since it is returning to the team it is synonymous with, DJR Team Penske.

In an economic climate where sponsors have been hard to come by in the category, it is a positive for the whole championship. While I find the new livery a bit bland, I’ve got a tip for the team when unveiling a new sponsor and livery.

Don’t have the car covered up ready for a big reveal in the showroom, while the spare car in the workshop is visible to everyone – with the new livery on it! Click image below for a better view.


Sunday Nerding: Overhauling A Boeing 747

Ever boarded an aircraft and thought “hey, this thing looks pretty old, is it still safe?”

Many planes in the global fleet have ages beyond 20 years – for example, the Qantas fleet of 747-400 aircraft which has just been retired, was in service for around 25 years. Their remaining fleet of 747-400ER are about 10 years younger.

So how does a plane that old manage to remain in airworthy service?

All it takes is some tender loving care!

Sunday Nerding: The Enigma Code

With the recent release of the film The Imitation Game about the life and times of Alan Turing, the key scientist – (a mathematican) – in solving the problem of being able to quickly break the German enigma codes of World War II, I thought it might be time to explain in simple terms what he really managed to achieve.

Too many people don’t really know.

While the film has been criticised as distorting what really happened at Bletchley Park during the war, the historical significance of the work should never be forgotten, and the work of everyone at Bletchley Park celebrated.

You Don’t Know What Non-Fiction Means

Just spotted this in the local Target store while wandering around on my lunch break.


Yeah, I don’t think you know what that means!

Seriously eBay – Not Cool!

I discovered this email from eBay in my inbox this morning, and immediately thought “holy shit!”

Click the image for a larger view:

The email is about selling up unwanted gifts on eBay, which some people may be inclined to do at this time of year.

My nanna passed away 31 years ago, so while I was bit shocked that such an email would be packaged up in this way, it didn’t upset me particularly.

But how many people received this email, whose grandmother has passed away recently and for whom the wound would still be open, and would still be upset?


Insensitive much?

I’m sure your intent was benign, but how about thinking things through a little more next time?

Seriously, not very cool eBay!

Sunday Nerding: History Of The London Underground

Back onto a train theme today, with an interesting – (albeit slightly older) – documentary of the London Underground.

Amazing how things come about!

That Other Essendon Comeback

The comeback from 69 points in arrears by Essendon against North Melbourne in Round 16 of 2001 is widely regarded as the best comeback in football history, and the game itself is sometimes described as one of the greatest of all games ever played.

It is the greatest margin from which any team has recovered from to win, so in mathematical terms, it is certainly the greatest comeback in history. If you count the 12 points we won by that day, it was an 81 point turnaround.

I was lucky enough to be at that game – (and if you know where my reserved seat is, you can actually see me in the crowd during the telecast) – and it is a day I’ll never forget, but I have slightly fonder memories of another Essendon comeback I was fortunate to attend – on Anzac Day 1992 against Melbourne.

After an early goal to Melbourne in the last quarter, Essendon – (who had been thoroughly outplayed for the entire match) – found themselves 47 points behind.

At the three quarter time break, I had turned to my dad and said “we’re still going to win this” – he and all those around me just laughed, but it was only 30 minutes later that I was the one who was laughing:

Why did I think we would still win at the last change? Basically, at the end of the third quarter, Melbourne looked spent. They had smashed us all afternoon, but they looked tired. I just had a feeling it was on.

And it was, and the aftermath was insane. Complete strangers in Essendon paraphernalia were running up to each other and hugging. I remember looking up into the upper levels of the Great Southern Stand and seeing people dancing with each other in the aisles.

It was remarkable.

This video is actually something of a rarity – back in 1992 not all games were covered on television, and the footage shown here is just standard pool footage that was used for the highlights reels on the evening news. You couldn’t even buy a copy of the game on DVD because it wasn’t in the AFL archive, and I was never aware that this pool footage had been saved and overlaid with radio commentary from Geelong’s K-ROCK radio station.

It has been more than 22 years since that day, and this is the first time I have seen it since. It might not have been quite as large a comeback as the game against North Melbourne nine years later, but I’ve always felt this one was just a little bit better.

But they were both awesome, and I was at them both!

Triple 8: Attention To Detail

Last weekend, Triple 8 Race Engineering’s Jamie Whincup completed his sixth Australian V8 Supercars Championship title, moving him into first place on the all-time champions list, ahead of Pete Geoghegan, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife – all of whom won five championships.

Rarified air.

Before I continue, I’d like to point out I’m not specifically a fan of Whincup and Triple 8 – first and foremost I am a Holden fan – so this is by no means a “fanboi” piece. I hear a lot of people commenting about how they are sick and tired of Whincup winning all the time.

Indeed, all six of his championships have come in a seven season block – missing out in 2010 when he came second to James Courtney.

The bottom line is that as a combination, Triple 8 and Jamie Whincup are so good that frankly everyone else needs to try harder. Whincup himself has even said as much this week, calling for other teams to “raise their level”.

That might appear a bit conceited on the surface, but ultimately he’s right. He’s not going to step back a little just to give others more wins, and others do need to lift their game.

But what makes them so good? Like many other dominant teams in motorsport – (for example, McLaren Honda in the 1988 F1 season, who won every race, bar one) – it is about attention to detail.

Even with the best car in the series – (and McLaren did have that in 1988) – it is the little things that lift you just that little bit higher – the desire to achieve that pushes those extra few tenths of seconds in lap time out of cars and drivers.

Allan Moffat is often quoted that in motor racing “the harder you work, the luckier you get” – and he’s right.

Here’s an example from just last weekend during the rain-shortened Saturday race. Note the normal blue headlights – featuring the Komatsu sponsorship on a Triple 8 Commodore:

When the rain started, as did most drivers, Whincup turned on his headlights, shining through the blue headlight covering:

When the race was suspended, and the cars were waiting in pit lane, the team were carefully wiping around the doors, getting rid of as much water as possible:

And what else did they do during the stoppage? Unlike any other team that I noticed, they ripped off the headlight coverings, and when the race resumed under the safety car, the full power of the headlights was useable:

You may love another team or driver, but you can’t deny that Triple 8 think of everything, and go that little bit further to do everything they can to get across the line.

Did removing the headlight covers win Whincup the race?

Probably not – but the team were thinking on their feet and giving him all of the tools he needed. I didn’t see any other team do anything like this. The other cars in the screenshots with blazing headlights don’t have their headlights covered normally.

It is this attention to detail, this hard work, that makes Triple 8 so “lucky”.

So yes…other teams? Lift your games.