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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

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Revealing Porn

It is simply impossible to automatically restrict all pornographic content coming through the internet. Apart from technical issues, there is the more general problem of definition: how is the appropriatness of each piece of content determined, for each teenager? Despite the Government's faith in technology, no such automatic system can exist.

There is one tried and true content restricting system: parental supervision. While parents cannot monitor the children continually, all internet transactions are currently logged by ISPs. It is a relatively simple matter to make available to acount holders (parents), at the end of each month, a list of all websites visited including search queries. Concerned parents can cast an eye over this list, and click on any dubious-looking addresses or queries to determine its suitability first-hand.

While not foolproof, this would allow a dialogue between parents and teenagers about their usage, much like the phone bill does now for voice calls. This is a feasible, lawful and commonsense solution to the problem.

Monday, March 03, 2003

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Thank you, Spooner, for providing a voice for those who hold that the oppression and death of an Arab diminishes us all - even when it's not caused by a Westerner.

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Count Down to What End?

For most of us, the thought of war is so abhorent that we cling to any alternative - even ones likely to result in greater misery than the war.

Consider the call for more time for the weapons inspectors. Remember when the inspectors were there to verify that Saddam's regime was disarmed? It was going to take a few weeks - just like it took South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan a few weeks to disarm their weapons of mass destruction. Twelve years later, the verification teams have become detectives. They've gone from checking boxes on forms, to checking soil samples and spy-plane photos.

Originally, they were there to provide Saddam an opportunity to show the world he had disarmed. Now, the idea has crept in that the onus is on them to catch Saddam red-handed, with a "smoking gun", guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This is a dangerous unacknowledged shift, because Hans Blix cannot perform a totally exhaustive search. He can only report "we have not found anything - yet" or "they have not disarmed". The "nothing yet" message might mean that Saddam has disarmed, or merely that he's skilled at hiding his weapons programs. Who but the Iraqis can say?

If Saddam truly has disarmed, how does waiting longer help? What could happen in April that couldn't happen in February? The current weapons inspection program is incapable of giving the world the "all clear" signal that Iraq's persecuted minorities and neighbours deserve.