Billions lost through killer app

The UK has lost its AAA credit rating in the same week that the engrossing 360 degree London panorama was released, causing an estimated £8.3 billion loss in national productivity.*

I challenge anyone to keep up their industrial output if they’ve got access to this on their work pc. A massive privacy disaster, granted, but genuinely magic.

* Ok, I made that up. But I did say “estimated” (i.e. my guess is as good as yours. Well, better because I have access to the media – to wit, a wordpress blog) So it’s totally consistent with all the economic forecasts that you see normally.

No comment

Granted that I haven’t been posting for months but I’m a bit distressed to find that when I look at this blog I can’t see or solicit comments.
The comments are traditionally the best things on the blog so I promise to try to fix this….

History lesson – WMD

This is an object lesson in how to get WMD. Don’t worry, you won’t get in trouble or anything. Well, this chap didn’t.
Public records, released under FOI for a 2006 BBC TV Newsnight programme and discussed in a New Statesman article, showed how the ~1960 Israeli government managed to get its hands on nuclear weapons materials.
The BBC reported that the programme has shown “Secret sale of UK plutonium to Israel “ Secret indeed. Even secret from government ministers and quite probably the sitting Prime Ministers, and over the objections of Defence Intelligence, the MOD and – sometimes – the Foreign Office.
The New Statesman has the fullest account. Read it.

Kelly and his colleagues .. (i.e. the Defence Intelligence staff who mounted a pretty spirited attempt to uncover what was going on and try to block it) .. however, found their views were being challenged. Chief of the challengers was Michael Israel Michaels .. who was a senior official at the science ministry under Lord Hailsham during the Macmillan government, and went on to serve at the technology ministry under Benn. He was also Britain’s representative at the IAEA.(my emphasis) quotation is from New Statesman

Mr Michaels was in fact so keen on the idea of supplying Israel with bomb-making materials that he just carried on doing it, even after Tony Benn became Energy Secretary. Michaels just didn’t think to bother ministers with the knowledge.

Mr Benn told the programme that civil servants in his department kept the deals secret from him and his predecessor, Frank Cousins.
He had always suspected that civil servants were doing deals behind his back, but he never thought they would sell plutonium to Israel. He told Newsnight: “I’m not only surprised, I’m shocked. It never occurred to me they would authorise something so totally against the policy of the government. (From the BBC)

“Michaels lied to me, I learned by bitter experience that the nuclear industry lied to me again and again.” He thought Wilson may not have known that Britain was helping Israel to get the bomb. (From the Guardian)

Astonishingly, Michaels had the effrontery to complain to the BBC Trust about the programme, rather than to give disbelieving thanks that he hadn’t been arrested for treason.
From the Trusts’s ruling on his complaint about Newsnight

Summary of the finding
The complaints concerned an investigation carried out by Newsnight, and presented by Michael Crick, that looked into the British government’s involvement in assisting Israel with its development of nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s. The item was based on recently released government papers suggesting that Michael Michaels, a senior civil servant and the British government’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency, had acted with dual loyalties when he had ensured the supply of plutonium and other radioactive materials to Israel without the knowledge of the Minister responsible, and possibly without the Prime Minister’s knowledge.
Both complainants felt that the inclusion and repetition of Mr Michaels’ middle name (Israel) was unnecessary and, therefore, anti-Semitic.
They also objected to the suggestion that he had dual loyalties, which they felt implied disloyalty……..
The Committee concluded as follows:
The use of Mr Michaels’ middle name did not breach the guidelines on harm and offence.
It was satisfied that there was no intention to endorse a stereotype, and it was not anti-Semitic. In general, the use of the name had been as a form of shorthand to highlight Mr Michaels’ association with Israel.
With regard to “dual loyalties”, the Committee was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence put forward to suggest that Mr Michaels might indeed have had dual loyalties in his dealings with Israel. However, the Committee concluded that this was not the same as suggesting that Mr Michaels had been disloyal.
The Committee also felt that the report had raised the possibility that the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, might have known about the shipment to Israel. The item therefore did not breach guidelines on impartiality…
The Committee did not uphold the complaints.

More war on jokes

Jokes. Not necessarily funny jokes. Just things said in a lighthearted way. Who’d have thought the internet would kill them off?
Not Jokes with a punchline, clearly labelled as jokes. Or funny viral videos. Or internet cartoons. Or footage of comedians on YouTube. I think these are all OK.
Just the sort of things that you might say to your friends. Not real jokes. Banter. Mockery. Using figures of speech: Irony; Sarcasm; Hyperbole; Metaphors; Similes and so on. Exaggerating things for effect.
Whatever you do, don’t try this on the Internet. Don’t even react to other people doing it.
On today’s BBC site:

Labour councillor suspended over Facebook ‘Tory bomb plea’

The story is outrageous. A comment was posted on a Facebook site in July 2010.

It read: “We are appealing to the IRA to find it in their hearts to bomb the next Tory conference.” (from the BBC story)

That’s obviously a joke. Or, an amusing aside, rather than a “joke.” It’s elegantly phrased (“find it in their hearts”). It’s witty. I would even say that I liked it, if the consequences mightn’t be so horrendous. Because apparently, among twenty six people who Facebook-”liked” it in the following half a year (rather than people who just may have liked it unofficially) one was a local councillor, Florence Anderson.
She was suspended. She didn’t even write the joke herself. She had just responded to an elegant expression of frustration by casually clicking a button on a Facebook site. Clicking a button.
I don’t know anything about her record as a councillor but she looks like someone who’s devoted many years to working for her party and her local community. She probably never even made the Sunderland Evening Advertiser before. And here she is getting rewarded by getting suspended from her role and plastered over the BBC’s website because she once may have clicked on a “like” button.
Comedian Al Murray wrote about the ongoing saga of the Robin Hood Airport trial in last Saturday’s Guardian. Total respect to Al Murray and the other comedians who have kept this issue alive and raised the money for Paul Chambers’ appeal. (Paul Chambers was convicted of sending a “threatening” message after a jokey twitter comment that even the prosecutors admitted no one would have seen as a credible threat. After conviction, he lost his job and his life was pretty well destroyed).

This week I went to the Royal Courts of Justice to offer support to someone who is in a lot of trouble because of a not particularly funny joke. As an erstwhile pedlar of some not particularly funny jokes (just ask the Guardian’s comedy critic, he doesn’t dig what I do at all), this matters to me a great deal. (from Al Murray in the Guardian)

In the face of the all-out war on banter, Al Murray suggested that anyone using any figure of speech in banter might now have to put the tag #joke# around anything not meant to be taken literally, for the benefit of the hard of thinking.
This seems like a plan. It would cut down on prosecutions for banter. However, it would have the side effect of raising idle banter to the status of “joke,” which few items of banter could carry off successfully. The reader would usually be left thinking “Well, that’s a bit amusing but I don’t think it has much of a punchline”.
In any case, it wouldn’t have helped Florence Anderson. She didn’t even have an opportunity to acknowledge that she didn’t believe it was a serious attempt to direct Republican terrorists to the Tory Party assembly. Nor that she thought for one minute that dissident Republicans would take orders from random blog posts.
Hence, I suggest that Facebook and Google Plus etc should provide buttons that say “I would quite like this, on the understanding that I am only liking it as banter”
Who are these mean-spirited reporters-to-the-authorities of twitter banter or Facebook clicks. Who is policing people’s “likes”? Why don’t these enemies of free speech turn their attention to private conversations and start calling in Swat teams anytime they hear “Don’t be late or I’ll kill you” on the bus? Is it the scary magic of the internet that makes them unable to distinguish between the use of a figure of speech and a statement of intent? If so, let’s ditch the internet, human beings haven’t evolved enough to use it.
Tip for any one with any enemies:
If you really hate someone who may now or at any time in the future hold any public office or have a job that needs a clean criminal record (ie anyone) set up a honey trap Facebook page, fill it with seemingly lighthearted banter that could be misconstrued by someone who doesn’t really speak your language then encourage your enemy to express appreciation. You’ve destroyed them right there.

(You wait ages for a post and then two come along at once….)

Some sort of tribute

Benoit Mandelbrot died on 14th October.

(Non-breaking news from me. i.e. Probably 4 days after everyone else knows it. A good tribute on the BBC by the way but the images are poor.)

He was the main man for making maths beautiful, even to mathematically challenged people like me.. Fractal mathematics is the mathematics of life. In fact, for atheists, fractal maths is pretty much a direct route to what simpler people call looking at the face of “god” .

Here’s a beginner’s guide to what fractals are with links to some image galleries.

In the mid-nineties there were any number of graphics packages that let you play around with creating fractals, from a standing start, on a 486…. Especially the venerable and respected fractint.

I found a version that’s still online. version 20. It’s been updated to work on Windows 3.0…. Hmmm, even my PC isn’t quite that elderly.
(Wahay. I found a 2008 ftp site. Must try it out again.)

Here are a few fractal image links from tinterwebs.

* The classic Mandelbrot set.From a site that explains why it isn't evidence of Intelligent Design

I like the source that I got this image from. It points out that someone might see a visual representation of a Mandelbrot set as evidence for “Intelligent Design” and answers

But in fact, the Mandelbrot set is the product of a relatively simple mathematical equation.

That’s the non-divinely miraculous nature of fractal images. A few simple changes in start conditions and/or a slightly different equation and another infinite set of magical things appears.

* A fractal vegetable.

from wikipedia- image of a romanesco broccoli

Romanesco broccoli


Ok that’s cheating. Pretty much any living thing is “fractal.” The difference is that romanesco broccoli LOOKS like a generated fractal.

* The coastline of Norway
Space view of the coast of Norway

The coast of Norway looks like a generated fractal too. But, then, any coast is fractal. Zoom in and it breaks up into infinitely recursive self-similar patterns.

In fact, everything is pretty much fractal. Incredibly simple and endlessly complex. And we can see this mainly thanks to teh work of Mandelbrot.

Numbers of the beasts

Quite fascinated to find that every post that I read on on Rapture Forms had 225 recommendations. Strange – nay, almost uncanny – coincidence, maybe? Nothing orchestrated about that, clearly,

More numbers: There are 500 “religious organisations” on Facebook. For the first few pages, these religious organisations don’t even have names, just combinations of dots and dashes. (Must be some esoteric form of morse code that only gods understand).

But blow me down with a celestial feather. They all have lots of Friends.

Even if the group name is a dot-dash combo, the picture is a question mark and their entire content is a spam-for-christ by something called st andrews bookshop* (which is a precise description of a few dozen) they still attract Friends numbered in into double or triple figures. It’s hard to find a named group has less than 150.

For example, a site that announces its name as //, has a description that’s just a cuss word repeated and a couple of posts about mobile phone tariffs being shite has 348 members. (Ok, that one possibly isn’t really a religious organisation.)

I am forced to concede that the one about voting for Motorhead to be Pope isn’t really a religious group either. Though I might have got the “Lemmy for Pope” idea slightly wrong. (Yes, I’ve found out that “popolo” does mean “people”…) A babelfish translation of its intro produced this, which appears to make as much sense as most normal religious announcements:

It tires of the political usual? It tires of politics of moralisti feints and who sermon and marazzola well badly? L’ only alternative is the popo of the Motorhead. you have been always not class? You have always had March or Die? You have always dreammed of aprirti a whorehouse blues?

176 people joined this. Maybe it makes perfect sense in Italian.

Downhearted by the uselessness of babelfish and fearing a door-bursting visit by the security services, I didn’t look at any of the islamic groups. Nor any of the many Indonesian or Eastern European ones. If babelfish makes a worse dog’s breakfast of translating Italian than I could do by guesswork, I don’t want to let it loose on a non-European language.

So I stick mostly to reading the groups written in English, which sort of biases the sample. But it seems that any religious group on Facebook – real or spoof – gets close to 200 friends. I start to feel relatively very unpopular.

I see a group called “All Christians take back America” (You might assume that’s the lead in to “….and demand a refund”) 189 Facefriends. This turns out not to to be full of plans to take over America, so much as requests for prayers for various unfortunates. So it’s depressing rather than funny/frightening.

Momentary diversion in the form of a post link (from the not-at-all-stereotypically-named Lula May something-or-other**) to www.baghdadprayerpatrol.com but that turns out not to exist.

Find this on another post there, made by Cathy J some-surname**:

Satin is really working hard to bring me down. He knows I have God in my heart and he is trying so hard to break me down. …….Please pray that Satin does not win

I am personally praying for Silk to sweep the board. But Cotton is very durable. So, I guess that I also hope that Satin doesn’t win.

It seems that the demonic fabric is making headway in Italy, (but in Italian they misspell it, using an A where the word clearly has an I) so that the 181-member group FACCIAMO CHIUDERE IL GRUPPO “SATANISMO RAZIONALE” has been set up to counter it (Bloody babelfish translation again:)

WE MAKE TO CLOSE THE GROUP ” SATANISMO RAZIONALE”
we make to close this orribile group that idolatra the evil, therefore is against every religion… participated numerous, makes to close it

Satin may be so unpopular that it only attracts a hate group but several other everyday items have their own worship groups, each with nearly 200 members: Alcohol; Kinder eggs; White milk (Yes, there is such a thing and, no, I don’t know how it differs from regular milk, which was indeed white when I last looked.. Well I do know, now, it’s the colour of the cap. And 189 people joined this group.)

I haven’t found any Atheist “religious organisations” yet. Oh yes, contradiction in terms. D’oh. Face palm even.

*Standrewsbookshop seems to have cornered the market in Face-spamming-for-jesus. The only other spams that appear often enough to be noticeable are for an airline that I’ve never heard of.
** See how I am scrupulously half-protecting their identities. Even though they’ve blithely put their full names and photos on Facebook…..

@MinOvTroof twitfeed

TheMin: Changed my plans for this week to attend more XFactor negotiations.

@RoZEE, Nothing is more important for our children than bigging up the XFactor winner– I will fight hour by hour for it

TheMin: am officially an x factor convert.big up joe, big up simon, big up boyley…

@supremes: u are my fave US group. Could teach our brit judges a thing or 2 about fronting me bessie m8

TheMin: Just back from helping me bessie m8 Milly wiv his court case. Judges are dissing him but he’s staying strong. Big shout out to Milly.

TheMin: All the goss

……

Ironic News International

Rupert Murdoch and his son & heir and employees are getting a bit stressed about the world-wide-web as a threat to their unfeasibly large income stream. For instance, in today’s Guardian,

Rupert Murdoch: ‘There’s no such thing as a free news story’
News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch tells US regulators that users will pay for news – and aggregation is theft

He is terrified that the net is killing his print titles – like the British newspaper, the Sun (:-) What a loss to the written word that would be, not) by offering free news. He is so convinced that people will happily pay for trash content that he’s been busy trying to get every one who will listen – including a federal trade commission – to support this idea. Which rather seems to contradict the whole concept of people’s willingness to pay. If that were true, wouldn’t people just happily pay. Surely, he’s not demanding preferential treatment? Isn’t the untrammelled market the perfect mechanism any more? Gosh, you shock and stun me, Mr Murdoch.

I think the “News International threatened by technological change” think qualifies as being “hoist by his own petard” (whatever a petard is.)

For those of you with an interest in ancient history, Murdoch was at the centre of a bitter labour dispute in the 1980s, based on his determination to break the print unions through the use of new computer technology.

Whosoever diggeth a pit, etc….

Xtreme bingo

Get your playing card for the great new game of “Domestic Extremist Bingo” from the Guardian Online.

Not sure how to claim your prize, sorry, but there seems to be a £9 million jackpot up for grabs.

So get marking those cards.

No prizes for spotting comedian Mark Thomas in there, either. But you can have him as your starter, so you don’t have to actually see him at a protest to cross him off your scorecard.

Breaking news:
Sorry kids, it looks as if the Information Commissioner has finally tried to spoil your fun. By actually spotting the outrageous nature of the information in this Guardian story .

Byronic flights of fancy

Wow, “danger”, “perils” to children, “help – before it’s too late”. What a scary Times headline! I am already shaking with fear before I’ve read it. Won’t anyone think of the children, and so on?

What is this scary thing? Of course, it’s the internet.

Mind the gap: The perils of failing to keep pace with your child online
A dangerous gap has emerged between web-savvy kids and parents. Professor Tanya Byron has launched a new campaign to help — before it’s too late

Hmm. This is to mark the launch of a campaign, a “grassroots campaign” no less. (There’s a beautiful phrase in US politics for a campaign that pretends to be a genuine upsurge of democratic will but actually, well, isn’t. Oh yes, the word is “Astroturf”)

The campaign seems to involve asking kids if they can use any tech and getting very afraid when they say yes..

The campaign’s catalyst is Byron, known for her television programmes The House of Tiny Tearaways and Am I Normal?, as well as the author of the government-backed 2008 Byron Review Safer Children in a Digital World, which resulted in the creation of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

So, a tv child psychologist heads it. Hmm, why am I less than convinced by this whole thing? A tv child psychologist who also writes for the Times. And gets written about in the Times. Because, she’s also in the news today. (In the Times):

Ministers need to act swiftly on child safety, warns adviser

It’s Tanya, now known as “Gordon Brown’s adviser.”

Well who else could the government call on? Obviously, no amount of experience or qualifications or all-round peer-reviewed respect gained by any other child psychologist, or by any person who actually knows anything about the internet, could stand up against the fact that she’s got tv programmes.

(If you ever doubted that senior politicians are in thrall to the cult of celebrity at least as much as the people who read Heat (etc) magazines, Tanya is the living proof of your naivete.)

The busy Tanya is panicking about the UK not implementing some European directive on games classification. Or all of her recommendations, really. So she’s going from school to school asking questions, to support the idea that kids may know things about using the internet that their parents don’t. And that this is somehow inherently terrifying….

The games classification thing is typical of the kneejerk reactions of this “grassroots” campaign. For a start, it’s inherently counter-productive, in terms of their supposed goals. Would anything make a game more attractive to an early teenager than an 18 certificate?

Is there any evidence that playing pc or console games that are “too old for them” harms kids? Any evidence at all?

Is there any evidence whatsoever that parents are all in a strange population subgroup that failed to notice anything that happened over the last twenty years? Like the arrival of the Internet. How many adults do you know who don’t use computers or the net?

There’s a more internet and computer nonsense on the BBC today.

Tech addiction ‘harms learning’
Technology addiction among young people is having a disruptive effect on their learning, researchers have warned.

The study – Techno Addicts: Young Person Addiction to Technology - was carried out by researchers at Cranfield School of Management, Northampton Business School and academic consultancy AJM Associates.

(The AJM website mission statement says:
“Providing outstanding returns for investors along with excellent leadership in managing real estate projects is the AJM Associates mission.” I, for one, admire the conduct of educational research by profit-oriented real-estate companies and management schools….In your face, stuffy old educational academics. )

You can buy the study from Siigel Press for about $25. It’s on their “Bestseller” list. (Hardly surprising that it’s a best-seller. It got a free plug on the BBC, ffs)

The blurb talks up the shock value of this “bestseller”.

Technology addiction amongst young people, particularly in terms of facilitating social networking, is having a disruptive effect on positive attitudes towards learning. Read the results of this collaborative study spearheaded by Cranfield School of Management, Northampton Business School and AJM Associates. While students expressed little concern of addiction, technology obsession is hindering spelling skills, encouraging plagiarism and disrupting classroom learning. Download this report to learn the full details and the disturbing impact technology is having on today’s youth.

Call me a pedant – despite my possible incipient adult-onset internet addiction – but “While students expressed little concern of addiction,” doesn’t seem like correct grammar to me.
And surely they don’t really mean to claim that technology addiction is “facilitating social networking”?

If it was only possible to channel the energy that goes into manufacturing internet scares and turn it to a useful purpose, we could all be driving round in hot-air powered vehicles and could stop worrying about global warming,

Otherwise, I think that – if you really want to protect your kids online – you actually talk to them.

Fibre optic cable to god

I hope the god-of-abraham has a decent internet connection. He seems to have dropped “omnipresence” from his skillset and to have been reduced to logging on to catch up with his latest comments, like us mere mortals.

A good post on the Times religion blog reported on the growth of online prayer sites. Like beliefnet.

I was already baffled enough by prayer. The internet version is incomprehensible to another order of magnitude.

There are lots of tragic situations listed, with set prayers to go with them. (I don’t know if the participants are allowed to put them in their own words or to precis them in a hurry.)

Do these get delivered straight to the-god-of-abraham? Or are people supposed to repeat them aloud or read them silently, or what? (I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have inadvertently “prayed” by reading them online).

Apparently, the site has seen a huge surge in online prayer requests since the economy tanked. Is the divine omniscience failing again? Surely the-god-of-abraham already knows about the economy?

If he was going to spare his devotees from getting poorer, surely he’d have already sorted them. Or, at least, raptured them or something. Don’t tell me he’s doing that bastardy thing again of just helping them out if they really crawl first and tell him how much they love him.

The answer is so obvious. He’s got fibre-optic cable and now he spends all day surfing the net rather than listening to individuals’ hearts. If it’s not on a blog – or at least on twitter – he hasn’t heard it.

The Times post quoted Richard Sloan:

“The prayers on these sites are all prayers for petition, as opposed to prayers of praise, or prayers of wonder…”

In other words they are all celestial begging letters.

Beliefnet reckons Jesus or god or both (I’m mildly confused by which one this is) promised to answer these prayers:

Jesus lays down amazing promises about the power of asking things from God. He promises to answer. You can check out Thursday’s post if you’d like to see a few of those commitments. Bottom line: God puts himself on the line to deliver what we pray for!

God “puts himself on the line”!!! By Ogum! God may even step up to the plate to deliver on these prayers. Count me in, there’s loads of things I’d like to ask for.

No wait, there is small print. “conditions.”

One of which is, bizarrely, that “Jesus makes prayer a corporate matter.”

I am in awe at this 21st century god. He doesn’t just have a net connection. He is also a CEO.

Ah, it seems to mean he answers prayers by volume.

Effective requests come to God as petitions with more than one signature attached.

Look, he’s a busy guy, right? He can’t be expected to pay attention to the fall of a single sparrow or anything, in a world with 6 billion human beings. He needs lots of voices clamouring for him to do something before he’ll bother to put himself on the line. (That’s why your single prayer for the regrowth of your amputated limb failed, fool.)

There were previous conditions: “asking” (Well duh, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Surely you didn’t think your god was omniscient enough to know that you wouldn’t welcome that bankruptcy?) and “faith.”

Which has a strangely instrumentalist meaning:

Faith as the Bible defines it is an action based on a conviction that something promised with be delivered, even before any evidence appears that it will be so.

Is this a new consumerist adaptation of Christianity? Guaranteed delivery, even if you don’t actually get the thing you ordered.

The god-of-abraham as a giant e-commerce application?

According to the Times,

Worries about the ethics of these sites are further fuelled by the existence of some which charge for intecessionary prayer, offering a ‘call-centre’ style service.

Bang up to the minute, again, god-of-abraham.

What’s the betting that he’s outsourced the whole god business to some Indian call-centre? There must be enough gods in the Hindu pantheon to service the current global demand for divine intervention.

And the god-of-abraham is sunning himself on the beach at some Red Sea resort with a fast internet connection.

Atheist Blogroll Photography Competition

I was going to post about this last weekend, but I figured it would be better waiting a while so this can serve as both an advertisement and a reminder.

Mojoey has initiated the 2009 Atheist Blogroll Photography Competition and you have from now until 15 September 2009 to get your entries in. In the words of the great man himself:

I am pleased to announce the 2009  Atheist Blogroll photography contest. This year’s contest is open to any member of the Atheist Blogroll, their family, friends or significant others. By request, I’ve also opened the contest up to members of the Atheist Nexus too. We have five categories this year.

  • Atheism/Religion
  • Travel and People
  • Self-Portrait
  • Altered Images
  • The Natural World

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2009.  Send your photographs as a .jpg file to the Atheist Blogroll.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? As always there are rules (but these are not onerous):

  1. Contestants may send up to three photos per category.
  2. Each submission must be an original work and may not have won any other contests.
  3. When sending your photographs, you must adhere to the following restriction: Actual file size may not exceed 2,048 KB (2 MB) and must be in .jpg, .jpeg.
  4. Submissions by persons under that age of 18 require parental consent.
  5. No Pornography – I follow the, “I know porn when I see it rule.”

Some important points to note about your submissions:

These fields are required.

  1. Category
  2. Title
  3. Caption and camera information
  4. Where and when the photo was taken: Los Angeles, May 2008
  5. The name or pseudonym of the photographer.
  6. A link the the artists blog or Atheist Nexus page. If a friend of an Atheist Blogroll member, then a link the members blog is appropriate.

By sending a photo you are granting the right for the photo to be displayed at Deep Thoughts as part of the 2009 photography contest or as part of a Google collection linked to the 2009 photography collection. All other rights remain with the artist.

If you are interested and want to find out more – such as how to enter – then check out the original post on Deep Thoughts. This is a great, fun, competition which seems very easy to enter so get out your SLR/Compact/Phone/Whatever and take some pictures. When you’ve done that (and turned them into JPEG if needed) get them off to Mojoey and see if you can win.

Also, Mojoey is looking for people to help with the judging so, if that is more up your street give it a go – but make sure you let my pictures win :-)

They steal your soul

Police in Greater Manchester have been walking around with hand-held cameras filming parolees and “people they don’t like the look of” with the intention of putting video footage on Youtube.

How beautifully ironic that police in some parts of the country are arresting and dearresting people carrying cameras with intent to capture images, while their colleagues in other places are doing that exact thing as a supposedly powerful crime-fighting tool.

What is it about the magic of cameras? There is a probably mythological idea that certain tribes believed that photographs somehow stole your soul. Our society seems to hold to a contradictory belief that photographic images are at the same time both “terrifyingly dangerous” and “the solution to every social problem”. Which of these beliefs is the most obviously irrational? (Rhetorical question)

This reminds me of a post on the Register that showed pictures of Google Street View vehicles, taken by the people who were themselves featured on Google Street View taking the pictures on the Register. The Register suggested that

Surveillance feedback loops threaten fabric of time and space