Letters Let's start the letters bag with something that got you really hot under the collar - the spoof Microsoft Firefox site. My, oh my, what a bunch of unhappy readers you were. Some of you even thought we thought it was real (how little credit you give us)...
As there's just too much abuse to post, we thought we'd give you the one of a million emails that actually appreciated the joke:
The microsoft Firefox spoof today has possibly been one of the best things I have seen in years, my entire office was almost in a fit of outcry, debates on whether or not anyone can just buy out thier competition rather than rivalling it and whether or not open source is really still open source has produced many a red face, but none more so than those who visited the website to download a copy of Internet Explorer 7.
Why, thank you.
And now into the hard stuff. More on TV licences, if you can bear it. I suspect this one could run forever...
When I told my wife about this story, she boggled. "You need a license to watch TV?"
Small steps, people. Today TV. in 2084, the Home Minister will be licesning oxygen.
There are a lot of things wrong with the USA, but freedom to receive unscrambled broadcasts without paying anyone for the privelege still exists here.
The whole TV licencing fiasco could have been avoided if a simple decision had been made, a few years ago before the move to all-digital TV was approved, to require all digital TV receivers and recorders to include a smartcard-based decoder.
Then the licence fee would be replaced by the need to buy a smartcard to unscramble the broadcasts. The end result is nobody watching TV without a licence, because it's not even possible to do so anymore. Of course, the decoder would be upstream of the SCART socket; so pre-recorded videos, DVDs and any new recording technology to be invented could still be watched. Recordings made off-air would have required a viewing card in the recorder at the time of recording.
(This would have the slight disadvantage that the fee would be payable per receiver, not per home. However, in a house with more TV sets than people, it would be possible just to transfer one card from set to set when watching in a different room. This would make it easier for parents to prevent kids watching TV; simply pull the card out of their set. Maybe we could even see a pay-as-you-go card, which is topped-up with fixed amounts of viewing; this would certainly be better for occasional TV watchers. There are many other possibilities that could be explored.)
I find it incredible that, in the course of a lengthy discussion which must have involved experts from across the broadcasting and setmaking industries, such a simple solution would never have been mentioned; and am forced to conclude that the authorities actually so enjoy intimidating people with poison-pen letters and Spanish Inquisition-style tactics that they killed off a scheme which would have eliminated TV licence evasion altogether.
Let me close by saying that I fully support the way the BBC is funded. The alternatives would be far worse: either advertisements (which ultimately leads to advertisers dictating content; ad-funded TV companies are effectively pimping audiences out to advertisers) or Government funding (which ultimately leads to the government dictating content; 'nuff said).
I don't have a TV, and after a number of threatening letters from the TV police, I wrote back to them threatening to sue them for harassment and inviting them to come and check I didn't have any TV receiving equipment. I got a polite letter back apologising for the stream of letters, saying they had to do it because some people who have a TV don't admit it. Since then, I have not heard from them (in about a year...).
I recommend this approach which seems to work.
An approach that doesn't sit well with you, however, is the UCLA police tasering a student for not carrying the right ID.
This is what happens when psychotic fucking pricks are given too much power. I hope those cops lose their jobs, pensions and receive long hefty prison sentences, but it's unlikely they'll be punished if they were trained to perform their duties in this manner.
To think that a student can receive torture and abuse at the hands of police who should have been more professional in handling such a situation is deplorable. In a University, the majority of people attending are educated enough to accept rational criticism. But if this is what a student gets for hanging around just because he forgot or never had the right ID with him, then I think something is very wrong with how police are trained to do their jobs.
A rational approach would have been more acceptable, such as on seeing the student leave, make sure he gets out of the building and is escorted back to his residence in a civil means, and maybe get a small fine for not having his ID. But as it's 10 minutes from Friday and rationality has already gone out the window; and I'm in a good mood, I recommend that the student be allowed strap those police to their cars, taser them consistently until the batteries die (even if the cops die first), then have the rest of the students who were present assist in torching the cars and their unwilling passengers while their families are made to watch.
You also didn't seem to feel the force when two members of the Jedi religion turned up at UN's London HQ petitioning for recognition of their religion:
Jedi?? That's just sooooooo 2001. I'm now a fully committed, die-hard Pastafarian (www.venganza.org)... well, I will be until something better turns up. Tom
In other news, two people in London failed to GET A LIFE! IT'S JUST A FILM YOU SAD LOSERS.
And don't get me started on the people who actually thought they'd get Jedi listed as a genuine religion based on an urban myth from Australia.
Our sentiments exactly.
Continuing with notions of reality, it emerged this week that phantom limb pain can be alleviated by creating a virtual universe where patients can see their missing limb restored - and move it. You had other suggestions:
It's an interesting piece, but are you aware that a somewhat more low-tech version has been used for some time? It's a box with a mirror down its centre. VS Ramachandran discovered this method in the early 90s. There's a decent explanation of how it works here http://aig.cs.man.ac.uk/research/phantomlimb/phantomlimb.php
Although El Reg readers are probably going to prefer to read about how people experience orgasms in phantom limbs http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/mind/note_nf3.html
Awww, you know us so well.
And on the topic of orgasms, the Queen was expected to propose banning "extreme porn" in her annual speech this week. And while she didn't end up actually mentioning it, it still ruffled a few feathers among you.
Brace yourself for this one...
Dear Mr Ballard
I think your brother does a great job of sports reporting on the BBC. But this isn't an email sent in praise ...
"The law does not propose to ban the act of consensual sexual violence, only the possession of a depiction of it. It will require a jury to determine that something was produced only for the purpose of sexual arousal, that it featured BEASTIALITY, necrophilia, or acts of violence that would be life threatening or result in a disabling injury, and that it had to be realistic."
Now just a moment! At no time has 'my Dolly' ever become aggressive towards me. OK, on the odd occasion she bleets at bit, but it's nothing a handful of grass can't sort out afterwards. And, obviously, I am at my tenderest when I am in her company.
Sir; whilst I am all for the prevention of people looking at photographs of other persons handcuffed to bedposts (and the like ... apparently ...) I do not see why - the otherwise honourable - St Tony of Bliar, has suddenly got it in for my Dolly?
What harm has she ever done to anyone?
Now Sir, I know what you are thinking ... but I simply do not have the time to service all of Dolly's friends (there are only seven nights in a week you know, and the Cheshire countryside is positively covered in white fluffy mounds!); so Dolly had taken to the practice of placing the odd snap of our night time rendevous (does that have another "s" in the plural? ... anyway ...) on random gate posts, for the viewing pleasure of any "uncared for" friends who may pass that way.
Therefore; I would venture that the restrictions about to be imposed will impinge terribly on her civil liberties and Bovid-Rights. Incidentally I do hope the new "Animal Restrictions" will, at least, leave her methodone allowence as is? In our household, Cold-Turkey is only served after Christmas; and we shall have an awful time if she reverts back to the crack!
Further - as I hope I have illustrated - it is not just Dolly who will be affected. What is the world going to do with all those unfortunate sheep who (alas) remain "uncared for", and who will now also be unable to receive their gate-post pr0n-fix?! Sheep are nervous enough things as it is; from what will we make jumpers if they loose their coats from the stress of the withdrawl symptoms from the lack of postings!?
Does no one in this cruel and unthinking government give a damn?!
Something must be done - I shall fetch the old man's elephant hunting rifle from its berth on the library wall. Time for a stand. Are you behind me?
(if so; wait yer f'kin' turn!)
Ah, riiiiight. Onwards.
There was a Blogging for Backlash day and if this is in the Queens speech there will be a second day held when it is debated in the period after the Queens speech.
The master blog (pun not intended) is at http://bloggingforbacklash.blogspot.com/
"What do we think about this? We're not supposed to take sides, so we're sitting on the fence - and boy, does it feel good."
Obviously you have not got the fence adjusted correctly and/or you have not been forced to sit on it for long enough. Perhaps you need one of these:-
No need, but thanks anyway.
My late father used to tell me "hard cases make bad law". He wasn't a lawyer, but he got that from someone who was. The point being, don't try to draft law to prevent a recurrence of one particular case. You'll end up with a law that doesn't achieve the objective, which this won't, and will criminalise all sorts of other things you didn't intend, which this will.
If any party comes into the next election promising to repeal any legislation that resulted from a campaign in the Daily Mail or Daily Express, they'll get my vote.