Posts by Andre Alessi

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  • Hard News: A bigger breach?,

    You stop too soon, Craig. There's no evidence he wasn't involved with the Permian extinctions, after all, and I personally find that deeply suspicious.

    To quote Peggy Noonan, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Apple-pie Embedding,

    I am startled by how many people on my Twitter feed (and the blogs I read) have been passing that Muppet video around.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A bigger breach?,

    Slightly off track.
    The appropriately named 'Your Telecom' service from Telecom has been offline for a week.
    Security breaches ?

    I'd be highly surprised if it was anything like that, from what I understand it's heavily integrated with other services which are still up and running, and there's no way to get "free money" (or free services for that matter) from it.

    Much more likely to be an issue with an upgrade or change to the backend of the service that had to be rolled back, resulting in the shutdown until they could get things fixed. It wouldn't be a priority at this time of year, unfortunately.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A bigger breach?,

    I have often wondered about the security of credit cards. How easy would it be to place a small transaction on all the card numbers that, say, a waiter or checkout worker have collected over the years. When you charge to a card you have the option of stating what you want to appear on their statement, how hard is it to write "Account Charge" or "Card Management fee" ?.
    If the charge is less than $5 most people would dismiss it as just another credit card company "charge" and do nothing about it.

    Most credit card companies proactively monitor for this sort of thing and suspend your card until you say it's OK to proceed.

    The general pattern for Internet-based credit card fraud is that you'll get a couple of small (1-2 USD) transactions on your card to "test the waters", then a much larger transaction as the fraudster tries to withdraw the money as cash. Banks have gotten better at jumping on those first small transactions.

    I've had my credit card suspended twice while this was investigated (though as far as I know my card's currently active.) The first time, my details had been stolen, but the second time I was signing up to an online gaming service which used a method of charging two small random amounts then having you report those amounts back from your statement to verify that you actually owned the card.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: So-called celebrity justice,

    Andre - not every non-celebrity is a bus driver. You would be surprised how many employers operating in a professional capacity would have it written into an employment contract that if you were to break the law in such a manner as the case in question that you would be dismissed.

    You do the crime, you do the time.

    To be fair, you were the one that used a bus driver as an example. I took it and ran with it to show that there are predictably different results for publishing various kinds of information for different types of profession, and that's something that we want judges to take into account. If someone is likely to lose their job as the result of publication of their offence, then the sentencing judge needs to take that into account, and name suppression (or discharge without conviction) may well be appropriate.

    If we are instead going to talk about the more general issue of employment contracts that have clauses allowing dismissal for questionable private conduct, that's something else again. That stops being an issue about publicity surrounding an offence and starts being about the offence itself and the contractual obligations of the person committing the offence.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: So-called celebrity justice,

    But not a celebrity? Why not? Why should they be treated differently to someone who did the same thing who was, say, a bus driver?

    If a bus driver is convicted of a minor offence, his passengers aren't going to connect a three line story in the court pages with the guy driving their bus, so he isn't going to be unfairly impacted by its publication. Most of the embarrassment he faces will be confined to his social circle. His private misdeeds are effectively cordoned off from his public employment.

    A celebrity's social circle is, on the other hand, defined as anyone who knows who they are. Most celebrities actually make money from being known by a wide number of people-that's how they get people to consume their art and come to their shows. The distinction between what they do in private and what their job is vanishes-so publication of a minor offence is going to have a significant impact on their ability to do their job, and potentially impact their future earnings in a major way.

    The two situations just aren't comparable, any more than it would be comparable to start publishing the names of children who go through the youth court just because we do so for adults. Context matters in a fundamental way.

    Besides, a bus driver won't make front page news for things that a celebrity will.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: So-called celebrity justice,

    Oh lord. Now the Herald has thrown it to Your Views and vox pops.

    I can't wait for them to start soliciting jokes about it on Sideswipe.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The March for Democracy,

    I just don't get why this isn't the year's biggest story in America.

    Because America needs its cult of dead heroes. It needs figureheads that can't talk back to weigh down political decisions and make any criticism of them "tasteless" and "unpatriotic". Questioning whether all those people needed to die on 9/11 is akin to wondering whether young soldiers who die in Iraq and Afghanistan needed to die. It strikes too close to the bone, requires too much self-reflection and self-criticism.

    This isn't a uniquely American trait, though the fetishization of those who die violently is almost as strong in America as it is in many dictatorships. It's one of the few features of American culture that is scary and troubling, which is what makes it all the more distressing.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: So-called celebrity justice,

    Democratic process should be a priviledge extended to competent members of society (like those with an IQ of at least, say, 80). Which would mean 60% wouldn't even be allowed to vote. I bet NZ would be a real nice place...

    As much as I allow myself to despair from time to time, if the smart can't convince the stupid that some ideas are better than others then they're actually not all that "smart" at all.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: So-called celebrity justice,

    May I suggest you wear knee pads, those alleyways can play havoc on your trousers.

    I don't suppose anyone would have a lead on where I could buy a nice pair of chaps? The leather kind.

    (OK, that one really is unrecoverable.)

    Anyway, I think that this turn in the conversation brings up one of the disturbing double standards of media coverage of celebrities: without intending to excuse said nameless individual for said nameless act, I can guarantee you that the media would be far less interested in this if it wasn't a "sexual offence".

    Imagine a celebrity busted for fraud in the course of trying to obtain a mortgage-I can practically hear the yawns from the Herald editorial team from here. Not to mention the fact that we as a society simply care less about some crimes than about others (in ways unrelated to the seriousness with which our legal system treats these offences.) Not to beat a dead horse, but this really is all about titillation-the reporters aren't for a moment trying to cover this story to help out the victim, they just want a juicy story.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 859 posts Report Reply

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