Friday, October 11, 2002

My ten inches of hot steaming blog may be quiescent for a few days. Taking the brood on a short vacation to the beach, and access may be intermittent or non-existent. There are rumours of exciting new technologies that do not require direct internet access, so perhaps I’ll give them a try.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

LET’S TALK ABOUT NUCLEAR DISARMANENT

Or more specifically, let’s talk about the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Let’s talk about moral bankruptcy masquerading as principal. Let’s talk about knee-jerk anti-West sentiment capturing and subverting agendas. Let’s talk about who’s got the bomb, who wants the bomb, and who should get rid of the bomb.

This from the Working Group against Star Wars:
We are also alarmed by the likely weaponisation of space as part of US plans for missile defence, the escalating resource commitment involved – now estimated at well in excess of $100 billion – and the possibility that the system would be used as an instrument of unaccountable strategic influence over other countries.

The worry over “unaccountable strategic influence over other countries” refers to the ability of a MDS-equipped US to tell nuclear-armed nations to behave. That is, make the two-way use of nukes less likely.

The CND are against NATO, preferring to look to the patronage of others:
CND wants to see the extension of influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and co-operation in Europe (OSCE).


Your remember the OSCE: they’re the nice folk who did such a CRACKERJACK job in Yugoslavia, less than a morning’s drive from OSCE Head Office.

It is reasonable to assume that an activist organisation will put their most important issues on the font page. From the NCD Home Page, their biggest bugbears are the Trident Submarine system, Israel/Palestine and Iraq. It isn’t clear why Israel gets singled out as the nuclear State That Rates, particularly since the closest we’ve come to a nuclear exchange in the past ten years is Pakistan/India. The CND claims they are interested in
justice for all, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims.

As far as the CND is concerned, the Palestinian Christians can go to buggery. No peace and Justice for them.

But the funny thing about the CND is that they’re not angry about Iraq’s repeated efforts to lay their hands on nukes. They’re not even concerned that an attack on Iraq might provoke a WMD response from Saddam. They’re afraid of Iraq not being forced to finally cease their pursuit of WMDs.

Why isn’t the CND in the forefront, leading the pro-war crusade? This is the first time that a state known to be actively pursuing nuclear weapons, and known to have biological and chemical weapons, will be disarmed and kicked out of the WMD club. The CND membership will actually get what they pay their dues for. As a bonus, you get rid of a regime that the all-knowing UN has agreed is a danger to others, liberate the locals from a police state, start the aid flow, and free up zillions in defence and UN spending for other purposes.

Judging by their web site, the CND is not particularly concerned with Iraq actually getting nuclear weapons. They do not see this prospect as in any way destabilising, certainly not as destabilising as the US implementing a system that makes the use of nukes less likely to succeed. Indeed, the CND website makes absolutely no mention of Iraq as a state interested in acquiring nuclear weapons. The acquisition of nuclear material by the Swiss (and French, Germans and Belgians) rates a mention. So do the African states that are a likely source for uranium smugglers, though who they would sell the product to the CND does not speculate. Even the new Australian reactor is in there.

So it appears that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is primarily directed at the states that have nuclear weapons (though not all of them), states that use nuclear power for peaceful means and for medical research (though not all of them).

One standout is that the CND has avoided using “nuclear” in connection to Iraq, in either past, present or future tense. The CND Briefing Paper of September 2002 is hardly enlightening on their attitude to Iraq. The only place nukes get a mention is in brief quotes from UNSC resolutions, and in uncontested quotes from Scott Ritter. By contrast, the CND takes the time to refute the recent report from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, so it’s not a matter of space.

On the subject of chemical attacks on his own people, the CND offers this by way of mitigation:
Much is made of the fact that the threat from Saddam Hussein possessing WMD is clear as he once used them on his own people. Perhaps we can put to one side the fact that it is highly unlikely that Saddam considers Kurds to be his own people.

What follows is three times as much space devoted to kicking the West for supporting Saddam, and a bit of smugness:
At the time, the attack was barely reported. CND and the peace movement tried hard to raise the issue.

Is there a worse crime than gassing non-combatants? Well yes:
The hypocrisy is staggering. If the US, or anyone else, says that it needs WMD to protect itself, then why shouldn’t every country do the same? The only just situation is for no-one to have them.

You heard it here first. Official CND policy is for all nuclear states to disarm simultaneously. Nothing else will do. In fact, it is more moral for all the 192 nation states to arm themselves with nukes, than for the US to act against Iraq. To hell with the low-hanging fruit. All or nothing, and the devil take the hindmost. Proliferation is preferable to the Pax Americana.

One good thing about the CND site is you get all the nutty goodness all in one spot.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

ALL THE COOL KIDS are reading The Carnival of the Vanities. Aren’t you?
APOLOGIES for the deafening silence of the last few days (or acknowledgement of applause, depending on your views). Number One Daughter committed herself to a producing a short video, so which Muggins gets to:
- Install new hard drive capable of handling video editing suite;
- Install video editing suite;
- Earn how to use video editing suite;
- Teach child how to use video editing suite;
- Stand next to child while she uses video editing suite.
This meant a finishing time of about 8.00 pm each night, by which time I was full prepared to throttle the computer, the dog, and any fool who suggested I spend any more damn time in front of the screen.

So try these:

DNA testing here we come.

Zookeeper dung collection ban leads to dangerous levels in chimp enclosure.

Sir Richard Branson rejects wide body Boeings, targets lucrative “big hair traveller” market.


I’M ONLY GOING TO SHOW YOU THIS ONCE!

I gotta have fun with this
Kamikaze Instructor Meets War Veterans
LONDON (Reuters) - A man who trained Japanese kamikaze pilots had a friendly meeting with some of their former targets in London Monday

You at the back of the class! Pay attention! If you don't listen, it could one day save your life!

MAKE YOUR KID'S LIFE HELL

Two Iraqi immigrant recently granted refugee status have gratefully named their baby after the Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock, thereby guaranteeing the kid a life of endless round of abuse from fellow immigrant children who can’t get Granny and Uncle Achmed out here on a working visa. Still, coodabeen worse, coodabeen grateful to the NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

I would appreciate any feedback on this post from readers in the know on copyright law, piracy legislation etc. The following arose from a conversation with The Good Lady Wife. It’s a frequent case that her sharp questioning and insistence on polite discourse means I must formulate reasonable arguments, logically buttressed. For this, and so many things, I thank her.

THE NEW PIRACY.

It is a common that people can be identified by characteristics not detectable by human senses. DNA, fingerprints and voice prints are accepted to one degree or another in many jurisdictions. It is not necessary to prove that this is a gross or obvious characteristic. Indeed, the very obscurity of the ID contributes to the reliability of the marker.

However, this might be a two-edged sword. Soon, the science of animation and reproduction will reach a point that it will be possible to create a copy of an image or a voice that is indistinguishable from the original, at least to the limit of human senses. I would like to focus today on voice and music simulation, as I believe this will be accomplished first, simply because the programming and processing load is smaller.

Many of us are familiar with voiceprints; each human voice can be differentiated to, I think, the accuracy afforded by fingerprinting. No matter what non-technological steps the speaker takes, analysis of the recorded voice will show the sub-vocals and harmonics that identify the unique person. Similarly, any impersonator can be undone regardless of the talent employed.

Let’s propose for a moment that some Bright Boy manages to synthesize the singing voice of Robbie Williams. At the same time, he installs a “watermark” into the recording so that even basic computer analysis will show that this is a fake. The music is not marketed under the name “Robbie Williams”, but as “XYZ”, singing an original composition of Bright Boy. To the unaided ear, the music is indistinguishable from Robbie Williams voice; but to a legal standard often accepted at the higher criminal standard of proof, it is easily shown to be not Williams.

The question on the table is: Does this constitute piracy? And if so, how?

Perhaps as interesting, is the question of whether it will impact on music sales. The GLW is certain, and I tend to agree with her, that it will not. She feels that much of music sales, particularly at the extreme end of the popularity curve, is all about gaining a piece of a person’s celebrity. To buy a genuine CD is to buy a slice of the artist, however far removed.

I would add a caveat applying to internet downloading. It would be reasonable to assume that an MP3 file virtually identical to Robbie Williams would be a popular item on the peer-to-peer networks. My experience is that file tags are at best haphazard, and at worst useless. So I would expect to see those files quickly re-tagged from “XYZ” to “Robbie Williams” and sent on their way. Inaccurate tagging is not a crime yet, and any competent lawyer could bounce a client out of a charge of piracy if a moment’s work was all that was required to identify the file as non-Williams.

This would make some inroads into CD sales, and legal internet downloads (assuming such a system becomes available), but how much? If the availability of genuine tunes via P2P systems is choked off by the record companies, the inexorable laws of supply and demand will see traffic in the remaining legal files skyrocket. Further, if and when this kind of technology becomes available to the mass market, it is likely we would see a seismic shift in the recording industry as anonymous people manipulate the voices of the rich and famous into anything they like.

The bizarre US Supreme Court ruling is the first major case decided on virtual images. If the Supremes feelthemselves unable to protect the public from people who are fundamentally child pornographers, can multi-billion dollar entertainment concerns expect to be better treated?

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