My daughter's doing Anzac Day at school - last night I found a copy of her great great great uncle's photo and service record, and printed it off for her. A 26 year old former architect, he was in the Ambulance Corp (I think) and at Gallipoli from the start to the finish, after which he was sent to the Western Front. That having not finished the job, he "committed suicide due to temporary insanity" in 1918. This is for him:
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
Siegfried Sassoon: Suicide in the Trenches
I'd heard of phone tapping as a kid, and how it worked, but I never tried it. Loved pushing Button B, though, just in case some money came out. Later on, getting a phone card with a sufficient balance was always a hassle, until you could use credit cards. Last time I used a pay phone was a miserable call home from somewhere in the bowels of Heathrow in 2002, which probably cost me $50.
Prank calling was the dumb entertainment du jour of my peer group, aged around 12. Call, hang up as soon as someone picks up, teeheehee. There were plenty of opportunities for stupidity and nuisance with phones that caller ID and call return functions have probably reduced since then.
Words can get you too. I found myself running at the eyes at breakfast this morning over this:
I...vowed that rather than let Alzheimer's take me, I would take it. I would live my life as ever to the full and die, before the disease mounted its last attack, in my own home, in a chair on the lawn, with a brandy in my hand to wash down whatever modern version of the "Brompton cocktail" some helpful medic could supply. And with Thomas Tallis on my iPod, I would shake hands with Death.
Other countries have native mammals they don't want to kill, surely.
I'd be happy to license the title "Turing's Bastards" to anyone writing a book about all this, for a nominal fee.
It really ups the cost of any kind of activism, doesn't it. Anyone heard when Nicky Hager's likely to get his computer back?
What gets me is how you can actually make good decisions with all that info. With that much data, surely it's tempting to just confirm your own biases and ignore info that contradicts, or forget that you might only have part of a picture. Bletchley Park caught buckets of German sigint, and had a huge job deciding what was useful and not. This is orders of magnitude bigger. It must be really hard, without close oversight or contestability, to avoid poor decisionmaking the way other government departments are supposed to.
Do I understand this correctly: the difference between mass data collection and mass surveillance is that if I have left a blamelessly obscure life so far, chances are that nobody has bothered to read any of the emails I've sent, my purchase history, library books and other online communications and so on. But, if I decide to do something tomorrow that gets interpreted as worthy of surveillance, all that information back into the past is open to either the GCSB or NSA or both. And we have no idea what that trigger might be, or what they might do with it?
I just came across this impressive takedown of the alternative legal theory earlier in this thread. Apparently it's a sufficiently popular thing to warrant some judicial attention: The OPCA phenomenon. It's a long read but a good one.
you’ve had a bit of a year for the family, and i know those tasty treats will be loved by your fantastic partner and 3 amazing small people.
I can vouch for the power of a hamper to improve even the worst Christmas. Last year I had agonising back pain, couldn't drink, kids were sick, weather was crap and there were other complicated family things. The food hamper for last year's prize was a shining highlight, as was the whisky when I was finally off the painkillers.
There's a Film Unit clip about the Wilson home online here:
Some of the language they use is harsh to the modern ear.