Lydia and the Mine

Christmas is over and I’m full of good cheer. And cake.

Since I haven’t written in a while here is a random piece of fiction I wrote at some point last year:

Lydia and the Mine

To read it you will have to scroll to the right. I trust you can figure it out.

Old people still don’t understand how the Internet works

Lovely little article in The Guardian about the British communications minister asking British ISPs to perform miracles. Let’s tear this apart, shall we?

Internet service providers are to be asked by the government to tighten up on website pornography to try to combat the early sexualisation of children.

Ministers believe broadband providers should consider automatically blocking sex sites, with individuals being required to opt in to receive them, rather than opt out and use the available computer parental controls.

More flaws than paragraphs, folks:

  1. How can an ISP tighten up on websites? I guess that’s a euphemism for block.
  2. Is early exposure to pornography actually a causal factor for the “early” sexualization of children or does it just, you know, feel bad that it’s there?
  3. For that matter, what is early sexualization as opposed to regular sexualization?
  4. What is a sex site? Is it pornography or is it any site that includes a picture of a vagina (e.g. Wikipedia). I assume the minister will clearly dictate the rules for the millions of websites on the Internet, one by one.

Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, is to meet internet providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, “in the near future” to discuss changing the way pornography enters private homes, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed. The move is designed to protect children from being exposed to pornography on the net.

“This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it’s the ISPs that some [sic] up with solutions to protect children,” Vaizey told the Sunday Times.

This makes sense, of course, if the Internet were cable television. Unfortunately the Internet is a many-to-many broadcasting system and ISPs can control what comes over their service in the same extent that the British mail system can control what arrives at Minister Vaizey’s mailbox.

“I’m hoping they will get their acts together so that we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.”

The action follows the success of moves by most British internet providers to prevent people inadvertently viewing child pornography websites.

Was the inadvertent viewing of child pornography actually a problem in Britain?! What websites were the British public surfing, exactly? In any case, “child-porn” blocks don’t work. A similar measure in Australia was humiliated when Wikileaks obtained the government block list. They found that list contained non-pornographic websites such as LGBT organizations, sex education sites, political websites, and so on.

But if one thing is true it’s that evidence based research has no place in British policy decisions.

Is this it merely the nature of politics that people who don’t understand how things work even remotely will end up deciding policy about said things?